Sweets to the Sweet… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Looking for something really unique to do this Valentine’s Day?  How about a Dessert Wine & Sweets Paring? If I do say so myself, this episode of Sugared is just plain awesome!  I teamed up with some gal pals- the best in their fields- to make this dessert pairing party phenomenal.  From Bon Appetit Magazine, wine columnist Heather John picked out some of her favorite dessert wines and Valerie Gordon, owner of my favorite chocolate shop in town – Valerie Confections – was on hand to pair the perfect treats with the perfect wines.

I can’t describe how much fun we had!  I mean, come on!  Chocolate, wine, giggles.  Think about doing your own tasting at home.  Invite a group of friends and have everyone bring a dessert wine and a paired sweet. Watch this latest episode of Sugared below for tips on how to pair and what to think about when doing so.

Here’s a complete list of our parings in the episode:

Robert Mondavi Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000 paired with a Rose Petal Petit Four

Justin “Obtuse” Paso Robles Dessert Red 2008 ($24) paired with a Chocolate Tart filled with milk chocolate ganache and topped with grey sea salt

Fonseca LBV Port 2003 ($22) paired with a Blushing Berry Chocolate Bar

La Tour Vieille “Vendanges” Banyuls 2006 ($18-25) paired with Orange Toffee covered in 61% Valrhona chocolate and topped with candied orange peel

Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira ($40) paired with a Caramel Parfait and Almond Fleur de sel Toffee

If you live in Los Angeles, a trip to Valerie’s confectionary gem is a must.  But you can also find her sweets online at valerieconfections.com.  And be sure to check out Heather’s amazing food AND fashion blog The Foodinista.

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Dishing with Jessica: The Valentine’s Day Menu

Cooking on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family”…

JC appearing on HOME & FAMILY Tuesday 2/10 10/9c on Hallmark Channel.

… cooking up Crème Brûlée French Toast with Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines.  Be sure to tune in!  Find us all on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and let us know how you like the recipe! HOME & FAMILY

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Here’s an easy soup to make on a cold night.  Roasting the squash is the secret to bringing out the best flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes about 6 servings


2 medium sized butternut squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

the juice of one orange (or 1/2 cup orange juice)

4 cups low salt chicken broth

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

1 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup chopped, crisply cooked pancetta to garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice squash in half, scoop out the seeds, rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap each half individually in foil and place all 4 slices, cut side down, on a baking sheet.  Roast for about 1 hour or until tender.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Sautè onions, garlic and ginger until soft- about 5 minutes.

Scoop out flesh from squash, discarding skins, and add to pot along with orange juice, chicken broth, and smoked paprika.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Add mixture to blender.  Add crème fraîche and puree until smooth.

Pour soup into cleaned pot and bring to a simmer.  Adjust seasonings along with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve into warm soup bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of pancetta on top.

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“How Much Longer???…”

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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SUGARED: The Christmas Episode

Watch this step-by-step video for making my White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt.

Happy Holidays!!!

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‘Tis the Season to be Baking!

Looking for some last minute cookie recipes?  Here are my 4 favorites to make during the holiday season.  Just click on the highlighted names to be directed to the recipes.

My White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt are hands down my most requested cookie recipe.

Two I love to make this time of year are my Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies and The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And no Christmas is complete for me without sharing my favorite cookie from childhood, My Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies.

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Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies

If I get my baking talents from anyone, it’s definitely my Aunt Kate.  This is her recipe and these cookies were my favorite as a little girl.  I still remember dangling from my auntie’s bellbottomed pant leg begging her to make these whenever she came to visit.  As I got older, we made them together.  She shared with me what would become my most treasured recipe.

A few years ago, my aunt passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly.  She was my second mother and words cannot express how much I miss her everyday.

When I make her cookies now, I can feel her over my shoulder, going through the steps and making them with me.  I’m transported back in time to conversations we had, her gigantic laugh and her brilliant smile that could light up any room.  Food and cooking is something that truly connects us to the people we love, even when they are no longer with us.

Of all the memories I have with my aunt, and there are many of them, it’s when I make these cookies that I feel closest to her.  And now I share this recipe, and the abundance of love that comes with it, with you.  Happy Holidays, Xoxo, J

Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies

Servings: About 4 dozen


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not runny or whipped)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (not whipped)

about 2 cups powdered sugar

2 jars (12 -14 ounces each) of maraschino cherries


In a small bowl, mix together flour and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture to butter and cream cheese and blend in just till combined.  Don’t overwork the dough.

Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk about 2 inches thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a cutting board or flat surface sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Using a ruler for accuracy, cut dough into 2×2 squares with a knife.

Place 1 maraschino cherry in the center of each square and fold 2 sides so that they meet and cover the cherry.  Be sure to secure dough to prevent opening up during baking.

Bake at 375 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for about 10 minutes or until bottoms are just lightly browned.  Do not over-bake.

Let cookies cool on a wire rack.

When completely cooled, sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.

Baked cookies can be stored frozen for up to 3 months sealed in an airtight, freezer safe container or freezer safe baggie.

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