Waffled Summer Fruit Bruschetta Pitas

This is seriously such an amazing breakfast. It’s like a peanut butter and jelly, but super fancy. It’s also a great way to use up fruit. I made a peach puree for some sorbet I made, so I chopped up skins I had and tossed them in for some texture. you don’t have to use the waffle iron if you don’t want to, but I highly recommend doing so (see tips if you don’t have one). The edges get crunchy, the blueberries get warm and pop in your mouth, and the whole thing feels like a warm hug. You’ll be tempted to eat all the fruit bruschetta by itself, but don’t worry this recipe does make some extra.

Ingredients:

blueberry cashew butter (follows)

fruit bruschetta (follows)

pita pockets (store bought, but possibly recipe to come?)

Preheat waffle iron. Open half of pita and use a butter knife to spread a thick layer of cashew butter. Add a generous portion of fruit bruschetta. Pinch open edges of pita together to seal. Place pocket in waffle iron for 1-2 mins. Enjoy warm with jam, cinnamon, whipped coconut cream, or all by itself!!

Blueberry Cashew Butter:

1/2 c cashews

1/4 c blueberries

1/2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

splash of almond milk

Boil cashews until fork tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and place in blender with all other ingredients. Set aside.

Fruit Bruschetta

1/2 c finely diced peaches

1/2 c blueberries

2 tbsp lime juice

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

1 heaping tsp vanilla extract

Mix lime juice, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl until combined. Combine peaches and blueberries in a large bowl. Add liquid mixture and coat.

Tips/ Things I would Change:

  • Feel free to use any nut butter you have, especially if short on time
  • You can also customize the fruit based on what season it is, I think bananas, apples, cinnamon, and peanut butter would be a great combo for fall
  • If you don’t have a waffle iron, you could use a panini press, toaster, or just a hot pan pressing down with a spatula

Sweet Grits Cornbread

I was making a jalapeño chili last Sunday, so of course I had an extreme craving for cornbread. Unfortunately, with the last minute timing and danger involved with going to the grocery store, we were lacking a key ingredient: cornmeal. We did, however, have grits, which are essentially the same thing. This cornbread is light, sweet, and did a great job at breaking up the spice of my chili. I actually ended up eating more cornbread then I did chili, oops. The grits actually add a unique flavor addition that I really liked. The bread would also go great with barbecue, as a dinner roll, or by itself with some vegan butter (you’ll have a hard time not finishing the entire loaf with this one).

Ingredients:

2 c Ground Grits/ White Cornmeal + more for lining (simply place grits in a blender until fine)

1 c AP flour

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 c almond milk

4 tbsp vinegar (I used white, but apple cider/lemon juice would work, too)

3 tbsp melted vegan butter

shortening to coat pan

Mix almond milk with vinegar and let sit.Preheat oven to 375. Line loaf pan with shortening. Place about a tablespoon of ground grits and cover edges of pan, tapping out excess. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add almond milk mixture followed by melted butter and stir until just combined. Pour into pan and let sit in pan for 10 minutes. Bake for 40 minutes, or until edges become golden and toothpick comes out clean (will look a little lighter than you may be used to).

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • This is the one time I would not recommend substituting vegan butter for coconut oil. I really don’t think it would provide the same depth of flavor, but if you’re really shorthanded, go for it.
  • I would decrease the amount of sugar if you don’t like your cornbread really sweet
  • I may try using maple syrup for a switch up at some point

Smash Cookies

Everyone has an ideal chocolate chip cookie. My mom likes a crunchy cookie, I like my cookies underdone, my Nana loved a crumbly cookie, and my friend Veronica likes a chocolate loaded cookie. My friends Alexia and Amanda like any cookie of any type at any time. So, I got creative for them and made these extra special Chocolate Chip Cookies. It’s a strange method of cooking from the Vanilla Bean Baking Book, but the result is a HUGE thin cookie with a soft, chewy center, and crunchy edges. As they sit, the whole cookie becomes crunchy. We were not at all disappointed.

2 c AP flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 c vegan butter/ coconut oil

1 1/2 c sugar

1/4 c brown sugar

1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water mixed

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp water

6 oz chocolate (chopped/chips- I like chopped (2 standard bars))

Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 baking sheets w/ tinfoil, shiny side down. Beat butter in a stand mixer with a paddle for 2 mins and starting to look fluffy. Add sugars and beat for 2 more minutes. Add flax mixture and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add water until combined. Stir in dry mixture. Fold in chocolate. Make 10 heaping 1/3 c globs (100 g) of dough, placing 3-4 spaced apart on each tray. Place trays in freezer for at least 15 minutes. Take one out at a time and bake on middle rack for 10 mins. Take a pan/another baking sheet and press the cookies down flat. Place back in the oven and bake for 2 more mins. Take out and flatten again. Repeat 3-4 times until the edges are browned and the center looks a tad underdone. Cool on pan on a wire rack for 10 mins. Or don’t, I don’t judge.

Tips/ Things I Would Change:

  • Don’t bake on bottom rack- I did this to save time and the result was a burnt mess.
  • If you don’t have 3 baking trays or room in your freezer, just put all the dough globs on paper plates and place on tray once ready to bake a new round.
  • Don’t change the size of the cookies, it will completely mess up the texture of the cookie.
  • I would try with rainbow sprinkles and Oreos because I think it would be pretty and delicious.

How to Save a REALLY Messed Up Recipe

I mess up recipes. A lot. I get distracted and miss steps, I forget things are on the stove/oven, I forget ingredients, and I read numbers wrong all the time. I also HATE wasting food and time. My parents know I will do anything to save a recipe, and not have to throw food away. So, I have developed some pretty foolproof ways to almost never have to abandon a recipe. I’m sure I’ll think of more over time, so leave a comment if you think I should make a part 2. The photo above shows a dessert that was originally a really greasy batch of shortbread cookies. I crushed the cookies up, added some blended cashews, baking powder, powdered sugar, and flour, and placed them in the oven in a casserole dish topped with some jam. I got a blondie-like dessert that was not bad at all. Not all of these solutions are that elaborate, but it proves you can save some pretty messed up creations with a little creativity.

Cookies:

Too Much Oil/Butter:

This is what happened to a batch of shortbread cookies that lead to the creation above. There is nothing worst than a greasy cookie. It may seem like already baked cookies can’t be saved, but if you crush them up with some store bought cookies/waffle cones/crackers and press them into a pie dish, you can bake them too make a great crust for a pie/tart.

Too dry:

You can use a similar method to when there’s too much oil, but this time add a fat of your choice (I recommend coconut oil or vegan butter). You can also crush them over ice cream, pudding, or yogurt for a quick treat.

Pies:

Crust Mishap:

Assuming the filling is still good, take it out. If it’s not baked all the way, place it in a baking dish and finish baking it alone. There is no need to waste good filling, it is the best part, anyway. If you’re really crunched for time, serve this with ice cream or cookies (even bits of pie crust if some are salvageable), and everyone will be more than happy. If you have more time to spare, you can crush up some store bought cookies/graham crackers with coconut oil, and press that into a pie dish. Scoop the filling in and your pie is good as new.

Filling too sweet:

If you are lucky enough to catch it before you bake, just double the recipe. Even if you only have one pie crust, people will eat leftover filling by itself if you bake it in a casserole dish, trust me (especially warm with ice cream). If this is not an option, add an acid, like lemon juice and see the misc section for more general tips.

Cake:

Too Dry:

Crumble the cake and fold in whatever frosting you were going to use so that you have a moist “dough”. Make as many golf ball size rounds as you have dough. Melt some chocolate/candy melts and dip each ball to coat (if you have popsicle/cake pop sticks insert one in each). Feel free to top with sprinkles/crushed cookies/crumbled cake. Let cool in the fridge to harden. Now, you have cake pops/munchkins that are great for parties.

Too Wet:

Ironically, you can use the same method here as I mentioned for the too dry cake. Depending on how wet we are talking, you can just crumple the cake, skipping the frosting, and just roll up the balls and coat. If you need to add a little icing, go for it. If it’s really too wet, you can add some crumpled store bought cookies to soak up some of the moisture before rolling the balls.

Falls Apart:

You have some options here. See the not visually pleasing section below for one option. You can also go for the cake pop idea found in the too dry cake section (This is a good option if the cake falls apart after it’s already been frosted). If only a chunk or so falls off, you can still save the cake shape by using frosting to glue it back together. Another option is to take the cake layer and use a cookie cutter to make small cake shapes. You can frost these individual creations if the classic cake shape really isn’t working out.

Unevenly Baked:

This usually comes in the form of the edges of the cake are burnt, but the middle is fine. If the middle is underdone, bake until it’s not. Once that is done, simply take the cake out as you normally would. If the edges are really stuck on there, just cut out the part you can. If you can, cut a circle that misses any of the burnt edges, and just make it a smaller cake. If that’s not an option, just crumple up what you can and try one of the tips above.

Misc.:

Too Bland:

This depends on the dessert, but the rule of thumb is simple: add something with a lot of flavor. If your cookies lack flavor, scoop some frosting or ice cream in the middle and make a sandwich. If your cake is bland, use a really flavorful filling. Things like jam, caramel, or sweetened condensed coconut milk are good for this, since they really seep into the cake, giving it flavor. Adding a drizzle of icing or peanut butter is also always a good option.

Too sweet:

Using the same logic as above, adding something bland with something too sweet can balance it out a little. An overly sweet cake or cookie would not do well paired with frosting. For cakes, using an unsweetened nut butter, tart fresh fruit, or a really dark chocolate can break up the flavor a bit. can help break the sugar up a bit. Cookies you can crumble as a topping for something with a little less flavor,

Not Visually Pleasing:

A lot of the times, my best advice for this is to just go with it. Nowadays “rustic” looking desserts are in, as long as they are decadent and delicious. A good rule of thumb is to crumble a dessert up and serve it with ice cream in cute individual dishes, and trust me, no one will question it while they’re stuffing their faces. Adding a drizzle or whipped cream can also cover minor imperfections.

Some good fails:

Orange Blueberry Scones

Scones:

1/4 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 c flour

1/2 c Earth Balance/ coconut oil (freeze for 15 mins if possible)

1 tbsp flax seed + 3 tbsp water mixed

1 c almond milk

2 tbsp fresh orange juice

3/4 c dairy free vanilla yogurt

1 tbsp orange zest

1 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 375. Mix almond milk, yogurt, and orange juice and set aside. Whisk sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour together in a large bowl. Using a cold pastry cutter/knife/fork to cut in Earth Balance. Add flax mix and orange zest to almond milk mixture. Make a well in dry ingredients and add flax mix, orange zest. Reserve 1/2 c almond milk mix, but add the rest. Fold in blueberries. Knead until just coming together. Press into a 1 inch thick disk on a floured surface and cut into 8 triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with reserved milk mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp. Cool on pan for 5 mins, then transfer to wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before glazing, but I won’t judge if you eat 1-2 warm.

Glaze:

1 tbsp orange zest

3 tbsp orange juice

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

Whisk together. Dip/use a spoon to drizzle on scones and place on cooling rack to set.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • Make sure to keep all your ingredients as cold as possible
  • I would try reducing the amount of almond milk to 3/4 c and reserve 1/4 c of milk mixture.
  • I would increase the amount of baking soda and Earth Balance

Perfect Peach Pound Cake

This is a perfect summer dessert. Seriously, bake it and you’ll be the hit of any socially distanced barbecue. It’s flavorful and moist with a crunchy crust, and goes great with ice cream. We took it out of the pan a little too early, so it didn’t look too pretty. However, what this lacks in appearance, it overly makes up for in taste. I also can’t say my parents and I didn’t enjoy eating in chunks straight out of the pan (highly recommend this option).

Ingredients:

1 c Coconut Oil/Earth Balance

4 tbsp ground flax + 3/4 c water mixed

2 c sugar

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

3 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

2 c chopped peaches (skin or not is a personal preference)

powdered sugar to sprinkle (optional)

Grease a large loaf plan and layer with sugar. Mix 1/4 c flour with the chopped peaches and set aside. Mix dry ingredients (including remaining flour) in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat coconut oil and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add flax mixture, giving time to fully incorporate before adding more. Add extracts. Gradually add in dry mixture. Fold in peaches. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. This could be anywhere from an hour to and hour and 45 mins, so just keep checking after an hour. Make glaze while baking. Remove cake from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Serve right away with ice cream and glaze, or remove from pan and cool fully on wire rack.

Glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

3/4 tbsp water

1 1/2 tbsp almond milk

1/2 tbsp Earth Balance (butter)

2 chopped peaches (I actually used the skin of like 6 instead)

grind of black pepper

Whisk sugar and water on medium heat until starting to brown. Mix in almond milk and Earth Balance. Place peaches in mixture and let simmer until peaches are soft. Remove peaches and cook to desired consistency.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • Place parchment paper down before oiling the pan so it’s easier to remove
  • If you want it to come out of the pan clean, let cool almost fully in the pan
  • I would opt for a bundt pan or at least a bigger loaf pan so it cooks more evenly
  • Serve the day of if possible, or warm up in oven (or grill might be good?) before serving (not nearly as good cold the next day)

Fruit Tart

So, I’m a little late for the fourth of July thing, but here we are. This recipe put me through the wringer when I made it on the fourth. First I added the amount of coconut oil I was supposed to add flour to the crust, so I had to improvise and use the greasy result crushed up with waffle cone crumbs to make a new crust. Then, I was going to make the base out of coconut milk, and realized we had none. I adjusted, though, and came out with a refreshing dessert I would make again. It just goes to show you can fix just about any mistake in baking with a little creativity.

Crust:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 c coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Pulse ingredients in blender/food processor until incorporated. Press into 12 in tart/pie pan. Bake for 10-12 mins and set aside to cool.

Filling:

  • 1 c cashews
  • 1 c + 2 tbsp pineapple juice (cranberry/orange/lemonade should work too)
  • 1 tbsp lime zest (optional)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Place cashews in a pot with enough water to cover and boil until soft (15 minutes ish; you can add water if it starts to run low before they are soft). Reserve 1/4 c cashew water, and place the cashews and remaining water in a blender. Blend until smooth and you have as few clumps as possible and let sit. In the empty cashew pot, add juice and zest. One tbsp at a time, whisk in cornstarch. Then, whisk in sugar and almond milk. Place on medium high heat and continuously stir until mixture gets obviously thick and starts to bubble. Immediately remove from heat and stir in coconut oil until incorporated. Fold in blended cashews. Pour into crust and place in fridge to set (let cool completely before topping).

Toppings:

  • 1/2 c pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2-2 c fresh fruit

Place on medium heat and let simmer until reduced into a sticky, but pourable consistency. It should brown slightly. Let cool slightly. Place fruit around tart as desired. Pour thickened pineapple glaze over top (use spoon if pouring too much in one place). Chill before serving.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • I would add more fruit
  • I would dust with powdered sugar
  • I would try with different juices
  • Don’t heat the juice mixture until all the cornstarch is whisked in, or else you’ll get clumps
  • I might try a coconut milk based filling, if we had any

Coconut Custard Pie

This is my dad’s favorite, so I made it for his quarantined Father’s Day. I made it to his specifications, which includes a merengue topping with coconut flakes on the top only and a super thick layer of filling. It’s super sweet and creamy, but the crust and toasted flakes add a great crunch. It’s fairly simple to make, but you may have never heard of coconut condensed milk. They sell it at Walmart and you can find it anywhere online. It’s just like regular sweetened condensed milk, but has a coconutty flavor and contains no dairy. It’s also great for making ice cream!

Crust: (made in advanced)
1 1/4 c ap flour
pinch salt
*1/3 c shortening
*1/4 c coconut oil/ earth balance
5-6 tbsp ice water
almond milk and course sugar to top
*freeze for 15 mins before use (and your cutting utensil if you’re feeling pro)

whisk dry ingredients. cut in shortening until coarse. add coconut oil and cut until no piece bigger than a dime remain, (chunks are good, though). add ice water 2 tbsp until mixture is just moist enough to bring together. fold about 6-10 times (or until just combined) and form a disk. immediately place in fridge for at least 2 hours (maybe make filling during this time). preheat oven to 425. working one disk at a time, roll out until about 13 in in diameter. roll onto floured rolling pin and flop into standard pie dish. place in fridge once more for 15 minutes. bake using pie weights/dry beans inside for 20 minutes to start, then add additional time as needed. You may need to cover edges with foil if they start to burn.

Filling:

2 cans room temp coconut milk (full fat)

7 tbsp cornstarch 

2 cans sweetened condensed coconut milk (11.25 oz can)

Vanilla to taste

Combine a little bit of coconut milk and all cornstarch in a small bowl and set aide to thicken. Combine coconut milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cornstarch mixture in a small pot. On medium high heat, continuously wisk until mixture starts to bubble, about 8 mins. Once this happens, you will notice the mixture become noticeably more thick. Let cool to room temperature in pot, then pour into crust. Place in fridge to chill.

Merengue: 

1/4 c + 2 tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Enough coconut flakes to coat top

Use stand/electric mixer to beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add vanilla and gradually add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Place onto chilled pie. You can use a spoon to make peaks in the merengue if you like extra brown in some places. Top with coconut flakes and place under a broiler about for about 2 mins, or until coconut is browned.

Tips/Things I would Change:

  • If you have leftover condensed coconut milk, place it in a pot of boiling water until it browns (a little over an hour). It makes a coconut caramel that you can drizzle on top of the pie.
  • You can add coconut flakes to the filling if you like that texture. My dad prefers them only on top, so that’s what I did.
  • If you’re short on time, use a store bought crust.
  • I would add more coconut flakes to the top

Dark Chocolate Cake

This one goes out to my partner in crime Veronica. We love a good piece of dark chocolate, and can often be found splitting a bar in class. It is extremely moist and rich, I would recommend serving with berries for a good contrast. Don’t let the sweet potatoes in the frosting scare you; it doesn’t taste like sweet potatoes, just adds a light sweetness and makes a sturdy frosting. Thanks again to Love & Lemons for that recipe (Check them out!).

cake:

ingredients:

1 c AP flour

1/3 c cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp espresso powder (won’t taste)

2/3 c almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

heaping 1/2 coconut oil

2/3 c sugar

1/3 c brown sugar

2 tbsp ground flax+ 6 tbsp water mixed in advanced

Mix almond milk, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar and set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Oil 3 6 inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Oil parchment paper and add a small handful of flour in each. Tap until bottom and sides are coated. Tap out any excess. Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat coconut oil and sugars together for 2 mins. Add half the dry mix until incorporated. Add almond milk mixture until incorporated. Add other half of dry mix. Divide batter between 3 pans and bake for about 25 mins.

Frosting:

2 large sweet potatoes (1 1/2 c flesh)

3/4 c chocolate chips (semisweet or dark are best)

1/4 c cacao powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/8 tsp salt

Bake sweet potatoes at 425 for an hour. Cool potatoes until cool to touch and remove peels. Place flesh and all other ingredients into blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Keep at room temperature when frosting because it’s easier to spread.

Assembly:

Once cake layers are cooled completely, build alternating layers of cake and frosting. I added white chocolate decorations that I made using melted white chocolate and a spoon, and chocolate rice cereal along the sides to decorate. Feel free to use sprinkles, more chocolate, or just serve plain.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • If the sweet potatoes were baked in advanced (cold), melt the chocolate chips before you blend.
  • Don’t refrigerate the frosting (unless you’re making it the day before), because it’s a lot easier to spread when it’ not cold.

Snack/Charcuterie/Crudité Board Guide

aka cheese board, minus the cheese. Well, there actually is one dip that I would say is cheese-like, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, skip it. I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t a baking post, per say. This is partially because I’m thinking about expanding beyond baking a bit; we’ll see how it goes. Also, this board features lots of what I’ve baked while home, so it’s a good way to apply the recipes. This post will be a little different, but hopefully will show that you can make a MAGNIFICENT board sans meat and cheese.

VARIETY. VARIETY. VARIETY.

In case you didn’t get it, the key to a good board is variety in all ways. The more colors, textures, and flavor profiles you can fit in, the better. I’m going to write out a guide to do this below, but feel free to change it up. The image shown was all stuff we had in the pantry during the pandemic, and it’s pretty standard. You can fancy it up, switch out things you don’t like, give it a theme, or simplify it. All you need is a cutting board, serving tray, and a few ingredients. This one was for a family wine tasting, and my family gave it raving reviews, so here it is.

Things to Serve:

Baked Goods (3-4)

Of course. This may sound intimidating, but in reality this could be as simple as ritz crackers or potato chips. Here I included homemade sourdough crackers, homemade sourdough bread, homemade soft pretzels, mini baguettes, table water crackers, and tortilla crackers. I was only including a small serving of each, so you could obviously do less if you have more of each item. We were in the mood for variety, and as you well know I had a lot on hand.

Pickelish (2ish)

This is again meant to be a broad term. Relish, olives, sauerkraut, and anything of the sort fall under this. I think this type of flavor, which I can’t really find a name for, is very important. It’s the perfect, and one of the easiest, ways to add some variety to the board. I included homemade pickled vegetables and green olives. Click here for my favorite pickle recipe!

Dips/cheeses (as many as you can swing)

These can be based off your chosen baked goods/vice versa. For example, we were in the mood for guac, so I served tortilla chips. We were also having lots of bread, so I included jam, balsamic vinaigrette, and a “cheesy” almond dip.

Veggies (2+)

This is important for color, and can be a light break from the more heavy baked goods. Anything with a crunch is good, like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc. If you’re short on flavor, try adding cooked or marinated vegetables instead of only raw. Make sure you have something hydrating (celery, cucumbers, carrots, etc) if you’re serving anything spicy.

Fruits (1+)

This can replace your sweets, or be a nice addition. Sticking to the theme, they add color and texture. Berries, figs, and apples add a decorative pop. Dried fruits are just as good and pair nicely with a lot of dips.

Nuts (1-2)

Great way to add texture and something a little more filling. Try seasoned nuts to add flavor, or stick to raw if you want to give people a pallet cleanser.

Sweets (1-2, unless going for a sweet flavor profile)

Another flavor contrast. You can stick to dried or fresh fruit to do this, but I have a sweet tooth, so I like to add some sort of cookie, maple flavor, or chocolate.

Herbs (1+)

Mostly decorative, but can be sprinkled on different dips. I used fresh rosemary.

How to Serve:

Board

This is meant to be a broad term. You can use something as simple as a large plate. Wood cutting boards are always a good option, as seen in the picture. You can also use serving trays or really anything that keeps the food off the table, just make sure it’s clean. Try working with your color dynamics. f you are working with mostly bread and baked goods, maybe opt for a more colorful dish over a wood cutting board. Also think about your theme, and see if you can get creative with what you use. Choose something that is easy to transport if you plan to bring food to people or move it outside. Mine is just a clean wood cutting board from the local prison store in Maine.

Small Dishes

Using small bowls is a good way to serve dip and breaks up the uniformity of the board a little, which can be good. I recommend using different sizes, but use what you have. Color is a personal choice; use the same kind like I did, or mix it up to add more color. Anything messy can be put on a dish to keep the board looking neat. We were going for a theme of using all of my great grandmother’s servingware that night, so they were all different crystal bowls/ glasses.

Decretive Napkins/Towels

This is another good way to add some color to a more neutral board. It’s also a good addition if you don’t have a lot of variety in the food. Cocktail napkins can also be fun and practical. In my picture I had a lot going on already, so I didn’t find it necessary, but I do think they are usually very pretty.

Utensils

Make sure you have something to scoop out/ pick up anything you don’t feel comfortable having people put their hands all over. If you buy a board made for this sort of thing, it probably came with some, or just use teaspoons and whatever you have lying around. We have a couple sets with spreading knives and cocktail forks that matched my wooden board, so I went ahead and used those.

Setup

This is mostly a common sense thing. If you know something you are serving is a fan favorite, put more of it on the board. The reverse applies if something is more controversial, or is only used in small amounts. This way you don’t have to worry about restocking everything 8 times, but can fit everything you need to. You don’t want to see too much of the board, so opt for a smaller one or add more of each ingredient if you have a lot of negative space. When placing, evenly disperse bright colored items from more neutral. Get creative by making swirls with ingredients, trying different levels of spacing, or stacking things differently– just have fun with it.

Final Note:

If you haven’t gotten the gist already, the key to personalize as much as possible. You know your guests/style best, so trust that. Try slicing things in unique ways, or try creating an image with your food. Go crazy and add decorations, labels, or even a centerpiece. Click here for the link to my Pinterest board with a lot of my favorite ideas if you need some inspiration.