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January 10, 2017

Perfect (make ahead) Cozy Dinner Party Menu

Perfect (make ahead) Cozy Dinner Party Menu

Baked Fontina & Baguette
Aperol Spritzers
Caeser Salad
Short Rib Ragu & Fettuccine
Chocolate Chip Cookies
(fresh baked - from the freezer)
We've already done a little bit of entertaining this January.  I actually love entertaining in January - expectations are lower, schedules are more open, and everyone is more relaxed.

This menu is so simple.  It is full of make ahead recipes - everything is ready to go by the time the guests arrive.  Each item is easy to make and comforting, too.  It was the 
perfect cozy night dinner with kids running around, snow outside, red wine and big bowls of short rib ragu.  And, I mean, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert?  Followed by hot coffee poured over ice cream?  I love to do what works and keep things simple.

I set the table for the adults... and completely forgot to put out napkins for the photo... and for the dinner.  The funny part is that the day before I had re-organized our linen pantry and ironed EVERY SINGLE NAPKIN I own.  And left them all folded in the linen pantry.

We started the night with another Barefoot Contessa favorite - Baked Fontina (How Easy is That? cookbook).

It is perfect entertaining food, especially on a cold night.  I put the cheese, herbs, garlic and olive oil in my skillet in the afternoon.  Then, ten minutes before the guests arrived, I put it under the broiler for 8-10 minutes.  It comes out melted and bubbly.  I served it with sliced, crusty baguette.

For dinner, I made our favorite tomato sauce and added some...

Short Ribs + a little cream.  Easy Short Rib Ragu.  (The recipe link here uses stew meat, but just sub short ribs instead.)  I served it tossed with fettuccine.  The kids even cleaned their plates.

For dessert, I served Affogatos.  Because my nespresso machine is on the fritz, I made strong decaf coffee and served it over vanilla ice cream in big mugs.  I made chocolate chip cookie dough earlier in the day and put it in the freezer.  I put the balls on a sheet pan before they arrived and popped it in the oven after we finished dinner.  The kids and adults gobbled them up.  Who doesn't love a warm chocolate chip cookie?

I hope you've got some winter entertaining planned.  I feel like everyone needs some slow nights in of somebody taking care of them after the Holiday season.  


Thanks for all of your kind and supportive words yesterday after my Instagram confession.  It seems as though I hit a chord with many of you!  And for those of you who are afraid you won't see me on instagram every again, don't worry.  I will be posting once of twice a week to keep you in the loop - mostly of new blog posts or new products.  I have resolved to post only how I will use IG, and how I hope people will continue to use it themselves.  Instead of a constant and continuous use throughout the day, I will pop in once or twice a week to give the updates.  I will not use it to kill time, or keep my mind from being able to wonder.  I will use it actively and consciously, a couple of times a week.  However, most of my updates will come through my email newsletter, so be sure to sign up.  Thank you all for joining me in this journey : )



  1. Do you have a favorite Caesar salad recipe that you use?

  2. Your "instagram confession" really resonated with me- thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. Love visiting your blog to hear your voice in your writing and see your warm, beautiful home.

  3. I deleted my Twitter account and convinced a friend to take Facebook off her phone. You have started a revolution! Thank you!!

  4. These are the posts I love so much! Thank you for the inspiration. Just curious, do you have the source for your dining light. I have been searching high and low for a fixture along that line.. Thanks!


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