Tater tot casserole

Photo: Ben Fink

1. Use Cheddar to Turn Tater Tots into a Real Meal
Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, aka the Casserole Queens, can do wondrous things with the most basic ingredients—and usually, one of those items is cheese. Witness their Tater Tot Casserole, which uses just six ingredients (plus salt and pepper). It's a delicious combination of ground beef, mushrooms and tots, laced with shreds of sharp cheddar cheese.

Get the recipe: Tater Tot Casserole
Cheese dish

Photo: Paige Green

2. Emphasize What Really Matters in Mac 'n' Cheese
We hear you, devoted Velveeta fans, but let us explain: the combination of mild and slightly sweet Fontina, sharp and salty blue cheese, tangy Pecorino Romano and almost fruity Parmesan is absolutely worth the few extra minutes spent with a box grater. Add butternut squash and sage, and the humble mac 'n' cheese tastes totally new (and outrageously good).

Get the recipe: Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage
Cheese panini

Photo: Amy Neunsinger

3. Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese
There are so many ways to update the classic melted-cheese sandwich, but this one from Giada De Laurentiis is unexpected: She layers slices of nutty Gruyère cheese and Black Forest ham with sautéed Granny Smith apples for tart sweetness, and chopped, fresh thyme for a hint of savory and earthy flavor.

Get the recipe: Ham, Gruyère and Apple Panini
Broccoli and cheetos

Photo: Lynn Andriani

4. Turn Cheese into a Virtuous Side
Broccoli and cheese are a tried-and-true pairing, but New York chef Craig Koketsu takes the duo to new heights. He serves the veggie sautéed, atop a warm Gouda and Parmesan sauce, and garnishes everything with, yes, crumbled Cheetos.

Get the recipe: Broccoli and Cheetos

Photo: Thinkstock

5. Put a Tropical Twist on Cheese Turnovers
We'll admit, we were skeptical about adding pineapple to a cheesy empanada, but it turns out the combination is spot-on: the sweet and tart fruit brings just enough zip to mild Monterey Jack.

Get the recipe: Pineapple-Cajeta Empanadas

Next: 7 fun recipes using cereal


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