DIVAS ON A DIME: Bewitching charcuterie board on a budget

By Donna Erickson

Charcuterie board featuring cheese ball pumpkin. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

It’s a continuing hot trend in easy holiday entertaining — charcuterie boards overflowing with wonderful nibbly noshy goodies.

A charcuterie (shahr-KU-tuh-ree) board is essentially a lavish meat, cheese and cracker board. While it’s easy to drop a bucket of cash going “overboard” with this entertaining trend, you can create an Instagram-worthy board and still have money for rent. Here are some rules for success.

Rule 1 — There are no rules. Put whatever you like on your board.

Rule 2 — Don’t go crazy! As tempting as it is; you don’t need 25 different items on your board. It’s better to have a generous quantity of affordable items than tiny portions of high-priced offerings.

Rule 3 — Spend wisely. Be conservative with costly items like meats and cheeses and liberal with low-cost items like bread and fruit. For a hearty appetizer, plan on 2 ounces of meat and 3 ounces of cheese per person.

Rule 4 — Shop your pantry first and use up all the little bits of dried fruits and nuts left from baking projects. Look for jars of pickles, peppers, mustards and jams in the back of the fridge.

Here are three secret weapons for frightfully frugal and fabulous entertaining.




Here’s a ghoulishly great addition to your Halloween board.


8 ounces button mushroom for skulls, see directions below

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup shallots or red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

Salt and pepper


To make mushroom skulls: Clean your mushrooms. To create two skull faces on opposite sides of each mushroom, use a straw to form the eye holes. Use a paring knife to cut nose holes and to slice down the stem to create teeth. Cut mushroom in half, creating two skull halves.


To saute the mushrooms: In a saute pan, heat butter and oil. Add shallot and garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, gently tossing to coat with the oil. Sauté the mushrooms until warmed through and softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with any accumulated juices: warm, room temperature or cold.



Yield: 16 servings Prep: 15 minutes Rest: 8 hours or overnight


This makes one rather-large cheeseball, so I suggest dividing it into two.


16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 small garlic clove, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup lager beer, nonalcoholic beer, cider or white wine


  1. Place cheese in a food processor; pulse until crumbled, about 1 minute. This creates a better texture than shredding.
  2. Add cream cheese, Worcestershire, garlic and salt. While continuing to process, gradually add beer until mixture is smooth and spreadable.
  3. To make a pumpkin shape; double wrap the cheeseball in plastic wrap and form into a round. Take four rubber bands and space them evenly around the ball to make impressions like a pumpkin. Refrigerate until firm. For a stem, press a bell pepper stem into the top.



1 large onion — any variety

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Thinly slice the onion. In a large skillet on low heat, warm the butter and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 to 25 minutes or until very soft and translucent.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.


For your spooktacular soiree, you’ll enjoy watching your dangerously delicious charcuterie board mysteriously disappear! Happy Halloween!


Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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