Cheesy Comfort-Food Dinners

Baked Italian Meatballs with Butterkase Toasts and Tuscan Chicken with White Beans topped with Parmesan help celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day and easy, comforting dinners
Baked Italian Meatballs with Butterkase Toasts

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

January 20 is National Cheese Lover’s Day—but to me, and a lot of folks, it seems like every day is cheese lover’s day! Celebrating the “official” occasion, though, is good reason for me to share these comforting cheesy recipes that caught my eye from Wisconsin Cheese. They are perfect for cold nights ahead, too!

Baked Italian Meatballs with Butterkase Toasts

Makes 4 to 6 Servings | Recipe courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese

8 tablespoons butter, cubed and divided
8 slices French bread baguette (½-inch thick)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup dry Italian-style or seasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef (90% lean)
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
¾ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
2½ cups beef broth
6 ounces Cedar Grove Butterkase cheese or Edelweiss Butterkase cheese, shredded and divided (1½ cups)
Fresh thyme leaves

  1. Heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Brush bread with butter on both sides; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until toasted, turning once. Set aside.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Place a greased wire rack on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Combine the egg, bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 garlic clove, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Crumble beef over bread crumbs mixture; mix just until combined. Shape beef mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meatballs reads 160°F.
  6. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add wine; cook for 15 to 25 minutes longer or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in the rosemary, remaining thyme and garlic. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add beef broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir in ½ cup butterkase until melted. Add meatballs; heat through.
  8. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with reserved toasts. Sprinkle with remaining butterkase. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with thyme.
Butterkase Cheese

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Cheesemonger Tip: Butterkäse means “butter cheese” and has a creamy texture and mild, buttery flavor. It’s a delicious melting cheese, yet sophisticated enough to serve with a fine wine.

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans

Makes 4 Servings | Recipe courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese

8 ounces uncooked tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons butter, cubed and divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ cups chicken broth
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces Nordic Creamery Parmesan cheese, finely shredded and divided (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bag (5 ounces) fresh baby spinach (about 5 cups), coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Keep warm.
  1. Flatten chicken to ½-inch thickness. Season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer inserted into meat reads 165°F. Transfer chicken to a plate. Keep warm.
  2. Melt remaining butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook and stir for 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add chicken broth and cream. Whisk in cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes or until sauce is reduced to about 2 cups, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Gradually whisk in 1 cup Parmesan until melted. Add the beans, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes; cook and stir until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Return chicken to the pan. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer or until chicken is heated through. Serve with pasta.

Cheesemonger Tip: Semi-hard, fresh Parmesan’s buttery, nutty flavors and unexpected creaminess enhance recipes from cold salads to hot soups and entrées.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.