December 24, 2012 in Random Thoughts
If you haven’t already read Part 1, you can read that here. This continues right where I left off!
I proceeded making my cheese balls with a mixture of cream and cheddar cheeses. I rolled them in a coating of crushed pretzels and sunflower seeds, placed them on a cookie sheet, and shoved them in the oven.
Now, what was I going to do with the blueberries? I grabbed a saucepan and placed it on the stove. I scooped a handful of blueberries in a bowl, partially smashed them with the back of a spoon, and tossed them in the saucepan with some cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and a spoonful of sugar. As the mixture heated, the blueberry juice permeated into the cream cheese and cream, making it a lovely purple color. I kept stirring until the cream cheese melted and it thickened a bit, and then I peeked in the oven to check on my cheese balls.
Hmm. When cheese melts, it doesn’t exactly stay in a ball shape. Who knew? I glanced at the clock…time was ticking away and I now had a collection of cheese blobs on my hands. In somewhat of a frenzy, I tossed the entire cookie sheet of cheese balls into the fridge to chill. Boy, did I wish I had access to the blast chiller like they have on the real Chopped.
In the meantime, I scooped some vanilla yogurt into 4 ramekins for the judges and set each one on a plate with a spoon. I topped them with a little homemade granola made up of granola cereal, sunflower seeds, and crumbled pretzels. I spooned some of my blueberry sauce over the yogurt and granola, and with a mixture of fear and resignation, I reached into the fridge to plop a couple of cheese balls on the plate. The thing was, there was nothing more I could do with them. Time had run out–has 30 minutes ever passed so quickly?–and I wasn’t about to be disqualified over a misshapen cheese ball.
My mom and I breathed a sigh of relief when out plates were before the judges. Honestly, at that moment, I didn’t care at all what they thought of my appetizers. I was sweaty and out of breath, and the kitchen was completely trashed. Grated cheese was all over the floor, pretzel crumbs coated the counters like dust, and I might have been a little sloppy with my blueberry mashing technique because there were splotches of blueberry stains everywhere. The judging was the least of my worries.
At least, until they started actually judging. My boys, like the truly picky eaters they are, poked my cheese balls suspiciously with the very tip of one finger. They lifted their spoons and tried to lift up the layer of blueberry sauce and granola to see what potential landmine I might have hidden underneath. “It’s the same yogurt you eat every day,” I snapped. They tasted miniscule bites and made proclamations like “Eh,” and “It’s okay.”
My dad, however, found his calling as a hard-as-nails food critic. He ripped my little cheese balls apart. I found myself growing defensive at first, and then felt myself wither under the judgment. I have a new appreciation for any contestant who is judged and found lacking. It’s an awful feeling, even if it is just your dad in your own kitchen.
He did like my blueberry sauce, though!
I won the appetizer round, but I do suspect that I had the home field advantage. My own three sons as the judges? My poor mom didn’t stand a chance.
Afterwards, I tasted one of my cheese balls, and my main criticism of it was that it was too salty. The blueberry sauce was inspired, though, and I have made it several times since. It is a perfect addition of blueberry sweetness to a granola-yogurt parfait.
This year, in my continuing effort for simplicity, there will not be a Chopped repeat. Instead, I’m thinking of a Wii Sports competition, single elimination, winner takes all. No clean up, no elaborate shopping sprees, and best of all, no judging!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!