Holiday Tree Shaped Cheese Ball

An easy, eye-catching way to serve a holiday cheese ball. The best news? You can make it up to a month in advance!

Yield

7 cups

Ingredients

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
red pepper sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
piece of lemon peel, if desired
assorted crackers, if desired

Directions

Stir together cream cheese and Cheddar cheese; divide in half. Stir pesto into 1 half; stir onion, mustard and 2 or 3 drops pepper sauce into other half. Cover each half; refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm enough to shape.

Place cheese mixtures on baking sheet. Shape each half into cone shape to look like a pine tree.

If desired, wrap each tree, label and freeze up to 1 month. Twelve hours before serving, remove trees from freezer. Thaw in wrapper in refrigerator.

Just before serving, roll trees in parsley, pressing it evenly onto trees. Press pine nuts onto trees in string form for garland. Press bell pepper pieces onto trees for ornaments. Top each tree with star shape cut from lemon peel. Serve with crackers.

Estimated Time

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 4 hours

Additional Information

Place the tree in the middle of a platter covered with a cloth napkin "tree skirt," and surround it with crackers of all shapes and sizes for the "gifts."

A combination of fresh basil and oregano instead of the parsley or cilantro gives this tree Italian flair!

Nutritional Information

1 Serving (1/4 Cup): Calories 165 (Calories from Fat 135), Total Fat 15 g (Saturated Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 45 mg; Sodium 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate 1 g (Dietary Fiber 0 g, Protein 6 g; Exchanges: 1 High-Fat Meat; 1 1/2 Fat

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