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April is just chock full of holidays and celebrations and excuses for making great food. Take today, for example. Upon waking this morning, I read on Twitter that April 17th happens to be National Cheeseball Day, and while they say Cheeseball and I say Cheese Ball, it all comes out the same in the end.

Later, as I was trolling the aisles of my local supermarket, I passed a dairy case that featured several kinds of cheese balls and cheese logs. They all looked exactly like the kind my Grammy used to make – big and lumpish and covered in chopped nuts of dubious origin. It is giving them all the breaks when I say that they did not look very good. That’s when inspiration struck and I knew I could do better.

It was a rainy Sunday and nothing more could be done to ease the pain of my tax return, so I thought: “Why not cheese balls? Why not now?” I had just about everything I needed to improvise and so I set out to bring my Grammy’s cheese balls into the 21st century.

We know it’s all about the cheese, right? And so I took a basic formula to create the foundation of my afternoon of ball play. Here is what I did:

Basic Cheese Ball Formula

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups Cabot Cheddar Cheese, grated

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2 shakes Worcestershire Sauce

a dash or two of Tabasco or Sriracha Sauce (optional)

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Add something fun and delicious to roll the whole thing around in. Preferably not nuts of dubious origin.

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Use your imagination when thinking about what you’ll roll your balls in.

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Pretend you’re a painter with a ball-rolling palette.

Mix the cheeses, Worcestershire Sauce, and hot sauce food processor until smooth and blended and let chill in refrigerator for several hours. Then you can make a big ole cheese ball and surround it with crackers. Or you can do what I like to do and make tiny, bite size balls and mix ‘em up a bit. Add interesting tastes to your balls. Roll your balls in different kinds of yumminess. Bottom line? Have fun with your balls.

Here is just a partial list of fun ways to deck your balls for wows and jollies!

Fiesta Balls: Use Cabot Habanero Cheddar and roll in chopped cilantro.

Bunny Balls: Use Cabot Mild Cheddar, add chopped spinach when you process the cheese, and roll in chopped carrots.

Sharp & Sweet Balls: Use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar and roll in chopped dried fruit.

Seedy Balls: Use Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, add a dash of soy sauce and roll in toasted sesame seeds.

Green Balls: Use Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar and roll in chopped pistachio nuts.

Caprese Balls: Use Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar, add 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves, and roll in sun dried tomatoes.

Sunny Balls: Use Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar and roll in roasted sunflower seeds.

Fancy Balls: Use Cabot Private Stock Cheddar and roll in chopped scallions.

Kickin’ Balls: Use Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Jalapeno Cheddar, add 1/2 a mashed avocado, and roll in chopped almonds.

Horsey Balls: Use Cabot Horseradish Cheddar and roll in crumbled bacon.

Cheezy Poof Balls: Use Cabot Sharp Cheddar and roll in crushed cheese puff snacks.

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Truth be told, if you let your imagination run free, cheese balls are just about the most fun you can have making an appetizer. Drop me a line with your ideas.

And have a ball!