Tag Archives: cheese

Quick & Easy Cheese Board Tips

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I’ve always loved Halloween. My theatrical side loves getting dressed up and taking on the character of someone else. I’m also a total horror nerd: scary movies, haunted houses, Ouija boards, I love it all. As if that wasn’t enough reason to get excited, Halloween has also felt like the unofficial start to the holiday season (as marked by Starbucks holiday cups launching on November 1st and my mom’s Christmas shopping is usually finished by November 5th). So yea, I’m pretty pumped for tomorrow.

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Our plans are still unclear. I was so excited for our first Halloween in the burbs last year, but then we only got 2 trick-or-treaters, so I ended up OD’ing on Milky Ways and passed out on the couch in my sad excuse of a costume (we were Crazy Ira & The Douche from Parks & Rec, which really meant wearing a sweatshirt and backwards hat). So I’m hoping to step up our game this year. We’re thinking Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky from Moonrise Kingdom. Thoughts?

DSC_0652What is definitely happening is this festive cheese board. When I have last minute plans, but still want to put something together that seems somewhat personal, I love to do a simple cheese plate. It’s easy and just a few extras will make it seem like you spent a lot more time on it than you really did. And let’s be honest, everyone loves cheese. Here are a few of my tips for throwing together a fun and festive fromage ensemble.

  1. Stick to 3 different cheeses to keep it simple and not overwhelm the guests.
  2. Go for a variety of milks and textures. For example: 1 goat, 1 sheep, 1 cow. Or, 1 soft, 1 hard, 1 stinky.
  3. Pick cheeses that you like and always sample before buying if you can. Don’t worry so much about what pairs well together. If you like it, chances are others will too!
  4. Start the cheeses by slicing or crumbling a few pieces so guests know how to eat it. A big hunk of cheese can be intimidating to go at if you don’t know how to eat it!
  5. Leave cheeses out an hour before serving to get them nice and ripe (even the soft ones).
  6. Keep the accouterments simple and tie in elements from the cheese. For this plate, I added some dried cranberries (for the White Stilton with Cranberries), rosemary (for the Asiago with Rosemary), and some honey (for the fresh goat cheese).
  7. Keep the presentation of the plate more organic and flowing. It’s more inviting and more appetizing if it’s not so rigid looking.
  8. Skeleton hands, spider webs, or little mice (fake ones of course) can add a cheap and easy touch to your spread.
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Hypothetical Valentine’s Day

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Complain about Valentine’s Day all you want, but I’ll take any excuse to buy overpriced cards at the Paper Source, get dressed up, and have a delicious meal. This year, we’re going out to dinner in Lambertville (a super cute town on the Delaware River that I highly recommend visiting if you’re ever in this neck of the woods), but when we lived in NYC, I generally tried to avoid going out to eat on V-day: crazy busy, overpriced prix fixe menus – no thanks. So if we were staying home this is what it would look like…

Old Fashioneds + Cheese. Kevin ordered an Old Fashioned on our first date and I said something like “I think my grandma drinks those” – my drink of choice at the time was a Gin & Tonic. Flash forward a couple years, and now I’ll choose an Old Fashioned over a G&T any day – definitely not just for grandma. As for the cheese, there’s no explanation needed.

Raphael Saadiq. He’s one of Kevin’s favorite musicians and his music is definitely romantic but with an upbeat, soulful sound.

BogleThis is a weekly staple at our house. It’s cheap and just so so good.

Seafood Risotto. This takes me back to one of my favorite dinners we shared in Vernazza during our trip to Italy. It’s hearty enough for these cold winter nights, but not too heavy or filling.

Molten Chocolate Cake. Well because I’m a sucker for anything chocolate and I also made these for our first Valentine’s Day together and they were SO. DAMN. GOOD.

The Tie That Binds: Green Chile Enchiladas

I’ve been eating a lot of Mexican food lately. I ate guacamole Friday, Saturday and Sunday last weekend. Not that I’m complaining. Mexican food, guacamole especially, is delicious.

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Maybe it’s that Mexican food is so agreeable with summer weather? Avocados, lime, tacos, Corona. That just feels like summer, right? So when I had some gal pals over for dinner last week, Feed Me Phoebe‘s Green Chile Enchiladas were the perfect fix.

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My love affair with enchiladas began back at the now-closed Canyon Cafe in Westborough, MA. My friend Traver and I would gorge ourselves on enchiladas and tortilla chips, then continue feasting on her favorite combination of melted Velveeta and salsa while we watched reruns of Laguna Beach.

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Though my metabolism is no longer that of my 18 year old self, my love of enchiladas still burns fervently in my heart. Thankfully, this riff on enchiladas is relatively light on the dairy and loaded with lots of fresh vegetables.

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Our Mountain Dews now replaced with beer, and nixing that post-dinner Velveeta in light of our now 25 year old metabolisms, there’s nothing like bonding over a good enchilada.

Green Chile Enchiladas adapted from Feed Me Phoebe

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium summer squash, small diced

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

5 oz baby spinach

8 oz shredded cheddar-jack cheese mix

16 oz salsa verde

8 oz fat-free plain Greek yogurt

10 6-inch corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Cook shallot and squash until tender and beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until they’ve softened and have released some of their juices, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the spinach, cooking a few minutes more until just wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, combine salsa, yogurt and 1/4 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth.

4. Ladle half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add half of the cheese to the squash mixture and stir to combine. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each tortilla (I like to warm them up in the microwave between 2 damp paper towels for a minute to make them more pliable). Roll and place seam-side down in the baking dish.

5. Pour remaining sauce over top of the tortillas and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

6. Bake in the oven 20-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly, melted and beginning to brown. Serve warm. Keeps well as leftovers, too!