Halloween Food Day 3: Owl Cheese Ball with Crackers

Cheese balls are my Mom’s specialty.  She makes them in all different flavors like taco, pineapple with sunflowers and green olive and bacon.  She also has made a variety of shapes over the years such as Christmas trees, reindeer, and jack-o-lanterns.  This is my addition into the mix of family cheese balls. I got the idea for the owl shape at a blog dedicated to all things about owls, My Owl Barn.  The recipe is an adaptation from a recipe found online at Yummly.

•3 8 oz packages cream cheese (I used neufchatel), softened
•2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
•1 small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
•1 Tablespoon chili powder
•1 Tablespoon Creole Seasoning 
•1 cup shredded white or yellow cheddar cheese
•1 cup finely chopped leftover ham

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Prepare garnishes.

For the Garnishes:

•6 oz. package sliced almonds (reserve about 1/3 of a cup.  Grind the rest in a food processor)
•1 pimento stuffed green olive, sliced in half
•a few slices of fresh carrot (leave 2 round, cut the edges off of a third round to make a triangle shape, and cut the last round into thin matchsticks to use as feet)

•2 pieces of cheddar cheese, cut unto circles slightly larger than the carrot rounds
•A few tablespoons of cream cheese mixture, reserved- for attaching the garnishes

Crackers, for serving.

Divide the cream cheese mixture in thirds.  Spread the ground almonds on a piece of waxed paper.  Place 2/3 of the cream cheese mixture on top of the almonds.  Coat evenly and gently shape the mixture into a ball.  Place the ball on the serving plate or a cheese board and press down, flattening softly.  Form legs at the bottom of the owl, as shown in the picture.  Place the remaining 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture on the remaining ground almonds and repeat, shaping into a ball.  Place the ball on the cheese board above the owl’s body and press down slightly.  Form ears.

Spread a little cream cheese mixture on the back of the cheese slices.  Press them gently into the head to form the eyes.  Spread more cream cheese on the backs of the carrots and place on top of the cheese rounds.  Repeat with the green olive to form pupils.  Spread some cream cheese mixture on the back of the carrot triangle and place beneath the eyes to form the nose.  Press the carrot matchsticks gently into the feet to form the claws.

Gently spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on to the center of the body.  Starting at the bottom of the owl, place the almond slices on the body to form feathers.  Continue all the way to the top, filling in bald spots as you go.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Serve with crackers.

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