Weekly Winner: Dark Horse Champion Cheeseball

First things first — what has happened??  Apparently I’ve been too busy cooking to write about the things I’ve cooked!!   Which would explain why this entry does not have an accompanying picture.  But then again, we all pretty much know what a cheese ball looks like — close your eyes, visualize a cheese ball — yep, that’s it!  So here’s why this Antipasti Cheese Ball is so special.

I wanted a “little something” for munching prior to our Thanksgiving dinner.  We were having a very intimate gathering and I had seen this recipe in my stack of “ideas” and honestly don’t even remember where I pulled it from.

What bugs me about most cheese balls is that they are rolled in something — nuts, herbs, crumbled bacon (well, that would be OK), which makes it difficult and messy to cut and spread.  Not this one!  This recipe was just jam-packed with everything that makes a usual antipasti platter so good: spicy salami, peppers, olives, cheese.  The recipe made way more than I’d need for Thanksgiving but we were also hosting a larger football party later that weekend.  Voila! Two birds, one stone!  Or maybe two gatherings, one dish!

Anyway, this was a MAJOR hit!  I got a ton of compliments on it and for good reason — it was amazing!!  Also several people asked me for the recipe so they could make it and so, without further ado — here it is!  And I will definitely try to be a bit more regular with my posts from here on out!!

Antipasti Cheese Ball

Serves 12


8 oz cream cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 Tbsps. olive oil

2 Tbsps. minced fresh garlic

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. anchovy paste

Black pepper to taste

2 oz hard salami, finely diced

1/4 cup finely diced pimentos or roasted red peppers

1/4 cup finely diced pepperoncini

1/4 cup each finely diced Kalamata and Castelvetrano olives


  1. Beat together cream cheese, Parmesan, oil, garlic, vinegar, oregano, pepper flakes, and anchovy paste in a bowl with a mixer until combined; season with black pepper
  2. Stir in salami, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, Kalamata and Castelvetrano olives
  3. Line a 3-1/2 cup bowl with plastic wrap, press cheese mixture into bowl, smooth top, then cover and chill overnight, or up to 1 week.


Weekly Winner:  Party on a Plate – or Platter

It’s Party Time! Summer barbecues, pool parties, garden parties, and picnics abound. Invariably, when I ask the hosts if I can bring anything, the response is “an appetizer would be great”. And I totally get it. When I’m hosting a get-together, I have a basic “theme” in mind for most of the food. It’s what I do, don’t you mess with my menu! So the easiest thing for me to request is a starter, appetizer, munchies or even dessert. Therefore, I totally understand when I’m asked to bring the same thing. But what to bring?? I’ve done various dips and hummus to death. Melon and prosciutto — been there, done that. I want something tasty, easy, and yeah, I’ll admit it – impressive. That problem is now solved.

Just look at these Tomato Tarts!  They’re gorgeous! They’re delicious!  And most importantly…they are super easy.  Whip up a batch of these for your next party (whether you’re hosting or just contributing), unveil them with the appropriate flourish, stand back and wait for the compliments (if you can hear them over all the “mmmmm’ing”). The recipe comes from Southern Living Magazine and is something I’ll use over and over again — all I’ll have to do to keep it interesting is tweak the filling a bit to fit the season.

Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts

Makes 18 tarts


1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, partially thawed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

10 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded (2-1/2 cups)

11 oz multicolored cherry tomatoes, (about 3 cups), halved

2 Tbsp torn fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Gently unfold both pastry sheets.  Spread 1/4 cup mayonnaise on each pastry sheet; sprinkle each with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
  2. Cut each pastry sheet into 9 (3 inch) squares.  Gently press squares into 2 lightly greased muffin pans.  Divide cheese and tomatoes among tarts
  3. Bake in a preheated oven until pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool in pans on a wire rack 5 minutes. Top with torn fresh basil.