Fall is sneaking into our mornings, and football has commenced.

If you didn’t pack some extra pounds onto your frame already this year as you sheltered on your couch, these creamy and cheesy recipes will help you with that. They don’t skimp on the full-fat flavor.

Don’t use Greek yogurt; use full-fat sour cream. Don’t use reduced fat cream cheese, go for it. Don’t use skim or 1% milk; go with the heavy whipping cream. You won’t regret it.

The one slightly saving grace is that these recipes are vegetarian. OK, I’m busted — there’s bacon in the chowder, but it’s minimal and really just for flavoring.

And I just can’t get away from the Buffalo recipes — call me obsessed. This one has cauliflower instead of chicken, and I promise you won’t notice the difference. Sneak in those veggies any way you can.

The pasta dish is a classic combo of ingredients. Throw in some feta for even more cheesiness. It’s so easy being cheesy.


Creamy corn chowder

  • 4 strips bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, small dice
  • 3 sticks celery, small dice
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 4 cups frozen or fresh corn
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and medium dice
  • 1 dash Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep your bacon and add it to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook until crispy (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, prep your onion, celery, and potatoes.

Once the bacon is crispy, take it out of the pot and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot.

Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring nearly constantly. Add in the chicken broth and give it a good stir to ensure the flour has dissolved and the brown bits are scraped up from the bottom of the pot.

Add in the cream, corn, potatoes, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper and most of the bacon (save the rest for garnishing the bowls later on). Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to a rapid simmer so it's gently boiling.

Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15 to 20 minutes). Stir every so often from bottom of the pot. The soup will thicken up more the longer you cook it.

Season the soup with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish bowls with the rest of the bacon, cheese, and scallions or chives.

Adapted from saltandlavender.com.


Buffalo cauliflower dip

  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup favorite hot sauce (1/2 for quite spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp each chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles up to 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Boil or steam cauliflower florets until fully cooked. Drain, let cool, and chop to fine/small dice.

Whisk together cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and hot sauce, and all spices/seasonings until well combined. Stir in blue cheese, 3/4 cup cheddar and 3/4 cup mozzarella followed by cauliflower. Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

Bake on a baking tray at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Dip with celery, carrots, crusty bread or your favorite sturdy crackers.


Mediterranean pasta salad

  • 10-12 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 kalamata olives, quartered
  • 8 grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 slices cucumber, chopped into 6 triangular pieces each slice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken (optional)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)

Cook and drain pasta until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Splash with olive oil to prevent sticking. Let cool.

Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, and seasonings in a large bowl. Add pasta and toss until the sauce has worked its way into the rotini grooves. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Season with more salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Josie Mai is a culinary artist and in-home chef. See her on Facebook and Instagram as Josie Mai Personal Chef or at josiemai.com.