Spicy, creamy, a little smoky, and a bunch of fun — Hatch Chile Party Bites are the perfect party appetizer.
Hatch Chiles are everywhere in the grocery stores this month. Many locations will even roast them for you. I couldn’t help making these tasty green guys into cheesy party bites – which sparked a story from my past. I’ll share it with you as I show you how the recipe comes together.
Hatch Chile & Cheese Party Bites & A Cheesy Miracle
My first job after college graduation started with an internship at a TV station where employees used computers. I know I am dating myself, but that was a very big deal then, when college didn’t include computer classes and, in fact, nobody personally owned one.
Shortly after I started the internship I walked past a woman working on a computer, and I stopped in my tracks because I was so fascinated. I had to know how to run it and asked her all kinds of questions. She was very gracious and welcomed my keen interest. Little did I know that she also spoke to her boss about my enthusiasm and the next thing I knew, I was hired to work on this Chyron computer doing graphics for the local news.
It was a dream job for me, however, there was one caveat. One of my producers I worked under hated me from day one. In less than two weeks, she took the wind out of my sails and the joy out of my job.
I remember calling my parents and crying. I lamented that I couldn’t do my job, and I wanted to quit. My father told me I could do anything that I put my mind to and to “hang in there”. With my parents’ encouragement, I continued.
Six months later it was Christmas, and I was busy making presents for my fellow employees – because that is what good girls from the Midwest do. When it came to the “mean” producer the best I could do for her was to buy a two dollar cheese ball from Hickory Farms. I couldn’t bear to give it to her in person so I left it on her desk and prayed that she wouldn’t throw it at me the next day.
Much to my surprise, the next day she approached me in tears. She said she had been working at the same company for years and no one had ever given her a Christmas present! I was flabbergasted. She apologized for her poor behavior and vowed to change.
And change she did. We later became friends and we both learned a valuable lesson that Christmas.
Who knew the power of a simple cheese ball?
It made me think of a Proverb that reads: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, And the Lord will reward you.”
My colleague was clearly hungry (not for a cheese ball), but for a friend. She was also thirsty for others to acknowledge her. I think the good Lord gave her a headache of conviction, and the reward turned out to be for both of us. Work became a pleasure and we were rewarded with a new friendship and good working relationship.
So who knows, maybe you need to make these cheese balls for someone.
You might need to make them for yourself.
No matter the whys and the who-fors, these tasty appetizers will bring joy to anyone who indulges in them.
Today’s Recipe: Hatch Chile Party Bites
This recipe is a spicy, upscale version of that long-ago, magic cheese ball.
It is loosely based on a recipe from Hatch Chile Cookbook from Melissa’s Produce.
I used mild hatch chiles in my recipe, but feel free to use hot chiles if you like.
Hatch Chile & Cheese Party Bites
- 6 large hatch chiles roasted, peeled, stemmed (2 chopped, 4 sliced)
- 1 cup 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 shallot diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Melisa's Hatch Chile Powder plus additional for garnish
- 1 cup 8 oz. pine nuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
In medium bowl, mash the feta cheese with the cream cheese using a fork. Stir in the hatch chiles, garlic, shallots, salt & hatch chile powder using a wooden spoon, and mix until thoroughly.
Cover; refrigerate 60 minutes or until the mixture is firm enough to shape into balls.
Lightly moisten your hands, and shape the cheese mixture into 1-inch balls. Set them on a baking sheet or in a pan, and freeze them until they are firm, about 15 minutes. (If you’re not going to serve these immediately, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month.)
While the balls are firming up, cut the remaining hatch chiles into thin strips. Thread the strips on a toothpick and set aside. (see photo above)
To serve, place the chopped pine nuts in a small bowl. Roll each ball in the nuts until it is covered. Stick a threaded chile into each ball and place on an attractive serving plate or platter. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.
Makes approx. 20 mini cheese balls for about 6 people
Melissa’s Produce has three different Hatch Chile Powders to spice up your life with. Look for them in your grocery store or online.
Suffice it to say, that first savory ball of cheese and nuts I bought turned a bad situation into good. So, every time I see a cheese ball in any form, I think “healing yumminess”.
Kindness never gets stale, even if it comes in the form of a cheese ball.
…and then, she paused for thought.