Beef Tenderloin

Welcome . . .
to the first edition of The Dish, your monthly, members-only Effortless Entertaining e-newsletter!

The Christmas tree is barely out the door, and already the stores are filling up with Valentine’s Day goodies!

While I truly enjoy this February lovefest (see the custom M&M’s I sent to my family last year), I think it’s time we slow down and show Presidents’ Day a little love, too. Instead of a Valentine’s dinner, why not host a Jeffersonian Dinner?


The Jeffersonian Dinner

Ed and I have wanted to host a Jeffersonian Dinner ever since Ed’s alma mater, Wake Forest University, adopted the concept in their “Call to Conversation” dinners, hosted by the Wake faithful all over the country. To host a Jeffersonian Dinner, we follow Thomas Jefferson’s lead by inviting a diverse group who are given a topic in advance to be discussed during dinner. That is our framework. From there, we can make it as structured or unstructured as we like.

For our Jeffersonian dinner, Ed and I will be gathering a group of people we know to be committed to and interested in education. Our topic will be:

How do we elevate the community college education so that it is respected as an equal to a university or private college education?

Charlotte boasts one of the largest and most successful community colleges in the country, Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), with more than 70,000 students. Making this topic even nearer to our hearts is Ed’s involvement as chair of the CPCC Board of Trustees.

What’s a topic that interests you and might interest others? What’s happening in your community, your state, our country? Gather a group to discuss! A few things to consider:

  • Invite the number of people you can seat at one table or in one room if you’re eating on trays.
  • Choose your topic and provide information and guidelines in advance to your guests.
  • Try to invite guests you think are interested in and/or well-informed on this topic and who will bring different perspectives.
  • Determine whether you or someone else will moderate the discussion.
  • The moderator should be prepared to start the conversation with a question and to guide the conversation with additional questions.

To read more about the Jeffersonian Dinner, check out these articles:
How to Plan a Jeffersonian Dinner  |  How a Jefferson Dinner Works


For your Jeffersonian Dinner, try this super easy, no-fuss, easy-to-serve menu!

  • Mushroom–Blue Cheese Spread
  • Crudité Platter
  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
  • Seasoned Brussels Sprouts
  • Sour Cream Muffins
  • Irwin’s Super Brownies
  • Almond Macaroons

Printer-Friendly Menu, GamePlan & Recipes



For a quick crudité platter, prep your carrots and celery the day before (store cut carrots and celery in water to keep them crisp).

Arrange carrots, celery, and other vegetables, such as snap peas and peppers, on a tray with pre-packaged hummus (maybe more than one type) and pimento cheese in small bowls. Add one or two pickled vegetables, such as asparagus or okra.

A crudité platter is a nice complement to the heavier Mushroom–Blue Cheese Spread in this menu.

Clean as you go . . .
No muss, no fuss!

Clean tools as you work for a hassle-free end to your cooking. I like to keep a colander on the counter to dry spoons and spatulas that I’ve quickly washed during menu prep. They’re dry and ready to put away by the time I’m finished cooking.



Keep the table casual for this dinner. Use small low vases with simple arrangements or small bunches of the same flower. The conversation is the centerpiece of this evening.





Roots Hummus – Wonderful variety and flavor. Roots also uses fresh ingredients. Personal favorites are Lima Bean and Roasted Red Bell Pepper.

McCormick Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt – I have heard from a few who have had trouble finding this seasoning. Wouldn’t you know it – I can no longer find it at my local grocer, which is why I went online and ordered several jars!

My Three Sons Pimento Cheese – My very favorite! I use as a spread and for Jalapeño Cornbread

Bruce Julian Pickled Vegetables – Personal favorites are the Sassy Okra and Sassy Sprouts.

OXO Good Grips Mandoline Slicer – Easy, uniform vegetable slices.

Chef’s Star Cut-Resistant Gloves – I never grate or use a mandoline without these gloves!



We want to hear from you!

We loved hearing how much you enjoyed the Roasted Fish Casserole. Send us comments and photos of your Jeffersonian Dinner!

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