Gobble This Up: Thanksgiving Cheese Ball

By: Michelle Buffardi

Forget about the store-bought cheese log or cream cheese-filled celery stalks your sister makes — a creamy, garlic-herb turkey-shaped cheese ball is the savory appetizer your family will ask for every year.

Rolled in crunchy, toasted almonds, this little guy deserves to be the star of Turkey Day.

Garlic-Herb Turkey Cheese Ball

For the Cheese Ball:
2 packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, oregano and thyme)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

For Decorating:
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, then chopped
1 whole almond (for the beak)
1 slice red bell pepper
1 raisin
Dried papaya or orange bell pepper slices (for the feet)
Pretzel sticks

Make the cheese ball:

Thoroughly mix cream cheese, herbs, garlic, mustard and salt using a stand mixer, or in a bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate the cheese for two hours or overnight.

Decorate the cheese ball:

Scoop out most of the cheese mixture, reserving a walnut-sized portion; you will use that for the head. Form a ball with the large portion of cheese and roll the ball in toasted, chopped almonds. Set the almond-covered cheese ball on a platter.

Roll the remaining portion of cheese into a small ball and set it on top of the larger ball — this is the turkey's head. Cut a raisin in half and place each half on the head for the eyes, the whole almond in the middle as the beak, and arrange a small piece of red pepper under the beak for the turkey's wattle. Slice dried papaya or orange bell pepper and stick them into the bottom of the cheese ball for the feet. Last, arrange thin pretzel sticks on the back of the cheese ball to look like tail feathers.

Serve with assorted crackers and crudites.

* It's best to decorate the turkey cheese ball no more than an hour before serving, so the components don't get soggy. But you can make and refrigerate the cheese mixture the day before.

Or add these Thanksgiving appetizers to your spread:

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