Archives for category: Easy Appetizer Recipe

These mini stuffed peppers are an easy yet flavor-packed appetizer for any party! My spouse and I went to a bocce ball (outdoor, socially-distanced) get-together and I wanted to bring something we could actually eat since we are watching our carbohydrates. These colorful, fiesta peppers filled with cream cheese, seasonings and herbs were perfect.

The good news for some is that these peppers are not spicy since they are a hybrid of sweet peppers. They are small in size and range in color with a crisp skin. They are loaded with vitamin A, C and lots of fiber. They can be stuffed with many other options such as sausage, rice or cut-up and added to any dish for texture and color. You can use these in Vegan, Vegetarian or Low Carb recipes.

Cheesy Stuffed Mini Peppers (Gluten-Free/Low Carb/Keto/Vegan/Vegetarian)


12-18 Sweet Mini Peppers, halved and seeded

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (you can substitute this with Vegan cream cheese)

8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese such as Tillamook (you can substitute this with Vegan cheddar)

1 TBSP fresh lime juice

1 TBSP fresh cilantro or stir-in cilantro paste such as Gourmet Garden

1/2 tsp garlic pepper and 1/2 salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and slice the mini peppers in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and membranes (I use a grapefruit spoon)
  3. 3. In another bowl mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, lime, cilantro, garlic salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Spoon or use a piping bag to fill each pepper.
  5. Grease or spray a baking sheet or pan. Place each pepper in the dish and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese melts and turns slightly brown on top.
  6. Serve warm.

Note: Cilantro is one of those herbs that some people do not like. If you prefer, you can substitute the cilantro with fresh Italian parsley, rosemary or any other herb you want. Trust me, it’ll still be good!

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

Virtual wine tasting can be a fun way to stay connected with family, friends and even clients or co-workers. I’m hosting one next week for clients and wanted to provide the perfect food pairing suggestions for those attending. Below are the appetizers that pair nicely to the three wines we’ll be sampling — Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc (blend) and Cabernet Sauvignon. I also included Cheese Board recommendations that pair with each wine that I’ll share in another post.

GOAT CHEESE AND FRIED SHALLOT DIP — Pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay wines


  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 shallot bulbs)
  • ¼ cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 ounces plain rindless goat cheese, such as Laura Chenel, at room temperature
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Thinly sliced fresh chives
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Pat the shallots dry on paper towels. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring often, until they turn dark brown, 12 to 15 minutes. For the first few minutes, it will seem like nothing is happening, but once the shallots start to brown, they darken quickly. Stir almost constantly during the final minutes so they darken evenly without burning.
  2. Drain the shallots in a small sieve set over a bowl. Spread the drained shallots on a paper towel and let cool until crisp.
  3. Put the goat cheese in a bowl and whisk in enough buttermilk thinning to a desired consistency. Fold in the shallots and most of the chives, reserving some for garnish. Stir in garlic to taste and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and top with reserved chives.

Serve immediately with summer vegetables, crackers or baguette slices for dipping.

“GROWN-UP” GRILLED FONTINA CHEESE, MUSHROOM AND SAGE SANDWICHES – Pairs well with Cab Franc blends, Pinot Noir (my favorite), Merlot and Bordeaux wines


  • 3 TBSP butter, 2 melted
  • ½ pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices (you can leave these out if you have picky eaters that don’t like mushrooms)
  • ¼ tsp salt and ground pepper
  • 4 tsp fresh chopped sage or 1 ¼ tsp dried sage
  • 8 slices country-style bread
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, grated


  1. Heat 1 TBSP butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and sage. Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Once done, put the mushroom mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a pastry brush, coat one side of 4 slices of the bread with the other half of the melted butter. Put them buttered-side down on a work surface. Top the bread with the cheese and then the mushrooms. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread; brush the tops with more of the melted butter.
  3. Heat the frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the sandwiches and cook, turning once, until golden about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Slice each sandwich into four squares or triangles for appetizers or keep whole for 4 delicious sandwiches.

BACON WRAPPED DATES STUFFED WITH BLEU CHEESE – Pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon or other bold Red wines


  • 1 pound sliced bacon, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound pitted dates (or figs if you prefer)
  • 4 ounces Blue cheese, Stilton Cheese, Roquefort or Gorgonzola


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Slice dates (or figs) in half and open them up carefully. Pinch off pieces of cheese and place them in the center of the dates (or figs). Close the halves and wrap a half-slice of bacon around the outside. Secure with a toothpick.
  3. Arrange on a baking sheet or in a baking dish that has sides to catch any grease.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Turn the dates (or figs) over and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

This is one of my easy, go-to appetizer recipes that is perfect for any occasion. Recently, I made it for a bridal shower in August and friend’s birthday gathering in November. It is definitely festive for the upcoming holidays with its pomegranate and thyme garnishing. I will definitely be serving this again!

There are several steps but don’t be intimidated. You can do it!


For the Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 TBSP unsalted butter melted and cooled

1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar

2 tsp pure maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Blackberry Compote

2 cups blackberries, save a few for garnish

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 TBSP honey

1 tsp vanilla

For the Brie

2 8 ounce wheels of Brie or 1 16 ounce, room temperature

pomegranate seeds for garnish

thyme leaves for garnish

hardy crackers that do not break easily such as Mary’s Gone Crackers or Homemade Crostini (recipe below)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place the pecans on the sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes (do not burn)
  4. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt in a bowl
  5. Carefully, pace the hot pecans into the mixture and evenly coat. Spread them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat the blackberries, lemon juice, honey and vanilla on medium heat, stirring occassionally. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to stir until the mixture is reduced to syrup consistency. Remove from heat and let cool.
  7. Slice off the top of the brie rinds and discard. Leave the sides intact. Bake the wheels of Brie for 15 minutes at 350 degrees until melted through
  8. Add Brie to a serving platter and top each with blackberry compote and the candied pecans.
  9. Garnish with the remaining blackberries, pomegranate seeds and fresh thyme leaves.
  10. Serve immediately with crackers or crostini.

Homemade Crostini

Baguette of choice, sliced into 1/8″ round toasts

5 TBSP olive oil, more as needed

Coarse Salt

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the crostini in a single layer to fill the pan
  3. Using a pastry brush rub each round with olive oil
  4. Season each with coarse salt
  5. Bake for 4-5 minutes depending on your oven until they are slightly browned and crisp (do not burn)

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

It’s that time of year for holiday parties with family and friends. Many of us will be asked to bring an appetizer or two for a festive dinner party. Or, perhaps we’ll be hosting a cocktail party of our own.

Appetizers or hors-d’oeuvre as my spouse likes me to call them do not need to be boring or predictable. They can be elegant but simple to wow your crowd into thinking you spent all day in the kitchen.

The following is one appetizer packed with flavor to get your party started!

Mini Beef Wellington (24 pieces)


2 TBSP olive oil

2 lbs beef tenderloin, cut into 24 (1″) cubes — be consistent with the size so they look alike

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 sheets puff pastry (you can purchase Pepperidge Farms or Dufour frozen puff pastry and thaw before using or buy my new favorite Wewalka that is in the dairy isle next to the butter)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season all sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the beef on 2 sides until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes total. Do not overcook. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown and release liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and continue cooking until mushroom mixture dries out, is golden brown and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  4. On a work surface, roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to a 10 by 14 inch rectangle. You can use a small amount of flour if needed. Cut the puff pastry in three lengthwise. Then, cut the long pieces into 4 even squares.
  5. Put a teaspoon-size mound of the mushroom mixture on a puff pastry square. Top the mushroom mound with a piece of the beef. Fold the ends of the puff pastry over the meat to make a round packet, covering the mixture completely.
  6. Invert and arrange the packet seam side down on the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart. Press them slightly to seal the pastry. Repeat with the remaining beef, mushrooms and pastry.
  7. Bake the Wellington packets until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven). Once baked, remove to a serving platter and let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

I like to serve with Stonewall Kitchen’s Horseradish Cream Sauce or you can add your favorite horseradish mixture or aioli.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

I’ll provide plenty more appetizer recipes in the weeks to come to get you through the holidays!