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Havin' a Holiday Ball

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

There may be glass balls on the tree, but those aren’t the only spherical holiday delights! The Christmas Party Buffet (or Holiday Party Buffet) is something I’ve been doing for decades. Two of the “spherical” mid-century buffet spectaculars my guests can’t get enough of are my sweet ‘n sour meatballs and my festive wreath-shaped cheeseball. They’re fun to whip up and really give your table the wow factor that make a holiday party extra special.

First off, the MEAT balls! 🥩 🏀 's    

Christmas Party Meatballs

Makes 50 meatballs

A mid-century classic and my Mother-in-Law's specialty. These are more sweet 'n sour-ly hard to resist than ever. I normally make 300 meatballs for 100 people. Be sure to take meatballs out of freezer the day before, to thaw in fridge. I serve ‘em up fancy in a silver chafing dish with toothpicks.

1/3 cup all fruit grape jelly

1/2 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch

50 frozen plain or Swedish meatballs, thawed. Do not use Italian-flavored.

In Dutch oven or large pot combine jelly, chili sauce, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar.

Over medium heat, whisk vigorously and bring to a gentle boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons water to starch, whisk, stir in to mixture. Continue cooking till mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.

Add meatballs. With large spoon coat meatballs with sauce by turning them repeatedly, 5 minutes. Simmer for another 10, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

Refrigerate meatballs in sauce for at least 3 hours, best overnight.

In foil-covered roasting pan, at 225°F, reheat for 45 minutes then hold in oven at 225°F till ready to serve.

That time I was on Chicago TV (from my NYC kitchen) cooking up my balls!

Next up, the CHEESE ball! 🧀 🏀

Rudolph the Red-Bowed Cheeseball Wreath

Serves 50 to 75

You know Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen . . . but do you recall, the most famous cheeseball of all?! This eye-catching treat will add lots of pizzazz to your holiday table! Deck the halls with wreaths of cheese!

8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded

8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

Generous dashes of your favorite hot sauce

Generous shakes of Worcestershire sauce

About 1/3 cup mayo

Bunch of scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin

8 ounces (or more) whipped cream cheese, dyed green (I prefer gel coloring to standard)

Large bunch curly parsley, de-stemmed, run through food processor

Multicolored (or red) grape tomatoes

Large, good-looking red bell pepper

With clean hands, in large bowl, combine all cheeses, hot sauce, Worcestershire, mayo, and scallions.

On awesome vintage cake stand, platter, or holiday plate, form cheese wreath. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, uncovered is fine.

Next day, frost with green whipped cheese, pat on parsley, attach tomatoes and red bell pepper bow with toothpicks.

You can refrigerate again for an hour or so to get the whipped cheese to set up but be sure to let wreath sit out for an hour or two before the party so guests can slice wreath easily with cheese spreaders.

Serve with crudités and crackers as desired.




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