Teresa Hatchell 2005

At several of the many holiday season events I have attended as director of the Tri-County Regional Chamber, most hosts served an array of finger foods. Among them were small, individual sausage 'n cheese balls, pimento cheese sandwiches, pimento cheese dip and Mexican cheese dips.

As I have written in the past, eating cheese is one of my favorite ways to enrich my mind with protein and strengthen my bones with calcium. With January 20 being National Cheese Lover's Day, I thought that today would be the perfect day to offers you a variety of cheese recipes.

One warning comes with these recipes, though. If you prepare and serve them you may want to prepare a double batch as guests may return for "second helpings."

Double hot cheese dip

2 cup whole milk

2 cups each: shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses

2 cups fresh bead crumbs

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons minced jalapenos (fresh or canned)

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Ground red pepper (optional)

In the bottom of a double boiler, bring a few inches of water to boil. Combine the milk, cheeses and bread crumbs in the top half of the double boiler. Heat the mixture, stirring it often, until the cheese melts. Do not allow the mixture to boil, though. After the cheese has melted, stir in the parsley, jalapenos, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper (if desired). Serve the zingy dip with toast points, tortilla chips, your favorite crackers or with fresh bell pepper wedges. This recipe yields four cups of dip.

Pepper Jack cheese stuffed potatoes

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped green onions or fresh chives, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped tomatoes (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potatoes for one hour or until they are tender when you pierce them with a fork. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly so that they will be easy to handle. Cut the potatoes lengthwise in half. Scoop out the potatoes, leaving about 1/4-inch shells (with the skins). Set these “shells” aside. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring occasionally, for about two minutes. In a large bowl, mash the potato “insides” that you scooped out. Stir in the garlic butter, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, one tablespoon of green onion, salt and pepper. Combine these ingredients well. Spoon this potato mixture into the potato shells. Place them on a baking sheet and bake them on 400 for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle them with the remaining onions and tomatoes. Add more cheese if you’d like. I do. This recipe yields 8 servings (stuffed potato halves).

Cucumber-yogurt ‘n cheese salad

1 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons dried will weed, crushed

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups peeled, sliced, fresh cucumbers

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1 cup shredded carrot

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion

2 cups cheese, shredded 

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, dill, sugar and salt. Add the cucumbers, carrot, onion and cheese. Stir the ingredients until everything is well coated with the yogurt mixture. This salad is best served right after you create it. If you are not going to serve it right away, refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it. This recipe makes six to eight delicious servings.

Cheese 'biscuits'

10 ounces of extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup Land ‘O Lakes butter (not margarine)

2 cups plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Texas Pete hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Dash or two of Cayenne pepper

(Optional garnish: A lightly toasted pecan half may be pressed in the center of each “biscuit” as soon as you take the pan from the oven.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and get out the largest cookie sheet you have. In a large bowl, fold (stir) all of the ingredients until they are well combined and form a thick, cheesy “dough.” Use your hands to form dough balls of equivalent size. Use a smooth, floured drinking glass or rolling pin to flatten the balls – the thinner you roll them, the crispier the “biscuits” will be. Carefully place them on a cookie sheet, fairly closely, because they will not spread much as you bake them at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until just very lightly browned. Allow them to cool for at least five minutes before removing them from the pan.

You may contact the writer at: tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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