Game-Day Bites

Get in the game with twists on cheesy favorites from easy make-your-own pizza, wings, and artichoke dip to a pumpkin baked brie, and more
Three-Cheese Football Pizza

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

As we officially move into fall, getting cozy and watching football is a big part of the season. Sure, it’s easy to order a basic round pizza—but it’s also easy to step it up and make your own fun football-shaped pizza that starts with frozen dough and includes frozen meatballs that make it even easier. Warm cheesy artichoke dip is always a fan favorite, and check out the following twist to bake chicken wings. If you want to get a little “fancy,” try the Pumpkin Pie Baked Brie. Scroll down for these and more ideas, which are courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese. Whether your game day involves a football or a board game, you might not even notice who wins if you have deliciously cheese food on hand.

Three-Cheese Football Pizza

Makes 4 to 6 Servings | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

1½ cups pizza sauce
12 frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed (½-ounce each)
1 pound (16 ounces) fresh or frozen pizza dough, thawed
10 pieces Baker Mozzarella String Cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cubed and melted
½ teaspoon garlic powder
4 ounces Weyauwega Star Dairy Mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
2 ounces Weyauwega Star Dairy Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shredded (½ cup)
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped onion

  1. Heat oven to 450°F.
  2. Warm pizza sauce and meatballs in a large saucepan over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out and stretch pizza dough on a lightly floured cutting board to a 17×12-inch rectangle. Cut short sides of dough to angle inward, creating a football shape. Cut dough scraps into thin strips for football laces; set aside.
  4. Transfer pizza dough to a greased 15×10-inch baking pan; let excess dough hang over edges of pan. Place string cheese to within 1 inch of edges. Fold dough over cheese; press to seal.
  5. Whisk butter and garlic powder in a small bowl; brush over dough and football laces.
  6. Spoon pizza sauce and meatballs over dough. Sprinkle with mozzarella and asiago. Top with green pepper and onion. Arrange reserved football laces on pizza.
  7. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Cool slightly before serving.

Cheese Notes:
• Asiago cheese is aged to develop sharp, buttery, and nutty flavors that resemble a cross between aged cheddar and Parmesan. The aging also changes the texture of the cheese to hard and granular.
• Any brand of Wisconsin Asiago, mozzarella, or string can be used in this recipe.

Harvest Pumpkin Cheese Board

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Harvest Pumpkin Cheese Board

Makes 6 to 8 Servings | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

If you are serving your charcuterie board as an appetizer or snack, plan on 3 to 4 ounces of cheese and 3 ounces of meat per person. If serving these items as the main attraction, plan on about double the amount of each. For crackers: 2 ounces per person. Here are some suggestions:

Carr Valley Apple Smoked Fontina or Fontina cheese
Saxon Saxony Alpine Style cheese
Deppeler’s Baby Swiss cheese
Parmesan-Roasted Pumpkin Seed Snack Mix (find the recipe here) or snack mix of choice
Landjaegers or meat snack sticks of choice
Thinly sliced salami
Pumpkin butter
Pumpkin seed crisps
Thinly sliced capicola
Pirouette cookies, pumpkin spice or flavor of choice
Toffee or candied pecans
Fresh sage leaves

Arrange the Fontina, alpine-style and baby Swiss on a serving board. Fill in board with snack mix, landjaegers, salami, pumpkin butter, pumpkin seed crisps, capicola, cookies, pecans, and sage.

Cheese Notes:
• The Alps have been home to Gruyere and other Alpine-style cheeses since the 11th century. Luckily, immigrants from this region settled in Wisconsin and have passed down traditions. Wisconsin cheesemakers continue to craft these classic alpine-style cheeses using old-world techniques including copper vats.
• Alpine-Style cheese is ivory to pale yellow and often with a light brown washed rind. It’s firm but never dry, and is nutty and sweet. (Any brand of Wisconsin Alpine-Style, Baby Swiss, Fontina, or Parmesan can be used in this recipe.)

Grilled Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Grilled Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Makes 16 Poppers| Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

8 medium jalapeño peppers
6 ounces Cedar Grove Butterkase cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
½ package (4 ounces) Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, softened
8 thick-cut bacon strips, cooked and diced
½ cup diced fresh pineapple
½ cup warm raspberry jam
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

  1. Grease grill grate. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Cut jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes.
  3. Beat butterkase and cream cheese in a large bowl until blended. Fold in bacon and pineapple. Spoon a tablespoonful of cheese mixture into each pepper half. Transfer jalapeños to a greased grill grid or basket.
  4. Place on grill grate. Grill poppers, covered, over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until filling is heated through.
  5. Combine raspberry jam and red pepper flakes if desired in a small bowl. Serve with poppers.

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

Warm Artichoke Cheese Dip

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Warm Artichoke Cheese Dip

Makes 8 to 10 Servings| Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and chopped
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
1 package (8 ounces) Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, cut into small cubes
8 ounces Door Artisan Daclette cheese or Roth Grand Cru cheese, shredded and divided (2 cups)
Carrots, celery, and sweet red bell peppers, for serving

  1. Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add artichoke hearts and shallots; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender.
  2. Add wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes longer. Reduce heat to low. Gradually stir in cream cheese and 1½ cups Daclette until melted. Sprinkle with remaining Daclette.
  3. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with vegetables.

Cheese Note: Daclette is ideal for melting. Hand rubbed with olive oil and Spanish smoked paprika, Door Artisan Daclette is an Alpine-style, semi-firm cheese reminiscent of Swiss raclette. (Any brand of Wisconsin Alpine-Style, cream cheese, or raclette can be used in this recipe.)

Cider-Butterkase Baked Chicken Wings

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Cider-Butterkase Baked Chicken Wings

Makes 6 to 8 Servings| Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

2 pounds chicken wings
Salt and pepper
¾ cup apple cider
¾ cup dry hard apple cider
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
4 ounces Saxon Snowfields Butterkäse Style cheese, shredded (1 cup)

  1. Heat oven to 450°F. Place a greased wire rack on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Pat chicken wings dry with paper towels. Cut wings through joints into three sections; discard wing tips. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange wings in a single layer on rack. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meat reads 165°F.
  4. Meanwhile, bring the apple cider, hard apple cider, Worcestershire sauce, and honey to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce is reduced to about ¾ cup, stirring occasionally. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth; stir into cider mixture. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Toss wings with ¼ cup sauce in a large bowl. Return wings to pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle wings with butterkäse. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve with remaining sauce.

Cheese Note: Butterkäse means “butter cheese.” Snowfields Butterkäse Style cheese is made with autumn and winter milk. Aged for at least 3 months, it has rich buttery and sweet almond flavors with a bright, lemony finish. (Any brand of Wisconsin Butterkase can be used in this recipe.)

Pumpkin Pie Baked Brie

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Pumpkin Pie Baked Brie

Makes 8 Servings | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

Brie cheese gets all dressed up in the flavors of pumpkin pie. The baked warm brie softens perfectly. Serve with fresh fruits for a tasty seasonal treat.

1 wheel (8 ounces) Schroeder Käse Triple Creme Brie cheese, with or without vegetable ash
1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
3 tablespoons pumpkin pie filling or mix
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
Fresh apple and pear slices, to serve
Water crackers, to serve

  1. With a sharp knife, cut brie around the top rind edges if desired. Peel away rind to expose the cheese. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a 15×10-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Unroll pie pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut it into ¾-inch-wide strips.
  4. Spread pumpkin pie filling over brie. Sprinkle with pecans and brown sugar. Weave pastry strips over toppings creating a lattice, allowing excess dough to drape over the top and sides of cheese. Tuck strips underneath the brie to completely cover bottom. Trim strips if necessary for cheese to lay flat. Place cheese on prepared pan. Whisk egg and water and brush mixture over pastry. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh fruits and crackers.

Cheese Note: Triple cream, soft-ripened brie cheese is named after the French region from which it originated. For bloomy rind cheeses like brie, the rind is often eaten. Brie’s flavor is rich and earthy with mushroom notes and ranges from mild to full and aromatic, depending on age.

Warm Beer Cheese Dip and Soft Pretzels

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

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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.