Let’s face it: everything tastes better with cheese. From mild and creamy, to sharp and robust, myriad varieties of cheese are standing by to add the texture and flavor that transform a dish from good to crave-worthy. Check out these creative ways to incorporate cheese into your holiday treats (a milkshake?), and when in doubt, just go ahead and serve up some cheese and crackers for a no-fail crowd-pleaser!
Stuffed French Toast
Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling
1 pound cream cheese
2-1/2 cups milk
4-1/2 ounces vanilla pudding mix
French toast batter
Fruit toppings, whipped cream (optional)
Place milk into bowl then add vanilla pudding mix. Mix until smooth and place it in a reserve container.
Immediately after mixing bowl is washed, place cream cheese into hot bowl and use a paddle to mix the cream cheese until smooth.
Add vanilla pudding and blend with the cream cheese. Use a wire whip until mixture has no lumps.
Using thick-sliced bread, cut slots deep into the bread for the filling. Use a pastry bag to squeeze filling into the center of the bread. Dip bread into your favorite French toast batter and grill until golden brown.
Top with your favorite fruit topping (strawberries, blueberries, etc.) and whipped cream, if desired.
Note: Stuffing can also be used to fill crepes.
Recipe provided by John Christodoulakis, Round the Clock restaurant in Chesterton and Valparaiso
Savory Mini Cheese Balls
1-1/2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese (12 ounces)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped
Cut cream cheese into 6 pieces; roll each into a ball.
Combine sesame seeds, poppy seeds and half the garlic in small bowl. Mix herbs and remaining garlic in separate small bowl. Combine cranberries and nuts in third bowl.
Roll 2 cheese balls in sesame seed mixture, 2 cheese balls in herb mixture and remaining cheese balls in nut mixture.
Cut each cheese ball in half and serve with crackers.
Recipe from Family Features
Roasted Potato Crostini with Pesto Cheese
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 pound (4 medium) Wisconsin Red or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) soft cream cheese
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce (optional)
1/4 cup prepared roasted red peppers, finely chopped
Snipped fresh chives or minced green onion (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. On baking sheet, arrange potatoes in single layer; spray lightly with additional cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt.
Roast 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, turning potatoes over halfway and sprinkling with remaining garlic salt.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together cream cheese, pesto and red pepper sauce, if desired. Pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons pesto mixture onto each potato; top with red pepper. Sprinkle with chives, if desired.
Recipe adapted from Family Features
Creamy Cheese Fondue
8 ounces Gruyere cheese
5 ounces Baby Swiss cheese
3 ounces Brie cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Bite-sized Granny Smith apples, vegetables, bread cubes, or sausage
Grate the Gruyere and Swiss cheeses (freeze for 20 minutes beforehand for easier grating). Sprinkle the cheese with flour and mix well.
Set electric fondue pot to medium heat. Add 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced, until lightly golden.
Add Sauvignon Blanc, Dijon mustard and lemon juice to pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Gradually stir all three cheeses into the simmering liquid until smooth and creamy. Stir in nutmeg.
Serve with bite-sized veggies, apples, bread and sausage. Dip, swirl and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Brand Point
Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Sage Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
One pork tenderloin, about 1-2 pounds
1 bunch fresh sage
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
15 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt and pepper
6-8 thin slices prosciutto
6 thin slices fresh mozzarella
Remove the leaves from the sage, rosemary and thyme. Place the herb leaves in a food processor with the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pulse the herbs until a finely minced rub is formed. Season the herb mixture with salt and pepper.
Rub one half of the herb mixture on the inside of the pork tenderloin. Top with slices of mozzarella, slightly overlapping, and then with slices of prosciutto. Carefully roll the pork tenderloin up as you would a jelly roll, tucking the filling back in as needed. Use butcher's twine to tie the pork into a roll, using one piece of twine every 2 inches. Rub the remaining half of the herb mixture on the outside of the pork and marinate the pork in the fridge for at least eight hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or other oven-proof skillet. Brown the pork on all sides, then place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
Recipe from Brand Point
Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Grape-Port Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
2 cups red California grapes
1/4 cup port wine
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Make pocket in each chicken breast by cutting horizontally from thickest side almost to opposite side. Spoon cheese into each pocket. Secure pockets with wooden skewers, if desired. Brush chicken pieces on both sides with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes.
In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of remaining oil over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook uncovered for 12 minutes, turning once. Carefully add 1/4 cup chicken broth to skillet. Cook covered for 3-5 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet. Cover chicken to keep warm. If any liquid remains in skillet, gently boil until liquid evaporates.
Carefully add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Stir in onion. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat until onion is soft. Add grapes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes or until grapes begin to split. Remove and set aside about 3/4 of grape-onion solids, leaving liquid and remaining grape-onion mixture in skillet.
Stir remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth, port wine and vinegar into grape mixture in skillet. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered 3-5 minutes or until liquid portion is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Stir in reserved grape-onion solids.
To serve, remove wooden skewers from chicken, if using. Place chicken on serving plates and spoon grape mixture over chicken. Garnish with rosemary.
Recipe from Brand Point
Cream Cheese Milkshakes
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
1 cup good quality vanilla bean ice cream (roughly 6 scoops)
1/2 - 3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon graham cracker crumbs (plus more to garnish)
Whipped cream and maraschino cherries, for garnish
In a blender, add the cream cheese, ice cream, 1/2 cup milk, and graham cracker crumbs. Blend on high until completely smooth. If you want your milkshakes a little thinner, add the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Pour into two tall glasses and top with whipped cream, cherry, and graham cracker crumbs.
Note: It's important to use good quality vanilla bean ice cream. However, if your milkshake is lacking in the vanilla department, add a few drops of vanilla extract.
Recipe from ChocolateMoosey.com