The Pigskin Cheese Ball

Pigskin cheese ball close up

Looking for a great appetizer to enjoy during a football game?   This cheese ball Pigskin will be just up your alley!   Plus it’s a fun project to make with your with your family.    Make extra bacon as those creating the Pigskin have a tendency to munch during the pigskin forming process.

Serves 15 to 20

  • 2 pounds of sliced bacon, divided
  • 1 medium Jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 20-ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ cups shredded white cheddar cheese plus 2 slices of white cheddar cheese for decoration
  • 3 green onions, roots and tough top greens removed, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon Creole seasoning

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.    Lay the bacon sliced in even layers on two baking sheets.  Bake until crisp, about 12 minutes.   Remove from oven and drain bacon on paper towels.  When cool, coarsely chop and set aside.

 Place the room temperature cream cheese and 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.     Mix on medium speed until combined.

Add the green onions, ½ cup chopped cooked bacon, chopped jalapeno, garlic salt, white pepper and Creole seasoning.   Mix to combine.

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a work surface.   Place the cheese mixture in the middle of the plastic wrap and form it into a football.  Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

When ready to serve,  remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and place on a work surface.   Cover the cheese ball completely with the remainder of the cooked bacon.    Slice the reserved white cheddar cheese slices into ¼-inch wide strips.   Place two longer strips down the middle of the football.   Place five smaller strips of cheese over the long strips to create the football laces.   Transfer to a serving platter.


Posted in Appetizers, Holiday & Entertaining, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Holiday Entertaining Favorites

Brussels sprouts and tomato shooters

Looking for some new holiday recipes?   Here are some of my favorites………..


Six in Sixty

Need tips for a last minute holiday appetizer gathering?
Check out my Six in Sixty article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Six recipes that can be prepared in 60 minutes …. plus shopping time, of course!
Reward yourself with a glass of wine at minute 61!

Olives, Olives, Olives

Olives make the perfect quick appetizer.   Check out four fast and delicious ways to incorporate olives into your holiday menu.   Because of the recent popularity of olives, a wide variety of olive types can be found in both specialty stores and “big box” supermarkets.

Pigskin cheese ball close up

The Pigskin Cheese Ball – perfect for game day!

b99234812z.1_20140407151701_000_gs65iflh.2-0Main Course Suggestions – Beyond Turkey!
Try some of these terrific recipes for New Year’s Eve or as an alternative to turkey or ham for a holiday meal.

Rack of Lamb
For a special holiday dinner, try your culinary hand at rack of lamb.  The link above will provide you with a recipe plus tips on buying and preparing the lamb.   Remember, size is a big thing when selecting racks of lamb.   The lamb racks from “down under” in Australia and New Zealand will be smaller – 12 to 20 ounces each – making then perfect for two servings per rack.   However domestic lamb racks will be much larger – 1 1/2 pounds to 2 1/2 pounds – good for four servings each.

finished-chicken-medallionsChicken Roulade with Lingonberry Sauce
These individual chicken roulades can be prepared a day ahead.   The Lingonberry sauce is a nice alternative to cranberries

Boneless Duck Breast with Caramelized Apples and Bacon

salmon in grill pan

Salmon Wellington (on video)



Holiday Centerpiece Desserts

Sometimes a dessert and serve two purposes – the dessert part, or course – but also the centerpiece of your buffet area.

Here are three centerpiece dessert recipes you may want to try!


Candied Cranberry Black Forest Cake
Buche de Noel (Christmas Log Cake) with Maple Buttercream

Gingerbread Biscotti


Make Dessert Memorable!

From cookies (like the cherry Linzer cookies above) to a delicious make-ahead pie or tart, dessert is the last thing people will remember about the meal so make it special.   For this who are ambitious, and a bit artistic, try making my signature meringue swans.  

There’s even a video on my website to help you along!
Meringue Swans with Strawberry Sauce

Linzer Cookies (from my Edible Door Magazine article)

Turtle Tart (Caramel and Chocolate!)

Three-Layer Holiday Pie (Pumpkin, chocolate and cheesecake!)

Chocolate Cabernet Tart

Individual Baked Alaska


Holiday Soups

Winter Squash, Pear and Preserved Ginger Soup

Winter Squash and Maple Bisque

Winter White Vegetable Bisque

Yukon Gold Potato and Cheese Soup

Cream of Mushroom and Artichoke Bisque

Holiday Salads

Shaved Brussels Sprout, Pomegranate and Pecan Salad

Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Port Vinaigrette

Avocado and Pomegranate Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Panzanella Salad with Avocado

Holiday Side Dishes

Butternut Squash Gratin

Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Gratin

Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash (Vegan)

Hasselback Potatoes

Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Herb Dinner Rolls






Posted in Uncategorized

Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Gratin


This dish can be made ahead and is great for transport because there is no cream or milk in it.   It can also be made ahead and refrigerated.   Bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking!

Serves 6 – 8


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow squash or zucchini cut into ¼-inch round slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh basil or oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound tomatoes (Cherry tomatoes can be used whole or halved.   Larger tomatoes should be cored and thickly sliced)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or Panko


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.   Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender.

Add the squash and bell pepper.   Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender.   Stir in the fresh basil or oregano and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan.

Spoon the mixture into a 9 X 9-inch baking dish.    Top with tomato slices or whole cherry tomatoes.  Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. 

In a bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining Parmesan and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle over the vegetables.   Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is crisp and lightly brown.   Serve hot or at room temperature.

*This dish can also be prepared in an oven-proof skillet and served in the skillet for a more rustic look.










Posted in Uncategorized