3 Ways To Up Your Snack Game

salmon_bagel I've always thought the word "snack" was particularly cute. If it were personified, it might be a fluffy, pink-nosed bunny hopping in and out of the edges of your day, softly cooing, "Time for a snack! Time for a snack!" Yes, time for a snack. A mini treat. A pre-meal meal. Something small, right?

A lot of us grow up learning that snacks are innately insubstantial and menial, like a handful of peanut butter M&Ms or grapes or a bag of chips. We think of them as the doesn't-really-count prelude to a steak dinner. But a snack can be so much more. In fact, it can actually satisfy that hungry hole in your belly while being delicious, too.

One of our favorite ways to snack at the Cheese Shop is to get creative with our dips and spreads. Check out these three ways to have a snack that won't leave you wanting:

1. Bagels + Smoked Salmon Spread (pictured above) If you thought bagels were just for breakfast, you thought wrong. Spread a sesame bagel with some classic smoked salmon spread (made with dill and cream cheese, of course!), top it with some crunchy cucumber slices, and YUM.

artichoke_pimento

2. Veggies + Dip Up your veggie intake by dunking raw carrots, zucchini, and celery sticks in our lemony and light artichoke tarragon dip (on the left) or our spicy pimento cheese dip (on the right). That pimento cheese is also wicked when melted on toast.

paprika_pasta

3. Pasta + Smoked Paprika Parmesan And when you need to go a little heartier, toss some hot pasta with a few healthy spoonfuls of smoked paprika parmesan dip and dig in. Not bad with a happy hour glass of wine too, I might add.

Eat hearty!

Baby Goats Are Budding!

On goat dairy farms, March is a pretty common time for kidding to go down. Kidding refers to the birth of baby goats. It's an exciting, energetic, and slightly stressful time of year for goat farmers. After all, for about 5 months (the most common gestation time for most breeds) farmers and does (female goats) alike have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of squirming little kids.

Even better than a collection of adorable baby animals to cuddle? Goats' milk! Once a doe has given birth (often to triplets, by the way) she will begin to produce milk. If she's milked continuously, she'll provide her farmer with 10 months-worth of delicious white stuff.

We love the tangy expression of goats' milk cheese at our cheese counters, so spring is an exciting time of year. It means we can begin looking forward to another round of some of our favorite cheeses from Vermont Creamery and other producers.

For lots of swoon-worthy photos of kidding season, check out Fat Toad Farm's website. They make the most luxurious goats' milk caramel, too, which we happily carry on our shelves. For an extra seasonal treat, mix their caramel into this St. Patrick's Day cocktail recipe:

irish_cream

GOAT'S MILK CARAMEL IRISH CREAM Yields 1/2 gallon to share | Adapted from Fat Toad Farm

1 cup heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 2 cups Irish Whiskey 8 oz Fat Toad Farm Goat's Milk Caramel 14 oz sweetened condensed milk 1/4 cup chocolate syrup 2 teaspoons instant coffee 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon almond extract

Put everything into a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Pour over ice and enjoy!

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How To Stay Warm

fondue_image In Minnesota, it's frigid and snowy outside. But inside our houses, we melt nutty cheeses in little pots, add a little white wine and some spices for oomf, and dip things into this smooth cheesy mess all day long. It's a winter ritual. It's a delicious way to stay warm.

Classic Cheese Fondue

1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 pound Gruyère, grated 1/3 pound AppenzellerComté Melodie, grated 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 1 3/4 cup Petit Roubie Picpoul de Pinet wine 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg A splash or two of Kammer Black Forest Kirschwasser (optional)

Toss the cheese with the flour. Rub the interior of a medium saucepan with the peeled garlic. Place over medium heat and the add wine. Bring to a simmer and add the cheese mixture, one handful at a time. Stir in the nutmeg and minced garlic.

Stir over low heat until smooth and cheese is melted and bubbling. Add a splash or two of kirsch and continue stirring until it starts to bubble just a bit. Transfer cheese mixture to a fondue pot and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget to stir frequently.

Try dipping hunks of baguette, blanched vegetables, tiny cornichons, or cubes of salami. The possibilities are endless, even if your stomach isn’t. Enjoy!

[image on right via]