The Anatomy of a Cheese Plate

Entertaining is always fun and exciting. There’s nothing like hosting a festive evening at your home with food and friends in abundance. However, in spite of all the fun and excitement, hosting can be taxing…if you let it. Fear not! By understanding the simple anatomy of a cheese plate, you can turn a chore into child’s play.

I recently hosted some friends at my house for a little post-holiday get together. Having no desire to spend hours in the kitchen preparing heavy hors d’oeuvres, I opted for a quick trip to the market for some simple items to construct an impressive spread of a cheese plate.

Anatomy of a Cheese Plate

By gathering a few high flavor items, you can gracefully build an appetizing array of goodness that will keep your guests snacking all evening.  For the perfect cheese plate you’ll need:

  • The Vehicle – Whether a cheese board, a piece of slate, or a custom piece like I have pictured above, your vehicle should be large enough to house all your stackable sensations.
  • The Cheese – Most definitely the star of the show, you should always be mindful of flavors that will marry well with your other items.  When it comes to cheese, you often get what you pay for.  I opted for a mild brie that would provide a building block for flavor and an aged cheddar with a whiskey soaked rind that was full of flavor and sharpness.
  • Something Sweet – A perfect pairing with robust flavors like cheese is the natural sweetness of fruit.  Whether you want tartness with a Granny Smith Apple, subtle sweetness with orange slices, or vibrancy with plump grapes, fruit is always the perfect addition to your plate.  An alternative item, and quite the conversation piece, is natural honeycomb.  Pictured above in a separate dish, I chose to add another layer of sweetness with Savannah Bee Company’s Raw Honeycomb.  This honeycomb creates a perfect bite when coupled with a tart apple slice.
  • Something Crunchy – With all the sweetness and soft textures on the plate, provide your guests with some crunch by introducing something as elementary as nuts.  The salty, crunchy combination will create a nice bite for your party goers to snack upon.
  • Foundations – Not the star of the show, but definitely a huge supporting character.  There are a number of items that you can choose for your guests to build upon.  I simply used a heavy grain cracker and sliced french bread.

cheese tray 4

cheese tray2

cheese tray1

Entertaining made easy!  An impressive cheese plate with intense flavor combinations is sure to impress your guests while providing you with a stress free evening.  Take the plunge and gather your friends together for a cheesy evening.  A presentation like the one pictured above is a definite way for you to stay stylish!

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The Guest With The Best

Tis the season to be jolly.  And party!

With the Christmas season in full swing, I am sure you have a list of parties and events to attend.  If you’ve ever hosted a party then you know how involved it can become.  As you make arrangements to attend the many holiday festivities on your calendar, make sure that you don’t show up empty handed.  In my opinion, showing up to a party without a hostess gift is like showing up to a potluck with brown and serve rolls…still in the pack.

Your friend or family member has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare an evening of fun and excitement with food and drinks aplenty.  Take this time to be the guest with the best and bring a token of gratitude to your host with the most.

Now I’m sure your host/hostess would love another oddly scented candle to add to their closeted collection, but let’s be a little more creative.  I have some great options for you that won’t break the bank, but will definitely get you on Santa’s nice list.  You are sure to be a hit and no one will ever guess that you’ve spent less than $20!

FOR YOUR “BOOZING” BUDDY

If you have that friend who is always showcasing new drinks and loves a glass of wine now and then, consider bringing a great bottle of wine in a creative display.

Faux Fur Wine Bag World Market has an impressive and inexpensive item that is the perfect gift to help make spirits bright.  This Faux Fur Wine Bag is a steal and would be a beautiful presentation of your planner’s favorite wine.

FOR YOUR “CHEESY” CHUM

Maybe they aren’t cheesy, but they do love a good fruit and cheese platter.  If your festive friend loves creative ways to display food and is known for a good spread, consider something functional for them to use at future parties.

Slate Cheese Board

This Slate Cheese Board is a fantastic way to display and label your tasty treats.  With stone chalk included, this ingenious board can be wiped clean and reused again and again.

FOR YOUR “OLD SOUL” SERVER

It’s no secret that I am a lover of all things vintage.  If you have a friend like me who loves the antiques, consider a hosting gift that taps into their obsession with the oldies while still providing them functional use.

Vintage Style Serving Pieces

With old world charm and classic elegance, these Vintage-Style Pie Servers will serve up more than just a slice of pie.  This set of 2 servers will be the perfect pairing for your old soul, baking buddy.

FOR YOUR “CUP PATROL” CRONY

We all have them, we just call them different names.  Whether your merry mate is anal, OCD, a neat freak, or just plain controlling, this is a practical and personalized gift that is sure to please.

Jute Coasters

Beyonce may want a ring on it, but if your host sure doesn’t.  To help your crony keep the circles off the coffee table, these Monogrammed Jute Coasters (set of 6) will be just what the doctor ordered…and maybe a prescription of Xanax to take the edge off.

FOR YOUR “CAFFEINATED” COMRADE

Hi, my name is Chad and I am addicted to coffee.  If your high-strung holiday planner is like me and loves a good cup of Joe, gift them something to enable their addiction.

Geo Star Coffee Mugs

This box set of 4 Geo Star Print Mugs are the ideal addition to your java loving friend’s collection.  Not only would these festive colors add excitement during the holidays, but could easily be used throughout the year.

From one end of the spectrum to the other, our party planning friends should be appreciated for gathering the group together for holiday cheer.  As you prep for your upcoming parties, think outside the box and show a little love to the one who started it all.  Hopefully these ideas have sparked your creativity and will make you the guest with the best.  Eat, drink, and stay stylish!

Some Like It Haute

Winter activities and holiday festivities are in full swing!  During this chilly time of the year there are always fun events happening around every turn.  Whether you’re out for an old fashion evening of caroling or taking a spin around an outdoor ice skating rink, you have every opportunity to encounter Old Jack Frost.  After a fun outdoor outing, it is a necessity to have a winter warm up beverage.  It’s easy to head around the corner to a coffee shop for a seasonal treat, but why not turn this need for warmth into a party at your place by inviting your cronies over for a hot beverage that is sure to help them thaw out from the winter winds.

TSS Haute Chocolate Mix

This foolproof recipe makes a rich and robust Haute Chocolate Mix that is perfect for entertaining or to bag up, as pictured above, for party favors/office gifts.  This recipe is one that my mother has made from time to time and always hits the spot.  You can even turn it into a little Haute Toddy for the adults by adding something subtle like Kahlua.

Haute Chocolate Mix

  • 10 cups Powdered Milk
  • 1 large container of Cremora
  • 1 large container of Nestle Quik
  • 1 cup Powered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa

Mix together.
To serve, fill cup 1/2 full with powdered mixture and add boiling water.

Words cannot express how much I love this Haute Chocolate.  There is such a full body flavor, with an indescribable sweetness that completely evokes the feeling of lounging fireside in a rustic lodge nestled among the snow capped mountains.  Aside from being utterly amazing, this is also a budget friendly mixture to have around the house for guests or to divide up among friends, family, and coworkers.

So instead of drinking out, gather the group at your house for some games, gossip, and cup of greatness.  Having friends over for the holidays doesn’t have to be elaborate and stressful.  Toss some cookies in the oven and bring the water to boil and you are set to combat the cold while you stay stylish!

Every Party Has A Purpose

We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, holidays, you name it.  As someone who loves to entertain, I find any reason to get my friends together for fun and fellowship.

Itching to entertain, I decided that Halloween was too far to wait and opted to take matters into my own hands.  Since there were no birthdays approaching and the sight of nuptials weren’t any closer, I looked for a reason to gather some friends together.

miss america logo

Sunday, September 14, I gathered the group for an evening of judgmental stares and vicious comments…I mean, great food and wholesome togetherness.

The annual pageant and scholarship program is surrounded by pomp and circumstance, so why not capitalize on it and throw a party as you watch and wager.  Although things did not turn out quite as we would have hoped, Alabama’s own, Caitlin Brunell, represented the Heart of Dixie with poise and grace…and not a plastic cup in sight!

In spite of the results, party goers had a fun filled night accented by great food.  So as you consider planning your next gathering, regardless the purpose, check out these tasty treats that were a smash hit at the Miss America Extravaganza.

A great way to keep things connected is to create fun names for the dishes or sides you are serving.

Pulled Pork Sliders Photo

These sliders are so simple to create, but will truly take home the crown with intense layers of flavor.  The only item that is hand made is the cole slaw!  Here’s the break down:

King’s Hawaiian Rolls,
Jack Daniel’s Ready to Eat Pulled Pork,
Cole Slaw (recipe below), and
Wickles Pickles (which happen to be made right here in Alabama)

The warmth of the pulled pork, coupled with the cool crunch of the slaw was heaven in a mouthful!

Cole Slaw Recipe Card

 

You can’t have bar-b-que without chips and these will not disappoint, unlike the talent portion of the competition Sunday night.

Sweet Potato Chips Photo

Easy is the name of the game with these homemade chips.  Using a mandolin, slice sweet potatoes in uniform pieces.  After frying them to a crispy texture, sprinkle with salt and fresh Parmesan cheese.  Your guests will love them…assuming you don’t “sample” too many while you make them.

 

For the final side item, I chose to go with a warm dip that turned out to be a smash hit!  The guests literally licked the platter clean.

Corn Dip Photo

As you may suspect, this recipe is also super simple.  A little chopping, a quick sautee, throw it in the oven, and you are done!

Corn Dip Recipe Card

 

Last, but not least, is a tasty treat to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Top 10 Truffles Photo

These cookie dough truffles are amazing!  I suggest you make them right now!

Truffle Recipe Card

So whether you’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of your parents, or holding a viewing party for the season premiere of your favorite show, have fun with your food and entertain your guests with ease. Plan a party for any purpose and try these awesome recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers!  Be a party animal this fall as you continue to stay stylish!

Perk Up Your Picnic

There is nothing more enjoyable that spreading out on a grassy knoll and throwing your own little party at an outdoor festival or event.  Summertime is bustling with activities to draw you and your crew outdoors for a little fun and Vitamin D.  However, I always find it difficult to know what to take on such an excursion.  If you struggle with the same, I have a great checklist of items that are sure to satisfy all your needs and desires as you enjoy an afternoon out in the open air.

This weekend on July 12, Atlanta is hosting the annual Atlanta Street Food Festival.  This awesome event featuring food trucks from all over the southeast is full of fun and activities and is a perfect outing for you and your friends.  With amazing food and drinks, live music, and even activities for the children, it’s the perfect event for you to try out your picnic checklist.  Gather up your best buds and these awesome items below and let the good times roll.  Piedmont Park is a great backdrop for your picnic, and you’ll be lounging in style with unique and fun items that are sure to please.  While you’re stretched out on the lawn, take a look around…you might just see The Stylish Steed there!

Picnic Spread

1.  Rid Rite Pest Repellents – Bed, Bath and Beyond, $19 (set of 3)
These are such a lifesaver!  No need to swat the mosquitoes and gnats all day.  Place these around your party pad and you’ll be pest free!  I wonder if they have these for people too?

2.  Throw – West Elm, $34.99
If you are going to lounge, then you might as well lounge in style.  This great color blocked picnic throw adds personality and color to your picnic area, while providing you a functional sitting area.

3.  Portable Round Cheese Board – Brookstone, $27.20
These pivoting cheese board has all your tools conveniently stored inside.  Bring along some nice, crusty bread and an assortment of meat, cheese, and fruit and you have a light afternoon snack to enjoy while basking in the rays.

4.  Plastic Picnic Tumblers – Amazon, $9.35 (set of 12)
Why waste money buying disposable cups?  These bright and sturdy tumblers are the perfect fit for your lawn party.  Toss them in your cooler (#7) when you are finished and they are ready to wash and reuse.

5.  Melamine Dinner Plates – Target, $14.99
Another reusable item, these durable and colorful plates capitalize on both fancy and function.

6.  Cloth Napkins – Target, $19.99 (set of 4)
A little more expensive than paper napkins, but you save in the end because you can toss these in washer and they are ready to roll again.  These simple cotton napkins have a fun detail that accents the tribal look of your plates.

7.  Ice Master Cooler Basket – The Grommet, $54
Keep everything cool and contained in this unique cooler.  The appearance of a picnic basket, this cooler is functional and spacious and is sure to accommodate all your picnic packings.

8.  Disposable Wooden Cutlery – Joanne Hudson, $4.99 (set of 24)
These disposable forks, knives, and spoons are the perfect addition to your picnic spread.  Constructed of bamboo, these conversation pieces will be a hit with your entire group.

In addition to your picnic spread, you can’t forget the fun in the sun games.  Wide open grassy spaces are the perfect playing field for some yard games.  Three of my favorites are Yard Dice, The Washer Game, and Croquet.  All three games are portable and can be enjoyed by both young at heart and small in stature.  Plus, a little competition never hurt anyone.

Picnic Games

So whether you’re headed to an outdoor festival or creating your own event with a picnic in the park, you can pack with confidence, knowing that The Stylish Steed has you covered!  With beautiful, summer weather and lots of wonderful people in your life, a group outing and picnic is the perfect way to stay stylish!