Last weekend I spent some time at my parents’ house, enjoying lots of wine and cooking in their beautiful kitchen. Entertaining in a space like theirs is truly a joy – plenty of elbow room, enough dishes for seven courses, and what a treat to cook with my mom washing dishes behind me!

table setting 2

There were no big secrets to my recipes – lots of good ingredients, and let’s be honest – butter and cheese make everything great! Each recipe is scaled to serve small-plates for 12 people. So here it is – seven courses to lust after!

Course 1: Cheese Plate

cheese plate

I love cheese, and we all know it goes well with wine. My wine guy, Cliff, wanted to pair this course with a white wine, so we focused on milder cheeses with a sweeter twist. My selections included a scoop of plain goat cheese, slice of brie with Quince and Apple Shallot Confit with Red Wine, slices of Sartori Raspberry BellaVitano, cranberry walnut bread from Rocket Baby Bakery, dried apricots and sea salt roasted almonds.

Course 2: Salmon Cakes over mixed green with Balsamic Vinaigrette

salmon cakes

This recipe is based on one of my favorites from Practical Paleo. The dressing is my own, made with my favorite 18 year balsamic vinegar from Oro di Oliva. This course was served with a wonderful chardonnay – not my usual pick, but wow, it was incredible with this. I bought a couple of bottles looking forward to serving this on a hot summer afternoon in my yard!

24 oz. canned salmon

4 eggs, beaten

6 tbsp. minced shallots

4 cloves garlic, pressed

4 tbsp. green onions, minced

1 tsp. tarragon

salt & pepper to taste

4 tsp. mustard (I used beer mustard)

2-4 tsp. coconut flour

1/2 stick butter

1 package salad greens

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. 18 year aged balsamic vinegar

Combine the salmon, eggs, shallots, garlic, green onion, tarragon, salt, pepper and mustard in the food processor. Pulse until combined. Add coconut flour 1 tsp. at a time and pulse until a dough forms. Make dough into 12 cakes using hands.

Melt butter in a large, flat-bottom skillet over medium high heat. Place cakes in and cook until golden brown on each side – about 4-6 minutes per side.

Whisk oil, vinegar, more tarragon, salt and pepper together to make dressing. Place one cake on a bed of salad greens and drizzle dressing on top. Serve while cakes are warm.

Course 3: Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing


This is a recipe passed on to me from my good friend Kaity Swanson. She made it for me once, and I was hooked. I love using recipes that are hand written by a friend! This one is a favorite.

16 oz. frozen corn, thawed

1 package mini mozzarella pearls, drained

1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered

3 avocados, diced

1 bunch cilantro

1/4-1/2 c. olive oil

salt & peper to taste

Mix corn, mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl. Place cilantro, salt, and pepper in food processor. Process on low and gradually add olive oil until consistency is that of a salad dressing. Pour over salad and mix to coat. Serve immediately so avocado doesn’t discolor.

Course 4: Zuppa Soup


I found this recipe on Pinterest, it’s from a blog called 365 Days of Slow Cooking. You can find the recipe HERE. I appreciated this because I could prep it hours ahead of time and it was ready to serve when my guests were ready for it. I did use real bacon in my recipe, and I substituted half and half for the heavy cream. I also used spinach instead of kale.

Course 5: Pork Tenderloin, bourbon bacon sweet potatoes with a Maple Garlic Sauce

pork tenderloin 2

This dish had a lot of flavors going on – it’s rich, it’s delicious. Served with a beautiful red Syrah, it was perfect.

3 lb. pork tenderloin (I used two smaller tenderloins)

4 tbsp. mustard

2 tsp. sesame oil

6 cloves garlic, pressed

black pepper to taste

2 c. maple syrup

Whisk all ingredients (except pork) together and pour over pork. Marinade for 24 hours. When ready to cook, heat a grill to medium high heat. Pull pork out of marinade and place on grill. Turn every 5 minutes for a total cooking time of 30-40 minutes. In the meantime, place remaining marinade in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook down to create sauce.

You can find the mashed potato recipe HERE on a blog called How Sweet It Is. I discovered this one using Pinterest. I had a tough time with getting the sage for the topping to crisp up, so I just used dried sage in the actual mash to get the flavor.

Course 6: Roasted Vegetable Bake with Cheddar and Gorgonzola

veggie bake

This is a winner of a recipe. It’s adapted from Curtis Stone’s What’s For Dinner cookbook, and it gets rave reviews every time I serve it.

1 medium spaghetti squash

6 tbsp. olive oil

1 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets

salt and pepper to taste

8 c. broccoli florets

4 oz. pancetta, chopped

1 sm. yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp. thyme

1 tbsp. flour

2 c. whole milk

1 c. half and half

1.5 c. white cheddar, shredded

4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled

1 c. bread crumbs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower and broccoli florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Place this sheet and spaghetti squash (whole) on separate oven racks. Bake for 60 minutes total, turning the squash and tossing the other veggies once.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add pancetta and cook until it’s brown and crisp (about 4 minutes). Add onion and thyme and cook a couple of minutes until onion is softened. Sprinkle the flour over the entire mixture and stir for about a minute until everything is golden. Gradually stir in the milk and half and half increasing the heat a bit; keep stirring and simmer for about 4 minutes until sauce thickens a bit. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cheeses, stirring until melted.

When the cauliflower and broccoli are done roasting, add to the cheese sauce. When the squash is done, let it cool until you can handle it. Slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Using a fork, pull the rest of the squash out in spaghetti strands and add to sauce mixture. Place equal amounts of mixture into individual baking dishes, or into one large baking pan.

Toss the bread crumbs with about 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Spread evenly over the top of the vegetable mixture. Bake the entire thing for about 10 minutes, until the crumbs become golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Course 7: Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

bread pudding

This last course was rich and delicious, warm out of the oven. Of course you’d expect this type of thing from a recipe from the Neely’s of the Food Network. You can get the recipe HERE. I didn’t alter a thing about their recipe – although I couldn’t find brioche bread, so I used an egg bread instead. Our meal finished nicely with a port wine and I think everyone was stuffed!

table setting