As a result of Hurricane Sandy, Halloween in our area has been postponed until Monday (as decreed by Governor Chris Christie), so this post may come a little late for those non-East Coasters, but this recipe really works for any autumnal party because it’s oh-so-cute and super tasty.

Food Network calls it “pumpkin cheese ball,” but that’s a bit misleading because the only thing pumpkin about it is the appearance — not the taste. In any event, this was a big hit at the Halloween party I went to last weekend. We had barely captured it on film before it was demolished! (Hence the quickly snapped, not-nearly-as-meticulous-as-usual photo.)

slightly adapted from Food Network
♦2 eight-oz packages of cream cheese (low-fat is fine)

2 c. freshly shredded New York extra sharp cheddar
3 tbs. minced onion
2 tbs. salsa
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 bag Nacho Cheese Doritos (or any orange tortilla chip), finely crushed
Green bell pepper (pick one with a good stem!)
Tortilla chips, any variety

Blend room temperature cream cheese, cheddar, onion, salsa and cumin on medium high. Plop onto plastic wrap and roll into a ball. (Don’t worry about making it absolutely perfect; you will be able to mold later.) Place in fridge for at least two hours. Ground Doritos in blender or crush as finely as possible in a plastic baggie. Place crumbs in shallow dish. When mixture is solid, roll into a pumpkin shape, unwrap and roll in crushed Doritos until ball is entirely coated. Cut stem of bell pepper off and press into top of ball. Place on a serving dish with whole tortilla chips around it.

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 2+ hours chill, 5 minutes set.
Cost? $3 cream cheese bricks, $3 cheddar, $1 onion, $3 Doritos, $2.50 tortilla chips.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. This “pumpkin” vanished shortly after being set out. I really thought it was going to be more of an aesthetic novelty for the Halloween party, but it actually tasted really good — like, shoveling-it-in good. The jalapenos were nixed to protect the faint of heart, but I didn’t feel it was lacking flavor at all. If you wanted to get really crafty, you could add slivers of black olive to create a jack-o’-lantern face. (You know… show them your o’ face…) The only other thing I’d consider doing differently is setting out darker colored chips for more of a contrast in presentation; otherwise, it was the perfect appetizer for a Halloween (or any fall-time) party.


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