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Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad vegetarian

10 Easy 4th of July Recipe Ideas

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with a Balsamic Drizzle // Karista's Kitchen

When I’m cooking for a crowd I want it to be fuss-free with loads of deliciousness. You might think that’s a lot to ask, however, it couldn’t be easier. I use a few fresh ingredients and then combine them with some amazing flavors. The end result is a delicious menu that makes everyone smile, including me.

These 10 easy 4th of July recipe ideas are meant to compliment your menu and help make an enjoyable day for the cook. I’ve totally got your back here. 😉

First up is an easy starter or dessert, Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers. They’re fantastic simply grilled, but sometimes I like a drizzle of balsamic vinegar over the top.

 

Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob (Elote) // Karista's Kitchen

How could corn on the cob be more fun or even more delicious? This Elote recipe says it all. Elote is Mexican grilled corn that has been slathered in a lime laced mayonnaise and then rolled in cotija and sprinkled with the Mexican seasoning called Tajin. This will definitely be the star of the meal.

 

Bacon Wrapped Peaches // Karista's Kitchen

When I made these Bacon Wrapped Peaches for my family the first time the rave reviews were never-ending. Consequently, I keep these lovelies on my “quick and easy” appetizer list. You won’t regret it!

Hugos Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

Hugo’s Texas BBQ Shrimp is divine. I’m not kidding when I tell you I could easily sip the sauce. But I’ll refrain and let others do the sipping. 🙂

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza from Karista's Kitchen

Not only is this Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza perfect for a starter, but it’s also divine for a light lunch or dinner. This can be prepared on the grill, making 4th of July easy and delicious.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

During the summer months we grill everything. Even the salad. I adore Grilled Romaine and I especially love this salad when it’s topped with my favorite festive sweet and spicy dressing.

Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

I’m not a huge fan of dessert but I love fruit and I love ice cream. And I love caramel sauce. I’ve added a fun and festive butter rum spiked caramel sauce to these grilled peaches and I must say I could eat that entire tray.Summer Fruit Cocktail laced with wine or your favorite liquer

Speaking of “spiking”… I love to spike my fruit. Which is why I literally call this recipe my boozy “fruit cocktail“. Just a hint of white wine and brandy or even some rum and a delicious dessert is ready for serving.

Grilled Vegetable Skewers with Garlic Lemon & Thyme Butter // Karista's Kitchen

Along with grilling my salad I love to skewer. I skewer just about everything during the summer. I especially like skewered veggies paired with skewered pineapple and mango and then served over coconut rice. It makes a lovely vegetarian option for you or your guests.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad // Karista's Kitchen

Last but not least is the playful Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. This pairs with literally everything. I serve it with grilled ribs, chicken, steak, burgers, pork chops and veggies. Fun, delicious and so completely festive.

10 easy 4th of July recipes to make your holiday enjoyable and delicious. 

Wishing you all a very delicious and safe holiday!

Loads of love,

Karista

 

 

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza from Karista's Kitchen

Summer for me is all about easy, seasonal meals that delight the senses and tame the hunger like my Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza.

I call this playful food; because it combines such fun ingredients that play so well together. I have to admit, fruit and cheese are like long-lost lovers meant to be together. Whether they’re used in a sweet or savory recipe, they always happily compliment each other.

I like my pizza simply topped with just a few fresh ingredients. During the summer months I like to dress pizza with fresh made pesto from basil, arugula or spinach. If I’ve got a plethora of Swiss chard, kale and collard greens in the garden, I’ll often toss those into the pesto as well.  Then I top it with fresh summer fruit and either feta, brie or goat cheese.

The end result is a light but flavorful Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza that enchants my palate. Not to mention, it brings many happy faces to my table.

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza from Karista's Kitchen

I’ve got a delicious pizza crust recipe included however, because I’ve got a gluten intolerant kiddo, I often make a low-carb pizza crust instead. It uses almond flour and mozzarella cheese as the base and I must say it’s divine. A little work to prepare but the end result is worth it. You can find the recipe here. There are several versions of this low-carb crust, however, I like this recipe and the website gives step by step instructions which makes it much easier when preparing the crust for the first time.

Cheers to the summer and all the summer deliciousness ahead!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Serving Size: 4

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1-2 12-inch pizza crusts or pre-made pizza crusts, flatbread, Naan or pita bread rounds
  • 1/2 – 1 cup traditional basil pesto or your own homemade pesto
  • 4 apricots, pitted and sliced
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 bunch basil, whole leaves only
    Easy Pizza Dough
  • ¾ cups (6 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

To Make the Pizza Crust
  • Heat the oven to 500° F. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the middle of the oven.
  • Mixing the pizza dough - Measure the water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and let it dissolve, about 30 seconds. Stir the water to dissolve the yeast.
  • Add the flour, salt and sugar to the water and mix with a wooden spoon or bowl scraper until the dough starts to come together.
  • Lightly dust the counter or board with flour and move the dough to the floured space. With floured hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Resting the pizza dough - With a bench knife, divide the dough into 2 pieces. Round each piece of dough and place the dough rounds on a lightly floured counter to rest for 30 minutes. (While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings.)
  • After 30 minutes, fold the dough by stretching each side and folding it into the middle of the dough. Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest again for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Shaping the pizza dough - Handling one piece of dough at a time, gently stretch the dough with floured hands. You can also use a rolling pin, but I prefer using my hands. Once the dough is about ¼ - ½ inch thick, lay it on a piece of very lightly floured parchment. You can adjust the shape at this point, but don’t worry about it being perfectly round. Shape the second piece of dough.
  • Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
  • To Assemble the Pizza
  • If using homemade pizza dough, spread ¼ cup or more of basil pesto on the pizza dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese, apricot slices and basil leaves.
  • Bake the pizza on the parchment in a 450°F oven either on the heated pizza stone or on a cookie sheet. The pizza is done baking when the crust is brown and crisp on the edge and bottom. This should take about 6 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pizza from the oven, garnish with additional basil leaves if desired. Let it cool for about five minutes, then cut and serve.
  • If using a pre-made pizza crust, Naan, flatbread or Pita round
  • Reduce the oven heat to 400F and place them on a pizza stone or baking sheet.
  • Top the crusts with ¼ cup or more of basil pesto, crumbled goat cheese, apricot slices and basil leaves. Bake in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until the goat cheese looks soft and slightly melted and the crust is golden brown.
  • Remove it from the oven and garnish with additional basil leaves if desired. Let it cool for about five minutes then cut slices and serve.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m here to tell you that Bacon Wrapped Peaches are addictive. I have to limit how many I make, otherwise I end up eating half the tray before it makes it to the table. 

    These little lovelies can be baked in the oven or grilled outdoors. Although, I typically bake them in the oven while Ranger Craig is outdoors grilling the entrée.

    During the summer I adore using ripe, fresh peaches.  During the winter months, when I want to make these for football season or the holidays, I use local frozen peaches. Both work beautifully.

    If I want the bacon extra crispy, I’ll pre-bake the bacon in my oven, just until it renders some of the fat and begins to cook.  Just before it gets crispy, I wrap the bacon around the peaches and then finish in the oven.  However, if I’m using a thin sliced bacon, I typically wrap and bake all at one time.

    I adore a smokey, sweet combination of flavors and these Bacon Wrapped Peaches completely deliver.  I love that I can use my locally raised bacon with my locally raised peaches for a locally prepared recipe. 😉

    I also make this dish with pineapple spears. Yep, bacon wrapped pineapple. Also amazing!

    I’m off to the races this week. Not actually the “races”, but I’m racing time and my schedule so this post is short and sweet. Literally!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2-3 summer peaches, halved, pitted and each peach sliced into 6 wedges
    • 8 ounces thin sliced bacon, each slice halved
    • Toothpicks or party picks for serving

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Brush a parchment lined baking sheet with the one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Wrap a halved bacon slice around each slice of peach and place on the baking sheet seam side down.
  • Bake the peaches for about 10-12 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then carefully transfer the bacon wrapped peaches to a serving platter. Serve with toothpicks or party picks.
  • Notes

    On occasion when I want to make these delicious treats but I can’t find fresh peaches or peaches are not in season, I’ll use good quality frozen peaches. Method of cooking is the same using the frozen peach. Don’t thaw the peaches prior to baking.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Seafood

    Baked Oysters Mornay

    Baked Oysters Mornay // Karista's Kitchen

    If there is one shellfish I had to learn to love, it’s oysters. But when I finally decided that I truly loved oysters, I became a wee bit obsessed. Thus began my fascination with cooking and baking with oysters. Which is how this lovely Oysters Mornay happened.

    Actually, I was testing several different recipes for Oysters Rockefeller a few years ago and I’ve decided I really love my baked oysters covered with a sauce and maybe some cheese and a little something crunchy for added texture.

    In the beginning I made a boozy béchamel to use on my baked oysters but then I decided it needed more than just a boozy béchamel. It needed a Mornay. Mornay sauce is much like a boozy béchamel but with cheese. Gruyère to be specific.

    I also love the spinach included in Oysters Rockefeller so why not just merge the two recipes and call it grand! To complete this opulent little shellfish recipe, I top the Oysters Mornay with a Panko and grated parmesan and bake.

    The result is a spinach laden baked oyster topped with boozy cheese sauce and crunchy Panko. Who’s hungry now?

    Baked Oysters Mornay // Karista's Kitchen

    These Baked Oysters Mornay are so fun (and sort of messy) to make and even more fun to eat. They work well for a light dinner with a glass of white wine or as a starter for dinner guests.

    Now you’re probably thinking, I’m not shucking all those oysters only to bake them in boozy cheese sauce.  Me neither. However there are two methods to securing oysters for your Baked Oysters Mornay. Often times you can find them in jars in the seafood area of your market. They will come in size small, medium or large. You want to purchase the small or medium oysters. They’re sweeter and tastier. As well, some seafood markets sell shucked oysters just like they sell shelled crab or shrimp.

    I know you’re wondering how to find oyster shells. I found stainless steel oyster shells online here. They work beautifully for this recipe.  Or, I ask my fishmonger if they’ve got fresh oyster shells they can give me. The fresh oyster shells only last one or two recipes but they look great on the platter. However, the stainless are just as easy and also create a lovely presentation.

    This is such a festive recipe for the summer and I promise it’s easy to prepare and it’ll impress your guests.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Baked Oysters Mornay

    Makes 12

    Ingredients

    • One dozen shelled oysters
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warm
    • 1/4 cup white wine
    • Pinch of nutmeg
    • 1 cup shredded Gruyere or aged Swiss
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 cup cooked and squeezed spinach
    • 1 lemon
    • Dash of tabasco
    • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

    Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 375F.
  • Place the oyster tins (or shells) on a baking sheet and place one oyster in each tin.
  • Mix together the parmesan and Panko bread crumbs. Set aside.
  • In a sauce pan over medium heat add the butter. When the butter is melted stir in the flour. Let the flour and butter cook for a minute or two and then slowly whisk in the warm milk. Just as the sauce thickens add the 1/4 cup white wine. Then stir in the pinch of nutmeg and shredded cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Lightly salt and pepper the cooked spinach and place a little on each oyster. Then drizzle a tablespoon or two of Mornay sauce over the spinach and then top with the parmesan and Panko bread crumbs mixture.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until bubbly and the tops are golden brown. Often times the tops don't brown well enough for me, so I place the baking sheet under the broiler for a minute to get the color I like.
  • Remove the oysters from the oven and give them a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately with Tabasco.
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    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Seafood Shrimp

    Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

    Hugo's Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing quite like Hugo’s barbecue shrimp with bleu cheese slaw. This is an impressive and simple barbecue shrimp recipe that’ll absolutely become a family favorite. 

    The first time I made this recipe I swear I could have sipped the barbecue sauce. It’s that delicious!

    I first heard about this now famous recipe many years ago when I was working as a private chef and culinary instructor.  I was scheduled to cook for a holiday party for my good friend, Michele, and her husband Ron. When we discussed the menu, they asked me to include their favorite barbecue shrimp recipe, Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw.

    The sauce is much simpler than I would have guessed but it works. Although, I backed off on the lemon juice because I felt the amount listed was a bit too intense for my palate. Otherwise, I followed the recipe for the sauce as written.

    I also deviated from the recipe a bit by seasoning the shrimp with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. It happened to be a cold and rainy December during that time so I decided to pan sear the shrimp in ghee which gave them a deep, creamy flavor along with a hint of smokey flavor from the smoked paprika.

    Hugos Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    As if that isn’t enough, I plated them along with the bleu cheese slaw and I promise I heard angels singing the hallelujah chorus. 🙂

    The sauce holds for at least three days so when I serve it for dinner guests I’ll prepare the sauce a day in advance.  Then all I need to do is grill, pan cook or bake the shrimp and assemble the slaw.

    I also like to serve this with warm garlic crostini or a crusty baguette for dipping into the extra sauce.

    If you make this recipe let me know what you think. You’re going to love it!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

    Serving Size: 6

    Ingredients

      For the barbecue sauce
    • 5 ounces Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
    • 5 ounces soy sauce
    • Strained juice from half a lemon (I used 1/2-1 tablespoon lemon juice)
    • 5 ounces tomato purée
    • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
      For the slaw
    • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) Maytag blue cheese (I used Rogue Creamery's Smokey Bleu Cheese)
    • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
    • Lemon juice, to taste
    • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
    • 2 scallions, sliced thin
    • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
      For the shrimp
    • 36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tail on for easy eating)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 cup peanut oil (I use olive oil or coconut oil for grilling and ghee for pan cooking)
    • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe above)
    • 1 to 2 scallions sliced, to garnish
    • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, to garnish

    Instructions

  • To make the barbecue sauce base, combine all the ingredients except the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer until the cream has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Gradually stir the barbecue base into the heavy cream, stopping when you like the flavor. Bring the combined mixture back to a boil, then simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. The shrimp cook quickly, so have your sauce ready before you begin to cook them.
  • To make the slaw, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice, to taste. Right before cooking the shrimp, toss the cabbage with just enough mayonnaise to coat. Add the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  • Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil or ghee until smoking. Add the shrimp, being careful not to crowd. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • To serve, place a mound of the slaw in the middle of each plate and lean six shrimp against it. Drizzle the shrimp with the barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with scallion slices and blue cheese.
  • Notes

    When the shrimp are done I usually take half the sauce and add it to the shrimp, allowing the shrimp to soak up all the flavor. Then when I plate, the shrimp are already sauced and I serve extra sauce with the platter.

    This is fun set up on a platter for an appetizer or even shared entree.

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    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob (Elote)

    Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob (Elote) // Karista's Kitchen

    If there is one food I could eat every day of summer, it’s Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob or what is referred to as Elote.  

    This popular Mexican street food can be found prepared a variety of different ways.  However, it’s typically highly seasoned, grilled and then served on a stick for easy eating.

    What sets Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob apart from a typical summer grilled corn are all the delicious ingredients that can be found covering this very humble vegetable. Some of the recipes I found include chile powder, smoked paprika, garlic, Mexican oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, lime juice and of course mayonnaise.

    Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob (Elote) // Karista's Kitchen

    For my recipe, I’ve slathered the corn cob in a lime juice laced mayonnaise and then rolled it in the salty Mexican cheese called Cotija.  Then I dust it lightly in the Mexican seasoning Tajin, which is a little sweet but also a little spicy. The result is so delicious I can’t stop at just one!

    I adore making Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob for Cinco de Mayo, but I also like to serve it at all my summer barbecues. Grilled corn on the cob is always a good thing but Mexican grilled corn on the cob makes my taste buds sing.

    A little side note, I have a new instagram handle @lifearoundmytable.  I’ve had one heck of a time trying to resolve my @karistaskitchen account and it seems hopeless. So onward and upward and meeting all sorts of new challenges this month like growing a second Instagram account. Which isn’t on the top of my fun things to do list. Ha! Me and social media have a love/hate relationship.  So if you’re on Instagram, I’d truly appreciate the follow and a few shares.  Thank you all for your support!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob (Elote)

    Serving Size: 8

    Ingredients

    • 8 ears of corn, husks pulled back or removed
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • ½ cup mayonnaise
    • 1 lime juiced
    • 1 garlic, minced
    • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
    • Tajin Classic Mexican seasoning

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the grill or a grill pan to 350F.
  • Brush the ears of corn with vegetable oil and grill the corn for about 8-10 minutes or until the corn is nicely charred and soft. Watch the heat to be sure you don’t burn the corn.
  • Once the corn is done, transfer them to a platter. Mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice and garlic. Place the crumbled cotija in a plate. Brush each ear of corn with the mayonnaise mixture and then roll it in the crumbled cotija. Sprinkle with Tajin Classic Mexican Seasoning and serve immediately.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad

    Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

    Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches // Karista's Kitchen

     

    I may have lived on these Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches during our move. I like to make a batch of this egg salad and keep it in the fridge for a quick bite. Especially when both breakfast and lunch have eluded me. I also sneak a spoonful here and there as I’m walking past the fridge. 

    Not only does this avocado egg salad contain two of my favorite ingredients, it’s also a great source of protein and healthy fats. It makes a tasty sandwich when paired with fresh sourdough or gluten-free bread and a good handful of microgreens. Sometimes I add the egg salad to dressed spinach and arugula which makes a lovely grain free lunch.

    Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches for Spring Brunch or Mother's Day // Karista's Kitchen

    The way I love this Avocado Egg Salad the most, is when I smear it on a thick piece of toast. Ha! I rhymed again. 

    I originally created this egg salad to be used as tea sandwiches for a spring or Mother’s Day brunch. However, this avocado egg salad is so divine, I think it works well served a multitude of ways.

    Although I adore onions, I do not like them in my egg salad. I think something a bit more subtle, like chives, works best in egg salad. I do however, LOVE dill pickle relish in my egg salad. It gives this recipe a little tang and sweetness that blends nicely with the lemon juice and mayonnaise.

    You definitely want to use a good quality mayonnaise in this recipe.  If you make your own mayonnaise that’s even better. If you don’t, choose a mayo with olive oil, sunflower or safflower oil or even avocados as a base. I don’t want to sound the canola oil police, but frankly, canola oil is a dirty word in my house.

    Feel free to use this delectable egg salad for everyday sammies, special brunch tea sandwiches, dolloped on a spring green salad, smeared on a giant piece of toast or right out of the bowl. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

    Serving Size: Makes about 2 cups

    Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

    Ingredients

    • 6-8 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and lightly mashed
    • 1-2 ripe avocados, lightly mashed
    • 1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more as needed
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, or more to taste
    • 1/4 cup dill pickle relish, or more to taste
    • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh microgreens, optional

    Instructions

  • Gently fold together the mashed hard boiled eggs, avocado, mayonnaise, pickle relish, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Refrigerate for an hour and then use for tea sandwiches, sandwiches and salads with fresh microgreens.
  • Notes

    I've given approximate measurements of ingredients, however, feel free to adjust all the ingredients to suit your tastes.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes Soup

    Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

    Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup // Dairy Free // Karista's Kitchen

    This gorgeous Carrot Ginger Coconut soup is a revised version of my original carrot soup recipe.  As time passes, and the more I prepare a recipe, chances are it’s going to get a few makeovers now and again.

    Although I do love my original recipe, I’ve created this version with coconut milk to appease my nagging dairy allergy and to create a different flavor twist to the soup.

    I prepare carrot ginger soup almost year round.  My family completely adores this soup in the fall and winter months because of the soothing properties of ginger.  It’s also equally as loved in the spring and summer for the bold taste of earthy, sweet carrots and the tropical flavors of coconut milk.

    Last week I topped the carrot ginger coconut soup with candied blood orange that my brother and sister-in-law sent me from Japan.  The simple touch of orange elevated the flavors yet again, creating the most delightful winter soup.

    I often make the soup on the weekend and store it in the fridge for quick weekday lunches or a light weeknight meal.  It also makes a delicious starter to Sunday dinner or a late night snack.

    And sometimes, I just find myself stopping by the fridge and snagging a spoonful of the silky, lush soup. It’s delicious room temp or warm and obviously, I eat it when it’s cold. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 yellow onion, diced
    • 12-15 medium carrots, chopped
    • 2 ribs celery, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 4 cups vegetable broth or 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups carrot juice (enough liquid to cover the veggies in the soup pot)
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • Pinch of ground cloves
    • 1 cup canned organic coconut milk (not the light coconut milk)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and dried thyme. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until all the veggies have softened.
  • Add the 4 cups of vegetable broth or 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups carrot juice and sliced ginger. (enough liquid to cover all the vegetables in the pot) Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the ginger slices, or as many as you can.
  • Either using a hand blender or pour the soup into a blender, Vitamix or food processor and puree. You may need to do this in stages as all the soup may not fit in the blender/food processor all at once.
  • Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir in the allspice, pinch of cloves and coconut milk. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. If the soup feels too thick, stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth at a time until the consistency feels right.
  • Serve immediately. You can keep it warm on the stove if needed. Just keep the heat on low. This soup can be refrigerated for about 3 days and reheated stove top, or microwave.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen

     

    If there is one moment during the year that no one will ever question how long you (I) linger around the hors d’oeuvre table, it’s during the holidays when the table is loaded with glorious amounts of creamy, lush cheese.  After all, what can be more fun than nibbling on new types of cheese or an excuse to indulge in your favorite cheese?

    Putting together a holiday cheese board couldn’t be simpler.  I like to include at least five kinds of cheese ranging from soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard from different regions of the US or International.  You could always create a “local” cheese board with cheese made only from your region.  This would be a delicious way to support not only your local cheese makers but introduce your guests to the cheese produced in your area.

    I also like to assemble an international cheese board, sort of “around the world in cheese”.  This is delectable fun and creates interesting conversation around the food table.  It’s also a great way to introduce guests to new cheese!

    Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen

    I like to label the cheese on the holiday cheese board and if there is room on the label, give a short tasting description.  You can find tasting descriptions online or simply ask your local cheese specialist.  They love to talk cheese. 😉 I should know, I worked as a cheese specialist once upon a time – and I still like to talk about cheese.

    When putting together your holiday cheese board be sure to add in a few extra nibbles either on the board or on platters around the board.  I recently found these lovely parmesan cheese crisp crackers that are divine when paired with cheese.  I also love an interesting selection of charcuterie paired with the cheese, possibly from your local charcuterie shop or butcher.  Assorted oil cured or stuffed olives (I adore lemon rind stuffed green olives), candied or truffle laced nuts, peppers or peppadew peppers, grapes, apple or pear slices dipped in chocolate.  A small assortment of fresh bread, crostini or crackers rounds out this lovely holiday cheese board.

    A holiday cheese board makes a perfect first course for all your dinner parties or celebrations, but it can also make a fabulous last course with cocktails or aperitif.

    Wishing you all a most delicious and happy holiday season!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Ingredients

    • Five types of cheese ranging from soft, semi-soft, semi-hard to soft
    • Oil cured or stuffed olives
    • Charcuterie, assorted (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta, etc)
    • Fresh fruit such as grapes, pear or apple slices
    • Peppers or Peppadew Peppers (goat cheese stuffed peppadews are divine!)
    • Candied, smoked, herbed or truffled nuts
    • Assorted crackers, crostini, fresh bread, slices of pumpkin or banana bread is always fun

    Instructions

  • On a large platter, platters or wood board, place your cheese around the board/platter, spacing it out and cutting a few slices of each to get the slicing started.
  • In between the cheese place bits of grapes/fruit, tiny bowls of nuts, peppers and olives, roll or stack the charcuterie and then wedge the crackers in if there is space. If not, serve the crackers, crostini, bread pieces, etc in small bowls or platters.
  • Label the cheese and serve. Simple and delicious!
  • Notes

    This Holiday Cheese Board was created for Western Horse & Gun Magazine 2016 Holiday Issue.

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    Socca (chickpea flatbread)

    Socca (Chickpea Flatbread) // Karista's Kitchen

    Sometimes I feel this humble blog is my somewhat ignored child.  I think about this blog all the time and I’m constantly planning a million things to post here.  But alas, paid work must come first and sometimes that work takes up most of my time… which is a good thing is it not?

    You should see my list of recipes I’ve got going.  Every season I make this long list of recipes to prepare, photograph and post here for you to completely revel in and enjoy.   However, half of those recipes never make it onto the blog. The really delicious recipes that I feel you MUST have come rain or shine or snowstorm or vacation actually get posted.  Other recipes sort of hang around season after season until before I know it, it’s been a full year and the recipe is still on my “to post” list.

    This Socca (chickpea flatbread) is one such recipe.  I can’t say for certain why it’s taken me so long to post this other than it often disappears before I can snap a few photos.

    Socca (Chickpea Flatbread) // Karista's Kitchen

    Socca is such a simple, fragrant, tasty little recipe that I prepare at least two or three times a week.  Sometimes I’ll make Socca on the weekends and we nibble on it with cheese and wine for a light dinner or snack.  My sassy gals love socca with fresh herbs and garlic as a compliment to a dinner salad or soup.

    Socca is so versatile I use it for pizza crust on occasion or serve it for breakfast with fried eggs and wilted greens.

    Socca, also referred to as Farinata, originated in Italy.  It’s a simple flatbread made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and typically rosemary.  Although, many versions of socca can be found all over the world.  Some recipes call for resting the batter for several hours prior to baking.  I’ve tried it both ways. Whisking the batter and baking it off within minutes of preparation. Or letting the batter sit for several hours before popping it in the oven before dinner.  Personally, I love the end result when the batter has had time to rest and flavors meld and allow all the delicious magic to happen.  But if you’re in a hurry and just need to get it in the oven, it will still taste delicious.

    I’ve listed a basic socca recipe but feel free to add your favorite fresh chopped herbs, garlic, sautéed onions, shallots or garlic.  I love it simply with rosemary, salt and pepper and eaten right out of the pan.  Which is how I finally managed to photograph the socca.  I suppose I could have fancied up the photo but socca is simple goodness and truly needs nothing fancy added.  Maybe just hungry family members. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Socca (chickpea flatbread)

    Serving Size: Makes 8 slices

    Socca (chickpea flatbread)

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup chickpea flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
    • 3/4 cup - 1 cup lukewarm water
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or a mixture of fresh herbs or chives)
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

    Instructions

  • Whisk together the chickpea flour, 3/4 cup water (adding more for a thinner flatbread), salt, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes or covered in the fridge for about 2-3 hours or overnight if you're preparing for breakfast.
  • When you are ready to bake the socca, pre-heat the oven to 425F. Place a 10 inch cast iron or iron skillet in the oven and let it pre-heat with the oven.
  • When the oven is ready, carefully remove the pre-heated skillet and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the pan. Pour in the socca batter.
  • Carefully place the skillet back in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until it's golden brown and a little cracked on top.
  • Remove it from the oven and slice into 8 wedges and serve immediately. Enjoy!
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Seafood

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen // A perfectly delicious way to start a dinner party or holiday gathering.

    I call this crab salad, Retro Crab Salad, because its much like the crab salad I used to nibble on “back in the day”.

    This is the kind of crab salad that would have been beautifully displayed on my mom’s orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  I didn’t always remember every dish of food that would grace the table but for some reason, I always remember that table-cloth.  Funny how we remember the most unusual things from our childhood.  This table-cloth (and the food that adorned it) and my gram’s tapioca pudding are two of my favorite food memories.

    A few months ago when I was visiting my mom, she reminded me to browse through her old linens and take what I wanted.  Well wouldn’t you know it… the first linen I saw was the old orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  Of course, I had to have it – and I had to use it for a retro menu that I created for one of my clients.

    Retro Crab Salad and Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen

    This lovely little retro crab salad was one the recipes I created for that menu.  Along with a few other delectable retro dishes, this crab salad has been a staple in my kitchen all summer long. Mostly because Ranger Craig and I went deep-sea fishing and crabbing and came home with 16 crab.  I made scores of crab salad, crab cakes, crab stuffed Dover sole and crab beurre blanc.  Crab landed in every dinner meal that week.  And I wasn’t a bit sad about that. 😉

    Crab is a staple here in the Pacific Northwest.  It can be pricey certain times of the year, but when it’s in season, or we go crabbing, it’s economical and the perfect seafood to add to our dinner menu.  Although, crab has ended up in breakfast omelets a time or two.

    I love this retro crab salad any time of the year.  But I think this dish is especially fun during the holiday season.  You can certainly serve it with crostini or crackers, but serving it with toast points somehow feels befitting.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    This retro crab salad includes all the traditional elements of crab salad using pimentos, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. However, the addition of thinly sliced green onions gives it a little bite that blends so deliciously with the other ingredients.

    Ingredients

    • 8-12 ounces of crabmeat (if fresh crab is not available, feel free to use good quality canned crabmeat)
    • ¼ -1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise
    • 2-ounce jar of pimentos, drained
    • ¼ cup thin sliced green onions
    • ¼-1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 8-12 slices of good quality white bread or dark rye
    • 2 tablespoons melted butter

    Instructions

  • Squeeze the excess water from the crabmeat. In a medium bowl, mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, pimentos, green onions, cheddar cheese and squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place it in the refrigerator while you make the toast points.
  • Pre-heat the oven to broil. Brush each slice of bread with butter on both sides. Place the bread slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Once the bread is golden brown on the first side, turn the slices over to toast the other side. This shouldn’t take long so watch your toast carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven, sprinkle each slice of bread with a pinch of salt and let the toast cool. Trim the crust and slice each piece of bread diagonally to make two triangles.
  • Serve the chilled crab salad with the toast points.
  • Notes

    This recipe originally created for Home by Design Magazine

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    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes on an egg and biscuit // Karista's Kitchen

    These days, my kitchen counter looks more like a market produce bin.  Which is why I’ve got these lush jammy roasted tomatoes incorporated into almost every meal this season.  I honestly thought I was a bit modest in planning my summer garden this year – it appears I may have over estimated yet again.

    I’m sure my exuberance was due to the long winter and my yearning for fresh tomatoes and zucchini.  I certainly got my wish.

    Every morning Tank and I walk out to the garden boxes and pick produce, pull weeds, water the plants and then stand around and lovingly admire all the work. I never fail to walk back into the house with a smile on my face and usually a small cherry tomato in Tank’s mouth.

    Tank the Terrier and the tomato bowl // Karista's Kitchen

    This summer, I’ve prepared every fresh tomato recipe my family likes to eat as well as every zucchini and poblano recipe I can think of making.  One of my favorite ways to use the fresh zucchini and tomatoes is to small dice the zucchini and combine them with diced tomatoes, summer corn, torn basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  This is one of my family’s favorite summer salads… it’s a bit like this salad, only with the addition of diced zucchini.

    These jammy roasted tomatoes are my attempt to do something different with all the summer tomatoes other than make a salad, sandwiches or tomato pie.  I adore the sweetness of roasted tomatoes and I love to toss them into pastas, wilted greens, smear onto sandwiches or breakfast biscuits.  I like to add them to summer soups and stews, homemade pizza and of course spread them over goat cheese crostini.  I’ve canned these jammy roasted tomatoes but I also like to freeze small packages for use this winter in my sauces and stews.

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes // Karista's Kitchen

    I also adore these jammy roasted tomatoes dolloped into the center of cheesy polenta or served as a sort of sauce for grilled or pan seared fish, chicken or pork.  They’re so good,  sometimes I snag a spoonful out of the jar for a snack.

    Besides thinking of new ways to prepare my plethora of produce, I’ve been busy working on a fun project that I know you’re going to love!  A View to Delicious is the autumn food issue that is written by me and published by VRAI Magazine.  It’ll include new seasonal recipes, stories and photos of the Pacific Northwest, reader questions, cooking tips and techniques and more.  I’ve put my heart into this issue and I hope you’ll read it and love it as much as I do.  It’ll launch September 26th! So stay tuned.

    In between work and gardening, family vacation and getting my sassy gal ready for college, I also took a little time to visit the parents. My youngest gal and I went to the local farmers market with pop, had a lovely crepe prepared by Chef Tarek for breakfast and shopped for the weekly produce under the warm summer sun.

    Chef Tarek making crepes at the Temecula farmers market // Karista's Kitchen

    It was a quick visit but it was fun for the grandparents to visit with their granddaughter and see her witty but somewhat eccentric style.  Yep, as you can see, this one always thought she was a mermaid.  While touring an art museum she found a mermaid chair and claimed it as her throne.

    Amelia and her Mermaid Chair // Karista's Kitchen
    Today I’m back in the office (kitchen) working on new, exciting and of course, delicious, recipes for the fall and winter seasons.  The kiddos are back to school and soon the weather will carry a chill in the air and it’ll be time to put a simmering pot of soup on the stove again.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

    Ingredients

    • About 5-6 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes, drained as much as possible (enough to spread in a single layer on a lined baking sheet)
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and then toss the chopped tomatoes with the brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian herbs and olive oil.
  • Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before using, canning or freezing.
  • Notes

    I make two or three batches of these jammy roasted tomatoes. One batch stays in the fridge, one goes in the freezer and the other one is used for dinner. Delicious!

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