Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Easy Ways To Include Cheese In Your Kid’s School Lunch

It’s back-to-school time and that means back to packing school lunches. It can be a bit of a challenge to come up with a variety of nutritious lunches that your child enjoys eating, rather than looking for someone to trade with. As with any meal, it’s important to include all of the major food groups in the school lunch. These are fruits and/or veggies, carbohydrates (preferably complex, not simple carbs), dairy, and protein.

One simple way to provide for your child’s protein and dairy needs is to incorporate cheese into the lunch box in one way or another. Here are a few ideas for you.


Of course, there is always the old stand-by, a cheese sandwich—mayo on the bread, cheese slices on the bread. Done. But there are as many variations on the cheese sandwich as there are moms to make them and kids to eat them. Try some of these ideas: cheese and dill pickles; cheese and tomato (put the tomato slices between two cheese slices to prevent the bread from becoming soggy); cheese and apple; cheese and lunchmeat; cheese, peanut butter, and strawberry jam; or egg salad with grated cheese. Mix your cheese flavors up, try Swiss, Gouda and aged cheddar.

Try various types of cheeses with various accompaniments to see which combos your kid likes the best. Also try a variety of breads, including tsandwich thins, hamburger or hot dog buns, croissants, pita bread, tortillas, hoagie rolls, or even a bagel.

Lunch Box Fillers

The lunch box sandwich is just the foundation for a great school lunch. Next you need a “side” to go with the sandwich. Here is another place to get creative and add some nutrition to your child’s lunch.

Look for the small cheese and cracker packets, or cheese and pretzel ones. These make great lunch box fillers and kids love them. Try adding cheese curds and pretzel bites or veggie sticks.

String cheese is a nifty way to add interest to your kid’s school lunch. It’s fun to peel down the layers into “strings,” the thinner and stringier, the better. There are also small, individually wrapped cheeses that will go good with a baggie of your kid’s favorite crackers. Or you can put cheese slices and apple slices in a small container. Raisins or other dried fruits will work just as well and give the added nutrition of fruit.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Secrets To Making The Perfect Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is one of the most popular dishes among all age groups as it is easy to make, delicious, and filling. Best of all, you can make it using any type of cheese you want, giving you the chance to customize the dish. If you want to improve your next grilled cheese sandwich and get it closer to perfection, these tips can help.

Picking The Cheese

Most people tend to select American or cheddar for their grilled cheese sandwich and while both options are delicious, they can be a bit boring. There are hundreds of varieties of cheese so you should let your creativity shine. Keep in mind that most cheese will melt, but not all will melt in the ideal way for grilled cheese. Harder cheeses, for example, tend to only work when mixed with another kind as they will add flavor, but not create the ideal texture. You can also shorten the time it takes you to make your grilled cheese by either shredding your cheese or opting for Brie or another soft cheese.

Don’t Skimp On Butter

Yes, grilled cheese is unhealthy when made in the traditional method, but it is popular for a reason. You will have to decide if you want a healthy grilled cheese sandwich or the delicious, crispy type of sandwich most people are familiar with. You always want to butter your bread instead of the pan as this makes sure the butter is spread evenly. Opting for a salted butter brings out the cheese’s flavor, so keep that in mind.

Selecting Your Bread

To make the perfect grilled cheese, the bread has to right as well as this is the outer packaging. Pick a sliced bread that isn’t too thick and doesn’t have very many holes. Keep in mind that thicker bread will be harder to cook evenly and you may find yourself with burnt bread and cheese that hasn’t melted.

Ideal Method

Even if you are in a rush, you will end up with a better cheese sandwich if you cook it longer on lower heat. This ist he best way to ensure the cheese cooks thoroughly and the bread doesn’t burn. To make the sandwich even crispier, cook it slowly then turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan for two or three minutes. You will have perfectly melted cheese and the bread will be the ideal balance of crispy and soft enough to eat.

How To Add Fillings

To take your grilled cheese sandwich to the next level, consider adding in some fillings. Turkey, ham, bacon, tomato, and hot peppers are all incredibly popular choices, but the sky is the limit for your creativity. Just remember that you need to always slice the filling very thin and be sure there is a piece of cheese on each side so it sticks to the bread.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Surprising Facts About Fondue

Fondue is a popular dish for romantic evenings as well as social gatherings. The communal nature of the pot makes it perfect for feeding a larger group of people, particularly if you are just looking for a snack. Most people know the basics of fondue, such as that it is a Swiss dish involving melted cheese and you traditionally dip crispy, aged bread in it to enjoy. You may not realize how interesting this dish truly is, however.

It Is Centuries Old

You’ll find various histories of fondue, with many saying it was invented during the 18th century so the poor had something to eat. This history says that it gave people a delicious way to use up old, hard cheese and stale bread. If you look back even further, however, you will see a very basic version of fondue from the late part of the 17th century. There is a Swiss cookbook from this time period that says you should have cheese along with wine and some bread to dip.

You Can Vary The Cheeses

Most traditional fondues will rely on either Emmental or Gruyere cheese as those are the classic options. In reality, however, the exact “traditional” recipe varies greatly by region. The Neuchateloise uses those cheeses, while the Innerschweiz version adds a bit of bright Sprinz to the mix. There is also an Appenzeller version using Appenzeller cheese. This means that unless you want to stick to a classic recipe, you can use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, that will create the right melt. You don’t even have to stick to the traditional bread for dipping; try vegetables or meats.

Flirting Traditions

It seems obvious that it is a bad idea to drop your bread into the fondue pot, especially since the pot is communal, but few people realize there are actually traditions that dictate what happens if you make this mistake. Women who drop their bread into the pot must give their neighbors a kiss while men who drop something in the pot have to buy everyone a round of drinks.

Ideal Beverage

Those unfamiliar with fondue may simply think that you drink your favorite beverage with the meal. The truth, however, is a bit more interesting as there is a great debate about what to drink. Some people opt for white wine, while others say black tea is the better choice. Each has its own explanation as fondue is already made with white wine, so a bit more doesn’t hurt and black tea can help your digestion.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Throw A Party Revolving Around Raclette

When most people think of cheese parties, they picture a wine and cheese tasting party or a fondue party. There is also another great option, a raclette party. Raclette is a traditional Swiss dish as well as the cheese commonly used in it. The cheese itself is firm with a gold to ivory color, creamy and soft consistency, a few holes, and 50 percent fat. It may be aromatic or only mildly fruity. The traditional raclette dish is basically melted cheese that is eaten with roasted or boiled potatoes, pickled onions, and small gherkins.

History Of Raclette

Raclette cheese first developed in Switzerland, specifically in the French-speaking zones of the Alpine region. The legend says that herdsmen and farmers would eat cheese (and other items) around their campfire and one day, they left the cheese too long and it melted. A farmer didn’t want to waste it, so he scraped it and decided it was delicious. Raclette quickly became a meal that was loved for being hearty and simple and those in the area discovered that raclette cheese melted the best for this purpose.

Making The Raclette

Traditionally, raclette cheese would be heated around the campfire, but due to its popularity around Europe, there are now easy-to-use machines that can do the job for you. You can find raclette machines that heat up individual servings of the cheese in tiny pans as well as larger machines that hold an entire quarter wheel and heat it using a lamp. If you don’t have one of these machines and want to host a raclette party, you can also use any non-stick pan, but expect a slight mess.

Best Cheeses To Include

Traditional raclette cheese is obviously the best option or a raclette party, but there are also other delicious options. It can be more interesting if you have several options on hand for guests to pick from. Other delicious cheeses to include are cheddar, mozzarella, feta, Gouda, Camembert, Gruyere, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, and Butterkase.

Other Foods To Have

Don’t just rely on cheese for your raclette party; you also want to have a selection of artisanal breads. Popular meat choices include roasted pork, chorizo, salami, speck, and prosciutto. You can also serve vegetables, such as cauliflower, Cipolline onions, roasted butternut squash, roasted brussel sprouts, or small potatoes. Try include sliced apples or pears to match the cheese and dried fruits, berries, and grapes to help refresh your guests’ palate. You can also use briny or acidic dishes like olives or Cornichons to refresh the palate.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Can Your Pets Eat Cheese?

Anyone with a pet knows that not all “human food” is safe for pets to eat, with the classic example being chocolate. The good news, however, is that if you have a dog or a cat, it may be safe to occasionally give them a small piece of cheese. Most experts agree that as long as you do it correctly, it will be perfectly safe.

The Warnings

The biggest reason that you will sometimes find cheese on the list of banned foods for dogs and cats is that it contains milk, fatty components, and sugars which your furry friends can’t digest. The idea is that our pets simply don’t know how to digest milk and dairy products after they reach a certain age, making it unsafe to give them cheese. The reality, however, is that even if your dog eats too much cheese, he will probably just have gas, diarrhea, or vomiting and no life-threatening symptoms.

Lactose Intolerance

If cheese is safe for cats and dogs, you may be wondering why so many animal experts say it is on the banned list. That is because some pets, but not all, suffer from lactose intolerance. This means the same thing for dogs as it does for humans: that they lack the protein required to digest the lactose found in dairy products. This means that if you opt for a cheese with less lactose (like cheddar), your dog is less likely to have a reaction.

Cheeses To Try

There are two methods to follow when offering your dog cheese. You can either select a cheese that is extremely low in lactose or one that is easy for them to eat. Cheddar is commonly suggested because even an ounce has almost no lactose. Another popular suggestion is cottage cheese and although it has three grams of lactose in half a cup, it isn’t high in fat and still contains significantly less lactose than whole milk.

Serving The Cheese

When you are planning to give your dog some cheese, you can pick from a few options, just be sure not to ever give a pet cheese on a regular basis as the large amount of dairy can be harmful. You can give your furry friend a little bit of cheese as an occasional treat or a bribe for training. Cheese is also a great way to trick your pet into taking their medicine. Just put their pill in a spoonful of cream cheese or squish it into a cheese cube.

Things To Remember

Although cheese is safe for your pets, you do need to keep a few things in mind. Always give a small amount the first time and watch carefully for lactose intolerance or an allergic reaction so you know your dog or cat can handle the cheese. Also try to avoid cheeses with a high fat content for health reasons.

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