Cheese Ball – Three Ways

Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Are you guys ready for Super Food Sunday?! Or I guess as it’s better known, Super Bowl Sunday. But we all know it’s all about the food!  I cannot wait to enjoy some good appetizers & desserts!  I always host a mini gathering here with my family and we make way too much food and miss a lot of the game because we’re too busy eating & chatting. (Except for my uncle, he’s a big football fan and keeps us somewhat attuned to what’s going on…).
Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Just in case you need another appetizer to add to your menu this Sunday (and really you should add this!), I’m sharing this quick & easy cheese ball. My niece, Tori, has been making this for family get togethers for quite a while and I decided I had to share it because it’s one of my favorites.  Seriously, give me a cheese ball, some crackers and a bottle of sparkling grape juice and I’m in heaven! And it’s the easiest thing to throw together.  I decided to fancy them up a bit by rolling them in a few different coatings.  This cheese ball is good even without a coating if you’re really in a hurry. But the coatings are nice because they give each cheese ball a slightly different flavor.
Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Cheese Ball – Three Ways

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix (make sure it’s the dressing mix & not the dip mix)
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the coating:
approximately 3/4 cup sliced almonds
approximately 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
approximately 3/4 cup crumbled bacon (cooked)

In a medium bowl, stir softened cream cheese until smooth. Add in the ranch mix and stir until blended. Mix in the shredded cheese until combined. Form mixture into a ball. (If it’s too soft, stick it in the fridge for about 10 minutes). You can serve the cheese ball as is, without a coating or immediately roll it into a coating or coatings desired (the cheese ball needs to be at room temp for the coating to stick). I divided the ball into thirds, rolled those into balls, and then rolled each one. Serve right away, or wrap with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

Tips for rolling: Place coating on a sheet of wax paper, roll ball around on coating. Once most of it is covered, start just sticking the coating on where needed till it’s completely covered.

Adapted from All Recipes

Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
Cheese Ball - 3 Ways @themerrythought
What’s your favorite food to eat on Super Bowl Sunday?

-Manda

Merry Moments

Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Merry Moments @themerrythought
Some moments from my Sunday:

…every morning for breakfast I have 2 eggs. Sometimes over easy, sometimes scrambled, every once in a while an omelet. And then we have bacon in the house and my good eating is thrown out the window. Bacon is my weakness…well, one of many if I’m honest. But oh how I love some crispy bacon!
coffee bar shelves
…I’m so glad I live with a guy who enjoys making coffee drinks for fun so I can drink coffee all day long. Okay, only on weekends when he’s here to make it for me. Gotta get my guy working at home so I can sip coffee all the day long. (It just tastes better when someone else makes it for you!)
…out & about with my go-around pal
…I think he only plays outside so he can get hot chocolate when he comes back in!
…legos, all day every day ’round here!
…reading homework
…sandwiches for dinner are my fav (and ughh – broke the diet again…sandwiches, another weakness!)

Wishing that the weekends lasted a bit longer – happy Monday friends!

-Manda

DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack

DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack @themerrythoughtI’m not a huge wine fan, but I have a lot of friends that love it! So I decided to try to put together a minimal, modern wine rack to gift to one of my wine-loving friends. I’ve been using tons of light plywood for projects recently so I decided to stick with that and, of course, add a little bit of leather. It’s a pretty basic project for those of you that haven’t done much woodworking. So give it a shot and show us how yours turns out!!
DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-1/2″ x 12″ x 24″ Birch Plywood
-Scroll Saw
-Three 5/8″ Dowels
-Drill
-5/8″ Forstner Drill Bit
-Wood Glue
-Four 1″ x 20″ pieces of Leather
-Sewing Machine

How to make it:
-Draw line across the board at 11 5/8″ from one end (this gives an extra 3/8″ to the back side of the stand)
-Use the saw to cut along this line.
-On the top half, (the one with the extra 3/8″) measure 1.5″ down from the top and make a mark at the center of the board and then a mark at 1″ in from each side. Also mark 6 1/4″ down from the top at the center and 1″ in from each side. (These are for the dowels.)
-Drill a hole most of the way through the board at each mark.
-Cut six 12″ pieces of dowel.
-Screw the base piece of wood to the back of the stand.
-Glue dowels in place.
-Fold each piece of leather in half. Stitch across, giving enough room for dowel to fit through. About 1″
-Now fold about an inch on each end and sew along the edge.
-Slide the leather on the dowels once they are completely dry and fill it up with your favorite wine!
DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack @themerrythought DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack @themerrythought DIY Wood & Leather Wine Rack @themerrythoughtYou can even make a sweet geometric wine stopper to go with your new wine rack!

xo. Caitlin

Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts

Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
As a kid, I loved conversation heart candy! Now, I’m not so much a fan of the candy (I do like the sweet tart version), but I think the sayings on the hearts are so fun…and bizarre sometimes!  I thought I’d make some of my own conversation hearts using one of my favorite recipes – homemade graham crackers. You can consider it a healthier version of conversation hearts – or a more grown-up version!
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
These crackers are a delicious treat all on their own – or you can get fancy and make heart sandwiches – filled with buttercream, ice cream, cool whip, peanut butter, Nutella…or whatever it is that you like with your grahams! Or use them to make Valentine s’mores! I think I might have to save a few of these to try that with!
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup untoasted wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350º. Whisk flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter, brown sugar, and honey into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined. (If it’s too dry and not sticking together, add water, a little at a time, until the dough can stick together – but don’t get it too wet).

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface, and divide in half. Roll out one half of dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Save your scraps to re-roll.

To write on the crackers, I found that it showed up the best by first using the sharp end of a wooden skewer to lightly draw out the letters. Then using the same sharp end, poke small holes over the letters you traced (see photos below). Transfer hearts to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper {the crackers do not expand much, they can be close together, but not touching}.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until dark golden brown, 9-12 minutes (they will be crispier if baked a little longer). Let cool on sheet 5 minutes; transfer crackers to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough and your scraps.

If desired, make heart sandwiches – use buttercream (recipe below), ice cream, cool whip or Nutella!

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring, if desired

Beat together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy (if it’s too firm/thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time to reach desired consistency; or if it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar). Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired, and mix well. Spread a bit of cream filling on a cracker and top with another cracker to make sandwiches.
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
The boys were excited to have crackers with their names on them! If your child is in a small class, or you’re having a Valentine’s party, I think these would make cute personalized Valentine’s to give out! (If you’re allowed to make homemade treats to hand out – we’re not at our school – boo!) And parents will be glad to see a treat that isn’t pure sugar!!
Or you can make some fun hearts, like the ones below, for a good laugh! :)
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
Graham Cracker Conversation Hearts @themerrythought
What are your favorite sayings from conversation hearts?  And what would you write on your personalized hearts??

-Manda

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