Jeff's sweet cheese ball gives Reese's competition
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 09:08
MOLINE - The folks running the contest didn't get their wires crossed.
|Jeff Pettit with his Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball." (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Jeff Pettit's Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball" wasn't an outlaw appetizer sneaking into the dessert category. One taste, and you understand it really is a dessert.
Sure enough, Pettit's creation won the "best dessert" title in Lake Township's recent Friends of the Park Chili, Soup and Dessert Cook-off.
It was a good year for the Pettit family at the annual event, as his wife's pizza soup was top winner in the soup category.
Pettit, a newly-elected Lake Township trustee, is owner of Artistic Memorials in Perrysburg Township and Lake Township, so you wouldn't think he'd have lots of spare time for cooking contests.
But after all, it's for a good cause. All proceeds go to the Lake Township Parks.
"I believe this was the ninth year of the contest," Pettit said, and the competition has grown in size and scope each year.
Last year he entered the soup category, and was a winner there.
"They started with chili, then added soup and now dessert this year."
With eight to 10 entries in each of the three categories, the event created plenty of interest - and a nice little stash of cash for the township parks.
After the panel of judges had done their job, the public was invited to taste each entry for a small monetary donation, until the food was gone.
Pettit says he picked up his recipe for the peanut butter cheese ball from social media about six months ago.
"Somebody, and I'm not certain who, posted it on Facebook and the picture was awesome. I re-posted it on my own site" and made it almost immediately.
Sure enough, it tasted as great as it looked.
"I would say it tastes like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. You really can't go wrong with that."
It's also pretty simple to put together, he said.
"It's just quick to make. Anybody can make it."
The peanut butter cheese ball got rave reviews at his family's Christmas gathering "over at my mom's" and he's since made it on several random occasions.
It can be served with quite a few different cracker-type items, but Pettit's personal preference is "the little Scooby Doo crackers shaped like a dog bone," his description of Keebler's baked cinnamon-flavored graham cracker sticks.
That's what he used for the contest.
Pettit took on a greater share of the cooking in his household years ago, after his wife's schedule changed.
"My wife stayed at home until the kids got into school, and she did all the cooking. When she went back to work I thought, 'well, I'm gonna try cooking just to help her out.'
"I don't mind cooking," he soon discovered.
"Personally, if you can read the directions you can really cook about anything. So I started with cookies" and other baked goodies and now "I'm not afraid to make anything."
These days the kids are grown, and the couple divides the job depending on "whoever gets home from work first."
Pettit's kitchen repertoire includes a Crock-Pot style chicken and stuffing dish, and "an awesome Dutch apple pie where the crust is from scratch. I got the recipe from Ohio Magazine and it was actually from Schmucker's Restaurant in Toledo."
He's had same pie there, so he knows what it's supposed to taste like.
"My mom is the type, she would never buy a store-bought pie crust."
A 1983 Lake High School-Penta graduate, Pettit is Lake Township born and bred.
He got into the monument business 30 years ago, and has been self-employed for 12 years, starting with the Perrysburg site.
Just last fall he opened the second Artistic Memorials, on Woodville Road, Northwood.
"Somebody needed help doing it when I was right out of high school and I took a chance at it, and I really enjoyed it. There's never a day I don't like going in to work."
As for the trustee job, "I just took office Jan. 1" so "I'm a rookie."
Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball"
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
Graham cracker sticks, Teddy Grahams, and/or apple slices for dipping
Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixing bowl until blended.
Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap; bring up all four corners and twist tightly forming into a ball shape.
Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place peanut butter and chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove plastic wrap from ball and roll ball into morsels to completely cover, pressing morsels into ball if necessary.
Place ball on serving dish; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until almost firm. (Can be made ahead. If frozen overnight, thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.) Serve with graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, or apple slices for dipping or spreading.