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A block of Cabot Cracked Peppercorn Cheese sits next to a platter of mini blackberry jam bites
Cabot Cracked Peppercorn Cheese and Blackberry Jam Bites
Imagery courtesy of Cabot

How to Make Family Meals Feel Extra Special This Season

When the world feels chaotic, there’s at least one reliable ingredient that pleases a crowd — cheese.

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The holidays are all about family — and even though this year we may not be traveling across the country to visit the in-laws or gathering around our grandparents’ tables, we’ll still find safe ways to celebrate close to home. And, naturally, most of them will revolve around food.

Whether we’re setting out a spread of fancy appetizers or whipping up a festive weekend brunch, our favorite shortcut to making any family meal feel like an occasion is cheese. Featuring slow-aged cheddars and flavors like Roasted Garlic and Smoky Bacon, Cabot’s deli cheeses are an easy way to elevate your celebrations — no matter what they look like this season.

As a co-operative of family-owned dairy farms, Cabot understands that family and food go hand-in-hand. On the Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton, Maine, three generations of Floods live on the land and milk, feed, and care for 3,400 cows. Jenni Tilton-Flood, a Cabot co-operative member and dairy farmer, is preparing for a quieter holiday season with no out-of-town family visitors, more than a few Zoom celebrations, and she and her husband’s first year with an empty nest.

“Just like any family, wherever they may be, ours tries to balance it all when it comes to carving out time for our own household as well as our larger clan,” says Tilton-Flood. “Aside from the limitation of only having 24 hours in a day and 7 days in the week, we do also have to deal with animals that may get sick or equipment that may break down, and it always revolves around the feeding, caring and milking of the cows, but we always manage to find a way to gather together.”

When they do, the family — which also includes Tilton-Flood’s in-laws, brother- and sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews — has a few favorite recipes.

A plate of stromboli next to Cabot’s Roasted Garlic Cheddar Cheese Courtesy of Cabot

“Cheese is my love language and it is spoken often at our family table,” says Tilton-Flood. For breakfast or brunch (“when breakfast is hours late because things go wrong at the farm in the morning, we call it brunch and it just makes us feel better about how the day is going,” she jokes), an Easy Breakfast Potato Casserole is the go-to choice, with Cabot Smoky Bacon Cheddar in the mix and kettle-cooked salt-and-pepper chips sprinkled on top.

For holiday get-togethers, she says, “we generally don’t sit down to big meals because we are all short on time and pulled in so many directions. So out comes the cheese board (I mean seriously, how can that ever be a wrong answer?) and easy-to-make and really-easy-to-devour appetizers.” But the one dish she turns to when she wants everyone at the table to feel loved (and maybe use up a whole jumble of cheese from the fridge in the process)? Mac and cheese.

“Cheese can do that sometimes,” she says, but “mac and cheese does a really good job at it.”

Need more ideas to feed your family this season? Check out these recipes for easy appetizers (with fewer than five ingredients!) and a hearty stromboli for family meals. Plus, find more holiday meal inspiration at Cabot’s website.


Cracked Peppercorn & Blackberry Jam Bites

Makes 15 cups

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Place the phyllo cups on the prepared baking sheet and fill each one with ½ teaspoon blackberry jam.
  3. Place a cube of Cabot Cracked Peppercorn Cheddar on top of the jam and push down slightly.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted slightly.

Habanero & Mango Salsa Cracker Appetizer

A plate of crackers with Cabot Wickedly Habenero cheese and mango salsa Courtesy of Cabot

Makes 2 dozen

Directions

  1. Place a slice of the Cabot Wickedly Habanero Cheddar Cheese on each cracker.
  2. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the mango salsa and serve.

Spicy Pepperoni & Capicola Stromboli

A cutting board with stromboli and Cabot’s Roasted Garlic Cheddar Cheese Courtesy of Cabot

Makes 4 servings

Directions

  1. Dust your work surface with flour.
  2. Roll pizza dough into two flat rectangles, each roughly the size of a sheet of paper.
  3. Spread hot pepper spread over the dough, leaving about an inch along each side. Top with cheddar, capicola and pepperoni, dividing evenly and leaving a border around edge of dough.
  4. Roll up stromboli, starting with narrow end, making a roll about 8-inches wide by 3 inches thick. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Brush oil over the rolls and sprinkle with garlic salt. Slash three small steam vents in the top of the stromboli.
  6. Coat the Air Fryer basket generously with cooking spray. Set one Stromboli in the bottom of the basket and set into the Air Fryer. Air fry at 350°F for 11 to 12 minutes. Remove the Stromboli from the basket, and repeat air frying the second stromboli roll.
  7. Remove the second stromboli from the basket. If it sticks to the basket, release the screen from the bottom and run a butter knife along the bottom of the stromboli to loosen it. Allow the stromboli to cool 5 minutes before slicing and serve with the marinara sauce.

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