Monthly Archives

June 2011

Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Salmon Crepes Mornay and Salmon Giveaway!

Crepes are so easy to make.  Really.  Once you get the hang of it, its just like making pancakes.  Nope, I’m not crazy (I know that’s what you’re thinking) just completely in love with crepes.  Crepes are fun food.  They make dinner a little more special, or dessert a little more tasty and make the loveliest of presentations. 

I wanted to create a recipe using canned Alaskan salmon sent to me from my friends at Pure Alaska Salmon Co. in Bellingham, Washington.  Actually, I don’t even need a recipe for this salmon.  It’s so good I usually eat it right out of the can.  Sometimes I mix it with a little lemon juice, homemade mayo and season it with a pinch of salt for a delicious salmon salad sandwich. 

The Redhead canned salmon makes the yummiest filling for these delicious savory crepes Mornay.  Simply prepared and then richly sauced, it’s decadence on a plate! 

Pure Alaskan Salmon

Shirley Zuanich, Owner of Pure Alaskan Salmon  Co, has generously sent me a case of her canned salmon for recipe testing and a case to giveaway!  An entire case of Pure Alaskan Salmon Redhead, wild sockeye salmon from Alaska.    All you have to do is leave a comment about the post and how you would use canned salmon in a recipe.  Karista’s Kitchen will choose one reader from the comments to receive the case of salmon.

The contest will last for one week, from June 28th – July 5th.  In the meantime, if you’d like to try this delicious salmon you can find it at Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets and on the website Pure Alaskan Salmon Co.  Check out the website for fabulous information and health benefits of this sustainable canned salmon. 

Can’t wait to read all the recipe ideas.  Good luck everyone!

Salmon Crepes Mornay


8 – 10 crepes (crepe recipe below)

2 cans Pure Alaska Salmon Co. Redhead or ThinkPink

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mixed herbs (thyme, Italian parsley, oregano, chervil, marjoram, basil, chives)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauce Mornay (sauce recipe below)

Chopped chives for garnish


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saute pan, add a tablespoon of butter and saute shallots for a minute or two or until fragrant and wilted. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the two cans of salmon, shallots, and mixed fresh herbs.  Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

For each crepe, mound a generous 1/4  cup of the salmon mixture in a log shape in the center of the crepe. Fold over about 1/2 inch of the side edges to hold in the filling, then roll the crepe up.  Place the crepes seam side down in a greased baking dish. 

Ladle the Mornay sauce over the top, and then place in the oven and let the crepes bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Garnish with fresh chopped chives and serve immediately. 

Basic Crepe Recipe

I love this website for visual instructions

Makes 12 crepes, or six servings.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk (maybe a little more)
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl (an electric whisk works great).   Add the flour, 1/2 the milk, vegetable oil, and salt and begin whisking. Pour in the remaining milk as you whisk – this helps to ensure a smooth batter. Depending on the size of the eggs, you may need to add a little more milk. The consistency of the batter should be about like heavy cream. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to age for an hour.

Heat a 10  inch round non stick crepe pan  or a 12 inch non stick pan on medium heat until hot. Ladle about 1/3 cup batter into the pan, turning and tilting the pan to evenly coat bottom. Cook until the top surface is no longer wet and the edges starting to brown (one to two minutes), then turn with a spatula and cook 15 seconds more on the other side.

Remove from the pan and place in a folded clean dish towel. Continue making the crepes and stacking them in the folded dish towel. Set aside to use in above recipe.

Classic Mornay Sauce by Emeril


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups warmed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 ounces grated cheese, such as Gruyère


In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Do not allow the roux to brown.

Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. This is now called a bechamel sauce, and may be used as is to top any number of dishes.

Stir in the cheese and whisk until melted. If the sauce seems to thick, thin with a little milk.

The sauce is now called a Mornay Sauce.  If not using right away, cool, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days.

This sauce is also delicious over steamed vegetables!

Kid Friendly Sweets

Breakfast Cookies with Oatmeal, Cinnamon and Raisins

I wish my house could smell like fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies all the time.   The sweet smells of  cinnamon and brown sugar remind me of  my childhood, when I’d come home from school and my Mom had made her famous oatmeal cherry chocolate chip and everything but the kitchen sink cookies.  That was always a happy day.

I still bake those cookies for my family, but I’ve come up with a version that’s perfect for breakfast, and my morning coffee. 

Morning coffee in my favorite mug from Spruce Goose Cafe in Port Townsend, WA

Whole grain flour, rolled oats, raisins and cinnamon baked just a little crispy outside and soft and chewy inside.  Mmmm… these are pure heaven in a cookie.  Especially at 5am in the morning when I’m summoned out of bed by my wooly mammoth pretending to be an old sweet Airedale.

My wooly mammoth giving me a grin

Makes about 24 Cookies


1 Cup organic coconut oil, or ½ cup butter and ½ cup organic coconut oil

3/4 Cup dark brown sugar (sometimes I use only ½ cup and they still taste great)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (King Arthur)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups uncooked oats (quick cook or rolled oats)

1 cup organic raisins


Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and brown sugar until light and creamy.  Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. 

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the oil brown sugar mixture and mix well.  Mix in the oats and raisins until thoroughly combined. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Using a small ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto the baking sheet two inches apart.  Bake 12 – 14 minutes or until the cookies are a golden brown.  Cool for one minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.  Store tightly covered.

Beef Kid Friendly

Skillet Tamale Pie

Skillet Tamale Pie

I have a chalkboard hanging in my kitchen that says “Menu”.  Most of the time it displays Suzie Q’s artistic expressions and maybe a quote or two.  I hung it in the kitchen with the intention of posting our weekly menu, but most of the time I don’t have the heart to erase the creative artwork. 

I think Suzie Q loves summer.

On the occasion my menu board is undecorated, I post my own artistry, what were having for dinner.  And if I’m on task, I’ll post the dinner menu for the next two or three days.  I always feel so efficient when I plan more than two days at a time. 

Tonight it’s Skillet Tamale Pie.  Tamale pie recipes have been around as long as I can remember.  It’s delicious comfort food with beefy filling and cornbread topping, usually with lots of cheese.  Mmmm.  

I found this new recipe in Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters Cook Book.  Ok, I don’t usually get too serious on this blog because frankly, life is serious enough.  But… I strongly encourage watching these eye-opening food documentaries.  Food Matters, Food Inc and Food Fight.  Food does matter.  It’s what either keeps us strong and healthy, or sick and obese.  

Tamale Pie baked in a ramekin... adorable

Ok, so I could go on and on about buying local, buying organic and clearing all the pantry shelves of processed food, but I won’t.  Today anyway.  Today it’s all about Skillet Tamale Pie.  And my two gals love this Tamale Pie. (me too!).  Sometimes I just make the filling, let it cool and then serve it on top of a big bowl of crispy romaine with a little salsa and plain yogurt.

Although I changed a few things in this recipe, to suit the Bennett Crew’s taste buds, the original recipe is just as fabulous.  The goal of this recipe is super tasty, simple, fresh and lots of smiles.  I definitely saw lots of Bennett smiles.

Skillet Tamale Pie

Adapted from the Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman

Serves 4


1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind, I like Bob’s Red Mill brand and I mix 1/2 corn masa with 1/2 medium grind)

½ – 1 cup hot water, or more as needed


2 tablespoons olive oil or Grapeseed oil, or more as needed

1 lb ground beef or pork or chicken or a mixture

Black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

1  15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cups corn, fresh or frozen (I like Cascadian Organic)

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ chopped fresh cilantro or green onions (or both) for garnish

Dollop of sour cream (optional)


Heat the oven to 400F.

Combine the cornmeal, hot water and a large pinch of salt; stir with a fork until smooth.  Let it sit while you prepare the filling.

Put the oil in a deep oven proof skillet.  If you are going to bake the tamale pie in a baking dish or individual single serving bowls, no need for the oven proof skillet, just use any large skillet. 

Heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the meat.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.

Brown the meat for 5-10 minutes and then lower the heat and add the garlic and onion.  Cook until the vegetables soften, adding more oil if needed.

Stir in the chili powder, tomatoes and corn and turn off the heat.

Stir the baking powder into the cornmeal mixture until it’s completely incorporated.  The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not add a little more water.

If using the oven proof skillet, spoon the batter into the skillet on top of the filling and spread it around a bit.  If using a small baking dish or individual bowls, pour the filling into the dish or dishes and then spoon the cornbread mixture over the top of the meat filling. 

Bake until the cornbread has cracked and turned golden and is cooked all the way through, about 20 to 25 minutes for a large skillet or baking dish, a little less time for individual bowls. 

Garnish with cilantro, green onion, pepper jack cheese and sour cream.

Chicken Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

Summer Lasagna

I suppose you’re wondering what in the world is Summer Lasagna?  Well, it’s lasagna I make in the summer.  🙂  Naw!  Just kidding. 

Summer lasagna is my answer to lasagna all year-long.  Just like soup, I like to eat lasagna in all seasons.  So I decided to change it up a bit, use a bechamel sauce (fancy name for white sauce), add some spinach, ground chicken and of course all the regulars… mozzarella and parmesan.   And if I have my fave Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese in the frig, that get’s tossed in too. 

The Bennett Crew wasn’t so sure they were going to like Summer Lasagna because they really love my rich red sauced Lasagna Bolognese.  Luckily I got three thumbs up from the crew and they asked me to make it again this week. 

I’ve also made this yummy white sauced lasagna without ground meat and it’s just as delicious.  I added in steamed asparagus, extra spinach and fresh chopped herbs.  And course extra garlic and cheese just to create a little decadence. 

Serves 6-8


1 lb ground chicken

1-2 tablespoons veggie oil

½ cup chopped shallots

4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

½ teaspoon dried oregano

5-6 ounces baby spinach

Salt and pepper

6-9 Dry lasagna noodles, cooked according to directions

Béchamel sauce (recipe below)

1 lb Ricotta cheese

¼ cup shredded or grated parmesan

1 egg

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs or seasoning

2 -3 cups fresh mozzarella shredded or sliced

½ cup shredded or grated parmesan

½ cup shredded fontina, optional

1 8×8 or 8×11 baking dish


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add the oil and the ground chicken.  Cook until the chicken is almost done.

Add the shallots and mushrooms to the chicken mixture and let them cook for a 2-3 minutes.  Then add the garlic and sauté a minute longer. 

Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the oregano. Then add the fresh spinach.  Let the spinach wilt down a bit and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.  Take the mixture off the heat.

Wilting spinach into chicken mixture


The spinach wilted nicely

Prepare the béchamel and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, ¼ cup parmesan, egg, dried herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Ladle a little béchamel sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and then cover the sauce with lasagna noodles. 

Spread more sauce over the noodles and then top with some of the meat mixture.  Top the meat mixture with some of the ricotta, and then sprinkle with a bit of the mozzarella.

Repeat the layers 2 or 3 times depending on pan size.  Be sure to reserve enough mozzarella to sprinkle on top and then sprinkle with parmesan and fontina (if using).  This is definitely a recipe that can be layered however you like so feel free to be creative!

Place a sheet of foil over the baking pan and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and let the top of the cheese crisp to a golden brown.  At the end of the 20 minutes, sometimes I turn on the broiler and toast the cheese quickly.  Be sure to watch or it might burn.  (I’ve done this!)

When the lasagna is done, remove from the oven and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.  It’ll be easier to cut and serve.  This lasagna is definitely delicious the day its prepared, but it’s also fabulous the next day.

Serve with a light Spinach and Raspberry salad and crusty Italian bread. 

Mario Batali’s Bechamel (one of my favorites)


 5 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.


Beef Grilling Kid Friendly

Spice Rubbed Flank Steak Tacos with Fresh Avocado and Tio’s Salsa

I think I should have titled this post, Me and the Ranger… Kitchen calamities!  It’s been quite the evening here at the Bennett Camp.  I had the brilliant idea of preparing a fun and delicious dinner of quick grilled spice rubbed flank steak tacos, with fresh organic avocado slices, Ranchero or Monterrey Jack cheese, and our favorite Tio’s Salsa, all stuffed in warm and salty corn tortillas.  Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

It began smoothly enough.  While I pounded out and seasoned the beef, Ranger Craig started the grill.  Then I decided I’d quickly warm the tortillas in the oven rather than pan fry them, you know, to save a little time.

Feeling oh so productive and on task to get dinner served before the troops arrived, I looked out my kitchen window only to see plumes of smoke howling from my grill.   I vaguely remember Ranger Craig walking out of the kitchen and saying “don’t forget to watch the grill”.  Hmmm…. was he talking to me?

My grill is toast.  Nothing would put out the fire, so I had to use the fire extinguisher.

While I was putting out the fire on the deck, more smoke started pouring out of my kitchen.  Yes, you got it, I left the tortillas in the oven under the broiler.  Ok, so clearly this was not my night to cook.  And I call myself a chef?

Forever the optimist… dinner could be saved.  I’d just pan grill the beef on the stovetop and start over with new tortillas.  Ok, back on track again.

Not so fast Missy!  I forgot I’d chipotle chili powdered the beef and while grilling on the grill pan my eyes and throat started to burn.  So I opened a few windows.  Didn’t help.

Now everyone was running through the house opening windows, plugging in the summer fans that we’re anticipating using one day soon, and asking me what I’m doing in the kitchen!  I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen tonight.  Somebody pour me a tall one and sit me down!

Believe it or not, dinner wasn’t a disaster.  The flank steak turned out delicious and the tacos were a success.  The Bennett Crew was delightfully happy, and delightfully happy that Mom didn’t burn down the house or cause serious harm to our eyes.

This is exactly why sandwich night was invented.

Serves 4-6


For the rub

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon onion salt

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Veggie oil

2-3 lbs flank or skirt steak, pounded thin


Corn tortillas 12

Sliced avocados

Ranchero cheese, crumbled or shredded (substitute with Monterrey Jack)


Lime wedges


Pre-heat the grill to 400F.

Mix together the chili powder, coriander, oregano, cumin, garlic salt, onion salt, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

Brush the flank steak with oil and then rub with the seasoning mixture on both sides. If the steak is large, cut it into 2 or 3 manageable pieces.  This will make it easier to handle on the grill.

Place the steak pieces on the grill and let each side cook for about 3-4 minutes depending on how you like your steak cooked.  The ends will typically cook faster and the center will be a bit on the rare side.

Once the steaks are cooked to your desired doneness, transfer them to a cutting board and let them rest.

While the steaks are resting warm the corn tortillas in the oven.

Turn your oven on broil and place the tortillas on a baking sheet.  Brush each side of the tortillas with oil and then place in the oven.  Watch the oven closely as the tortillas can burn easily.

Let the tortillas broil for a minute or two and then turn each tortilla and broil the other side for another minute or two.

Transfer warmed tortillas to a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Slice the beef very thin and against the grain.  This will give tender pieces of meat to fill your tacos.

Place the meat on a platter and serve with the warm tortillas, avocado slices, cheese, lime wedges and salsa.  Enjoy!

Grilling Salad vegetarian

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Tangy Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette

Grillin and chillin, that’s the way the Bennett Crew does summer.  We love our grill,  I guess I should say Ranger Craig loves our grill.  He’s the grill master around here and I’m ever so happy to relinquish that task.

Suzie Q often requests her favorite grilled burgers and Tink’s favorite is definitely the slow grilled barbecue chicken that is so moist and delicious it falls off the bone.  What do I love most?  Everything!

One of the yummiest compliments to all these delectable dishes is grilled romaine.  Top that crisp tender grilled romaine with my sisters fabulous sweet and spicy bleu cheese vinaigrette and the summer is complete.

Rogue Creamery Smoky Blue... fabulous in this recipe!

I love this vinaigrette over fresh chopped romaine or mixed greens.  And it’s “lick your plate” delicious over a grilled steak.  A big shout out to my twin sis, Kristin, for generously sharing her secret vinaigrette (not a secret anymore!) recipe that is now a staple in my house.

My twin sis, Kristin, and inventor of this vinaigrette!

Serves 6


3 romaine hearts, halved vertically

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated onion

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons water

3-4 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled (or more if you love bleu cheese)


Pre-heat the grill to 350F, or heat a grill pan on medium high.  Brush the halved romaine hearts with olive oil on both sides and then season with salt and pepper.

While the grill is heating, whisk together the garlic, onion, ketchup, mustard, sugar, vinegar, olive oil and water.  The dressing should be slightly pink.  Add just a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

When the grill is hot place the halved romaine hearts cut side down on the grill.

Let the romaine halves grill for about 1 – 2 minutes and then turn the halves over and grill the other side of the romaine for another 1 – 2 minutes.

I like my romaine hearts just a little wilted with a bit of crisp still left in the romaine.  Ranger Craig however, likes his romaine hearts a little more grilled and wilted.  Feel free to grill them to your tastes.

Take the romaine off the grill and place on a platter.  Sprinkle with crumbled bleu cheese and then drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Serve immediately.


Stuffed Pork Loin with Fresh Spinach, Feta and Golden Raisins

I just might have a thousand recipes for pork (exaggerating a wee bit), but for some reason I’m completely bored with all of them.  I think it’s time to get a little fancy with this week’s pork. 

And by fancy I don’t mean lots of work,  just really fresh and delicious and maybe a little different from the usual.  Something that’ll make me smile and maybe even impress the Bennett Crew.  They are my toughest critics.  So far anyway.   

I had the prettiest pink pork loin in my frig.  I asked my butcher to butterfly the pork loin so I could stuff it.  With what I wasn’t sure.  I had spinach in the frig, and I always have feta cheese.  I love feta cheese and my absolute favorite feta is Valbreso French Sheep’s Milk Feta.  Yum!

I keep lots of dried fruit on hand (for those scones I’m always going to make but never get to), and I was thinking the golden raisins would go nicely with the spinach and feta.  Throw in some onions, garlic and toasted walnuts and my boring pork just got exciting. 

The pretty pink pork turned out beautiful.  What was the first thing the Bennett Crew asked?  Mom, does it come with a sauce? (if you know me, you know why that’s funny) So much for impressing the Bennett Crew. 

And the answer is yes.  I did whip up a little sauce for the stuffed pork and I’ve added it at the end of the recipe.  A simple pan sauce that you can use for any meat dish.  Just in case your family asks “does it come with a sauce?”. 

Serves 4-6


3lb pork loin, butterflied (ask your butcher to butterfly)

5-6 oz fresh spinach (I like to use organic fresh baby spinach)

¼ cup golden raisins

1/3 cup white wine, warmed (you can substitute with warm water)

Olive oil

Butter (if needed)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, chopped (I used a Walla Walla sweet onion and it was delish!)

¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts

3 1/2 – 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


Kitchen twine

Fresh chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

Shortcut Rosemary White Beans (recipe below)

I know the directions look long and tedious… but it’s just me being wordy again.  It’s really very easy to put together and then pop it in the oven.  Add some shortcut rosemary white beans and dinner is not only beautiful, but delicious.  


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Place the warm wine (or water) in a bowl and then add the raisins.  Let the raisins sit and plump while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a skillet or sauté pan on medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil.  Add the fresh spinach to the pan and let the heat wilt the spinach.  Try not to cook the spinach; you just want it wilted, not fully cooked where it omits lots of liquid.  Transfer the wilted spinach to a bowl and set aside. 

In the same skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, add about 1 tablespoon oil or butter.  Sauté the onions until translucent or nicely wilted.  Then add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds longer just until fragrant. 

Remove from the heat and place the onions and garlic in the bowl with the spinach.

Drain the raisins and then add them to the spinach mixture, along with the chopped walnuts and crumbled feta. 

Gently toss the ingredients together, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Unfold the butterflied pork loin and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the filling on the pork.

Roll the pork and then place seam side down in a baking dish or roasting pan.  With kitchen twine, tie the pork in two or three places. 

Place the pork in the oven and roast at 400F for about 10 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 350F for another 30. 

At 30 minutes, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.  The pork will be done when the meat thermometer reads 145F.  These are new guidelines for cooking pork.  For more information about the new guidelines here is an informative website.

When the pork is done, remove from the oven and let it sit for about five minutes before slicing.

If you’d like a quick pan sauce for your pork, heat a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  When the butter is frothy, whisk in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and then about 1/3 cup of white wine or chicken broth.  Let the sauce simmer and reduce a bit.  It will be not be a thick sauce, just a nice au jus type sauce to ladle over the pork once it’s sliced. 

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and if you have any fresh herbs lying around, chop an assortment of fresh herbs and add to the sauce.  I love fresh chopped oregano and Italian parsley with this sauce. 

Slice the pork and place on individual plates or a platter.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped Italian parsley.  If you made the sauce, drizzle it over the sliced pork. 

Serve with Shortcut Rosemary White Beans and a mixed green salad for a beautiful and delicious meal. 

Shortcut Rosemary White Beans


1 15oz can organic white beans

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste


Add the beans and rosemary to a small pot.  Heat the beans to a simmer, being careful not to over mix as they will lose their shape. 

Turn off the heat and cover with a lid.  Let the beans sit for a few minutes to absorb the rosemary flavors.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate the beans to top a salad or serve warm as a side dish.

Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Soup

Minestrone di Verdura

I love soup. I know it seems a little odd to see a soup post in June, but I really love soup.   Soup is something I make all year-long.  It’s versatile, easily prepared and most soups can be served warm instead of piping hot.  And many soups are fabulous for summer dining.  I love a chilled fruit or veggie Gazpacho, room temp Carrot Ginger Soup or a warm Ratatouille loaded with summer produce.

But, mostly I make soups because my frig is overflowing with produce.  Ranger Craig and I have a bad habit of swinging by the market (without telling each other) on the same day.   This is fabulous, except when we both eventually get home, we’ve each got a big bag stuffed with lots of fresh organic produce.  What can I say except great minds think alike…and we eat a lot of soup.

Minestrone means “big soup”, and this Minestrone di Verdura is a very big soup.  I like to serve this as a summer soup and I love it full of delicious summer spinach. Yep, me and spinach.  It seems half my posts contain spinach.  Not sure when this love affair with spinach began, but as you can see, it continues today. 🙂

Earthbound Farms Organic Leafy Greens

Just for fun I like to “hide” delicious little treasures in the bottom of the soup.  The Bennett Crew favors toasted and garlic rubbed baguette slices.  But I love a firm poached egg.   Buon Appetito!

Serves 4-6

I know the ingredient list looks long, but it’s really quite an easy soup to prepare.  Most of it goes in the soup pot to simmer until done.  And it’s easily adaptable to your family’s favorite veggies.  Like black beans instead of white beans?  Would you rather use your summer kale instead of spinach?  Go right ahead.  Play with the recipe and see what you come up with!


1 large onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely diced (or more if you love garlic)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 15 ounce can organic white beans

1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes

2 medium potatoes, peeled and small diced

2 cups vegetable broth or stock

2 cups packed, fresh organic baby spinach

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded parmesan, Romano or Fontina as a garnish

Sliced baguette, toasted and rubbed with garlic


In a large soup pot heat the butter and oil over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and let them wilt, about 5 minutes.

Next, add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute or so.

Then fold in the beans, tomatoes and potatoes.

Stir in the broth and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Turn the heat down and let the soup simmer until all the veggies are tender.

Once the veggies are nicely tender, fold in the fresh spinach, basil, parsley and pinch of cayenne.

Let the soup continue to simmer for about 5 minutes longer and then taste for salt and pepper.  This soup can be made an hour or so (even 30 minutes works well) in advance and as it sits and rests, the veggies and herbs will meld together and become more flavorful.  Just re-heat to serve.

To serve:  Place a toasted baguette slice in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle soup over the top.  Garnish with shredded parmesan, Romano or Fontina.  Enjoy!

Grilling Halibut Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Chimichurri Sauce

Colombian Chimichurri Sauce for Fish, Beef, Pork or Chicken

I love the reaction I get when I serve this bright green Chimichurri sauce to dinner guests.  The color is brilliant green and the flavors are explosive.  I know this word doesn’t truly describe the flavor, but when you taste the blend of flavorful fresh herbs with spicy aromatics and the zing of lemon the only word that comes to my mind is explosively delicious.   And the beauty of this sauce is its versatility.  It’s fabulous over grilled fish, but just as divine served with a veggie platter.  Substitute the lemon with red wine vinegar, and it’s the lovliest compliment to a thick and juicy grilled steak.

Grilled Fresh Ono with Colombian Chimichurri

Although Chimichurri sauce originated in Argentina, many South American countries have created their own versions of the flavorful herb sauce.  This particular recipe is adapted from my Sister in law’s family recipe originating in Colombia, South America.  They use this beautiful and delicious sauce for chicken, beef, fish and veggies.

The recipe makes enough sauce for 6-8 people, but I always make a little extra because I probably sneak  a good 1/4 cup  of  “little tastes” while I’m preparing dinner.  I promise you’ll love this sauce, it makes me want to lick my plate!

Chimichurri for Grilled Fish

3 large garlic cloves

½ cup fresh basil

1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped green onions (or 4 green onions trimmed)

Leaves from two sprigs fresh oregano

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients and blend until ingredients are pureed into a smooth sauce.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Chimichurri for Grilled Steak, Pork or Chicken

This is an excellent drizzle sauce, dipping sauce and even marinade for Chicken!

3 large garlic cloves

½ cup fresh basil

1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped green onions (4 green onions trimmed)

Leaves from two sprigs oregano

¼ cup sherry or rice vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients and blend until ingredients are pureed into a smooth sauce.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Salad Sassy Side dishes

Baby Spinach, Raspberry and Toasted Walnut Salad in Raspberry Vinaigrette

Last night I needed a quick salad for dinner.  Looking through the frig I realized I didn’t have any fresh romaine.  But I had mounds of baby spinach, 2 lbs to be exact.  Obviously I got a little excited when purchasing spinach; really, who needs 2 lbs of spinach? But I had 2 lbs of spinach and lots of fresh organic raspberries because my Suzie Q is on a raspberry kick at the moment.

After realizing I had the makings for a great salad I did a little happy dance in the kitchen because I could finally use my new raspberry vinegar. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to crack open that beautiful bottle.

The salad and dressing was a hit.  Beautiful bright green and crisp baby spinach tossed with fresh organic sweet raspberries, toasted walnuts and lovely, sweet but tart, pink raspberry vinaigrette. It was almost too beautiful to eat.

Ok, so now here’s the great part.  This yummy salad would make a fabulous light summer meal topped with grilled chicken or crab and shrimp salad. It would also taste fabulous with a warm piece of fresh grilled fish plopped right on top of the salad, to wilt the spinach a little.  Then drizzle with extra vinaigrette.  It’s a two for one recipe!

Serves 3-4


6-8 ounces fresh organic baby spinach (about 1-1 ½ packed cup per person for a side salad)

1 pint fresh organic raspberries

¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional, pecans are also a nice option)

3 tablespoons good quality raspberry vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon raspberry preserves (great on scones, toast and use the remaining jar to prepare a savory Raspberry Sauce)

2/3 cup good quality olive oil or grape seed oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Whisk together the vinegar, oil and preserves.  Taste for salt and pepper.  If you like your dressing sweeter add a bit more preserves.  If you like your dressing a bit more “zingy”, add a little more vinegar.

In a large bowl toss the spinach with vinaigrette and then top with fresh raspberries and toasted walnuts.  Serve immediately.

To use as an entrée, pair the salad with grilled chicken slices or pieces, chicken salad, tuna salad, crab and shrimp salad or grilled shrimp.

Beef Kid Friendly

Slow Braised Beef Daube

Slow Braised Beef Daube

I love my fresh organic fruits and veggies and of course I love dessert, especially chocolate dessert.  Actually anything chocolate is great with me.

But what I really love is a good hearty beef dish.  Mmmmm (I can’t think of anything more brilliant than just Mmmmm).   Serve me a slow cooked beef dish of any kind during any season and I’m one happy gal.  Add some creamy polenta with that beef stew and I’ll be your best friend forever.

Beef Daube is one of those wildly delicious French stew recipes that vary from recipe to recipe.  I’ve found Daube recipes to include orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, olives, herbs de Provence and juniper berries.  I think I’ve prepared them all and I have to say, the simpler the better.

Juniper Berries

This recipe is simple in ingredients but beautifully complex in flavors.  I’ve adapted this recipe from many recipes and filled the exquisitely delicious stew with fresh herbs, aromatics and a few juniper berries for a clean subtle citrus flavor to the stew.

Here’s the best part… serve the stew over creamy polenta!  The rich stew sauce gets soaked up by the creamy polenta and it melts in your mouth like butter.

A side of creamy polenta!

A slurry of butter and flour to thicken the stew

This dish begins with fresh aromatics and vegetables

Beef Daube

Serves 4-6


3-4lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

All purpose flour

2-3 tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 medium carrots, thick sliced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons butter mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

2 cups dry red wine (I like to use a Cabernet but any dry red will do) For a substitution: use 2 cups unsweetened red grape juice or unsweetened cranberry juice and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 sage leaves

1 bay leaf

6 Juniper berries


This stew can be prepared in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.  I wrote the recipe directions for the Dutch oven, but feel free to prepare all the steps of the stew and then put everything in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 300F.

Put the beef cubes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle about ¼ cup all-purpose flour over the beef cubes and toss to coat each piece of beef.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add a little safflower or sunflower oil.  Brown the pieces of beef and then transfer to a dish.  You will need to do this in several batches.  Don’t overcrowd the pot or the meat won’t brown.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, sauté until wilted.  Then add in the garlic and let it sauté for a minute longer.

Mix in the butter/flour paste and let it cook for a minute.

Stir in the red wine.

Once the red wine, butter paste and veggies are nicely incorporated, stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, sprig of rosemary, sprig of thyme, sage leaves, bay leaves and juniper berries.

Add the beef cubes and any liquid from the dish back into the Dutch oven.  Bring the liquid to a boil, cover with a lid and place the Dutch oven in a pre-heated oven.  (At this point you can transfer the stew to a slow cooker if using)

Bake at 300F for about 2 hours.  After 2 hours, take the lid off the Dutch oven and continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes.  This will let some of the liquid evaporate and thicken the sauce. The meat should be fork tender when done.

Discard the herbs and serve the stew over creamy polenta, egg noodles or brown rice.  Enjoy!