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Cheese

How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Board

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

How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Board

Today I am doing the very difficult and labor-intensive work to tell you How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Board!

I’m not trying to brag but I have been invited to two holiday parties already and we haven’t the true Holiday season. This is going to be a very fun time 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.

Let’s dive in:

How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Plate!

Pick your cheeses: Harvarti, Gouda, Alpine (gruyére) – I cubed up Havarti and Gouda for easy consumption. I am all for keeping cheese in their wedge-form but it’s also great to cube up easy-to-eat cheese like these. This way people can use a toothpick and keep it moving.

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Delicata Squash Ricotta Baked Shells

Dinner, Fall, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian

I’m currently sipping tea, attempting to heal my sore throat that is feeling all raspy and weary. On Saturday night I went to Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Studios and screamed like the gigantic baby that I am.

Why is that we know it’s fake but believe it’s real. Lol. Our brains are so complicated.

Monsters and gremlins jumping out at me really drained my energy too because I’m currently a lil’ bit exhausted. Luckily I healed my self with a big Cinnabon cinnamon roll and a batch full of shells I had waiting for me in the freezer.

Let’s talk about shells today. Beautiful, big, glorious shells. I honestly have no idea why I don’t make them more. Whenever I make them,I’m like, why don’t I do this needs to be on a weekly rotation.

They’re also an amazing thing to gift. If you have someone in your life who is having a surgery, is sick, having a baby, etc., this is a great thing to drop off their house. They will love you forever.

You can also make this batch and eat half and freeze half.

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Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

Dinner, Sandwiches, Snacks, Vegetarian

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

As you may know, I’m what the world considers a grilled cheese enthusiast. I’m not sure there’s another sandwich that can make me feel all the feelings of warmth, comfort and just plain ol’ fun. For this post, I teamed up with Tillamook, the farmer-owned Co-Op from Oregon, to inspire you to create your own all natural, veggie-filled, gooey, delicious sandwiches perfect for a spring party with friends. Every single party in life should have a Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar. HELLO! This is the definition of comforting fun!

Spring is finally here, which means all of my favorite farmer’s market vegetables are back in season. I always miss them in winter. Winter veggies aren’t my favorite, but spring? YASS! These grilled cheeses aren’t difficult to execute, no, not at all, but like anything simple, the amazingness is in the details. This means paying attention to each and every ingredient carefully.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

We’ll start with the most important part: da cheese. Tillamook cheese is naturally aged, made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones and contains no artificial ingredients. This is the real deal when it comes to cheese. Tillamook has actually been making cheese for over 100 years! I vote for giving people a few options. I went with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar (a classic), Tillamook Pepper Jack (for the people who love spicy a.k.a. me), Smoked Medium Cheddar and lastly, Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar (my favorite).

Also, don’t be shy to mix and match them. My favorite combo was sharp cheddar with the smoked black pepper cheddar—it was glorious!

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Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake with Goat Cheese

Desserts

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

No one, and I mean no one, loves cheesecake more than my dad. I have no idea why because the man doesn’t even like cheese. WHA!! Yes, I know. He doesn’t like cheese. It’s the oddest thing in the entire world, but his favorite dessert of them all—and he loves mostly everything sweet—is cheesecake.

He’s extremely critical about cheesecake because he eats a lot of it. As I was recipe testing this here cheesecake, I’d send him photos throughout the process and he’d remark skeptically, giving his harsh criticisms and recommendations. Mostly I think it’s just funny that he takes cheesecake so seriously.

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

I’m not sure how this will live up to my dad’s cheesecake expectations, but I loved it. It’s perfectly tart; the texture is smooth; and the chocolate crust gives it a nice decadent element. The marble topping is kinda pretty, quickly making it the favorite at a holiday dessert table…or, to you know, eat by yourself by the Christmas tree. And while marbling anything may seem a bit difficult, it’s actually pretty easy.

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

The one thing I hate about making cheesecake is a using a damn springform pan. They’re insanely frustrating, flawed in how their made. Most of them leak, which means, water comes in when you bake it in a water bath. The solution to this for many, is baking a cheesecake in a cake pan. With this though, because of the pretty top, I needed to use a spring form pan (I had one anyway). The solution was to wrap the entire bottom in a few sheets of foil. No water seeping through!

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

One thing I learned about marbling is this: if you want tighter swirls, use a smaller skewer to swirl the cranberry sauce around. If you want bigger swirls (I did), use a larger skewer and get messy with it. I promise it’ll look pretty regardless.

And that’s really it!

My dad is making this recipe this weekend. Hopefully he’ll leave a comment with the results.

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake | www.acozykitchen.com

Marbled Cranberry Cheesecake with Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serving Size: 1 nine-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

  • *1 1/4 cups, about 16 cookies chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, from about 1/2 naval orange
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dump the crust mixture into a nine-inch (10-cup) springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly. Transfer to the oven to bake for 8 minutes (unfortunately since the crumbs are so dark you can’t really tell when they’ve toasted so it’s important to pay attention to the clock). Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a few sheets of foil and set aside.
  • To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, using a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and goat cheese. Whip until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, mix in the sugar. With the machine one, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly, mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
  • In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, white granulated sugar, water, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries become soft. Press the cranberries with a back of a spoon or spatula and cook for an additional minute until they’re softened. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to release any excess juice. The mixture should resemble a loose jam—it’ll thicken as it cools. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. (If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, then no biggie, just transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout—it’ll be easier to pour.)
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Make sure it reaches the edge of the pan. Make little dollops of cranberry sauce all over the surface of the cream cheese. Take a skewer or popsicle stick and run it through the dollops creating a marbling effect. Make it as messy or neat as you like. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan, or another pan that’s as big. Transfer to the rack of the oven and fill up the roasting pan with about 2 inches of water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it looks set, yet it’s still a bit wobbly in the center. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and then place it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. (I let it set overnight.) Slice it up and serve.

Notes

*I used Nabisco famous chocolate wafers, found at most grocery stores. I blitzed them in a food processor until totally crumby.
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