Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cheddar-Ranch Cheese Log With Bacon and Pecans

I make a cheese ball every Christmas. I used to make the Lion House Cheese ball recipe, but have decided to branch out the past few years. This year I was searching the internet for a new recipe and came across one that sounded pretty good. It called for two bricks of cream cheese, a package of ranch dressing mix and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese. It sounded good, but I thought I could make it a bit better. Now what would work well with ranch dressing and cheddar cheese? BACON! I thought, "I mix it all together and roll the ball in bacon." But then I realized with the saltiness of the cheese and ranch dressing mix and the crackers with which I was going to serve the cheese ball, it would probably end up too salty.

Pecans or some other kind of nut is the typical coating for cheese balls, so I still wanted to use them. I thought I could sprinkle bacon on the top after rolling the rest of the ball in nuts. That seemed too tedious and there wouldn't be bacon flavor over the whole ball. My husband, Eric, suggested that I mix the bacon and nuts together before rolling the ball in it. That was my solution.

My other concern was that no one wants to eat the middle of the cheese ball. It ends up tasting bland and lacking that extra kick from the nuts, and in this case, bacon. The simple solution: make it a log instead. It worked like a charm. Every bite had nuts and bacon-y goodness. The consensus was that it is by far the best cheese ball/log I've ever made.

I only made a half recipe and it looks like I'll be making another one for New Year's since it was such a bit hit. I served it with Wheat Thins and Garden Vegetable Ritz, but you could serve it with mini toasts or bagel chips or a good crusty bread. Enjoy!

Cheddar-Ranch Cheese Log

2 - 8oz bricks cream cheese, at room temp
1 1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
3-4 slices of bacon
1/3 c pecans

Using a rubber spatula, mix the cream cheese in a medium bowl until soft. Add ranch dressing mix and shredded cheese. Mix until well combined.
Scrape mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Roll up into a log, twisting the ends tightly to compact the mixture into a firm log. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Toast pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until crisp and smell nutty.
Fry bacon in skillet until crisp.
Chop pecans and bacon together. Leave on cutting board.
Remove plastic from cheese log and roll in pecan-bacon mixture.
Place on serving plate along with any extra pecans and bacon.
Serve with crackers or toast. StumbleUpon

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