Around 1983 Mom and Dad took a huge step into the electronic age. The T.V with fake wood grain, knobs, and a temper, was replaced with a sleek black beauty complete with a remote control. Beneath that beautiful television was our very first VCR hiding behind the glass of a shiny new stand. In the kitchen sat a box with a door, window and touch-pad. Yes, a microwave!
I don’t quite remember how or why we ended up with all of these new things at once. Maybe Dad won the drawing at the American Legion in town again. It might have been the reward of a big catering job, or perhaps just good old fashioned puttin money in the bank. Whatever it was, my sister and I were excited at the idea of making dinner in less than five minutes and eating on the couch while enjoying a movie.
One weekend soon after our new purchases, they came home with the Star Wars movies. I had never seen them even though I had an Ewok stuffed animal. Mom laid out snacks on the coffee table. Microwaved popcorn, cheese ball and beef roll-ups. We gathered our drinks and sacked out on the couch for an evening of fun. I am pretty sure we watched all three movies that weekend. But at the age of six, my attention span was not very long, so I missed pieces here and there and probably snoozed through some too.
The evenings of snacks and movies were few and far between. In fact the only other two I can recall were Top Gun a few years later and Dirty Dancing a year after that. But in all the time that passed in between, one thing was constant. Mom always made the same snacks.
In my college years the Star Wars movies were released in theaters one more time. My friends were movie buffs and some of them found it necessary to dress in costume for the big release nights. We stood in line for hours on the night of the first showing, and once inside we had our bags of popcorn and enormous sodas by our sides.
The theater went dark and the crowd clapped and screamed in excitement. The famous yellow words scrolled up the star-studded screen into space. The music boomed in our ears and I reached for my first bite of popcorn. Suddenly, I was overcome by a familiar craving. I needed a Cheese Ball.
Just last week we took the family to Star Wars Weekend at Disney World. Some things never change – I still wanted a cheese ball so I came home and made one.
Chipped Beef Cheese Ball
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 medium onion
6 oz thinly-sliced corned beef, chopped into ¼ inch squares (you can use a Buddig 2 oz package)
• Soften the cream cheese (leave at room temperature for an hour, or unwrap and microwave 15 seconds at a time until softened).
• Place the onion in a food processor and blend for about thirty seconds. Transfer to a mesh strainer over a bowl and press the juice out with a rubber spatula. You will need 2 tablespoons of juice.
• Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand held mixer), combine the cream cheese and onion juice until it is smooth and completely integrated – about a minute on medium speed.
• Reserve 1/4 cup of the chopped beef and set aside
• Add the remainder of the chopped beef to the cheese mixture and combine – about ten seconds on medium speed.
• Form the mixture into a ball using a rubber spatula. Turn out onto serving platter, or plastic wrap if serving later.
• Cover the surface of the ball with the reserved chopped beef.
• Cover and chill for up to two days.
• Serve with assorted crackers.
NOTES: I usually double this recipe for a crowd and make one large ball.