One of my favorite commercial campaigns was the American Dairy Council’s series on The Power of Cheese. Originally the slogan was “Behold the Power of Cheese!” I personally think this was funnier than its replacement, “Ah, the Power of Cheese,” but I supposed the religious nuts claimed such a Biblical-sounding phrase was deifying cheese or something.
Actually, if I weren’t a nice, Catholic girl, I could happily accept cheese as my god. I’m not talking about snooty cheese, which I define as anything that reeks or has a French-sounding name (often these two criteria coincide; have you heard of Casa marzu?). Nope. For me, cheese = Cheddar, mozzarella, Colby Jack. I don’t really consider Parmesan a cheese, as I only consume it ground up into a powder. Cheese dust. I am also perfectly content to accept “cheese food,” which I believe is made of petroleum and asbestos or something. Cheese food, as expressed in such wonders of technology as Cheese Whiz and Easy Cheese (squirtable cheese in a can! Oh, brave new world!) has the most important characteristic of anything claiming to be cheese(like): it melts.
This is important: Cheese is never to be eaten in its natural state. It must always be melted into an ooey-gooey sludge.
Here are two of my favorite sludgy cheese recipes.
Grilled Cheese Flatbread Paninis
Sun-Dried Tomato Flatbread Mix from Tastefully Simple
Cheddar or American cheese, shredded
Pepperonis (regular or mini)
Prepare the Sun-Dried Tomato Flatbread Mix as directed on package.
When baked and cooled, turn a flatbread seasoned-side down. Heap a lot of tasty cheese on the bread and top with pepperonis. Place another flatbread seasoned-side up on top. Cook in a panini press or grill until cheese is ooey-gooey and both sides of the flatbread are nicely browned.
Crunchy Sesame Pretzel Baked Cheese Sticks
8 individual mozzarella string cheeses, cut in half
1/3 cup flour (whole wheat or all-purpose)
2 egg whites
1 tsp. Garlic GarlicTM Seasoning
½-1 cup Crunchy Sesame Pretzel Breading
1 Tbsp. Pizzeria Seasoning
Olive oil cooking spray
Place cheese sticks in a resealable plastic bag with flour and shake to coat.
Whisk together egg whites, egg and Garlic Garlic Seasoning.
Mix Crunchy Sesame Pretzel Breading and Pizzeria Seasoning.
Dip each flour-coated cheese stick into the egg mixture, then roll in breading mix until thoroughly coated. Then dip the stick into the egg mixture again, and again into the breading. Repeat with all cheese sticks.
Place cheese sticks in a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 15 minutes (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 475°F. Coat each frozen cheese stick with olive oil cooking spray and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake 12 minutes or until coating is golden brown and cheese is ooey-gooey inside. Serve with marinara sauce as a dip, if desired.