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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


  • 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


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!

Give It To Me Good…Real Good

What’s that old saying? It’s better to give than to receive?  That may be the case, but it’s even better give, and give it real good!

December is upon us!  The dishes have been put away from the Thanksgiving feast, the swelling has gone down in your feet from the hours of Black Friday shopping, and Santa Claus is on his way.  I trust you have had a wonderful time with family and friends and have taken the time to count your blessings and realize all the things for which you have to be thankful!

With Christmas right around the corner, the quest for the perfect gifts is on the minds of all.  However, that quest doesn’t have to lead you to packed out stores and cluttered highways of brake happy drivers.  The Stylish Steed has a great shopping guide for everyone on your list and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home.  Check out these affordable options for those “hard to buy for” friends on your list.



Everyone has that guy on their list…he’s always dapper and dashing and has everything he wants.  Fret not though, and spend not!  These options will be sure to impress your stylish beau, but will not break the bank.Stylish Man Gift

What Salt + Pepper does for your food, Salt + Dapper does for your man.  Add these seasonings to your stylish man for $15 or less.  Salt + Dapper is an awesome company with a huge selection of items that are perfect gift options.  Whether it’s a replaceable watch band, a colorful tie bar, or the ever popular lapel flower, these eye catching items will definitely please the picky man in your life.


Call her a diva, call her dramatic, call her a slave to fashion…regardless the label, she’s on your list this year!  Even though she may be difficult to buy for, these fashion forward items will be perfect for your friend with the flair.

Fashionista Gift Guide

Whether it’s pops of color with Mary Kay’s Nail Lacquer Trio, stackable TOMS bracelets from Target, or a funky, printed pouch from Luru Home you are sure to maintain the Best Friend status with any of these options all under $15.


Gadget galore and all the new toys.  If you’ve got a friend who is always talking techie to you, these are the perfect ideas!Tech Friend Gift

All these items from J. Crew will be sure to satisfy the techiest of friends.  With a personalized leather phone case, a silicon speaker amplifier, or the wooden phone stand, these gifts are sleek and savvy and priced to please at $40 or less.


Every party has a planner and they love to have unique things at their events.  If you have a friend who is always extending an invitation to party at their place, these gift ideas are the perfect match.

Entertainer Gift Ideas

Choose one these items and you’ll secure the top spot on the guest list for this party planner pal.  Help create a signature drink with these nontraditional drink mixes from William-Sonoma, add flavor to some dishes with Stonehouse‘s infused olive oil gift set, or create the ultimate party scene with a set of six of Clinton Kelly’s Effortless Table dessert plates.  Any of these eye catching items can be yours for $30 or less.

Feeling relieved, stylish ones?  I hope this gift guide has removed some holiday stress.  Wipe your brow, pour yourself a beverage, and hit these websites to find some fantastic (and affordable) gifts for those difficult people on your list.  So here’s to the first of many “Merry Christmas” greetings from The Stylish Steed.  I hope you are as excited as I am about the Christmas season.  Here’s to another season of joy and wonder!  Stay Stylish!