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.


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.


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


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.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Dip

This roasted heirloom tomato and goat cheese dip is simple and the perfect appetizer to impress guests or take to a party.

As an ambassador for Whole Foods Market I get to create and share a simple recipe using great products and produce that are in season and available at Whole Foods Market. At the moment this includes delicious heirloom tomatoes. I wish to thank whole foods for providing me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients.

Here are some tips and recipes from Whole Foods Market along with my recipe for the roasted heirloom tomato and goat cheese dip. Enjoy!

Why they’re cool:
Precious and short, heirloom tomato season is at its peak in early autumn
Tomatoes should feel heavy for their size, be soft and yield only slightly to the touch. Size has no correlation with quality — large tomatoes can be just as delicious as small ones. Also, avoid tomatoes with open splits and cracks. Only purchase what you can eat within a few days. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, not the refrigerator because it destroys both flavor and texture.

Whole Foods Market Heirloom Tomatoes

Whole Foods Market Heirloom Tomatoes

Here are a few favorite varieties!

Cherokee Purple. This very large, beefsteak variety is purple or very dark red. It’s deeply flavored and rich with a firm, dense texture. Slice these tomatoes thickly and serve with brined cheeses such as feta or with a sweet drizzle of honey.

Marvel Stripe. This large, beefsteak variety is yellow with interior blush. It’s mild, sweet and fruity with low acidity. These tomatoes are juicy and soft and are wonderful for gazpacho, paired with balsamic vinegar as a tomato relish or with earthy clothbound cheddar cheese.

Brandywine. This is another large, beefsteak variety, however these tomatoes are pink or yellow and sweet with low acidity. They are perfect for sandwiches, used as the base of a fresh summer salad or paired with the creamy saltiness of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Evergreen. This is a medium to large, beefsteak variety. They stay green when ripe and are mild and sweet. Make tomato preserves, a sandwich with triple crème Brie and baguette or bread and fry slices for fried green tomatoes.

Black Prince. This is a medium-sized, round globe variety that’s purple or very dark red. It’s deep and sweetly flavored with a firm texture. Sprinkle wedges with vinaigrette and fresh herbs for a simple treat; pair with Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue to match the tomato’s sweetness.

Sun Gold. This small, cherry variety is dark yellow or almost orange. These tomatoes are tangy-sweet and perfect for an anytime snack, tossing into quick salads, baking on pizzas and flatbreads and pairing with Parrano cheese.
Black Cherry. This small, cherry variety is purple or dark red, very sweet and highly flavored. They’re great in salads, roasting whole, baking into focaccia and pairing with Monterey Jack for a cream-of-tomato soup flavor combination.

Here’s some of Whole Foods Market favorite recipes:

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Here is my favorite heirloom tomato recipe.

I love serving this dip with the Whole Foods Market house made crostini but you could use and cracker of bread of your choice.

Whole Foods House Made Crostini

Whole Foods House Made Crostini

The balsamic glaze is sold in a squeeze bottle that is usually found in the oil and vinegar isle at the grocery store. You can also make your own by using regular balsamic vinegar by pouring 1/2 cup vinegar into a sauce pan and then bring to a boil. Stir consistently until vinegar begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool. Store unused glaze in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.

Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Dip

1 10.5 ounce goat cheese, softened
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil to taste
balsamic glaze to taste

Heat oven to 425. Rise and pat dry cherry tomatoes and place on baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until cherries began to burst and caramelize.

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

While tomatoes are roasting, place goat cheese in mixing bowl. Add minced garlic and Italian seasoning.

Fresh Basil

Fresh Basil

Remove tomatoes from oven and cool slightly. Chop fresh basil and set aside.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

To assemble spread goat cheese on serving platter. Top with roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Drizzle balsamic glaze over top just before serving.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Serve with cracker, French bread or crostini of choice.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dip


Does Sunscreen Really Prevent Skin Cancer

Does Sunscreen Really Prevent Skin Cancer


I remember my older sister taking me to Oceans of Fun when I was about 11 years old and being the teenager sister she was, she really didn’t seem to have the motherly instinct of reminding me to put on sunscreen. I remember my face got so bunt that it blistered up and I ended up at the doctors office where they coated me with some burn cream and bandages. Needless to say that my mom was not happy with my sister.

As I approached my teenage years, I was still trying to fool myself that I could tan by rubbing baby oil on my skin and laying outside on the deck or using the new quick tanning products that were on the market.  Anybody remember the QT in the blue and white bottle?  Neither seemed to work as I either turned out red as a lobster or as orange as a pumpkin.

After becoming a mom, I made it a priority to protect my kids from the suns rays, and even though I had heard you should wear sunscreen year around, I never really did and even jumped on the tanning bed bandwagon for a few years.


As you can see, the years are catching up with me and the fine lines and wrinkles are appearing.

As an Ambassador for Whole Foods Market, we are given information on a certain topic and asked to share it with you. As you might have guessed this months theme is all about sunscreen. I am an avid believer that you can never stop learning and when I read this post, I learned some new things I never knew about sunscreen.

For starters I always thought sunscreen would prevent skin cancer, that I really didn’t need to wear sunscreen when driving and I didn’t realize there are two types of sunscreen. I also had no idea that some chemicals in sunscreens can disrupt the endocrine system and harm marine wildlife.

And although, as you will read in the post above that sunscreen will not prevent skin cancer, I have to believe that some is better than none.


Reality has hit me recently when I went to the dermatologist to see about some injectables for wrinkling (which I will cover in another post sometime soon.) Long story short, right away she pointed out that the most wrinkled side of my face was the one that faced the drivers side window and that the rays can still penetrate through the glass, causing premature aging and not too much can be done to fix that, but sunscreen can help further damage.


This video on how the sun sees your skin and how sunscreen works totally blew me away. I already have a visible freckles on my face and neck and would be very interested in seeing my skin under this ultra-violet light.

So now that I am a sunscreen advocate, what do I choose?


For me I like a high spf and and chemical free. I love Alba Organics, Kiss My Face and Jason which are all available at Whole Foods Market.  If you happen to get too much sun and need a little relief from a sunburn, you can also get Jason after sun aloe vera.


I’m also a fan of getting under an umbrella or cabana when poolside!


Make sure when you stop into Whole Foods Market to get your sunscreen grab a green juice for the juice bar to nourish your insides too! I think my next steps to give up the straws so I don’t get such fine lines around my lips.


I would love to hear what anti aging tips you have and your thoughts on sunscreen.



Rosemary and Balsamic Marinade

Rosemary and Balsamic Marinade

This Rosemary and Balsamic marinade is delicious on chicken, steak or pork or even as a salad dressing. I participate in the Whole Foods Market Ambassador program and a theme this month along with grilling stone fruits where you can find my recipe for Grilled Peaches and Cherries with Honey Goat Cheese was marinades.  I make this marinade all the time so thought it would be a good time to share it with you. I wish to thank Whole Foods Market for supplying me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients.

marinade - 3 of 16

1 Cup Olive  Oil

1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary

2-3 Cloves Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

marinade - 7 of 16

Combine olive oil and vinegar. Strip rosemary leaves from stem. Peel garlic cloves and smash with knife.  If using for a salad dressing, finely chop the garlic and rosemary. Add rosemary and garlic to olive oil mixture then add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine.

marinade - 13 of 16

Pour over desired meat and let marinate. Cook meat as desired. Be sure to check out the tips below from Whole Foods Market on marinating times for different meats and other cool ideas.

marinade - 16 of 16

Marinating Tips
•Why it’s cool: Marinating meat, veggies, mushrooms, tofu, or tempeh gives your food a new depth of flavor – and possibilities are endless! Marinades can also tenderize meat.
•Need to know:
Red meat and pork should be marinated for at least an hour and up to overnight.
Poultry cuts on the bone should marinate for about an hour, but boneless cuts like a breast only need 30 minutes – too long and it gets mushy!
Never marinate fish or shellfish longer than 20 to 30 minutes in a citrus- or vinegar-based mixture! You can actually cook the fish from the acid in the marinade.
Veggies such as bell peppers, onions, summer squash, etc. can be marinated for 30 minutes or longer, but no more than an hour or two is necessary.
Thick veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes and thick cuts of carrots need to be parboiled first.
Marinate pineapple, peaches, plums, and nectarines for about 30 minutes.
•Recipe: Summer Squash Grilling Packs
•Take it easy: Whole Foods Market sells a variety of pre-cut veggies that are ready to marinate and grill for quick & easy summertime meals.
Guide from WFM: Marinade and Dry Rub Ideas

Grilled Peaches and Cherries with Honey Goat Cheese

Grilled Peaches and Cherries with Honey Goat Cheese

grilled peaches

This recipe was inspired as part of the Whole Foods Amabassador program I take part in.  Every month there is a different theme and this month features grilling stone fruits. These grilled peaches adorned with the smokey sweet grilled cherries are super easy to make. Adding the salty goat cheese, sweet honey and crunchy almond mix from Sahale makes an amazing flavor and texture combination.

I made a large batch of these as I had my sister and her family visiting for the weekend.


These peaches served as dessert after an amazing balsamic and rosemary marinated grilled chicken we grilled out for dinner.

Impress your guests with this beautiful dessert. I wish to thank Whole Foods for supplying me a gift card to purchase the ingredients. Be Sure to check out the tips below from Whole Foods Market on the best way to grill up stone fruits.



10 Peaches

2 Pounds Fresh Cherries

1 Package 10.5 ounces Goat Cheese

1/2 cup nut of choice, chopped

Honey to taste

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

These peaches are so easy to make, but can be tricky if your peaches are not quite ripe enough as was the case for me.  When picking them out they felt ripe, but as I got home to cut them open they would not pull away from the pit so I sliced off each half as close to the pit as I could and it worked fine.  With all of the topping on the peaches you would never know there was not a pit indention.

peach halves



First thing you will want to set out the goat cheese to start softening. Then preheat your grill. Next wash and prepare your fruits

For Peaches:

Cut peaches in half and brush cut side with olive oil.

For Cherries

Pit Cherries. Using a cherry pitter is going to be the easiest way to do this but if you do not have one you can use a chopstick or straw to poke it through.

cherry pitter

Heat grill and place cherries on a grill pan and peaches cut side down.  Cook until peaches are slightly soft and have the caramelized grill marks. Give them a quick turn and grill on the other side for just a couple of minutes. Give the cherries a little stir a few times during cooking to get all sides cooked

peaches and cherries on grill

While peaches are cooking, chop up your nut of choice. I had some single serving packages of honey almond Sahale nuts that needed used up so I used those but you can use any nut you like.


Once peaches and cherries are done. Remove from grill and place on serving platter. Using a medium size scoop, place a dollop of goat cheese on each peach. Top with a grilled cherry and chopped nut mix. Drizzle honey on top to taste.

This makes 20 halves so can serve 10 – 20. You can always cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.

Grilled peaches with cherries, honey and goat cheese

Tips on using stone fruits.
• Why they’re cool: Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots – and don’t forget cherries! These delicious fruits ripen in summertime, and can be used in creative ways in the kitchen and on the grill.
• Grilling need to know:
Pick out a stone fruit that is ripe and firm, so it doesn’t fall apart under heat. Check out this video.
•Use moderate heat to caramelize the fruit, leaving grill marks – this is called the Maillard reaction, and by caramelizing the fruit hundreds of new flavor compounds are created. Check out this video on
•To prevent sticking, clean the grill grate well, and wipe lightly with a paper towel and neutral-flavor oil such as canola or grapeseed oil.
Awesome recipe: Smoky Nectarine Punch