There’s no denying the holidays can be stressful, but everything can be made better with cheese. It’s, like, a universal truth. So, when dealing with one of the top 10 tense days of the year, of course you should drizzle gooey cheesy goodness on absolutely everything.
Cheese serves as a delicious salve to calm your nerves and make your mouth happy. Better yet? It’s a unifier. Because, really, who has time for uncomfortable silences or family arguments when there is so much cheese to consume?
If you’re worried that there isn’t a simple way to turn a traditional Thanksgiving dinner into a magnificent melted meal, you’re in luck. Thanks to the delectable recipes listed below, you’ll find it’s easy being cheesy.
NIBBLES: Turkey and cheese platter
When your guests arrive, you want to have a nice spread ready for them. That should literally include cheese spreads, or big blocks of cheese if you’re a purist. If you feel like you want to get creative with your cheese plate, you can take a cue from No Biggie and present the platter as a turkey.
Just think of the joy it will bring guests to pluck off your “feathered” friend’s cheesy wings or pop off its salami “snood” (you know, that wobbly protuberance that hangs over the bird’s bill).
APPETIZER: Cardamom grapes wrapped in blue cheese and pistachios
Want individual apps? Wrap a grape in blue cheese and stick a toothpick in it.
Blue cheese is not subtle but, then again, neither is your Great-Aunt Lydia’s perfume. Since Friendsgiving gives you a break from the latter, your nose can handle a little Eau de Fromage. Besides, this combo of sweet fruit and blue cheese is a worthy bite.
APPETIZER: Spicy mini bacon cheeseballs
Think these apps are just child’s play? How about a bacon-coated cheese ball? Feisty jalapeño packs these decidedly grown-up poppers with a flavorful wallop. You’re welcome.
SIDE DISH: Creamy baked macaroni and cheese
There’s no hard and fast rule stating a side dish must be as green as the color of money. Gold is also the color of the money (if you are trading bullion), and like gold, this dish is super rich.
While most of us grew up on the neon-orange Kraft variety of this classic side, it’s in the midst of a mac renaissance. It’s now hip to zhoosh it up with mix-ins and make it your own.
This particular recipe boasts three kinds of cheese blended together between the ‘roni — enough to make any mouth say “wow.” You won’t even notice there’s a turkey on the table.
SIDE DISH: Baked sour cream, cheddar and chive mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes pop up on practically every Friendsgiving menu — or every dinner if you do life right. And as any self-professed mashed potato aficionado knows, the secret lies in making sure the dish comes out smooth.
Well, this recipe is full of the stuff smooth and creamy dreams are made of. Not only is sour cream swirled right in, but you take it one step further by also folding in a glorious helping of cheddar cheese.
You say po-tato, we say po-tentially problematic if we eat all of these and there isn’t enough for everybody else.
SIDE DISH: Instant Pot green bean casserole with cheese
Oh, OK, let’s put a vegetable on the table. But no way is it going to be naked. These beans are going to be fully cloaked in cheesy, crispy goodness.
The infamous green bean casserole recipe on the back of that classic can calls for mushroom soup and crunchy fried onions. And while soup is good food, it’s even better when you add two different kinds of melted cheese.
The best part of this version of green bean casserole is that you can pick your favorite melt. Gruyère? Provolone? Fontina? Any way you want it, that’s the way you melt it. It’s so indulgent you’ll forget you’re getting in your greens for the day.
DESSERT: Pumpkin spice cheesecake with pecan caramel sauce
What if we told you we could give you your pumpkin spice and your cheese at the same time? (We’re expecting the marriage proposals to start rolling in any minute.)
If cheese being served at the final course surprises you, look no further than recent wedding Pinterest pictures of brides and grooms cutting into stacked wheels of brie instead of a traditional cake. While some may miss the traditional frosting and sugar, there are those who would be fine with getting a mouthful of cheese instead.
But rejoice, you can essentially stuff your face with both on Friendsgiving. A twist on the age-old pumpkin pie, this recipe hits you with a bit more spice and a cheesecake base. Not to mention, a pecan caramel sauce on top, just in case you were bored.
DESSERT: Pumpkin cheesecake parfaits
Not much of a cook? If lighting things on fire isn’t a good idea in your home, don’t fret — there is a way to feed your guests cheese without burning down the house. You can make this cheesy pumpkin dessert without ever turning on the oven.
So (channeling our best Oprah), you get a pumpkin cheesecake parfait, and you get a pumpkin cheesecake parfait, and you get a pumpkin cheesecake parfait … everyone gets a pumpkin cheesecake parfait!