Starting off on with a simple yet rewarding project, preparing a cheese tray. My boys and husband have joined the Taekwondo program here in Sydney at Island Martial Arts Center. They are loving every minute! Tonight was the blackbelt testing, so there was a call to the families to provide goodies for the banquet afterwards. As my first call of duty, I wanted to rise to the occassion and of course, be asked to contribute again. Nothing is more rewarding than someone enjoying what you have prepared with your own hands.
Started off in my head with my usual fall backs, fruit trays, sandwiches, squares, etc. Taking also into consideration that there is a huge demand for peanut-free dishes in our community. The decision was ultimately made when browsing for inspiration at my local grocer and saw that block cheese was on sale for half price...cheese tray it is! I am very much a bargain hunter (with 5 kids you have to be!) and felt that I could add more garnishes to the dish for the same price if I took advantage of sale prices. This is usually how I also shop for nightly suppers, find what is fresh and on sale, find the recipe later.
Anyway, I came home with a stock pile of goodies and prepped the kitchen. Scrubbed the counters, veggies, and fruit. Chopped the cheese into cubes of equal size. Stored in airtight Rubbermaid containers in the fridge until assembly time. (Note: When shopping peanut-free, consider crackers, spreads and cheeses...you may be surprised to what may contain nuts or traces of nuts...shop labels carefully and always look for the peanut-free label.)
Then the fun part, designing the platter. I didn't want to send out any of my good trays in case of loss or damage, nor did I want to skimp on the quality that wouldn't hold the weight of the food. So I wavered in between and found a large, white, plastic oval platter that I found a Costco. Gave it a quick wipe and used my label maker to add our name to the bottom.
I didn't like the white showing through, so i decided to cover the base with leafy red lettuce. Cleaned out a firm red pepper and placed it in the center and filled with stuffed olives. Mimicked the same with a green pepper only filled with a spinach dip. Used the pepper lids to add height and interest to the tray. Worked my way out from there. Using the sheaths of Breton crackers on each end. Filled out to each side with the cubed cheese, Triscuit triangles and the other end Vinta square crackers (using a variety of shapes.) Then added the grapes, baby dills, and pepperoni. Still looked a little less than full, so I added a few fresh sprigs of parsley to the mix.
Love using food for containers. You don't have to worry about them being returned after the event, plus it adds fun and interest to the platter.
Voila! So easy, big impact!
Thought it would be fun to also include a budgetary break-down. Please keep in mind that these are sale prices at my local grocer and prices vary according to region and seasonal products.
Red Leaf Lettuce - $2.00
Seedless Red Grapes - $2.16 (used half bag - $1.08)
Seedless Green Grapes - $2.16 (used half bag - $1.08)
Sweet Green Pepper - $1.17
Sweet Red Pepper - $2.07
Curly Parsley - $1.39 (used very small amount - $0.25)
Spinach Dip - $3.79
Pepperoni - $4.73
Vinta square crackers - $2.50
Triscuit Triangle crackers - $2.50
PC Crisp&Thin crackers - $1.89
Mozzarella cheese - $4.27 (used 3/4 of block - $3.20)
Old Cheddar cheese - $4.27 (used 3/4 of block - $3.20)
Marble Cheddar cheese - $4.27 (used 3/4 of block - $3.20)
PC Green Olives - $4.99 (used half jar - $2.50)
PC Baby Dill Tangy - $1.49
GRAND TOTAL: $36.65
I will admit, this is a little more pricey than I would usually dish out for a tray. However, this was an important event for our family and felt that it was justified. If you wanted to cut back on expenses you could definitely make some substitutes. But I strongly advise you to cut back on quantity rather than the quality of the ingredients.
Check in again,