A Thanksgiving Story and a Cheese Ball


Yesterday I had Thanksgiving with Jordan's family. I was nervous, as is to be expected, because I was going to be the unknown significant other. Note: this phrase will henceforth be referred to as USO.

Sounds like UFO. Coincidence?

Most likely another discussion for another day.
When you're the USO at a family function, you have to impress without it appearing like you're trying to impress. You have to dress cute without looking like you tried to dress cute. Like you just threw something on--something that's cute, casual, and comfortable while still appropriately dressy.

Plus, I know from experience (with cousins and siblings) that when you're the USO, you have to always be alert. When you aren't looking, people are watching you. It's true.

I heard a saying once about how people don't pay as much attention to you as you do to yourself. Well, when it refers to being the USO, that's complete crap. Everyone is watching you. Or maybe it's just my family. We're a little crazy. (Good luck this Christmas, Jordan.)


As I considered my role as USO this Thanksgiving, I hatched the perfect plan. Chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn't like a good, old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie? It's the perfect grab-and-go type of dessert, and I've honed my skills of cookie maker years ago thanks to my mother. My plan to win my way into the hearts of Jordan's family was complete.

But then, for some reason (maybe it was my stupid resolution to cook two new things this week), I decided to be ambitious. Enter a recipe I had for a cream cheese ball, compliments of my friend Cori. It's cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and mini chocolate chips all mixed together. Serve it with graham cracker sticks, and it's a sweet after-dinner dessert.

I'd never made it before, but I'd eaten it. Once. Three years ago. But I figured I would grab the bull by the horns, as the saying goes, and make it.

I woke up extra early on Thanksgiving day to make two batches of cookies and the cream cheese ball. It went well, and I arrived at Jordan's house on time to leave for the thirty-minute drive to his great-aunt and uncle's house. I was in sort of a rush, though, so I hadn't actually had time to eat a cookie or taste the cheese ball. (I would like to also note that I was forced to use graham crackers instead of graham cracker sticks, because apparently graham cracker sticks do not exist in Oklahoma.)

When we arrived at Jordan's aunt's house, I put my plate of cookies on the counter, and Jordan's mom grabbed a box of graham crackers and started breaking them up to put on a plate along with my cream cheese ball.

Since I live close, I see Jordan's family a lot.  As moms go, Jordan's is great. I mean, obviously I'm partial to my own mother, but Jordan's mom is a perfect second choice. She makes delicious food and always does what she can to make sure I feel welcome and included. Often it works to my advantage, but sometimes I get embarrassed because her desire to include me also ends up calling unnecessary attention in my direction.

We walked into the kitchen, and people were milling about, talking and helping get the food ready. Jordan introduced me to a few of his cousins and their wives as well as his great-aunt and uncle, whose house I was in. It was a gorgeous house, and I could see why they hosted Thanksgiving dinner every year. The kitchen has one of those long counters, which is where I assumed all the food would eventually be, but at the moment it was empty. That was the moment Jordan's mom turned to me and said, "Usually Grandma's here by now with her cheese ball, crackers, and veggie platter."

Then she got some graham crackers and proceeded to put my bowl on the counter in front of everyone and announce, "Eat this. It's good. Tastes like cheesecake. Amanda made it."

I almost died.

On the inside, I was thinking, FOR THE LOVE OF TURKEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! 
On the outside, I was speechless and my face was turning bright red. I know this because:
1. I could feel the extreme heat
2. Jordan told me

I was so embarrassed. I hadn't even tasted it yet! What if it was terrible? What if it tasted like mud? My plate of graham crackers would be full, my ball of cream cheese dessert would sit untouched, my shame evident for all to see. As the USO, I was placed in a very conspicuous position. Too conspicuous, in my opinion. And there was no escape.

This rather dramatic tale ends has a rather anticlimactic ending, I'm happy to say. Everyone loved the chocolate chip cream cheese ball. And my cookies were a hit too. I made friends with Jordan's family and charmed the fancy socks off everyone. My first experience as the USO was a success. I thank the cream cheese ball and cookies. Brilliant.

Here's the recipe:

Use a mixer to combine an 8 oz. container of plain cream cheese, a stick of butter, and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla until creamy.
Slowly add 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and 2 Tb. brown sugar.
Stir in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips.
Shape into a ball (or put in a cute serving bowl) and place in the fridge to harden.  
Serve with graham cracker sticks if you can find them. Or use regular graham crackers if you live in Oklahoma.

Make this if you're faced with USO duty or just if you need a deliciously sweet appetizer.