Friday, October 3, 2014

Creating the Perfect Happy Hour Spread + Favorite Wines

I received a request from a reader on how to create the perfect cheese tray/appetizer spread.  Honestly a cheese tray is one of my favorite appetizers.  Sometimes when Matt works late it is what I have for dinner and I secretly love it.  I really enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine.  My family jokes that I always make my cheese trays look so perfect.  It is my job at happy hour to put together our nibbles.  There is no real art to making it look pretty I just find the way you group things helps.  I try to keep on hand many of the items needed for a cheese tray so if we have company I can easily whip it together.

\\ A few items that I try to always keep on hand for last minute entertaining:

- pickled okra and/or mini pickles
- pepperoni and/or salami
- truffled dijon mustard (I find this at tjmaxx)
- 34 degrees crackers- I love these so thin and crispy
- pretzel thins
- cheese sticks (harris teeter and trader joes make great versions of these)
- cracker barrel cheese
- manchego, gouda, and brie are favorites
- pimento cheese
- olives
- hummus
- veggies carrots or celery

If you have the above ingredients or at least a few of them it makes throwing together an appetizer easy.

\\ A few tips:

- I always drizzle my hummus with olive oil and salt and pepper.  If I have pint nuts I sprinkle that on top. It makes it look fancy.

- I stopped buying my cheese at Costco because it was just too much and went bad too quickly.  Just buy at your local grocery store or if you live in Charleston check out Goat Sheep Cow- amazing selection of wine and cheese.

- Keep fig or apricot preserves on hand they are great served with brie

- fresh figs, blue cheese, and honey are a killer combo

- check the food section at TJMaxx, this is where I find my favorite truffled mustard, specialty jams, and pickled veggies.

- Carrots and Celery are the best veggies because they last the longest in your fridge.  I always slice my own carrots I swear they taste better than the baby ones.

- Buy the large rolls of pepperoni and salami and slice them yourself.  I also think these taste better then the packaged kind and they will last awhile in your fridge.

- The mini french pickles are the best- you can buy them in bulk at Earthfare or in a small jar at the grocery store

 - I like to keep the softer cheeses like brie or goat cheese whole and slice the harder cheeses.

- Buy a good white serving platter or wooden board- food always looks prettier on white or wood.
West Elm has some of my favorite serving ware but you can often times find a white platter for cheap at Homegoods or TJMaxx as well.

- A cute set of cheese knives is also good to have on hand.
I am obsessed with this gold set from West Elm 

I went thru my instagram and had to laugh about the amount of cheese tray/happy hour posts I had.  This girl loves happy hour:)  Here are a few pictures for inspiration.

 A few new favorite wines because you need a good wine to pair with all your delicious eats.

Loved the Chardonnay and red blend pictured below
Charlotte friends this is carried at the Wine Store.

I love every single Banshee wine.  They are under $20, a great buy.

I love their red blend and sauvignon blanc.  They do a wine club that I am really considering joining.

Would love any wine recs from you guys as well!  TGIF here's to a fabulous happy hour tonight!


caycee said...

Girl you are the cheese tray queen!! Your never disappoint, and I mean never!!

KatiePerk said...

I want everything in this post! Yum. Your appetizer plates are seriously inspiring! Happy Friday!

Lindsay, XO Lindsay said...

Whenever my man is working late, it's cheese & wine for me! I need you to move to Wilmington, NC and host happy hour every Friday. I'd be there.

Ashley said...

I have a cheese tray problem. I found some AMAZING pickles at The Fresh Market a few weeks ago...McClure's Sweet & Spicy pickle chips. They are SO good!

Portuguese Prepster said...

Your cheese trays always have me drooling on instagram, thank for the tips!

Kristen said...

I love this post. You're making me hungry! Cheese plates are my favorite meal, too :)

Unknown said...

I love a good cheese tray too! I always pick up cheeses and a variety of crackers from TJ's! Happy Friday!

Eloquently Emily said...

Love this post! Making a cheese plate is one of my favorites and I love TJ Maxx selection of food goodies! Have a great weekend!

BLovedBoston said...

I have to say all your happy hour spreads are always the best!!

rachel said...

This might be my favorite post to date! Our recipe club hosted a wine and cheese tray theme this month and thought of you. :) Your insta gives the best inspiration! Cheers!

Jenny @ said...

Have been waiting for this post from you. Thank you thank you thank you!

Carly said...

Great spreads! We do these whenever we have guests over and everyone always seems so impressed.

Leigh said...

You really are queen of the cheese tray! I love it. I always slice my own carrots too. My son insists the big ones taste better than the baby ones and he's right, they do!

Nat said...

Those cheese trays look so good! I'm a huge fan of a cheese tray. I'm saving all these wines for when I can drink again