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Classic English Pea Salad

 

Classic English Pea Salad // Karista's Kitchen

I’ve been eating this Classic English Pea Salad all summer long and I can’t stop. 

I make this salad every weekend and then I keep it in the fridge for a quick-lunch or an easy side salad for dinner. I’ve also been known to walk by the fridge and snag a few spoonfuls for a snack.

This is the kind of pea salad I used to find sitting on the potluck table when I was a kid. I didn’t think much of pea salad back then. I usually skipped those bowls and moved on to the tapioca pudding or spoon bread. However, these days, I am all about this Classic English Pea Salad.

Of course, this is my version of Classic English Pea Salad. I’ve tried several versions over the years but for me, this salad must include peas, bacon and cheese. I use shredded cheese rather than cube the cheese. I like cheese, I just don’t like cubes of cheese in this salad. It feels to heavy. Using shredded cheese keeps the textures in the salad a bit more consistent. Other ingredients may vary but the essential three are crucial to this tasty salad.

Along with the peas, bacon and cheese I like to add two kinds of onion. Red onion and green onion. I think layering the onion flavor gives the salad a little more sass and compliments the salty bacon and sharp cheddar.

When I’m feeling lazy (I have my moments) I toss this with our favorite organic ranch dressing. Otherwise, when I’ve got all the ingredients on hand, I make my own dressing which is super easy.

Although fall is headed this way, this is a salad I usually make year round. You’re going to love this Classic English Pea Salad so much you just might end up making it every week too! 

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Classic English Pea Salad

Serving Size: 6

Classic English Pea Salad

Ingredients

    For the salad
  • 2 cups or 16 ounces of peas (I use fresh or frozen that have been steamed and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup diced or thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked bacon (or more to taste. I love bacon!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    For the dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried chives
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce (or two)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon

Instructions

  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, dried chives and dash of Worcestershire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, add the peas, red onion, green onion, bacon and cheddar cheese. Toss with as much dressing as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • This salad holds well in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Notes

    When I'm feeling lazy (it happens) I skip making the dressing and use my favorite ranch dressing instead. Although this dressing recipe is super easy and super delicious.

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    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Vintage Sourdough Biscuits

    Vintage Sourdough Biscuits // Karista's Kitchen

    What could be more comforting or more satisfying than a big ole Vintage Sourdough Biscuit? Biscuits are total comfort food for me.

    Not only are biscuits comforting but they have the most wonderful and inviting texture that makes my taste buds happy.

    I created this particular photo and recipe for a fun food article all about wild west chuckwagon dinners. Back in the old west days, sourdough biscuits were considered a special treat when dining at the Chuckwagon.  The Chuckwagon cook would make a sourdough starter and keep it on the wagon in a dark ceramic crock and use it for biscuits, breads and sweets.

    When I was growing up in the south, my sweet neighbor, who we called Aunt Nancy, used to make all sorts of baked goods. One of those baked goods was sourdough biscuits. I remember being amazed by her culinary prowess and how she’d whip up those vintage sourdough biscuits so easily; and just in time for the evening meal.

    You can find several recipes online to make your own sourdough starter, which takes about 3-4 weeks.  Or, you can order sourdough starters online and then keep them going in your kitchen for these biscuits, breads and special treats throughout the year. I especially like having this starter on hand for holiday biscuit baking. Which is when most of my biscuit making seems to happen.

    It’s still hot here and vintage sourdough biscuits don’t seem quite appropriate for the weather. But it is September and I say, let the baking begin! 

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Vintage Sourdough Biscuits

    Serving Size: 8 biscuits

    Vintage Sourdough Biscuits

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon sugar
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
    • 1 cup unfed sourdough starter

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  • Whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and then using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles little crumbles.
  • Stir in the sourdough starter and mix until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough into a small disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. This isn’t absolutely necessary; however, I find that cooling the dough keeps the butter from getting too soft and yields a flakier biscuit.
  • To make the biscuits, add a little flour to the top of the disc and then roll out the dough to about ¾ of an inch thick. Cut biscuits with a 2 or 3-inch biscuit cutter and then place them in a buttered cast iron skillet, round cake pan or pie plate.
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes or when the biscuits are golden on top. Remove the biscuits from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with jam, honey and butter or slices of ham and cheese.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

    Peach Upside Down Ginger Cake

    Peach Upside Down Ginger Cake // Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve made this classic Peach Upside Down Ginger Cake for years. It’s a throwback to my Mom’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake that always seemed to have a permanent place on the kitchen counter when I was a kid.

    Before I proceed… as you can tell, we got a new baby! Meet Angus the Blue Heeler. Although we’re now calling him Gus. Gus and my youngest sassy gal decided to photo bomb my cake picture.

    Gus arrived a few weeks ago and we are totally in love. I’ve posted him all over Instagram and Facebook and decided I had to post about him here too. Tank mostly likes his new little brother. Tank is a senior dog and likes his quiet time on the sofa so all the puppy shenanigans sometimes annoy him. 🙂 I’m sure he will be used to it in no time.

    Me and my Blue Heeler Gus // Karista's Kitchen

    The photo above was snapped just a few hours after we arrived home from our very long car ride. We found our boy in Southern Central Oregon on a cattle farm. I have no cattle at my house but we do have a portly terrier named Tank; who is often referred to as pork chop and our little golden nugget of love. Yep, my girls love nicknames. I also anticipate loads of hiking and running with this little guy once he gets old enough.

    Gus and his girl // Karista's Kitchen

    My oldest gal did a bit of Gus sitting for me the other day. She managed to capture this adorable snap. GAH! melted my heart.

    Mia and Gus Gus // Karista's Kitchen

    This is my youngest gal who was snuggling with Gus a few days after he came home. He’s growing so fast!

    Ok, now back to a most important subject, cake! The classic upside down cake is simple and easy to mix together, assemble and bake. Making it the perfect snack cake or easy dessert. I’ve used several different recipes for upside down cake and I believe I like this one the best. It’s similar to my Mom and Grandmother’s recipe but I’ve also tweaked the measurements a bit to give the cake a lighter texture.

    I also add ground ginger to the cake mix rather than the peaches. This gives a slightly spiced taste to the cake and allows the sweet flavor of summer peaches to shine.

    Recently, I made this cake on my food segment over at the morning show, AM Northwest in Portland with the lovely host, Helen Raptis. Can I just tell you how much fun I have doing these food segments? I am a bundle of nerves 5 seconds before the camera goes on and then I realize, I’m teaching a recipe that I love! You can view the food segment HERE!

    Peach Upside Down Ginger Cake // Karista's Kitchen

    This is the quintessential summer cake that is lush and light and filled with the taste of summer.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Peach Upside Down Ginger Cake

    Serving Size: 8

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons melted butter
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
    • 4-5 cups sliced peaches (about 4-5 medium-large fresh peaches. You can also use frozen peaches)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger (can substitute 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon)
    • ½ cup butter melted or room temperature
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can easily make it with one cup whole milk minus one tablespoon and then add one tablespoon white vinegar. Stir and let sit for about five minutes)

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F
  • Place the 2 tablespoons of melted butter into the bottom of a 9-inch round baking pan or a 9x11 baking dish. Then sprinkle with the brown sugar and drizzle with the maple syrup.
  • Place the peach slices in a circular pattern on top of the butter and sugar.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger. In an electric mixer or another bowl, mix together the ½ cup of butter and ¾ cup sugar until nicely combined. Then stir in the egg until the mixture looks creamy.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and buttermilk. Then mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until it’s well combined.
  • Pour the batter over the peaches and then place the baking pan in the oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch or a knife comes out clean.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. Then flip the cake onto a cake platter or cake plate. If any peaches fall off while flipping just place them back onto the cake.
  • Serve this gorgeous summer cake with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.
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    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    The Best Tamale Pie

    The Best Tamale Pie // Karista's Kitchen

     

    Sometimes all we need is good ole comfort food like Tamale Pie. I often made tamale pie for my girls when they were little. It was a sure method for getting everyone to the table. 

    I loved hearing my girls squeals of happiness when they came into the kitchen and I announced we were having tamale pie for dinner.  My tamale pie is filled with tender ground beef, savory aromatics, fresh corn, black beans and loads of flavorful spices. Then it’s topped with a corn and cheddar laced cornbread that is slightly sweet. I serve it with sour cream, sliced avocados and a tossed green salad for good measure.

    So, I have to admit, I kind of liked tamale pie night myself. It’s such a great way to use ground beef and the cornbread topping makes it feel a bit playful. Back in the day when I was making this dish often, it was a delicious way to serve a gluten-free meal for my gluten sensitive daughter. I also had a freezer full of grass-fed ground beef and needed inventive ways to prepare it.

    The Best Tamale Pie // Karista's Kitchen

    Today, my girls still love this Tamale Pie. They continue to crack me up as they are mostly grown up now and yet, still little kids at heart. They both love ground beef recipes, especially when it’s Tamale Pie.

    I made this last week and both my daughters were completely delighted. Then the oldest daughter decided to take home the leftovers – for her lunch the next day. Much to the disappointment of my youngest daughter who I found rummaging through the refrigerator looking for it. 🙂 I guess I’ll be making another batch next week.

    This is an easy recipe to pull together and pop in the oven. It just screams happiness and everything that makes dinner delicious. 

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    The Best Tamale Pie

    Serving Size: 4-6

    The Best Tamale Pie

    Ingredients

      For the cornbread topping
    • 1 1/2 cups Masa Harina (I use Bob's Red Mill)
    • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 2 1/2 - 3 cups water
    • 1 cup shredded cheese
    • 1/2 cup corn (either fresh or frozen)
      For the filling
    • 1 tablespoon ghee, extra virgin olive oil or flavorless coconut oil
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 yellow onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
    • 1 10.75 ounce can of tomato puree
    • 1 can black beans
    • 1 cup of corn, fresh or frozen
    • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Squeeze of lime juice

    Instructions

    Prepare the cornbread topping
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  • Whisk together the masa marina, melted butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and water. When the consistency feels good, like a cornbread batter, fold in the cheddar cheese and the corn. Set aside.
  • Prepare the filling
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a little oil to the pan. When the oil is hot add the onions and saute just until wilted. Then stir in the ground beef. When the ground beef is almost cooked through, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute longer and then take the skillet off the heat.
  • Gently stir in the tomato puree, the corn, black beans and fresh cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the filling into an 8x8 square baking dish or an 8x10 rectangular baking pan. You can use a large baking pan but you may need to use 1 1/2lbs of ground beef if using a larger pan. You will have plenty of cornbread topping for the larger pan.
  • Once you've add the filling to the bottom of the baking pan, spread the cornbread filling over the top. Place it in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cornbread is done and the sides are bubbly.
  • When the tamale pie is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with sliced avocado, sour cream, extra cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa and anything else you think would be delicious.
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    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Pan Cooked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Mini Pepper Relish

    pan cooked chicken with sweet mini pepper relish from Karista's Kitchen

    A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a most delicious afternoon with the O Organics® team from Albertsons and Safeway, including their RD Annessa Chumbley.

    Shortly after arriving to my home, the team began unpacking several bags of beautiful produce, meat and chicken and Annessa chatted with me about the O Organics® line of products – available exclusively at Albertsons and Safeway stores here in Salem, Oregon.

    While we were busy talking all things food, Annessa began prepping ingredients to make a delicious recipe – Pineapple Burger Stacks with Avocado Salsa.

    I must admit, I couldn’t stop eating them. The Pineapple Burger Stack included the tender and juicy O Organics® grass-fed ground beef, grilled fresh pineapple rings, grilled red onion, O Organics® butter lettuce and of course the avocado salsa to top it off was divine. The combination of flavors was amazing and the burger was visually enticing.

    Pineapple Burger Stacks from Albertsons and Safeway O Organics brand of products

    I know you want that burger so you can find the recipe HERE.

    What could be more fun or more delicious than lovely people and beautiful food? It was a delightful afternoon hosting the Albertsons and Safeway O Organics® team – and they left me with a kitchen full of O Organics® products. So of course, I couldn’t wait to do some cooking.

    It’s not the first time I’ve used Albertsons and Safeway O Organics® products. I discovered the products years ago and started stocking them in my pantry and refrigerator. I began using them for specific family health issues, but I continued to purchase them because they are affordable. It didn’t break my food budget to purchase the O Organics® brand of products.

    I couldn’t love the Albertsons and Safeway O Organics® motto more. It states, “organic for all.”  Albertsons and Safeway believe that high-quality organic food should be available for everyone. You can find a large selection of produce, meat, chicken, rice, snacks, cereals and even baby food in the O Organics® product line. Albertsons and Safeway make purchasing organic food achievable.

    After browsing my stash of O Organics® ingredients, I knew exactly what I was going to prepare.

    Because I am over the moon in love with mini peppers, I decided a Roasted Mini Pepper Relish would be tasty paired with O Organics® Chicken Breasts and a mushroom and herbed quick rice.

    making pan cooked chicken breasts with sweet mini pepper relish from Karista's Kitchen

    Roasting mini peppers is beyond simple and can elevate the humblest of chicken dishes.

    roasted sweet mini peppers from O Organics

    While the peppers were roasting in the oven, I sautéed the mushrooms with fresh herbs and garlic and then combined them with the cooked O Organics® Quick Rice.

    making pan cooked chicken breasts with sweet mini pepper relish and mushroom quick rice

    making pan cooked chicken breasts with sweet mini pepper relish from Karista's Kitchen

    Once the peppers were done and cooled, I gave them a quick dice and combined them with O Organics® fresh basil, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste – all of which are in the O Organics® line of products.

    With the relish and rice done, I pan seared the chicken breasts and then finished them off in the oven.

    pan cooked chicken breasts with sweet mini pepper relish from Karista's Kitchen

    To plate this easy chicken dish, I topped the chicken breasts with the roasted mini pepper relish, additional fresh basil and crumbled feta cheese. How simple and healthy is this?

    pan cooked chicken breasts with sweet mini pepper relish from Karista's Kitchen

    Huge thanks to the Albertsons and Safeway O Organics® Team for stopping by my home and sharing these quality products with me. I’m a huge fan of this brand. It’s been a staple in my home for many years and allowed me the opportunity to feed my family high-quality organic food without breaking my budget.

    Delicious Wishes!

    Karista

    ***“This post was sponsored by Albertsons and Safeway. Although I was compensated to write this post, all opinions are my own.”

    Pan Cooked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Mini Pepper Relish

    Serving Size: 4

    Pan Cooked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Mini Pepper Relish

    Ingredients

    • 1 - 16 ounce package O Organics Sweet Mini Peppers
    • 1-2 tablespoons – O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Pinch of sea salt and O Organics Black Pepper
    • ½ cup O Organics Balsamic Vinegar
    • 1 package of O Organics fresh basil, chopped chiffonade
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 cup O Organics Quick Cook Rice Blend, prepared according to package directions
    • 1 cup sliced O Organics Baby Bella Cremini Mushrooms
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon O Organics fresh Thyme leaves, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon chopped O Organics fresh chive
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
    • Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 - O Organics Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts
    • 2-3 tablespoons - O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • ½ cup crumbles Feta cheese to garnish

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Toss the mini peppers with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the oven. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until the peppers look toasty and slightly soft.
  • Once the peppers are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool. While the peppers are cooling, place the balsamic vinegar in a small pot and heat to a very low simmer. Reduce the vinegar by half. This will make the vinegar more of a syrup and slightly sweet to taste.
  • While the vinegar is reducing, chop the peppers and place them in a bowl with the minced garlic and basil chiffonade. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then drizzle with a little extra olive oil and a splash of the balsamic reduction. The rest of the balsamic reduction will go over the entire dish when it’s done.
  • To make the rice dish
  • Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot sauté the mushroom slices until they are slightly golden and wilted. Add the garlic and fresh herbs to the mushrooms and sauté about 30 seconds longer just to allow the garlic and herbs to release their oils.
  • Mix the mushrooms and herbs with the cooked quick rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To prepare the chicken
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  • Add olive oil to an oven safe skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and then add them to the skillet. Brown one side and then flip the chicken breasts. Take them off the heat and place them in the oven to finish cooking, about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
  • When the chicken is done, you can serve this dish right in the pan. Let the chicken rest in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. To serve, scatter the Roasted Mini Pepper Relish over the chicken and then drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Then garnish with the crumbled feta and additional basil leaves if desired. Serve this with the Mushroom and Herbed Quick Rice for a complete and delicious meal.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta vegetarian

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce

     

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce

    I am having the biggest love affair with Spaghetti Squash right now; especially when its Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce. 

    Typically, I don’t prepare spaghetti squash until the fall months roll around. However, I spotted one in my co-op market the other day so I bought it. I knew I was making a Vodka Sauce that week and I thought it would taste divine over roasted spaghetti squash.

    Well I was right! It was divine. Just like many other squash, when spaghetti squash is roasted, the roasting process caramelizes some of the squash, which makes it slightly sweet to taste. That slightly sweet flavor balances the vibrant flavors in my Vodka sauce.

    Vodka sauce is basically a traditional tomato based pasta sauce with a splash of vodka and heavy cream. Some recipes add roasted red peppers and/or crushed red pepper. Why vodka? Just like most tomato sauce recipes, adding a bit of alcohol enhances the flavor of the tomatoes. Most people add wine to their pasta sauce which enhances flavor, but also adds a bit of flavor. Vodka is flavorless (unless you use a flavored vodka which I don’t recommend) so it enhances the flavor of the tomatoes without adding flavor to the sauce. If you want a more lengthy explanation of why we add vodka to a tomato sauce, you’ll find this ARTICLE interesting.

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce

    There are also several methods to roasting spaghetti squash. Typically, I slice it lengthwise down the center and scoop out the seeds. Brush it with olive oil, salt and pepper and then place it flesh side down and roast it for about 35-45 minutes depending on the size. You’ll get spaghetti like noodles out of the squash but they won’t be quite as long as a traditional spaghetti noodle. I read about a hack for getting longer spaghetti squash noodles which I haven’t tried yet, because honestly, it looked like more work than I was willing to do at that moment. Here is the ARTICLE. I’m sure I’ll try it at some point, however, if you do try this method, let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce is my new “go to” meal. Although, I may have served it one too many times over the last few weeks, or so I’ve been told. 🙂 My family likes diversity in their menu. 

    You’re going to love this combination of flavors and you’ll probably want to use the Vodka sauce on other kinds of noodles as well – like Zucchini noodles, lasagna, pasta and buckwheat soba noodles.

    I hope you’re enjoying the season and the warmer temperatures!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce

    Serving Size: 2-4

    Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce

    Ingredients

      For the Spaghetti Squash
    • 1 or 2 Medium sized spaghetti squash
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
      For the Sauce
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small red onion, diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 2 tablespoons vodka
    • 1 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil for garnish
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for garnish

    Instructions

  • To roast the spaghetti squash, pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  • Cut the squash lengthwise down the center and scoop out the seeds. Then brush the flesh side of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 35-45 minutes or until soft to the touch. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before shredding.
  • To make the sauce, add the olive oil to a sauce pan and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute until soft. Then stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs and smoked paprika and saute about 30 seconds longer. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vodka and tomato sauce.
  • Bring the sauce to a slow simmer and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then slowly stir in the heavy cream and simmer for about five more minutes.
  • As with any sauce, it will be more flavorful the longer it sits. It's even better the next day.
  • Carefully scrape the inside of the spaghetti squash with a fork and add to individual bowls. Top the squash with some sauce and then garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan. Enjoy!
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes

    Easy Coconut Rice Video

    Easy Coconut Rice from Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve been making this easy coconut rice for years. It goes with just about everything.

    I pair it with my Hawaiian Slow Roasted Pork, marinated pork tenderloin that I throw on the grill with some pineapple, grilled or roasted chicken breast, stir fry’s, miso sake roasted fish, grilled or roasted veggies and sometimes I make it just to eat with my nori.

    This is the ultimate and easiest side dish for a busy weeknight, weekend barbecues or slow cooked roasts.

    Because this easy coconut rice is one of my most pinned recipes on Pinterest, I thought I should post a video of how easy it is. So I had one made! Here’s the video and I’ll post it on my Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

    Enjoy this Easy Coconut Rice and let me know how you like it.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Easy Coconut Rice

    Serving Size: 4

    Easy Coconut Rice

    Ingredients

    • ¾ cup canned coconut milk (not light or low-fat)
    • ¾ cup water
    • 1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
    • Pinch of salt

    Instructions

  • Prepare the coconut rice by combining the coconut milk, rice, water and pinch of salt in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Then turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  • Fluff with a fork and keep it covered until ready to serve.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

    Grilled Blackberry, Basil and Havarti Mini Sandwiches

     

    Grilled Blackberry, Basil and Havarti Mini Sandwiches 1_

     

     I adore warm and gooey grilled cheese sandwiches especially when they involve summer berries like these Grilled Blackberry, Basil and Havarti Mini Sandwiches.

    These playful little mini sandwiches are filled with blackberries, blackberry preserves, tangy Havarti cheese and fresh summer basil. I created them last year for one of my clients and I loved them so much I couldn’t wait until blackberry season to make them again this year.

    Blackberries are showing up in our local markets here in Oregon and they will soon be in the Farmer’s Markets. Our wild blackberries will also be ready for picking in the next few weeks. Truly, one of my favorite summer activities is to pick wild blackberries. I look forward to the few days I get to load up my mini step-stool, buckets and gloves and then head out in search of the best blackberry picking spot.

    Grilled Blackberry, Basil and Havarti Mini Sandwiches // Karista's Kitchen

    During the summer I put seasonal berries in everything. I make these grilled blackberry, basil and Havarti mini sandwiches, I add them to this blackberry and burrata salad, I use them in this Huckleberry Ginger Upside Down Cake, make blackberry barbecue sauce to pair with pork chops and pretty much anything else I can think of.  I even pair blackberries with fish, subbing the blackberries for the blueberries in this RECIPE.

    One could say my food is “berry” intense during the summer months. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

     

    Grilled Blackberry, Basil and Havarti Mini Sandwiches

    Serving Size: makes 24 mini's

    Ingredients

    • 12 slices of good quality white bread
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 pint of fresh blackberries
    • 2 tablespoons blackberry or apricot preserves
    • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
    • 8 slices of Havarti cheese

    Instructions

  • Butter both sides of each slice of bread.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the blackberries and preserves.
  • Pre-heat a grill pan or skillet over medium to low heat.
  • Place a slice of cheese on 6 slices of bread and then top the cheese with fresh basil leaves. Carefully place a spoonful or two of blackberries and preserves over the fresh basil leaves and then top with the remaining bread slices to make 6 full sized sandwiches.
  • When the pan is hot, add 2 or 3 of the sandwiches to the pan, or as many sandwiches that will fit in the pan. Brown both sides of each sandwich, being careful when flipping the sandwich. Continue until all the sandwiches have been grilled.
  • Place the sandwiches on a cutting board and when they’ve cooled a bit, cut them into quarters making mini sandwiches. I like to skewer two mini sandwiches together with a short skewer or party pick and serve. This way they won’t fall apart while serving.
  • Notes

    Originally created for Home By Design Magazine June 2017

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

    Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley

    Blackberry Burrata Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    What do three U-pick berry farms, a cafe, a diner, a farm co-op, a vineyard and an amazing new Portland restaurant have in common? They all inspired this lush and seasonal Blackberry Burrata Salad. 

    Several weeks ago I was fortunate enough to tour the lovely Tualatin Valley here in Oregon, compliments of Washington County Visitors Association. I’d heard of the Tualatin Valley but I’ve never had a chance, until now, to tour the area and get to know this warm and vibrant community.

    The Tualatin Valley is situated in the northern part of the Willamette Valley, in the Tualatin River Basin. It’s nestled just outside of Portland, Oregon, which makes it a lovely little paradise for city dwellers as well as visitors.

    Our first stop was Hoffman Farms Store, a U-pick berry farm with a gorgeous farm store filled with a plethora of berry inspired products, jams, pies and ready-picked produce.  For a little more berry adventure you can grab a wagon and a bucket and head out to the scenic berry patches for some berry picking.

    On the way to the berry patches I completely enjoyed the incredible views of the valley from this beautiful farm. Hoffman Farms also has a new wedding venue that is spectacular for the barn wedding inspired bride and groom. Every inch of the barn is warm and festive and plenty of space for catering and dancing.

    Hoffman Farms is run by first-generation farmers, Jay and Kelly Hoffman, since 1983. They began with blueberries and now grow strawberries, raspberries, marionberries, blackberries and tayberries. After touring the berry patches we went back to the farm store to do a little browsing. I left with the most heavenly tayberry jam and an enchanting mixed berry pie with a crust that could rival my southern grandmother’s crust.

    Thank you to Kelly, Megan and Jayson for your warm hospitality and for making our berry farm tour delicious.

    Hoffman Family Farms in Beaverton, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    After leaving Hoffman Farms Store we drove over to the South Store Cafe, which happens to be right across the street from Smith Berry Barn, the second berry farm on our tour. But first, lunch!

    I’d heard diners talking about the South Store Cafe Reuben so that’s exactly what I ordered. I was not disappointed. A perfectly prepared corned beef with just the right amount of melted cheese, sauerkraut and dressing. All on home-baked toasted rye. The coffee and hospitality were just as delicious. A fun and tasty stop while touring the Tualatin Valley.

    South Store Cafe's Signature Reuben Sandwich // Karista's Kitchen

    Just across the street from the South Store Cafe is the Smith Berry Barn Farm and Garden Market run by first generation farmers, Rich and Joelle Hildner.  While touring the farm with Rich, we found gorgeous seasonal berries, hanging flower baskets galore and the most lovely garden plants. Among the garden and berries there are a few friendly Pygmy goats for feeding and several large berry patches for U-pick berries. During the fall months, this is also a great place to do some apple and pear picking!

    In the center of all the beautiful produce and garden plants is an impressive farm market with a gourmet gift shop with farm inspired decor, custom gift baskets, homemade jams, jellies and local honey. Toward the back of this charming little farm store is an espresso bar that also happens to create amazing berry milkshakes.

    Thank you Rich for giving us a tour of your enchanting farm!

    Smith Berry Barn // Karista's Kitchen

    Last stop of the first day was Our Table Farm Co-operative. They are a regional co-op helping to create a resilient and interdependent local food culture. Food for the community! I am absolutely in love with what this co-op is doing.

    As I walked through the co-op building, the market, the kitchens, the produce gardens, the chicken yard and beyond, my heart was leaping with joy and hope. What an impressive organization helping to feed the community with locally grown produce, meat, poultry and beef. Among everything they grow and raise at the co-op, they also host farm dinners, barbecues, Friday night pizza night and happy hour. Truly a community hangout with a mission.

    Our Table Cooperative // Karista's Kitchen

    After the delicious day of berries we checked into McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. A unique hotel and spa with 77 European style guest rooms, several bars, a restaurant and as we were walking the hotel grounds we found the prettiest little produce garden. McMenamins is a Oregon treasure with several locations throughout Oregon.

    Bites Restaurant in Forest Grove, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    Bites Restaurant is located in downtown Forest Grove, Oregon just a few miles from our hotel. A quaint suburb of Portland, Forest Grove now boasts of this glorious new restaurant in town.  I’m not surprised Bites Restaurant won the 2016 Reader’s Choice Award for best fine dining, best new restaurant and best appetizers. Our meal was exquisitely delightful, beginning with Kalbi Tacos, Bites Korean BBQ Wings and the Crab Cake Bites. Every bite of food so delicious, I could have ordered a second plate of everything.

    We moved on to our entrée’s of Ahi Tuna Salad and the Seoul Noodles – heaven on plates! The ahi tuna was perfectly prepared, the salad greens and vegetables were fresh and vibrant in color and the wasabi ranch dressing was cleverly layered on the bottom of the plate, so that one could conveniently swirl the vegetables and ahi in as much or as little dressing as desired. The Seoul noodles were balanced in flavor and spice and deliciously laced with fresh cabbage, onions, celery, bell pepper and the optional addition of pork belly.  To complement our meal we had the Bites signature mojito that is prepared with quality ingredients. Truly one of the best mojito’s I’ve sipped!

    Thank you Fon and Thomas for your gracious and delicious hospitality!

    Unger Family Farms // Karista's Kitchen

    The next morning we drove out to our third and final U-pick berry farm, Unger Family Farms. What a scenic and magical farm it is. It was a typical cloudy and cool Oregon summer day but the views of the surrounding landscape from Unger Family Farms were so beautiful, the weather never got a second thought.

    Along with ready-picked produce, farm made jams, jellies and farm inspired decor, the delightful Unger Farm Store has a cafe called The Berry Cafe. The cafe serves an assortment of home-baked berry goods, sandwiches and salads for a light breakfast or lunch – with a tranquil seating area to enjoy all the delicious.

    Unger Family Farms is a third generation farm run by Matt and Kathy Unger. Along with their four adult children, Matt and Kathy run a 144 acre farm, U-pick berry patch, the farm store, along with booths at 10 farmer’s markets around the area. Needless to say they are one busy family! Thank you Kathy and Laura Unger for your time and gracious hospitality while visiting your farm.

    Ardiri Vineyards in the Tualatin Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

    After leaving Unger Family Farms it was on to wine tasting! The drive to Ardíri Winery was nothing short of spectacular. A beautiful hilltop winery with surrounding vineyards and the most spectacular view of Mt. Hood – voted one of Oregon’s top wineries with panoramic views.

    Ardíri Vineyards and Winery is located in the heart of the Chehalem Mountains in the Tualatin Valley. They specialize in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. On that lovely day we sipped the gorgeous Pink Tractor Rosé along with a Pinot Gris and several Pinot Noir. Breathtaking views, a lovely open-air facility for wine tasting and of course excellent Oregon wine. Yes, we left with a few bottles. 🙂

    Kitty who jumped in my car at the Cruise In Country Diner // Karista's Kitchen

    Last stop was lunch at the Cruise-In Country Diner where the warm and welcoming owner, Terry Hummel, makes his rounds to each table to chat with guests and diners. The diner kitty, Tiger, also greets guests and this particular day she decided to greet us and hop in my car. After several minutes of pets and purrs, she hesitantly jumped out of my car and followed us to the front door of the diner.

    Country Cruise-In Diner is a family run burger joint decorated with classic car memorabilia from the 1950’s – 1960’s and a menu that features organic and sustainable local produce and quality oils for frying. So of course I had a beer, burger and a few french fries. Yep nothing like going all out at lunch time. Right?
    Blackberry Burrata Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    After much reflection of my Tualatin Valley Tour, loads of photos edited, notes re-written and memories jotted down, I knew a berry inspired seasonal recipe was in order. Blackberries are currently in season and make the loveliest addition to sweet and savory recipes.

    I personally adore fruit in savory recipes so I created this Summer Blackberry Burrata Salad drizzled with a silky balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with Oregon toasted hazelnuts. Each of the ingredients mingles tastefully with each other and makes for a dreamy plate of seasonal deliciousness. Because who can resist blackberries and burrata?

    Thank you to Jackie Hagan and the Washington County Visitors Association for the opportunity to tour this lovely area of Oregon.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley

    Ingredients

    • 1-2 pints fresh seasonal blackberries
    • 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or 1-2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced
    • 6 cups fresh, washed salad greens or 4 good handfuls (I used an assortment of butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce and romaine, friseé and baby spinach would also be lovely)
    • 2 knobs of burrata cheese, sliced right before placing on the salad
    • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • Dash of water
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Pinch of gourmet finishing salt (grey salt, etc)

    Instructions

  • Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and dash of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • On a large platter, scatter salad greens, layer with sliced tomatoes or cherry tomato halves, fresh torn basil, burrata cheese, blackberries and toasted hazelnuts. Eyeball the ingredients and create the salad to your tastes.
  • Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette and then sprinkle with finishing salt. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Summer Ratatouille

    Summer Ratatouille // Karista's Kitchen

     

    I posted this decadent Summer Ratatouille photo on my Instagram page last week. I also thought I had posted the recipe here.

    Maybe I had thought about posting it but I never followed through. I usually have excellent follow through but this delicious recipe definitely slipped through the cracks. I can only blame my busy schedule and although I have the best of intentions, sometimes I miss a few things. My apologies if you searched for this recipe and couldn’t find it!

    This photo got a lot of love on my Instagram page and for good reason. It’s a beautiful dish, easy to prepare and completely delicious. I made this Summer Ratatouille at least 20 times last summer.

    Because I was late getting my seeds started last summer, I went to my local farm and found loads of beautiful new starts. I wanted to plant a lot of cucumbers so I could use them in salads, do a bit of canning and then make some pickles. So I purchased 6 cucumber plants and 1 zucchini plant. That should be enough. Because zucchini plants can quadruple in size and produce a mountain of zucchini, I only bought one plant. Or so I thought.

    Zucchini starts look almost identical to cucumber starts. Apparently, someone also thought the same and put all the zucchini starts with the cucumbers. I ended up with 5 zucchini and 2 cucumber starts. So by the end of summer I had way more zucchini than I could use and started giving them out to the neighbors and friends, freezing zucchini noodles and shredded zucchini, I canned a few and the rest went into various zucchini recipes like this Summer Ratatouille.

    I certainly didn’t mind making this ratatouille. It’s truly one of my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant. The combination of flavors combined with aromatics and fresh herbs makes this dish light and lush all at the same time. 

    It makes a lovely presentation and pairs beautifully with grilled meats, fish and poultry or doubles as a delicious vegetarian entrée. I could eat this alone with a glass of white wine and be completely happy. 🙂

    Cheers to a delicious summer!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Summer Ratatouille

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Summer Ratatouille

    This lovely vegetable dish is beautifully flavored with herbs and aromatics and looks impressive when placed on the dining table.

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small red onion, finely diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
    • ¼ cup red wine
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1-2 zucchini, sliced thin, but not paper thin
    • 1 yellow squash, sliced thin
    • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
    • 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan
    • ½ cup crème fraiche for garnish
    • 9 or 10 - inch baking dish, either round, oval, square or rectangular

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onion and sauté until soft and wilted. Then add the garlic and sauté for one minute longer. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce, wine, chives, parsley and smoked paprika.
  • Pour the tomato mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Beginning at one side of the baking dish, alternate slices of zucchini, yellow squash, roma tomato and eggplant until the baking dish is filled. I usually get about 3-4 rows of vegetables in my baking dish.
  • Drizzle the vegetables with the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then the grated parmesan.
  • Cover loosely with foil and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. If you’d like the top a little toasted, I let the ratatouille sit under the broiler for a few minutes before I take it out of the oven.
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm with dollops of crème fraiche and extra grated parmesan.
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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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