Hey! Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen and I are back with week two of our holiday blognanza (we're making it a word). I made this cheeseball which is so easy a child could do it. So hand the knife over to your toddler and let me know how their cheeseball turns out, okay? I take it back, please don't do that. Their dirty little hands will be all up in that cheese. I love kids! But they are gross. I mean we all are, but they're gross in front of people. I always stick my hands in food behind closed doors. Olaiya has been working on this awesome gift guide for you! From food and drink to books to the-hard-to-shop-for-person, she's got some great ideas for all the loved ones in your life so check it out!
My vision for this cheese ball is that it's served at a retro party. One with sequins, sexy jumpsuits and windows sprayed with fake snow from aerosol cans. Disco, funk and classic Christmas carols are playing as people dance around the tinseled tree. Ladies with winged hair and men in colourful polyester suits and afros are practicing ‘the bump’ and drinking eggnog. The table is covered in a plastic tablecloth printed with poinsettias. The cheese ball, canned ham, cocktail weenies, and melon balls are laid out ready to be eaten. Vegetables and dips of ranch or sour cream sit beside the tin of Quality Street chocolates. No one speaks about dairy or gluten intolerances because it’s the 70s and they don’t believe in nonsense like that. They believe in pet rocks, wood panelled walls, smoking on airplanes, optional seat belts and good old-fashioned hitchhiking. Now who wants to play Parcheesi?!?!
Jk, I don't know how to play Parcheesi. But it has the word cheesy in it. And there's your smooth segue to a cheese ball. Wow, I write good. The goodest perhaps.
This cheese ball is delicious. The best on day two actually. I would 100% bring it to a party and eat it all at said party. Then I'd leave with a stomach ache because it's too much cheese for any one person to ingest. The best part about a cheese ball– if there's leftovers you can reform it for your next party or your own personal snack.
Holiday Party Tips (section two)
How To Bring Your Best Self To The Party (or life)
We can go through life (or parties) on autopilot. Reacting to every interaction or stimulation that comes our way. This isn't a bad thing but it doesn't necessarily reflect who we truly are or desire to be. It's important to sit down with ourselves and relax, take in the day we've had and then move on with a fresh outlook. Often parties happen after a long day at work or maybe something happened in the day that throws us off. This section is to remind us that a party is supposed to be fun and relaxing, so let's not bring our emotional baggage along. Here are some questions to ask yourself before attending a gathering.
How Can I Cultivate My Best + Brightest Self?
Before attending (or hosting) a gathering, take some time to get into a good feeling place. Here are some things that help me leave negativity behind and reset myself.
- Deep breathing. Set a timer for as little as two to five minutes, close your eyes and breath deeply. Count your breaths in and out and think about each exhale releasing the feelings and events of the day. You don't need them anymore so let them go.
- Stretching. Stretching is great for relaxation because we hold tension in our muscles and joints. Stretching helps release stress and allows us to open up physically + mentally. Five to ten minutes of yoga will have you feeling more grounded and positive.
- Have fun getting ready. No need for getting ready to be a chore, sometimes it's my favourite part of the day. I like to pour myself a glass of wine and put on some music while I slowly get ready. Take your time, don't rush yourself. Life will still be there when you're done. Getting ready slowly gives me time to play with thoughts like "how do I want to feel?" or "What version of myself do I want to bring to this gathering?" This helps me take stock of where I am in that moment and how I can cultivate my new vibe.
But I'm Tired
- Nap. This one is huge for me. Especially if I've worked the whole day. Cat naps are my favourite, you wouldn't believe what a 15 to 20 minute nap will do for your mood! You don't even have to be asleep– laying down peacefully with your eyes closed is just as effective for rejuvenation. I'm a whole different person when I get up.
- Tea time. Brew a green or black tea and sip as you get ready. I prefer to drink tea before meeting up with people opposed to coffee that can leave you feeling jittery.
- Shower to freshen up. Usually I'll do all three of these things if I'm in need of a serious perk up. Works every time.
What Should I Bring?
Besides your adorable self?! Let's see. There are two kinds of parties. 1) The gathering where the host supplies the food. If it's BYOB, then do that (or mocktail ingredients if you don't drink). If it did not specify to BYOB then bringing wine or a nice bottle of sparkling water is always welcome. I would refrain from bringing food if the host hasn't asked because they've taken the time to plan a menu. Say they're serving a traditional Italian meal their dead Nona bestowed upon them and you walk in the door with a bowl of green jello to serve alongside the tiramisu. They'll feel obligated to put it out even though Nona hated green jello with a passion. An unexpected dish will also take up room in the fridge or on the table that may not be available. 2) The potluck. Bring only food that is fully prepared or ready to eat. At most, a quick heat up in the oven upon arrival. Anything else creates extra work for the host. You don't want to be that person who shows up with a raw pork chop like, “it just needs to brine for an hour, marinated for thirty minutes, cooked in a cast iron pan and drizzled with grade A maple syrup." Now the host is stuck in the kitchen instead of enjoying their party.
Did I RSVP?
I don't know, did you!? RSVP! And RSVP ASAP. OK? FYI it's rude to go MIA even if you're all TGIF, capiche?! The host needs to plan for food, drinks, seating etc, so be courteous and give them a heads up so things run smoothly.
Can I Bring Someone?
Probably! Or probably not. Depends on your host, I'm putting words in their mouth. Call and ask them! But definitely ask in case they're serving bacon wrapped chicken in a lamb stomach and your guest happens to be vegetarian. Awkward.
What Do I Talk About At A Party?
Anything you want! It's a party so have fun and conversate! But actually, stay away from these topics:
- Belief system conversations– like abortion, politics, religion and Donald Trump. Here in Canada pretty much no one likes Donald Trump but he's still a yuge downer so avoid this topic at all costs.
- Work Talk. Try and refrain from too much talk about work even if coworkers are there. Nothing drains me more than coworker friends getting on a work rant while I'm trying to pretend I'm a wealthy artist-philanthropist who's docked her yacht and is slumming it for the night with these wild characters. Can't a girl dream!?
- Complaining. Negative talk feels bad for you and everyone around you. It's a party so keep it fun and do what you need to before arriving to clear your mind of negative vibes. For help with this, read the first question.
When Should I Arrive?
Whenever they told you to arrive. But not early. And not too late. Unless you're coming to help the host prepare, avoid arriving early. The last 15 to 30 minutes is important for the host's finishing touches. A spritz of essential oils, a last minute clothing change (or five), a shot of vodka followed by affirmations in the mirror– let them have that time. If you arrive during these things, they may feel obligated to entertain you and it can throw off their mojo. You don't want to be a mojo thrower do you? Well, do you!?!?
Make the cheese ball (without rolled nuts) the night before. The flavours were substantially better after I let it sit overnight.
Feel free to substitute goat cheese or any other soft cheese you like for the blue. Blue cheese isn't everyone's cup of tea but all the flavours would work well with goat.
Substitute the pistachios for walnuts, pecans or almonds if you prefer. I like the pop of green from the roasted pistachios but any of the others would taste great.
And lastly, avoid breaking all your wine glasses. You'll have to pretend your water glasses are cool new stemless wine glasses that give the appearance of really being water glasses. They're supposed to be like that, okay?
Wishing you many fun + joyous gatherings this season!
STILTON PEAR CHEESE BALL WITH PISTACHIOS +
inspiration: 70s retro christmas
the feels: soft, crunchy, creamy
eat with: crackers, bread/toast, vegetables, anything that's scoopy, figs, wine– cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, riesling, port, dessert wine
might like if you're into: roller skating, disco hits, stinky cheeses, beaded doorways, Happy Days, Donna Summer, mood rings, 8-tracks, shag carpet
makes one large cheese ball || prep time: 15 minutes chilling time: a couple hours
- 250 grams (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 150 grams stilton cheese (or any other blue you like), at room temperature
- 1 pear, diced into small cubes (mine were about 1 cm)
- 1 cup of shelled roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1.5 teaspoons crushed pink peppercorns (or any other colour)
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (scant)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Ensure that your cheeses and butter are at room temperature so they will mix evenly and easily.
- In a small bowl add the pear and lemon juice (this prevents the pear from browning). Toss to mix. In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, stilton cheese, butter, salt, and honey. Mix until evenly combined. Add diced pear and peppercorns to cheese mixture. Fold in until evenly distributed.
- Place cheese mixture in a large piece of saran wrap. Shape into a sphere and wrap up. Place in the fridge for a minimum of a few hours or overnight to let the flavours settle together and so the cheese can firm up.
- Lay pistachio pieces on a place or shallow dish. When cheese is firm, remove from fridge and roll in the pistachios until fully covered. You can serve it to guests immediately or cover it up in saran wrap and keep it in the fridge until guests arrive. Leave it out for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Serve with honey, crackers, bread, and/or chopped raw vegetables.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a week or so if securely wrapped in plastic.