Say cheese

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I love cheese.

In some shape, form or fashion, most everyone eats cheese at some point in a week. Probably multiple times per week.

Most of us don’t have a true appreciation for cheese. That’s because we don’t have access to the myriad of cheeses that are available. When is the last time you saw a wheel of fresh Asiago cheese? It doesn’t happen too often.

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When I say ‘cheese’, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably those prepackaged orange single slices, right?

There’s nothing wrong with American singles, but that’s just the tip of the cheese iceberg.

Cheeses are a lot like wines. They each have a different depth of flavor and age effects the taste.

Next time you’re grocery shopping, actually spend some time in the cheeses. Maybe even take some home that you’re never tried before. In moderation, cheese is a healthy snack.

And if you’re not looking for healthy but want to give some new cheeses a whirl, try this recipe on for size.

This isn’t your boxed shells and cheese. This macaroni is made with a mixture of cheeses with different flavor and texture profiles. Each of the four cheeses used are generally easy to find locally.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni

9 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

8 ounces cubed processed cheese food

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the oil and the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter and stir into the macaroni.

In a large bowl, combine the Muenster cheese, mild and sharp Cheddar cheeses and Monterey Jack cheese and mix well.

Add the half and half, 1 and 1/2 cups of cheese mixture, cubed processed cheese food and eggs to macaroni. Mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased and deep 2 and 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and one tablespoon of butter.

Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges.

Tiffany Cannon is a field editor with Taste of Home Magazine and owner of 2ate9 Bakery and Catering in Demopolis. She can be reached via email at