pizza.jpg

Hey! I'm Leslie! Join me in my Food meets fashion adventure!

 

Holiday Appetizer: Cranberry, Bacon, and Pumpkin Seed Goat Cheese Ball

I rarely get sappy. Even with my family and my closest friends, I tend to hold back. I don't initiate hugs. I hardly ever cry. And I never, ever talk about my feelings. I swear I'm not insensitive. I suppose I'm just a bit guarded. So getting mushy on my blog? Well, that'd just be ludicrous. But with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'm feeling slightly more sentimental than usual. So here it goes. What I'm most thankful for...published...on the Internet...for anyone to see. Big moves for Les.

I'm thankful for my Dad, who's always been by my side, supporting me in my every decision (the smart...and the stupid). I'm thankful for my big brother, Patrick- my friend, my mentor, and my go-to guide for 90% of life's questions and quandaries. I'm thankful for my amazing "roommate" - my boyfriend, Chris. The guy keeps me going when the goin's tough; keeps me smiling, and keeps me grounded.

I'm thankful for my friends, far too many to name. Loyal, caring, and way too much fun, they're all pretty awesome...and some might as well be family. I'm thankful for my cuddly, talkative, and badly behaved cats- nope, not joking. If you met them, you'd understand. And more than anything in the world, I'm thankful to have had the best mom in the world. A mom who spent 27 years of her life taking care of me, listening to my every (annoying) story and rant, dealing with my frequent shenanigans, and above all, being my very best friend. While I didn't have her here with me physically in 2013, I know she's been checking in regularly to see how I'm doing.

Okay. Back to standard Dash of Les now. Wanna know something else I'm so incredibly thankful for? Wait for it. Wait for it. CHEESE. Heavenly rich, sometimes soft, sometimes firm, sometimes melt in your mouth, and always, oh so decadent... Words simply can't express my undying love for the stuff. Irish cheddar, Gorgonzola, Manchego, Burrata, and Gouda...they're all too good to be true. And Brie? Well that decadent treat has the holidays written all over it. But I'm going to swoon the goat cheese lovers today. I know there are millions of you out there. You're gonna fall head over heels in love with my cranberry infused, pumpkin seed, cranberry, and bacon crusted goat cheese ball. Oh yes, it's even better than it sounds.

Creamy, salty, sweet, and tangy...this texture and flavor diverse holiday cheese ball has every taste your palate could hope for. Oh, and did I mention it's super simple to make? 

img_7408.jpg

Cranberry Infused Goat Cheese Ball Coated in Bacon, Pumpkin Seeds, and Dried Cranberries

Ingredients:

12 ounces Goat cheese

1/2 cup basic cranberry sauce (recipe here)

1-2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (or crumbled pecans, cashews, etc.)

1-2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1-2 tablespoons crumbled bacon

wax paper 

crackers

Directions:

1) Prepare your cranberry sauce a few hours in advance and refrigerate so that it's completely cooled. 

2) Take the goat cheese out of the fridge and let soften for 30 minutes.

3) In a blender, pulse 1/2 cup cranberry sauce 2-3 times until it's broken up a bit. Then, lay out a big piece of wax paper or Glad Press and Seal saran wrap on your counter (1 foot should do)

4) Place goat cheese in the middle of the wax paper. Add the cranberry sauce. Now, wrap up the wax paper and with your hands, in a cupping fashion, begin forming the cheese and cranberry sauce into a ball shape. Put in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 10 hours.

***Feel Free to stop here. The cranberry goat cheese ball is delicious on its own if you don't want to deal with coating it***

5) Take the cheese ball out of the fridge and remove wax paper/saran wrap. Now, combine the crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, and seed/nuts on a large plate. Coat the cheese ball by rolling it in the mixture. This can get a little messy so if it's easier, just take the dried bits and push them onto the cheese until they stick. There's no perfect science; I promise.

6) If you aren't serving it right away, put back in the fridge. Be sure to take the cheese ball out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to company so that it slightly softens, making it easier to spread on crackers. 

img_7391.jpg

                                                                                                                     Just as pretty without the coating

*** Recipe notes: 

-Most of us make cranberry sauce for the big day anyways so just make a little extra and put on reserve for the cheese ball. But if you're making cranberry sauce only for this recipe, then buy the smallest bag of cranberries you can find and cook with sugar and water until completely broken down (recipe here).

-Feel free to substitute the seeds with crushed pecans, cashews, etc. Also, crispy prosciutto would be equally as delicious as bacon.

                                              Happy Thanksgiving to all my awesome readers!

img_7408.jpg

Thanksgiving Leftovers Call for a Turkey, Cranberry, and Brie Sandwich on Ciabatta

Cumin Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Manchego, Chorizo, and Roasted Reds