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Grilled Summer Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

Peach Crepes

Grilled Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

One of best things about being a chef is teaching people to cook.

I cherish the moment when I see the knowing gleam of light in a student’s eyes.  The moment when they have mastered a new cooking technique or when they have discovered the answer to a daunting cooking question that may have plagued them for years.


Light and Airy Crepes

It’s that very moment  I feel complete and utter professional and personal satisfaction.  My heart soars with emotion and I realize, another home chef is born.

“Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should feed our soul, nourish our bodies and delight our senses”.  This is my mission.


Dried Lavender Buds

To teach, to feed, to bring joy through the most soul satisfying and nourishing food.  Food that is fresh, simple and delights the taste buds. Clean, fresh flavors that aren’t hidden in a mountain of ingredients.

Simple goodness from the earth, prepared into a culinary adventure for our senses.

Lavender field

My two sassy gals when they were little… sitting in a lavender field.

Nothing could be more sensory satisfying than these lovely grilled peach crepes with lavender mascarpone.  These little beauties were created using the mountain of crepes I’ve been making (my practice test run) for a girl scout cooking class.

Cooking class

Entertaining the troop with my weird facial expressions 🙂

cooking class

Making sweet and savory crepes

cooking class

Serious discussion about crepe making.

I had so much fun making crepes with these lovely little ladies.  Delightful, clever and brilliant, these gals will rule the world some day.  🙂

Wishing you all a delicious summer!

Loads of Love,


Grilled Summer Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

If you happen to find yourself with a flat of apricots, nectarines or plums, these would also be delicious substitutions for the peaches.

Serves 8


8 ounces mascarpone, room temp so it’s easier to mix and spread

1 tablespoon dried lavender

¼ cup sugar

4 peaches (firm but give a little when squeezed), halved and pit removed

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

¼ cup good quality honey (I use a local wildflower honey)

8 crepes (recipe below)

Drizzle of honey and chopped fresh mint for garnish


Preheat the grill to 400F.

In coffee grinder, food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the sugar and dried lavender together.  Make sure the lavender is finely minced.

Mix together the lavender sugar and the mascarpone and set aside.

Brush the peach halves with veggie oil and grill until the peaches are tender to the touch and nicely marked with grill marks.

Place the grilled peaches on a cutting board and slice.  Then put the sliced peaches in a bowl and drizzle with honey.

Fill each crepe with a tablespoon or two of lavender mascarpone and a few grilled peach slices and then roll.  Garnish with an additional drizzle of honey and fresh mint.

Crepes Recipe

I’ve tested at least five different crepe recipes and this is hands down my favorite.  My dear friend, Pastry Chef Laurie Pfalzer of Pastry Craft Seattle, gave me this recipe and of course like all her recipes, it’s perfectly delicious!

Classic French crepes are perfect for dessert and plenty of savory dishes too. Make the batter a day ahead for best results.

1 ¼ cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 each eggs, room temperature

3 each egg yolks, room temperature

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter

1 ½ cups (12 ounces) whole milk


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until just warm to the touch and the butter has melted. (If it gets too warm, transfer it to a metal bowl to cool some.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.

Add the eggs to the dry mixture and whisk until combined. The batter will become a thick paste. Add the milk and butter all at once and whisk gently until combined.

Let the crepe batter sit for at least one hour, but preferably over night.

Making the crepes:  Cut or tear 20 pieces of parchment about 6×6 inches each. Set them aside.

Heat a skillet (8-10 inches) or crepe pan over medium-high heat.  (See more info on crepe pans below.) Make sure the pan is hot before you add the batter. Add ¼ to 1/3 cup crepe batter to the pan and gently tilt the pan to distribute the batter over the entire bottom of the pan. Return the pan immediately to the heat.  Cook the crepe until the top bubbles and the edges start to curl, about 1 minute. Using a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently loosen the edges of the crepe. Turn the crepe with the spatula or use an offset spatula or pancake turner. (I like to lift the edge of the crepe with my fingers, slide the rubber spatula under and flip it over. You can use your fingers and the spatula to straighten it in the pan if needed.)  Cook the crepe on the second side for less than 1 minute or until it is brown and releases easily from the pan.

Slide the cooked crepe onto a piece of the cut parchment and repeat the steps above for the second crepe. Lay a piece of parchment on top of the first crepe and slide the second crepe onto the parchment. (This way you will have a stack of parchment/crepe/parchment/crepe and so on.)

Continue cooking the crepes until all of the batter is gone. It is important to stir the batter frequently, as the solids will settle toward the bottom.  You can make as many crepes as you need and store the remaining batter in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  (Be sure to stir the batter well before making the crepes. I like to let the refrigerated batter sit on the counter for 30 minutes so that it is not cold.)

Crepe Pans:  There are a number of crepe pans on the market today, including plenty of basic skillets that also work well. I keep a non-stick pan on hand just for eggs and crepes. Usually, you won’t need to use butter or any other oil to keep the crepes from sticking when using a non-stick pan in good condition. However, sometimes the first crepe will stick some. If this happens to you, just remove it (and have it as a snack).  Then make sure the pan is clean, add one teaspoon of butter to coat the pan and start with the second crepe. This will often “season” the pan and it will cook your crepes perfectly from here on.  If you prefer to use a pan that is not non-stick, use a small amount of clarified butter before cooking each crepe.

Recipe adapted from unknown source by Pastry Craft.

Chicken Grilling Kid Friendly

Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Marinated Grilled Chicken

Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

I put my baby on a plane this morning.  My youngest gal who happens to tower over me by three full inches.

Holding back the tears and putting on a brave Mommy face at the airport was harder than I expected.   I absolutely could not shed a tear.

Grilled Chicken

Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken

Suzie Q had given me a lovely little dissertation in the car about how this trip would be another big adventure for her and she’d be back in a week.  What’s to cry about Mom?!

My youngest is an independent, capable gal and quite the planner.  Her lists for packing are detailed, down to including a mini first aid kit for her backpack.  You know, just in case? 🙂

kayaking Orcas Island

Kayaking Orcas Island

If there was an award in school for preparedness,  Suzie Q would win.

Kayaking Orcas Island

Looks like I’ve been left behind.

Maybe it was the family hiking adventures that ended with a skinned knee or two, or biking Northwest trails that left her with a few skinned elbows and one goose egg on the forehead (actually that was my darling niece!) or the snowboarding that resulted in not so happy feet.  And most recently, kayaking and hiking Orcas Island that resulted in a few band-aids taped to her shins.

Kayaking Orcas Island

Suzie Q Kayaking Orcas Island

Of course, after all that hard work and fun in the sun, I had to prepare one of her new favorite meals.  After the third piece of Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken, Suzie Q declared this dish the best chicken she’s ever tasted!

Did I mention she’s also quite the charmer?

Yogurt and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Serves 4

*The marinade can easily cover up to 5lbs of chicken


3-4 lbs chicken pieces, bone in, skin removed so marinade can soak in

2 cups Greek plain yogurt

½ cup basil pesto (I’ve listed a recipe below, but for a quick fix Cibo Naturals has a lovely basil pesto)

2 lemons, juiced

Splash of Sriracha or fave hot sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper


Place the chicken in a glass bowl, baking dish or non-reactive container.

Whisk together the yogurt, pesto, lemon juice, Sriracha, salt and pepper and then pour over the chicken to coat.

Let the chicken marinade overnight for best results.

To Grill:  Pre-heat the grill to 400F.

Shake off the excess marinade and place on the grill.  Turning down the heat if necessary so the chicken doesn’t burn.

Let the chicken cook for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches internal temperature of 165F.

Serve with your favorite grilled veggies, tossed mixed green salad or pasta salad.  Or… all three! I love this chicken with grilled mini sweet peppers.  Just toss the mini peppers with a little oil, salt and pepper and grill until toasty and soft.

Basil Pesto Recipe:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ -1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or pine nuts)

2 cloves garlic

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, cheese, almonds, garlic and squeeze of lemon in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times and then start adding the olive oil in a steady stream until the pesto is smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grilling Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish over Grilled Salmon

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

My youngest gal told me this morning that I talk about food all the time. Really?

Fresh Mini Peppers

This, after my subtle launch into why we don’t consume sugary chocolate cupcakes on an empty morning tummy.  (can you see her eyes rolling?) I know, I know, once in a while we just have to have a sweet for breakfast.  I promise, I’m not a complete food ogre.

I am a bit obsessed with good food however, and totally in love with mini peppers.  I could eat them by the bucket full.   We picked up these divine little peppers at the Port Townsend Farmer’s Market.  And of course I had to snap a few pictures to share.

Port Townsend, WA looking at Admirality Inlet

Me… at the beautiful marina in Port Townsend

I’m enamored with the Bald Eagle

The perfect evening in Port Townsend

Flying Home

These little peppers are perfect for salads, snacking or stuffed as an appetizer.  But I like them best roasted.

After roasting the first batch, I think I ate half the peppers off the baking sheet.  Well, I know I did.  Because I had to run to my local market for more peppers.

After roasting the second batch of mini peppers I only snacked on two (so yummy right out of the oven!) and the rest went straight into the relish.

Then Ranger Craig came into the kitchen while I was grilling the salmon and “sampled” the relish.  Several times.  I started to wonder if we’d have any relish left for the salmon!

I was not going back to the market a third time.  I’ve done that.  It’s so embarrassing.

We ended up with just enough relish to serve with two pieces of salmon (we should have had enough for four pieces).  It was delicious.

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish with Grilled Salmon

Perfectly roasted and sweet with a hint of fresh basil and subtle tang of balsamic vinegar.  It’s going to be a tasty summer!

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

Serves 4


16 oz Mini Sweet Peppers

1 heaping tablespoon chopped or chiffonade fresh basil, plus extra for garnish

Dash of olive oil

Dash of good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste


To Roast the Peppers

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Brush the foil or parchment with a little oil so the peppers won’t stick.

Place the peppers on the baking sheet, pop them in the oven and let them roast.  This should take about 15-20 minutes depending on how crisp tender or tender you like them.  I personally like my peppers very soft and toasty.

Once the peppers are done let them cool for a few minutes.

Pull the stem from each pepper and dice.  No need to skin or seed the peppers as we’re using the whole pepper for this relish.

Once the peppers are diced, add the fresh basil, dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Gently toss and taste for seasoning.

Serve with grilled salmon or chicken.  Or toss with fresh greens and feta cheese for a delightful summer salad!

Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Chile Lime Ground Chicken Burgers with Fresh Guacamole

Chile Lime Ground Chicken Burger with Fresh Guacamole

It’s been a whirlwind of a week at the Bennett Camp.  Birthdays, end of school year projects, my PCC Cooks spring season of classes beginning tonight, a FoodPress Feature (I did the happy dance when I saw this one!), and a “live” demo taping on our regional public broadcasting station, KCTS Channel 9, to round out the week.  My “live” taping is tomorrow and I’m over the moon excited.

Not only do I live to watch Masterpiece Mystery, and the divine drama Downton Abbey, but I am completely in love with our local travel hero, Rick Steves, and his series on traveling Europe.  To top it off, I’m feeling so very honored to share the tv studio with my friend and one of my favorite Northwest Chef’s… Chef Laurie Pfalzer of Pastry Craft Seattle .

In preparation for this fun and exciting “live” event, Ranger Craig thought he would impart some sage advice last evening.

“Babe, did you make notes about what you’d like to say during your demo?”  Most wife’s might be offended by this statement, but I just giggled.  Ranger Craig knows me well.  And he knows that often times things come flying out of my mouth.

I cannot tell you how many times we’ve been in social circles chatting and enjoying conversation and I’ve seen that little smile form at the corners of his mouth as he’s thinking to himself “I can’t believe she said that”.   Yes, I’m the chatty one.  And although I try my best to employ my charm school etiquette, sometimes my country girl roots “boot kick” right through.  🙂

Chile Lime Ground Chicken Burgers with Fresh Guacamole

I love this burger served with my handsome brother’s fresh guacamole, which I’ve included below.  Pair it with pepper jack cheese, fresh romaine, fresh tomatoes, some jalapeno and you’ll have a “boot kickin’ good time.  😉

Makes 4 large burgers or 6 small – medium burgers


1 lb Isernio’s ground chicken

1 ½ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup finely diced green onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/3  cup breadcrumbs or panko

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Your favorite Burger Buns


Mix together all the ingredients and then refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes.

Make 4-6 patties and either grill or pan fry.  These are much softer than ground beef burgers so if you grill them be sure to brush them with a little oil prior to grilling.

Serve with fresh guacamole, pepper jack cheese, roasted or pickled jalapeno, crisp romaine and summer tomatoes.

Tio’s Fresh Guacamole

3-4 ripe avocados,  mashed or diced

½ cup chopped white onion

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tomato, seeded and diced

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together and keep it as smooth or course as you like.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Appetizers Grilling Kid Friendly Pork

Superbowl Sliders! Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sauteed Sweet Onions and Hot Mustard

Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sweet Onions and Hot Mustard

My sister emailed me this morning asking if I had any Superbowl Sunday recipes to share.  “When is Superbowl Sunday?” I emailed back.  “Sunday”  My sister replies.

Superbowl Sliders

Oh shoot!  Where have I been?  Hiding under a rock somewhere? I have obviously not been paying attention.  And yes, I’ve seen Ranger Craig watching football since the season began.  But it didn’t occur to me that Superbowl is a few days away.   Honestly, I think I’m way past Superbowl and Groundhog day.  I’ve moved onto Valentines already!

My new cutting board from my friend Heidi

Although I seem to be oblivious of football season, I’m not oblivious about the food involved.  So into my recipe vaults I went and pulled out this delish little dish.

Simply prepared and packed with flavor.  It’ll be a knockout with all the football fans in your home!  Hmmm… I think that’s a boxing term.   How about… it’ll be a roaring touchdown with all the football fans in your home!  I think that’ll work. 🙂

Grilled Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sautéed Sweet Onions and Swiss Cheese

Serves 12


2 lbs Pork Tenderloin (not marinated) Each whole tenderloin is about 1lb each.

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) Asian chili paste or hot sauce (I like Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste)

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

Dash of sesame oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Serve with:

Sautéed Sweet Onions (recipe below)

Hot mustard

Slices of Swiss cheese (optional)

Mini or slider buns, or Hawaiin Bread Rolls


Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag or glass baking dish.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To prepare:

Pre-heat the grill to 375F (The pork can also be oven roasted. See below).  Place the tenderloins on the grill and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145F.

You may need to flip the tenderloins a time or two to keep the marinade from burning and evenly brown the pork.

When the pork is done remove from the heat and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

Thinly slice the pork and assemble on slider buns, topped with a small slice of Swiss cheese and warm sautéed sweet onions.

Serve with Asian hot sauce or hot mustard mixed

*The pork can also be roasted in a 375F oven until the internal temperature reaches 145F.  About 20 minutes.

Add a little of the marinade in the roasting pan or baking dish to keep the tenderloin moist.

Sautéed Sweet Onions


3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, Texas Sweet)

4 tablespoons clarified butter or oil


Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan or skillet.  When the butter is melted and/or oil is hot, add all the onions. Keep turning the onions in the pan for the first few minutes to keep them from burning.  Turn down the heat to medium low if needed.

Let the onions cook down, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and caramelized.  This usually takes about 20 – 30 minutes.  Once they are nicely golden brown remove them from the heat.

Season with a pinch of salt and serve with the pork sliders.

Grilling Kid Friendly Pork

Pork with Pears and Golden Raisins

Pork Chops and Pears with Golden Raisins

I’ve become a pear hoarder. I’ve made three trips to the market this week specifically to purchase pears.

First of the season Seckel Pears

I know you’re wondering why.  Because I have pear snatchers (I guess I should say “snackers”) living in my house.

Two to be exact. Yep, the two Bennett gals.

The Pear Snatchers'

I filled my big yellow fruit bowl with a beautiful selection of perfect fall pears.  Two days later I noticed most the pears had disappeared.  Back to the market I went.  For more pears.

Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen and glanced at my fruit bowl. One pear left. Huh. Back to the market one more time.

This time I did something most Mom’s would never do.

Bosc Pears

I hid my pears.  Of course, I bought extra for the pear snatchers. 🙂

Pork with Pears and Golden Raisins

A big shout out and huge thanks to my friend, Leslie MacInnes.  Thanks for brainstorming with me on this recipe!!

Serves 4-6


4-6 pork chops – Although, I tested this recipe over pork chops, it would be delicious with a pork roast, pork tenderloin or pork loin chops.

For the pears

3-4 pears, diced (you can leave the skin on), I used Bosc pears

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup chopped shallots

1/3 cup organic golden raisins (if you have dark raisins on hand feel free to substitute)

¼ cup brown sugar (not packed)

¼ cup white wine, apple cider or water

1 teaspoon five spice powder

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Pinch (or more) red pepper flakes (I like my pears spicy so I add two pinches!)

Salt to taste

Fresh chopped thyme or Italian parsley for garnish (optional)


In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the butter and let it melt.  Once it’s melted add the shallots and sauté for about one minute.

Turn the heat to medium and stir in the remaining ingredients, except salt.  Turn the heat to low and let the pears simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 – 20 minutes
or until the raisins and pears are soft, but not mushy.

If the pears and raisins seem dry, add a little more wine, apple cider or water to the mixture.

While the pears are simmering, prepare your pork.

Grilled Pork Chops – Heat the grill to 400F.

Brush the chops with a little oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper or your favorite pork seasoning. I love Emeril’s essence on pork chops!

Grill the chops for about 4 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 145F, the new safe temperature standard for pork.

Take the pork off the grill and let it rest for at least five minutes before serving.  This will help re-distribute the juices in the pork and make a juicier pork chop.

Give the pears and raisins a stir and salt to taste.

Plate the pork on a platter or individual plate and top with the pears and raisins.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley or fresh thyme.  Enjoy!

Grilling Halibut Sassy Side dishes Seafood Swordfish

Garam Masala Crusted Fish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

Garam Masala Crusted Swordfish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

Score! A beautiful day on a weekend in September… in Western Washington.  This can only mean one thing.  It’s flying weather.  O Happy Day!

Pretty Puffy Clouds at Jefferson Co. Airport, Port Townsend

As soon as the sun came up Ranger Craig and I were packing for a quick little day trip over to one of our favorite spots, Port Townsend, WA.  Fresh seafood, beautiful produce, my favorite espresso cafe and a little shopping to round out the day.

Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

But… Ranger Craig was thinking more along the lines of a hike from Fort Worden into town and maybe a little kayaking or a visit to the wooden boat museum.  All really great ideas, yesiree bob.  But ya know,  I was ready for a little less action and a little more food shopping.

My little flying foodie, who's taller than her Mama!

Adventure Bound Bennett's

And of course, as soon as my youngest gal heard the word shopping, her adventure meter tipped the scale and she was in.

What a 13 year old will do to shop!

How much longer do I have to hike this beach?

Ok, so we compromised.  We hiked the long beach from the fort into town.  And conveniently for Ranger Craig, the wooden boat museum was on the way.

Finding a little happy in hiking

Kayaking sort of fell by the wayside, after the hour and half hike on the beach.  My hunky hiking guy had two hungry gals following him and he knew from experience that finding lunch should be next on our list of activities.  🙂

Halibut Fish and Chips

Seafood Stew with a splash of Gruyere

The Public House on Water Street was the perfect spot for lunch.  The halibut was so fresh and moist and delightfully beer battered with fresh herbs; served with Asian slaw and of course french fries.  I’d love to tell you I was a very health concious diner and didn’t eat my fries.  I ate every last one off my plate.

Ranger Craig had a seafood stew with white wine, garlic, fresh herbs and topped with a little Gruyere.  Suzie Q opted for her favorite, a grilled chicken burger which she ate in record time.  I think she was just a little hungry.

Flying Home

On the way home I had fish on the brain and more fish for dinner sounded divine.  I love swordfish and coconut and Ranger Craig loves sauce.   I’d been craving coconut rice and had a new sauce to test over fish.  I think dinner was just decided.

Tank, my Toto in disguise.

Although, I was so full from all those fries!  You’ll be glad to know, I hiked an hour with Tank the next day.  See… we can have our fries and eat them too. 🙂

Garam Masala Crusted Fish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

Recipe adapted from multiple sources

Serves 2


For the Fish:

2 Swordfish or Mahi Mahi Steaks (halibut or Hawaiin Opah is also a great alternative) Buying fresh fish is the key to any delicious fish dish.  If the fish isn’t fresh, eat chicken.

1 tablespoon Garam Masala

Pinch of salt and Pepper

2 T high heat oil (I like pan searing in grapeseed oil)

For the Raita:

½ cup cucumber, finely diced

½ cup mango, finely diced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Juice of ½ lime

Salt and pepper to taste


Mix together the cucumber, mango, cumin, yogurt and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a skillet, heat the oil on medium high.  Season the two steaks on both sides with salt, pepper and garam masala.

For pan searing fish, use a well seasoned cast iron pan or ceramic coated pan.

Pan sear the fish for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Serve warm with the cucumber mango raita and coconut rice.

Classic Coconut Rice

Serves 2-4


1 cup coconut milk

¾ cup basmati rice

½ cup water

1 T sugar

¼ t salt

1/4 cup raisins (optional)


Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork and add the raisins if desired.  Cover and keep warm.

Beef Grilling Kid Friendly

Grilled Steak Salad with Fresh Peaches and Smokey Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette

Grilled Steak Salad with Fresh Peaches and Smoky Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette

First day of Fall and it’s 80 degrees.  Most people would say that’s normal for this time of year.  In Seattle??

But hey, I’m not complaining.  It could be 60 and rainy.  And we all know that’ll happen soon.  Like… in two days.

Washington Yellow Peaches

So tonight we’re celebrating summer! I wish I could tell you that Ranger Craig and I drove over to Kittitas and picked up a few flats of peaches like we did last year.   Or that we flew over to the Spokane Valley to go peach picking.  That’s what I really wanted to do.

Rogue Creamery Smoky Bleu Cheese

Nope, I got my beautiful peaches at our local co-op, PCC Natural Markets.  Which is great, because they always have the best local seasonal produce on hand.  You know, just in case I can’t pick it myself.  🙂

Fresh From My Garden Basil

A little fresh basil from my garden, my fave smokey bleu cheese from Rogue Creamery, Washington peaches, grass-fed Eastern Washington Beef and a tangy but sweet vinaigrette and my little salad was born.

Actually, this little salad was born last year, only with Mangos.  But I’m allergic to mangos.  I know, this is tragic!  So peaches made the substitution.

And a fabulous substitution it is.  Happy first day of fall!

Loads of Love,


Grilled Steak Salad with Fresh Peaches and Smokey Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette

Make this salad vegetarian and substitute the beef with grilled portabello mushrooms.  Delicious!

Serves 4-6


1- 1 1/2 lbs beef steak (any cut or your favorite), grilled how you like it or pan seared (I used a skirt steak that I pounded out very thin, almost like carne asada)

4-6 cups fresh greens (I like a mixture of romaine, butter and red leaf lettuce)

4 ounces smoked bleu cheese (or your fave), crumbled

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut in strips (chiffonade)

2 peaches, washed and thin sliced

Toasted or caramelized walnuts for garnish (optional)

For the Vinaigrette

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


Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Brush the steak with oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the grill to 400F and grill the beef until it reaches desired doneness.  Let the steak/steaks rest before slicing.  Once they’ve rested for about 5 minutes, slice thinly against the grain.

Toss the mixed greens with the vinaigrette.  Use as much or as little vinaigrette as you like.  Assemble on individual plates or one large platter.

Layer with fresh peach slices, sliced steak, bleu cheese and fresh basil.  Garnish with toasted walnuts.

Flying Grilling Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad… and a trip to San Juan Island Farmer’s Market!

Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Leek Salad

The summer is coming to an end, school is in session and I’m feeling a slight chill in the morning air.  Ahhh… I’m loving this time of year.

I did manage to freeze a fair amount of my farmer’s market finds, but if I’d really been on top of things I would’ve canned some produce as well.  I’d like to think I’m super woman.  It looks like I’ve fallen short this year.  Bummer.

Our sweet little airfield

The drizzly weather will be here soon so Ranger Craig and I decided we’d fly to one last farmer’s market.  Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Wow.  I’ve been there a hundred times and every time I’m in awe.  A beautiful spot in the world.

Landing on San Juan Island

Thankfully, it’s always an easy landing on San Juan, nice and smooth and lots of room.  Just the way I like it!

Beautiful San Juan Island Produce

A Farmer’s Market With A View

The farmer’s market did not disappoint.  Although, I was scolded by a very pleasant-looking lady for having my little guy Tank with me at the market.  I guess dogs aren’t allowed.  I didn’t get the memo. 🙁

The most deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes!

While Ranger Craig and Tank walked around town, my little gal and I walked around the market gathering loads of fabulous food (and other good stuff!).  Grass fed beef, organic fruits and veggies, beautiful baskets of baked goods, and the loveliest quilts and crafts.  And did I mention the jam?  Lots of jam.

I fell in love with this quilt!

Ok, so I had to exit the farmer’s market at some point or I’d never be able to carry my loot back to the plane.

Ranger Craig and Tank cruising the town.

No, this is not our cab.  Although Ranger Craig thought it was pretty cool.  Tank was more worried about lunch.  Me too.


We found lunch. Grilled oysters, fish and chips and of course clam chowder.  I now needed a nap.

We took a stroll down to the marina, you know, to walk off lunch.  I think Ranger Craig just wanted to check out all the sailboats.  And score!  We saw a sea plane take off in the bay.

Grilled Grass Fed Rib Eye Steak and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad

Home we flew. Dinner was delicious!

Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad with a White Balsamic and Olive Oil Drizzle

Serves 4


1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes, halved1 cucumber, diced into bite sized pieces

1-2 spring onions, diced (substitute with scallions if you can’t find spring onions)

Fresh chopped Italian parsley to taste (I like 2-3 tablespoons)

Drizzle of white balsamic vinegar (pull out your good stuff for this salad)

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (pull out your good stuff for this salad)

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


Gently toss together the tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions and parsley.  Drizzle with the vinegar and oil and then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with grilled meats or chicken.  Or enjoy all by itself!

Beef Grilling

Smokey Bleu Cheese Burgers with Walla Walla Sweet Onions and Horsey Sauce

You might be saying to yourself this doesn’t look like a typical Karista’s Kitchen recipe post.  Well, unique it’s not, but fresh it is!  Yep this was a night that dinner had to happen, but it needed to be simple.  And of course delicious.

Mt. Rainier as I'm looking out my window

Ranger Craig decided we all needed a peak of Mt. St. Helen!

After flying home (4 1/2 hours in Charley), from a fantastic weekend trip visiting my beautiful Taylor family in San Francisco, we landed at our little airport right around dinner time.  The Bennet Crew was famished.

A picture of the two mountains! Beautiful!

I had some grass-fed organic ground beef in the frig, Rogue Smoky Bleu Cheese, Walla Walla sweet onions and some horsey sauce.  Just needed to stop for some buns and we were good to go.  And maybe a beer. 🙂

Smoky Bleu Cheese Burgers!

Whoo Hoo! Dinner was delightful.  Warm summer breezes, a simple but delicious dinner, ice-cold beer (yes I keep mentioning that beer.  I can’t help it, I really love a cold one once in a while)  and a most fabulous weekend with the family.  Ahhh… life just can’t get any better. 

Smokey Bleu Cheese Burgers with Walla Walla Sweet Onions and Horsey Sauce

Serves 4-6


1 1/2 lbs ground beef

4 ounces Smoked Bleu Cheese, crumbled  (My favorite is Rogue Smokey Bleu)

Rogue Smokey Bleu Cheese

1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or substitute with 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt)

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

1 small Walla Walla Sweet onion, thin sliced (these are yummy thick sliced and grilled too!)

Romaine lettuce leaves

Your favorite Horseradish sauce

Your favorite Buns


Pre-heat the grill to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper and bleu cheese.  If your hamburger mix needs a little extra help to stay formed, add in a whisked egg. 

Form the hamburger patties and transfer them to a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush lightly with a little oil to keep them from sticking to the grill.

Grill on each side for about 4-5 minutes or until done to taste.  For a little help, here is a fabulous post all about perfectly grilled burgers.

When the burgers are done, place them on buns and layer with horsey sauce, romaine leaves and sliced Walla Walla sweet onions.  Enjoy!

Beef Grilling Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

Tio Cameron’s Salsa Verde over Grilled Rib Eye Steaks… and a Family Reunion.

Tio Cameron’s Salsa Verde served over Grilled Rib Eye Steaks

This was the summer of the family reunion.  As I’m writing this post, visions of the classic Vacation movies pop into my head (hee hee). For some reason Christmas Vacation seems to come to mind.

Me and My Sisters

The Taylor Crew

Nope, I do not belong to the Griswold family.  Although each year around the holidays I do join them in tears of laughter…mostly side splitting laughter.

A morning hike with the family 🙂

However, I have to admit, there were moments during this family reunion that has me laughing so hard my sides hurt.

Excellent Orthodontia!

My two funny gals!

You know, like burning quesadillas because I was so busy making Gimlets with my sister, I forgot the quesadillas on the grill.  Over salting the steaks because I was taste testing all the various types of delicious sake my brother brought from Japan.

Hmmm… I think I see a pattern here.  I promise I’m not a lush.  I just love a good cocktail.  🙂

Tempura Shrimp Tacos at the Temecula Farmer’s Market

Temecula Olive Oil Company

Olive oil tasting! I bought my weight in the most decadent olive oils and vinegars.

Heavenly food, lots of laughter, loads of fun, tons of pictures, and family talent night reign supreme at my family’s reunions.  Did I mention the food?

Beautiful onions for our salsa!

When my brother Cam, sister Kristin, and I get together its cocktails and cooking.  Lots of cooking.This year we made loads of salsa and guacamole.  One of my favorite types of salsa is Salsa Verde.  Cam made a fabulously tasty Salsa Verde that we served over grilled rib eye steaks, and then we used it to make a most delicious guacamole.

Salsa Verde Guacamole

When 16 people come together in one house, with largely comedic personalities, love of great food, and kids that were born to perform for the camera, hilarity abounds.  Or maybe it’s just loads of fabulously fun chaos.

Tio Cameron’s Salsa Verde

Serves 4 – 6


5 fresh tomatillos, blanched

1 Pasilla pepper (preferred) or Green bell pepper

3 scallions

1 clove of garlic

1/3 bunch of cilantro

½ cup water (added in ¼ cup portions until consistency is correct)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. white wine vinegar or lime juice.

For a spicier Salsa Verde add 2-4 Serrano chilies.


Combine everything in a blender.  Serve over grilled steaks or chicken or just for dunking tortilla chips. 🙂  Enjoy!

Flying Grilling Pork

Asian Style Grilled Pork Loin Chops with Sauteed Sweet Onions … and a trip to Lopez Island Farmer’s Market!

Asian Style Pork Loin Chops with sautéed Sweet Onions

I’m a Farmer’s Market obsessed mad woman this summer.  It all started with the lovely flight over to Orcas Island this past June.  Oh yeah, that’s the one that got me going.

Brown Rice, Fresh Chopped Cilantro and Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

On the flight back home from Orcas, I turned to my hunky pilot (new name for Ranger Craig) and said “I think you should fly me to a different Farmer’s market every weekend”.   I think I made him smile.

Lopez Harbor from the air

Ranger Craig has obliged my request and so off we flew this weekend.   The location? My almost favorite island, (because I can’t seem to decide which is my favorite) Lopez.

Beautiful Lopez Island

It’s a little bit of a hike from Lopez Airport to town center,  so my brilliant hunky pilot (just expanded Ranger Craig’s new name) packed the bikes in the plane… so I could carry more loot!

Me, my bike and my oversized backpack... ready for the market!

It was a glorious ride to town.  Sailboats, blue herons, beautiful cows (I love cows!), friendly locals who waved as they passed my bike.  I think they were waving me good luck bike riding back to the airport.  Two huge hills to climb.  Ok, that won’t be a pretty site.

I love cows!

Kayaking! One of our favorite sports... guess we'll be comin back.

The market was incredible.  I stopped at every booth, bought homemade jam, lots of beautiful and fresh organic vegetables, the most glorious looking organic pork loin chops, killer fudge and an adorable bird house for my sister (she loves birds).

Spicy Salad Mix... beautifully delicious

By the last booth I was gettin the ole “I’m hungry” stare from Ranger Craig.  So I zipped up my oversized backpack (which he was so sweetly carrying) and off we went in search of food.

Savor the Season!

Just Heavenly Fudge

Now if you’ve ever been to Lopez Island in the summer, you’ll know about Holly B’s.  Holly B’s is one of the best bakeries in Western Washington.   A slice of andouille sausage pizza, a Gruyère croissant, and tomato basil bruschetta.  It was a most delicious lunch under the island sun, camped out on fresh grass, with just the lightest ocean breeze.  A moment to savor.

I was in awe.  So in awe of that beautiful moment in time, that beautiful moment of the summer season, I forgot to take a picture of that beautiful lunch!

Thankfully, my memory wasn’t permanently impaired.  I remembered to snap a few pictures of this beautiful recipe.

Asian Style Grilled Pork Loin Chops with Sautéed Sweet Onions

Serves 4


4 thick cut pork loin chops

1 cup Tamari (I use gluten-free)

1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 cup pineapple juice

Red pepper flakes

½ cup veggie oil

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 sweet onion, halved and thin sliced

2 tablespoons butter

Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Serve with Brown Rice, fresh chopped cilantro and steamed sugar snap peas


For the marinade: Whisk together the Tamari, ginger, mustard, pineapple juice, red pepper flakes, veggie oil and black pepper.

Place the pork loin chops in large Ziploc bag.  Pour the marinade over the pork and swish it around to cover all surfaces of the pork.

Lay the Ziploc bag in a large baking dish. For richest flavor and best results, place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to grill, preheat the grill to 400F.

While the grill is heating, prepare the sautéed onions.  Add the two tablespoons butter to a large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter is melted and hot, add the onions.  Let the onions sauté, stirring every few minutes, for about 20 minutes or until wilted and lightly golden brown.   Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

When the grill is ready, place the chops directly on the grill.  Brown both sides of the chops and then turn down the heat to about medium, and slowly finish cooking the pork loin chops. The chops will be done when the internal temperature reaches 145F.

Remove the chops to a platter and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.  This is an important step and will allow all the natural juices to re-distribute in the chops, keeping them moist and tender.

To serve:  Top the pork loin chops with the sautéed onions and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve with brown rice, steamed sugar snap peas and fresh chopped cilantro.