Colorful Spring Cheese Board

Today I'm celebrating my journey to food blogging with colorful fruits, yummy cheeses, salty meats, carbs, chocolate and a delicious glass (or two) of wine Thank you Wente Wine for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to share my story with all of you!
As with all sponsored posts, all content and opinions expressed are my own.
Thanks for reading!

#LoveoftheJourney #truestory #sponsored

It was never part of my plan to be a food blogger.

I remember in great detail sitting with three of my best girlfriends at a diner one morning many many years ago. We were just 17 or 18 years old nursing killer hangovers after a night of too much drinking. We were clueless, adorable, little spring chickens desperate for attention and lots to learn about life.

Randomly, our life plans came up. When did we want children? What did we want to do?

One of my friends had no idea, the other wanted to marry someone rich and the other, if I remember correctly, wanted to be a doctor. I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist. With pharmacy I knew I would always have a stable, reliable career. True, I would be paying off loans for the rest of my life, but I'm doing that just with my undergrad education anyway, so why not go big, right?

As far as children were concerned, we all wanted children sometime in our late twenties. I, on the other hand, knew that I would have my first at twenty-seven. Twenty-seven was the plan.

So I went through college and graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology. Yes, It was a good fit for me. I love science, after all; but it was not my passion. At this time in my life, so caught in "stability" and "making money" and "omg is my boyfriend cheating on me" (i'll save that for a different day), I had no idea what my passion was. 

So, sometime in my last two years of college I started running to relieve stress and obsessively focus on something other than books for a couple hours each day (type-A remember). At this same time my dessert obsession and love for cooking was born. But, mostly, at least in my mind, I thought I was just being a good girlfriend by learning to cook. 

Meanwhile, I continued running, studying, cooking and, ultimately, applied to a handful of pharmacy programs.

I was rejected...from each and every school. I was devastated. Didn't I just work 5 years for this? Wasn't this my life plan? What do I do now? I HAD A PLAN!

Meanwhile I was broke. I needed a job. So I did what every other college graduate did- apply anywhere and everywhere since, you know, it was the middle of the recession and jobs were going like hotcakes. Since I lived in the Bay Area, I decided to take my chances and apply to Stanford University for a position in research. By some miracle I got the job.

You guys, I was miserable --> don't hit me. I did know how lucky I was. Stanford was fantastic and my coworkers were amazing, but I very quickly realized I was not put on this planet to spend my life in a windowless lab. So, my (now) husband and I came up with a new plan. Unlike all my previous plans, however, this was the first plan I shared with another person. And, it was the first plan that wasn't really a plan at all. 

We decided to pack up our things, put it in storage and buy a one-way ticket to SE Asia. Aside from tickets and information about when our visas would expire in each country we visited, we had no plan and no timeline. We went where we wanted, when we wanted. For the first time ever, I just went with it (even if I did talk and talk and talk) about travel plans and future plans the entire time we were there.

Baby steps.

After more than a year spent in SE Asia, a few months in the US and the rest of the time in Europe, it was time for a baby. My husband and I were engaged, serious and ready. Plus, I was twenty seven (ha!) though I was still planning my next trip and my next adventure (something I will do until the day I die because travel took a piece of my heart that I will never get back).

So what does this have to do with food blogging?

Everything.

Thanks to some painful rejection, my experience traveling, and my plan, ultimately, not happening, I discovered my love of blogging, trying new and exciting foods and, most importantly, I realized what I had known all along (even if I had stuffed it away)--- my passion for photography. 

So, after my son was born I started blogging again (I blogged previously at Lost&Found, a travel blog). Coffee and Crayons started as a mommy blog and slowly transitioned to a food blog. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would have been food blogger I would have laughed (after asking for an explanation of what a blogger actually does) and then I would have asked how that is a real job.

It's real. More real and more all-consuming than I could have possibly imagined. But, it's my passion and my love and the 40-50+ hours a week I spend cooking, cleaning, photographing, styling, shopping, writing, editing, learning, researching, networking, emailing, etc. is so completely worth it.

My mother always said to me, "Jess, you are so creative. You have such a good eye for things. I see you doing something where you can express these talents.". 

Mother knows best.

To celebrate finding my niche, I am celebrating with this Colorful Spring Cheese Board. Yes it's true that I love cookies and cake, but I will take any excuse I can to eat a table-full of colorful fruits, delicious cheeses, salty meats and carbs. 

And wine. Let's not forget the wine.

Today I'm celebrating with Wente Wine. Located in Livermore, California, Wente Winery is just over the hill from Sacramento. The Wente Vineyards brand is one that dates back more than 130 years and five generations as the country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery.

With spring in the air Wente’s selection of white wines including Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are the perfect addition to any celebration.


Learn more about Wente Vineyards and explore their different wine varieties.

Living in the Bay Area or planning a trip this way? Make a trip and thry their wine for yourself or take a class and mix your own!

Or, just make a cheese board. Not even joking, it was probably the most fun I've had in a long time from start to finish (shopping, chopping, styling, photographing and eating).


Colorful Spring Cheese Board with Candied Meyer Lemons and Lemon Yogurt Dip

Prep Time: Varies | Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: Varies
Yield: Varies
Type: Entertaining, Appetizers, Dip, Side, Wine, Sponsored

Ingredients

FOR THE CANDIED MEYER LEMONS

4 meyer lemons
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

FOR THE LEMON YOGURT DIP

1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 small lemon juiced
5 cloves garlic, minced
salt+pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped fine
3 large basil leaves, finely chopped

FOR THE CHEESE BOARD

1 baguette, sliced
Assorted crackers
Red grapes
Sliced strawberries
Kiwis
Oranges
Fig Jam
Radishes
Assorted fresh herbs
2-4 of your favorite cheeses (I chose a brie, goat cheese, and two other sharp cheese blends)
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Sliced salami
Assorted nuts
Olives
Dried apricots and cranberries
Dark chocolate chunks
Candied Meyer Lemons (see below)
Lemon Yogurt Dip (see below)
2-3 bottles of Wente Wine (depending on number of people)
 

Instructions

FOR THE CANDIED MEYER LEMONS

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir the sugar until it has completely dissolved. Meanwhile, slice the lemons into thin slices. Once sugar has dissolved, add the sliced lemons to the sauce pan and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and allow the lemons to simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the lemons to cool in the syrup. Carefully remove the lemons from the saucepan and place them on a wire rack to dry. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the the fridge until ready to serve.

FOR THE LEMON YOGURT DIP

  1. Combine all ingredients for the yogurt dip in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat and serve along side the cheese board.

FOR THE CHEESE BOARD

  1. There is no real instruction for this part. Simply place the food on a big cutting board or other food-safe surface and allow people to help themselves. Have fun!

Enjoy!

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