As a little girl I always looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas partly because my mom made all different kinds of amazing foods. It was nothing short of a feast. We had turkey as the centerpiece (for both holidays), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, green bean casserole, homemade rolls, green salad and of course pies for dessert. But my absolute favorite holiday food was Cheeseball Salad. We only had Cheeseball Salad on holidays because it took awhile to make. I often helped make the salad, especially the cheeseball part. If I helped, I could talk my mom into letting me try one of the cheeseballs. They were so good.
When Wardeh mentioned that she was going to host her Gallery of Thanksgiving Sides the only recipe I could think of was Cheeseball Salad. It was truly a family tradition. In fact, my mom tells me that the recipe has been in her family for years. But the recipe, as it was, relied on many processed ingredients. Here is original recipe that my mom sent me:
Family Favorite Cheeseball Salad
1 Large package raspberry gelatin
1 can cranberry sauce (whole or jellied)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Put gelatin in bowl and pour boiling water over it mix well and add the cranberry sauce. Be sure to add the cranberry sauce while the gelatin/water is very hot so it will melt into the gelatin. Pour into a 9×13 cake pan. Let set until firm. Skip to Step 3 when about halfway firmed up.
Package of cream cheese (softened)
Chopped walnuts (my mom didn’t give me any amounts but 1/2 cup sounds good)
Minced celery (a couple of stalks)
Combine cream cheese, nuts and celery. Form into small balls. Place on top of firm cranberry gelatin mixture.
Large package of lemon gelatin
Mix up per package directions. Refrigerate until slightly firm but still syrupy.
Container of Cool Wh!p
Slightly firm lemon gelatin from step 3
Can of crushed pineapple
Fold the slightly firm lemon gelatin with the cool whip. Add the pineapple and gently combine. Pour the lemon gelatin/pineapple/whipped topping mixture over the top of the cranberry gelatin with the cheeseballs on top. Place in refrigerator to firm up.
The end result is a very pretty layered gelatin salad. My mom always made it in a glass cake pan so we could see how pretty it was. It was served during dinner as one of our salads.
Obviously, the recipe as it is doesn’t fit with our new (this will be our first holiday) desire to eat whole foods. I hope my mom doesn’t mind too much but I reworked her recipe leaving the general idea but improving the ingredients. I got the idea for doing the gelatin from The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Below is my updated version.
Cheeseball Salad Parfaits
The day before you wish to make the salad:
Make cream cheese using these directions but substituting yogurt for kefir. Hang for about 24 hours to make the cheese very firm.
If you would like to use Crispy Nuts (as described in Nourishing Traditions) make on this day (I did not use crispy nuts in my version).
2 cups frozen strawberries-thawed(when thawed I had just over 1 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetener (I used 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar)
2 packages plain gelatin
2 cups hot water
Put the strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth. Add sweetener and gelatin, blend about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups hot water blend another 30 seconds until well mixed. Pour into parfait (or wine) glasses. Chill until set up. The blender will cause the gelatin mixture to foam a little bit. I didn’t worry about that but you can let it set until it settles before pouring in glasses if you prefer. Important:When about half set up do step 3.
1 cup ‘cream cheese’
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
Minced celery (optional- I did not use celery)
Combine cream cheese, nuts and celery. Form into small balls.
Divide cream cheese balls evenly among parfait glasses. Lay on top once the strawberry gelatin is completely firm.