Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bacon Party Cheese Log

The holiday season is drawing to a close, but there's still one more occasion for celebration.  A New Year's Eve party calls for a spectacular appetizer and there's nothing that will please a crowd as much as bacon!  This cheese log can be made with soft goat cheese or cream cheese, whichever is more to your liking.  The outside is rolled in a mixture of crushed pistachios, crispy crumbled bacon and spices. (For a vegetarian option, see below.)  It is delicious served with gluten free crackers (I like Mary's Gone Crackers), English cucumber slices, celery, assorted vegetables or, if shaped into small bite-size balls, even eaten by themselves.  Crumble any leftovers and sprinkle it on salads or steamed vegetables; it's a creamy and delicious addition to an otherwise boring salad.  I made this for my Christmas Eve family dinner and it was a huge hit with everyone!  It's quick and easy to prepare and can be made a day or two ahead of the party.  Enjoy a happy and healthy New Year!

Bacon Party Cheese Log
Makes about 10 servings (2 TB each)

8 oz. soft goat cheese or cream cheese (room temperature)*
1/2 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoked, whichever you prefer), divided
1 teaspoon dried, chopped basil
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and then measured
5 slices of bacon, chopped and fried until crispy and drained*

1.  Using a handheld mixer, whip the cheese until fluffy.  Add 1/4 teaspoon paprika, basil and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.  Form into a log and wrap in plastic wrap or form into a ball.  (You can also form small balls using 1 tablespoon cheese mixture for each.)  Chill in the refrigerator until firm.

2.  Fry the chopped bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels.  Place the bacon, pistachios, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon paprika into a food processor and pulse until the pistachios are chopped into small pieces.  (If you don't have a food processor, chop the pistachios and bacon with a sharp knife until the right consistency, then add the spices.)  

3.  Place the bacon mixture into a shallow plate.  Roll the cheese log in the mixture until completely covered.  Refrigerate until party time.  Allow the log to soften for about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (2 TB), not including crackers or vegetables: 106 calories, 1.9 g carbohydrate (0.4 g dietary fiber, 1.1 g sugar), 8 g total fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 21 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 39.8 mg calcium, 64 mg potassium, 6.3 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 1.5 grams

* To create a dairy-free log, use dairy-free, vegan cream cheese in place of the goat or cream cheese.  For a vegetarian option, you can double the amount of pistachios and omit the bacon.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

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