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Contest sponsored by the Texas Pecan Board

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.

Sharon Fabianke, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative