When it comes to a party, just about everyone says cheese. Not only is cheese wildly popular these days, it has also become a conversation piece. Think about it. Whenever there's a platter of really good cheeses, most people dig in with gusto and share their opinions about their favorites. But while creating a cheese platter is simple, having a few simple tips in your back pocket will ensure a sure-fire winning cheese course every time.
Before you get started, here's what to consider:
You can go any number of ways when deciding which cheeses to choose for your cheese platter. Even though it may seem intimidating, just remember there are no "wrongs" when it comes to cheeses. Sure, you might end up with a cheese or two you don't care for, but you won't have committed any entertaining faux pas even if that's the case.
Here are a few basic guidelines to get you started:
I found this recipe by Julie Rutland in Costal Living magazine (2011)
3/4 cup butter, divided
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh pineapple
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
Prep: 5 Minutes
Bake: 35 Minutes
Cool: 10 Minutes
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron or heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Tilt skillet to coat sides. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup brown sugar. Arrange pineapple on bottom of skillet; set aside.
2. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup hot water, molasses, and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar. Whisk in egg.
4. Add butter mixture gradually to flour mixture, stirring until well blended. Pour batter into prepared skillet.
5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake onto a round platter. Scrape any sugar mixture left in skillet over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook. It makes a wonderful, hearty soup that can be enjoyed year round. It does make more than one serving, but I found it held up well when I froze it.
*Tip: Freeze portions in quart size freezer bags (Ziploc). Then when you want a quick meal it can be thawed and reheated. Make sure you mark on the bag what the item is.
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, drained
4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth or 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
1. Place all ingredients except cornstarch and water in 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until vegetables are tender.
3. Mix cornstarch and water; gradually stir into stew until blended. Cover and cook on high heat setting about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
1 Serving: Calories 130 (Calories from Fat 10); Total Fat 1g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat ncg); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 560mg; Total Carbohydrate 31g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars ncg); Protein 4g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 94%; Vitamin C 26%; Calcium 8%; Iron 12% Exchanges: 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 4 Vegetable Carbohydrate Choices: nc
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.