Create a Cheese Board for all Seasons

Create a Cheese Board for all Seasons

I love creating cheese plates and boards and make them all the time, no matter what the season. I wrote about creating the perfect cheese board here. I sometimes do get in a rut with using the same cheeses with Dubliner and goat cheese being a favorite.

I thrive on entertaining and cheese boards are my go to dish. I was thrilled that folks over at Wayfair sent me a link to a post about creating a cheese board for all seasons. I am pretty good at using whatever fruits may be in season to pair with the cheeses but never really thought about using seasonal cheeses.

I loved that idea so much as well some ideas on different platters to use, I thought I might share it with you. You can read about their seasonal cheese boards here.

If you have any tips for creating cheese boards or have a favorite cheese you think I would like to try, please feel free to comment below.

 

How to Build the Perfect Cheese Board

How to Build the Perfect Cheese Board

I love a great cheese board or plate and here are my tips for building the perfect one.

First, pick out the tray you would like to use. I prefer white, but any tray or even a wood cutting board will do the trick.

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Start off with your favorite cheese.  Right now mine are the Sartori line of cheeses.  With flavors like merlot, rosemary, raspberry and balsamic it is hard to beat.  Whole Foods Market carries most of their cheeses and I wish to thank Whole Foods Market for supplying me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients for this dish.

Once you have picked out the cheese it is time to build around it. Just like wine some cheeses pair well with other things but I am not that picky and really like an assortment of choices.

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Add some fruit.  Grapes are probably the most common but have fun with this and use what is in season. Apples and pears are divine in the fall while berries should be your go to fruit in the summer. Dried fruits work nicely year around. Try dried apricots or cherries.

Next add a little salt.  I love Castelvetrano olives.  They are slightly salty but also very mild and their bright beautiful green color is hard to beat. You could also add a few slices of cured salami or meat of choice.

Your going to want some crunch and that is where the nuts come in.  I really like walnuts but any nut will do. You can also throw in some crackers for added crunch as well.

Lastly is chocolate, dark is best but you can put out whatever kind you like. That is the beauty of putting together your own.

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Cheeseboards can be terribly romantic, especially this close to valentines day.  Stay in this year and share a bottle of wine over your own cheeseboard creation. And then if you are still hungry, check out my recipe for Rosemary and Garlic Crusted Filet Mignon. With these two dishes up your sleeve, you may want to stay in for date night all the time!

The next time you are in charge of bringing dish to a party or hosting your own, cheese plates and boards could not be any easier, they look elegant and are absolutely delicious.

Below are some tips from Whole Foods Market on pairing the Sartori line of cheeses. Have fun trying different combinations and in no time you will have mastered your own perfect cheese board.

Sartori is a family-owned fourth-generation artisanal cheesemaker from Plymouth, Wisconsin. Each of the varieties below are based off of their BellaVitano Gold, a creamy, nutty, Parmesan-inspired Italian farmstead cheese.

Rum Runner – A Whole Foods Market Exclusive!
Buttery and slightly sweet, soaked in locally made rum.
Pairs with: Dark beers, smoked meats, and red grapes

Merlot BellaVitano
Berry and plum notes!
Pairs with: Crusty bread, dried fruit, and hoppy beer

Raspberry BellaVitano
Bright notes of raspberry combine with hazelnut and brown-butter flavors.
Pairs well with nuts, chocolate, or light Italian red wine

 

 

Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

I am an avid traveler and Verizon Wireless recently loaned me some tech gadgets to demo a few weeks. All of these items are great. It is now time to return the items and I am reluctantly sending them back as they were way too handy. I especially loved the Bose headphones. Below is some top tech gadgets to make your travels run smoothly.

Smart Phone It is pretty much a given these days that most everyone has a smart phone and is a must for travel. Not only does the phone work with all of these top gadgets, it is necessary to have that form of communication to get information on flights, transportation and keep in touch with those who matter most.

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Milk and Honey Leather Pocket Case This case fits snugly around your iPhone to protect it from the wear and tear from travel. The built in leather pocket makes a great holder for credit cards, id, a few bucks or any other items you may need handy until you reach your final destination.

Milk and Honey Case
Mophie Powerstation XL  With dual USB charge ports this quick charge external battery can juice up multiple devices at once. This powerstation gives 10+ hours to a large tablet, 14+ hours to smaller tablets and 48+ hours to your smartphone. This compact powerstation will make sure you never get stuck with a dead battery again!

Mophie Powerstation
Bose Quite Comfort 35 Headphones These wireless, bluetooth, acoustic noise canceling headphones will make you feel as if you are the only one around. They are adjustable to fit just about one and the deep bass gives you a surround sound experience.

Bose Headphones

Nest Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Alarm – This unit thinks, speaks and alerts your phone if it detects smoke or carbon dioxide. Having the security of this device protecting your home and family while traveling is priceless and the perfect addition to other smart home products and alarm systems you may have paired with your smart phone.

Nest Carbon Dioxide Alarm

All of these Items can be purchased at the Verizon Wireless website and make great gifts this time of year for the avid traveler in your life.

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce – Gluten Free

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce – Gluten Free

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Not only is this healthy apple tart gluten free, it is also egg and dairy free as well. My daughter was having some health issues last year and a food sensitivity test came back to avoid dairy, eggs and gluten.

These results came in just before the holidays so was I in bind to figure out how to make a gluten, egg and dairy free Thanksgiving. I mastered some killer brussels sprouts with bacon, almonds and cherries and a gluten, egg and dairy free butternut squash and quinoa stuffing  and an amazing herbed butter to season my turkey with. My friend over at Delish Girl made this healthy apple tart for our dessert and was sweet enough to pass along the recipe. I took a stab at making it again for a later holiday gathering and it turned out delicious and is absolutely gorgeous!

The dairy free healthy caramel sauce that gets drizzled on top is also delicious over some dairy free or regular ice cream or use as a dipper for fruit. You can put it your coffee for a healthy home-made caramel macchiato, drizzle over a brownie or anything else you like. You can find the recipe for the healthy caramel sauce here as you will want to make it ahead of time.

This recipe works best in an 8″ or 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. If you have a larger tart pan, I would double the crust recipe so it can evenly cover the sides and bottom of pan. You want a fairly thick crust so it holds its shape when sides are removed from pan.

I know there are many out there who are on special diets but still want and crave those comforting holiday foods. This healthy apple tart would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving or holiday table and your gluten free guests will love it. Enjoy!

Healthy Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce

1 cup of finely ground almond flour
⅓ cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice, such as unrefined cane sugar, organic evaporated cane sugar, maple sugar)
¼ teaspoon unrefined salt
⅓ cup cold butter, or non-hydrogenated palm shortening (for a dairy-free version, use one of the palm shortenings listed above – firm coconut oil could also work, but is a little more finicky)
2 tablespoons cold water
3 large Honeycrisp apples
Juice from half a lemon
¼ cup coconut sugar ((or sweetener of choice, such as unrefined cane sugar, organic evaporated cane sugar, maple sugar)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour, arrowroot flour, or organic cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons of caramel sauce

Directions
Make caramel sauce, and set aside to cool (can make a week ahead, if desired)
In a food processor, combine the almond flour and tapioca flour with the salt and sugar.

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If using butter, cut into cubes and add, or measure the palm shortening out and place in the food processor.

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Pulse until the shortening or butter is blended into the flour in small pieces (biggest pieces should be the size of a small pea). Pulse after each addition of tablespoon of cold water. (You want the dough just to be moist enough that it sticks together when you pinch the dough into a small ball. I found that two tablespoons was just enough.

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Press into the tart pan, making sure that there is a good ¼ inch or so of dough pressed along the side all around the tart pan. This will help make the tart more stable once cooked. Place in fridge. (you can prepare this hours ahead of time, if desired, just cover).
Preheat oven to 375F.

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Peel the apples, core them, and then thinly slice. Toss them in a medium sized bowl with the lemon juice, sugar, and tapioca starch. Take the tart pan out and artfully fan out the apple slices in the pan in a circular pattern (if using a circular pan). You want the apple slices to be angled, but not flat (as you wouldn’t be able to fit many slices in that way).  Leave any remaing juice from apples in bowl. DO NOT pour it over the top as it will make the tart too soggy and will not bake properly.

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Take the previously prepared caramel sauce, and brush on caramel sauce over all of the apples. Set tart pan on cookie sheet and
place in oven. Cook for 40-70 minutes or until the apples are fork tender, and the crust is cooked. I covered with foil at 40 minutes to keep the crust from over browning.

Take out of the oven and cool thoroughly before removing the sides of the tart pan. Slice, and enjoy plain, or with whipped cream or ice cream, served with extra caramel sauce. Enjoy!

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Healthy Caramel Sauce

Healthy Caramel Sauce

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This delicious healthy caramel sauce is gluten, egg and dairy free. It is delicious over apples, ice cream or whatever you want to drizzle it over.

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It is the sweet ingredient in this recipe for my healthy apple tart that is also gluten, egg and dairy free.

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It is so easy to make and can keep for a week or two in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

2/3 cup granulated coconut sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
Dash or two of unrefined salt (more for a “salted caramel taste”)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

In a small saucepan, put in the coconut sugar, honey, and coconut oil or butter, along with the salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring to evenly melt the honey and coconut oil or butter.

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As soon as it’s starting to bubble, set the timer for two minutes. Stir the bubbling mixture once or twice during these two minutes.

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Very carefully stir in the coconut milk until it is mixed in.

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Once it has returned to a low simmer, simmer for another minute or two, or until the mixture has thickened up again (it won’t be super thick while hot…but will thicken up considerably as it cools. You want it to be thick enough to coat a spoon, but still thin enough to be very easy to drizzle. Don’t heat longer than two minutes).
Take off of the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Let cool to desired temperature before serving. If you want a warm caramel sauce, simply reheat before serving.

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Will keep at least 1-2 weeks refrigerated. Makes 2 cup.

Tips and Tricks for an Elegant Cheese Board

Tips and Tricks for an Elegant Cheese Board

Creating an elegant cheese board is easy with these tips and tricks from Whole Foods Market. As an ambassador for Whole Foods Market we are given a monthly theme and gift card to create and share a recipe with you. This months theme is cheese and of course turkey!

Cheese platters are a great way to offer a tasty appetizer and this recipe for rosemary goat cheese would be a great addition to add to the platter.

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Whole Foods Market has an amazing cheese island section with cheeses from all over the world and for all tastes. From mild to sharp and even those stinky cheeses that appeal to some distinguished pallets, you will find what you are looking for there. My favorite cheese is Dubliner from Ireland. It is a mild and flavorful cheese that pairs nicely with everything!

Below are some tips from Whole Foods Market and me for putting together a fabulous cheese tray.

I always like to add some olives, grapes and some type of cured meat.

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Sometimes I will throw on a handful of my maple glazed walnuts, which are divine and great on salads or as a healthy snack.

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Here are a few rules of thumb from Whole Foods Market for building a compelling cheese board, and a few solid cheeses for a variety of themes.

People eat with their eyes as well as their mouths — use a rustic butcherboard or slab of natural stone for an appealing, dramatic presentation.
Be sure to let your cheeses sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving. This brings out those lovely nuances of flavor and aroma.
Give your cheeses room to settle and breathe—you don’t want to crowd them on the dish.

Want luxury? Try these cheeses:
Delice de Bourgogne – rich & tangy; made by combining full-fat milk with creme fraiche
Rogue River Anniversary Blue – made in southern Oregon; pairs well with bourbon whiskey

Pleasing picky eaters? Try these cheeses:
Lamb Chopper – mild & creamy; made from Dutch sheep’s milk
Le Petit 60% French Brie – silky & mild; a crowd pleaser

Love bold and smoky flavors? Try these cheeses:
6 year Cheddar – bold, flavorful; will make sharp cheddar enthusiasts swoon
Applewood Smoked Gouda – lightly smoked; slightly sweet

Be sure to check out the Whole Foods Market website where you can sign up to win free groceries for a year and if you a foodie like me and love sharing your holiday traditions snap a pic of your favorite recipe or holiday moment and share on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #MyHolidayTradish. Whole foods will be following along and sharing some of them on their holiday website and social media channels.

Don’t forget that Whole Foods Market can do the cooking for you and if you place an order online by Nov 22nd, you will receive a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $75 or more in your email on Tuesday, Nov 29th. More details here.