Fruit Shaped Cheeseballs The Tamara Blog

Come on… who doesn’t love a cheese ball? They’re fun to eat, and easy to make. Being a bit of a cheeseball myself, I have a particular affinity for these orbs o’ dairy.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “Cheese balls in Autumn?! Heaven forfend! Everyone knows National Cheese Ball day is April 17th. What kind of celebration enthusiast are you, Tamara?”

In truth, I have no idea why cheese ball day is in April. Makes no sense. These lactose spheres are perfect for football parties, I mean… in my family, we call October the beginning of cheese ball season! So, if you’re going to eat ’em in autumn, why not serve ’em in fall-fruit form?

Here I offer a simple and delicious way to ‘fancy up’ a cheesy classic. 


Apple Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (must be finely grated)
  • 1 Tbs. apple brandy
  • 1 Tbs. apple jelly or apple butter
  • 2 cups fried onions
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • branch and leaves for garnish


Pear Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 5 oz. crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs. pear jam or jelly
  • 1 Tbs. pear brandy
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • yellow food coloring
  • branch and leaves for garnish

Ingredients note:

You can use flavored liquors instead of brandy — it’s just that the brandy has a richer, fuller flavor than a liquor.

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In a bowl, combine cream cheese, butter and cheddar or gorgonzola cheese. Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until fluffy.

Add in jam and brandy, and beat until combined.

Place mixture in refrigerator while working on next step.

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For Apple cheese ball:

Place fried onions in a ziplock bag and crush finely.

Add smoked paprika, and toss/knead to combine.

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For Pear cheese ball:

Toast walnuts/pecans in a dry frying pan over medium heat, or in the broiler, until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Once cool, chop nuts finely (you can use a food processor for this step). Add 8 to 12 drops of yellow food coloring, if desired.

Place mixed coating in a small bowl.

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Remove cheese mixture from the refrigerator and shape into desired form with your hands. Cheese mixture can also be placed in plastic wrap and molded, to keep hands clean.

Once a rough apple or pear form is achieved, drop cheese ball into bowl with coating, and press coating into the surface, refining fruit shape as you go.

After cheese ball is formed, add decorative leaves, and display.

Apple and Pear Shaped Cheese Balls printable recipe

These can be refrigerated for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month. Be sure to allow time to thaw before serving. No one wants a tooth chipped by chilled cheddar.

Enjoy these glorious globes of cheese, an homage to the fromage in you!

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As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the bubbly, and Champagne — the real deal — has no equal.

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Friday, October 23rd, 2015 is the sixth annual celebration of the effervescent wine, made exclusively in the Champagne region of France. Originally designated in 2009 as “a Friday in late October,” World Champagne Day is dedicated to popping corks and raising glasses. International law dictates that only sparkling wine that comes from Champagne can be called… Champagne. So respect the title, friends!

A little while ago, I created an entire full-length Tamara Twist episode to sparkling wine, which you can view on YouTube. The episode is chock-full of recipes, crafting, traditions and trivia.

Sabering a bottle Collage

If you only have a few minutes, check out my Champagne Sabering video here.

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So let’s drink a toast to World Champagne Day! 



*Antique graphics courtesy The Graphics Fairy.



The Essential Teacher "emergency" kit -- The Tamara Blog

I have two sisters, both teachers (and a slew of cousins who are too!). One works at an elementary school, the other at a high school. Their jobs make for a fun summer for us all, but come August, they dread going back.

Not that they dislike their jobs, but come on… don’t we all hate the end of summer?


One sister (the lucky one) lives nearby. When she started to feel the pull of the job, I figured that she needed a little care-package/emergency kit before the hustle and bustle of the new school year began. This is a great gift for friends or relatives, or other teachers you know. In my opinion, teachers tend to be highly under-appreciated, so any little token that acknowledges how hard they work goes a long way. So does a little humor.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Here is my take on the Back to School Emergency Kit for Teachers. I figure all the items need to be useful or fun, and all can go for male or female teachers. And if they’re things the teacher won’t think of, all the better. My remedies come in 4 categories: Wellness, Getting Through the Day, Luxuries, & After Work. No school supplies here. And nearly all of them came from my local drug store.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

  • Wellness: Lozenges, hand sanitizer, Emergen-C, tissues.
  • Getting Through the Day: Pain reliever, energy snacks, antacids, Tea/Coffee packets, chocolate-covered espresso beans, peanut-butter packets, single-serving cereals, coffee gift cards.
  • Little Luxuries: Calming hand lotion, aromatherapy items, chocolate, microwave popcorn.
  • After Work: Single servings of wine, fuzzy socks, a good novel, meditation music.

Find printable labels here from a template by World Labels. (World Labels has fantastic designs, for free!)

While these are already designed, you have to cut out each label individually. If you’d prefer to design your own labels, you can find the pre-cut stickers as well as the label template here.

Kit Tags

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Obviously the wine can’t go with the teacher to school (nor can it be presented on school grounds — use your own discretion), but some of the other items will end up in desk drawers, for whenever they’re needed.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Get a container, start gathering goodies and pack it up. Print the labels (be sure to set your printer to “actual size” when printing the pdf), and cut and arrange. I promise you, the gift, and the thought behind it, will be very well received!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She Loves the Kit -- Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She loves it!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog



May 25th is National Wine Day. So how about doing some cooking with wine?

In my Tamara Twist Champagne episode I have several ideas for cooking with wine.

Wine Poached Artichokes — they’re so good!

Champagne Poached Artichokes, The Tamara Twist

Bellini Popsicles. A refreshing grown-up take on a summer treat.

Bellini Popsicles

Champagne Jello Jigglers

Champagne Jigglers -- The Tamara Twist


Enjoy the day, and do it responsibly!

Who doesn’t love a pie?  Sweet or savory, when buttery crust is combined with delicious filling, something magical happens.  But, how ‘bout something more portable, freezeable, personal. Today on the Twist — Jam Jar Pies.

JJP Collage

Jam jars are normally used in canning, so they are made to be heat-resistant.  They serve as our twist on a nifty baking vessel for a classic pie. 4 ounces jars make for the perfect dessert size.

Here’s my video on how to make Jam Jar Pies!

Full recipe details are available here: Jam Jar Pies


All right. Let me be candid. My inspiration sometimes comes late in the game. So here I am, just a couple days from Valentine’s day, and I don’t have a gift. Are you in the same boat? Good news: Here’s a beautiful, easy and quick craft you can make in just a few minutes.

I Love You Candle -- The Tamara Blog

Are you familiar with water slide decals? They were kind of a mysterious thing in my childhood, and I loved them. Today the decals come in custom-printable paper, so you can make your own beautiful designs!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this customized candle

  • Glass Candle, 6 to 8oz. size
  • Water Slide Decal Paper — for laser or Inkjet printers (I used inkjet)
  • Polyurethane Spray Sealer (Minwax, Krylon)
  • Scissors
  • Glass of Water
  • Paper Towel

Water slide decal paper can be found in art supply stores (my Blick store carries it), some craft stores, and of course, online. If you don’t have any, I recommend buying some right now, and having it on hand for future projects!

I’ve created a single sheet with 9 decals on it, in 3 colors, you can download it here: Heart Love Candle Decals. (In the pic “je t’aime” is misspelled. It’s correct on the printout!)

Decal Sheet-- The Tamara Blog

Thanks to the Graphic’s Fairy for the hearts!

Print according to your decal paper’s instructions. Mine is for inkjet printers, and the instructions state to print with “best” resolution and selecting “glossy photo” paper. Once printed, spray two coats of spray sealer over the printed page. (This prevents the ink from running once you place the decal in water.) Allow the sealer to dry completely between coats, usually 20 to 30 minutes.

By the way, I didn’t count the waiting-do-dry time in the project, figuring you could be reading a book or something else during this time. ;-)


Cutting Decal

Trimmed Decal

Cut the image from the sheet, and trim close to printing.

Immerse the decal in a cup of water for 45 to 60 seconds.


Into Wter

Decal in water

Decal comes off paper

After 45 seconds or so, the decal will start to slip away from the backing paper. At this point, carefully remove the decal and paper, and slide the decal onto the candle glass.

Decal and paper

Onto Glass

Smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles with your fingers.

Using a dry paper towel, dab away any excess water, checking again for pesky bubbles. Smooth with fingers if necessary.

Look carefully for bubbles

Allow to dry for half an hour or so, and your gift is ready to give. No stress, just an easy, beautiful and personal Valentine!

Love Candle P1080211

If you would like to construct your own word designs, the link for the Graphic’s Fairy will give you the hearts. The font I use is “Academy Entraved LET.”

I have two lovely friends who have fantastic candle companies… check them out! The candle in my pics is from Gwendolyn Mary.

Gwendolyn Mary Candles and Andrea Schroder Candles

And finally, if you’re looking for a great Valentine’s Day food gift, check out my Chocolate Truffle Spoons. They’re so good! (If I do say so myself.)

Truffle spoon on rose

Happy Valentine’s Day! xxoo


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