Pickle & Cheese Party Spread

This pickle-infused cheese spread was inspired by the old-fashioned cheese ball — and more specifically, this dill pickle cheese ball from Delish. I’ve modified the recipe slightly to serve in a casserole dish — because while cheese balls are retro cool, Pyrex is prettier.

The recipe makes enough for a party; for a smaller group, a half batch will do. Note: I made the bacon optional because while it’s visually appealing, I don’t think it adds that much to the flavor of the spread. The bacon loses its crunch pretty quickly in the refrigerator, so if you’re making the dish ahead of time, it may be better to omit.

Ingredients

2 8-oz blocks cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped fine (about 3 whole baby dills)
1 tbsp pickle juice
salt
pepper
6-8 slices cooked bacon, chopped fine (optional)

Set cream cheese out to bring to room temperature. If desired, chop the cheddar and mozzarella into finer pieces.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the cheddar with the mozzarella, garlic powder, paprika and 1 tbsp of the dill, and stir until mixed. Stir in the pickles and pickle juice. Add the cream cheese and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into a small casserole dish and spread around in an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the topping, combine the bacon with 1/4-1/2 cup cheddar and 1-2 tbsp dill (amount depends on the diameter of your casserole dish — if it’s large like a pie plate, use more; if it’s small like a ramekin, use less). Sprinkle the topping over the spread and serve.

Pictured: Pyrex Spring Blossom 472 Cinderella Round Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 503 Refrigerator Dish, Pyrex Spring Blossom 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware P-185-B Snack-It Plate

Campfire Chili Cheese Dip

We recently returned from a camping trip in the redwoods, where this dip was a welcome snack the first evening after working hard to set up all our gear. I’ve made it both over the campfire and in the oven at home, and I have to say it tastes better while camping! You can make it in a disposable pie tin or in a cast-iron skillet, but I decided to try it in Corning Ware — more details on that below.

The recipe is not my invention, but I’ve seen it all over the internet so I don’t feel bad duplicating it here.

 

Ingredients

cream cheese (up to one 8-oz block; amount depends on the size of your pan)
1 can chili (any kind)
shredded cheese (any kind; I used Monterey Jack this time)

Spread an even layer of cream cheese on the bottom of the pan. Add the chili, then top with a layer of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and heat over the fire until the chili is bubbling and cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-1-B Casserole

So, can this be cooked over the fire in Corning Ware? Well, I don’t recommend it. First off, the Corning Ware website explicitly says the stovetop product is “not intended for camping, industrial or commercial use.” That refers to modern pyroceram products, not vintage, but still.

On the other hand, if Corning Ware can withstand the stovetop and broiler, and can even go directly from freezer to the flame, why not the campfire? In particular, Corning Ware’s stovetop percolators seem ideal for camp coffee. I don’t see why a casserole dish would have any problem. So, I decided to go for it:

 

I was expecting the dish to get pretty dirty, and it did. After cooking there was a heavy coating of soot all over the bottom and sides. Thankfully, that cleaned up fairly easily with some soap and a scrubby sponge. The before (well, more like mid-cleaning) and after:

 

Unfortunately, while cleaning the bottom I noticed a long scratch that looks like it could be a crack (in the center of the photo):

img_2031

After pondering it for a while, I think the soot may have simply made an existing scratch/crack more visible — so most likely the damage is not from the campfire. Still, I probably would not try this experiment again.

It sure was fun, though!