#kitchen  #friends  #cooking with friends  #baking lesson  #wine night  #get together  #my house 

kitchen + wine + food + friends = happy

A kitchen full of friends makes me the most happy. I’m lucky to have a large kitchen and am able to host gatherings often. My last kitchen was a galley and it was hard having guests over because I never got to see them. No fun! This kitchen is very open and begs for company, so I give her what she wants.

Fridays have become “wine night” at my house. As in, “Let’s have a _________ wine night on Friday”! The blank can be yoga, U-JAM, writing group, cookbook crew, couples, family — you get the idea. If you bring out wine, they will come. Of course we serve lots of other things too, but vino seems to be the constant.

And with wine, you need food. And guess what? I love to cook, so it’s a win-win. I’ve ditched the big dinner in favor of munchies and cocktail food, as it’s more fun to graze and it’s easier on the host. Yeah, that would be me. I learned the hard way that it’s tough to enjoy your company when you’re trying to get food ready to serve all at once. No thanks.

I love the noise, clutter and frenzy of having guests in my house. I truly enjoy bringing people together and then stuffing their bellies. I’ve also taught friends to bake and cook, but letting friends relax in my home is what makes me smile. Your glass will never be empty up in here!

Here are a few recent glances into my kitchen…


U-JAM wine night


yoga wine night (we posed all pretty-like at some point)


baking lesson with Sreya


Jinxie and Sharon snuggling (no wine or food that day, just fun!)

…and I can’t forget my daily kitchen companions, Jinx and Fred! They are always nearby in case I need taste testers. ;)

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 #jambalaya  #barefoot contessa  #dinner  #cooking with friends  #csa  #Two Small Farms 

barefoot jambalaya

i’ve only made jambalaya starting with a box. it was good, but i’d always been curious about making it from scratch. then i was watching an episode of the barefoot contessa one saturday morning and lo and behold, she and a louisiana pal made it. i printed out the recipe and for the next week i sang a little ditty i made up on the spot, “bare-foot jam-ba-la-ya, bare-foot jam-ba-la-ya” while doing the cha cha through the house. my friend donna had asked if i wanted to cook together sometime and i thought this was a perfect occasion to bust this baby out. we both had some of the basics, so we brought them together (including donna’s homemade chicken stock!) to make one kick-ass dinner.

donna was in charge of chopping the meat and me the veggies. here’s my nice dice of the trinity in cajun cooking — onion, celery and bell pepper.

chopped green onions from the two small farms csa! they went inside both inside the jambalaya and on top as a garnish. fresh and yummy.

diced roma tomatoes. i think they were supposed to be seeded, but as you can see, a few slipped by me.

the proteins in the recipe smoked ham, andouille sausage and shrimp. sounds good to me! here’s the ham and sausage after cooking. i bought smoked ham shank, so we even threw the bone in while cooking for extra flavor. let me tell you, it worked.

sweating the veggies with tomato paste after the meat was cooked. they picked up the little brown bits left from the meat and got nice and tender.

bare-foot-jam-ba-la-ya! this recipe has a lot of ingredients, but is very simple to make. there’s a lot of chopping and prep work, but once you do that, it’s easy breezy. donna and i made the whole recipe and then split it in two. it made more than enough for dinner that night plus leftovers. we had fun cooking it and i know erik and i enjoyed eating it! it was a really flavorful and a cozy dish for a cold evening.

Recipe copyright 2010, Amelia Durand, all rights reserved.