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Food Lifestyle

5 simple tips for styling a charcuterie and cheese board

March 15, 2016

There are few things I love more than charcuterie and cheese boards. My only problem with them is that I show no self-control, and I can easily end up over-eating because I just can’t stop!! I love taking these to gatherings because a) I’m always seeking out a little protein amongst a sea of dips and other apps, and b) there is no cooking required!

Today, I’m sharing a few tips I follow when styling my own charcuterie and cheese boards.

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1. Mix up the textures.

A couple of years ago, my sweet mom lost her sense of taste and smell. Ever since, I’ve thought about texture in the foods we eat in a whole new way. When creating spreads of any kind, I like to have a healthy balance of textures – creamy, airy, chewy, flakey, crunchy. Texture adds so much to the overall eating experience.

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2. Offer a combination of flavors.

Just as we mix up the textures, I make sure to provide variation in flavors as well. As a general rule of thumb, I make sure to have something sweet, something savory, and something pickle-y!

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3. Add a pop-of-color.

It’s easy for meat and cheese boards to end up looking a little drab, so I try to make sure I always have a couple of things on the board that brighten it up a little. In this case, the cheddar cheese, dried apricots, pickled carrots and hot and sweet cherry peppers served as my POCs.

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4. Build your board with balance in mind.

I like to start by placing any containers or bowls I’m using on the board first, then move onto the stars of the show, meat and cheese, and fill in with smaller items like nuts and dried fruit. I like to top it off with a few rosemary sprigs, which help fill in the gaps and also make the board smell heavenly! Don’t feel forced to fit your crackers or bread on the board. If you need to put those in a basket on the side, that’s perfectly fine. I tend to choose that option verses over-crowding my board with carbs.

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5. Eat a few bites.

This might be the most important tip of all! (And certainly the most fun!) I like a charcuterie and cheese board to look a little imperfect — It feels more inviting that way. When nothing has been touched and the cheese hasn’t been cut into, it can feel a little intimidating for the first guest. Take the pressure off of your company by eating a few bites yourself. After all, you’ve earned it!

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Anyone else suddenly craving a little snack?! I know one pup who sure is!

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The Goods:
(I purchased all of these items at Trader Joe’s, but similar items can be found in most grocery stores!)
-garlic and herbs goat cheese
-grapes
-package of 3 varieties of meat (salami, proscuitto, chorizo)
-Greek olives
-pickled vegetables
-dill pickles
-hot and sweet cherry peppers
-Italian truffle cheese
-candied ginger
-wasabi pea and nut mix
-dried apricots
-cheddar cheese
-rosemary sprigs
-serving board by Crate & Barrel

Food Lifestyle

A Season of Salads: Mandarin orange and blueberry salad with poppy seed dressing

March 3, 2016

We eat lots of salads, but I’m always looking for inspiration to spruce up the salad scene at our house! And I don’t know about y’all, but the warmer the temperatures get, the more I crave a light, fresh, and colorful salad. Today’s post is the first in a mini-series where I’ll share some of my favorite salads, from some of my favorite people!

Today’s salad is a recipe from one of my closest friends, Alyssa. Alyssa and I met our freshman year of college, and I’m telling you– friends as thoughtful and caring as she are few and far between!

Photo by Amanda Watson Photography

Photo by Amanda Watson Photography

This salad is one Alyssa’s mom has made for years, and it’s one of Alyssa’s go-tos for potlucks. With the perfect combination of salty and sweet, I can only imagine how quickly this one goes!

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salad:
– spinach
– cashew nuts
– mandarin oranges
– blueberries
– dried cranberries

poppy seed dressing:
– 3/4 cup sugar*
– 1 teaspoon dry mustard
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
– 1 1/2 tablespoons minced onion
– 1 cup olive oil
– 1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds

To make the dressing, combine first four ingredients, gradually adding onions. Slowly add remaining ingredients. Dress and toss over salad, and serve immediately. Dressing may be made ahead of time and will dress several salads.

Do me a favor, and try this one! It will satisfy so many cravings all at once!

Any other salad lovers out there with go-to recipes?! I’d love to hear!

*This dressing is pretty sweet, so I’m sure you could reduce the amount of sugar the recipe calls for if you wanted!