Posts tagged snacks
Camping Cheese Boards
public.jpeg

I’ve written before about my love of cheese and charcuterie boards, and talked about laying them out when you have all the fancy accoutrements and comforts of home. When you leave those comforts behind for the woods though, there’s no need to leave the meats and cheese behind too! Whether you’re paddling and trekking into the back country like I was, or driving out to your car camping site, here are some tips for bringing your favourite snack boards camping!

Cheeses

public.jpeg

When refrigeration is less consistent, you want to make sure you can keep your cheeses as fresh as possible! I’ve listed my tips below but you have to commit to a certain level of loss. Best case scenario? All your cheeses will be in great shape and you’ll have food aplenty! But if you open something out there and it looks, smells, or tastes weird? Trust your gut, accept the loss, and dispose of it properly.

Choosing cheeses

Wherever possible, choose hard cheeses. These will last longer and with less refrigeration.

Storage

For hardy cheeses, wrap with cheesecloth! This allows the cheese to breathe and prevents condensation from collecting on the surface and molding.

For riskier cheeses, buy them packaged as much as possible and leave them sealed as long as possible. Anything in its own wax or rind seal is a decent bet - you can find small wheels of Brie sealed in plastic trays that are more airtight than the regularly wrapped ones.

packing

If you’re not carrying a standard cooler, pack your cheeses at the bottom of your food bag or barrel, in a soft sided, insulated cooler bag with an ice pack or another item you need frozen. They won’t stay cold if your trip is longer than a day or two but they’ll stay cool-ER which is usually good enough.

Meats

public.jpeg

Meats are typically one of the easier parts of this equation as many salamis and summer sausages are shelf-stable.

If you do choose to bring something sliced like prosciutto, go with a prepared package that’s already sealed airtight. Store this in your cooler spot with cheese.

Accompaniments

public.jpeg

There are lots of great, shelf-stable accoutrement for your cheese board. I recommend sweets like chocolate covered almonds or berries, a small refillable bottle of honey, and olives packed in a vacuum bag (found at most grocery stores and save the weight of a glass jar). When looking at more sensitive items, choose the heartiest ones possible, or go with something sealed. I like baby carrots and proportioned, sealed hummus containers.

Crackers

If you’re car camping this one is pretty easy but when space is an issue crackers are a challenge. Pita is always a great, durable option. Otherwise I recommend something sturdy like Triscuits, unless you’re willing to pack in the box for protection.

Serving

If some of your items are being kept cool I recommend serving no later than day 3 of your trip. If everything is shelf-stable you can definitely push further!

I assembled my board on two light-weight, bendable cutting boards that I stored down the side of my food bag. I used the small white plastic tray from the Brie to serve my olives.

Assemble your board as quickly and as close to serving as possible, working away from bugs and the hot sun. You’ll have to consume faster than usual but that shouldn’t be an issue given the appetite you’re working up in the outdoors!

public.jpeg

If you want to get extra fancy, make friends with someone willing to pack out chilled white wine in an insulated thermos like Julie from Lavender Julep! It’s the perfect compliment to your afternoon snack.

Happy Pretzel Day! Sweet & Savory Pretzel Bar
 
FullSizeRender.jpg

Much like Stanley Hudson, pretzel day is my favourite day of the year. So much so, that for my birthday this year I decided to have a pretzel party!

pretzel.gif

This was a super quick and easy DIY pretzel station to throw together, especially since this time I used store-bought pretzels - I normally make my own pretzels and pretzel bites but it was my birthday! I thought I deserved a break. I didn’t include all 18 toppings but I still think Michael Scott would be proud!

If you want to make your own pretzels, scroll down for my go-to recipe! If you want to take the lazy route, stop by the local soft-pretzel place as soon before your party as possible (or let’s be honest, have your boyfriend swing by for you - thanks Ryan!). For the longest time we didn’t have a soft pretzel place in town but we have a Mr. Pretzel in our mall now and it’s the best! To keep them warm while you’re waiting without them getting dried out I placed them stacked loosely on baking sheets with cooling racks (so they weren’t directly on the baking sheets) and rotated them in and out of an oven on the lowest setting. I also kept a casserole dish full of water on the bottom oven rack to keep things from getting too dry in there. This worked really well!

IMAGE.JPG

The Setup

For the set-up I laid down kraft paper on my table so I could label the topping options. I stacked the cinnamon sugar pretzels on a cake-stand and the salted pretzels in a bowl to keep them separate.

IMAGE.JPG

Savory Toppings

  • Beer & cheese dip

  • Dijon mustard

  • Stout mustard

  • Dill mustard

  • Honey mustard

  • Yellow mustard

IMAGE.JPG

Sweet Toppings

  • Walnuts

  • Chocolate chips

  • Butterscotch syrup

  • Chocolate syrup

  • Raspberries

  • Blueberries

I also left some veggies on the side, you know, in case anyone needed a break from pretzels.

Recipes

I used this awesome beer cheese dip recipe from Take Two Tapas, minus the bread bowl. My go-to soft pretzel recipe is from All Recipes and you can find it here!

This was a super simple set-up and really fun - would definitely recommend for your next get together. And true to my personal brand, it makes a little bit of a mess!

IMAGE.JPG
 
Favourite Feminist Conversation Heart Cookies
 

Happy Galentine’s Day!

It’s February 13th, and today is all about ladies celebrating ladies! When Julie and I hosted our Galentine’s Day party last weekend these sweet little “conversation heart” style cookies got gobbled up. These are quick to make and easy to decorate even if you aren’t much of an artist!

FullSizeRender.jpg

I got my cookie stamps from Michaels eons ago but something like this would work just the same! You can use your favourite sugar cookie recipe for the base (I would not recommend the Martha Stewart one I used as the cookies shrunk rather than spread when baking) and fondant for the top. Rather than buy pre-made fondant I actually made homemade marshmallow fondant for this recipe which is super easy!

Ingredients

Your favourite rolled sugar cookie dough (or other rolled cookie dough of your choice)

Mini-marshmallows

4 cups powdered sugar plus more for dusting surface

2 tbsp vanilla extract (or flavouring of choice)

Recipe Steps

1. Make the cookies of your choice and cut them out using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Most recipes for rolled and cut sugar cookies will advise you to pop the cut cookies into the fridge or freezer before baking as this stops them from spreading. In this case you actually want the cookie to be slightly larger than the topper heart so you can skip this step, or if your dough feels very warm and not at all solid you can pop them in the fridge for just a few minutes.

2. Melt a bag of mini-marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl with a couple tablespoons of water. Zap it in short intervals and stir as needed until you have one melted bowl of marshmallow soup.

3. With a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or kneading by hand, add in 3-4 cups of powdered sugar until you reach a smooth, pliable, not-too-sticky consistency. At this stage you can also add the vanilla or other flavouring.

4. Liberally dust your clean work surface, rolling pin, and cookie cutter with powdered sugar. Transfer the fondant to your work surface and knead in the colouring of your choice by hand before rolling out to a quarter inch thickness.

5. Cut the fondant into heart shapes with the same cutter you used for the cookies. Once your cookies spread slightly they’ll be just larger than the fondant hearts.

6. Stamp the cookies with the message of your choice. Notes for your friends and loved ones, conversation heart messages, or your favourite inspirational ladies (real and fictional!).

7. Once the cookies are cooled spread a few drops of water on the back of a heart to make it sticky enough to adhere to the cookie. Store completed cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week (or as dictated by original recipe).

All of our friends got a huge kick out of these and it was a sweet way to honor some of our favourite ladies this Galentine’s Day! These would be even sweeter with the name of a birthday boy or girl, or to mark any other occasion like a graduation, retirement, wedding, or anniversary. The possibilities are endless!

FullSizeRender.jpg
 
Homemade Rosé Gummy Bears
FullSizeRender.jpg

Perfect for Galentine’s Day, bachelorette parties, or bridal showers, these sweet little gummy bears are just as fun to make as they are to eat! They’d also make a great little treat for a friend, and you can change up the ingredients to make different flavours. Julie (@Lavender Julep) and I had these out at our Galentine’s Day party last weekend!

I had to play around a little with ratios and how much to reduce the rosé to get the best possibly consistency on these but I’m really happy with how they turned out. They’re honestly really easy to make with store-bought gelatin and your favourite rosé and they don’t require a candy thermometer!

FullSizeRender.jpg

I used these gummy bear molds from Amazon but you could also use any molds you like (silicone is easiest to remove) or even pour a sheet of the mixture into a rectangular casserole dish and cut into cubes or with little cookie cutters! This recipe will make enough of the gelatin mixture to fill two of the molds I used, so feel free to scale up or down accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rosé (but I’m sure you’ll find a use for the rest of the bottle)

  • 3 envelopes of unflavoured, powdered gelatin (these are usually 0.25 ounce envelopes)

  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

Recipe Steps

1. Add one cup of the rosé to a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a bare simmer. Allow to reduce down to a 1/4 cup. The more you reduce this the better the flavour, colour, and texture of your finished gummy bears will be.

2. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of rosé with the three envelopes of gelatin and stir to combine before setting aside. The gelatin will swell and thicken the entire mixture into a jello-like consistency.

3. Once the saucepan of wine has reduced to a 1/4 cup, lower the heat and add your sugar and gelatin mixture. Keep the heat at medium-low, stirring until the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.

4. Increase heat to medium and bring to a bare simmer again, reducing slightly so that you have a slightly syrupy liquid.

IMAGE.JPG

5. Turn off the stove but leave the saucepan on the element to keep it warm while you work, otherwise it will begin to solidify. Quickly transfer your mixture into the molds using a spoon and wiping clean or using an eye-dropper/pipette. With the silicone molds I found I did not need to grease them at all for the bears to release cleanly, but if you are using a rectangular dish you may want to spray lightly with cooking spray before filling.

6. Allow gummies to cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours - or if you’re living in Canada in February like me, just cover and put them outside on your porch for 30 minutes. They should release evenly from the molds!

These can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several weeks, or for 12 hours uncovered at room temperature. Note that uncovered (refrigerated or not), they will begin to shrivel up making them chewier. You can change up the rosé for any flavouring of your choice, other wines, fruit juices, etc.!

FullSizeRender.jpg
Crafting a Balanced Charcuterie/Cheese Board

You know what I love more than almost anything else in this world? Snacks. I love snacks as snacks and snacks as meals. To me any party, road trip, or small get together is an excuse for snacks.

I also love carbs, cheeses, and a variety of cured meats. So charcuterie boards and cheese boards are kind of where it’s at for me. These are so easy to put together (it’s literally just a bunch of snacks spread out) but I think it can be kind of daunting if you haven’t done it before. So many thanks to my dear friend Julie over at Lavender Julep for encouraging me to write a post about this spread I put together for my partner’s birthday the other weekend! I mention a lot of brands in this post because I think it’s helpful - it should go without saying that none of them have a clue who the hell I am and none of these are affiliate links.

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

I had so much fun putting this together! Please excuse the slightly crooked photo!

Like I mentioned, this kind of thing is literally just a bunch of snacks spread out. That said, you can put in a little effort to make the flavours balanced and provide something for everyone. It also looks a little fancier if you display it nicely, I’ll talk about what kinds of things I use to serve at the end!

Here’s a breakdown of what I like to include when I put a board together:

  • 3-5 Cheeses
    I like to go for a wide variety here and I base my choices on who’s going to be eating! If there are pickier eaters or young children, I’ll make sure to include more mild cheddars, mozzarella, etc. If it’s close friends who I know like to try new things I might go for interesting choices! It’s also a good idea to go for a mix of soft and hard cheeses!

  • 1-3 Carby Things
    These are things like crackers, bread, pita, etc. They can be a vehicle for cheese or dips or just something else to munch on and provide a different texture.

  • 1-3 Meats
    Traditionally a charcuterie board includes cured meats so I tend toward things like salamis or prosciutto but you can go any direction you’d like here! I usually like to pick a variety of things so that some are spicier, some are more mild, some are more fatty, etc.

  • Accompaniments
    This last category is basically just “everything else.” It can encompass spreads or dips to eat on the cheese, meat, or bread but it can also include other little bites that have complementary flavours. It’s nice to have a few sweet things and a few savoury things!

Here’s a breakdown of this weekend’s board:

FullSizeRender.jpg
  1. Rolled, half-slices of prosciutto. I picked this up fresh from the deli counter.

  2. Mild salami encased in Parmesan. I dig this for something different but accessible. (Full disclosure: I stole this idea from a friend after he used it on a board a week earlier.)

  3. Spicy Calabrese salami. Again, this is fresh from the deli counter.

  4. Herb Havarti. Cheeses like this tend to be tricky to cut so I pre-sliced it!

  5. Herb & Garlic Boursin. This soft, spreadable cheese is inevitably the most popular thing on any cheese board I’ve ever made.

  6. Snowdonia Cheese Company’s Smoked Cheddar. This is literally my favourite cheese of all time, it tastes like bacon (but is totally vegetarian!). It slices and crumbles well so I leave a sharp cheese knife next to it and let people serve themselves - a steak knife would work too.

  7. Medium Cheddar. Much like the havarti, I pre-sliced this so people could just grab and go. I wasn’t sure the tastes of everyone coming so adding this to the board made it so everyone could find something they liked.

  8. Castello Blue Cheese. This is soft and crumbly so I usually just leave a spreader next to it for cutting/scooping!

  9. Red seedless grapes. These go great with everything and are great for filling space on your boards.

  10. Dried apricots. Dried fruit goes great with cheese, I normally just pick up as much as I need from the bulk section. Dried cranberries and blueberries are also excellent.

  11. Mini dill pickles (or “cornichons”. The acidity of a pickle is a perfect contrast to a sharp smoked or creamy cheese. Also literally everyone loves pickles. I’d also use olives here!

  12. Trader Joe’s Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. Yes, it’s a mouthful. Yes, they’re delicious. I buy a few containers of these every time I go across the border and then I try really hard not to eat them all before I make a cheese board.

  13. Artichoke and Asiago Dip. I just picked this up at the grocery store because I love it with the pita chips!

  14. Honey! I love pairing honey with blue cheese, I think the flavours complement each other so well. Plus it’s probably already in your pantry!

  15. Stacy’s Pita chips. I’m obsessed with these and they go awesome with everything, especially artichoke dip and Boursin.

  16. R.W. Garcia 3 Seed Sweet Potato crackers. These are from Costco and they’re awesome with cheese. The chickpea variety is really good as well!

  17. Sliced baguette. This was the perfect vehicle for blue cheese & honey. Or making tiny salami and cheese sandwiches. There’s no wrong answer here.

FullSizeRender.jpg

You can make a cheese or charcuterie board on literally anything but it’s slightly easier (and prettier) if you have a couple basics.

  • The board. I usually use this gorgeous charcuterie board from Concept Thirteen Woodworking. The smaller one in the photo at the top is my partner’s and is from M Inspired Living. Sometimes I also use my wood cutting board from Planet Creations. These are all Canadian businesses with incredible workmanship and I can’t recommend them highly enough. No board? No problem - use any cutting board, large plate, serving tray, or just cover your table in kraft paper and go to town.

  • Cheese knives. I wish I could say I supported small businesses with these too but I’m not going to lie I bought them on clearance at Winners. Marshalls and Home Sense also usually have a lot for reasonable prices. Honestly though, butter knives and steak knives for the harder cheeses work totally fine.

  • Small dishes. Perfect for little tiny quantities of things. The red bowls came from the grocery store and the tiny glass ones are re-purposed tiramisu containers from Costco. The grapes are in a gorgeous little piece of pottery from my grandma. Thrift stores are great for stuff like this but so is just shopping your own house. Low ball glasses can work great.

  • Serving plates. I find long serving plates helpful for crackers and bread but again you can obviously use anything. The ones I used for this board were a gift from my sister but thrift stores are another good option here!

I hope this was helpful and didn’t make you too hungry! I personally need to go eat a bunch of cheese immediately.

Mel

Winery Tour Bachelorette with a Gryffindor Twist

Okay, how fortunate am I to have gotten to celebrate another one of my incredible friends with a bachelorette party this year?! Incredibly.

You can probably guess who the bride is from the shirts.

You can probably guess who the bride is from the shirts.

To celebrate Amanda’s upcoming wedding (eeeee! it’s this weekend!) we took her on a day full of winery tours in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Amanda’s a big Harry Potter fan (as am I, it’s one of the things we first bonded over when we met) so one of the other bridesmaids suggested giving her day a Gryffindor/Quidditch twist. Our theme was “Amanda Found a Keeper” (Keeper being a Quidditch position in Harry Potter) and I included touches of maroon and gold throughout (fun accident: maroon and gold were also our high school colours!).

In this post I’ll give you a bit of a rundown of the day and some fun stuff and go into some DIY details in future posts. You can find the favor bags, flying keys, golden snitches and chocolate frogs here! I used my Cricut to make our shirts for the day - Amanda’s says “I found a Keeper” and ours say “She’s a catch!”

Lianna also worked on the crazy cookies below. Sorry Li, I only had you in group pictures and I didn’t want to ask every person for permission to post!

Lianna also worked on the crazy cookies below. Sorry Li, I only had you in group pictures and I didn’t want to ask every person for permission to post!

I rolled these up and tied on tags with each girl’s name just so we wouldn’t have to dig around for sizes and fits - I collected information on size and fit from all the girls ahead of time.

This was a pretty simple process! I designed the shirts using Design Space and cut the Iron-On using my Cricut. I ordered the blank tshirts online and then I just had to weed the images and iron them on! I loved the metallic gold iron-on I used on the maroon shirts so much that I included a little gold snitch on the back of Amanda’s shirt too even though it didn’t show up as well on the white!

It was so hard to capture this metallic finish in a photo but I’m thrilled with how they came out!

It was so hard to capture this metallic finish in a photo but I’m thrilled with how they came out!

Because most of our group was travelling from about an hour away I booked a bus to take us to Niagara-on-the-Lake, from winery to winery, and then back home for dinner. This meant no one had to drive and we could all relax and focus on having fun together.

We headed out around 11am and made it to our tasting at Lakeview Wine Co. around 12:15pm. Everything we sampled was great!

Drinking wine all day is fun but I wanted to make sure everyone walked away as headache free as possible - that means eating and hydrating in between! I brought a packed cooler with bottled water, apples, individual pasta salads, and what the girls deemed “adult lunchables.”

I wanted these to be like little travel charcuterie/cheese boards so I included a variety of crackers, some trail mix, prosciutto, chorizo, and four different cheeses: dill havarti, aged cheddar, a Babybel, and these adorable individual wheels of brie!

I wanted these to be like little travel charcuterie/cheese boards so I included a variety of crackers, some trail mix, prosciutto, chorizo, and four different cheeses: dill havarti, aged cheddar, a Babybel, and these adorable individual wheels of brie!

I bought the lunch containers on Amazon and filled them the night before with the help of my parents and sister. I also filled some smaller cups with Costco pasta salad - FYI it’s amazing! We were so glad to have things to snack on all day long - I’ll definitely do this again!

My incredible friend & fellow bridesmaid Jess, along with her very talented mom and sister, made us the best cookies I’ve ever seen. They’re a little NSFW (though maybe not at first glance) and were a huge hit to look at in addition to being delicious!

The cookie genius herself is on Instagram @mama_oddi!

The cookie genius herself is on Instagram @mama_oddi!

After Lakeview we headed to Jackson Triggs where we did a full tour and tasting and then hung out for a while on the patio enjoying the beautiful day.

At the beginning of the day I had given all the girls favor bags with some things they might need for the day and some fun treats I put together to go with the theme!

In terms of more practical items we’ve got tissues, a wet wipe, ibuprofen (to fend off those possible headaches I mentioned), mints, and hair ties.

In terms of more practical items we’ve got tissues, a wet wipe, ibuprofen (to fend off those possible headaches I mentioned), mints, and hair ties.

FullSizeRender.jpg

In addition to my “practical” favor bag items I wanted to include some things to play on the theme. I decorated the bags with vinyl, attached some cardstock wings to Ferrero Rocher chocolates to make golden snitches, made colour-coordinated hair ties with fold-over elastic, and threw in these sweet little gold lightning bolt necklaces. I also made custom chocolate frogs with chocolate frog cards of the bride and groom-to-be which was a ton of fun! Lastly I found these little skeleton key bottle openers which I thought would be useful and I attached little vellum wings to mimic the flying keys from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The wings are just attached with a dot of hot glue so the girls can pluck them off and keep the bottle opener around in a purse, on a keychain, or in a kitchen drawer! Click here to see more details on those DIYs!

We finished up at Caroline Cellars with even more tastings before heading back for dinner & drinks at Merit Brewing in Hamilton.

We finished off the night at one of the other bridesmaids houses and honestly had such a wonderful day. I’m so glad to have gotten to meet all these amazing ladies!

In the middle is Jess, cookie decorator extraordinaire.

In the middle is Jess, cookie decorator extraordinaire.