There is something special about cheese. Perhaps it’s the “mouth feel” or the seemingly endless forms and flavors that make this dairy product a delight to so many. Even if you are vegan or lactose-intolerant, there are still products that approximate or duplicate cheese. Melted, shredded, cubed, or served whole, cheese is easily one of the most versatile foods. Whether you are having a party or just want to make something fun for your family to eat, here are some ideas of how to use cheese. There are also a few creative uses for cheese that don’t involve eating – at least not right away.
Parmesan cheese chips: Easy-to-make Parmesan cheese chips can be flavored with herbs, spices, bits of fruit or vegetables etc. Or they are delicious plain. I use fresh-grated Parmesan. Pile 2-inch rounds (about a heaping tablespoon) of cheese on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, let cool, and voila! Cheese chips.
Mac & cheese waffles: Bread cold cubes of mac & cheese by dipping into a mixture of:
1 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs or Panko.
Place about a cup of the result onto a hot waffle iron and cook until gooey inside and crisp outside.
Cheese straws: Here's another fun party food that is way more interesting than your basic cheese and crackers.
1 ½ cups grated cheddar, preferably extra sharp
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
½ tsp. salt
about an 1/8 tsp. of cayenne, to taste
1 ½ T. of milk
Put everything into a food processor and mix until you have a firm ball. Roll the cheesy dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into strips. Place strips about ¼ inch apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degree for 15-18 minutes, until lightly golden.
Fried cheese balls: Dip cubes of cheese in egg and seasoned bread crumbs and fry in hot oil. Mozzarella is traditional, but you can experiment with other types of cheeses. Serve with hot sauce and/or fresh lemon juice.
Cheese curds: I saw a piece on the Food Channel about these yummy cheddar bites that are popular in Wisconsin with everyone from Milwaukee electricians to plumbers to university students -- just about everyone in Wisconsin loves cheese curds. I had to try them. They are hard to describe, as the texture is unusual ("squeaky") – but good. Eat as is, deep-fry, or use them in poutine.
Savory cheese jelly roll: Here is a party snack recipe that I devised recently.
Roll out crescent roll dough.
Smear with hot pepper jelly.
Layer on Monterey Jack cheese.
Roll the whole thing up and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Quickly slice rounds onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees about 12-15 minutes.
Other creative uses for cheese
Pet medication camouflage: Hide your pet’s medication in cheese balls.
Topical treatment for rosacea: Dr. Oz's skincare specialist, Dr. Marmur, recommends a poultice of pineapple and cottage cheese for relief of symptoms of the skin condition rosacea.
Cottage cheese mask for dark undereye circles: The natural beauty blog Homemade Beauty with Victoria recommends applying a mask of cottage cheese to the skin under the eyes.
Cream cheese mask for dry skin: Food blogger Gulchathaii tested cream cheese as a dry skin cure, and found it to be very effective. Disgusting, yes, but effective. If you don't mind your face looking like the better side of a bagel for a few minutes, give this one a try.
Cream cheese exfoliating scrub: Mix honey, sugar and cream cheese for a gentle all-natural moisturizing and exfoliating facial scrub.
Cheese as sculpting medium: Last, I would be remiss if I did not mention that carving cheese into virtually any shape is a profession for some and a passion for others. State fairs across the country have competitions for cheese carving. And the Indiana State Fair regularly features cheese artist Sarah Kaufmann's incredible creations.
Updated December 31, 2017.