Posts in Happy Hour at Home

classic margarita with lime and salt on the rocks

Joel’s Classic Margaritas

May 5th, 2017 Posted by Alcoholic, Drinks, Food, Happy Hour at Home No Comment yet

Here’s a classic that Joel has been making for years! It packs a punch, yet goes down smooth and the real lime juice is a must! Try these drinks with vegan refried black beans and pico de gallo


ginger kombucha moscow mule with lime juice, super ginger kombucha and Reed's ginger ale

Ginger Kombucha Moscow Mule

August 5th, 2016 Posted by Alcoholic, Drinks, Happy Hour at Home No Comment yet

Moscow mules have fast become one of my favorite cocktails, especially since I found some super inexpensive copper mugs at a garage sale! I like that they are a little beat up, and I love their funky over arched handles. 


Mint Julep

April 30th, 2015 Posted by Drinks, Happy Hour at Home No Comment yet

mint julep vintage

Every spring I get the itch to have a stiff bourbon drink, wear a large hat, and class things up a little. This mint julep is just the ticket. It hales from a time of southern hospitality, large front porches, and men who wore suits with bow ties to the race track. 

A little history: 

The Kentucky Derby may have made this drink famous, but the mint julep was around before the Derby started, as early as 1875. The drink dates back to 1803 when it first appeared in print and was described as “dram of spiritous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians
in the morning.”

The drink could have hailed from even further back in history and much farther away then Kentucky. Chris Morris from Woodford Reserve Bourbon, centuries ago there was an Arabic drink called “julab” that was made with water and rose petals. The beverage was described as being delicate and refreshing, with a scent that
people thought would instantly enhance the quality of their

When the julab traveled to the Mediterranean region, the rose petals were replaced with a more native plant–mint.

As the drink grew in popularity in agricultural areas of the US, it was taken as a morning drink for farmers, almost like a morning cup of coffee. One sip, and they were ready to plow those fields.

The biggest change the mint julep has seen in it’s life time was the addition of American whiskey to the recipe. From there, the drink transformed into a mixture of sugar, water, mint leaves, and whiskey.

detail mint julep

The mint julep is traditionally served in small silver or pewter cups, help from the bottom. This is said to allow frost to form on the outside of the cup and keeps the transferring of heat from your hand to the drink at a minimum. It is said that this became the signature drink of the Derby then the famous race track, Churchill Down’s, began serving them in 1938 in small souvenir cups for 75 cents a drink.

While this drink has a few minor variances from the traditional mint julep, it’s just as delicious and refreshing. The glass pictured is a vintage cocktail glass, while pretty, is not traditional. When serving mint juleps in your home, serve in whatever glass you please, just serve them quick and sip them slowly.  

vintage mint julep

Originally published in my Summer Drinks app, available in iTunes.

Mint Julep
Recipe Type: Drink
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 drink
  • 2 ounces good quality bourbon or whiskey
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2-3 springs of mint, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
  • crushed ice to fill the glass
  • muddler
  1. In a tall sturdy glass, place 1 cup crushed ice, mint, and simple syrup. Crush with the muddler, until the mint is mixed with the ice and releases its fragrance, about 30 seconds. Transfer the ice mixture to your glass of choice and pour the bourbon over the ice slowly. Fill with additional crushed ice if needed.
  2. Swirl the glass gently, and sip.

Honeyed Rosemary Ricotta Dip and some bee news

April 27th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Happy Hour at Home, Snacks No Comment yet

ricotta rosemary honey dip

This dip is so simple and comes together in minutes. It’s great for a last minute appetizer or to take to a backyard cookout. My friend bought the stuff to make this dip, came over, and made it while I opened the wine – THAT is how easy and fast this dip is. It’s herby, it’s peppery, and it’s a little sweet, so bread or even seeded crackers. 

All you do is chop up some fresh rosemary. We have some in the garden going right now. It grows everywhere here in Oregon, and it overwinters well too. 

I added some pink sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. 

happy hour at home ricotta rosemary honey dip

happy hour at home ricotta rosemary honey dip

I’m a little obsessive about my honey. I like it raw and unfiltered. My favorite honey right now is Heavenly Honey. But Hanna’s Honey is also really good! The biggest thing about honey is to find raw honey and to buy it locally. You’ll get the best flavor, support the bees, and it will be the best for you. Raw honey has a deep and rich flavor-nothing like the filtered and heated commercial honey. I have also had good luck finding lovely honey at the Corvallis Brew Supply store. Yup, that’s right! Beer brewers and mead makers use honey all the time, and I just purchased 3 pounds for less then 14 bucks! Plus they sell it in Mason jars. I’m powerless to anything sold in a Mason jar. Their honey comes from Corvallis too, from the Queen Bee Honey Company. If you are looking to use honey to aid you in summer allergies, be sure to use a local honey. It will contain more of the pollen that come from your area, which means you’ll have a greater chance in combating those seasonal summer allergies.  

Using raw honey isn’t only good for you, but in case you haven’t heard, the bees need our help, folks! They are still in danger and reducing in numbers. This week, Whole Foods shared an article on Fast.Co that basically said, without changes, our salad bar would look like this

So what can we do as cooks, as bakers, as eaters? Here’s some simple ways to help the bees. Whole Foods also has some awesome (and way cute) materials about bees and other pollinators.

But hey, this is happy hour, right!? Let’s get on with the eating. 

So this dip is ready to get mixed up and served! I have it here with a crusty baguette, but crackers or even pita chips are delicious too. 

happy hour at home ricotta rosemary honey dip


Looking for the cocktail that goes with this recipe!? You’ll find it here: Grapefruit White Wine Spritzer

Honeyed Rosemary Ricotta Dip and some bee news
Recipe Type: Dip, Appetizer, Happy Hour at Home
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1-15 oz container ricotta cheese, part-skim or whole
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons raw, local honey
  • 1/2 tsp pink himalayan salt, or kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl, and serve with sliced bread or crackers. This dip would also be excellent with fresh figs, peaches, or plums.



Blue scarf, vintage, Oscar de la Renta

Stoneware bowl, vintage, Robinson Ransbottom (RRP) Roseville Ohio, Blue Band pattern 

If you want to know more about why you should use raw honey, check out this article

Have leftover ricotta? Try these ricotta orange pancakes. So rich! Perfect for Saturday morning, or a breakfast for dinner night. 

Grapefruit White Wine Spritzer

April 24th, 2015 Posted by Drinks, Happy Hour at Home, Wine 1 comment

grapefruit wine spritzer

I normally drink red wine year round, but when the weather is warmer, I want something cold! And I don’t mind if it has a bit less alcohol in it. I don’t like the sticky bloated feeling that comes with drinking too much beer in the heat, so I turn to spritzers and punches (the kind in a bowl, silly.) 

This spritzer came out of what I had sitting around, and wanting to pair it with a rosemary ricotta dip. Grapefruit and rosemary go together really well! The rosemary ricotta dip is kinda sweet (for a dip) so I wanted something a little bit bitter. Enter grapefruit! This drink comes together quickly because no simple syrup is required… just enough sweetness is delivered from the lemon-lime soda that we top this with. 

Here we go: 

We need a glass filled with ice. 

grapefruit wine spritzer

Squeeze in the grapefruit juice. Add a couple of slices in the glass, near the bottom if possible.

grapefruit wine spritzer

Next, pour the wine in. About 2/3 wine to 1/3 sparkling water, or in this case, lemon-lime soda. I don’t normally use soda, but I happened to have some and I think it works well in this drink. 

grapefruit wine spritzer

Then add the soda. 

grapefruit wine spritzer

And garnish with another slice of grapefruit. 

grapefruit wine spritzer

There you have it! SO GOOD for warm weather. 

Grapefruit White Wine Spritzer
Recipe Type: Drink, Wine
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • White Wine
  • Lemon Lime soda
  • 1 large Ruby Red or Rio Star
  1. Fill the glass with ice. Squeeze 1/4 of a grapefruit into the glass and add 2-3 pieces of grapefuit slices (one slice of grapefruit cut into quarters works well). Save one quarter slice for garnish.
  2. Fill your glass two thirds of the way full with white wine. Top off with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit on top or slipped onto the side of the glass.
  3. Lightly stir and serve. Make more drinks with the leftover grapefruit or save for eating later.


Goes well with the ricotta rosemary dip I’m posting tomorrow!! 

grapefruit white wine spritzer


Bresaola with the “right kind” of wine

April 17th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Bread, Drinks, Happy Hour at Home, Meat 1 comment

bresaola and rose

I’m a podcast fiend. I’m that girl that starts off every other sentence with “I was listening to this podcast the other day…” It’s probably annoying. I don’t know. But I learn so much, and now I’m addicted to several podcasts. On that I love is Splendid Table. I was listening to it the other day when they started talking about wines with cured meats and it reminded me of my days working as a dishwasher at Les Caves in Corvallis. The Caves kitchen crew would always talk about the fact that they are a “from scratch kitchen” and that was no lie. They made their own charcuterie, and it’s where I had my first bresaola. Bresaola (brez-oh-lah) is a cured beef, and it’s not like a chopped up and formed cured meat like salami or sausages, it’s like on whole piece of beef that has been salted and air dried. According to Pinterest is one of the easier cured meats to make at home! This is something I’ll have to try. 

So with the memories of my first bresaola swirling around in my mind while I listened to Lynne talk to Joshua Wesson about wine. Joshua pointed out that red wine actually over powers cured meats, and a lighter wine, be it sparkly or lightly chilled, is a great choice for cured meats. 

bresaola and rose

This bresaola is so beefy and full of savory flavor, I paired it with a slightly sweet, but not too sweet, Lions Lair 2013 South African Rosé. It was lovely! An appetizer that I probably would have paired with a Cab Sav, prior to listening to the Splendid Table podcast episode. The bresaola went really well with a lighter wine that didn’t destroy my palate and allowed the flavor of the beef to open up in new ways. With such a strong flavor, something sweet to wash it down with softens the salt and brings out the unctuous flavor like I haven’t experienced before. 

When I had bresaola at Caves, it was served very simply.

Here’s what you do: have your sliced bresaola nearby and get your hands on some sliced baguette or other fresh artisan style bread. Slice up a lemon into wedges. A decent olive oil is best here, like a peppery or fruity one, whatever you can afford as a finishing oil. If you don’t have a fancy olive oil, stop by Olive and Vine if you are in the Portland area. If you simple cannot find or afford another ingredient, use the olive oil you cook with, but at least make sure it’s relatively fresh.

To build your perfect bite, layer a pice of bresaola on the slice of bread, squeeze the lemon over it and drizzle it with olive oil. Then, take a bite. It’s salty, it’s fatty, it melts in your mouth.

bresaola and rose

These are really fun to build as you go, so when you serve it, show your fellow at home happy hour friends how to make their bites.

A note on the price of this cured meat: bresaola can be a bit expensive, but a little goes a long way because it is such a strong flavor. For example, the bresaola I got from New Seasons was 29.99 per pound, but I asked the guy at the meat counter for 8 or 10 slices, which is plenty for two people (for each “bite” you could even use half a slice of bresaola to stretch it a little more) and that only cost around $2.50. It’s great like this, on its own, or as part of a larger antipasto platter of cured meats.

bresaola and rose

Bresola with the right kind of wine
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 8 slices bresaola
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • baguette, sliced
  1. On a slice of baguette, layer a slice (or half) of bresaola. Squeeze lemon over the bresaola, drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!
  2. Excellent served with a chilled white wine or Rose.



Splendid Table Podcast,  “Don’t follow conventional wisdom when pairing wine with charcuterie” 

Wooden cutting board, West Elm

Bresaola Bernina from Uruguay 

New Seasons Market


Dry Martinis and Marinated Artichoke Hearts

April 2nd, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Drinks, Happy Hour at Home No Comment yet

martini and artichoke hearts

Happy hour at home should be EXACTLY how you like it. Your martini made just the right way, your food made perfectly to your cravings and it should be less expensive and more fun! 

Martinis are my staple cocktail, but I rarely order one when I do go out. It turns out, I like the way I make them the best! That might make me sound like a jerk, but I would rather order that drink with the ingredients I don’t have and is probably too complicated for me to make at home when I’m out. So I save martinis for when I’m home. Joel and I both love them made exactly this way: shaken, dry and very cold. 

Martinis can be made with either gin or vodka. We use gin! Find one that you like. Our absolute favorite is Organic Nation Gin, but if you want a bottle, you’ll be hard pressed to find one. We also have been liking Farmer’s Botanical Small-Batch Gin, and we use that as our “everyday gin.” Organic Nation is reserved for special occasions! A lot of people also like Aviation Gin and Beefeater Gin. I tell you, I’ve tried them and Organic Nation and/or Farmer’s are still my preference. I love the juniper and pine flavors! Hendricks is too floral and herbal for this dry martini, but it’s perfect in my garden gimlet. For my vermouth, I keep it super simple. I just use dry vermouth from my grocery store, or a similar less expensive one from the liquor store (that may shock you mixologists out there, but you’ll see why I use it when I get into the method of mixing this drink!) 

martini and artichoke hearts-3The shaker I use is a wide-mouth pint sized canning jar with a NEW lid and rim (by new I mean has not been used for canning a jar before-it still has the good rubber seal on the edge). You can also use an old peanut butter, mustard or whatever glass jar that has been washed out with a good lid. Test it if you must: put some water in the jar and close the lid tightly. Shake. Did water come out? If not, then it’s good to go! If it did, find a new jar and lid that won’t leak. Nothing is worse then gin flying all over you and your kitchen, trust me on that one! Also, test your jar to make sure the strainer will fit inside of it. 

My Martini Method: 

Take a glass, preferably one with a stem. Pour a teaspoon or two of vermouth in it. Swirl it around the glass, and dump it straight into the sink with one swift, decisive motion. (see how little vermouth is in there? That’s perfect!)

vermouth in martini

Then, fill your jar or shaker with ice, about halfway.  

shaker with ice
Pour in 2.5 ounces of gin.

gin martini

Put the lid on tightly. Shake! Shake about 30 seconds to get it really cold. Using a hawthorne strainer, pour into a glass. The special strainer allows the little ice crystals that form in your gin to make it into your glass. You wan’t those! They are the hallmark of a really great martini.

cocktail strainer

With your martini in your glass, add your garnish. I like an olive with a few extra drips of olive juice from the jar, just whatever comes off the spoon is perfect. 

olive in gin martini

Sometimes I switch it up by adding something other then an olive. Here’s some other things that work really well for a dry/savory martini (sorry, we don’t do the twist around here, it’s all salt, all the time). 

Garnish options:

  • Pickled brussel sprouts! Yes, these can be found in the store but you can also make your own small jar of quick-pickled sprouts and store them in the fridge.
  • Pickled asparagus (a small spear or one cut in half)
  • Pickled or raw beet cube
  • Stinky blue cheese cube, or a blue cheese stuffed olive 
  • Pickled grape (you should absolutely make these, they are from that book I mentioned before, 
  • A small gherkin pickle
  • Pickled Onion

I think you’ll notice a trend here. Try things that are pickled in this or have a distinctive flavor like the blue cheese (oh man, a gin-soaked cube of cheese!? Girl, please.) Eating the garnish at the bottom is my favorite part. You should experiment and find garnishes that go well with your gin. 

So with our martini made nice and stiff, let’s focus on the artichoke hearts. These are quick and easy and a nice little break from all the cheese we’ve been eating lately. You can make these a couple days ahead of time, too. 

I used thawed boxed artichoke hearts. Those go into a bowl with olive oil, salt, thyme (fresh or dried, I had fresh so I used it), oregano, red chile flakes, and lemon juice. Stir it up and your done. These are good made and eaten right away, but the longer they sit the better they taste. 

artichoke hearts

I had some of this assorted charcuterie sitting in my fridge, which sounds ridiculous to say, but it’s true. I have an addiction to organic grocery stores, and the one I happened to visit this week had these little mixed packs of sliced cured meats. It’s a fun way to try a bunch of stuff, as long as you are fine with not really knowing what it is. They are usually between 3 and 4 dollars (depending on weight) and in or near the cheese case. Look at your specialty grocery store next time you go! If they don’t have them, just try something new from the deli case. They don’t mind only slicing a little for you (i.e. you don’t need to make a 18-dollar a pound commitment if you’ve never tried Speck before.)

So with a folded up piece of (what I think is) dry coppa, and an artichoke heart on a party pick, and you are all set. Take a bite and sip on your martini. Mmmm. The artichoke compliments the gin so well! Maybe next time I’ll just put a marinated artichoke heart IN my martini…. 

classy lady with a martini

Dry Martinis and Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Recipe Type: Drink, Cocktail
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 drink
  • 1-2 teaspoons vermouth
  • 2.5 ounces gin
  • Shaker
  • Ice
  • Garnish of choice (olive, onion, brussel sprout)
  • For the artichoke hearts:
  • 1 9-oz box of artichoke hearts, thawed, or the equivalent of canned
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Pour the vermouth into a martini glass, swirl, dump it out.
  2. Fill a shaker halfway with ice and pour in the gin. Shake at least 30 seconds, but not too long. The ice will melt and water down the drink if you shake too much.
  3. Using a strainer, pour into a jar. Garnish with and olive and a few drops olive juice.
  4. To make the artichoke hearts:
  5. Rinse artichoke hearts under cold water. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, thyme, oregano and chile flakes in a small mixing bowl.
  6. Serve now, or in a day or two. To store, cover and refrigerate.


Jalapeño Poppers and IPA

March 26th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Drinks, Happy Hour at Home No Comment yet

 jalepeno cheese poppers

These are a perfect happy hour at home re-make. Guys love them, and really, no one can resist them. These are stuffed with a homemade pimento cheese! I swapped out prosciutto de parma for the bacon, it’s thinner and leaner then bacon. 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-1

Sometimes I wish I was southern. Mainly so I could’ve eaten pimento cheese sandwiches as a kid. 

This one starts with cream cheese, sharp white cheddar (my favorite is Tillamook, but any cheese you like will work) and medium cheddar. 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-5

Add the pimentos. 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-7

Flavor it up! I added some red onion, Worcestershire sauce, and a little vinegar and of course, fresh cracked black pepper. Then pulse until it looks sort of mixed, but still a little chunky. That’s good! 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-8

Fill the jalapeños. First, remove the seeds and ribs.

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-12

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-13

Wrap with prosciutto. I like to slice a piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise and set a jalapeño half near one end of the prosciutto, then wrap it up like an envelope or sort of roll it if you can. 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-18

Place them all on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees, until brown and crispy. 

pimiento stuffed jalepeno poppers-26

Okay, time to talk about the beverage for a minute. This is so great with one of our current favorites: Fort George Brewery’s The Optimist IPA. It’s crisp and aromatic without being bitter. It’s a totally delicious IPA, and perfect with an appetizer like this. Happy hour at home for the WIN!

the optimist and jalepeno poppers

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12 poppers
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 oz jar chopped pimento
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 medium cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped
  • 1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon vinegar
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 jalapeños
  • 1 package prosciutto de Parma
  1. Make the pimento cheese. In a food processor, blend together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos and the garlic until smooth. Add the cheeses and red onion and pulse until combined but still a little chunky. Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Set aside or refrigerate until you are ready to stuff the peppers. You can make this up to three days ahead.
  2. When you are ready to stuff the peppers, slice the jalapeños in half and remove the ribs and seeds. Fill with the pimento cheese, using about two tablespoons per jalapeño half.
  3. To wrap each jalapeño half with prosciutto, lay a slice of prosciutto on a cutting board and slice in half vertically, so you have two long slices of prosciutto. Lay a stuffed jalapeño on the lower third of a strip of prosciutto. Wrap it up like an envelope, starting with the short end of prosciutto, and then wrapping/rolling the jalapeño up with the rest of the prosciutto.
  4. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the prosciutto is brown and crispy. Let cool on the baking sheet for a minute before serving. The jalapeños can be stuffed and wrapped up to a day ahead of time. You will have extra pimento cheese; I hear it makes great sandwiches.



Baked Fontina and merlot for two

March 19th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Drinks, Happy Hour at Home 3 comments

happy hour for two

So it’s Thursday! We need a little respite from the work week. We need a little drink to sip on and a snack to nibble on. Happy Hour is on everyone’s mind usually by this time of the week. Does happy hour stress anyone else out? I could never seem to get out of work and to the bar before last HH call (who can actually make it to happy hour at 4pm anyways?)

Then there’s the ordering. Why do I have to make a decision in two seconds (and it’s always between a greasy burger or a boring overpriced side salad)? Not to mention driving home after downing two (because they are $3 off!) drinks and hardly eating a real meal.

No. No. No. I am reclaiming happy hour. Happy hour at home! It’s the way to go. 

Here’s why: 

  1. You get exponentially better food. Better for you, fresher, and likely faster.
  2. Alcohol is cheaper when you buy a bottle of your favorite liquor and mix your own cocktails. Plus you can a make it just the way you like it. 
  3. Bonus: You’re already home so you don’t have to worry about driving. 
  4. So, now that we’ve decided to go home and get comfortable with our cocktails, what do we make? 

Happy hour at home should be: 

  1. Easy
  2. Fast
  3. Make ahead if possible. You don’t want to put too much pressure on your self, or it’s not happy!
  4. Delicious! Hey, if you make it yourself, you can make it any which way you want, and usually the money you would have spent on going out can go towards upgrades in your ingredients! 

Which is exactly why we use the fancy fontina in this recipe. This is Fontina Val d’Aosta, an Italian semi-hard cheese that is fantastic for melting. It has medium flavor, meaning, it’s not a stinky cheese, but it’s not super mild either, it’s kinda pleasantly in the middle with a rich, melty texture and aroma. It’s a comforting and satisfying cheese, perfect for a weeknight happy hour or drinks with your friends. 

baked fontina

I mean…. just look at it: 

melted fontina

Here’s what you do for a lovely little happy hour at home (for two!)

Cube up some of this nutty Fontina Val d’Aosta. 

cubed up fontina

Chop some herbs and slice a little garlic (you can use a garlic press to make this even easier). 

Toast some bread or heat up a baguette in the oven. 

Put the cheese in a small cast iron skillet (4-6 inch or anything oven proof around 4-6 inches.)

baked fontina

Drizzle olive oil over the cheese and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper. I am betting that you could do this in the morning or the night before and cover with plastic wrap or keep in a container in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. 

Take your bread out of the oven and slice it. Put the cheese under the broiler. 

It only takes about 5 minutes, so don’t go too far away! Open the wine. We have a lovely 2013 Black Mountain Merlot. I picked this up at Trader Joe’s for $6.99. Guess what? It’s lovely with this cheese! If you can’t fine this wine, just ask the wine dude or lady for a wine that would pair well with a good fontina cheese. I also found this blog that offers other suggestions from Trader Joe’s. If wine isn’t your thing, try an American Pale Ale or a Doppelbock beer. If you don’t like wine OR beer, what are ya doin’ here? This is happy hour! (aka, have kombucha or some iced tea.)

trader joes black mountain merlot 2013

The cheese is ready! It’s best served warm right out of the pan you baked it in. I recommend melting the cheese right before you plan to serve it, trying to re-heat this doesn’t work. 

baked fontina

So why do we love this for happy hour at home? It’s easy! You could cut the cheese (hehe) and the herbs ahead of time, but even doing that doesn’t take too long. The drink here is simple, just a well chosen wine. And the fontina in this dish is seriously upgraded, so making it for two keeps it affordable. 

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead. If you like this red cast iron skillet, you can find it in my Etsy shop (I only have one!). 

Baked Fontina and merlot for two
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Snack
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1/2 pound (or close to it) Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind cut off
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/3 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper
  • French baguette for serving
  1. Toast the bread or heat it up in the oven. Cube up the fontina into 1″ chunks. Remove the bread and slice. Preheat the broiler with the rack 5 or 6 inches from the heat.
  2. In a 5 or 6″ skillet or small baking dish, sprinkle the fontina evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, herbs and salt and pepper. Broil until melted, bubbly and slightly browned, about 5 or 6 minutes. Meanwhile, open the wine and pour.
  3. When the cheese is done, serve right out of the hot dish with the french bread. Cheers! It’s happy hour!


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