My mom turned 90 last Friday, and we had a surprise party for her. Mom knew a few of the family would be there, but she did not know others were coming. She came over early, we started with a little wine, and then at the appointed time, people started arriving until the house was full of her family and friends new and old. She knew my brothers and I and our spouses would be there, and a few grandchildren. But beyond that, every person who came, surprised her. In-laws, all the grandchildren, nieces and nephews, plus longtime friends from the classes she takes and from work, and what was most fun was having people from the old neighborhood I grew up in back in the sixties – the parents and some of the kids I and my brothers used to play with. It was fantastic! Everyone was happy and excited to be together, no one more so than my mother. There were tears and lots of laughter. It was a lovely time.
One of the favors we did was cheese sticks wrapped and sealed with a photo of her when she was young. You can see they were adorable…
Want to bite into something you MUST have more of? But has no sugar? Here you go. Believe me, these cheese sticks are dangerous. My husband LOVES cheese-its and cheetos, and he just tasted these for the first time last week and he loves these too! That really says something, David does not easily depart from cheetos.
Cheese sticks are simple to make, except for the cookie press part. The dough is very stiff, and using the cookie press really works up a sweat. You can make an easier product if you roll the dough into balls and flatten them, or make it into logs and refrigerate them, then slice into rounds. Prick the rounds with a fork to give them a biscuit look. Also, if you do rounds, you can top them with a few big salt crystals, hot pepper seeds, etc.
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 2-1/2 cups flour
• 3/4 tsp salt
• 12 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated finely
Put butter in mixer and blend until fluffy. Add the flour and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add the grated cheese, a third at a time. Put in cookie press with a half-moon disk. Extrude onto cookie sheet into a long stick the full width of the sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full. To add a texture, drag the tip of a knife down each stick of dough several times, or prick with a fork. On one stick, mark with toothpicks every two inches. At the marks, and with a sharp knife, cut through as many sticks of dough as you can. Gently! They are soft. You don’t have to cut through the pan. After baking, the cheese sticks will break easily at these marks.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Do not let them get brown, but you want them to be thoroughly cooked so they are crispy.
To package, you will need:
• Wax paper
• Sharp exacto or craft knife to cut the paper
• Ruler with a metal edge
• Small circle labels (I used Cara style)
I tried packaging these in pairs side-by-side but they wanted to cozy up together. So they ended up back-to-back. Cut wax paper into one-inch strips. Cut one end at a diagonal so it ends in a point. This is the pull-tab so your guests can open their cheese stick packages. Place the sticks back-to-back and wrap with the paper strip, sealing with a round label. Press the label gently all over to be sure it makes a good seal. They are better fresh, but I made these a week before the party and they were still terrific! They are still terrific now, a week and a half later – we are eating the last of them and I am still forcing myself (and failing) to have just two.
- Small Circle Labels • I chose the “Cara” style in Mint.