craisin chutney and kitchen gatherings

About two weeks ago I hosted my very first Kitchen Gathering at my home in Costa Mesa. Eight guests gathered with me in the kitchen to watch, learn and be inspired.

It was such a blessing and so much fun!  My heart came alive as I got to do some of what I love – cook, teach, inspire and bless.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this lovely evening with you all!

I was busy putting the finishing touches on the dining room table.  I wanted my guests to be blessed, even by the table.  It was adorned with a red table-cloth and burlap runner, multi-colored dishes, cloth napkins, wine glasses, tea lights burning in mason jars, and at the center, a plate of festive gourds.

It felt fitting for me to wear a very special Anthropologie apron, while Kyle felt led to rock a traditional chef’s hat.  Kyle was there to both enjoy and help me as sous chef. Your presence and help was awesome Kyle, thanks so much!

We tasted and compared various foods throughout the evening; different types of apples, parmesan and brie cheeses and parsley.

Brie is a soft, white French cheese.  I’d bought two different types of brie cheeses from Trader Joes.  One was a Trader Joe’s brand double cream brie and the other was a triple cream brie imported from France.

The group unanimously preferred the French triple cream brie to the other.  It was more soft and flavorful.

With the brie, we also delighted in a warm craisin chutney and crackers.  I showed the group how to prepare this incredibly simple, yet tasty appetizer.  It was so enjoyed, that by the end of the evening, there was none left.

Craisin Chutney

1 c craisins
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
2/3 c sugar
2 T water
1 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves

Place all ingredients in sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for an additional 20 minutes.  Serve over brie with crackers.

I made Pasta Carbonara for the main dish, which called for eggs, bacon, parmesan cheese, white wine, parsley, pepper and pasta.  It was super easy and delicious.

The recipe came from CP, a good friend of mine and fellow foodie.  She often makes this dish for her family when they need a little extra comfort and care.

As I prepared it, I taught the group about a French term called mis en place, which translates all in place.  It means that before you even begin to prepare the dish, you’ve read the recipe once through and have all the ingredients washed, cut, measured and ready to go.  You can see here that I’ve got the ingredients waiting and ready in those little red bowls to the left.

Elizabeth caught me in a whiskful passion, as I explained the value of a whisk. I love that whisks come in a variety of sizes. I believe that every cook should have at least one whisk in their kitchen, as it’s a great and necessary instrument!

After we’d finished the pasta, I made a hot bacon salad.

The salad consisted of greens, sliced apples, craisins, sugared almonds and hot bacon dressing.

I was not trying to be Italian by serving the salad second, but the recipe called for a small amount of bacon grease for the dressing.  I’d planned to use the grease from the bacon in the Carbonara, so we had to wait.

At this point in the evening, every guest was pleasantly filled and enjoying.

I love that both women and men were gathered, and even though not everyone knew one another beforehand, the group seemed to really gel and have fun together.

The evening came to a close with dessert, a chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  I’d prepared a loaf of this Trader Joe’s bread earlier in the day.  I’m convinced that it makes the best pumpkin bread, even better than any homemade loaf I’ve ever tasted.

I wanted to show the group how to decorate the top of the loaf using a pressed leaf and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but it didn’t turn out as expected.  We all had a good laugh about it though, and enjoyed a slice with a cold glass of milk anyway.

Each guest was sent home with a uniquely wrapped pumpkin muffin, as a way of saying thanks and continuing the inspiration.  The following day, I also emailed all of the recipes used at the gathering to the guests.

My next Kitchen Gathering is Thursday, December 9th from 6:45-9.  We’ll be exploring and enjoying traditional holiday fare.  The cost for the evening is $22, with 10% of all proceeds going toward feeding the homeless.

If you’re interested in gathering with me in the kitchen,  please email me at, to reserve your spot!

Thanks to all who came to support me and my dreams!  I’m also grateful to the Lord for His goodness, faithfulness and provision!

And don’t forget, to live deliciously!


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