Monthly Archives

July 2010

Beef Grilling Kid Friendly

Steak Diane

Arriving home from a fun day trip to Port Townsend, WA last weekend,  I grabbed two one pound packages of ground beef out of my freezer to use for dinner, or so I thought.  When I went to prepare Suzie Q’s ( pet name for our little gal) famous Grizzly Burgers, I opened up one package of ground beef and one package of beautiful beef tenderloin.  I hadn’t planned on grilling the tenderloin, and truth be told, I was saving those little darlings for a special weekend meal.

Karista's Kitchen

Port Townsend, WA Marina

I couldn’t let those tasty steaks go to waste so my special weekend meal turned into a lovely weeknight event.  As my little gal said “Mom, we celebrated the weekend on a weeknight”.  Which is just dandy as it is summer after all, and who says a beautiful beef tenderloin must be reserved for the weekend…except me of course.

Karista's Kitchen

Port Townsend, WA

I’ve been chomping at the bit to prepare the flavorful recipe made famous by Julia Child, Steak Diane.  I haven’t found much about the history of this famous dish, other than it’s very similar to the Steak au Poivre.  And according to Larousse Gastonomique, the description “a la Diane” is given to certain game dishes dedicated to the mythical Goddess Diana (the Huntress).  The earliest known mention of this decadent sauce is from a 1907 publication by Escoffier.

Karista's Kitchen

A little stormy at the Marina in Port Townsend, WA

I can see why it’s stood the test of time.  This rich, flavorful sauce, yet light in texture, is a most lovely compliment to the tenderest cut of beef.  It’s also a wonderfully versatile sauce that can dress your favorite roasted pork tenderloin.  Fast, fresh and classic French, your family and friends will be completely delighted with a meal of Steak Diane.

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

Serves 2


2 6-8ounce beef tenderloin steaks, pounded into thinner cuts (substitute with your favorite cut of beef, pounded out a bit)

Kosher or sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons clarified butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ – 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

¼ cup Brandy, Madeira or Cognac (If I’m out of Brandy I substitute with dry white wine)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Dash of Worcestershire sauce (about a teaspoon)

¼ cup beef broth (you can substitute with water)


Season the beef with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet add the butter and olive oil and heat on medium.  When the butter is frothy and hot, pan sear the beef until nicely golden brown.  Transfer to a platter.  (you can also grill the steaks if you prefer)

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan, turning the heat down if needed.  Sauté for a few minutes until the shallots and garlic are wilted but not browned.

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, Italian parsley, brandy, lemon juice, Worcestershire and broth.  Let the liquid simmer for a minute or two.

Add the beef back to the skillet and let it reheat in the sauce a minute longer.  Taste for seasoning.

Transfer beef to individual plates and ladle sauce over top.  Serve immediately.

This classic dish is fabulous served with mashed or roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli or asparagus.

Grilling Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Swordfish

Grilled Swordfish Topped With a Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce

There are moments when I believe I must eat, drink and sleep “food”.  I wake up most mornings thinking about the next delicious dinner creation, contemplating ideas during most of my day, and mentally assembling those ideas into what I hope will be a winning combination.   

Once I’ve created the tasty dish, I spend precious moments trying to capture the true essence of the sumptuous food.  Much to my husbands dismay,  when he finally gets his beautiful plate of food it’s usually cooled and needs to be reheated.  I can’t tell you how many times my family has been sitting at the dinner table and I’m somewhere outside snapping photos of our meal.  My little gal will tell you if you eat dinner at our house you need to grab your plate and get your food before Mom grabs the camera. 

Fish really does taste best served right off the grill, stove top or from the oven. Especially when it’s lightly covered in this fragrant, flavorful sauce.  Once the sauce has been lightly ladled over the fish, top it with diced fresh pineapple and cilantro.  It’s tropical, fresh, and tastes like vacation!

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

Serves 4


1 ½ – 2 lbs Fresh Swordfish or Mahi Mahi (I think it would also be yummy over halibut)

Olive oil

1 3 inch stalk fresh lemongrass, lightly smashed (if you can’t find lemongrass, substitute with ½ teaspoon lemon zest)

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 15oz can whole Coconut milk

½ cup flaked coconut, toasted

¼ cup fresh cilantro, torn or coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups fresh pineapple, small diced

1 lime

Salt and pepper to taste


To make the sauce: Add the coconut milk, lemongrass and grated ginger to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Let the milk reduce by half, until it’s thickened and creamy.

Add a 2 tablespoons toasted coconut and a teaspoon of fresh cilantro.  Continue to simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes longer.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Gently toss together the remaining cilantro and fresh pineapple, adding a squeeze of fresh lime. 

For the Fish: Pre-heat the grill to 400F. 

Brush the fish with olive oil and then dust with salt and pepper.  When you are ready to grill your fish, soak a paper towel with veggie oil.  Using grilling tongs, rub the oiled paper towels over the grill grates. 

Place the fish on the grill, turning down the heat to medium so it doesn’t burn.  Flip the fish only once, or it will fall apart.  Cook until desired doneness.  Transfer the fish to individual plates or a platter.  Squeeze with fresh lime.

To Serve:  Ladle a little sauce over the fish and then top with the fresh cilantro and pineapple.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!

Grilling vegetarian

Grilled Portabella and Sweet Banana Pepper Quesadillas with Fresh Cilantro and Pepper Jack Cheese

Quesadillas qualify as “fun food” in my house.  Whether they’re filled with assorted gourmet cheeses, meats, veggies or even filled with fruit and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, quesadillas make an appearance on our kitchen or patio table at least once a week. 

Most often my quesadillas are filled up with whatever’s in the frig that needs to be eaten before the expiration date.  This week it was the yummy portabella mushrooms and sweet banana peppers that I’d forgotten I’d purchased.  Yes, I purchased these veggies on a whim, thinking I might stuff the peppers or maybe even stuff the portabellas.  But alas, I got busy and didn’t stuff anything.  So there they were, sitting in the bottom of my frig just staring at me and screaming to be used before they got tossed into the food compost. 

These delectable quesadillas are simply prepared by grilling the mushrooms and peppers first, then assembling the veggies with the cilantro and cheese on fresh flour tortillas.  Grill them until the cheese is warm and melted and serve with your family’s favorite salsa and sliced fresh summer avocados. 

Serve these quesadillas as a starter for your next outdoor dinner party or as a light lunch or dinner with a fresh green salad tossed in your favorite vinaigrette. 

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Fiesta!

Serves 4


2 large portabella mushrooms

2 sweet banana peppers

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn

1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Fresh Avocados, sliced

Fresh Tomatoes, sliced (optional)

Your favorite salsa


Pre-heat the grill to 350F.  Brust or rub the mushrooms and peppers with olive oil.  Grill until the peppers are lightly roasted and soft, but not mushy, and the mushrooms are soft. 

Cool the veggies and slice.  Turn the grill heat down to low. 

Brush one side of each tortilla with olive oil.  Sprinkle a little cheese on one half the tortilla.  Layer with a few slices mushrooms and a few slices peppers and torn cilantro.  Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top of the veggies and then fold other half of the flour tortilla over the cheese and veggies. 

Once all the quesadillas are prepared, carefully transfer them to the grill.  Grill each side for just a few minutes until the cheese is melted and the quesadillas are golden brown. 

Transfer the quesadillas to a platter and slice like a pizza.  Serve with fresh sliced avocado and salsa.

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Max’s Five Ingredient Blueberry Cobbler

Easy five ingredient blueberry cobbler // Karista's Kitchen

I love it when children get excited about cooking.  When they realize they can take a few simple fresh ingredients and transform them into something delicious to eat.  The dazzled little expressions on their precious faces says it all.

We have several “little Chef’s” in our extended family.  Our two tweens, Max and Amelia, definitely get motivated about good food.  Not that our teenagers and young adult members don’t cook, but I have to tell you, when Max and Amelia get cookin’ in the kitchen it’s usually a delicious masterpiece of a meal.

Easy Five Ingredient Blueberry Cobbler // Karista's Kitchen

This yummy blueberry cobbler recipe is compliments of our Chef Max.  While visiting my sister one summer, Max whipped this up in a snap and I fell into blueberry heaven!  It was so simple, so fresh and so delightful.

The cobbler is incredible when prepared exactly as written.  However, I played around with the recipe a bit and added a few different flavors that compliment blueberries.  The first cobbler I added fresh ground cardamom, another I added a pinch of cinnamon and the last cobbler I added lemon zest and dried lavender buds.  They were all astoundingly delicious!

However you decide to prepare this blueberry cobbler, you won’t be disappointed.   A great big special thanks goes out to our Chef Max for sharing this delectable dish!

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Max’s Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

Serving Size: 6-8

Max’s Fresh Blueberry Cobbler


  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • Zest of one lemon (optional)


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Melt the butter and add it to the bottom of an 8x11 glass baking dish or baking pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar and milk. Pour it on top of the butter.
  • Toss the lemon zest with the blueberries and then sprinkle the blueberries over the top of the flour mixture.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cobbler is golden brown on top.
  • Serve with Vanilla Bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
  • Notes

    For a variation you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground ginger to the blueberries. Or try adding 1/4 teaspoon of dried lavender buds.

    To make your own self rising flour: for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix together. You can store this in a sealed container.

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    Grilling Halibut Kid Friendly Seafood

    Grilled Halibut Tacos with Fresh Pineapple Slaw

    I love tacos!  Any kind of tacos really.  Just put a taco in front of me and I’ll probably eat it, and enjoy every bite.  But alas, I’m trying hard to keep my calorie count in check, so if I’m going to indulge in my favorite food I’ll need to include something really healthy… like fish. 

    Fish tacos can be absolutely delicious, especially when they are battered and fried.  However, for the sake of all things good health, I’ve created several different ways to enjoy grilled fish tacos. 

    Halibut is a true Northwest favorite when it comes to fish.  And it makes a fabulous fish taco to boot.  Mix it up with some tropical fruits and fresh slaw and you’ve got one fantastic taco!

    These fish tacos are simple, fresh and so delicious I’m betting you’ll make these once a week.  If pineapple isn’t your favorite tropical fruit feel free to substitute with mango or papaya.  These fruits beautifully compliment halibut and will make a lovely and flavorful substitution.

    Get ready to fiesta with these delicious grilled halibut tacos and pineapple slaw!  Keep dinner simple…Enjoy the flavors of life!

    Serves 4


    1-1/2 lb fresh Pacific Northwest Halibut (you can substitute with any firm and flaky white fish like Mahi Mahi, Ono or Cod)

    Olive oil

    Fresh lime juice (about 2 medium limes)

    Salt and pepper


    Chili powder (or chipotle chili powder)

    Ground coriander (optional)

    1 package cole slaw mix (no dressing)

    1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 tablespoon honey

    Mexican Cheese (cotija, ranchero, or pepper jack)

    Your favorite salsa (I love the green tomatillo salsa with fish tacos)

    Fresh sliced avocados

    Sour Cream (optional)

    Corn tortillas (steamed)

    Mexican Rice as a side


    In a large bowl mix together a few tablespoons lime juice, honey, and a drizzle of olive oil to make a light vinaigrette.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss with the cole slaw, and cilantro.  Fold in the chopped pineapple and set aside.  For a creamy slaw, add a few tablespoons sour cream. 

    Pre-heat the grill to 400F.  Season the halibut with lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and coriander.  Grill the fish until desired doneness, or if you’d like to oven roast, pop the fish in a preheated 350F oven and roast for about 10 minutes or until fish is opaque and flaky.

    Steam the corn tortillas in a steamer, rice cooker, or microwave steamer.  If you like your tortillas a little crispy, lightly pan fry in corn oil and drain on paper towels.

    Layer two corn tortillas and fill with fish and top with cheese and pineapple slaw.  Place on a platter and serve with your favorite condiments!  Enjoy!

    Grilling Kid Friendly Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Spicy Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Peach and Ginger Compote

    This time of year fresh summer peaches are a staple in our fruit bowl.  But with all those peaches I’m usually scrambling to use them before they turn soft and end up as peach preserves.  One of Ranger Craig’s favorite peach dishes is white peaches in Sangria.  I’ve posted this recipe previously and you’ll find it under the category “sweets”.  It’s fun and festive, not to mention beautiful and delicious! 

    However, this week I wanted to use my summer peaches in a dinner recipe.  The main ingredient would have to be pork, as most stone fruit beautifully compliments the flavor of pork, and well, I happened to have a tenderloin or two on hand.  I just love it when I’ve got all the ingredients in-house and don’t need to make a run to the market!

    Pork tenderloin is one of the easiest cuts of pork to prepare.  It’s of course tender, a smaller cut that requires less cook time and can be cooked whole, in small medallions, or pounded into thin cutlets.  A great cut of pork to keep in the frig or freezer.  Check out all the delicious pork tenderloin recipes posts under the category “pork”.  Great ideas for simple, fresh and delicious meals. 

    I decided to keep the peach and ginger compote as simple as possible.  Sauces, salsas, compotes, and chutney’s can include a lot of different ingredients, which works well with some dishes.  But I really wanted the clean flavors of the peach and ginger to shine through and compliment the tender cut of pork that had been rubbed with delicious spices. 

    A little bit spicy and a little bit sweet (I’d love to be described the same, instead I’m describing a pork!)  A beautiful blend of fresh flavors that truly make a delicious dinner.  Enjoy this delicious taste of summer, and maybe your family will describe you a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet! 

    Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4


    1-1/2 lbs pork tenderloin (usually 2 pieces)

    Olive oil

    1/2 teaspoon cumin

    1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or sea salt

    1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or 1/2 teaspoon chili powder)

    1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs or dried oregano

    1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    4 large fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (you can substitute with 2 cups frozen peach slices)

    2 tablespoons chopped shallots

    1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

    1/4 cup peach preserves

    1/4 cup dry white wine (or apple cider)

    2 teaspoons butter

    Fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish


    Paper towel dry the tenderloins and shave off the silver membrane on each tenderloin.  This is a sliver of tissue that can be tough if left on the tenderloin.  Place the tenderloins in a glass baking dish and rub with a little olive oil. 

    Mix together the cumin, salt, pepper, chipotle chili powder, oregano or Italian herbs, garlic salt and brown sugar.  Rub the mixture onto both tenderloins and then refrigerate for about an hour. 

    To prepare the compote: In a medium sauce pan heat on medium the 2 teaspoons of butter and a dash of olive oil.  When the butter has melted and is warm, add the shallots and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. 

    Next, add the peaches, ginger and preserves.  Let the mixture slowly simmer until the peaches become tender.  Add the white wine or apple cider and continue to cook on low for about another 10 minutes.  The mixture should have come together nicely and peaches should be soft but not falling apart. 

    Add a pinch of salt and taste for additional seasoning.  It should be savory but sweet.  Remember, you’ll have lots of flavor on the pork, so the compote should taste clean and fresh, not over done. 

    Pre-heat a grill to 400F, or an oven to 350F. 

    To grill the tenderloin:  Oil the grates and sear the tenderloin, continually turning so they don’t stick.  Turn the heat down to a medium flame.  Once both tenderloin have been seared, turn one burner off and place tenderloin over the burner that is off.  This creates indirect cooking which is a preferred method of grilling for a pork tenderloin.  Otherwise the tenderloin will burn on the outside before the inside is done.  The tenderloin will be done when a meat thermometer reaches 160F.  It’s usually about 10-15 minutes on the grill. 

    To oven roast: Place the tenderloin in the pre-heated oven and let it roast for about 20 minutes.  Check for doneness with a meat thermometer.  The center of the tenderloin should reach 160F. 

    Once the tenderloin is done it’s very important to place it on a platter or dish and let it rest for 5 minutes or so to let all the juices redistribute.

    Slice the tenderloin and place on a platter or individual plates.  Top with the peach ginger compote and garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley.  This is delicious served with fresh summer greens tossed in a light vinaigrette, or grilled asparagus and zucchini tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and garlic parmesan cous cous. 

    Bon Appetit!

    Beef Grilling Kid Friendly

    Grilled New York Strip With Garlic Gorgonzola Butter

    I don’t think I ever met a steak I didn’t like.  I grew up with meat and potatoes on the table most nights, and simply cannot resist a delicious piece of beef, especially when it’s hot off the grill in the summertime.

    Summer sunshine, warm weather, flip flops (Ranger Craig still calls these sandals “thongs” which totally cracks up my girls!),  Northwest cherries and blackberries, fresh summer produce and floral fragrances floating through the air.  This is everything summertime and a great time to start grilling those big juicy steaks. 

    Grilling couldn’t be an easier method of preparing beef.  Especially if you have a fabulous cut of beef such as a ribeye, T-bone or New York Strip.  My little gal loves a good New York strip, I typically opt for the ribeye and my older gal and Ranger Craig prefer a beautiful T-bone.  Although these steaks are divine fresh off the grill with minimal seasoning, as you know my crew has to have a sauce. 

    I love simplicity and this little Gorgonzola butter couldn’t be simpler.  This sweet yet robust Italian bleu cheese blends well with the spicy flavors of garlic and softens in flavor with the fresh butter.  A lovely and delicious simple topping for your grilled masterpiece!

    Serve these delicious steaks with grilled zucchini and yellow squash drizzled with a light sherry vinaigrette, or a fresh crisp salad of mixed summer greens with your favorite summer dressing. 

    Keep dinner simple…Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4


    4 steaks of your choice

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Pinch of dried oregano

    Olive oil 

    4-6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

    2 tablespoons butter, softened

    1 clove garlic, minced


    Pre-heat the grill to 400F. 

    Brush the steaks with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano on both sides. 

    Place the steaks on the grill and cook to desired doneness.  I like my steak off the grill at 150F for a medium cooked steak. 

    While the steaks are grilling, mix together the cheese, butter and garlic.  As soon as the steaks are done, transfer to a platter or individual plates and dollop a teaspoon or two of Gorgonzola butter on the hot steaks.  Let the steaks sit for a few minutes to re-distribute internal juices.  This will create a moist and juicy steak.


    For grilled veggies: drizzle veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and fresh or dried herbs of your choice.  Grill until crisp tender and then drizzle with a simple mixture of 1 part sherry or seasoned rice wine vinegar and 3 parts olive oil.  Delicious!

    Halibut Salad Seafood

    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche made into tacos from Karista's Kitchen
    Simple Halibut Ceviche is one of the easiest seafood recipes to prepare.  I know you’re probably thinking I’ve had way too much sun this summer, but truly, ceviche can be simple, flavorful and delicious and a perfect seasonal starter.

    There are many different types of ceviche recipes and each South American country has their own version of ceviche. Many ceviche recipes can include ingredients from sweet potatoes and corn to squid and octopus. Although you can certainly add whatever you like to this particular ceviche recipe, I’ve kept it simple for sake of time, and flavor.

    For this Simple Halibut Ceviche, I’ve combined the halibut with lime juice and white onion. Once it’s been cold poached in the lime juice, I drain the liquid and then toss it with diced fresh summer tomatoes, diced jalapeno and chopped fresh cilantro. Then I season to taste with salt and pepper and dash of hot sauce. This gorgeous dish is a delicious starter for dinner guests or fun street style tacos for a light meal.

    I love to serve this Simple Halibut Ceviche with organic blue corn chips.  It makes a lovely presentation and the sweet flavor of the blue corn compliments the spicy and citrus flavors of the ceviche. 

    For something fun and festive, I often prepare patacones to serve with the ceviche.  Patacones are plantains that have been sliced, fried, flattened and fried again and then lightly seasoned with sea salt.   I’ve included a recipe with the ceviche. If you’d like to see a quick tutorial on how I make patacones, you can find it HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche


      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces
    • 1 small white onion, diced
    • Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)
    • 5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
    • 1-2 jalapeno, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)
    • sea salt and pepper
      For the Patacones
    • Patacones (Plantain Chips)
    • 2-3 green plantains
    • High heat or refined veggie oil (a sunflower or safflower oil works well)
    • Sea salt


    For the Ceviche
  • Place the diced halibut, lime juice and all but 1/4 of the diced onion in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt and stir. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through. I often let this marinate overnight.
  • Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut onion mixture back in the glass bowl.
  • Add the remaining diced onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, and cilantro. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
  • Serve with blue or yellow corn chips. You can also serve with Patacones.
  • Optional Add ins: Diced fresh Avocado, diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thin sliced radishes, diced poblano peppers, chili pepper flakes, red pepper flakes, cooked bay shrimp, fresh chopped oregano.
  • For the Patacones (Plantain Chips)
  • Cut off the ends of the plantains and then carefully cut a slit down the length of the skin without cutting into the plantain itself. Using a wooden or small spoon, pry up the edges of the peel and pull off the skin. Once the peel is removed cut the plantain crosswise into slices about 2 inches long.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until it shimmers, about 3 minutes. Add the plantains and fry them until they turn golden on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Flatten the plantains by pressing down on them with a heavy-bottomed pan pressing them into round discs. Return 1/2 of the flattened plantains to the oil and re-fry until deep golden on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer back to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining flattened plantains. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
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    Grilling Halibut Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Swordfish

    Grilled Mahi Mahi With a Savory Strawberry Salsa

    Recently Ranger Craig and I found ourselves without teenagers for a few weeks and decided to take off on our own summer adventure while our girls were away.  Of course my idea of summer adventure is somewhat different from Ranger Craig’s.  That being said, I was a good sport and decided I needed to increase my level of adventure and jump right in, literally. 

    I adore nature, the outdoors and all things ocean, so it seemed scuba diving would be a perfect place to begin.  As you’ll notice in a photo I’ve included in this post, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.  You will detect a bit of fear on my face even through all the scuba diving equipment heaped on my body and my face.  Feel free to howl with laughter because that’s what I did when I saw the picture.  I eventually conquered my fear of the underwater world and enjoyed the spectacular beauty. 

    While learning to scuba dive, Ranger Craig and I had the opportunity to explore the beautiful island of Maui.  We found some of the most wonderful little cafes and deli’s off the main tourists streets that serve some of the best seafood I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.  Thanks to our fabulous scuba Instructor, Stan, one of our favorite places for lunch (and a few dinners) was Eskimo Candy Fish Market and Cafe.  The fish tacos were prepared with Ono, a fish found in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands, and batter fried fish and chips prepared with Opah or Mahi Mahi.  The batter was a delicious blend of Island spices and coconut in a smooth beer batter.  Honestly, I’ve never tasted a beer batter so flavorful!

    Most of the grilled fish were served with an array of tropical fruits and Island spices or coconut reduction sauces that made me want to lick my plate!   Of course now that I’m home and cooking in my kitchen I’ve been working to re-create some of these delicious dishes. 

    I purchased some fresh Mahi Mahi from our local Gemini Fish Market this weekend and intended to create a decadent tropical salsa of sorts.  However, as I walked through the produce aisle, the deep red fresh Northwest strawberries were calling my name .  The salsa was going to have to include the beautiful strawberries.  I must admit, the salsa turned out beautiful and delicious and a fabulous compliment to the grilled Mahi Mahi.  This salsa would also taste wonderful over a grilled swordfish or Halibut.  I’ve added a few “options” to create variations of this salsa to utilize your regions fresh summer produce. 

    And a “shout out” to the extremely patient and experienced dive Instructors at B&B Scuba in Kehei on Maui!  Thanks Stan for the quality scuba instructions and your recommendation of Eskimo Candy, our new favorite place in Maui!  You guys are the best!  (Along with the quality scuba instruction, photos are compliments of B&B Scuba! Check them out when you visit Maui.)

    Enjoy this delicious taste of summer and check back often for new South Pacific inspired fish recipes.  Keep dinner simple… enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4


    4 Mahi Mahi filets or steaks, about 6 ounces each (you can substitute with Swordfish or Halibut)

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Olive oil

    1 large lime, zested and juiced

    1 cup diced strawberries

    1/3 cup diced yellow or orange bell pepper

    1/2 cup diced sweet onion such as Walla Walla

    1 jalapeno, diced (can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder)

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh chive

    1/4 cup toasted coconut (optional)

    1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (optional)

    1/2 cup diced pineapple (optional)


    Preheat the grill to 400F.

    In a baking dish or large platter drizzle the fish with olive oil and half the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper on both sides. 

    In a medium bowl gently toss together the strawberries, bell pepper, sweet onion, jalapeno, lime zest, cilantro, chive and remaining lime juice.  If you are adding the optional ingredients go ahead and add them now.

    Place the fish on the grill and sear on both sides.  Turn the heat down and grill the fish to desired doneness.  I like my fish cooked through but not well done so keep a good eye on the grill while the fish is cooking.  Mahi Mahi and Swordfish will take a little longer to cook than Halibut.

    When the fish is done, transfer to individual plates or a platter and top with a few tablespoons of salsa.  Garnish with additional cilantro or chive.

    This dish is fabulous served with grilled sweet potatoes, fresh grilled summer veggies or a salad of fresh greens with a light and simple vinaigrette.

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Sweets vegetarian

    Pineapple, Mango and Blueberry Fruit Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

    This is the perfect time of year to break out all your favorite fruit salad recipes.  I have so many versions of fruit salad I don’t think I could ever blog them all. 

    You might be thinking a fruit salad is just that, a fruit salad.  But not according to the Bennett crew.  Ranger Craig could consume his weight in blueberries, Tink, my oldest gal never met a pineapple she didn’t like, and Suzie Q, my youngest, will eat pints of fresh raspberries until she turns pink, which she’d love as that is most certainly her favorite color.  So, I decided to blog one of my most requested fruit salads but also include several different versions that just might suit your fancy.

    Tropical fruits, stone fruits, berries, citrus, ginger and fresh herbs blend beautifully into delicious and taste bud tingling side dishes or entrée’s.  Mango and papaya are especially delicious over fresh greens that have been tossed with a light basic vinaigrette and then topped with grilled meats or fish. 

    If I’m serving one of my fruit salads for adults only brunch or evening barbeque, sometimes I’ll spike the fruit with a bit of white wine or French brandy and serve it up in beautiful wine or martini glasses.  This makes a fun and festive appetizer for dinner or brunch guests (and gets the party rolling!).

    Pineapple, Mango and Blueberry Fruit Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime


    1 pineapple, diced into bite sized pieces

    2 mangos, diced

    1 pint fresh summer blueberries

    2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

    1 lime zested and juiced

    Toasted coconut for garnish (optional)


    Mix together the fruit, mint and lime juice and zest.  Let the fruit sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes prior to serving. If the fruit salad needs a little extra sweetness add a few tablespoons of honey and toss.

    Asian Fruit Salad with Fresh Ginger, Lime and Honey


    1-2 Asian pears, diced

    2 mangos, diced

    2 kiwi, sliced

    1 papaya, diced

    1-2 pints fresh raspberries

    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

    1 large lime juiced and zested

    2 tablespoons honey

    Fresh mint for garnish


    Mix together the grated ginger, lime juice, zest and honey.  In a large bowl, gently toss together the pear, mango, kiwi, papaya and raspberries with the lime, ginger and honey mixture.  Garnish with fresh chopped mint or cilantro.

    Summer Fruit Salad with Fresh Lime and Toasted Coconut


    1 pineapple, diced

    2 mangos, diced

    1 quart strawberries, sliced

    1 pint fresh blueberries

    1 pint fresh raspberries

    2 cups fresh red grapes

    Optional: sliced fresh kiwi, star fruit, citrus, or papaya

    1 cup toasted coconut

    2 limes juiced and zested


    In a large bowl gently toss all ingredients together.  Serve in one large glass bowl or large wine or martini glasses. 

    Just for fun:  If serving these fruit salads to adults, spike the salad with about 1/4 – 1/2  cup white wine or your favorite aperitif such as a lovely French Brandy or Sherry.  Serve in martini glasses and toast to summer!