The Anatomy of a Cheese Plate

Entertaining is always fun and exciting. There’s nothing like hosting a festive evening at your home with food and friends in abundance. However, in spite of all the fun and excitement, hosting can be taxing…if you let it. Fear not! By understanding the simple anatomy of a cheese plate, you can turn a chore into child’s play.

I recently hosted some friends at my house for a little post-holiday get together. Having no desire to spend hours in the kitchen preparing heavy hors d’oeuvres, I opted for a quick trip to the market for some simple items to construct an impressive spread of a cheese plate.

Anatomy of a Cheese Plate

By gathering a few high flavor items, you can gracefully build an appetizing array of goodness that will keep your guests snacking all evening.  For the perfect cheese plate you’ll need:

  • The Vehicle – Whether a cheese board, a piece of slate, or a custom piece like I have pictured above, your vehicle should be large enough to house all your stackable sensations.
  • The Cheese – Most definitely the star of the show, you should always be mindful of flavors that will marry well with your other items.  When it comes to cheese, you often get what you pay for.  I opted for a mild brie that would provide a building block for flavor and an aged cheddar with a whiskey soaked rind that was full of flavor and sharpness.
  • Something Sweet – A perfect pairing with robust flavors like cheese is the natural sweetness of fruit.  Whether you want tartness with a Granny Smith Apple, subtle sweetness with orange slices, or vibrancy with plump grapes, fruit is always the perfect addition to your plate.  An alternative item, and quite the conversation piece, is natural honeycomb.  Pictured above in a separate dish, I chose to add another layer of sweetness with Savannah Bee Company’s Raw Honeycomb.  This honeycomb creates a perfect bite when coupled with a tart apple slice.
  • Something Crunchy – With all the sweetness and soft textures on the plate, provide your guests with some crunch by introducing something as elementary as nuts.  The salty, crunchy combination will create a nice bite for your party goers to snack upon.
  • Foundations – Not the star of the show, but definitely a huge supporting character.  There are a number of items that you can choose for your guests to build upon.  I simply used a heavy grain cracker and sliced french bread.

cheese tray 4

cheese tray2

cheese tray1

Entertaining made easy!  An impressive cheese plate with intense flavor combinations is sure to impress your guests while providing you with a stress free evening.  Take the plunge and gather your friends together for a cheesy evening.  A presentation like the one pictured above is a definite way for you to stay stylish!

The Guest With The Best

Tis the season to be jolly.  And party!

With the Christmas season in full swing, I am sure you have a list of parties and events to attend.  If you’ve ever hosted a party then you know how involved it can become.  As you make arrangements to attend the many holiday festivities on your calendar, make sure that you don’t show up empty handed.  In my opinion, showing up to a party without a hostess gift is like showing up to a potluck with brown and serve rolls…still in the pack.

Your friend or family member has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare an evening of fun and excitement with food and drinks aplenty.  Take this time to be the guest with the best and bring a token of gratitude to your host with the most.

Now I’m sure your host/hostess would love another oddly scented candle to add to their closeted collection, but let’s be a little more creative.  I have some great options for you that won’t break the bank, but will definitely get you on Santa’s nice list.  You are sure to be a hit and no one will ever guess that you’ve spent less than $20!

FOR YOUR “BOOZING” BUDDY

If you have that friend who is always showcasing new drinks and loves a glass of wine now and then, consider bringing a great bottle of wine in a creative display.

Faux Fur Wine Bag World Market has an impressive and inexpensive item that is the perfect gift to help make spirits bright.  This Faux Fur Wine Bag is a steal and would be a beautiful presentation of your planner’s favorite wine.

FOR YOUR “CHEESY” CHUM

Maybe they aren’t cheesy, but they do love a good fruit and cheese platter.  If your festive friend loves creative ways to display food and is known for a good spread, consider something functional for them to use at future parties.

Slate Cheese Board

This Slate Cheese Board is a fantastic way to display and label your tasty treats.  With stone chalk included, this ingenious board can be wiped clean and reused again and again.

FOR YOUR “OLD SOUL” SERVER

It’s no secret that I am a lover of all things vintage.  If you have a friend like me who loves the antiques, consider a hosting gift that taps into their obsession with the oldies while still providing them functional use.

Vintage Style Serving Pieces

With old world charm and classic elegance, these Vintage-Style Pie Servers will serve up more than just a slice of pie.  This set of 2 servers will be the perfect pairing for your old soul, baking buddy.

FOR YOUR “CUP PATROL” CRONY

We all have them, we just call them different names.  Whether your merry mate is anal, OCD, a neat freak, or just plain controlling, this is a practical and personalized gift that is sure to please.

Jute Coasters

Beyonce may want a ring on it, but if your host sure doesn’t.  To help your crony keep the circles off the coffee table, these Monogrammed Jute Coasters (set of 6) will be just what the doctor ordered…and maybe a prescription of Xanax to take the edge off.

FOR YOUR “CAFFEINATED” COMRADE

Hi, my name is Chad and I am addicted to coffee.  If your high-strung holiday planner is like me and loves a good cup of Joe, gift them something to enable their addiction.

Geo Star Coffee Mugs

This box set of 4 Geo Star Print Mugs are the ideal addition to your java loving friend’s collection.  Not only would these festive colors add excitement during the holidays, but could easily be used throughout the year.

From one end of the spectrum to the other, our party planning friends should be appreciated for gathering the group together for holiday cheer.  As you prep for your upcoming parties, think outside the box and show a little love to the one who started it all.  Hopefully these ideas have sparked your creativity and will make you the guest with the best.  Eat, drink, and stay stylish!

Some Like It Haute

Winter activities and holiday festivities are in full swing!  During this chilly time of the year there are always fun events happening around every turn.  Whether you’re out for an old fashion evening of caroling or taking a spin around an outdoor ice skating rink, you have every opportunity to encounter Old Jack Frost.  After a fun outdoor outing, it is a necessity to have a winter warm up beverage.  It’s easy to head around the corner to a coffee shop for a seasonal treat, but why not turn this need for warmth into a party at your place by inviting your cronies over for a hot beverage that is sure to help them thaw out from the winter winds.

TSS Haute Chocolate Mix

This foolproof recipe makes a rich and robust Haute Chocolate Mix that is perfect for entertaining or to bag up, as pictured above, for party favors/office gifts.  This recipe is one that my mother has made from time to time and always hits the spot.  You can even turn it into a little Haute Toddy for the adults by adding something subtle like Kahlua.

Haute Chocolate Mix

  • 10 cups Powdered Milk
  • 1 large container of Cremora
  • 1 large container of Nestle Quik
  • 1 cup Powered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa

Mix together.
To serve, fill cup 1/2 full with powdered mixture and add boiling water.

Words cannot express how much I love this Haute Chocolate.  There is such a full body flavor, with an indescribable sweetness that completely evokes the feeling of lounging fireside in a rustic lodge nestled among the snow capped mountains.  Aside from being utterly amazing, this is also a budget friendly mixture to have around the house for guests or to divide up among friends, family, and coworkers.

So instead of drinking out, gather the group at your house for some games, gossip, and cup of greatness.  Having friends over for the holidays doesn’t have to be elaborate and stressful.  Toss some cookies in the oven and bring the water to boil and you are set to combat the cold while you stay stylish!

Take a Bite out of Christmas

There is truly something magical about Christmas!

As I drive down Main Street in my small town and see the twinkling lights adorning the lamp posts; as I stroll past the North Pole displays in the mall centered around Jolly Old Saint Nick; as I watch yet another Lifetime Holiday movie “for the first time;” as I read the words of my amazing god-daughter’s letter to Santa asking him to give all her gifts to kids that don’t have anything for Christmas…all of these things bring the magic of Christmas alive in my heart. This magic so easily takes me back to my childhood. It seems like only yesterday that I tossed and turned in bed on Christmas Eve, hoping that Santa hadn’t forgotten something on my list. It was just a mere moment ago that I awakened to the smell of sausage balls, country ham, and breakfast casserole (the Steed’s really love pork!) on Christmas morning.

Nostalgia! I could wander down Memory Lane for hours, but that wouldn’t get this blog post completed.   I say all that about the magic of being a child at Christmas to introduce you to an amazing holiday goodie. It is not Christmas until the Steed kitchen has a batch of Tiny Christmas Bites on display for continual snacking.  I proudly present to you The Stylish Steed’s favorite childhood Christmas treat.

TSS Tiny Christmas Bites Title

Christmas can officially begin!  This recipe, handwritten and folded on notebook paper, is tucked away in a ragged cookbook at my parents house.  The amazing mouthfuls of Christmas are super easy to make and I highly suggest you whip up a batch…like, this weekend!

TSS Tiny Christmas Bites Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 14 oz. shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries, chopped (I prefer 1/4 cup red and 1/4 green just to be festive)
  • 1/2 cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325*.  Mix together butter and graham cracker crumbs.  Add sweetened condensed milk and remaining ingredients, stirring to blend.  Drop by 1 tablespoon scoops into paper lined miniature muffin pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool.

Yields 6 dozen (those will last about two days…if you practice self-control)

TSS Tiny Christmas Bites Cooling Rack

Think of a modern twist on a Christmas fruitcake.  These tasty bites are the perfect combination of gooey inside and crispy outside.  I could talk forever about these, but you don’t have time to read…you have to get to the grocery store for dates and candied cherries and pineapples because I know you don’t have any at home.  I don’t really think those are staple pantry items for most of humanity.

As we enter this 6th day of December, I hope you are already feeling the Christmas spirit and are looking forward to cherished time with friends and family.  If you are planning for another stylish Christmas, these Tiny Christmas Bites are the perfect addition to any gathering throughout the season.  As you deck the halls, don your stylish holiday apparel, and take to walking in a winter wonderland, don’t forget a tasty treat along the way.  I hope these evoke feelings and memories of the magic of Christmas for you as well!  Merry Christmas and stay stylish!

Who Needs a Bootie Call?

Jack Frost is officially here for an extended stay.  As we enter December, we know the chills are coming and the temperatures will be diving.  As our wardrobe changes to accommodate the chill in the air, we oftentimes branch out with a new shoe wardrobe as well.  The coming months will afford a lot of activities that will bring out the best in our attire.  In hopes of always putting our best foot forward, I felt the need for a bootie call!

Dressy to masculine, sophisticated to simple…boots are here to stay for a while and there are always so many options from which to choose.  Let’s explore some of my top picks!

The Casual Boot

The casual boot is perfect for most outings because they pair great with denim, chinos, or cords.  Here are some of my favorite casual styles, and most of these are less than $40.

Casual Boot Collage

1.  The Ankle Bootie from Aldo Kaowia – These chic and fun booties are very versatile and would integrate into your life seamlessly.  Kick it for a night out on the town or strut through the mall on a Saturday shopping day.
2.  The Two Tone Riding Boot - These tall riding boots with the thoughtful hardware detail are great to go with a multitude of outfits.  Working with both brown and black, you can utilize these all season long.
3.  The Lace Up Combat Boot – I love the look of these boots!  The streamlined design with rugged details makes these boots the perfect pair for a skinny jean and just about any style top.
4.  The York Riding Boot – This simple and traditional look is the staple riding boot for you.  Available in wide calf sizes this boot is the perfect fit for any woman on the go.

The Shooties and Booties

I love this little footwear hybrid.  I feel like these pieces of fantastic footwear are a must have for every woman.  Some ladies don’t have the height for the tall riding boots, but any stature can strut their stuff in these.

Shooties and Booties Collage

1.  Faux Suede High Heel Bootie – With an asymmetrical cut, these booties are sure to catch an eye.  Whether you’re pairing them with a dress or jeans, these high stepping hybrids (available in black and navy) are perfect for you!
2.  The Strappy Heeled Booties – These effortlessly chic booties are practical and perfect for all your footwear needs.  With a side zip and clever hardware, these pair perfectly with an ensemble.
3.  Lace Up Wedge Bootie – Step it up in style with these powerful wedges.  A touch of masculinity with the oxford style, these casual wedge heel adds sophistication to any outfit.
4.  Low Tilda Welt Bootie – Sassy is the name of the game with these red hot booties.  Also available in black and cobalt, these are definitely a statement piece.  A perfect touch to an upcoming holiday party.

The Dress Boot

Boots to work are not just for Vivian Ward chasing after Edward Lewis on Hollywood Blvd.  Designers have really picked up their game in presenting some great boots for those dressier outfits.

Dress Boot Collage

1.  Black Leather Quilted Bootie – These sleek and sophisticated quilted booties would be a great addition to a power suit or pencil skirt in the board room.  With just enough heel to give some sass, they are still conservative enough to be appropriate.
2.  Leather Equinox Bootie – Carlos Santana hit it out of the park with this one.  The flattering asymmetrical lines create a polished, yet sexy look.  Pair these with a great dress or a tailored trouser and you are set.
3.  Nine West Appleye Bootie – Smooth and polished in black suede, this peek-toe bootie is trimmed in leather.  A touch of class, with a slight edge makes this unique bootie a necessity for a black skirt or slim fitting trouser.
4.  Crown Vintage Tall Boot – I’m not always a fan of a tall boot in a dressy occasion, but something about these worked for me.  Maybe it was the button detail, the low profile heel, or the camel color…whatever it was, it had me at first glance.  These feminine tall boots are the perfect pair to wear from day to night.


Short or tall, open or closed, sleek or detailed…there’s a boot for everyone.  Make sure you are equipped with some of this season’s most desired footwear.  Don’t be afraid to invest in a good pair.  I don’t see these beauties going anywhere for a while.  Get a quality pair that will last you for a while and you’ll never regret it.  Answer that phone, ladies…it may be a bootie call!  It is, after all, that time of year!  Stay stylish!