Cheeseball Salad

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Cheeseball Salad

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
Step 1
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.

Step 2
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.

Step 3
Large package of lemon gelatin

Mix up per package directions. Refrigerate until slightly firm but still syrupy.

Step 4
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).

Step 1
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.



Step 2
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.

Step 3
Juice of 2 lemons
2 packages plain gelatin
Zest of 1 lemon (save the other lemon to zest later)
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetener (I used 1/3 cup of organic cane sugar)
2 cups hot water
Combine lemon juice, gelatin, zest and sweetener in blender. Blend about 30 seconds. Add hot water. Blend another 30 seconds until well mixed. Pour into a bowl and set into refrigerator. Allow to set up until slightly firm but still a little syrupy.
Step 4
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Slightly firm lemon gelatin from step 3
Whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold into lemon gelatin mixture gently mixing. Top each parfait glass with whipped cream/gelatin mixture. Allow to set up in refrigerator for at least an hour. Top each parfait with a sprinkle of lemon zest before serving.
 Cheeseball Salad
These turned out wonderful. They were very light and looked beautiful. I can imagine them being a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving table. While not exactly the cheeseball salad I grew up with it is a close facsimile. The amounts listed made 4 glasses like the one above and 2 smaller glasses.
Note: If I was going to make this to go with our Thanksgiving meal which we enjoy around 2 in the afternoon I would plan to have them completed (minus zest) the night before. With all of the setting up of the gelatin it takes some time. I started them at 9:30 AM and we had them as dessert around 8 in the evening.
I can’t wait to see what others will be making for the Gallery of Thanksgiving Sides at
Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at


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