Your Guide to Entertaining Friends with a Fun Cheese Board

This weekend, I had several friends in town to celebrate Howard University’s Homecoming. And as a Howard alum, I was excited to attend the festivities. I was especially excited to feed and entertain my friends!

Remember that antique cutting board? Well, this was the perfect opportunity to christen that newly restored board with a full spread of assorted cheeses and breads.

Cheese board vegetarian Handy Chef Lex
Cheese Board featuring: cheddar cheese, Honeycrisp apples, goat cheese, grapes, pepperjack cheese
cheese board handy chef lex

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board

1. Select cheeses with varying textures

I typically include 1 soft cheese, a Cheddar cheese, and 1 hard cheese. This can be soft goat cheese, smoked white cheddar, and aged parmasean (hard.) This will provide some variation as your guest eat their way around the board.

2. In absence of meats, load up on extras

Charcuterie boards are traditionally prepared with meat as the main feature. But you can create a great spread with just cheeses, breads, vegetables, and fruits. To satisfy guests, without serving meats, be sure to add hearty extras. Examples:

  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Apples
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Figs
  • Bread & Olive Oil

3. Jam!

Many people are unfamiliar with the magical union of cheese and fruit. So they wouldn’t think to combine cheese with fruit jam, but they absolutelty should. Every cheese board can be elevated with a dollop of jam made from fruits like raspberries, apples, or figs. Advise guests to try smearing the jam on a cracker and laying a piece of cheese on top; a guaranteed “Wow!”

4. Group complementary items together

Group together the “perfect bites” so your guests can easily enjoy your board. See examples of “perfect bites” below:

  • Cheddar/Apple
  • Goat Cheese/Jam/Cracker
  • Feta Cheese/Watermelon

5. You don’t need rules

There is an endless list of rules when it comes to making this hors d’oeuvre. But the true reward of making a cheese board isn’t a picture perfect spread, instead it’s the joy of eating tasty cheeses with friends. For you rule-followers: here is a more comprehensive guideline for crafting cheese boards.

What appetizer do you usually serve to guests?

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dogs with Beyond Meat Brats

Beyond Meat has released a vegetarian bratwurst worth writing about. Much like the Beyond Burger, the brand’s sausage is surprisingly meaty in texture and could satisfy even a devoted meat-eater. So obviously I had to make some classic chili cheese dogs. After all, who said vegetarian food has to be healthy?


Ingredients for Beyond Sausage Chili Cheese Dogs. Morning star farms grillers crumbles, goya black beans, beyond meat beyond sausage.

The Chili

1 can Black beans
1 can Diced tomatoes
2 cups Vegetarian Ground “Beef” Crumbles
1 Onion, chopped medium size
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1 cup Water
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsp Corn starch, for thickening

The Dogs

1 package Beyond Meat Brat Sausage
4 Hot dog buns
2-3 tbsp Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Green onion, for garnish


Cooking Beyond Meat Brat Sausage
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion. Sear until onions are translucent, then add all the spices. Stir together.
  2. Add in the beef crumbles and stir until evenly coated with spices. Pour in the diced tomatoes, black beans, and tomato paste. Bring this to a soft boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and stir the chili. If you’d like a thicker result, stir in a cornstarch slurry (2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water.)
  4. Now that the chili is prepared, heat a nonstick skillet on high heat for the hot dogs. Add a tbsp of oil for a crisp exterior.
  5. Place the dogs in the hot skillet, cook on all sides until they reach a crisp, brown exterior.
  6. Assemble: Place the hot dogs in the buns, top with chili, and sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onions.
Beyond Meat, Brat Sausage chili cheese dog