Fancy in 5 Steps! 🥂 Charcuterie Board

The inspiration for this came from a 3 and 6-year-old. We were to host a small, casual gathering and we sought to satisfy everyone without killing ourselves. Aha! A charcuterie board is like fancy buffet but far simpler to build. We used two cutting boards that Mr. Chef made, but you don’t need custom end-grain cutting boards to accomplish this festival of food. The cutting board could come from IKEA, or use serving tray. Have a bit of fun with your imagination and what you already have in your cabinets. Presto!

In hosting, as in life, we prefer balance and elegant simplicity, and fun with perhaps a *sprinkle* of fancy. It’s okay to throw something together and even bring in a bit of whimsy.

Classic” and “chill” were the words we chose to foster while hosting a small gathering recently. So when we were pondering what to serve, the idea of having a variety and simple foods- a smorgasbord- stood out. Call it that, a Hungarian cold plate or “Hidegál”, or, because it sounds so nice to say, charcuterie board (the way we like to remember to pronounce it: “shar(k)-coo-ter-ee”; say it fast enough and the “k” glides you right through the word). Other reasons we love this:

Unstuffy – at its heart, a charcuterie board is very finger-friendly and is even great for kids

Healthy – we went mostly for organic produce & gluten-free items but also had quality meat products for omnivorous types.

Visually appealing – because we all ‘eat’ with our eyes first, we really wanted to provide a cheery, colorful palette of foods from which to choose

The Steps

  1. Think about your guests – do they have dietary restrictions or allergies? Food preferences? Will children be present?
  2. Plan your board(s) – think of food groups (healthier versions of fat, protein, carbohydates) and accessories (dips that go well with chips, carrots, and celery for example). This helps provide a balanced and light meal. Bonus: make a ‘rainbow’. Get creative and perhaps offer a fruit and vegetable option for each color – such as orange bell peppers and orange slices.
  3. Go shopping and prep the produce. Here are some items you might want for your custom board(s): vegetables (bell pepper, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes), fruits (orange and apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes – dried fruit is also an option!), cheeses, deli meats (salami, turkey, ham or chicken), crackers and/or bread, dips (hummus, Ranch, herb-infused olive oil), olives, pickles, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), chips, and chocolate.
  4. Decorate your boards! Use little bowls for dips, dishes or plates, cutting boards, and utensils to design a beautiful, curated offering to your guests.
  5. Relax, eat and enjoy!

Recipe: 8-ingredient Quinoa Salad

8ingredientquinoasalad

We initially debuted this 8-ingredient Quinoa Salad during National Vegetarian Month on 10TV with Valencia Wicker and Ross Caruso – watch here if you’d like. This dish is quick, delicious as well as gluten- and dairy-free! Enjoy!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
8 servings

Ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

Brassica: A Blissful Bounty

20160409_153209(1)

Good news. We’ve found the location of culinary heaven. Its address is 680 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215.

Welcome to the restaurant Brassica. The mere word brings to mind the amazing dish pictured above and feelings of pure bliss.

For those of you who don’t live in Columbus, we couldn’t feel sorrier for you. Goodness knows when a Brassica could come to your location. In the meantime, you’ll likely want to save your pennies for a bus, train, plane, or teleportation device to bring you to our newest mecca of tongue-tingling and nutritious food.

It was somewhat of a surprise to find out that it’s related to Northstar but, happily, the menu here is more varied. In a Chipotle-style assembly line, you start with a choice between a pita sandwich, hummus plate, or salad (we chose the salad). Then you choose your protein – brisket, falafel, hummus – and begin the move down the line as staffers ask if you’d like crispy onions, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and more. Yes, yes, and yes in our case.

Sitting down, the first step was eating the meal with our eyes – isn’t it colorful and gorgeous? Then we took a bite (see the hummus and carrots) before we remembered to take the photo. The first bite was so deliciously promising for what awaited us. Hummus with a hint of garlic, plenty of shredded greens, the best brisket ever, beets, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and carrots. Oh, and the fried onions on top took the dish to the next level.

As with most meals, if you’re super-hungry, you can expect to finish the dish and feel full; this could also easily be portioned into two meals.

With the cost of the meal ranging from about $7.50 to 11.50, you (and a dining partner) can enjoy a high-quality meal for under $30.

Truthfully, it’s an out-of-the-park hit in our book. Outside of some favorite high-end restaurants, this is a new love. Visiting four times in two weeks might seem like a bit excessive, but once you go, you’ll likely be doing the same.

See you there!

Nori Veggie Wraps

nori veggie wrap obw credit

We are about to blow your minds: nori isn’t just for making sushi. In fact this seaweed can be used to make what is arguably one of the best wraps. Ever. Someone here loves this so much she ate it for lunch every single day last week and then again today. There is something about the blending of all these flavors and yet still being able to taste them separately that drives our taste buds wild. Hopefully it does the same for you.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4  (or two hungry people)

Ingredients
4 sheets of dried nori (typically found in the ethnic section of the grocery, or pick some up at your local Asian market)
4 big romaine or red leaf lettuce leaves
1.5 cups mung bean sprouts (we advise against canned; go for the fresh ones- we found some at Raisin Rack)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 radishes, sliced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cucumber sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup peanuts (optional)
Dressing:
2 Tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce, or use regular if you’re not gluten-sensitive)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp toasted sesame seed oil

Instructions

20150707_151912

Chop all your veggies. Put each leaf of lettuce on a place and place nori sheet on top before filling with all the vegetables listed. For your dressing, mix the tamari, apple cider vineger, and toasted sesame seed oil all together in a small container and then pour over each open-faced veggie pile. Keep as-is to eat or roll up into a wrap. Caution: it’s a bit messy (mainly because we were devouring it) so keep a napkin or paper towel handy.

20150707_152047

This is before we put even more veggies in!

On-the-Go: Healthy Snacks

snacks

photo source: iron-kids.com

We know snacking can be difficult at times because of the challenge in figuring out what to eat, how much, and when to snack. Going overboard and reaching for the wrong type of snack is common. Snacks can be essential in keeping blood sugar stable between meals; the key is eating the right ones. Keep your upcoming week’s activities in mind while you plan out your snacks; this will keep you on track and from grabbing the easy choice of pre-packaged foods. Healthy snacks can be delicious and fun way to play with your food. Instead of reaching for convenience snacks like chips, crackers, cookies, and other foods filled with preservatives, go for fresh foods like fruits and vegetables. Get creative with your snacks and try these ideas! Go-to healthy snacks:

  • 1 apple with nut butter
  • Carrot sticks, celery, and radishes with hummus
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • 1 serving of mixed nuts or trail mix
  • Homemade energy bars