Tag Archives: Real Simple

A Treatise: How to Make the Perfect Cheese Plate

A comprehensive guide to making the perfect cheese plate.

Step one: Buy cheese.
This should seem obvious, as this is a lesson on cheese plate-makery. But some of you aren’t that bright.
No, no nooooo, not YOU. You’re GREAT. Have you done something different with your hair?! It looks so shiny.
Other “real” sources of food/entertaining media are going to give you some practical advice for how to tackle this subject. Go for different flavors, textures, types of cheese (cow/goat/other) (what the shit is the other?) (oh god, I hope it isn’t pig).
But I’m going to tell you a few things they’re not going to tell you.
A) Buy what you like. There ain’t no shame in simplicity. So get something that you crave. Need to work on the cheap? Kraft singles cut into quarters, Cracker Barrel block of extra sharp cheddar, Easy Cheese. Serve with Chicken in a Biskit crackers and bologna. Mic drop.
B) This is probably a really controversial move in the world fromage but I’m going to say it: test a new cheese on your plate.
I KNOW. This is basically the wildest idea since sliced cheese.
You’ll never know if you like it til you try something new. Now, this is risky. I once bought a cheese that sounded delicious in theory and tasted like cigarette butts, so I threw that shit out. Which was frustrating because it was a waste of money. But, now I know: Cigarette Butt Goat’s Cheese is not for me. I should’ve probably looked at the name before I bought it…
This is where it’s great to find samples wherever you can: at the local Farmer’s Market, your gro sto, wherever. At my local Kroger, there is a Murray’s Cheese Bar outpost and they have bins of cheeses for $5 and under. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to try new cheeses. You know, if you live in Richmond by the Carytown Kroger. #specific #rva
Step two: Pair that cheese with some stuff.
Eloquently said, Novak.
Bring some other players to the key party cheese plate. This is a way to bring some other textures, flavors, some more salt, some more sweet to the table. Olives are always a welcome sight on my cheese plate because their brininess typically hits my palate in a different way than the cheeses do. Throw in some meats, some grainy mustard, some tart jam and you’ve got yourself a stew going.
Cheese, please.

Cheese, please.

Step Three: Let your cheese sit on the counter for an hour before you serve.
This is really the only rule I live by.
Not, like, in my life.
I live by PLENTY of rules. Like, traffic rules. And a lot of social conventions. But this is my one hard and fast cheese plate rule. I really should’ve been more specific. I’ll add “be more specific” to the ole rule book.
When you pull cheese from the fridge, it has a completely different texture and taste than when it sits on the counter for an hour or so. This is one of those things that I heard and was like, “well, that is utter rubbish.”
And then I tried it and was like, “well, clearly I am utter rubbish.” The cheese is genuinely so much better after the chill has come off. You get all the nuances.
So there you have it. Three easy steps to make the perfect cheese plate. Which was always perfect because it was made by you. (Cue the Full House-style audience reaction: awwwwwwww).
Make yourself happy. Eat some cheese.
That’s a rule to live by if ever I’ve heard one.
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Answering Fan Mail: Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew

One of my loyal readers sent some fan mail with a question to the My Fake Food Blog Fan Club.

(Note: One of my existing, real life friends posted a comment on Facebook asking for me to share a recipe.)

Since I am so benevolent, I won’t disappoint the public. I HAVE to post for Micheal.

(Note: I already emailed her the recipe. But I thought if she wanted the recipe, maybe somebody else might.)

All y’all know I love soup. #SOUPCLUB

I like soup forever and always. I like soup in the fall, winter, spring and yes, even the summer.

I’ve had the Real Simple No Time to Cook app for a long time, but hardly use it. But I was bored with my usual sites for cooking inspiration and I remembered why I downloaded it in the first place. The app looks like this.

via Real Simple No Time to Cook app (Duh)

via Real Simple “No Time to Cook” app (Duh)

Just plug in what main ingredient you have and how much time you have and at your fingertips is a list of quick meal ideas.

With no ingredients in the house, I plugged in poultry and 20 minutes and came across this recipe for Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew. And then I went shopping for stew ingredients on an 80+ degree day.

But, it’s the kind of thing that you can eat all year long. The broth is light, but this stew is full of delicious, and frankly, healthy stuff. It has tons of kale, which is full of vitamins or whatever. (Actually, kale has calcium and vitamins A, C and K, according to WebMD.) White beans have a ton of protein and fiber. And bread has delicious, delicious carbs.

#SOUPCLUB

#SOUPCLUB

One thing to note about this recipe is it requires extra salt. Hardly any is called for and as we all know, food needs salt. Like Matt Saracen needs Julie, like Coach needs Mrs. Coach, like Jason Street needs his wheelchair (#spoileralert), this stew needs salt.

So, loyal readers, please. Go forth and make this stew. And download the Real Simple app. And be sure to write in your questions, comments, compliments whenever you have them.

My assistant will be happy to answer each and every one of them, just as soon as he’s done drawing my bath.

Bean and Chicken Stew, adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 loaf country bread (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the beans, broth, and tomatoes and their liquid and bring to a boil. Add the kale and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve with the bread, if using.

 

 

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Thanksgiving Recap: Sweet Potato Casserole with Coconut

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get arrested for breaking some sort of Thanksgiving law here, but I don’t love sweet potato casserole.

Don’t get me wrong. The recipe that I made this year was both real and simple, living up to the name of magazine from whence it came. It tasted good. But I’m never going to want more than one spoonful of the stuff. One spoonful of sweet potato casserole is enough to get me to next Thanksgiving.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have made the sweet potato casserole.

Funny thing was… it WAS up to me. But my mom wanted sweet potato casserole. And you’ve gotta dance with the mother that brought ya into this world.

Like I said, the casserole is good. The author of the recipe noted her family’s tradition of arguing over whether or not this is dessert or a side. So, beware, Wilfred Brimley: this thing is sweet.

But, it’s also convenient. It can be made a day ahead. So that’s exactly what I did. And I used my Gramma/sous chef to cut all the potatoes and wash all the dishes. Y’all, I’m pretty sure we should ALL be cooking with old people as our assistants. They might have to stop to take a pill every hour, but they’re VERY helpful in the kitchen. And they love you.

Lens Flare.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Coconut, from Real Simple

  • 3  pounds  sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces | It does not need to be exact, as my Gramma (jokingly) asked me. Just similar in size and shape so the potatoes cook evenly at the same time.
  • kosher salt
  • 1  cup  sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2  cup  packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup  chopped pecans | I’m a southern girl, so I say pe-CANS. My Gramma from Northwestern Indiana says pe-CONS. Let’s call the whole thing off.
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/3  cup  whole milk
  • 1/2  cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt. Reduce heat and simmer until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 325° F. In a small bowl, combine the coconut, brown sugar, pecans, and ½ teaspoon salt.

Add the granulated sugar, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla, and ½ teaspoon salt to the potatoes and mash until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square or another shallow 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the coconut mixture. Bake until heated through (tent loosely with foil if the top browns too quickly), 30 to 35 minutes.

The casserole can be made up to 1 day in advance; refrigerate, covered. On Reheating Day, bring to room temperature, then reheat, covered, at 350° F until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes. If you pull it from the fridge and stick it in the oven immediately, it will be cold in the middle. Oh yes. It will be.

It’s quick. It’s easy. And while delicious, I want nothing to do with it until next Thanksgiving. That’s the NEW Thanksgiving law.

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