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The Entertainer

Impress Your Loved One (Or Yourself!) With The Ultimate Cheese Board

The best gatherings (or Friday nights at home with the family) always include delicious food. If you’re looking to take your menu up a notch, consider offering cheese boards (or charcuterie boards) to your loved ones. With a few simple steps, you’ll impress even the pickiest food critics with these visually stunning and equally tasty creations.

Choosing a Board

Your cheese board can say a lot about your personality. From slate to wood, round to square, there are so many options available for a quality board. When not in use, cheese boards can be part of your kitchen décor, so think about a finish that coordinates with your current style. Choosing something with edges is also a great way to keep the food contained on the board (and a great option if kids are on the guestlist). Boards that come with cutouts for small bowls are nice but not as versatile, so think about your future cheese board plans when purchasing. This expandable option is a great choice for a large board that doesn’t permanently take up a lot of space. Whatever you choose, make sure to follow any instructions about cleaning and oiling the board pre/post-feast.

Cheese Choice

Did you know there are categories of cheese? Firm, soft, and semi-soft cheeses all bring something different to the party, and you should put at least one of each type on your cheese board (try for at least 4 cheeses total). Start by adding your favourites and branch out from there. When compiling options, think about bold versus mild flavours; Cheddar and Feta are strong, so adding a milder Swiss cheese will help balance your platter. Don’t be afraid to include flavoured cheeses as well – if you need something spicy on the platter, try a jalapeño Havarti! The final consideration? Shape! Cut some cheese into triangles, some into squares, and put the soft cheeses in small dishes or mould into round domes. Aim for 1-2 ounces of cheese per person. Need help with options? Here’s a great roundup of varieties that are fairly easy to find.

Meats/Proteins

Aside from the cheese, meats are the next most important part of a cheese board. Traditionally speaking, cured Italian meats are the best option (think salami, prosciutto, etc.). Aiming again for 1-2 ounces per person, choose meats that are your favourite and go from there. Looking for a vegetarian option? Try roasted chickpeas or nuts along with a spreadable bean dip.

Photo: JMichl via gettyimages.com

Accompaniments

Even though the accompaniments aren’t the star of a cheese board, choosing the right ones can make your platter pop! Breads and crackers are a must – choose options that pair well with the cheeses you’ve selected (so round crackers for round cheese and crispy bread for spreading warm Brie). Beyond these items, try to add fresh and sweet elements to balance out the salt and tanginess of your meats and cheeses. Fruits and vegetables are easy choices here, and you can use whatever is in season (or already in your fridge!). Think of these as palate cleansers – biting into a crisp cucumber slice leaves you ready for the next round of cheese! Dried fruits and honey or jam are also great options for some crunch and sweetness.

Add Colour and Surprises!

The best cheese boards have a bold visual impact. Make sure to consider colour when you’re adding final touches and accompaniments. Some sprigs of parsley or rosemary will add a nice fragrance and pop of green, while a berry compote can infuse some bright colours. If you have a lot of cute cheese knives to show off, adding a bowl of olive tapenade or homemade hummus is a great surprise.

Arranging it All

You’ve assembled the delicious components – now what? When it comes to placing everything on your board, don’t overthink it. Whether you end up with something neatly organized or more whimsically arranged, your board will showcase all of your hard work. Start by placing something in the center of the board (your baked Brie, a bowl of roasted nuts, etc.), then add similarly-sized elements to each corner. Once you have these anchors, start filling in the gaps! It’s best if you have some separation between cheeses so you can easily see all the offerings. If you like the abundant look, don’t be afraid to pile things up a bit. Finally, take a step back and look at your creation – where can you add the pops of colour? And don’t forget to snap a picture!

Once you start experimenting with cheese boards, you’ll want to prepare all of your meals this way! So make your grocery list and jump right in!

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The Entertainer

Add These Spooktacular Sides to Elevate Your Halloween

Fall brings yearnings for warm and cozy gatherings with friends and family. If hosting a Halloween party is on your agenda this year, you are in luck! From alarming appetizers and devilish dips to spooktacular salads, we have gathered some of the most delicious and fun recipes for creepy fun.

Appetizers

Set the mood for your party right from the start with Halloween-themed appetizers. We’ve found some adorable and delicious bite-sized snacks that are sure to be crowd-pleasers. 

These charming Cheese Ball Pumpkins feature pretzel sticks and parsley leaves as the stem and leaf for pumpkin-shaped mini cheese balls. The pairing of cheddar cold pack cheese and crackers are the perfect combination to get the party started.

Jalapeno Mummies are sure to be the hit of the party. Stuff jalapenos with a pepper jack cheese, cream cheese, garlic, and onion powder mixture. Then wrap with refrigerated crescent dough and bake. Add candy eyes peeking out between the layers of flaky croissant for a tasty and spooky-looking snack.

Your guests will love these Adorable Halloween Deviled Eggs! Start with the most delicious deviled egg recipe and mix in a bit of creativity with red bell pepper wings and horns for these devilishly delightful appetizers!

Dips

The Jack-O-Lantern Cheesy Beef Taco Dip is made with browned beef, cream cheese, mayonnaise, shredded cheddar, and spices. The combination of the cheddar and paprika makes a delightful pumpkin-coloured dip. Then add a jalapeno as the stem, tortilla chips as the eyes and nose, and black olives for the mouth to create your Jack-o-Lantern look. 

Halloween 7 Layer Taco Dip is a spooky take on this party favourite! Start with a base of sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning. Then add layers of ground beef or refried beans, salsa, and green chillies. End with guacamole as the top layer and draw spider webs using sour cream and a ziplock bag with a hole in the corner. 

For a sweeter dip, this Witches Brew Cream Cheese Dip is made with pistachio pudding, milk, whipped cream, cream cheese, and green food colouring mixed together in a stand mixer. Top with gummy eyeballs and worms and serve in a fun dish like a cauldron. 

Photo: svetikd via gettyimages.com

Salads

Looking for something a bit healthier to put out at your party? This Halloween Pasta Salad is chock full of colourful vegetables like broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and carrots. Toss it with cooked whole wheat pasta, Italian dressing, and parmesan cheese. Then top with cutely cut jack-o-lantern cucumber slices. 

This Halloween Fruit Salad uses mini Halloween cookie cutters to create pumpkins, ghosts, cats, and bats out of melons and pineapple. Use satsumas or clementines with a piece of cucumber to create little pumpkins. Kiwi, grapes, and blackberries add additional colours to this Pinterest-worthy salad. 

The Freaky Halloween Salad is a fun blend of healthy vegetables with a Halloween twist. Make a nest of spiralled carrot noodles and add brain-like cauliflower florets, romanesco, and edamame. Whip up some homemade buttermilk green goddess dressing served in a syringe, and you have created a unique, nutritious, and spooky dish. 

Desserts

You can make this easy-to-make recipe for Halloween Muddy Buddies on the fly for a Halloween party or an after-school treat to celebrate the season. Simply melt peanut butter, milk chocolate chips, and butter in the microwave. Stir in Chex cereal, coat with powdered sugar, and add some spooky candied eyeballs. 

Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats are another simple to make but fun Halloween-themed dessert. Make Rice Krispie treats using the directions on the box and add a bit of green food colouring. Dip the tops into melted chocolate or black candy melts for the hair, attach marshmallows for the bolts on the side of Frankenstein’s head, and candy for his eyes. 

We’ve kept the spookiest for last with these Witch Finger Cookies! Make sugar cookies rolled into finger-sized pieces with almond slices for the nails and dipped into raspberry jam for the bloody ends. 

Who’s ready to host a Halloween party now that you are armed with these delicious and spooky recipes?