Easy Holiday Entertaining with Cheese

cheese flight

Wisconsin cheese and a few easy party food recipes can make you the rock star at any holiday event.

For the next holiday party you host or attend, make a point to introduce your friends and family to Wisconsin cheese. Cheese is a party favorite, and it never disappoints. Take a chance on trying something different in addition to some of your favorites. If you branch out, we can guarantee that people will ask where you got it…and why you know so much about cheese.

Cheese can be served alone in small slices or chunks, on a pretty platter with fruit and crackers, rolled in nuts for a festive cheese ball, in a bubbly fondue, mixed in a savory dip and much, much more.

Our friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board have a fantastic and informative online magazine devoted to the many ways to use Wisconsin Cheese called “Grate. Pair. Share.” Holiday entertaining with cheese is a popular topic and you will find all sorts of on-trend recipes for appetizers, cheese plates, entrées, side dishes and desserts—all made with several kinds of Wisconsin cheese.

pairings_flight with wine

Not Your Mother’s Cheese Ball

While you may have fond memories of cheese balls of yore, check out new flavor combinations that will ignite your taste buds. Here are some new recipes to add to your entertaining repertoire.

From the Holiday 2014 issue, the recipe for a Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Ball is a showstopper that serves 12 and features sharp Cheddar. In addition to crackers, also serve it with crisp apple slices, which add a sweet element to the salty tang of the cheese ball.

On yummly.com, readers have curated an entire section devoted to cheese balls. Here’s a recipe that uses blue cheese. To make both of the cheese balls listed here, order the Master Trio Cheese Gift Combo, including sharp Cheddar, creamy blue cheese and buttery Swiss cheese.

Indulge in a Dip

During the holidays, hot cheese dips are a diet buster because they are incredibly addictive. But hey, the holidays only come around once a year…

The Food Network’s “Our Best Holiday Party Dips” features a yummy Gouda-inspired “Gouda-And-Beer Fondue Bread Bowl” that can be served with bread and fruit, like luscious holiday pears, or even slices of cooked bratwurst.

A crowd-pleasing Cheese Dip developed by a blogger of The Budget Diet says this recipe is her go-to party food “that will make you famous!” One online reviewer said to always use a strong, flavorful cheese for best results, like sharp or aged Cheddar and aged Swiss cheese.

A southern Hot Pimento Cheese Dip recipe from Add A Pinch blog combines shredded Cheddar cheese with chopped pimentos, two types of mustard, salt, pepper and chopped jalapeños for an extra kick. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips and watch it disappear!

The Cheese Stands Alone

Wisconsin specialty cheeses can easily stand on their own at a holiday party. There is little you need to do if you serve such unique finds such as Sartori’s Merlot BellaVitano. Wheels of this cheese are soaked in Merlot wine, which results in an outer layer with deep berry and plum notes. You can pair this wonderful cheese with toasted walnuts, prosciutto and dark chocolate.

Take a walk on the wild side by introducing Mobay™ cheese to holiday guests. This Wisconsin artisanal cheese is an international and national award winner which combines two individual layers of sheep milk and goat milk cheese separated by a very thin layer of grapevine ash (which has no flavor.)

If you like Swiss cheese, try an aged variety called Emmentaler. Master Cheesemaker Bruce Workman from Edelweiss Creamery is the only person in the country who still makes classic 180-lb. wheels of Emmentaler cheese in a copper pot in the Swiss tradition. This Swiss has a pronounced sweet and nutty flavor that begs for pears and fruity wines as natural accompaniments. It can also be melted into a decadent fondue. Learn more about how Bruce crafts this traditional cheese in copper kettles.

Cheese Pairings that Please

Want to find perfect cheese pairing suggestions? The Wisconsin Cheeseman’s online chart provides suggestions for wines, beers, spirits and foods that taste best with every type of cheese the sell.

Speaking of pairings, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has created an extensive list of cheese appetizers with appealing photos featuring “Picks & Bites” with cheese. Check out these ideas for holiday entertaining because you’re guaranteed to find a clever combo to try at your next holiday party.

Discover Desserts with Cheese

In Europe, a cheese course is often served as dessert. But here in the U.S., we’ve developed even more recipes beyond cheesecake that take Wisconsin cheese to another level of indulgence. Here’s yet another chance to share cheese knowledge with the uninitiated.

Bake up a batch of Rosemary Blue Cheese Icebox Cookies for a savory take on a holiday cookie.

Did you know that Brie cheese is made in Wisconsin in addition to France? Here’s a special holiday dessert to serve after Christmas dinner Brie & Brandied Apricot Hand Pies.

Help educate cheese lovers about Wisconsin cheese by using a cheese marker or a homemade notecard to write out which cheese is featured on a cheese plate, melted in a dip or mixed in a cheese ball…because people will certainly ask you for details and recipes at the party.

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