Tag Archives: Halloween

Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball

October and November have been very mild months for Michigan which allowed us to enjoy some beautiful Fall foliage and everything else the season has to offer.

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Apples and pumpkins come to mind as well as the beautiful trees.  These pretty Honeycrisp apples and giant pumpkins are from Robinettes, a nearby orchard that I visit on a regular basis.  I bought the apples but not the pumpkins which were slightly too large.

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Giant Pumpkins

I never attempted to make a cheese ball until I found recipes for a cute Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball (no pumpkin in it though).  What it does have are wonderful flavors of cream cheese and cheddar cheese with a slightly spicy taste from the salsa and Fiesta Ranch Dip mix.

I make the cheese ball to serve as an appetizer for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  But it is good any time of the year and for any special occasion.  There are several versions of this recipe out there but this is what I have come up with to suit our taste.  If you are looking for a tasty and easy appetizer to add to your Thanksgiving Day dinner, try this one.

Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball

Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball

16 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Brand Fiesta Ranch Dip Mix
3 tablespoons salsa
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups crushed Doritos nacho cheese chips
pretzel rod or bell pepper stem

Using a stand or hand held mixer beat the cream cheese, onion powder, and Fiesta Ranch Dip mix until  creamy.  Add the salsa and cheddar cheese and mix until combined.

Scoop mixture into a plastic food storage bag and use the plastic bag to form a ball.  Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

After chilling, score the sides of the cheese ball to resemble a pumpkin.  When ready to serve, roll ball into the crushed nacho chips and place a pretzel rod or bell pepper stem on top.  Serve with crackers or your favorite chips.  Keep any leftovers in the fridge.    

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Cheese Ball and Cracker

Notes:
1.  If the salsa has a lot of liquid, strain it before adding to the cheese mixture.
2.  I have used the food processor and also a rolling pin to crush the chips. They both work equally well.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Scene

I am always happy when October rolls around.  I think it is our prettiest season here in Michigan.  It is also when the locally grown pumpkins start to appear in the Farmers Markets and farm stands.  I love their bright orange color and their different shapes and sizes, even the giant ones.

Giant Pumpkins

Pumpkins have been grown in North America for thousands of years and are a native plant.  In 1584, French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America.  He found what he described as “gros melons”.  The name was translated into English as “pompions” and over time has become known as the pumpkin.  Source

There are so many delicious recipes than can be made from pumpkins.  A Google search reveals a lot of recipes from sweet to savory.

My favorite way to cook with pumpkin is a traditional Pumpkin Pie.  I always bake two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Here is a link to my post for a recipe for traditional pumpkin pie, made with either fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin.

However, this year I am adding another kind of pumpkin pie to our dessert menu for Thanksgiving.  It is an easy no bake pumpkin pie with a rich creamy filling that has a delicious light taste of pumpkin and the tang of cream cheese.  It is perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (approximately 24 cookies )
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2  teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1  cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the crushed gingersnaps, sugar and cinnamon.  Mix in the  melted butter until thoroughly combined.  Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, evenly covering the bottom and sides.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the crust is set.  Remove the pie crust from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

For the Filling:

Place a medium-sized mixing bowl and beaters of an electric mixer into the freezer while you make the cream cheese and pumpkin filling.

Beat the softened cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and beat until smooth.  Set aside while preparing the whipped cream.

Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl.  Beat the cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the two tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Whip the cream until stiff peaks start to form, being careful not to over-beat.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese and pumpkin mixture and then spread into the pie plate.

Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.  Serve with additional whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed gingersnaps, if desired.   

Pumpkin Cream Pie

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Notes:
1.  Be sure to chill the mixing bowl and beaters and use heavy cream that is as cold as possible.  This  will help the cream to whip quickly and increase the volume.
2.  I used a food processor to crush the gingersnaps.  An alternative method is to place them in a ziplock bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
3.  Adapted from Pumpkin Silk Pie recipe by  thegunnysack.  Visit her site for delicious recipes and beautiful photos of food.

We must not forget that jack-o’-lanterns carved from pumpkins are the star of Halloween.  While I may be terrible at carving Jack-o’-lanterns,  I don’t think the little trick or treaters mind at all.  Happy Halloween

Jack O Lantern