a favorite meal in our household presents itself in the form of a cheese board. whether escaping the ordinary dinner routine or entertaining guests, this is fun. get a little bit of everything. arrange it on a flat surface. any will do: plate, platter, cutting board, table. make it scrumptious. make it seasonal. let’s dive into how to construct an easy fall-inspired cheese board.
what’s on the grocery list?
the best part of a cheese board is the ability to personalize it. this is the fun part, at least for me. as I wander the grocery store, my excitement grows with each item I toss into the cart. this is when the idea starts to come alive. it’s important to have a list. I’m infamous for returning home without the item that inspired my grocery trip. so, when building a cheese board, craft a general list. these are the categories I go for:
- cheese (minimum: 3)
- chips and/or thin pretzels
- salty (ie. pickles, olives, cherry tomatoes)
- sweet (in my brain, fruit falls into this category. ie. grapes, fruit spread, chocolate)
- frozen appetizer
each item in this fall-inspired cheese board came from the aisles at aldi. it’s one of my favorite places to shop. they have a great selection and always a handful of seasonal gems, like the pumpkin spice pretzels.
this should be fun.
there are no rules to cheese boards. well, there may be somewhere, but I refuse to look for them. in the world I choose to live in, no rules. you can make this as grand or simple as you wish. you can hand-select only items you enjoy. skip the grapes or the olives. have more sweet than salty. include appetizer plates for your guests, or don’t. if we’re all being honest, most of us would prefer to stand only arms length away from the cheese board and happily graze until satisfied.. never touching a plate. or that could just be me. regardless, this should be fun to make + eat. no rules, except you do you.
it’s time to start crafting our fall-inspired cheese board.
how to craft a fall-inspired cheese board
step 1: prepare your surface
I let the season inspire this simple design. to arrange this cheese board, I used the full surface of our dining room table. I just covered it with kraft paper (tip: pick up a roll of kraft paper at the dollar tree for $1). this could be done on a smaller scale, by using a section of counter space or a large cutting board. back to the no rules, I’ve set this up on our coffee table before for a special dinner + a movie night. get creative + have fun with it.
step 2: put the frozen appetizers in the oven
it’s important you know, I have a thing for frozen appetizers. think: jalapeno poppers, toasted ravioli, mozzarella sticks, mac + cheese bites, stuffed mushrooms, spring rolls. you get the idea. they’re ultra convenient + delicious. usually a frozen appetizer will instruct you to bake for 10-30 minutes. while it’s baking, use that time to finish preparing the cheese board.
not into frozen appetizers? you can certainly make your own. I’ve previously made flatbread pizzas, cut into smaller squares, and let that serve as our hot appetizer.
step 3: fill your bowls + ramekins
I used an acorn squash as a bowl. why? because F A L L. I just cut the top off and scooped out the seeds. it was that easy and very much worth the minimal effort. once the acorn squash was transformed into a bowl, I added hummus and a mini cocktail spoon.
other items I put in a dish: olives, pickles, assorted nuts, buffalo cauliflower dip and tortilla chips.
*don’t forget spoons for the dips!
step 4: cut the cheese
I am very far from a cheese expert, but I know my preferences. while shopping, I stick to my favorites and make one “daring” choice. smoked gouda is always included. my daring choice for the fall-inspired cheese board was a pumpkin spice wensleydale cheese.
I opt to cut the hard + medium cheeses into slices for serving, and stick a cheese knife into the soft + crumbly cheeses.
step 5: set out appetizer plates, napkins + toothpicks
I certainly recommend all of these items if you’re entertaining guests. if it’s for a more intimate group (ie. your family), these can be optional.
step 6: label cheeses + dips
this step is more for entertaining. kraft paper makes this step a piece of cake. I simply used a black marker to write what each dip + cheese were. if your cheese board isn’t being served on a surface you can write on, another option would be chalkboard tags. (tip: craft section at the dollar tree). if we’re grazing on a cheese board for dinner, I gather the family and walk them through what’s on the board. (also my little ones cannot read yet, so.. )
step 7: add hot appetizers
carefully grab those hot appetizers out of the oven. arrange on a platter or directly on your surface.
step 8: take a photograph of your creation
this is optional, but highly recommended. your creation deserves some screen time. snap a quick picture before guests arrive or the little ones get their fingers on the pumpkin spice yogurt-covered pretzels ..
step 9: dig in
have fun with the presentation
think of a cheese board as a fun way to present all of your favorite food items. or that’s how we think of it. oftentimes when I construct a cheese board, I let it serve as our main course. when our toddler sees a spread, like this one, he squeals “AHH, it’s my favorite dinner!“. if we’re not entertaining, I withhold the sweet treats until enough “real food” has been consumed.
I thought I’d placed the pumpkin spice yogurt covered pretzels just out of reach from the little ones. sometimes you underestimate the height of your toddler. these sweet pretzels were the first item to run out. thanks to a few tiny fingers + a sweet voice that plead “one more please”.
this should be fun
there are no rules
bring a general shopping list
don’t forget your favorites
this can be an appetizer or an entire meal. it could be inspired by the season or your mood as your browse the grocery aisles. it should be a break from ordinary. it should be fun.