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How to Build a Winter Cheese Plate

Appetizers, Holiday, How-To, Quick and Easy, The Holidays

I’m not trying to brag but I have been invited to two holiday parties already and we haven’t even entered the month of December. This is going to be a very fun season for me! I’m excited.

My neighborhood is very into the holiday spirit; each and every single house on the block already has lights up. In order to fit in with the Jones’, we spent the weekend trying to get our lives together, i.e., getting rid of the squirrel-eaten pumpkins.

In preparation for this season, I wanted to put a mini guide together about Building a Winter Cheese Board! 

For this post, I teamed up with Roth Cheese original. Their cheeses are so amazing and made in Wisconsin using fresh, local milk from dairy farmers right down the road. The flavors are delicious and rich. While I think they’re wonderful on a cheese board, I also think they’re perfect for grilled cheeses, too; their meltability is on point! They’d also work in a gratin or melted over vegetables.

Here are some pointers on creating a winter cheese board:

Pick Your Cheeses – I cubed up the Havarti and Gouda for easy consumption. I decided to leave the Alpine-Style in its wedge mainly for aesthetic reasons lol. The Havarti is mild and buttery. The Gouda creamy with a hint of sweetness. The Alpine-Style is nutty. I like for all of the cheeses to complement each other, while all being different to offer some contrast.

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Breakfast In a Box: A Mother’s Day Idea

Breakfast, DIY, How-To

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

My mama is one of the healthiest people I know. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to start working out regularly and eating a wee bit healthier. She eats the cleanest diet known to man and works out almost everyday. She loves Zumba, which means she knows more Pitbull and Drake songs than I do!

I figured I’d skip the perfume this year (though this scent subscription box thingy sounds awesome!) and give her something that is half homemade, half purchased and super cute. Enter: Breakfast In a Box!

Mailing food can be tough so I opted to go with this grain-free granola. Right after I made my first batch, I freaked out because I loved it so much and called my mom. She loooves granola, so I made some to include in this basket.

The granola was enough to fill this Weck Jar. As for the label, I took a piece of an index card, painted on a messy circle with some watercolors, waited for it to dry and wrote “Grain-less Granola.” Couldn’t be easier. I swear watercolors are my jam.

To secure it I sprayed it with a spray adhesive (my favorite thing ever) but some double-stick scotch tape would do the trick too!

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

I found this very local honey called Buzzed Honeys and included a jar so my mom can pour a little on top of her granola that she’ll probably eat with cold almond milk. (I know her well!)

I also figured she’d need a cute linen to wipe her mouth with. I picked this one up from Anthropologie.

Josh recently bought this bag of coffee from Bows and Arrows and I was stoked to see that it was from Peru. This was actually the first time I’ve tried Peruvian coffee. Since my mom is Peruvian, I thought it would be fitting to buy her a bag.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

Another hobby my mom and I share is ceramics. She took it for years and when I’d call her with my gripes about not being able to center, trim properly, etc., she’d always give me a few tips and pointers that really helped. I buy her fancy ceramics sometimes because I know she loves it so.

I’ve been eyeing Ben Medansky’s ceramics for a very loooong time. I think this pink ceramic mug is pretty cute and perfect for Mother’s Day.

It’s actually so cute that I wish I could keep it for myself.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

And since my mom is the cutest (yours is too), I included a little card from Ashkan.

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

What I love about this basket is that you can make it your own. I splurged a bit but you can definitely find a super cute mug that costs less, coffee from your local coffee shop and good-quality honey from the grocery store. I say make it your own, think about what your mama loves to eat for breakfast. I hope she likes it. I think she will.

(And here’s last year’s Mother’s Day post. My mama really is the best.)

Shopping Resources:

Wooden crate (The one pictured was purchased from Michael’s)
Teak Spoon
Weck 26-ounce Jar
“You’re Cute” Cards
Ben Medansky Mug
Painted Napkin
Jar of Buzzed Honey
Pretty succulent in a pot I painted
Bows and Arrows Coffee
Basket stuffed with raffia (and then I lined with a piece of linen I had)

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Breakfast In a Box | www.acozykitchen.com

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Pie Crust 101

Desserts, DIY, How-To, Pie

Pie Crust 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Pie is my love language. And this week I’ll be serenading you with butter and caramel and fruit. It’s PIE WEEK!

Each day I’ll be bringing you a new pie. Some will be classics with small twists; other’s will be new-to-me (and you, hopefully) combinations.

Thanksgiving is next week and if you’ve worked it right, you’ve got the savory stuff down. You have your turkey reserved and situated. Dessert, though, might still be up in the air. If so, I urge you to make a lil’ pie. What’s great is that all of these pies can be made the night before and then served the next day. They all keep well.

I’ll admit that the first time I made pie, years ago, it was a complete disaster. I blame myself for being a terrible reader of instructions AND pies aren’t “easy as pie.” (That might be the most inaccurate, idiotic idiom I’ve ever heard.)

Pie has its challenges, though it’s definitely not impossible. Hopefully these tips and photos will help make you successful at da pie-a-makin’.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

INGREDIENTS: Freeze your butter. Start with frozen butter. I generally freeze the butter for about an hour or so prior to starting.

Step 1: Possible obvious advice: Careful when measuring out your dry ingredients. I always weigh out my dry ingredients (because I actually find it easier than dirtying up cup measures). If you do use cup measures, make sure to fluff the flour, scoop it and then level it off with a butter knife.

Step 2: Use a box grater to cut up the butter. I find this WAY easier than breaking it up using a pastry cutter. Just shred the frozen butter atop the mixed dry ingredients. The end goal when making pie dough is to get the butter to resemble pea-sized bits; well, if you use a box grater, you’re already there. This makes it so you handle the flour mixture less, which will result in a tender pie crust.

Step 3: The key to good pie crust is everything should be cold, cold, COLD! This includes the water. I usually drop a few ice cubes into the water so the water is chilly.

Step 4: I usually add about 50% of the water I need to the dry ingredients, mix it together, AND then add more water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Knead the dough a good ten times and form it into one cohesive ball. If it’s a bit shaggy, no biggie. When the dough rests in the fridge, the moisture will disburse throughout.

Step 5: This is a double-crust, so I slice it in half and reshape the dough into two discs. You should see the butter striated throughout the dough, creating layers of butter and flour.

Step 6: Let the dough rest. Resting the dough for an hour usually does the trick, but ideally it should be kept overnight. Have you ever had problems with your pie crust shrinking in the oven? This usually happens because there’s too much water in the dough and/or the gluten in the flour hasn’t had enough time to relax. Overnight is always better.

Pie 101 // www.acozykitchen.com

Step 7: Have you ever started rolling, only to find out the pie dough starts to crack on you?! Very frustrating. Allow the dough to sit on a floured work surface for about 10 minutes. This way it’ll shake off its chill, making it easier to roll out.

Step 8: Flour everything. Everything!! Press your rolling pin and roll outward. Give it one push, then rotate the disc a quarter turn, and repeat the process until the pie dough has reached about a 13-inch circle. Keep flouring, too. If the dough seems like it’s sticking to your counter, lift it and sprinkle a little flour underneath.

Step 9: The transfer. I like to do it grandma style by rolling the dough onto the rolling pin and then laying it over my pie pan. Some people like to fold it like a business letter and then transfer it. Both work fine.

Step 10: Trim the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. There will be a bit of shrinkage, so just prepare for it.

Step 11: Crimp, if you like! Or braid it. You can also take a fork and create little indentations. Place the pie pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is also a good time to preheat your oven. If you’re filling it with fruit, do it post-freezer trip.

Supplies:

Here’s what I like and why.

1. Pie Pan – Glass. I like this Pyrex one. I love vintage-y pie pans I find at yard sales, but they heat unevenly and get way too hot. I like that the Pyrex ones are inexpensive and see-through so I can see how the crust is doing.

2. French rolling pin. These are inexpensive, better looking (in my opinion) and way less heavy than the traditional ol’ handle rolling pins.

3. Box grater. See above for my long-winded, very passionate reason why I use a box grater! Another thing that would work is a food processor with the cheese grater attachment. But do we really want to clean a food processor? Not really.

Take the jump for the recipes!

Double Crust

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups 312.5g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon 15g white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon 7g fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 sticks, 226g unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3/4 cups very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they're evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.
  • Add a 1/2 cup of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (I usually need to add 3 to 4 tablespoons). Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. Divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
  • Remove the first disc of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 13-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Add your filling and transfer the pie to freezer while you roll out the second disc of dough.
  • Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the rolling process as you did with the first disc. You have a couple of options, you could simply lay the second rolled out sheet of dough on top, making a few slits with a knife so steam can escape. You can do a lattice. You could even punch out holes or any sort of shape and place it on top. Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash.

Double Crust

Print
Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups 312.5g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon 15g white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon 7g fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 sticks, 226g unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3/4 cups very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they're evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.
  • Add a 1/2 cup of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (I usually need to add 3 to 4 tablespoons). Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. Divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
  • Remove the first disc of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 13-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Add your filling and transfer the pie to freezer while you roll out the second disc of dough.
  • Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the rolling process as you did with the first disc. You have a couple of options, you could simply lay the second rolled out sheet of dough on top, making a few slits with a knife so steam can escape. You can do a lattice. You could even punch out holes or any sort of shape and place it on top. Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash.

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