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Janet McCormick/For The Herald-Dispatch This savory Cheese Ball Christmas Tree is a visual delight for your holiday table.

Channeling Martha Stewart is a feat known only by those who are in charge of holiday entertaining or the author of the grand meal served on Christmas day. The holidays are about a lot of things - good cheer, friends and family, presents - but it's the food and the spirit behind the service that connects us all.

Oh, how I long to remember that when I'm feeling the pressure to impress and tie hearts at the same time.

While I am the first to admit, being a Martha is something I glance at when it's time for the Christmas splash I'm attempting to rain on my event, the whole notion can be a bit overwhelming especially when that whole channeling thing is a bit fuzzy and my inner self sways a little more toward a Christmas comedy designed by Roseanne Barr. I hold the hope of Martha in every dinner feast I design, but reality can be a real jolt when it didn't quite sustain my endeavor.

And then I remember the kids. Little can be a lot when it comes to their impressive meter. Their wonderment and spirits are the magic that feeds this holiday, so this tower of cheese Christmas tree is for their viewing and tasting pleasure.

Gingerbread houses and Santa cookies can all take a seat because this is the new and improved holiday cheer that will steal the show. Savory stacked in a tower of deliciousness is my kind of fantasy that will smash the dreams of sugar plums on the night before Christmas. Imagine their delight when the little cherubs can be the first to take a cracker like a weapon and chip away the mountain of cheese. It's the perfect combination of tasty and adventure all seen through the eyes of a child. Part of the recipe includes the hands of a small child to form and mold the tree and finally decorate it with olives - take that gingerbread house!

Before the holiday merriment, the toasts of "auld lang syne," the screeching of torn Christmas wrapping paper, and in the midst of the love you share with your family, I just want to wish you a wonderful holiday season and thank you all for reading and all the wonderful and beautiful words of encouragement throughout the year.

It means so much to me when you've stopped me to tell me you're reading and enjoying the recipes. I know our little community has suffered much this year, but there is a love here that is undeniable. We are a family all the same, all common in our hopes for connecting our hearts as one to love one another and support each other. My Christmas wish is that when we encounter others we remember heartfelt smiles and gestures can go a long way in healing our little city. Merry Christmas!

Cheese Ball

Christmas Tree

3 8-oz. packages of cream cheese

2 jars of Kalamata olives

2 jars of green olives

1 jar of smoked red peppers

1 yellow pepper

1 pkg. bacon bits

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 T. sriracha sauce

Sprigs of rosemary

Cling wrap

Children's hands

Crackers

Mix together the cream cheese, bacon bits, onion powder, cayenne pepper and sriracha sauce. Form into a ball and wrap this loosely in cling wrap and place it on a plate. Now, using the cling wrap, mold this into a tower similar to a Christmas tree. Once it's formed, take a cheese knife or spatula and mold and contour, smoothing out the cheese.

Arrange the olives onto the tree to resemble light bulbs. Take a star cookie cutter and fashion a star for the top of the tree. If you don't have a cookie cutter, do it free handed with a knife. Now take sprigs of rosemary and place in between the olives to give it a tree-like effect. Assemble the roasted red pepper at the bottom of the tree covering the plate. Place the crackers close by. Finally, glaze the tree with the oil of the roasted red peppers.

Janet McCormick is the owner of Let's Eat Cafe in downtown Huntington. More of her recipes can be found at http://www.10-minutemeals.com.

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