Goat Cheese, sage & bacon Turkey Cheeseball

No holiday is complete without cheese. None! I’m normally all about the cheese boards, but the thought of this turkey cheeseball was so fun in my head that I had to put it together. Thanksgiving can be a holiday that embraces the cheeseball, right? Better than mockolate! I’m giving air fives to all of my Friends fans out there.

There’s normally always something out for guests to snack on while you’re putting the final touches on the turkey day feast, and what’s better than cheesy goodness on a cracker? Anddddddd it’s important we work on warming up those taste buds before the big meal. This cheeseball will get them moving and grooving!

While my creative juices have continued to somewhat flow, I’ve had to put a lot of my energy into my kids, Peyton’s schooling and normal day-to-day stuff. While I miss being able to have more “me time” to work on recipes, write posts and take pictures, I have been soaking up this time with my family. Goodness…it’s a lot, but when I take a step back and truly think about where I’m at, IT IS SO GOOD FOR ME. This is where me and my heart are meant to be here and now. I know a lot of us are juggling a lot right now and I’m just grateful for my family’s health and that we are happy being together during this time.

Anyways… back to the turkey cheeseball! This idea came to me randomly when I was trying to think of cute Thanksgiving recipes to make for the kids (and then hopefully post them on the blog) and initially my head went straight to mini turkey cheeseballs for each kid. I figured it would make a cute lunch and lately the kids have loved when I throw a bunch of crackers, cheese, fruit, hummus, etc. on a plate, so I thought mini cheeseballs would be right up their alley. Instead, I decided to go with the big mama turkey.

She’s not your 17 pounder, but she’s packed with SO much flavor and texture. I’m talking sage and minced garlic that’s been tossed in lightly browned butter, creamy goat cheese, fluffy cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, and the cream of the crop… bacon! Ohhhh, and cranberries to add some sweetness too. To top it all off, everything is coated in crushed pecan bits that add a subtle crunch and extra Thanksgiving flair. How cute are these little hands digging in? Proud mama over here!

If you’re not into the cutesy stuff, you can absolutely just make this into a regular normal cheeseball. I will not judge you at all!! No need to take the time to shape it into a turkey if you don’t want to. If you end up making it (in any form), I’d love to see photos. Don’t forget to tag #marinamakeseats!

Goat Cheese, Sage & Bacon Turkey Cheeseball

Ingredients
– 1 tablespoon of butter
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1 teaspoon of fresh sage, chopped
– 1/2 cup of cream cheese at room temperature
– 10 oz of goat cheese at room temperature
– 2 cups of shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
– 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, chopped
– 5 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
– 1 cup of finely chopped pecans (You’ll want some of them to be ground, so I pulsed whole pecans through a food processor a few times)
– Small piece of a red bell pepper
– Small piece of a yellow bell pepper
– Two peppercorns (you can use olives for the eyes too)
– Pretzel sticks
– Crackers

Serve with pretzels and crackers.

Directions

In a small frying pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted and slightly browned. Once the butter is a toasted golden color, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the minced garlic and chopped sage. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, white cheddar, cranberries and bacon. Drizzle the sage and garlic butter over everything in the bowl and using a hand mixer or standing mixer, whip everything together until it’s combined. The mixture may be a little crumbly, but you can use a spatula or your hands to press down and smooth everything together to make it a more creamy consistency.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a hard surface and scoop most of the cheese mixture onto the plastic wrap (leave a little for the head of the turkey!). Using your hands, slowly cover the cheese mixture and form a ball with the plastic wrap. This will make the body of the turkey. Do the same with the remaining cheese mixture and another piece of plastic wrap to create the head. Place both in the fridge to harden for 30 minutes to an hour.

While the cheeseball is hardening, place the chopped pecans on a large plate. Using a paring knife, cut a beak out of the yellow pepper and a wattle (ha!) out of the red pepper.

When the cheeseballs have hardened, place them on the plate with the chopped pecans and roll them around to coat. Place the large cheeseball on a serving platter and gently attach the small one on top to create the turkey. Add the yellow pepper beak and red pepper wattle, and pepper corn eyes (that’s a whole lot of pepper!). Add a couple of pretzel sticks for legs and add a combination of crackers and pretzels on top of the body to create feathers. Place the cheeseball in the refrigerator wrapped and take it out 5-10 minutes before serving.

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