Showing posts with label entertaining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entertaining. Show all posts
The 3 Secrets To Make Beautiful And Delicious Charcuterie Boards

The 3 Secrets To Make Beautiful And Delicious Charcuterie Boards

For this week's post, I joined forces with charcuterie extraordinaire and Pullman, WA local Audrey, from A La Board NW. She specializes in charcuterie and cheese boards for catering local events. I was so excited to sit down with her, learn her top tips for creating charcuterie boards at home, and nibble on some of these delicious goodies.

Charcuterie boards offer many options, satisfy a number of cravings, and also cater to dietary restrictions. Since every guest gets to choose what they eat, charcuterie boards are great for anyone with gluten-free, vegetarian, and low carb diets! They're perfect for casual girls nights or elegant Thanksgiving dinners, and the smallest of celebrations to the greatest of gatherings. While they're packed with complex flavors and look beautiful, they are very simple to assemble - especially when you know these 3 secrets!

As much content as this guide has, it really is as simple as pulling cheeses, meats, crackers, and produce out of your fridge and cupboards, throwing it on a cutting board, and arranging it to please the mind's eye. The best boards are made from curiosity and creativity - plus a little wine to help you get there!

Secret #1: What To Buy

The good news is, cheese and cured meats go with almost everything! But below are some general guidelines for cheese, meats, sides and starches. 

Cheese: When it comes to cheese, some things to consider are what type of animals' milk is used, where the cheese is made, the smell, the texture, and even the color. Some people love goat cheese, while others prefer sharper/drier cows milk cheeses. An overall good rule of thumb is to grab a few wedges of everything - that way everyone has something they like! For example, my favorite cheeses to grab for charcuterie boards are: cheddar, brie and goats cheese. Even though I don't personally love goat cheese, a lot of people do, and I'm happy with the cheddar and brie. 

Meat: Most cured meats are made from pork: salame, prosciuto, coppa, soprassata, Serrano ham, etc. They are all packed with flavor and texture, and are enjoyed by many meat eaters. Things to consider when purchasing are spice level, cost, and how easy they are to prepare. Coppa and prosciutto can be a little more expensive, but are a delicious treat. If you prefer salame and soprassatta, grab a few different types for variety. 

Fruits and Vegetables: When choosing sides such as fruits and vegetables, consider what might pair well with your cheeses, meats and drinks you're serving. Most charcuterie boards will have fruits like grapes, berries, cherrise, apples, pears, figs, peaches, cantaloupe, apricots, plums, etc. These fruits provide a lot of color and flavor, and can be prepared in bite-sized pieces. The best vegetables to accompany charcuterie boards are usually picked - they taste amazing paired with meats and cheese! Picked asparagus, green beans, olives, artichokes and cornichons (baby pickles), are all great options. 

Bread and Crackers: Neutral crackers and slices of baguette are perfect to accompany all the flavor in your meats and cheeses. Triscuits or Carrs Water Crackers are great options, and my personal favorite is toasted baguette! Neutral crackers pair with pretty much everything, and you can add flavor with the spreads below! If you really like flavored crackers, aim for rosemary or garlic! For toasted baguettte (my favorite), slice the baguette in 1/3 inch sections, lightly dust with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, and voila!

Spreads: One of my favorite ways to add extra interest and excitement in charcuterie boards is to serve it with spreads! Spreads that I often use are mustards, jams, and honey. Mustards add spice, zest, mild sweetness, and a light bitterness that kicks your bite up a notch. Jams pair really well with softer cheeses and fatty meats.

Secret #2: How Much To Buy

This can be a tricky one, when you're standing in the grocery store staring at the cheese selection. Do I need 3 or 4 wedges? Is that too little? What if I have a ton leftover?

Well, here's a little trick-of-the-trade formula so you never have to second guess again! First, figure out how many people you're serving. Typically serving sizes for meats, cheeses and starches are around 1 ounce, and the normal serving size for fruits and vegetables is 2-3 ounces.

What does this mean? Let's say you're expecting 10 guests. You will need total:

  • 10 ounces of each cheese
  • 10 ounces of each meat
  • 20-30 ounces of fruit
  • 20-30 ounces of vegetables 
  • 10 ounces of crackers or bread 
Some people will enjoy more, and some will enjoy less, and this formula accounts for that. Pretty easy, right? 

Secret #3: How To Assemble Charcuterie Boards 

You've chosen all your items, you have the perfect amount of each, and now it's time to assemble your board!

You'll notice that the prettiest charcuterie boards focus on variation in textures and colors. For example, bright red cherries alongside a wedge of creamy brie make both foods stand out and instantly look more appetizing.

Start by laying out your starches, taking up about 1/3 of the board. Add your cheeses in separate spots of the board, and place your meats in between. Then fill in any empty spots with fruit, nuts, extra crackers - whatever looks good to you! Nestle small containers of mustards and jams in between. (For these boards, we used shot glasses for the condiments. They're the perfect size, and inexpensive!)

Remember to have fun with your charcuterie boards! Mix up your flavors each time and experiment with what you like best! 

If you're local and are interested in more information on charcuterie board catering options, you can email Audrey here, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on where she's serving next!

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Kirsten Bell
5 Tips For Hosting An Easy and Beautiful Summer Picnic

5 Tips For Hosting An Easy and Beautiful Summer Picnic

Happy official first day of summer! What better way to welcome the new season than with a summer picnic? I love spending as much time outdoors during the summer months as possible, to take advantage of the beautiful weather and scenery! So today I'm sharing with you my five tips for hosting a summer picnic!

Below you'll find links to my favorite Juliska outdoor dinnerware, my fun and easy picnic menu, and tips for a perfect picnic. Enjoy, and happy summer!

In This Post: 

Want To Remember These Tips For Your Next Picnic? Click Below!

1. Plan an easy and delicious menu!

I love picnics where all the items can be assembled before we leave the house, and are ready to go when we get to the park!

Last year when we visited Bordeaux, we had wonderful picnics with delicious and simple sandwiches. I made these with sliced baguette, salted butter, swiss cheese, turkey and fresh sliced tomato. So easy! I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper, tied the paper with some twine, and tucked a stem of fresh lavender under the tied twine. Then I served them on this beautiful handled tray.

For our cocktail, I chose to serve my Fresh Strawberry Bellinis. It was so easy to mix ahead of time in the acrylic pitcher, and then everyone could serve themselves in their acrylic champagne flutes!

As you might imagine, dessert is one of my favorite parts of the meal! Since it was a beautiful summer day, I decided to serve Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes! This Sectioned Server was so perfect for it! I put divided the strawberries and shortcakes into the outside compartments, and served the whipped cream in the middle.

The Picnic Menu: 

Fresh Strawberry Bellinis
Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes
French inspired sandwiches: Baguette, salted butter, meat and cheese
Summer Salads


2. Invest In The Dishware!

In our house have been focusing on reducing waste and choosing eco-friendly options. That's why I was so excited to see that Julisak has an entire line of beautiful melamine plates and serveware, and acrylic drinkware! Using real dishes elevates the picnic, making it feel so much more special for everyone attending. As they say, nobody lingers over a paper plate! And it's not only nicer for your guests, it's also nicer for the environment and your wallet since you only have to buy it once!

I instantly fell in love with the Al Fresco Collection from Juliska. All the items are perfectly suited for outdoor entertaining, and they're all so beautiful! For this picnic, I used these gorgeous dinner plates, these salad plates, these tumblers, these champagne flutes, this melamine handled tray for the sandwiches, this Sectioned Server for the Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes, and this acrylic pitcher for the Strawberry Bellinis!

3. Have A Clean Up Plan

Since we're using real dishes, we've got to get them home somehow! I like to use a few big cardboard boxes. (We usually have lots from our trips to Costco.) I designate one box as the "dirty" box, and all the dishes go in there so they can be easily brought right to the sink when we get home. Then the linens and clean dishes can go in another box and not get dirty! Super simple, right?

4. Pick A Good Spot

When I was looking for a spot for our picnic, I wanted to find a picnic table so that I didn't have to worry about bringing my own table in. If you're not worried about a table, just bring a nice big blanket and set up a casual spot on the grass! Just remember some cutting boards or other flat surfaces for people to set drinks on. My other requirement was a spot in the shade so that everyone was comfortable. The sun gets hot pretty fast, and with my Northern European skin I'm a bit of a wimp haha! I loved looking out at the pond from the table, it was so pretty and our table was even visited by a little family of ducks!

5. Don't Forget To Plan For The Weather

You might have caught my wind fiasco on Instagram stories this past week! I didn't realize that it was such a windy day when I set out for this picnic, and forget to grab tablecloth weights. Oops! It all worked out just fine, but I wished I had taken a quick look at the forecast. So learn from my mistake! It's also great to know if you need a lightweight jacket or to pack the sunscreen!

Want To Remember These Tips For Your Next Picnic? Click The Image Below To Pin It!

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Kirsten Bell
A Blue & White Easter Brunch Tablescape

A Blue & White Easter Brunch Tablescape

Blue and white is one of my all-time favorite color combinations. It's so fresh and classic, and works for any event! This year as I was putting together my Easter brunch table, I knew it had to be blue and white with pops of beautiful, bright colors!

On the table: 

I love layering plates! It creates such depth to the table, and an opportunity to create a much more interesting table. I chose plates all in white and blue, and love how it turned out! I love how each plate has a different pattern and texture - it's so visually appealing.

The beautiful scalloped tea plates are perfect for small bites and appetizers to start the meal, the salad plates for salad (shocker), and the dinner plates for the main event! I secretly get a little excited when I see lots of plates because it means the host has something really special planned!

Since this is for a brunch, of course I included these beautiful coffee cups! I love the details - it's the perfect cup to linger over, slowly sipping and enjoying a brunch with friends! If you're planning an Easter dinner instead of brunch, still keep the coffee cups! Many people enjoy some coffee or tea with dessert.

The serving pedestal and tray may be my favorite pieces on the table! I love their beautiful, bright colors and floral design. There is such attention to detail - I absolutely adore the little flower on the base of the pedestal! The dahlia napkin rings are so pretty, and everyone who sees them is instantly delighted. They're so well made, and are a beautiful detail for each guest to enjoy.

I hope you have a beautiful and happy Easter, surrounded by good company, delicious food, and an egg hunt or two!

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Kirsten Bell
Style Meets Soiree Guest Post: Spring Tablescape

Style Meets Soiree Guest Post: Spring Tablescape

Happy Sunday everyone! Today I'm sharing a special guest post with you, from my friend Kara! Her entertaining and decor blog Style Meets Soiree is such a source of light and bright inspiration, and I love seeing what she creates! Today she's sharing her spring tablescape with you - full of beautiful tulips, thoughtful details and fun Easter touches. Check out her post below, and be sure to follow her on Instagram (@stylemeetssoiree)!

Spring is the time of year when nature gets a makeover, so why shouldn't your tablescape get one as well? Spring is the best time of year to use bright, fun colors to decorate your tablescape. Which is why I decided to decorate this table using pops of my favorite spring colors! 

With Easter being the first holiday of the season, it's also the great time to bring out a few of your Easter decorations to incorporate into your design. 

Tulips are the perfect flower to decorate with at this time of year because they just scream "spring", don't they?! I decided to use bunches of tulips in bright spring colors at the center of my table in two oversized glass hurricanes. 

I also love to pull out my favorite peony dinnereware from Q Squared for entertaining at this time of year, which I decided to use for my place setting for this tablescape. The whitewashed hyacinth placemat gives the setting a natural, earthy feel. 


To add a touch of ''Easter" without going over the top, I scattered embellished easter eggs down the center of my table and around the flower vases. I then tied white starched hemstitch linen napkins with satin ribbon in a sun drenched peony hue at each of the place settings for the final touch. 

I hope that you have fun and enjoy giving your table a makeover. Whether you decide to go over the top with bright spring colors or not, the important thing is that decorating your table is entirely up to you! So don't be afraid to get creative! 

You can find more from Kara on her blog Style Meets Soiree and on Instagram (@stylemeetssoiree)! 
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Kirsten Bell
Pop, Fizz, Clink! 5 Tips For Hosting A Sparkling Wine Party

Pop, Fizz, Clink! 5 Tips For Hosting A Sparkling Wine Party

Happy Friday, friends! Let's pop some corks, and kick off the weekend with a sparkling wine party! Who's in?? With spring finally in the air, a sparkling wine party just seems perfect, doesn't it? While you certainly don't need any special occasion to host a sparkling wine party, wouldn't this be a really fun way to celebrate Easter, or how about Mother's Day?? (I know this mama would be game!)

Today I'm outlining my top 5 tips for hosting a sparkling wine party. Because enjoying some bubbles and bites with friends is what life's all about, right?? Plus I'm sharing the #1 mistake I see people make when tasting a Champagne or sparkling wine. So grab a glass, and let's get started!

Gruet Sparkling Wines In This Post: 

Tip 1: Choose Good Sparkling Wine!

Ok this one might seem obvious, but have you ever stood in the wine aisle at the store, reading endless wine labels, trying to figure out which one is actually good? Because I sure have! That's why I was so excited to discover Gruet Winery. They offer a wide selection of delicious sparkling wines at really reasonable prices, which I love! 

I recommend for a sparkling wine party, selecting 3-5 different champagnes. For my party I chose the Gruet Brut Rose, Gruet Brut, Sauvage and Blanc de Blancs. This Gruet Demi Sec would also be a great addition! It's fun to have a variety, because when you taste sparkling wines back to back, you notice characteristics you may not have otherwise. Which brings me to my next tip!

Tip 2: Provide Tasting Notes

If you're like me and my friends, our first focus of getting together is always to have a good time! So you can take tasting notes as seriously as you like! But they're a fun way to encourage conversation about the wines, learn a little bit more about what you like, and also is a great way to remember what your favorites were so you can revisit them later! Without my notes, I'd be lost!

Some things you can think about when you're tasting sparkling wine:

  • How does it look? Is it clear or cloudy? Pale or golden? How big are the bubbles?
  • How does it smell? Remember, you don't need to swirl champagne before smelling it. Does anything come to mind? Apples? Lemons? Florals? 
  • How does it taste? The moment you've been waiting for! Does it taste similar to how it smelled? Different? Do any flavors come immediately to mind? Is it dry? Fruity? 
  • The #1 Sparkling Wine Tasting Mistake? Forgetting that you don't need to know a lot about wine to appreciate it! Just like any wine, the whole point is to enjoy it! 
Side note: I also personally like to print out the tasting notes provided on the winery website - that way after everyone has tasted the wine and had a chance to figure out tastes on their own, we can compare notes with the experts!

Tip 3: Set the Scene

You certainly don't need to host your party at the Ritz, but it's always fun to take a little extra time and put together a fun table for your friends. For my table, I took my inspiration from the pretty peonies and went with a blush and gold theme. Definitely nothing complicated, but it made sitting down to the table that just more fun!

On The Table: 

Champagne Flutes, Pink Napkins, Blush Plates, Glass Plates, Rose Paper Napkins, Champagne Paper Napkins, Gold Chargers, Pink taper holders are antique, but I love these too! Champagne bucket is sold out, but i also love this one!

Tip 4: Pick some food pairings! 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on just this topic, and you can find it here! You'll find easy and delicious food pairing for each of the sparkling wines mentioned here. When I'm hosting an event, I like to keep food prep as quick and easy as possible, so you'll notice that it takes fewer than 30 minutes to prepare all four recipes.

Tip 5: Have fun! 

Pop the bottles, pour the bubbly, and have a good time! It is, after all, a party! Cheers! 

Thank you to Gruet Winery for making amazing wines, and sponsoring this post.
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Kirsten Bell