I love entertaining. I love having friends and family over, any time of year, any occasion – whether it’s a holiday or simply a Sunday. When people ask what they can bring, I usually tell them their appetite and a smile.
But as much as I love to entertain, making new recipes and old favorites, I recognize that entertaining can be a lot of work. Now with two kids under the age of three, I feel that more than ever. Over the past several months, I’ve been trying to simplify what I make – keeping the flavor but eliminating some of the time in the kitchen. I make whatever I can ahead so that I can enjoy my time with my family and friends.
These mini-cheese balls quickly became a hit in my house, and a line on my upcoming holiday menus. They’re easy and quick to throw together and can be combined well in advance. The spread has a slight heat from the addition of the cayenne, but being able to customize the coating to our tastes really made this a winner. Last time I made them, I went with a combination of salty-sweet with the pistachios and cranberries, and savory, mimicking an everything bagel. But the combinations are endless.
Check out the recipes at the end of this post, compliments of the Sunday Supper tastemakers, for more easy entertaining ideas. And please, leave a comment with your favorite easy holiday entertaining recipe!
Mini Cheese Balls
Two Ways: Everything and Cranberry-Pistachio
Base recipe adapted from Sweet and Savory
Coating by Books n’ Cooks
Makes 24 small balls
Ingredients for the Cheese Balls:
- 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 a bunch of chives, chopped finely
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the “Everything” Coating:
I used a ration of 1:.5 for this coating – half the salt and onion. The below quantities are based on a 1/2 batch of cheese balls with this coating.
- 2 tsp. poppy seeds
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds (toasted, if desired)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. onion flakes
Ingredients for the Cranberry-Pistachio Coating:
I used a ratio of 1:1.5, cranberries-pistachios, for the coating. The below quantities are based on a 1/2 batch of cheese balls with this coating.
- 2 Tbs. dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbs. shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Mix coatings in small dishes. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the cheese balls. Use a mixer to thoroughly combine, if needed. Use a small cookie scoop (mine is a 2-tsp. cookie scoop) to portion out cheese mixture. Roll in prepared toppings and set on a serving dish.
Serve at room temperature with your choice of crackers.
Make Ahead: Cheeseballs can be made and stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
Check out more easy, stress-free entertaining ideas from the Sunday Supper tastemakers.
- Caramel Coffee by Party Food & Entertaining
- Christmas Cranberry Mojitos by Our Good Life
- European-Style Hot Chocolate by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate by My San Francisco Kitchen
- Pomegranate Sangria by The Redhead Baker
- Spiced Hot Milk Brandy by Nosh My Way
- Christmas Cranberry Dip by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Festive Shrimp Bites by The Freshman Cook
- Hot Crab Dip by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Krayl’s Easy Holiday Cheese Board by An Appealing Plan
- Mini Cheese Balls by Books n’ Cooks
- Pear Pancetta Goat Cheese Appetizer Bites by Food Done Light
- Beer Pull Apart Bread by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Ranch Buffalo Chicken Dip by Table for Seven
- Shrimp Puffs by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Smoked Salmon Dip by Palatable Pastime
- Smoked Salmon Shooters by Amee’s Savory Dish
- Spiced Nuts by Confessions of a Cooking Diva
- Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Dip by The Complete Savorist
- Ultimate Taco Dip by Momma’s Meals
Main and Side Dishes
- Fruited Wild Rice by Magnolia Days
- Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Potatoes by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Holiday Seafood Fest (La Grande Zuppa del Costiera Amalfitana) by Monica’s Table
- Make ahead Parmesan Mashed Potatoes by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pasta With Duck Sugo by The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
Desserts and Baked Goods
- Apple Brown Betty by Curious Cuisiniere
- Apple Panna Cotta by Caroline’s Cooking
- Banana Coconut Lime Bundt Cake by Desserts Required
- Chocolate Sheet Cake by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Gluten Free Key Lime Tartlets by Gluten Free Crumbley
- Grown Up Peppermint Bark with Sambuca by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Microwave Carob Fudge by Pies and Plots
- Orange and Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones by The Texan New Yorker
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread by Ruffles & Truffles
Plus a No Stress Party Checklist and Recipes for Easy Entertaining by Sunday Supper
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