|Arrange Cheese Balls on a Tray with Crackers, Croutons or Vegetables|
Serves 8-16 appetizer portionsYou'll Need: 14 oz cream cheese (softened), 4 oz ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup chunky chutney (fresh is best), 1/8 cup fresh chives (finely diced), 1/8 cup green onions (finely diced), 1 clove garlic (finely chopped), 1 Tbsp organic locally grown honey (softened), 1 cup colby jack cheese (shredded), 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded), 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (chopped), 1 Tbsp fresh basil or Italian parsley (chopped), 3/4 cup mixed nuts (chopped)*, 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped), 1/4 cup golden raisins (lightly chopped), pinch of salt (as needed), pinch of pepper (as needed)
How to Prepare: In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, ricotta, chutney, chives, onions, garlic and honey until everything is well incorporated (you can use an electric mixer or mix by hand; don't over mix). Fold in the shredded cheeses and herbs. Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper, as needed. Form into 2 evenly sized ball shapes. Place each ball in separate plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for two to three hours. You are going to roll each cheese ball in its topping (one in the apricots and one in the nuts). Place the chopped nuts in a shallow casserole or pie dish and with a slightly firm pressure, roll one of the cheese balls into the nuts until the exterior is covered in nuts. Mix the apricots and raisins in a separate casserole dish. Roll the other cheese ball in the apricot and rasin mixture. Arrange the cheese balls on a serving tray and place fresh herbs, vegetables, crackers or croutons around the cheese balls.
Note, you can get creative. If you want to add a bit of color, mix in a pinch of lemon zest or orange zest to the cheese mixture before chilling.
* Do you ever buy mixed nuts and find that you end up picking out your favorite nuts to munch on, and you leave the rest behind? I do. I like cashews and almonds the best. So, pick your favorite nut combination for this recipe!
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