Ah, cheese. Savory, crumbly, creamy or meltingly oozy—it’s all good. I would have to say it tops my list of “desert-island food”—you know, something if you were stranded on a deserted island. Cheese. Do you love cheese? Maybe not desert-island list infatuation but enjoy? Whatever your level of amore, in honor of National Cheese Lover’s Day, which is celebrated every year on January 20, you’ll want to check out these recipes—a temptingly cheesy selection courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. This collection of warm dips, a cheese and charcuterie board, mac-and-cheese options, twist on the beloved grilled cheese, and chocolate-covered strawberries would not only make tasty choices for this occasion, but also upcoming sports-watching get-togethers, movie night—or any day.
Tip: When looking for cheese to include in a melty dish, keep in mind that pre-packaged shredded cheese is coated with cellulose (a legal, food-grade additive) to prevent it from clumping or sticking together while in the package. The cheese will melt easily, but not as smoothly together as cheese you grate yourself from a block.
Warm Beer Cheese Dip
Makes 2 Cups
6 ounces lager or amber-style beer
1 package (8 ounces) Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, cut into small cubes
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces Laack Brothers Roasted Red Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (3 cups)
Soft or hard pretzels
Bring beer just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Whisk in cream cheese and cayenne pepper until smooth. Gradually stir in roasted red pepper jack until melted. Serve warm with pretzels.
Warm Jalapeño Popper Dip
Makes 4 Cups
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
8 ounces Sartori Classic Fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
4 ounces Sartori Classic Asiago cheese, finely shredded and divided (1 cup)
3 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1 bag (13 ounces) wavy potato chips, divided
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Fry bacon, in batches, in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings.
- Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl until blended. Stir in the fontina, ½ cup Asiago, jalapeño peppers and half of the bacon. Spoon into a greased 1½-quart or 2-quart baking dish.
- Measure ½ cup crushed potato chips. Add the chips, remaining Asiago and bacon to bacon drippings in the skillet; toss to combine. Sprinkle chips mixture over top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with remaining potato chips.
Instant Pot Spinach-Artichoke Mac and Cheese
Makes 8–10 servings
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked cavatappi pasta
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
12 ounces Sartori Classic Fontina cheese, shredded (3 cups)
6 ounces Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, cubed
3 ounces Sartori Classic Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (1 cup)
2 cans (14 ounces each) quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 bag (5 ounces) fresh baby spinach (about 5 cups), coarsely chopped
- Place the pasta, chicken broth, garlic powder and pepper in a greased Instant Pot.
- Cover and lock lid; ensure vent is closed per manufacturer’s directions. Select manual setting. Increase pressure to high; set time for 5 minutes.
- Select cancel setting. Quick release pressure carefully, as directed by manufacturer.
- Select keep warm setting. Gradually stir in the fontina, cream cheese and Parmesan until melted. Fold in artichoke hearts and spinach.
Three-Cheese Wisconsin Mac and Cheese
Makes 6–8 Servings
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
½ cup all-purpose flour
5 cups milk
4 ounces Roth Grand Cru cheese, shredded (1 cup)
4 ounces Henning’s Sharp White Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1½ ounces Sartori Classic Asiago cheese, shredded (½ cup)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley and crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Keep warm.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in flour until light brown. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the alpine-style, cheddar and asiago until melted. Stir in macaroni. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes if desired.
Mediterranean Grilled Cheese
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter, softened and divided
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 slices sourdough bread
2 ounces Henning’s Mozzarella cheese, shredded (½ cup)
2 tablespoons Treasure Cave Crumbled Feta cheese
4 slices Roma tomato
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
- Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; cook and stir until wilted. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out the pan.
- Sprinkle one slice of bread with mozzarella and feta. Layer with the tomato, spinach and olives. Top with remaining bread. Spread the outsides of sandwich with remaining butter.
- Toast sandwich, covered, in the same pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the side is golden brown. Flip the sandwich; cook, uncovered, 2 to 4 minutes longer or until bread is lightly golden brown and mozzarella is melted.
Cheesemonger Tip: Wisconsin cheesemakers produce nearly 1 billion pounds of mozzarella cheese each year. Mozzarella rates second only to cheddar in popularity within the U.S.
Wisconsin Cheese and Charcuterie Board
Makes 10–12 Servings
This charcuterie board could be prepared for a smaller group size, too. Plan for 1 to 1½ ounces of cheese and 2 ounces charcuterie per person; slightly increase amounts if it’s the main appetizer.
Marieke Gouda Black Pepper Mix cheese
Roth Vintage Van Gogh Gouda cheese
Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese
Red Barn Cūpola cheese
Salemville Smokehaus Blue Cheese
Thinly sliced Piri Picante Salami
Cranberry crackers or sliced crusty breads
Thinly sliced salami
Thinly sliced capicola
Thinly sliced dry-aged pork shoulder
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Thinly sliced Saucisson Sec (sausage)
Seedless purple grapes
Fresh figs or small apples, halved
Arrange the Goudas, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Red Barn Cūpola and blue cheese on a serving board. Place the nudja, Piri Picante Salami and pecans in a serving bowl. Add cornichons to another serving bowl; place bowls on board. Fill in board with the crackers, salami, capicola, pork shoulder, prosciutto, Saucisson Sec, grapes and figs.
• Make it your own: Substitute any of your favorite Wisconsin cheeses into this board.
• Piri Picante Salami is a pork sausage flavored with red wine, honey and spices.
• Nduja is a soft, spreadable Calabrian-style sausage.
• Capicola is an Italian pork cold cut with a delicately spiced flavor.
• Saucisson Sec is a classic French-style sausage.
Mascarpone-Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries
Makes 15-20 Stuffed Strawberries
1 pound large fresh strawberries
1 container (8 ounces) Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Mascarpone cheese
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons shortening
White baking chocolate, chopped
- Remove stems and core centers of strawberries with a paring knife. Pat strawberries dry with a paper towel.
- Stir mascarpone. Spoon into a piping or sealable plastic bag; cut tip off of bag. Pipe mascarpone into strawberries. Transfer strawberries to a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
- Melt semisweet chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl on high in 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Insert toothpicks into sides or centers of strawberries. Dip strawberries into chocolate holding toothpicks; let any excess chocolate drip off. Return to prepared pan. Remove toothpicks.
- Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes or until chocolate is set. Meanwhile, melt white baking chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Decorate as desired. Let stand until set.
A Chance to Win Cheese!
Now through January 27, 2022, you can nominate the cheese lover in your life for a chance to win cheese. Wisconsin Cheese will surprise 500 cheese-loving kindred souls with a heart-shaped box filled with Wisconsin’s most lovable cheeses. Enter the Cheese is My Love Language contest here.