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TCP Kitchen

2010 Holiday Recipe Contest

Sponsored by the Texas Pecan Board

We’ve written paeans to pecans in the pages of this magazine before. And with good reason, we think. Pecans are nutritious, delicious and oh, so versatile. Our favorites are the ones grown right here in Texas.

So when the Texas Pecan Board agreed to sponsor our annual Holiday Recipe Contest, we were excited. And, apparently, so were you. More than 2,000 entries flooded our mailbox and inbox—as well as our website,—making the narrowing down of the recipes a very tough job.

The entries covered a wide range: Many desserts, plus entrées, appetizers, breads, veggie dishes and those that defied categorization.

Of all those entries, this simple, colorful, tantalizing combination of nuts, fruit and cheese tickled the taste buds of our taste testers the most. Here are some of their comments:

“It’s dense and seems perfectly mixed.”

“Candied fruit and cheese is a surprise twist. Pecans add another layer of taste. Yum!”

$3,000 Grand Prizewinner

Sharon Fabianke, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative

Christmas colors inspired Sharon Fabianke’s winning creation. “I like cheese balls, and I knew the contest was about Christmas,” she said. “I saw the fruit in H-E-B, and thought it would look good; I liked the red and green combination.”

After putting it together, she took her easy-to-make recipe to several parties, she said, “and people really liked it. I thought, ‘This is better than fruitcake.’ ” Hence, the recipe had a name.

Fabianke, a retired teacher, and her husband, Lloyd, who have three grown children and four grandchildren, moved to Temple three years ago from San Antonio. “I came from the big city to a small town, and I love it,” she said. Besides creating in the kitchen, she stays busy substitute teaching, offering a Bible study at a local rehabilitation center and counseling at Hope Pregnancy Center.

This is her first entry in a recipe contest. She suggests serving the cheese ball with a salty cracker to give a nice contrast of flavors.

Better than a Fruitcake Cheese Ball

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
1/2 cup chopped candied kiwi fruit, divided
1/2 cup chopped candied strawberries, divided

Cream together Cheddar cheese, cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add 1/2 cup pecans, 1/4 cup kiwi fruit and 1/4 cup strawberries. Mix remaining pecans, kiwi and strawberries. Press coating mixture into cheese ball to make it stick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Servings: 16. Serving size: 1/4 cup. Per serving: 161 calories, 3.4 g protein, 10.6 g fat, 13.2 g carbohydrates, 0.7 g dietary fiber, 104 mg sodium, 11.9 g sugars, 23 mg cholesterol

Cook’s tip: If you can’t find the candied fruits at the store, look for them online.