Archives for posts with tag: #Entertaining

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

Chicken is probably one of the most versatile dishes to make. It is used in many American, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Indian and Chinese recipes. Besides pasta, chicken is generally something that children and adults will eat without too much fuss. One of my go-to and our family’s all-time favorite is Chicken Parmesan.

I usually make Chicken Parmesan from memory, which means it isn’t always the same. No fear! I have my recipe binder with one I saved from Bon Appetit when my children were younger. The following is sure to be a family winner.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4 cup chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup peeled, grated and coarsely chopped carrots (you can use a Cuisinart)

3 TBSP thyme

2 28 ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes in juice (I use Italbrand Italian Peeled, San Marzano Whole Peeled or Muir Glen Whole Peeled)


10 skinless boneless chicken breasts halved to 1/3″ thickness (you can buy the thin cut chicken breasts or cut whole ones diagonally through the center. A butcher will cut and flatten them for you or you can use a mallet or rolling pin to do it yourself.)

3 cups breadcrumbs (you can purchase Progresso Italian Style or Italian Panko or I like using ALEIAs Original Real Panko that is gluten free)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup all purpose flour

6 TBSP olive oil, divided

3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

2 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 TBSP chopped fresh marjoram

5-6 Basil leaves torn


Step 1

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions are soft and translucent about 10 minutes. Add carrots and thyme; saute until the carrots are soft about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice; bring to a boil, coarsely mash the tomatoes as they cook. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and reduce to about 5 cups about 1 hour. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Spread breadcrumbs on plate. Whisk eggs to blend in medium bowl. Spread flour on another plate. Coat both sides of chicken with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Step 3

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 TBSP oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken to skillet and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Transfer chicken to a platter. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of a 15x10x12 inch glass baking dish. Arrange one layer of chicken over the sauce. Spoon 2 cups sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino over. Repeat with remaining chicken, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino. Bake until cheeses melt and chicken is cooked through about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, marjoram and basil leaves before serving.

Serve over angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta with a Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread.

Few notes:

  1. To save time, you can substitute the tomato sauce recipe for your favorite jarred pasta sauce. This isn’t something I do but it’ll save valuable time for a quick but delicious dinner.
  2. I sometimes buy the Belgioioso Fresh Mozzarella and slice it thinly. I place this on top of the chicken along with the Parmesan and Pecorino. I prefer it to the shredded mozzarella cheese but both work.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

A few months ago, I finally decided to write a food blog since cooking has been my passion since I was 15 years old. Like many, I enjoy planning menus and shopping for ingredients. I often look in our (or someone else’s) refrigerator and cabinets and challenge myself to create something delicious with the items on hand. Or, I’ll read a cookbook or cooking magazine cover to cover to search for the perfect recipe(s).

I’m told that cooking and baking for a party is one of my super powers as it is something I do effortlessly. Chopping, measuring, mixing, folding, stirring, sautéing, roasting, frying, basting are all things that bring me great joy. I absolutely love being in the kitchen to create deliciousness for the people in my life.

Although, I do have a day job in a completely different industry, I have (and will) cater dinner parties, weddings, graduations and birthdays. Over the years, I’ve been asked countless times for recipes or suggestions from family and friends. My daughter calls or texts regularly from the East Coast to ask what she should make based upon the items in her refrigerator or pantry.

That’s when I go to work and search my extensive database of recipes accumulated over 35+ years. It is this scrumptious food library that is the impetuous of my nostalgic but modern food-lovers site!

My challenge for this first post was the recipe to share. I literally have hundreds and hope you enjoy my choice that was the main course for a recent dinner party with friends and my spouse’s favorite.

You’ll find that my recipes are easy and delicious. Bottom line, I want you to have confidence in the kitchen. And soon, you’ll realize there is no need to fear the pork chop as long as you follow the recipe below (and do not over cook them).

Simple but Elegant Pan-Seared Bone-In or Tomahawk Pork Chops (one of my favorite recipes I found a few years ago that my spouse loves)

2 TBSP olive oil

Two 12-oz bone-in or tomahawk pork chops (1″ thick)

1 TBSP each Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper (I have both in grinders because I like them coarse but you can use your favorites)

6 TBSP unsalted butter

Thyme leaves from 4 sprigs

4 Garlic cloves, smashed

  1. Season pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper
  2. In a large skillet (or I use a cast iron, grill pan), heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the pork chops
  3. Sear the pork chops, flipping once for 4-5 minutes on each side. Then, remove from the pan to a plate
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, thyme and garlic until melted and fragrant, about 1 minute
  5. Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook and flip once. Baste constantly with the butter sauce until the pork chops reach 140 degrees (do yourself a favor and purchase a good, quality meat thermometer. Pork is generally done at 145 degrees but will continue cooking when you remove them from the pan. Do not overcook them or you’ll have dry chops)
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before serving or carving into thick slices

Serves two but you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe. I like to serve these with Spinach Sautéed with Lemon, Kale and Wild Mushrooms or Roasted Butternut Squash with Fresh Herbs. For a starch, you can add Garlic and Rice Pilaf, Brown Rice, Mashed Potatoes or polenta. These are all excellent choices!

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

T-Bone Chop with Roasted Zucchini and Squash with a Side of Rice