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Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish with Halibut and Herbed Coucous

Roasted Green Olive and Kumquat Relish with Pan Cooked Halibut and Herbed Couscous

One can never have enough of a good thing, especially when that “good thing” is olives.

I came home from the California Ripe Olive Event in St. Helena, California a few weeks ago and after testing several recipes that included olives, I couldn’t decide which recipe to post.

So, I’m posting two olive recipes! Because I’ve made both recipes three times in three weeks. They really are that good. My family has requested the Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad remain a staple in the fridge for snacking, lunching and whenever “tasting”.

This current post, a gorgeous Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish with Halibut and Herbed Couscous, has transitioned between a seafood dish, a pork dish and a grilled chicken dish. I’m not kidding when I tell you I’ve used this relish three times for three separate dinner meals.

Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish transitions beautifully between seafood, meat and poultry and pairs delightfully with either a herbed couscous or an indulgent goat cheese polenta. Always in the mix is roasted or grilled asparagus.

Roasted Green Olives and Kumquats // Karista's Kitchen

When my “team” and I were creating this recipe at the California Ripe Olive Experience, I knew this Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish was tasty but I never imagined I’d be preparing it so often at home.

Heather (Heather Likes Food), Leigh-Anne (Your Home-Based Mom) and Kelley (The Suburban Soapbox) were my teammates and between the four of us we created a stellar recipe.

The original recipe we created in the Culinary Institute of America kitchen in St. Helena, California, paired the relish with pan seared pork tenderloin medallions, a white wine and butter pan sauce over goat cheese polenta and pan cooked asparagus spears. In a word, divine.

Honestly, I found myself sneaking bites of the pork tenderloin with Kelley’s pan sauce, nibbling on spoonful’s of Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish and secretly wanting to shovel the goat cheese polenta into my mouth. Polenta just does that to me.

The buttery and slightly salty flavor of the roasted green olives blended perfectly with the tart citrus flavor of the sliced kumquats. We added a splash of garlic, ginger, Italian parsley and honey to the relish which resulted in a mellow but flavorful relish.

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena 7

When I prepared the relish again at home I used it to top fresh roasted halibut to change things up a bit. I also paired the relish with grilled chicken. All of which was delicious.

I love it when a recipe can be used with more than one specific ingredient. I suppose that’s simply what olives do best. They pair deliciously with most savory and even sweet ingredients, elevating flavor and texture and making a meal completely delightful.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


*This post was sponsored by California Olive Committee

Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish with Halibut and Herbed Coucous

Serving Size: 4

Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish with Halibut and Herbed Coucous


  • 1 cup sliced green olives, or more if you like
  • 1/2 cup sliced kumquats
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1- 1 1/2 lbs. halibut cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted pine nuts for garnish
  • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Place the sliced olives, kumquats and smashed garlic in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cracked black pepper.
  • Transfer the olives and kumquats to a lined baking sheet and roast them in the pre-heat oven for about 10 minutes. If you like a little color on the olives, place them under the broiler for a minute or two.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the olives and kumquats cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and remove the smashed garlic.
  • Toss the olive and kumquats with parsley, oregano, ginger, sliced garlic, lemon zest and one tablespoon of honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional honey if needed.
  • To make the halibut, heat a fish proof skillet over medium heat and add the ghee. While the ghee is heating, season the halibut with salt and pepper.
  • When the ghee is hot, add the halibut flesh side down and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Then flip to the skin side down and cook another 3-5 minutes. Fish should be cooked about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.
  • Once the fish is done transfer to a platter and hold. With the skillet on the stove but the heat turned off, add the white wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back on and whisk while adding the butter. Once the sauce has reduced by 1/4-1/2, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place the halibut over prepared couscous and then top the halibut with the pan sauce. Garnish the halibut with the relish and then garnish with additional chopped fresh Italian parsley and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    This lovely relish is perfect over roasted pork, pan seared pork tenderloin medallions and grilled chicken.

    *When roasting the kumquats, be sure not to roast them too long as they can become a tiny bit bitter.

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    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto

    Spring Pea and Mint Pesto with Grilled Salmon // Karista's Kitchen

    Is it me or is the summer sailing by at mach speed? It’s been a busy summer so far, which I don’t mind but posting recipes here on the blog seem to take a back seat.  I did promise Facebook readers I’d get this lovely Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto posted as a few readers have some fresh fish in their kitchens and they wanted some new ideas for preparing it.  I’ve always got an idea about food and recipes so feel free to ask for recommendations! I love to make meal time delicious. 🙂

    I realize I say this often but seafood is one of the easiest, most delicious meals to prepare, especially when paired with a sauce, salsa or pesto.

    I serve fish at least three nights a week and pairing seafood with a simple pan sauce, a beurre blanc (which I know sounds fancy and complicated but it’s truly very simple) a fresh salsa or pesto makes the weeknight meal fuss free and delicious.  If you’re not a seafood fan, this pea and mint pesto is just as tasty paired with grilled chicken or lamb.

    Grilled Salmon with Spring Pea and Mint Pesto // Karista's Kitchen

    Fresh mint seems to be making its way into many of my meals this season – due to my exploding mint plant.  I cut it back but it still took over the herb garden so I transplanted it in it’s very own container.  It still grew back in the herb box and now it’s fighting with the oregano.  I’ll probably dig it up once again and find another spot in the garden to re-plant it.

    Mint is a pretty little plant that is usually bright green in color (depending on which type of mint plant it is) and stays fairly healthy during our Pacific Northwest winters.  It makes a nice shrub in the yard but as I learned the hard way, mint needs its own space.  Much like an emerging teenager.  😉

    So today it’s a Pea and Mint Pesto.  Tomorrow it’ll probably be this Mediterranean Couscous Salad with fresh mint and maybe grilled lamb chops with mint, rosemary and garlic on Sunday.  Mint is definitely in the Bennett Crew’s culinary future.

    Happy Weekend!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto

    Makes about 1 1/2 cups

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto


    • 1/3 -1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I begin with 1/3 cup and then add as needed)
    • 1 cup fresh peas that have been blanched, or frozen peas that have been thawed
    • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
    • 1-2 cloves garlic
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or toasted pine nuts if you prefer
    • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place the olive oil, peas, mint, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, nuts and cheese into a food processor. Pulse until the pesto is smooth.
  • Add the lemon and pulse once more and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled or roasted salmon, lamb or chicken.
  • This is also tasty on crostini with shaved, aged provolone and grilled asparagus tips.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

    Making Pizza at Home

    Making Pizza dough at home // Karista's Kitchen

    If your family is like mine, trying to agree on what kind of pizza to order is sort of like a political debate – everyone has a different opinion.

    This is why I started making pizza at home.

    Making Pizza dough at home // Karista's Kitchen

    When my two sassy gals were little, Friday night was dubbed pizza and movie night.  It was a great way to end a very busy work week and it gave the Bennett Crew something to look forward to – a big treat at the end of the week. (I love it when I rhyme)

    As time went by, it seemed to spiral into a major weekly event that was often the subject of conversation during Thursday night dinner;  what movie would we all agree on watching (that was always another debate), and what kind of pizza should we order.

    Making Pizza at Home // Karista's Kitchen

    My two gals loved plain cheese pizza for the longest time, so ordering pizza was a simple task.  

    As they grew older, their palates expanded and unfortunately they expanded in different directions.  My oldest gal loves a cheesy, pineapple and ham pizza and my youngest is a pepperoni only kind of gal.  Ranger Craig prefers Italian sausage and mushroom and I dream of a loaded veggie pizza. Can you see my dilemma?

    To remedy the situation I used to order two or three different pizzas; which became a little ridiculous because we always had a fridge full of leftover pizza that no one would eat.  Nope, they won’t eat cold pizza warmed up.  (I actually like it cold right out of the fridge)

    Pizza toppings with figs, prosciutto, basil and goat cheese // Karista's Kitchen

    This is when making pizza at home came into play.  I’d had enough and decided that, although I had declared Friday nights as my night off from cooking, I’d make pizza at home.  This new trend was met with a bit of apprehension because could Mom really make pizza as good as the pizza place in town?  Ummm… let me think about that. Trained chef makes pizza at home.  I think it’ll work.  😉

    It was a huge success. (of course!)

    Pizza Margherita // Karista's Kitchen

    Making pizza at home can be simple or it can be a simply fun project.  It doesn’t take long to make pizza dough or sauce but if for some reason you just don’t have the time or energy to make the dough or the sauce, using your favorite store-bought brand is just fine too.

    I’ve listed recipes for both a quick pizza dough and sauce should you decide to make your own.

    Pizza toppings with red onions, fresh spinach, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese // Karista's Kitchen

    As we know, the love is in the toppings! One of my favorite ways to top a pizza is with caramelized onions, wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta cheese.  I’ve listed a few more topping options in the recipe, but truly, your imagination is the limit.  If only you could have seen some of the pizza’s created by the two sassy Bennett gals. 🙂

    Making pizza at home is a great way to get everyone involved in making dinner and of course, it’s fun and a delicious way to end the week or begin the weekend.   Buon Appetit´

    Making Pizza at Home

    2 12-inch pizzas

    Making Pizza at Home

    There is nothing quite like fragrant, yeasty pizza dough to make a delicious pizza. This is a quick and easy pizza dough that makes a lovely thin or medium crust pizza. Adding a bit of sugar rounds out the flavors and compliments the flavor of the yeast. Making your own pizza sauce is definitely worth the effort, but if time is of the essence, substitute this homemade sauce with your favorite jarred sauce. The key to a great tomato sauce is the length of time the sauce simmers stovetop. The longer you cook this sauce the tastier it will be.


      For the dough
    • ¾ cups (6 ounces) lukewarm water
    • 1 envelope active-dry yeast
    • 2 cups (10 ounces) flour, plus more for rolling out
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
      For the sauce
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup onion, finely diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 large can (28 – 32 ounces) tomato puree or Passata, which is an Italian tomato puree
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs (or a mixture of dried oregano, Italian parsley and basil)
    • Salt and black pepper to taste
      For a Karista's Fave Veggie Pizza
    • Pizza sauce, enough to thinly cover the pizza dough
    • 1/2 cup caramelized onions
    • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
    • 1 cup wilted fresh spinach
    • 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese
    • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese
      For Classic Margarita Pizza
    • Pizza sauce, enough to thinly cover the pizza dough
    • Fresh basil leaves
    • Slices of fresh whole milk mozzarella
      For Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
    • Pizza sauce or Pesto, enough to thinly cover the pizza dough
    • Fresh figs, sliced
    • Slices of prosciutto
    • Crumbled Goat Cheese
      For Sausage and Porcini Pizza
    • Pizza sauce, enough to thinly cover the pizza dough
    • Spicy Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
    • 1 ounce reconstituted Porcini mushrooms, chopped
    • Fresh basil leaves
    • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


    To make the pizza dough
  • 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, oil 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.
  • Finishing the pizza: Spread the dough lightly with sauce and add the shredded cheese and then your choice of toppings.
  • Baking the pizza: Bake the pizza on the parchment in a 500°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, cut it and eat while hot. Enjoy!
  • To make the sauce
  • Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onion and sauté until the onion is wilted. Then add the garlic and sauté for one minute longer.
  • Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste and dried herbs and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until it’s thickened a bit.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool before using. You can store the pizza sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.
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    Beef Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Tips and Techniques vegetarian

    Three Compound Butter Recipes

    Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob with Compound Butter // Karista's Kitchen

    Have you ever grilled a piece of fish or chicken and then wish you had a little something to dollop on top – just for a little extra flavor and fun?

    Compound butter is perfect for grilled, pan seared or roasted meat, fish and veggies.  

    Just make a few of these compound butters and keep them in the fridge.  They will hold for several months and when you’re ready to use them just slice a coin of  compound butter and dollop it on your “hot off the grill” fish, meat or veggies.

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

    Compound butter is simply butter that has been mixed with a few ingredients of your choice; like garlic & herbs or anchovies and capers or lemon zest and cumin…  and most often used to enhance a simple pan seared or grilled fish, meat and veggies.   I typically make my compound butters savory, but during grilling season I also make a sweet compound butter spiked with spices and vanilla beans to use over grilled fruit or cake.

    You’re going to love these three compound butter recipes but feel free to experiment and make your own.  It’s a great way to use up the excess fresh herbs from the herb garden or citrus that might have seen better days. I also like to use finely chopped toasted nuts or cheese in my compound butters.

    Summer is in full swing and using compound butter to enhance the flavor of our grilled meals makes a delicious ending to a busy day.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Three Compound Butter Recipes

    Each recipe makes 8 tablespoons

    Three Compound Butter Recipes


      Chipotle Orange Butter
    • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
    • One canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely diced
    • 2 teaspoons orange zest
      Garlic Lemon Thyme Butter
    • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
      Cilantro Lime Butter
    • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
    • 1 lime, zested
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro


  • Compound butter can either be mixed by hand or in a food processor. If mixing by hand, add the ingredients to a small bowl and mix with a fork until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • If you are using a food processor, add the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface and spoon the butter onto the plastic wrap forming a log. Fold the plastic wrap over the butter and twist the ends. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
  • Notes

    I created this recipe originally for the beautiful Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015

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    Beef Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Sauces, Salsas and More

    Rosemary Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction

    Pan Seared Rosemary and Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction // Karista's Kitchen

    I overheard my daughter talking to her friends back home in Washington state and when she was asked what it was like living in the Willamette Valley she replied, “well, there are sheep, sheep, farms, cows and more sheep.”

    Her description made me laugh because only my teenager could describe this diverse and lush valley by the animals that dot the landscape.

    Actually, we have a lot more in the valley than just farms and animals and ranches – we’re also home to Oregon State University and just south is University of Oregon.

    Most of our little towns are filled to the brim with farmer’s markets, a brewhouse or local pub on every street corner, James Beard award winning chef’s (yes, even here in the valley), vineyards, wineries and the most emerald green rolling hills mixed with the occasional forest.

    We’re flanked by the Pacific Cascade range to the west and the Cascades Mountains to the east.

    The Willamette Valley, Oregon

    I adore my drive to the market because inevitably, I’ll see pastures filled with sheep and lamb, and at least one very stern faced lama working as the guard dog.  

    Northwest pasture raised lamb has been gaining popularity recently and it’s one of the most abundant meats found in my local markets and co-ops.  Raised on the lush green pastures in the valley, without grains and free of antibiotics, no growth hormones, additives or preservatives, the lamb from the valley is typically lower in fat and an excellent source of iron and vitamin B-12. I’m a huge fan of most of our local lamb producers like Anderson Ranch, SuDan Farm and Cattail Creek Farms; raising lamb sustainably and responsibly.

    This gorgeous Rosemary Garlic Crusted Lamb chop recipe was originally created for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine’s spring issue.  

    Of course, I chose the most delicious cut of lamb for this recipe, the lamb chop.  Lamb chops are typically well marbled with fat and when they are pan seared, they remain juicy and flavorful.  All you need are fresh herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and these chops can be done in 15 minutes or less.  I adore these Rosemary Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops paired with a balsamic reduction and often in the spring, I’ll serve them with a minted pea pesto that is plate licking good.  I’ll post that recipe soon!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Rosemary Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction

    Serving Size: 4

    Rosemary Garlic Crusted Lamb Chops with Balsamic Reduction


    • 8 single rib lamb chops (2 per person)
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    • 1 -2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
    • 1 cup good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish


  • In a small bowl combine the rosemary and garlic.
  • In a small pan heat the balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Let the vinegar come to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. This should take about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your pan. Once the liquid has been reduced, whisk in the honey and set aside. If the reduction becomes too thick when cooled, gently re-heat for a more liquid consistency.
  • Place the lamb chops on a large cutting board or a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each lamb chop with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then rub the rosemary garlic onto each side of each lamb chop.
  • Cover the lamb chops with a sheet of plastic wrap and give each chop a little pound with either a meat mallet or the palm of your hand. This is so the rosemary garlic mixture will nicely stick to the lamb chop. Remove the plastic before cooking. This step can be done the night before and chops held in refrigerator until ready to cook.
  • Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chops. You may need to pan sear the chops in batches.
  • After adding the chops to the pan turn the heat down to medium. Brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side should give you medium to medium rare. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Let them rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Drizzle the Balsamic Reduction on each plate or a platter and then top with two rib chops per person. Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.
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    Karista's Kitchen Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc over Salmon

    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc over Salmon // Karista's Kitchen

    Today, I’m talking sauce! Ask anyone who has known me for a while and they will tell you I love to make sauce.  Sauce seems to elevate a meal and make it feel special.  It adds another layer of flavor and texture that engages the taste buds and keeps the recipe entertaining bite after bite.

    A sauce can be as simple or as complex as you like.   It can be intense with flavor or subtly infused.  Sauce is all about dressing up a dish and making it shine.

    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc over Salmon // Karista's Kitchen

    Beurre Blanc is a classic French butter-based sauce. Translated it literally means “white butter”.  It’s considered an emulsion sauce and requires the butter to be chilled before using in order to keep the sauce from breaking. Now that I’ve mentioned this, don’t let the possibility of the sauce “breaking” deter you.

    Cooking (and sauce making) requires prep, patience and practice.  If you’ve never made this sauce before, just take your time.  I promise, before long you will be a sauce making pro.

    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc  // Karista's Kitchen

    A basic Beurre Blanc requires white wine, white wine vinegar, shallots and cold butter. This Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc only requires Meyer lemon juice, shallots, cold butter and lemon zest. That’s it! A little salt to taste and your sauce is done.

    I prefer Meyer lemon versus conventional lemon in this sauce.  Meyer lemons have a sweeter flavor and are less acidic than regular lemons which creates a subtle and balanced citrus flavor in the sauce. For additional lemon flavor I add a teaspoon of lemon zest to the finished sauce.

    I’ve paired this sauce with pan seared salmon.  I think these two were made for each other.  The creamy butter sauce laced with lemon combined with the unique flavor of the salmon makes for a  delicious and beautiful dish.  This sauce is also exquisite drizzled over pan seared or grilled scallops and I’ve also been known to ladle this silky sauce on grilled oysters.

    Truly a beautiful sauce that will make you fall in love with seafood all over again.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc over Salmon

    Makes about 1 1/2 cups

    Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc over Salmon

    Some chefs leave the shallots in the sauce which is also fine. This, I call the "rustic" version. It also adds a bit more texture to the sauce.


    • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about a tablespoon)
    • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (about a stick and a half)
    • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
    • Salt to taste
    • Chopped fresh chive for garnish


  • In a nonreactive saute pan over medium low heat, add the lemon juice and shallots Simmer until half the liquid has been reduced; it will feel almost dry or what is referred to as "au sec".
  • Take the pan off the heat and whisk in several pieces of diced butter (about a 1/4 of the butter). When it's nicely incorporated whisk in a few more pieces butter (another 1/4 of the butter). The sauce should begin to feel smooth.
  • Place the pan back over medium low heat and whisk in the remaining butter until the sauce is smooth.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and gently stir in the lemon zest and season to taste with salt.
  • Strain the sauce into a container and ladle over pan seared, roasted or grilled salmon.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh chive or little tender sprigs of fresh thyme.
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    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs

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

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

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

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

    Vinci tomato sauce and meatballs collage

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

    Buon Appetito!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

    The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

    This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

    Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

    This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

    If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

    Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    Serves 4


    ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

    ½ cup finely chopped onion

    2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

    Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

    1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

    1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

    1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

    Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

    Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

    Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

    Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.




    Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Blueberry Ginger Salsa with Roasted Dover Sole


    Blueberry Ginger Salsa over Halibut // Karista's Kitchen


    I wrote this post in 2013. It seemed cooking was just as therapeutic then as it is now. To preface this Blueberry Ginger Salsa recipe… 

    This Blueberry Ginger Salsa is a result of my love for fish and fruit (and an overflowing mint plant).  I’ve always felt fish and fruit were two fresh ingredients made for each other. The salty essence of the seafood combined with the fresh sweetness of the fruit is complimentary in flavor and intoxicating to the palate.

    Just like seafood, grilled chicken also pairs well with most fruit and it pairs especially well this Blueberry Ginger Salsa.  On occasion, I’ll whip up this salsa and serve it as a starter with seasoned pita chips and creamy goat cheese.  However, most of the time you’ll find yourself eating this Blueberry Ginger Salsa with spoon.  It’s that good!


    Funny how sometimes life rolls in a direction never anticipated.  Catching us by surprise, with both trepidation and promise.

    It’s been an eventful year for my family.  My first-born conquering a long and tedious health challenge, my youngest discovering the heartbreak and joy of her first year in high school.   A brilliant year of cooking classes filled with the most wonderful home chef’s I’ve ever met.  New clients, new colleagues, new recipes and articles created and new friends made.   And we’re only half way through the year!

    Change happens.  It’s inevitable.  I’ve had a lifetime of change.  I thought I’d become familiar with the word, until I realized the memories I will soon leave behind.  Yes, we’re moving down the road a bit, to a darling little town in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Still the beautiful Pacific Northwest that I know and love.

    It’s bittersweet.  I have the best friends here.  Friends who bring our grieving family delicious baked goods, flowers and cards when our sweet old Airedale, Elwood, passed.  Friends who cooked meals for a week when my sweet oldest Sassy Gal came home from surgery.  Beautiful flowers arriving daily, cards that expressed love and sympathy, happy thoughts and prayers.

    Karista's Kitchen

    Friends that have loved and continue to love my children like their own.  I love that.  I’ve always felt it takes a village to raise a child.

    I know my friends and I will remain close.  After all,  this is the era of social media and I’ll only be a few hours down the road.  But I will miss them.

    Brilliant, strong, independent, artistic, supportive, beautiful women who have made a huge impact on my life.  I would list you all, but I’m afraid I might miss someone!  You know who you are.  I love you!

    So, in a few weeks, Karista’s Kitchen will have a new home on the world-wide web.   And, Karista Bennett (and the Bennett Crew) will make their new home in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

    I proceed with trepidation, but also promise.  Promise of new discoveries, new challenges, new ideas, new farms to visit, new places for Ranger Craig and I to fly :), new recipes to share and new friends to be made.

    It may take me a few weeks until I post next.  I’d like to say I’m a good multi-tasker, but unfortunately, that will never be included in my list of talents.

    So until next time, I wish you happy trails, lots of summer sunshine, good health and loads of love!

    Delicious Wishes,


    Savory Blueberry Ginger Salsa

    Savory Blueberry Ginger Salsa


    • 1 pint fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1 small - medium shallot, finely diced
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint (extra for garnish)
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium bowl, gently toss together the blueberries, shallot, fresh ginger, chopped mint, olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let it sit room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. This will allow all those delicious flavors to meld together beautifully.
  • I love to serve this salsa with grilled chicken or fish. Or, for a starter, serve with seasoned pita chips and creamy goat cheese.
  • Notes

    I’ve paired this salsa with fresh Dover Sole that I seasoned, rolled and then pan seared in a skillet with a tablespoon or two of ghee. Dover sole is such a delicate fish, sometimes it’s easier to prepare when it’s rolled and cooked. You can also place these Dover sole rolls in a greased baking dish and then pop it in a pre-heated oven at 350F. Brush the fish with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and cook just until done. A good rule of thumb for cooking fish is to cook 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

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    Karista's Kitchen Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Roasted Red Peppers, Hazelnut, sauce for pork

    Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    I always keep a spare pork tenderloin, or two, in the freezer.  It’s one of those quick fix meals that pairs beautifully with most any sauce or roasted winter fruit.  I had planned to use this tenderloin with a spiced apple compote, which is delicious, but I just wasn’t feelin’ the apples that day.

    I must be longing for summer, or maybe I need extra vitamin C,  because my taste buds have been craving the flavor of roasted red peppers.  A little smoky, slightly sweet with a touch of tang, that makes for a lovely pairing with pork, lamb, poultry, pasta and veggies.

    And don’t get me started with the mini roasted sweet peppers.  I can eat them like candy.  So sweet and so flavorful, I often roast them with a little oil, salt and pepper and serve them as a side dish.  They’re also fabulous stuffed with cheese.

    Bell peppers (and mini sweets) make the loveliest sauces, salsas, and relishes.  Complimenting grilled or roasted meats and fish so beautifully.  I read somewhere that bell peppers are like the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world.  All that bright beautiful color in all those wonderful shapes and sizes.

    This sassy little sauce is no exception.  Combined with toasted hazelnuts, fresh herbs and olive oil, this sauce’s bright orange/red color is pleasing to the eye and tantalizing to the taste buds.

    Extravagant in taste, but simply prepared.  My favorite kind of weeknight meal 🙂

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Serves 4


    1 1/2 pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 to 1 inch medallions

    Salt and pepper

    4 tablespoons high heat oil, or clarified butter (ghee)

    Fresh chopped Italian parsley (for garnish)

    Sauce Ingredients

    2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

    1/3 cup Hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

    2 cloves garlic, peeled

    2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

    1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon Thai Kitchen roasted red chili paste or a dash of hot sauce

    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil  (decrease the olive oil to ¼-1/3 to use this sauce as a pesto or dip)


    To Prepare the Sauce:

    Place all the sauce ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until the hazelnuts are finely ground.

    Next, with the processor running, pour the olive oil over the mixture until well blended.  The sauce should have a very thick salad dressing consistency.  You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times in between blending.

    The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to one week.   Bring the sauce to room temperature before using or warm lightly in a double boiler, never getting the sauce to hot as the oil will separate.

    Serve over any grilled meats and poultry.  Or serve as a dip for crudités or pesto for Crostini. 

    To Prepare the Pork Tenderloin Medallions:

    Season the medallions with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering,  add the medallions (you may need to cook in batches) adding more oil as needed.

    When they are brown on the first side, flip and brown them on the second side.  It shouldn’t take long for the pork medallions to cook through, 2 minutes on each side depending on thickness.  Pork should be cooked to 145F internal temperature for perfectly moist and juicy pork.

    Ladle the sauce on a platter and place the cooked pork on top of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately.

    Recipe adapted from Chef Jerry Traunfeld, The Herbfarm Cookbook (a must have in your cook book library!)

    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce over Roasted Eggplant

    I’ve been a member of several book clubs over the years.  Each time, I joined with the exuberance of a puppy playing with a new bone.  Excited about all the new books I’d be discovering and reading, all the new friendships to be made and girlfriend time to be savored.

    Unfortunately each time, my enthusiastic participation ended much too soon.  Either work or other commitments inhibited my attendance and sometimes my busy schedule caused my eyes to close 15 minutes into opening my book.

    Yep, book clubs have come and gone and with them my humiliation of not being able to meet my reading or attendance commitment.  My head bows in shame and disappointment.

    So when I was asked to join this “new” kind of book club, I was a little hesitant.  Until I realized it was right up my alley, Cook this Book.  I have no problem staying awake reading cookbooks.  Browsing the beautiful pages of deliciousness that sometimes inspires new culinary creations or simply reminds me of one I haven’t prepared in years.  A discovery of new types of cuisine and how it relates to the culture it originates.  Exciting!

    Even more exciting, the dynamic and brilliant women that are part of this book club.  Writers, chef’s, professors, food bloggers, professionals and of course fellow lovers of all things foodie, lovely, gracious women from all walks of life.

    Roasted chicken with cardamom and ginger spiced yogurt sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Yogurt Sauce with Roasted Chicken

    The event has come and gone and my taste buds have never sampled such a mingling of beautiful and fragrant flavors.  Our book for the month was Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  Middle Eastern cuisine encompasses a variety of styles and flavors that creates a plethora of dinner options.

    One particular dish from this book is now one of my family’s favorites.  A spiced yogurt sauce that is laced with cardamom and ginger and so beautifully compliments poultry, lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.

    Honestly, I kept sticking my spoon in the sauce bowl, swiping mouthfuls of the sauce when no one was looking.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce for Roasted Chicken or Vegetables

    Serves 4-6


    2 cups plain whole milk yogurt

    1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or the seeds toasted and crushed

    1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, grated

    1 small onion, finely diced

    Serve with roasted or grilled chicken pieces, pan seared chicken cutlets or roasted eggplant, winter squash and zucchini.


    In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the cardamom and ginger.  Set aside while you saute the onions.  Heat a skillet and a tablespoon or two of oil over medium heat and saute the onions until golden.  Remove the onions from the heat and stir in the spiced yogurt.  Do not put your skillet over the heat or your yogurt will separate.  The warmth of the skillet and onions will warm the yogurt nicely.

    Serve the spiced sauce with grilled or roasted chicken pieces, pan seared chicken breast cutlets or roasted eggplant, zucchini or winter squash.  I love a dollop of this yogurt sauce over a roasted butternut squash. 🙂

    Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food

    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I’m basking in the quiet this morning.  A rare moment.  The day will get busier and by the end, I’ll wonder where time went.

    With a full daily schedule, I constantly remind myself “be present in the moment”.  Sage advice from my lovely yoga Instructor.  Advice that has allowed me to relish time, instead of passing through it at mach speed.

    I walk around mumbling these words.  So often that I found myself reciting this phrase in the market yesterday.  To my embarrassment, a fellow shopper thought I was talking to her.  No, just talking to myself.

    I realized how much I miss in life when I’m not present in the moment.  Little things my daughters say, a hidden smile from my husband, sadness in a friend’s voice or joy in my niece’s email telling me she got into the college of her choice.

    Even the pained look on Tank’s face when I’ve forgotten to feed him.  Although he usually won’t let anyone forget to feed him.  Even though he’s sporting a little extra “husky” these days and could use a tiny reduction in his food consumption.

    Being present in the moment has become more important to me as of late. The tragedy in Newtown is devastating.  I cannot imagine.

    Like many, I’ve shed a thousand tears. My heart continues to grieve for those who lost their precious children and loved ones.  My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them.

    I wish you all true joy, much love and peace this holiday season!

    Loads of Love,


    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I love this dish as an entree with Mexican Diver Scallops or as an appetizer with smaller scallops U 20-30.   The Raspberry Chipotle Glaze is even fabulous on grilled salmon, chicken and shrimp.  A lovely and versatile sauce. 🙂


    Serves 2-3

    10 large dry packed scallops (for appetizer use smaller dry packed scallops U 20-30, but not Bay Scallops)

    5-8 slices prosciutto (sliced in half lengthwise)

    10 rosemary stalks for skewers (or pretty party picks that can withstand heat)

    Salt and Pepper

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    1 cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds, although I prefer without seeds.  If you can’t find without seed, just strain the glaze before using)

    1/4 – 1/3 cup white wine or port

    1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce

    Pinch of black pepper


    To make the sauce,  in a blender or food processor, pulse the preserves, chipotle chili and wine.  Just until nicely combined.  Transfer to a small pot and heat on low.  Stir in a pinch of black pepper.  The heat thin the sauce a bit.  The sauce thickens as it cools.

    To make the scallops, wrap one strip of prosciutto around the scallop and secure with a rosemary skewer.  Continue to do this with the remaining scallops.

    Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of clarified butter or high heat oil.  Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper.  When the butter is hot, brown the scallops on both sides.  About 1-2 minutes on each side depending on size of the scallop.  You may need to adjust your heat and turn it down to medium if your pan gets too hot.  You want the scallops to have a nice golden brown crust on each side.  Click on this link for a visual tutorial on how to perfectly pan sear scallops.

    Drizzle sauce on plates or a platter and then place the cooked scallops on top of the sauce and serve immediately.  As well, you can plate the scallops and then drizzle the sauce on top.  Either way, it’ll taste fantastic!

    Recipe inspired by my favorite fishmonger, Jim at Gemini Fish Market 🙂