Cheesy Valentine’s Day Recipes

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. Surprise your significant other to an intimate Valentine’s dinner for two at home. Instead of dining out, stay at home and cook a romantic, candle lit dinner. Not only will you be able to avoid the restaurant rush but you will surely impress your sweetheart. Here’s one of the delicious cheese recipe  ideas you’ll certainly fall head over heels for.

Cheddar Baked Chicken

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
6 10 min 50 min

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese Curds
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup crispy rice cereal
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut in half
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cooking Direction:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat a medium baking dish with 1/4 cup melted butter.

2. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and milk. In a third bowl, mix the cheese, bread crumbs, cereal. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, then press in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Arrange in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons butter evenly over chicken.

3. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until coating is golden brown and chicken juices run clear.

To keep the food moist and evenly cooked, use an aluminum foil. This will also make the cleaning stress-free afterwards. This is one of the quickest and easiest recipe to prepare. This meal goes perfectly well with red wine particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon. The blending of flavors makes it a tasty treat for you and your loved one.

The best thing about cheese is its versatility to be used in sweet and savory dishes. Enhance the evening by prepping a sumptuous dessert guaranteed to satisfy your partner’s sweet tooth. Here’s another delicious cheddar cheese dessert recipe to warm up the sweet, romantic Valentine evening. The savory cheesy flavored crust is a delightful way to compliment the tart apple filling.

Deep-Dish Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
8 35 min 1 hr and 30 min

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
2/3 cup (about) ice water

Filling

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)

Cooking Direction:

For crust:

1. Blend flour and salt in processor. Add shortening and butter and cut in using several on/off turns. Add cheese and cut in until shortening and butter resemble small peas. With machine running, gradually blend in enough water until soft moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

For fruit filling:

1. Mix apples, raisins, brown sugar, 1/3 cup sugar, flour, lemon juice and spices in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand 15 minutes. Spoon fruit and any accumulated juices into 13×9-inch oval baking dish. Dot fruit with 3 tablespoons butter.

3. Roll out dough on floured surface to oval about 1/2 inch larger than baking dish. Fold in 1/2 inch of edge to form double-thick border; crimp. Cut out 1-inch-wide hole from center of crust. Using tart pan bottom as aid, lift dough and place atop fruit. Tuck in dough around edges.

4. Bake pie 15 minutes. Brush crust with egg glaze. Top with 2 teaspoons sugar. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pastry until golden, about 35 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Celebrate love with these decadent meal ideas. Not only will you impress your significant other with your cooking skills, it will also pave way for both of you to become more romantic and intimate with each other.

Visit Best of Wisconsin Shop for products that will surely make your Valentines date a memorable one!

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Casserole

With the weather getting freezing cold this month of January, it goes without saying that one’s appetite is also craving for winter comfort food. Here’s a suggested hearty and easy winter dish that will keep you warm and full giving you the perfect reason to get up from your couch and cook.

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
12 15 min 1 hour 20 min

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups elbow macaroni
1 pound smoked beef sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
1 sweet onion, diced small
2 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil, or more to taste
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon onion powder, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or more to taste salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (8 ounce) package shredded American cheese

COOKING DIRECTION:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish and oil with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain.

3. Stir sausage, tomatoes and reserved juice, onion, Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, 2 teaspoons olive oil, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and ground black pepper together in a large bowl. Add elbow macaroni and stir. Pour macaroni mixture into prepared baking dish, sprinkle with American cheese, and cover with aluminum foil.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil from baking dish, increase heat to 425, and bake until sauce is bubbly, and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Check out our blog for more hearty winter cheese and sausage recipes that are surely a hit when you’re craving for warm and satisfying foods.

Cheese Care and Storage Guide

Many of you may ask on how long does cheese last out of the fridge. Basically, the shelf life of different kinds of cheese vary from a few weeks to many years. This, however, depends on the composition of the cheese and how the cheese is packaged.

Here’s an interesting infographic depicting care for your beloved cheese in terms of storage and serving so that it would be at its most delicious state when eaten.

Other considerations in storing cheese include the following:

  • Store cheese by type. This means that you should not place aged cheese in the same piece of waxed paper with fresher cheese type.
  • Cheese flavor can be directly affected if stored with other cheese type. Thus, strong cheese need to be stored on their own and must be ensured that they are not stored with milder cheese.
  • It is not recommended to store cheese in the fridge since freezing will impair the character of the cheese. If, however, cheese has been stored in the fridge, it is recommended that it would be used for cooking instead of eating it directly.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! If you are skeptical whether your cheese is still edible or if it’s already stale, trust your instinct. Presence of black mold along with slimy surface and ammonia smell usually indicate that your cheese can no longer be eaten.
  • The lifespan of a good cheese is dependent on the following factors: temperature inside the fridge, temperature outside the fridge, room temperature, and humidity. In order to achieve what is best for your cheese, you need to explore the variables by experimenting to determine what works best.

Skillet Bacon Cheeseburger Dip Sliders

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
16 30 min 60 min

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Homestyle refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits
8 slices (3/4 oz each) American cheese, quartered
4 strips cooked bacon, quartered
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon sesame seed
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped hamburger pickle chips

COOKING DIRECTION:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 12-inch ovenproof skillet, cook beef, onions and steak seasoning over medium-high heat 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Pour into medium bowl; stir in ketchup and mustard. Carefully wipe out skillet. Spray with cooking spray.

2. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Cut each biscuit in half to form 2 strips. Press each strip into 4×2-inch rectangle. Place 2 quartered pieces of American cheese and 1 quartered strip of bacon on one half of each rectangle. Fold dough over cheese and bacon (do not seal), and place around edge of skillet.

3. Brush biscuits with melted butter; sprinkle with sesame seed. Pour burger mixture into center of skillet.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through and deep golden brown on top. Top beef mixture with shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake 1 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Top beef mixture with tomatoes and pickles.

This cheese recipe is ideal for any gathering such as game day get-together or out-of-the-blue parties with friends, colleagues, or acquaintances. The combination of skillet dips and sliders will surely be a hit on the table. You can also try other cheese appetizer recipes to entice your palate.

Holiday Smoked Sausage Recipes

Looking for smoked sausage recipes for the holidays? You’ve come to the right place. Christmas season is one of those yearly bonding times where people create special moments and catch up with loved ones from near or afar. During this holiday season, it is crucial that great food is served. It is not just to impress loved ones but let’s admit it; nothing beats the feeling of sharing delightful home-cooked meals with family and friends gathered around the table.

We’ve gathered 3 easy smoked sausage holiday  recipes to inspire you to prepare your own delectable menu for this festive season.

Smoky Sausage-and-Grits Casserole

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
12 to 24 30 min 1 hour and 25 min

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds smoked sausage, chopped
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
2 (8-oz.) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten Vegetable cooking spray

COOKING DIRECTION

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 7 to 9 minutes or until cooked; drain on paper towels.

2. Bring salt and 4 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Whisk in grits, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until completely melted. Stir in milk and next 4 ingredients. Stir in sausage. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

3.Bake at 350° for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

NOTE: This recipe can be assembled up to 4 days ahead and can be kept in the fridge. Once it’s time to bake it, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before putting it into the oven.

Smoked Sausage Baked Beans

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
24 10 min 1 hour and 10 min

INGREDIENTS

2 cans (55 ounces each) baked beans
1ring (1 pound) fully cooked smoked sausage, cubed
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1tablespoon ground cumin
1tablespoon chili powder

COOKING DIRECTION

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. In large bowl, mix all ingredients; spoon into ungreased 4-quart casserole.

2.Bake uncovered 45 to 60 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly.

TIP: This easy smoked sausage recipe can also be made using a slow cooker. Mix all ingredients in 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker. Once covered, cook on low heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Smoked Sausage in BBQ Sauce

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
24 5 min 15 min

INGREDIENTS

3 pounds large smoked sausage, cut into diagonal slices
1 bottle barbecue sauce
1/4 cup jarred, sliced jalapenos, plus 2 tablespoons liquid from the jar
Dash of hot sauce

Special equipment: toothpicks

COOKING DIRECTION

1. Combine the sausage, barbecue sauce, jalapenos and their liquid and the hot sauce in a pot and warm with the lid on until bubbly. Transfer to a chafing dish for serving. Serve with toothpicks.

These succulent easy-to-cook smoked sausage recipes are a sure hit on the festive holiday table. Other sausage recipe ideas include beans and rice, casserole, pasta, soup, and stew. All you got to do is be creative and voila! You’re all set.

Visit Best of Wisconsin shop for more products to choose from this coming Holiday Season!

Homemade Baked Tater Tots

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
32 10 min 45 min

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/3 cup Wisconsin pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cooking spray
1 cup Wisconsin sharp cheddar cold pack cheese (or your favorite flavor)
2 ounces cream cheese

COOKING DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Prick potatoes all over with fork. Wrap in a damp paper towel and place on microwave-safe plate. Microwave 2 minutes, turn over and microwave 2 minutes more, or until potatoes are just beginning to soften. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Carefully peel potatoes, then shred into a medium bowl. Add pepper jack, flour, garlic powder, seasoning salt and pepper; mix well. Line baking sheet with foil and spray well with olive oil or cooking spray, or line with parchment. Use a tablespoon scoop to form tots and place on prepared pan.

3. Bake tater tots 20-25 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning frequently during baking.

4. Meanwhile in microwave-safe dish, heat cold pack and cream cheese in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until warm and smooth. Serve with tater tots for dipping.

Sausages: To Eat or Not to Eat?

Nowadays, people are very much conscious when it comes to what they eat. This is possibly attributed to recent news evolving around cancer-causing food. Part of the food groups that have been linked to bad press exposure is eating meat, particularly processed meat.

According to a survey conducted by NatCen Social Research in 2016, three in ten British consumers have cut back on the amount of meat they consume in the past 12 months. This leads us to a controversial question. Are sausages good for you? Are there health benefits when you eat your favorite sausage? Below are top three reasons not to eliminate sausages in your breakfast menu.

  1. Sausages are primary sources of high organic protein.

The sausage protein is directly absorbed by the body. In addition, sausages comprise of all essential amino acids. They are responsible in promoting muscle and cell growth. Each serving delivers high satiety value due to its high protein and fat content. Moreover, several researches reveal that protein-rich intake during breakfast aids in controlling sugar craving prior to eating lunch. It also helps in limiting the calorie consumption during lunch. Thus, you will less likely crave for “junk” food.

Majority of the sausages also contain amino acids such as tryptophan and serotonin. These acids are recognized as mood enhancers. To start your day on a positive note, eat breakfast sausage. This explicates why sausage is more beneficial when eaten as an early morning meal.

  1. Sausages provide vitamin B-12.

Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that ensures healthy red blood cells. The body thrives to make hemoglobin, a protein needed by the blood to transport oxygen all over the body. It also plays a significant role in the brain’s function. In addition, eating the recommended dietary sausage serving protects the body from nerve damage. Lastly, adequate consumption of food rich in vitamin B-12 aids in the fat and protein metabolization.

  1. Sausages contain iron and potassium.

Iron is another important mineral needed to produce hemoglobin. Beneficially, sausages are rich in iron. Ample consumption of food rich in iron guarantees that your body can make sufficient amount of hemoglobin to maintain red blood cell function.

Another mineral found in sausages is potassium. It is responsible in the body’s regulation of blood pressure and maintenance of fluid balance. Potassium also helps in the regular function of the digestive system. Finally, it also allows smooth contraction of the muscles.

Although sausages are difficult to resist, keep in mind that too much consumption on a daily basis is bad for your health. One does not have to avoid the good taste of sausage. But you can limit how much you eat. Having it for breakfast once or twice a week is ideal. Opt to buy sausages with low fat and low sodium variety. You can also pair sausages with other fiber-rich foods such as whole grain breads and breakfast salads. By practicing restraint and proper diet, you can benefit from the food’s essential nutrients without risking your health.

Check our blog regularly for easy sausage recipes for any occasion or for daily meal ideas.

Sausage and Herb Bread Stuffing

Thanksgiving connotes various get-together celebrations with families and friends. It also means that gaining extra pounds is inevitable due to the various food festivities happening. Nevertheless, it does not have to get you off the holiday spirit just because you are worried you would gain weight. Here’s a healthy holiday sausage recipe that is guaranteed to satisfy your appetite without worrying too much on your diet.

SERVINGS PREP TIME TOTAL TIME
8 30 min 60 min

INGREDIENTS:

1½ loaf challah or other rich egg bread
1 package pork sausage meat
½ c. margarine or butter
6 stalk celery
1 jumbo onion
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 c. fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. fresh sage leaves
2 can chicken broth
1 package chopped mixed dried fruit

COOKING DIRECTION:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide bread between two 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans. Place pans on 2 oven racks and toast bread 15 minutes or until golden, rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through toasting, and stirring once. (If not completing stuffing now, cool toasted bread; store in plastic bag at room temperature up to 1 week.)

2. Meanwhile, heat nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until sausage is browned, breaking up sausage with side of spoon. With slotted spoon, transfer sausage to very large bowl. Discard any fat remaining in skillet.

3. In same skillet, melt margarine over medium heat. Add celery, onion, salt, and pepper, and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, thyme, and sage, and cook 2 minutes longer.

4. While vegetables are cooking, in 2-quart saucepan, heat broth and dried fruit to boiling over high heat. Remove saucepan from heat.

5. To bowl with sausage, add vegetable mixture, broth with dried fruit, and bread cubes; toss to mix well. Use to stuff 12- to 16-pound turkey. Or spoon stuffing into greased 13-inch by 9-inch glass baking dish or shallow 3 1/2-quart casserole. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 325 degrees F oven 30 minutes. Remove cover; bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through and lightly browned on top.

Squeaky Cheese Curds 101

Cheese fanatics would definitely agree that cheese curds are undeniably irresistible. Even non-cheese lovers agree that this mild cheddar is deliciously addictive. One taste is enough to crave for the signature squeak. The cheesy goodness can be enjoyed either fresh or fried. Here’s a quick trivia about your favorite squeaky cheese curds.

Cheese curds are by products of cheddar. They are made of fresh, immature cheddar cheese. The solid, milky cheese curd is left behind from the whey during the cheese-making process. The flavor is milder than other cheese and come in many varieties. Though, they have the same level of thickness with cheddar.

Did you know that the cheese curds have their distinct sound when eaten? The squeaky sound comes from the rubbing of elastic protein components against the enamel of the teeth. A squeaky cheese curd means that it is still fresh. Unlike traditional blocks of cheese which are left to age, curds are made less than two days ago.

Cheese curds come in many flavors. They can be whitish, yellowish, or orangey in color. Ideally, they have to be eaten within twelve hours. Beyond that, cheese curds will begin to lose the squeaky sound. Thus, it is recommended to eat the curds the same day they are produced. They can be stored in the refrigerator for months to retain the optimal freshness and squeakiness.

Left over curds can be microwaved for a few seconds to restore the squeaking feature when eaten. The best thing about these yummy little morsels is that they can be served directly or deep-fried. Thus, squeaky cheese curds are perfect appetizers. Below are suggested ways to serve squeaky cheese:

  • Battered cheese curds that are fried to a crispy golden brown are certainly addictive snacks. They are said to be traditionally adapted from Wisconsin. This way of serving is similar to serving mozzarella cheese sticks. Nowadays, this serving suggestion is becoming prevalent in the northeast and Midwest part of the U.S.
  • Squeaky cheese can also be eaten with French fries topped with light brown gravy. This is popularly known as poutine, a French-Canadian delicacy.
  • Melted cheese curds can also be used as a tortilla chips dip. You can just mix your desired hot sauce with plain curds and melt them. Voila! Your dipping is ready. Or you can simply enjoy these squeaky curds with crackers.
  • Another way of eating cheese curd is mixing it with your favorite salad. Fresh cheese curds can be used as salad topping. This goes to show plain curds remain to be everyone’s preference.
  • Cheddar cheese curds can also be added to soup. A hearty soup is perfect combination on a cold weather.

You now have everything you need to know about these appetizing goodies. The next time you nibble on cheese curds, you will definitely appreciate why they are considered one of cheese’s best kept secrets.