If someone else is doing the grilling, the least you can do is offer up something on the side, right? "You're going to make that salsa, aren't you Dad?" and "Hey Pops, where's that cheese ball?" are the two most heard questions at the cook-out.

Bottom line: fresh is the way to go. Heck, anybody can buy a tub-'o'-cheese or open a jar of whatever some factory gushes out. Home-made is always better {always!!!} and these are so simple to do, you won't have to buy the pre-made crap again. Both recipes were cut out from some long-forgotten magazines years ago and they always satisfy the gang...

Strawberry Salsa:

In a large bowl, combine 1 pint fresh chopped strawberries, 4 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes, 1 finely chopped small red onion and 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers (depending upon size and how much of a kick you like). Stir in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 2 minced garlic gloves. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours. Makes about 4 cups.

And yeah, that's it! Watch your company devour this stuff! We like locally made corn chips for dipping, but Tostito's Scoops work in a pinch, too.

French Onion Soup Cheese Ball:

Mix together 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (do not substitute another cheese here!), 1/2 cup crushed fried onions (we always use French's brand), and 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. Form into a ball and roll in 1/2 cup toasted panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup crushed fried onions, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme.

You'll need a knife for digging in and almost any kind of cracker works here, whatever you like. It's the crumbs/onions/thyme that makes the difference here, that's why it's a cheese ball and not just another bowl of dip.

You will be asked to make these again for next time. Get used to it.


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