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Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Winter Beef & Vegetable Cobbler with Sour Cream & Chive Biscuits

Winter Beef and Vegetable Cobbler with Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits // Karista's Kitchen

There is something so beautiful and restorative about a braised beef dish that is topped with fluffy savory biscuits.  Each spoonful filled with a little biscuit, a little beef and a little sauce – making each bite a delicious and comforting memory.

Rather than stew meat, I use flank steak in this gorgeous dish.  Although I typically use flank steak for grilling, a well marbled flank steak makes a nice alternative to stew meat.  It’s a flavorful cut of beef and becomes quite tender when braised or slow cooked.  Braising and slow cooking are basically the same, however, a few minor adjustments usually need to be made when interchanging these methods of cooking.  Click HERE for an excellent conversion guide for Dutch oven and Slow Cooker cooking methods.

Winter Beef and Vegetable Cobbler with Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

Flank steak also pairs deliciously with winter root vegetables and adding porcini mushrooms into the dish deepens the flavors and the sauce.  The crowning glory of this dish?  Those sour cream and chive biscuits

The finished dish makes the most gorgeous and delightful comfort food.  This is a meal to be enjoyed family style with big bowls and spoons and maybe a little butter for those biscuits.  Winter never tasted so good.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Winter Beef & Vegetable Cobbler with Sour Cream & Chive Biscuits


  • 2 lbs flank steak, one inch cubed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour for dusting
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • !For the Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits
  • 1 cup self rising flour, 1/4 cup for rolling out
  • 6 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
  • 8 ounce sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives


Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with the one cup of boiling water. Let the mushrooms sit for about 15 minutes. Once they are soft, strain them from the water and then finely dice the mushrooms. Set aside.

Season the steak cubes with salt and pepper and then dust with the 1/4 cup flour, tossing to combine. Heat a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add some of the beef cubes. You will need to cook the beef in batches. If you load up the bottom of the pot with too much beef, it will bring down the temperature of the oil and the pot and the beef cubes won’t brown. Transfer the browned beef to a platter and reserve.

Next, in the same pot, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, carrots, parsnips and fresh herbs, adding a little more oil if needed. Sauté the vegetables until slightly tender (the onions will be the most tender), about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic the last few minutes of cooking. This is so the garlic doesn’t brown. Brown garlic tastes bitter and we don’t want to risk your lovely cobbler tasting bitter.

Return the beef with juices to the pot and then stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms, mustard, red wine and beef broth. Bring the stew to a lively simmer then turn down the heat to low and let the stew cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid feels a little saucy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While the stew is simmering, prepare the biscuits.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Transfer the beef and vegetable stew to an 8×11 or 9×13 baking dish. I prefer an 8×11 baking dish because it’s smaller and allows the stew to be deeper in the pan, which makes for fantastic cobbler. Top the beef and vegetable stew with the biscuits and brush each biscuit with butter.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the biscuits are nicely browned on top. You want a rich color on the biscuits to be sure they are done. Take the cobbler out of the oven and let it stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

For the Biscuits

Add the flour and diced butter to a large bowl and work in the butter using a pastry cutter or your hands. You should see pea sized crumbs. Then mix in the sour cream and chives until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Pour the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to your desired thickness. Cut into biscuits with a 2″ biscuit cutter, dipping in flour in between cutting biscuits. Place the biscuits on the beef and vegetable stew and brush each biscuit with melted butter. Continue with recipe above.

If you’d like to make these biscuits without the stew, place the biscuits on a lined baking sheet, brush with butter and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the biscuits are a deep golden brown. Bring them out of the oven and serve warm

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Beef Karista's Kitchen VRAI Magazine

Perfect Prime Rib Roast for VRAI Magazine

Roasting the perfect prime rib with Au Jus Gravy and Horseradish Sauce // Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

Every holiday season I ask my family the same question… “what do you want for Christmas dinner”?   And every year I get the same answer.  “Prime Rib!”   I can’t blame them.  Prime Rib is such a grand cut of beef – so exquisite in flavor and texture.

Perfect Prime Rib Roast tutorial from Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

When VRAI Magazine asked me for a Holiday recipe, this was the first thing that came to mind.  If you ever wanted to prepare prime rib but felt too intimidated, this recipe is for you.  Tips, techniques and a simple recipe for preparing the perfect prime rib.

Perfect Roasted Prime Rib with Au Jus Gravy and Horseradish Sauce // Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

Along with this luscious prime rib recipe, I’ve included a quick Beef Broth Gravy and Homemade Horseradish Sauce.  You will also find the loveliest selection of holiday recipes from our VRAI Magazine Contributors as well as travel, lifestyle, fashion and DIY articles.

So head on over to VRAI Magazine and treat yourself to a few holiday moments browsing and reading our Holiday issue!

Wishing you a most magical and delicious holiday season!


Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Beef Stir Fry)

Lomo Saltado Peruvian Beef Stir Fry with Sweet Potato Fries

It’s funny how I stumble across new recipes I’ve never heard about, tasted or seen like this Peruvian Beef Stir Fry called Lomo Saltado. 

Sometimes I feel I must have my head buried in the traditional culinary sands so deeply,  I’ve missed some intriguing recipes.  However, all is not lost…  I have friends to thank for sharing the culinary light.

I first heard about Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian Beef Stir fry, from my friend Cristina.  She visits Florida often and tasted this dish the last time she visited.  After she described the recipe, I was definitely intrigued.  A Beef Stir Fry that includes French fries.  Huh.

So I did some research and it seems those who write about Lomo Saltado are passionate about one thing. Those fries. Although it seems a little odd,  it works. 

The remaining ingredients vary according to author and culinary background.  Beef is the main ingredient and even the cut of beef varies from recipe to recipe.  I also found this dish served with yellow rice or steamed rice.

Lomo Saltado Peruvian Beef Stir Fry with Sweet Potato Fries // Karista's Kitchen

I decided to keep things simple and adapt several recipes into one – making this beef stir fry with a twist of my own.

Some of the recipes I found use only the beef, onion, hot pepper and French fries.  A few add in a green bell pepper or hot pepper and one recipe included pickled jalapenos.  They all sound delicious but I decided to make a one dish meal and include more veggies.  Along with substituting the French fries for sweet potato fries.  But please feel free to keep the French fries.  I just happen to love sweet potato fries and I thought the sweetness of the fries would nicely balance the salty flavors of the sauce.

In the recipe I’ve given several substitutions.  Feel free to experiment and personalize your Peruvian Beef Stir Fry.  I’d love to know how you mix it up, so keep me posted!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Beef Stir Fry)

Serving Size: 4


  • 1 lb Flat iron or skirt steak cut into ½ inch strips
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground coriander (optional)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced for stir fry (optional)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced for stir fry (optional)
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced for stir fry (seeds can be hot so it’s up to you if you include them) or use a jalapeno or hot yellow pepper, diced
  • 2-4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
  • Sweet potato fries, cooked according to package directions (you can also use traditional potato fries)
  • Handful of fresh coarsely chopped cilantro (I think sliced green onions would be a good substitute)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash of hot sauce if needed (I used Sriracha)


In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. Reserve.

In a large skillet or large wok, heat two tablespoons oil over high heat. Lightly season the beef with black pepper, ground cumin and ground coriander. When the oil is hot brown the meat and then transfer it to a plate.

When all the meat has been browned, add a little more oil to the skillet and then sauté the veggies until lightly wilted or crisp tender. Adjust heat as needed.

Stir in the garlic the last 30 seconds of cooking. Add the beef back in to the skillet with the veggies and then stir in the sauce. Let the sauce coat the beef and veggies and then remove from the heat.

Season with salt and a dash of hot sauce if needed.

Place the fries on a platter, top with the beef and veggie stir fry and garnish with the fresh cilantro. Serve with hot sauce if desired.


Recipe adapted from multiple sources

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Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

Grilled Rib-Eye With Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette Karista's Kitchen

We’ve just launched the 4th fabulous issue of VRAI Magazine and I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting and new online magazine!  Filled with food, travel, DIY, Gardening and more.

VRAI Magazine is made up of real bloggers, with varying backgrounds, expertise and unique perspectives, who are passionate about sharing stories. In these stories, you’ll also find wonderful ideas, inspirations and information for everyday living, as well as topics of interest that are designed to spark genuine conversations. “Life is filled with stories both big and small. They can be found in big events and milestones throughout life or even in the most mundane acts of each day — there is always a story worth telling.  Through VRAI Magazine, we hope to capture and share some of them with you.”

In this issue of VRAI Magazine I talk GRILLING!  Here’s a sneak peek:

I get positively giddy this time of year.  With the longer days and warmer temperatures, grilling once again becomes my preferred method of cooking.  Gone are the cooler days and Pacific Northwest winter weather that requires rain gear while grilling. 

Although I enjoy most methods of cooking, there is something about grilling that feels just a bit festive, carefree and whimsical. Maybe it’s the feeling of warm summer months when life is slower and less scheduled.  Fresh produce arriving with color and intense ripened flavors just aching to be tossed into some delicious concoction to share.

Grilling steak couldn’t be easier, but there are a few simple steps that will make your steak taste like perfection. 

  1. Quality is key –  Purchasing a quality cut of beef is key to a delicious and flavorful steak.  I prefer purchasing local beef that has been grazing in a nice open pasture and preferably grass-fed only. (I know, I sound like the television show Portlandia) Truly, fresh is best for optimum flavor.  Not only does buying local mean your steak will be fresh, you will be supporting your local economy.  If  you don’t have access to a  local beef rancher, try to purchase beef from your region.  Most local markets purchase regionally,  or ask your local butcher.

For the Grilled Rib-eye with Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and a Grilled Romaine Recipe head on over to VRAI Magazine…  Click Here!

Stay Tuned – Coming up this week, I will be posting a most delicious and special pastry recipe from Italy.   Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!



Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes Seafood Soup

Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-up!

8 Cinco de Mayo recipes from Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing more delicious than a blog post filled with Mexican and South American inspired recipes.  The rich, bold and spicy flavors remind me summer is on the horizon and it makes this chef delirious with anticipation.  Outdoor grilling, fresh local summer produce, casual dining, flip flops or barefoot; it positively makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Cinco de Mayo is Monday, May 5th and to celebrate,  I’ve got a fabulous line up of festive recipes.   So sit back, relax, fire up that grill, shake up a tasty cocktail and enjoy the deliciousness of the season.


Spicy Cabbage Salad

The Dreamiest Chocoflan

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Smoked Salmon Wonton Tacos


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,






Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork


Colcannon with Swiss chard, ground pork sausage, green onions and Irish cheddar / Karista's Kitchen

I’m deeply enamored with Ireland.  It feels a poetic and romantic place.  Melodic Celtic music that seems to transcend time, lush green landscapes, drifting fog and rugged shores. All creating visions of charm and daydreams.   

I’m just as enamored with Irish cuisine.  Deep, rich flavors that warm a belly and comfort the soul.  Hearty fare my Grandmother used to call “stick to your ribs” cuisine.  Perfect for the cool evenings still to come.

Colcannon Bake text

There’s no celebrating the arrival of spring at my house without some festive and hearty Irish fare.  One of my favorite dishes to prepare is Colcannon. Traditionally a mashed potato, cabbage and green onion side dish, I decided to re-create this lush recipe into a one pot meal.

Sautéed onions and ground sausage with wilted Swiss chard and green onion all gently swirled in mashed potatoes – and then topped with creamy Irish cheddar.  A perfectly enchanting one-dish meal.   Skip the ground sausage and serve it as a Sunday side dish with corned beef and cabbage or a traditional pot roast.    I promise, there will not be a speck of leftovers.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Karista’s Kitchen Colcannon

Serves 4-6


1-2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1lb ground mild or sweet pork or turkey sausage

1 large bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed and chopped

2 green onions, chopped

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes

4-6 tablespoons butter

½ cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Shredded Irish Cheddar (I used Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar)

8×8 or 9×11 buttered baking dish


Heat the oven to 350F.  Prepare the mashed potatoes.

Place the cubed potatoes in a medium or large pot and cover with cold water.  Add a few pinches of salt.  Bring the water to a boil and continue a lively simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.

Drain the potatoes and then place back into the pot.  Add the butter and mash the potatoes with a potato masher.  For smoother potatoes, I transfer them to my kitchen aid mixer (with the paddle attachment) and mix until smooth.

Gently mix in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and try not to sneak bites. 🙂

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or two of oil and sauté the onions.  When the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and ground meat and cook until done.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer the ground meat to a bowl and reserve.

Using the same skillet, sauté the Swiss chard over medium heat until wilted. Take the skillet off the heat and toss with the green onions.

Next, gently fold together the mashed potatoes, wilted Swiss Chard/green onions and ground sausage.

Pour into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle evenly with shredded Irish cheddar.

Place the baking dish in the oven and heat until the cheddar is melted and sides are bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Let the Colcannon cool slightly – then garnish with additional sliced green onions and serve.  This can certainly be served as a one dish meal; or serve with spring greens dressed in lemon or citrus vinaigrette.

Original publication March 2013, Issaquah Press
Recipe and article by Karista Bennett
Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Cube Steak Parmesan

Cube Steak Parmesan - Karista's Kitchen

When I was a kid, a week didn’t go by that cube steak wasn’t served for dinner.  To me, those were the best dinner evenings.  I would pony up to the table salivating; just waiting for Mom to put the finishing touches on the gravy.

My Mom rarely made the traditional chicken fried steak.  You know, the one that everyone thinks of when you say those two words… cube steak.  Nope, she was a typical working Mom and cut prep corners when she could.  Like seasoning the cube steak and then lightly dusting it in flour and then pan searing in a little oil.  When both sides were golden brown, she’d place them on a platter and serve with her pan gravy that was made from beef stock and the pan drippings.

I have to admit, I love a good chicken fried steak and gravy – which is probably one of the most popular recipes for cube steak.   I grew up in the South and I’ve had the pleasure of dining on the most succulent and perfectly prepared chicken fried steak.  But for a busy weeknight, this quick prep cube steak method is perfect.

Every year we purchase a quarter side of beef and with it comes a lot of cube steak.  This is one of those recipes born out of the need to use up all the cube steak in my freezer, while keeping the meal on the lighter side.  It was an instant hit at my house.  So I decided to prepare it for one of my favorite clients who had been asking for cube steak but couldn’t have the heavy chicken fried steak version.  He loved this recipe so much it became a regular on his menu.  I love it when that happens.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Cube Steak Parmesan

Serves 4-6

To dress up this dish, I like to serve it over fresh seasonal greens that are tossed with a little good quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Makes a lovely presentation and makes me feel a little better about using my abundance of cube steak.

For those who would like this dish wheat free, try dusting the seasoned cube steak in a little corn starch, just to crisp it a bit.


1 1/2 – 2lbs cube steak (if the steaks are large I cut them in half)

Salt and Pepper

Dried oregano

All-purpose flour or corn starch for dusting

Oil for pan searing (I like safflower or EVOO)

2 cups of your favorite or homemade tomato sauce

Mozzarella cheese, about 8 slices (part skim or whole milk)

Basil leaves – about 8-10

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Spring greens tossed with salt, pepper, a drizzle of oil and balsamic vinegar


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper and a pinch of dried oregano.  Dust the steaks in all-purpose flour or corn starch.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.  Enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the cube steak on both sides and then transfer to a baking dish or lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all the cube steak has been browned.   Cube steak is usually very thin so this browning process will most likely cook the steak through. If not, it will finish cooking in the oven.

Place a slice of cheese on each steak and then a basil leaf.  Ladle a little sauce over each steak and top with parmesan cheese.

Place the baking dish or baking sheet in the pre-heated oven until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Place your prepared greens on a large platter and then place each of the steaks on the greens.  Serve with extra sauce.  Sometimes I serve this creamy polenta or gnocchi.

*If using a baking dish you can keep the steaks in the baking dish and serve the greens on the side.



Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta

Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

Tuscan style lasagna with bechamel and sugo

Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

Due to legalities you have to promise you’re 21 or older before proceeding to read this post.  Yes, we are talking wine and food.  But it’s the wine that’s the tricky part.  Thanks!


Nothing could have prepared me for the magic and beauty of Tuscany.  Although I’ve read about Tuscany for years, viewed what feels like a million photographs and watched several films, it didn’t even begin to compare to the moment I stepped onto the gloriously beautiful landscape.

Now, never a day goes by that Tuscany doesn’t come to mind. The lovely memories of decadent food and wine, beautiful landscape, warm and hospitable residents and our DaVinci Wine team… seem to linger and cause my heart to long as if I’ve lost a true love.

Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

Sounds dramatic I know.  But as my sister said to me after her trip to London – I feel forever changed.  Traveling abroad and experiencing life in a new land is an enlightening feeling.  Probably because I’ve always been so intrigued by people and their food.  Our own food culture here in the states is beautifully diverse as well and possibly some of the most intriguing.  But to experience Tuscany was indeed a highlight that makes me feel forever changed.

My trip was full of little surprises – like when Ranger Craig and I were in search of breakfast.  Eggs?  I think not. A pastry and espresso is found on every corner.  Ask for an egg and you just might be tossed out of the pastry shop.  Honestly , I didn’t mind.  Who wouldn’t mind having a gorgeous pastry and espresso for breakfast.  Nothing terribly sweet, just a little something to start the day.    Or when my fellow Storyteller, Jim O’Donnell asked for an Americano at a little establishment just outside Monteriggioni. He promptly received a “no”; with an espresso instead. A hilarious moment that you can read all about it here.

DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience

Harvesting the Sangiovese grapes and Photographer Leela Cyd catching the action.

While dining at a restaurant in Florence, I was surprised by the lasagna I ordered.  Not at all the version we prepare here in the states.  Although our Italian American version is divine, this thing of beauty included layers of lush and buttery lasagna pasta sheets with rich béchamel, parmesan, pecorino and rich Bolognese sauce, or as they call it here, sugo.

The absence of ricotta and mozzarella was startling. But I must say it wasn’t missed.  So when I arrived home, I simply had to re-create this lovely dish I so vividly remember.

Because this Tuscan Lasagna al Forno was created for my friends at DaVinci Wine, you can find it on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.   To check out the websites of our other two Storytellers, just click on their names… Kristina Laurendi Havens and Leela Cyd.

I wish you all Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Tuscan Lasagna al Forno


For the Sugo:

¾ – 1 lb ground beef or ground Italian sausage

1 red onion, diced

1 carrot, small diced

1 rib of celery, small diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup DaVinci Chianti

2-3 cups tomato sauce

Pinch dried oregano

Pinch of allspice or pumpkin pie spice (I know  this seems unusual but a kind Trattoria Chef told me this ingredient is always included in his Sugo for Lasagna al Forno)

Salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy bottom skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until nicely golden brown, almost caramelized. Add the ground meat and garlic to the soffrito (diced veggies) and cook until done, breaking up any big pieces.  The meat should be small and somewhat minced.

Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the wine, scraping up the bits of good stuff (fond) on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and allspice or pumpkin pie spice and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.  Put the skillet back on the heat and bring to a low simmer.  Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the béchamel.

Bechamel or White Ragu:


6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons flour

3 cups warm whole milk

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  When the butter is melted whisk in the flour.  Then slowly whisk in the warm milk.

Continue whisking until your milk comes to a simmer and begins to thicken.  Turn the heat down so you don’t burn the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.

Stir in the pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

You will want this béchamel (white ragu) thicker than a béchamel that you might toss with pasta.  So if it feels heavy or thick that’s ok.  It’ll be perfect for the lasagna.

For the Lasagna:


Fresh lasagna sheets, cooked – enough to fill a lasagna baking dish or a 9×13 baking dish.  I love a deep baking dish for this lasagna.

3-4 cups Sugo

3-4 cups Béchamel

½ cup grated parmesan

½ cup shaved pecorino Toscana

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Ladle a little Sugo in the bottom of the baking dish and line with pasta sheets.  Ladle the pasta sheets with béchamel, sprinkle of parmesan and pecorino. Continue alternating the béchamel and Sugo until you’ve created 5-6 layers or used all your pasta sheets.  Be sure to save a cup of Sugo for the top of the lasagna.

Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are bubbly.

Raise the heat to 400F.  Remove the foil and cook the lasagna until the top is toasty and cheese is golden brown, another 10 minutes or so.  Sometimes I put it under the broiler for extra color.

Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  This will allow the béchamel and cheese to firm for slicing.

Serve with a side of extra Vinci sauce and grated parmesan if desired.



Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs

Tomato sauce prepared with DaVinci Chianti over Italian Meatballs/Karista's Ktichen

When I serve a Chianti wine, it has always been a DaVinci Chianti.  My absolute favorite Chianti for years, long before I so proudly became the 2013 DaVinci Wine Culinary Arts Storyteller.  And, might I add, DaVinci Chianti has always been an important ingredient in my tomato gravy, or as my family calls it, my Sunday sauce.

I mentioned this to Jenna, one of our lovely DaVinci Reps, during a conversation about the Chianti – when Jenna quickly said “it’s Vinci sauce!”.  And that was that.  My family’s favorite Sunday sauce is now Vinci Sauce.

Vinci Sauce is magnificent all on its own – smothering fresh pastas, gnocchi or polenta.   However, I also adore this sauce paired with Italian meatballs that simmer in the Vinci Sauce before serving.

Vinci tomato sauce and meatballs collage

Because I created these recipes for DaVinci Wine they can be found on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.  Click here to download the recipes for Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs.

Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Beef Karista's Kitchen Pork

Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cakes

chorizo and black bean stuffed poblanos with enchilada sauce and spanish rice cakes

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

As I was writing my holiday letter yesterday, I was either laughing or crying.  The year 2013 was anything but typical.  As I reminisced over the past twelve months, I realized it was quite a roller coaster of events.

A year of changes, nail-biting moments, some tears, lots of laughter, because laughter is the best medicine, moments of gratitude, a few panic attacks, and grand adventure. Phew! Yep, all in one year.

Spanish rice cakes and enchiladas poblano stuffed with chorizo and black beans

Without spewing all my emotions here, I’ll just tell you I am so thankful my Bennett Crew is happy and healthy.  In 2013, my oldest gal fought medical hurdles with courage and fierce determination.  She’s my hero.

On the list of events was an extensive house remodel, which caused me to re-think my love of DIY projects.   I know some of you can identify.  Home remodeling can take a toll and make you want to hire the big bad wolf to blow your house down.

A new state, new town, new home… and then a most delicious surprise.  A trip to Italy.  A glorious two weeks that fed my soul and inspired my heart. New and cherished friendships formed and adventure I’ll always remember.  I came back with a renewed love of Italian cuisine and culture, and my recipe developing wheels turning.

In reflection, I’m most grateful for my friends and family, who, as always, gave an abundance of loving support.  Life can be a roller coaster of events, but with friends and family like mine, it makes the curve ball coming at me a little easier to dodge.

In honor of this beautiful new year I thought I’d start off with something spicy, flavorful and festive.  These Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cake are pure deliciousness and a perfect way to begin this new year.

I wish you all good health, true joy, lots and lots of laughter, much success in whatever you strive to do, and the love of friends and family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Happy New Year!


Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

Serves 4-6


6 poblano peppers

1lb ground Spanish chorizo (Spanish chorizo is gaining popularity and you can typically find it in most markets next to the other ground meats)

1 small white onion, diced

Handful cilantro leaves coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sliced green onions

¼-1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Red Enchilada Sauce (I love Chef Rick Bayless Frontera Brand of Enchilada sauces. If you can’t find them, I also use Hatch branch red enchilada sauce)

1 cup shredded pepper jack or mozzarella cheese

Sliced limes

Sliced Avocado (optional)

Spanish Rice Cakes (recipe below)


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Lay the poblano peppers on a lined baking sheet and roast them for about 10-15 minutes or until they are toasted on the outside and somewhat soft.

While the peppers are roasting heat a skillet over medium high heat with a little oil.  Saute the white onions until soft and then add the ground chorizo.  Break up the chorizo while it’s cooking and when it’s almost cooked through stir in the cilantro and green onions.

Take the skillet off the heat and then gently toss with the black beans and cotija.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the peppers are done and cooled, pull off any of the blistered skin and try not to tear the peppers.  Place the peppers in a large baking dish.

Turn the oven down to 350F.

Slice vertically down the center of the pepper and pull it open a little so you can fill.  Stuff each pepper with the chorizo and black bean filling.  Then ladle a little of the enchilada sauce over the top of each pepper and sprinkle with shredded pepper jack or Mozzarella cheese.

Once all the peppers are filled, sauced and cheesed (don’t you love my snappy culinary lingo?) pop them into the oven for about another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

If you have any leftover sauce I like to ladle it over the poblanos and then top with sliced avocado.  Serve with a side of sliced limes and sour cream.

Spanish Rice Cakes

Makes 12-16 small round cakes


2 cups prepared Spanish Rice

½ cup sliced green onion

¼ – 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

2 eggs, whisked

Healthy oil for frying


Mix all the ingredients together.  Heat the oil on medium high heat and then when it’s ready take a tablespoon full of rice mixture, I also use a cookie scoop, roll it in your hands and then smash into a small round cake.  This mixture can feel loose but once you place it in the hot oil it will form a crust on the outside making it easier to handle.

Brown the cakes on both sides and then place on paper towels.  Serve the Spanish Rice cakes with ½ cup of sour cream whisked with the juice of 1 small lime and a pinch of cumin.  It’s a refreshing dip for the rice cakes. Or serve the rice cakes plain with the stuffed enchiladas poblano as a side dish.




Beef Karista's Kitchen

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

beef tenderloin with madeira wine sauce

When I was little, I would stand with my face pressed against the chain link fence that surrounded our yard, watching my Grandfather attempt his daily chores outside.  Grandpa was a hard worker.  Once a policeman, then a plumber and always semi-retired.

Grass never grew under Grandpa’s feet.  He was always up to something.  Digging holes for posts so he could hang a new tire swing for the Grandkids, tinkering in his man cave with his motorcycles, somehow resisting the ache of taking a long ride through the country.

A hearty man.  Skin made of leather from years in the sun, barely a speck of blonde hair left on a shiny brown head.  Scars and a crooked nose from numerous motorcycle accidents never deterred the sweetness of his face.  A smile that could warm the heart and the bluest eyes that twinkled brightly.

Until the moment my Grandmother opened the front door and shouted his name.  He pretended he didn’t hear her calling.

This always made me giggle.  I’d keep his secret.  I’d never tell Grandma where he was, although I’m sure she knew.


I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had, and continue to have, many good men in my life.  Uncles, Grandfather’s, Father’s, brother’s, cousins who are like my brothers, friends and of course my main man and love of my life, Ranger Craig.   Men of character and integrity, respect for the strong women in their lives, men who were, and still are, some of the best Father’s I’ve ever known.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and most delicious Father’s Day!

Loads of Love,


Beef Tenderloin Medallions with a Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

Serves 2 (can easily be doubled)


2 Beef Tenderloin approximately 5-6 ounces each

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons high heat oil or clarified butter (Ghee)

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup beef stock

½ cup Madeira wine

1/2 cup sliced sautéed cremini mushrooms (optional)

1 tablespoon beef demi-glaze.  This gives a little richer flavor to the sauce and can be found at most markets, usually near the beef broth, or in the freezer section

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish (optional)


Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides.  In a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering and hot, place the beef tenderloin in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.  About 6-7 minutes per side for medium doneness. Transfer the beef to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Then stir in the chopped shallots.  Once the shallots are fragrant stir in the flour.  Once the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds to one minute, whisk in the beef stock and then the Madeira wine.

Continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened just a bit.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle a bit of sauce on a plate and place a tenderloin on top with any remaining beef juices from the beef plate.  Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately.

I love this beef dish with Potatoes Dauphinoise and Roasted Asparagus.

Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood

Tacos, Ceviche and a Dessert

Cinco de Mayo recipes

Ceviche, Chocoflan and Slow Braised Barbacoa

Over the years, I’ve had a long love affair with Mexican food.  I must have 50 different taco recipes floating around my kitchen.  All with an abundance of fresh ingredients, fragrant aromas that fill my house and robust and spicy flavored dishes that make my family smile big toothy smiles.

The Bennett Crew and I have spent countless summer evenings sitting out on the deck, dining on ceviche, salsa, tacos, grilled meats and fish, all with the flavors of Mexico.  Sipping on sangria, cerveza or bright pink virgin margarita’s while watching the sun set in the distance.  Ahhh… makes me think of vacation.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d round-up some of my favorite Mexican and South American recipes.  Some of the recipes are easily prepared and some take a little extra time, but so worth the effort.

Wishing you all a fun, festive, and of course, completely delicious Cinco de Mayo celebration!

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema.

chicken tacos

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

Halibut Tacos with spicy slaw

Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema.

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Crema

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa

Slow Braised Barbacoa

Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche.

ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

The Dreamiest Chocoflan


Nelly Rodriguez de Galofre’s Chocoflan