It’s that infamous time of year in The Hostess City when everyone, no matter who your people are, becomes Irish for a day. Since I met and married a bonafide Savannahian, my life has never been the same. On March 17 each year, come rain or shine, we will don our green and orange, raise our glasses, pack our picnic baskets and join the hundreds of thousands of others in the Spanish moss-covered oak tree city of Savannah, Georgia.
It’s one of those appetizers that’s always present at family gatherings in the South, especially around the holidays. I’ve seen savory cheese balls and sweet cheese balls. There’s a variety of different recipes out there, but this one comes from Mama with a few of my own touches. I contributed this cheese ball to my office Christmas party and it was a hit! It has pops of red and green color for the holidays, and it’s versatile. You can add or take away whatever flavors you like. Spreadable and creamy, this cheese ball has crunch and sweet heat. It’s cold and satisfying.
The cheese ball comes together quickly and is edible right away, but has a more firm texture when chilled. I recommend making it a day ahead and letting it set up in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, 30 minutes to an hour will do.
- 1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
- A few jarred jalapeno peppers, chopped
- A tablespoon of jarred jalapeno pepper juice
- A handful of maraschino cherries, stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup of chopped onion (I used purple for the color, but a sweet Vidalia onion would be great too)
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Braswell’s Green Pepper Jelly
- 1/4 cup of pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
- Seasoned salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup Georgia pecans, toasted and chopped
Dry roast pecans in a saute pan over medium heat, flipping occasionally until fragrant and golden (5-10 minutes). Set aside. Using a hand mixer, blend the cheeses together until incorporated. Add in remaining ingredients, reserving the pecans for the outside, and season with seasoned salt and pepper. Blend on low-speed until everything is incorporated. Turn the mixture out onto plastic wrap and form it into a ball. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the ball in the chopped pecans until covered. Let chill. Serve with buttery crackers, like Ritz, toasted bread or even Scoops tortilla chips.
Note: If you’re using a food processor to chop your onion and bell pepper, be sure to drain any natural water from the vegetables before adding them to the mixture. Additional water will make your cheese ball runny, and you wouldn’t want that.
Serve the cheese ball on a round dish if you have one! It enhances the natural shape of the appetizer and is fun to surround with crackers. Presentation is everything! I served the cheese ball with snowflake-shaped crackers for a little Christmas cheer, but this recipe is wonderful year around with whatever kind of crackers you like. Enjoy!
A brand new episode of “Statesboro Cooks” is on air now! You can watch the 30-minute program featuring my St. Patrick’s Day menu on local cable Channel 99 at 7:30 p.m., 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily, or right now by clicking on the video below. Featuring the musical talent of lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Dukes of The Tiger Creek Band, this show was the most fun episode to film yet! Special thanks to Hunter Cattle Company, Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe, and Simply Sweet Cakery for all your help in making the meal Some Kinda Good! Without further ado, enjoy the show and the recipes below. Cheers to St. Patrick’s Day!
“Statesboro Cooks” is a Georgia Southern University Department of Communication Arts multimedia communications team production.
Mixed Green Salad with Fresh Strawberries
- Organic Mixed Greens
- Seasonal, Fresh Strawberries, hulled and halved
- Candied Georgia Pecans, toasted
- Dried Cranberries
- Feta Cheese
- Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
Toss all ingredients (except dressing) together in a trifle bowl. Serve alongside Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Soda Bread. To candy pecans, dry roast the nuts in a saucepan until fragrant. Add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, stirring until melted and coated evenly. Remove from the heat. For the dressing, combine equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil by whisking briskly. Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper. Dress salad lightly.
- 2 pounds Hunter Cattle Company Ground Beef
- 4 Large Potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 stick of Unsalted Butter
- 8 oz. Sour Cream
- 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
- 1 Bundle of Walker Farms Rainbow Carrots
- 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
- 1/2 Cup Frozen Corn
- 1 Large Onion, Diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 1/2 Cups of Sharp Cheddar, Grated
- Bella D’ Olivia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Flat Leaf Parsley, for Garnish
- Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring it to a boil. Liberally salt the water. Add potatoes and cover. Let boil for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet or 10-inch frying pan. Add in diced onion and carrots stirring until soft. Season with salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, add in ground beef and brown. Stir in garlic. Season again with salt and pepper, adding in thyme. Incorporate peas and corn. Let cook for about five minutes. Drain potatoes and put them back in the same stock pot. Add in butter, heavy cream, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Pour ground beef mixture into the dish. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over the top. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
- 1 Cup Brewed Strong Coffee
- 3 Tablespoons of Irish Whiskey such as Jameson
- Fresh Whipped Cream
- CinnamonDirections:Stir three tablespoons of whiskey into one cup of brewed coffee. Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon.
March is finally here and that’s something to get excited about for SO many reasons–1) I’ve got a new episode of “Statesboro Cooks” premiering this Friday, 2) Daylight Savings Time and 3) St. Patrick’s Day!
Here in Statesboro, I’m just a few miles down the road from Savannah, Georgia where one of the largest parties celebrating Irish history and culture, second only to New York City, takes place in the United States every year. Last year was my first experience at the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and what a blast it was! My Savannah-born-and-raised boyfriend and I donned our green, packed a festive picnic including Paula Deen’s Green Grits Pie and Trisha Yearwood’s Green Punch (spiked of course) and spent the day on Johnson Square playing beer pong with complete strangers at 10 a.m., watching the horse and buggies pass us by and enjoying the sound of bagpipes. It was an unforgettable event I believe everyone should experience at least once.
On my upcoming episode of “Statesboro Cooks,” a local 30-minute televised cooking program produced by students in the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, I share an Irish menu featuring Shepherd’s Pie and a Mixed Green Salad with seasonal strawberries and candied Georgia pecans. To round out the meal, I get a little help from some local businesses: Simply Sweet Cakery provides dessert (you won’t believe these cupcakes!) and Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Cafe sends me home with a loaf of fresh-baked Irish Soda Bread.
With a couple of extra stout Guinness beers and an Irish Coffee or 12, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Savannah style. Also on the show, I couldn’t be more excited to introduce one of my dear and talented friends from Vidalia Georgia’s Tiger Creek Band, lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Dukes. Justin entertains us with one of his new singles, “Rolling with the Flow,” and the two of us join voices singing Luke Bryan’s, “Tailgate Blues.” This is my favorite episode to date and I’m on the edge of my seat just thinking about it. Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!
Tune in to “Statesboro Cooks”on local cable channel 99 at 7:30 p.m. seven days a week beginning Friday, March 7. The show will also air again at 1 p.m and 1 a.m. daily. Be sure to check back right here on “Some Kinda Good” to get my St. Patrick’s Day menu, including all the recipes featured. If you’re not local, no worries! The program will be available on my blog.
Now, here’s an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look on set during the filming of “Statesboro Cooks.” Will you be watching? Thanks for tuning in!
New to Some Kinda Good? Welcome!
A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” I’m the Statesboro Herald food columnist as well as host and executive co-producer of “Statesboro Cooks.” Some Kinda Good is a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. I hope you’ll stick around, and follow me on Twitter at @SKGFoodBlog or find me on Facebook. Thanks for visiting!