Simple St. Patty’s Day Cheese Board

Rainbow boards are nothing new around here, BUT add a "pot of gold" and some St. Patrick's Day flair, and you have yourself a fun board for the holiday...

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Simply, place the gold coins in the middle and arrange colorful produce across the board to achieve a rainbow effect.

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SPECIAL INGREDIENTS:

- Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar is a mainstay on many of my boards for it's buttery sharp taste and affordability.  

- The Pesto Gouda, while delicious, was chosen mainly for the fun green color.

- Gold coins can be found at party stores year-round, but stores like CVS and Rite Aid seem to carry them close to St. Patrick's Day.

- The St. Patty's Day flair can be found in the dollar bins at Target for added holiday spirit.

- Lastly (not pictured here, but seen in the photos below) I added some red gummy lips as a nod to "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!"

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5 Charcuterie Items to Elevate Your Holiday Spread

We've already covered the one-stop cheese board shopping guide.  But for the occasions when you have a little more time to gather ingredients, here are a few items that are worth the extra effort.

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QUINCE PASTE:  Traditionally from Spain, this firm, sweet jelly made from the pulp of a quince fruit is the perfect compliment to salty cheeses like manchego.  Cut it up in slices (SEE PHOTO AT TOP - it's in the 1 o'clock position on the cheese board).

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HUMBOLT FOG:  A little pricier than the Trader Joe's cheeses, but it's creamy, mild taste is a definite crowd-pleaser.  A goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove, with a distinguishing layer of edible ash, guests go nuts for this one.  Tastes particularly great on crackers with honey. (SEE PHOTO AT TOP- it's in the 3 o'clock position).

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GOOD OLIVES: The Trader Joe's variety I mentioned in the last SHOPPING LIST is great, but if you get the chance to pick from a good olive bar, you're golden. I tend to like Castelvantano Olives (the bright green ones), which are are also available in jars at Whole Foods and many supermarkets.  YUM!

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FIG JAM: Dalmatia Fig Spread is my favorite.  Put a wooden spoon in it and use it as a centerpiece for the whole spread. You can find this at Whole Foods, most supermarkets and here on Amazon, if that's easier.  It serves a similar purpose to the quince paste, so you can choose one or the other for your board OR go hog wild and put out both :)

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MIDNIGHT MOON: Another cheese from Cypress Grove.  It's nutty and buttery upfont with a slightly sweet finish.  Goes great with the fig jam above.  I like to cut out the inner part from the rind and crumble it up, then put it back in the shape of the rind for presentation.  SEE PHOTO at bottom.

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There you have it!  A few items to build upon your cheese board staples.  The below photo has both Midnight Moon (upper left) and Humbolt Fog (right).  There was a crazy amount of cheese on that platter for a very special friend's daughter's bday and we managed to eat it all.  Those cheeses are THAT GOOD!

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Remember to post your cheese photos, tag @ainttooproudtomeg and use the hashtag #ainttooproudtocheese so I can see all your beautiful creations.  They make me SOOOO HAPPY!!

Your ONE-STOP Cheese Board Shopping Guide

Want to steal the show at your next holiday gathering?  Impress all your friends & family with an epic charcuterie platter!

While my ideal cheese board is a compilation of items from just about every market in LA, ain't nobody got time to run from store-to-store over the holidays.  So, in the interest of being festive AND efficient, I've made a one-stop shopping list of items from tried-and-true Trader Joe’s:

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CHEESES

Platters should ideally have 3-4 cheeses; a mix of hard and soft.

UNEXPECTED CHEDDAR- The best Cheddar at TJ’s. Sharp, while still being buttery and sweet.  Crumble it up and people will go wild over this.  An alternative is Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar, however, it's not been as fresh the last few times I've been to Trader Joes.

Trader Joes favorite cheddar cheese unexpected cheddar

BRIE- A cheese board staple.  Double or Triple cream...the creamier the better. Try to pick one of the more symmetrical slices (for looks) and garnish with a sprig of rosemary on top.

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OLD AMSTERDAM- My favorite Gouda.  Smokey, sweet and great compliment to holiday beers.  Make sure you cut off the hard rind (it's thicker than most), then cut into chunks and make “rustic crumbles” from that. 

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BOURSIN- This is hands-down the best bang for your buck. Put it in a ramekin with a rosemary garnish. NOTE: The photo up top has Manchego on it (also a good addition), but Boursin would be my choice for the hoidays :)

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MEATS

THIN CUT SALAME- These are perfect for creating "salami roses" on your platter.  Full tutorial coming soon, but I’m the meantime, fold the salami piece in half and then half again to create a 1/4 circle and wedge a bunch together in between cheese and crackers on your platter.

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SALAME SECCHI: If the "salami roses" sound like too much work, grab these guys and cut them into  slices.  They look particularly pretty and rustic on a board.

salame secchi cheese board salami option Trader Joes

Another option is the ARTISAN SALAMI- Remember to take the casing off before as you cut.  NOTE: prosciutto is also a good choice, but I personally think it gets messy and doesn't photograph as well.

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FRUITS

GRAPES- Cheese board staple.  The best are the Thomcord variety, but they've just gone out of season, so pick whatever batch looks best.  Green, Red, or the multi-pack from TJ’s.

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RASPBERRIES- Nice addition for color and texture.  Blackberries can work too (but give them a “taste test” to ensure they're not bitter before you buy them (TJ’s blackberries are hit or miss). NOTE: blueberries are pretty small and don't have the same impact on the plate so skip those.

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VEGGIES

Guests always appreciate having some healthy options on the plate.  

CUCUMBER- Get the Persian variety and slice uniformly.

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LES PETITES CARROTS-  These look much fancier than baby carrots.  They're colorful (purple, yellow, white & orange) and people love them.  If you don't have access to these, simply cut some regular carrots in think slices.

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NUTS

MARCONA ALMONDS WITH ROSEMARY- Guarantee at least one guest will spend the rest of the evening raving about these delicious Spanish-style almonds. TJ's has both the rosemary and truffle variety; guests generally prefer the rosemary.  NOTE: Pistachios, Candied Pecans or Walnuts are also a great additions, but these are all you need for a simplified platter.

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CRACKERS

FIG & OLIVE CRISPS- These are the best.  For a seasonal twist, they have a pumpkin version.

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SAVORY THINS- Good gluten-free option for guests.

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SOMETHING EXTRA

OLIVES- I prefer castelvetrano olives, but those are not available at Trader Joes.  This variety is a good secondary option.

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ROSEMARY- No platter is complete without some greenery for garnish.  I use the herb all year long, but it's particularly festive over the holidays.

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HONEY- perfect sweet compliment to cheese and crackers.  Get this awesome honey dipper from Sur La Table and you'll be using the BOOMERANG function on Instagram all night long.

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DRIED PERSIMMONS: Great for colorful garnish with a unique look and sweet taste. Unfortunately, they are only in stock only half the year in Trader Joe's, so snag them before July comes around.

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DRIED ORANGE SLICES: as an alternative to the Persimmons (when they go out of stock). Truth be told, they don't taste that great, but they sure look pretty!

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DRIED BERRY MEDLEY- A sweet treat to sprinkle on the cheese board.  The dried strawberries are the crowd favorite!!

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There you have it!! A guide to all the best cheese board fixings from your local Trader Joe's.  I'll be back next week with the "Five Cheese Plate Fixins to Splurge On." And check out my "Round Up of The Best Cheese Boards on The Market."

I can’t wait to see you put these tips to use!  Be sure to tag and send me your pics :)  Nothing makes me happier than seeing your boards in action.  Speaking of, here's an @ainttooproudtomeg-inspired board from one of my IG friends, @honeyofalife:

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Happy cheese plate-making, everyone!!

BEST OF: Nate Berkus for Target 2015 Fall / Holiday Collection

Launched this past Sunday, the latest Nate Berkus for Target Holiday Collection is just as metallic, fun and on-trend as ever.  Below are my three favorite picks from the collection.  In fact, I ordered the first two online last night.  Because...well...CHEESE.

Like many Target pieces, I suggest a good in-person meeting to assess quality and potential longevity BEFORE finding a permanent place within your home.  While many of these faux metalics pass the test, some can fall flat, scratch easily and tarnish quickly.

MY THREE FAVES:

Gold Cheese Utensils $16.99

Gold Cheese Utensils $16.99

Wooden Cheese Board $24.99

Wooden Cheese Board $24.99

Round Gold Accent Table with Marble Top (far right) $89.99

Round Gold Accent Table with Marble Top (far right) $89.99

And while we're at it, I must mention two Anthropologie pieces, I've had my eye on.  Truth be told, the first looks very similar the the above-mentioned Nate Berkus cheese knives. Great minds think alike?

Mother-Of-Pearl Bottle Opener $14

Mother-Of-Pearl Bottle Opener $14


Gilded Pretzel Bottle Opener $4.95 (on sale)

Gilded Pretzel Bottle Opener $4.95 (on sale)