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Getting Nutty with the Family!

I’m just going to say it. My family is nuts. It’s family reunion time! I know it will be a blast. There will be an overcrowded cabin of family members, lots of activities, tons of food and exhausted children.

In my haste to get everyone packed, make sure we had the right clothes, shoes and appropriate sporting gear for any possible event we could do, I also needed to find an appetizer that we could share. Cheese balls are always a hit with our family, so I found this recipe for Nutty Touchdown Cheese Ball. I guess you can say, the name just spoke to me. Another family member lived closer to our reunion site, so I was able to add my ingredients to her grocery list. At least I could delegate one item to get done! Then we were in the car with luggage, kids, coolers, blankets, pillows and sporting equipment...Reunion Time!

We usually divide and conquer the appetizers and some of the meals so that each family helps to bring and cook something for the rest of the family. My appetizer turn happened to fall on our family "Olympics" day, so the Nutty Touchdown Cheese Ball would make a timely debut. Think I could make this in the kitchen? Nope. That would have interrupted the insane bead-making station, the 4-way solitaire tournament and the endless iPhones and iPads that were charging on the countertops. Sigh. On to Plan B! Outside to the deck – where others were filling water balloons – with my trusty iPad for my recipe directions!

I handed each of the boys an ingredient to carry and, luckily, there are only a few ingredients for this easy appetizer so my migration outside was a smart and easy decision.
First I softened an 8-ounce package of cream cheese on the counter for about an hour. I put it into the mixing bowl and began to mix it to make it smooth.

After I had tied 6 water balloons, I then added 1/4 pound of deli Swiss cheese finely chopped like this:

I added 3 tablespoons dill pickle relish. The recipe also says you can use finely chopped dill pickles.

We have a lot of teachers in my family, so we have no shortage of ideas or people to keep 9 kids under the age of 11 occupied. So it was no great surprise that I needed to move my station once again so the rock painting could begin. Earlier on the nature walks (aka "forced marches") up the road, we had gathered rocks to paint, meaning that some poor soul had to lug back 5 to 8 pounds of rocks. But I digress…

The next ingredient to chop is 3 ounces of deli corned beef. Once it is chopped, just add it to the cream cheese mixture.

Then I sliced the green onions. The recipe calls for adding 3 tablespoons of thinly-sliced green onions to the mixture. According to the recipe, you can mix the ingredients with a hand mixer at medium speed. Since my cream cheese was softened enough, I was able to mix everything easily using a rubber spatula. So it looked like this after mixing:

Next take 1/2 cup whole roasted salted almonds and finely chop. Not going back inside for the knife. Time to improvise. My nephew and I came up with a much better way to chop the almonds. We put the almonds into a heavy-duty plastic bag and we smashed them with our painted rocks. It was way more fun.

The directions say to place the chopped almonds into a large, shallow dish. However, I found it a bit easier to sprinkle a good amount of the chopped almonds on a piece of plastic wrap.

I then scraped the cheese mixture on top of the layer of chopped nuts. Then I sprinkled the rest of the nuts around the cheese ball mixture.

I folded the plastic wrap over the mixture so I could press the mixture and make the football shape.

We had all sorts of requests to shape the cheese ball into animals and cartoon characters. My answer was a firm, "Nope, but thanks for asking. We’re sticking to the football." This reminded them to start picking out their teams! It’s football time!

After wrapping the Nutty Touchdown Cheese Ball and chilling it in the fridge for 2 hours, it was on to football, ladder ball, bean bag toss and then…Ok, we only made it an hour and a half – the masses were hungry!


 
Right before serving, I decorated the outside of the cheese ball with thin strips of green onion to make it look like the laces on a football. One long strip, then 3 small strips like this:

We placed crackers around the cheese ball and voila! Snacks were served. We all needed our energy while we were launching water balloons at the others who were down by the lake getting ready for a pontoon boat ride. Look out below!

On to the next activity! Time for an evening boat ride!

I am definitely saving this recipe so I can make it again for our many tailgate parties this football season. I can easily see this becoming the tailgating appetizer that always results in an empty plate to bring home.

Ah yes, another "relaxing’ family reunion vacation goes down in the books. By all accounts, a great time was had by all. Mosquito bites, first fish caught, football, water balloons, campfires, s’mores, fireworks and snake sightings…Lots of great memories and life lessons.

Time with family can be crazy, but it’s truly also when memories are made. I hope you make the Nutty Touchdown Cheese Ball sometime. It was "super tasty" and a fun appetizer to share on a crazy, fun vacation with family.

Let me know what you think about the Nutty Touchdown Cheese Ball! Write a comment. Do you have any great vacation stories?

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    Hi, I'm Becky. I'm eager to share my best ideas and favorite recipes from my 20+ years in the Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen. I'm also excited to help with any questions you have about cooking and baking with Land O Lakes® products. Some of the questions and answers will be published in our newsletter, The Measuring Cup®. Please use the short form below to ask your questions, or share your tip or memory.


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