Nothing says hygge like a beautiful snack board enjoyed with loved ones – The BakerMama serves up three recipes guaranteed to make your next get-together merry and bright
Introduction by Tracey Tong Recipes by Maegan Brown
The holiday season is for visiting with friends and family, not for developing a nervous eye twitch over what to serve and slaving away in the kitchen while you leave your guests to be entertained by a TV. This year, ditch the stress and put yourself where you belong – seated WITH your loved ones – by making a snack board in advance.
Not only will you look like you worked for hours over these things, you’ll also look like a style and culinary genius whilst you serve up fresh foods perfect for lingering over while the snow falls outside.
Maegan Brown (a.k.a. The BakerMama), who’s taught hosts and hostesses everywhere how to create gorgeous boards (that also happen to be comprised of easy-to-find foods, so no struggling through the aisles in specialty stores) through her new book, Beautiful Boards, reaches into her arsenal to save Parenting Times readers from stressing over what to serve when the guests come a-calling. The three recipes below are from her book.
As an added (and unintentional) bonus, boards are also a great way to introduce kids to foods they may not normally try, Brown writes.
Charcuterie and Cheese Board
“Nothing elevates a gathering more than a beautifully presented charcuterie and cheese board,” writes Brown in Beautiful Boards. “It’s pretty much a given that if you walk into our house for a dinner party, you will be greeted by a big board covered in a delicious assortment of meats, cheeses, and nibbles that are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It’s our favo(u)rite way to entertain and is a guaranteed way to impress our guests without a lot of stress. It allows us the opportunity to greet our guests and get the party started right away.” Brown says that this board can be made as an appetizer or the main event.
Serves 6–8 people
Use a 30 × 15-inch (76 × 38 cm) board
2 tablespoons (30 g) fig jam
2 tablespoons (30 g) strawberry preserves
2 tablespoons (30 g) apricot preserves
2 tablespoons (22 g) whole-grain seeded mustard
2-inch (5 cm) portion of honeycomb with honey
⅓ cup (35 g) mixed olives
8 ounces (227 g) aged white cheddar
8 ounces (227 g) Manchego
8 ounces (227 g) aged Gouda
5 ounces (140 g) triple crème cheese
5 ounces (140 g) blue Stilton cheese
12 slices coppa
10 slices prosciutto
10 slices piccante salami
10 slices Bavarian salami
4 slices mortadella
1 large bunch red grapes
1 large bunch green grapes
10 whole-grain crackers
15 seeded crackers
15 fruit and nut crackers or crisps
10 salted crackers
¼ cup (38 g) Marcona almonds
¼ cup (38 g) candied pecans
¼ cup (38 g) sesame honey cashews
½ cup (65 g) dried apricots
¼ cup (30 g) dried cherries
5 dried orange slices
⅓ cup (60 g) cornichons
½ pear, thinly sliced
½ yellow apple, thinly sliced
½ red apple, thinly sliced
3 fresh figs, cut in half
- Put the fig jam, strawberry preserves, apricot preserves, mustard, honeycomb with honey, and mixed olives into small serving bowls and place the bowls across the board. Arrange the cheeses on the board.
- Arrange the meats on the board, followed by the red and green grape bunches.
- Fan the crackers around a few of the serving bowls, around a cheese wedge, and in little stacks across the board.
- Fill in the gaps with the nuts, dried fruits, cornichons, pear slices, apple slices, and figs. It’s perfectly fine for items to touch each other and overlap.
Serves 8 people
Use a 20 × 13-inch (51 × 33 cm) board with a lip
This board is perfect for the holidays and will delight kids of all ages. “Seriously simple and oh-so-cute, this Santa-shaped board will put you at the top of the nice list,” writes Brown. “Everyone will get such a kick out of your creativity as they enjoy this healthy addition to your holiday spread. And if your kiddos claim they don’t like cauliflower, they just might try it when served as the big guy’s beard, because Santa’s watching, after all!”
16 ounces (454 g) plain hummus
1 can (6 ounces, or 168 g) large pitted black olives, divided
30 cherry tomatoes, divided
3 large red bell peppers, cut into strips, reserving ½ top of a pepper
1 container (8 ounces, or 227 g) fresh mini mozzarella balls
2 bags (12 ounces, or 336 g, each) cauliflower florets
18 club crackers
1 bag (12 ounces, or 336 g) broccoli florets
- Evenly spread the hummus onto a round white plate with a lip around the edge. Place the plate in the center of the board.
- Press 2 large black olives for Santa’s eyes, a cherry tomato for his nose, and the ½ top of a bell pepper for his smile onto the hummus.
- Layer the red bell pepper strips, starting from the top of the plate up to the top-right corner of the board to look like Santa’s hat.
- Add a line of mini mozzarella balls to the top edge of the plate and a small pile of mini mozzarella balls to decorate Santa’s hat.
- Arrange the cauliflower for Santa’s beard, mustache, and eyebrows.
- Place the remaining black olives, except for one, at the bottom of the board, around the cauliflower beard to look like Santa’s belt. Stack 3 club crackers at the very bottom center of the board with the remaining large black olive cut in half and the halves pressed together in the center of the top cracker to look like Santa’s belt.
- Divide the remaining cherry tomatoes on either side of Santa’s cauliflower beard, filling in from the olives up to the middle of the board.
- Add the broccoli to the top left of the board and fan the club crackers along the right side of the board.
Use a 20 × 15-inch (51 × 38 cm) board
The holiday season usually means overnight guests, either intentional or not. The next morning, keep the festivities going with this bagel board. “It’s the ultimate brunch experience to enjoy with family and friends,” writes Brown. “It’s so simple to put together, and everyone loves bagels! The bagels are definitely the stars of the spread, but it’s all the fixings that make them shine. We literally sit for hours and build all sorts of delicious bagel creations while chatting and laughing the day away… This board has seriously created some of our most cherished moments around our dining table.” Brown suggests that you can either slice the bagels in half before placing them on the board, or set out a sharp knife for people to cut their own.
10 regular-size bagels (variety of flavors)
5 mini bagels
1 cup (240 g) plain cream cheese
1 cup (240 g) blueberry cream cheese
1 cup (240 g) herbed cheese spread
¼ cup (60 g) peanut butter
¼ cup (60 g) chocolate hazelnut spread
2 to 3 tablespoons (40 to 60 g) honey
¼ cup (60 g) blueberry jam
¼ cup (60 g) apricot jam
¼ cup (35 g) capers
2 tablespoons (30 ml) crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons (30 ml) everything bagel seasoning
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
8 ounces (227 g) smoked salmon, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh dill
1 large yellow tomato, thinly sliced
1 large red tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
3 or 4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, cut into wedges
½ cup (1 stick, or 112 g) butter, sliced into small pats
¼ cup (35 g) blueberries
½ cup (75 g) raspberries
1 medium banana, peeled and thinly sliced
12 slices bacon, cooked
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
8 strawberries, cut in half
- Layer the bagels down the middle of the board.
- Put the cream cheese spreads in small bowls and place the bowls along the left edge of the board. Put the peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, and honey in small bowls and place on the upper-right side of the board. Put the jams in small bowls and place the bowls on the bottom-right side of the board. Place the capers, crushed red pepper flakes, and everything bagel seasoning in really small bowls on the lower-left corner of the board.
- Fan the cucumber slices in the upper-left corner of the board, then place the smoked salmon slices inside them. Garnish the salmon with the fresh dill.
- Layer the sliced tomatoes down the board between the cream cheese spreads and the bagels.
- Place the sliced avocado, red onion, radishes, and lemon wedges on the bottom-left corner of the board.
- Fan the butter pats around the jams on the bottom-right corner of the board. Add the blueberries and raspberries, followed by the sliced banana.
- Stack the bacon in 2 spots on the right side of the board, with the sliced hard-boiled eggs in between.
- Arrange the strawberries in the upper-right corner of the board.