The Perfect Stress-Free Appetizer

Not just another Winter holiday hors d’oeuvre, this Cranberry Pistachio Cheese Log should be on your go-to appetizer roadway to sanity and deliciousness all entertaining season long! It’s sophisticated and beautiful, yet almost absurdly simple to assemble. According to the website CarlsbadCravings.com where I found the recipe, “…it’s so crazy delicious everyone will crowd around until every last pistachio crumb has been licked off the plate.”

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And who doesn’t like pistachios?! “The Wonderful Nut” as they are known in the advertising world, are one of the lowest-fat, lowest-calorie nuts around. Yes indeed, this delicious, heart-healthy morsel is one lean, green protein machine. Not to mention the health benefits of cranberries which furnish high nutrient and antioxidant content, often referred to as a “super food.” Cranberries are high in vitamins A, C, and K, and contain only 25 calories in a half cup.

Here’s the kicker, the cheese log can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for several days until ready to serve—press that EASY button—because, when it comes to holidays, appetizers are all about simplicity, right?  When ready to serve, remove the Cranberry Cheese Log from the refrigerator about 15 minutes beforehand so it can soften and come to room temperature.

And that’s exactly what we did. I made the appetizer on a Friday, to take with us for a weekend trip to Nazareth, PA to visit long-time friend Merry Sue, who was born on Christmas Day in the little town of Bethlehem—kid you not! And, we were going to the annual Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem for some holiday shopping. After which we enjoyed cocktails with the festive cheese log, before heading out to dinner.

Just before you are ready to nosh, don’t forget to drizzle generously with honey to compliment the tangy cranberries and goat cheese. If you can find them, serve with some Crunchmaster crackers (I couldn’t locate them), which are oven-baked, cholesterol- and gluten-free, and low in sodium and saturated fat. Now sit back and enjoy…

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Ingredients

Cranberry Pistachio Coating
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
Cheese Log
  • 7-8 oz. goat cheese log or tub
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, dried thyme, dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cranberry Pistachio Coating mixture (see above)
Garnish
  • honey

Directions

  1. Add cranberries and pistachios to your food processor and chop into small pieces.
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  2. Remove ½ cup and add it to a medium bowl. Add all remaining Goat Cheese Log ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
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    I ground the dried thyme and rosemary with a mortar and pestle for a finer grain.
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  3. Add this cheese mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap, and form into the shape of a log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 20-30 minutes. You want the cheese log slightly firm so it holds its shape but is still soft enough for the coating to be pressed into it.
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  4. Line counter with a large piece of parchment paper. Add remaining coating ingredients to parchment and spread into a single layer square a little larger than the length of the cheese log.
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  5. Add cheese log to one long edge and roll in mixture until evenly coated, pressing coating into the cheese so it sticks. Make sure to cover both ends too. Serve immediately, or freeze until ready to serve.
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  6. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator 15 minutes beforehand so it can soften. Drizzle generously with honey just before serving with crackers.

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The three of us loved this cheese log, and I plan on making again for an upcoming party…
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