Holiday Ham and Cheese Ball

This is my version of a holiday staple in my family. My Dad, who never did much cooking the rest of the year, would tear up the kitchen making pans and pans of party mix, and several of his special cheese balls (the recipe for which is gone forever).
  • 4 oz Neufchatel (lowfat cream) cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • ¼ cup finely diced ham
  • 6 chives, minced
  • ½ tsp dried or fresh dill (optional)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh (Italian) parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds (optional)
  • Sturdy crackers (I prefer Triscuit)
Combine cream cheese, milk, and sauce(s) until well blended. Add the shredded cheeses and stir until mixed well. Stir in the ham and chives (and dill). Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Stir together the pecans, parsley, paprika, and seeds (if using) in a pie pan or similar dish. Unwrap ball and roll in nut mixture. Store in plastic container (the large round ones from Rubbermaid are perfect because the bottom is rounded and the top is flat – you then just invert on a plate when ready to serve!) Chill for at least 30 more minutes.
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