Dip and Cheese Ball Inspirations


Hopefully, I can post some pictures of this stuff soon. It’s way more delicious than it might sound. But let me explain a few things first.

 Several years ago, my mom was stopped by a man in the potato chip aisle at her local grocery store. This somehow resulted in him needing to tell my mom about the best, but oddest combination, of ingredients for a cheese ball/dip. We had it at the Thanksgiving munchies table a few weeks later and agreed that “Potato Chip Aisle Dip” was a keeper. Here’s the recipe as it stands in her cookbook:

2 blocks cream cheese
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
½ c. chopped pecans
2 t. seasoning salt

Mix together. Spread in bowl and serve with ½ c. pecans sprinkled on top.

I have been trying to clean out the fridge in anticipation of the on coming fasting season. Thus, I’m looking at some of my abundant dairy or meat products and loathing how much of that stuff I need to ingest, throw out, or hope they make it through the next 6 weeks.

Anyway, I needed a little something before heading out the door to work. I saw the last remnants of cream cheese. “Potential for awesomeness” should be its subtitle. I had some tomatoes and green peppers from a friend’s garden. I looked in the cupboard. “Dried cranberries? Well, I do need to use them.

My brain suddenly recalled the odd combination in “Potato Chip Aisle Dip” and I thought, “I’ll try something. Couldn’t hurt!”

So, I grabbed the cream cheese and cranberries and started mixing. Chopped up the green pepper and tossed that in the bowl as well. While chopping I thought, “I don’t have any lunch meat. I’ll just fry up a few strips of bacon.” So, I started crisping up 2 strips before investigating my herb and spice rack.

The next dilemma: I didn’t want super spicy or salty. But what in the world does one put with green pepper and cranberries???  The answer I found: a little ground coriander and a dash or two of cinnamon sugar. I turned the bacon to the other side and began toasting the onion bagel. I kept thinking that my new concoction might make an interesting cheese ball as some point in the future. Or could I turn it into a sort of cranberry-green pepper-bacon relish spooned over a block of cream cheese with crackers as a vehicle for the goodies.

As the bacon finished, I sliced some of the tomatoes and arranged the last bits of lettuce on the bagel. I quality checked the cranberry cream cheese just one more time. Cooking and recipe creation requires a lot of quality control. I drained the bacon and spread my new creation on the bagel thinking, “Wow, I must have made something completely new! Food Network – I will be seeing you soon!”

Then I realized that all I did was make a freakin’ BLT with a fruity cream cheese instead of the mayo. And every time I hear “BLT,” I think of my friend Carmen calling the sandwich “Fat and oil with lettuce and tomato.”

At any rate, here’s the approximation of what I did and the 3 variations I might serve it come Nativity Feasting!

Cranberry Pepper Dip or Cheese Ball

A Laura Original (at least, she would like to think…so amuse her, by golly!)

8 oz block cream cheese
1/2 c dried, sweetened cranberries
1/2 c finely chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
dash or two of cinnamon sugar

Combine. Eat.

Variation #1: Sandwich spread. Recommended with turkey and/or bacon sandwiches. Compliments sweet and savory breads.

Variation #2: Use as a cheese ball, form before chilling. Before serving, roll in finely chopped and toasted walnuts.

Variation #3: Don’t mix in cream cheese. Chop 2-4 strips of bacon. At end of cooking, lightly saute fruit mixture in with bacon. Drain and let cool. Place cream cheese block on serving tray. Spoon mixture over. Use crackers as a vehicle for the yummy concoction.

These amounts are approximate. Do you think that I take time to measure when I’m creating on the fly?? Seriously, I don’t think so. Add more or take away as your tastes desire.

I’ll be sure to let you know if I win any awards!

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