how to craft the perfect cheese board

now that the weather is getting a bit warmer, people are spending more time sitting on porches and back patios [or is it just me…?] what better way to spend the evening than sitting outside, drinking a bottle of wine while enjoying a cheese board? there isn’t one, just in case you were trying to figure it out.


my sister, tiffany, taught me that the key to a successful cheese board is to fill that sucker up. fill it with cheeses, and crackers, nuts, dried fruit, olives, spreads, dips, meats…. basically anything that you want to put on it, put on it. the more shapes and sizes to fill the space, the better; which, i understand, sounds a bit daunting. we aren’t all made of money and it can get expensive quickly. my favorite place to get goodies for a cheese board is trader joes. they’re typically pretty cheap and a little bit goes a long way.


i start with a couple kinds of cheese. depending on the size of the board two maybe three kinds but probably just two. i like to buy one softer and one harder kind. here is where i think about the ease of eating it too: will my cracker cut the cheese or do i need a cheese knife to cut it? will it crumble the second i pick it up and make a mess of my shirt and floor?

[and yes, you should actually think about these issues before you go shopping. or at least while you’re standing at the cheese counter.]

next come the crackers. i typically buy three different kinds. one version for my gluten free friends, and two other varieties. here is where you can really throw in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

i will always pick out olives for my board. like i said before, they’re a great filler and who doesn’t like olives? satan, that’s who. BUT, beware because not every olive is made equal. some are packaged in brine (i believe…) while others are packaged in oil. avoid the oil packaging! they have the ability to turn your board into a hot mess in no time. my personal favorite are castelvetrano green olives. don’t forget a cute bowl for your olive pits! i have these and they’re the perfect size! looks like they’re on sale now too!

i’m sure i’ve talked about these before, but if i haven’t, i’m sorry for keeping them from you for so long. trader joe’s has rosemary and truffle coated marcona almonds and they’re amazing! i can literally eat the entire bag in one sitting so i typically only buy them when i’m making a board.

when i’m on the hunt for meat, i keep in mind what meat tends to be a bit greasier than others. super greasy salami doesn’t look that appetizing once it’s been sitting out for half an hour. a trick when arranging your board is to roll some up and cut some in triangles – it’ll fill the random spaces of your board better than it being displayed the same way.

honestly, anyone can make a killer board with just the basics above. but if you’re trying to get a bit fancier with your board, well then, you go girl! opt for some dried fruit or maybe even some chocolate covered almonds.

the fun part is when you start to arrange the board. i like to start with the crackers and “dry ingredients” first as they won’t leave a film on the board if i don’t like how it looks.  don’t get discouraged when you’re being a total perfectionist and it doesn’t look “just right” because it certainly will look amazing to other people. AND, don’t forget – people are going to eat it. it’ll only look perfect until the first slice of cheese is devoured. 😀IMG_0418


what do you put on your cheese board?

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three worthy things

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check out their instagram to see some of their previous arrangements!

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my personal fave

i’ve been obsessing over the book, ‘the woman in cabin 10’ by ruth ware. i finished it last night and holy moley, it keeps you engaged and i couldn’t put it down. i told myself i’d stop at 9:30 and then it was 11:00 before i finally forced myself to quit. here is a synopsis i stole from google books:

“This was meant to be the perfect trip. The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship. A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.Except things don’t go as planned. Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer and she is the sole witness…”

i promise you won’t be disappointed.


these little pre-made cocktail stirrers from trader joe’s are a hidden gem. for less than $5.00 a jar, you earn some serious bragging rights when your cocktail has one of these in it. imagine one in a bloody mary… on sunday… during football season… i think yes. i’ll be whipping into mine this upcoming sunday [preparing for a ‘hair of the dog’ cocktail

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the golden palace – aka trader joe’s

i’ve recently been delving into veggie/black bean/turkey burgers when i go out to eat because i feel less guilty – especially when i order the fries with extra aioli and finish it all. i’ve been wanting to make my own variation of these infamous burgers at home; until i thought about it and realized that it just sounds like way too much work.

and this is where trader joe’s comes in… for those of you who don’t know trader joe’s, i’m sorry and for those of you who do, how much do you love it?? seriously, though. it can be very intimidating for the newbie and i admit, about half of the time i go, i am purposely trying to find something new to bring home with me. i got over my fear of the store with a little help from some friends – aka: i used google. and google found PLENTY of blogs that told me exactly what to get at tj’s.

here are a few of my favorite finds:

quinoa cowboy veggie burgers – these are the veggie burgers i buy and they’re amazing! 4 to every box and they’re all individually packaged which is convenient because they’re not bad in the microwave at work. however, i prefer mine cooked in the oven (and i cook them for 8 minutes on each side because i like them a little crispier…) topped with blue cheese, an avocado and sriracha.

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speaking of sriracha… – their’s is real good. i mean, how else can i tell you that it’s good…?

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fig butter – i like to spread this on grilled cheese, pour it over a roll of brie, or even use it on my toast in the mornings. it’s a must get.

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scandinavian swimmers – my aunt and uncle actually got me hooked on these and for that, i’m quite upset with them. these are literally like crack for me. i seriously CANNOT.STOP.EATING.THEM. it’s dangerous and therefore i only buy them once in a blue moon.

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dark chocolate peanut butter cups – when these are around i can control myself a bit more. i actually keep these in the fridge or the freezer and they’re just the right amount of sugar that i need after a meal. and they’re especially nice because i can just eat one and feel satisfied.

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greek whole milk yogurt – the last thing i hunt for at tj’s is their whole milk yogurt. the flavors are good enough that you can eat them by themselves. i usually add some granola and nuts, and i’ll even mix it into my smoothies!

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what are your ‘go-to’s’ at trader joe’s? i’d love to hear!