Browsing Category

Sauces, Salsas and More

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken

Sauces reign supreme at the Bennett Camp.  And why you might ask?

I blame it on culinary school.  Almost every entrée recipe I learned to prepare had some sort of brilliant sauce.  I loved practicing sauces.  I relished the challenge of tweaking them to my tastes and adding new and unusual flavors.

The Bennett Crew loved sampling my sauces.  In fact, my happy little family came to expect a sauce over every entrée I served.

Until one day… I prepared a Pork Milanese.  Milanese doesn’t have a sauce.  So I served it traditionally. Without a sauce.

Everyone sat quietly at the table, looking at their plates.  Not a peep.  I asked my sassy family why they weren’t eating their dinner and my handsome husband replied “where’s the sauce?”

Hmmm.   Never saw that one coming.  I told my family a Milanese doesn’t come with a sauce.  To which my youngest sassy gal replied “but I’d like to have a sauce Mom”.   Well, who could resist those sweet words coming from a  three year old.

Back into the kitchen I whipped up a little sauce for the Milanese.  Today, almost everything I serve the Bennett Crew comes with a sauce.  😉

Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

I’ve paired one of my fave little sauces with this Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken dish.  You can also find this sauce paired with my Thai Shrimp Cakes and it’s just as lovely over grilled pork and chicken.

Serves 4


4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs (boneless/skinless)

1 ½ cups shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup all purpose flour

2 eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Parchment lined baking sheet

Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce (recipe below)


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

In a food processor add the coconut and pecans and pulse until nicely ground together, like bread crumbs.  Set aside.  Per a lovely readers comments, a few tablespoons of panko can be added to the breading for a little extra texture and crunch.

Set out three bowls. One with flour, one with egg wash and the last one with the coconut pecan mixture.

Season the chicken with salt and black pepper.

Lightly dust the chicken in the flour, then the egg wash and then press them into the coconut pecan mixture.  Place them on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes.  This step can be done in the morning and then baked in the evening for dinner.

Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness or until the chicken is done.  I cook my chicken until the internal temperature reaches about 160F. I highly recommend having a meat thermometer handy for cooking poultry and meat.

Once the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Ladle a bit of the sauce onto four plates.  Place a piece of chicken on the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.  Serve with coconut rice and fresh greens with a sesame dressing.

Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

½ cup apricot preserves

1-2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce from Thai kitchen

¼ cup water, white wine, sherry or Saki

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients.  You can lightly warm the sauce in a small pan stove top or in the microwave.  Don’t over warm or the sauce will be too runny.  The sauce will thin once it’s paired with the warm chicken.

Grilling Karista's Kitchen Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

sweet onion marmalade

Nothing says Washington State like sweet onions, apples, stone fruit, blackberries, Dungeness crab, lavender and of course…. rain.   Just to name a few.

Seattle is a culinary heaven.  James Beard award-winning chefs, a divine selection of restaurants that garner national attention, organic and sustainable farms and ranches, food artisans, and of course a wealth of fabulous food bloggers.

To celebrate these delightfully food passionate people,  Keren Brown, Author of Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle and the food blog Frantic Foodie, created the local event called Foodportunity.

Sweet Onions, Photo Credit

This past June, I had the opportunity to attend a Foodportunity event with my good friend and fellow blogger, Maria, from Pink Patisserie.

As I was walking up the stairs in the Pan Pacific Hotel, who did I run into but one of my fave Seattle Food Bloggers and fellow farm girl at heart, Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes.  The day was off to a brilliant beginning.

sweet onion marmalade

And to think I almost didn’t attend.  I’m not much of a social butterfly.  I love meeting new people, but placed in a room full of people makes me break out into a serious sweat.

Where do I start?  Who do I talk to first?  So, I casually saunter over to the food table.  Although I wish my saunter were a bit more “look at me glide across the room in these heels”.  But it’s not.  It’s sort of a march, I just prefer the word saunter.  In a few paragraphs down I use the word mosy.  I like that word too.

While standing at the food table, with a mouth full of food, I met Erina, from the blog, Shut Up and Cook.  Cool title huh?  Erina is a dynamo.  She’s a hot tamale, firecracker, and ready to set the food writing world on fire.  And maybe the airwaves too.  Erina is a competitor in a local food event developed by our very own Theirry Rautreau, Kitchen Circus.  Check it out and cheer Erina on!

After polishing off seconds of the quail egg and salmon apps, I decided to “mosy” on over to the wine table.  One must sample the wine at these events 🙂

Lucky for me, en route to the wine table I ran into Emmy, from Emmy Cooks and Alyssa, from Everyday Maven.  Lovely ladies with delicious and creative food blogs, who I now consider my good foodie friends.

I left that day feeling pretty darn good.  I even won a cook book!  That never happens.

I’m still not a social butterfly, but I do love a good Foodportunity.  Especially when there’s really great food.  And of course wine. 🙂

Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

Makes about 1 ½ cups marmalade (recipe can be doubled)


3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (I used Walla Walla)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

¼ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Sprig of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauté or sauce pan.  When the butter is melted add the onions and brown mustard seeds.  Let the onions cook down for about 10 minutes and then add the sprig of thyme.

Simmer the onions until they are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and let the onions simmer for another 15-30 minutes depending on how caramelized you like your onions.  My marmalade simmered for about an hour.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Lovely additions to this marmalade are dried cherries, cranberries, currents or raisins.   

Serve with grilled or pan seared pork chops, roast pork loin, roast pork tenderloin or slow cooked pork shoulder.

Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

10 Sizzling Summer Sauces

Nectarine Chutney with Grilled Halibut // Karista's Kitchen

If you haven’t noticed by now I’m a saucy gal. 😉

We love sauces here at the Bennett Camp.   All kinds of sauces, salsa, compotes, drizzles, chutney’s and relishes.  You name it, I can top it with a sauce.

So, in honor of all things saucy (and summer) I thought I’d share with you my 10 favorite sizzling summer sauces.  Enjoy!

1.  A very special Chimichurri Sauce and my most favorite sauce of all.  Fantastic over grilled beef or grilled fish.  It’s a plate lickin’ good sauce!

chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

2.  Savory Strawberry Sauce.  So perfect for grilled salmon but just as delicious with grilled chicken.

Savory Strawberry Sauce

Savory Strawberry Sauce with Grilled Salmon

3.  Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce.  One tasty sauce over barbecue pork or chicken and a great way to use all those summer huckleberries.

Huckleberry Barbecue Sauce

Huckleberry Barbecue Sauce

4.  Blueberry Ginger Salsa.  A savory fresh tasting salsa that will WOW your tastebuds!  Perfect over grilled halibut or chicken.

blueberry ginger salsa

Blueberry Ginger Salsa

5.  Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce.  I adore this sauce over grilled fish.  Almost any grilled fish but especially Black cod or Hawaiian Opah.

coconut, lemongrass, ginger sauce

Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce with Grilled Fish

6.  Mini Sweet Pepper Relish.  Perfectly delicious over grilled fresh salmon or grilled chicken.

mini pepper relish

Mini Pepper Relish

7.  Spiced Dried Plum Sauce.  A favorite sauce over any grilled or roasted pork.

spiced dried plum sauce

Spiced Dried Plum Sauce with Grilled Pork Chops

8.  Spicy Apricot Ginger Sauce.  Perfect with grilled shrimp, poached shrimp, coconut shrimp or shrimp cakes!

Spicy Apricot Ginger Sauce

Spicy Apricot Ginger Sauce with Shrimp Cakes

9. Mexican Chocolate Sauce.  A perfect summer dessert sauce over pound cake, angel food cake, chocolate or vanilla cake or even homemade ice cream and topped with fresh papaya slices.

Mexican Chocolate Sauce

Mexican Chocolate Sauce with Fresh Papaya Slices

And number 10…  Nectarine, Golden Raisin and Five Spice Powder Chutney served with Roasted Halibut or delightful over roast pork in the fall and winter months.

Mini Pepper Relish

Nectarine, Golden Raisin and Five Spice Powder Chutney with Grilled or Roasted Halibut

Nectarine, Golden Raisin and Five Spice Chutney with Roasted or Grilled Halibut


Serves 4

2-3 cups peeled and chopped nectarines (about 2-3 large nectarines)

½ cup diced onions

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon sugar, or more if needed

1/2 – 1 teaspoon five spice powder

Pinch red pepper flakes

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter), grapeseed oil or high heat veggie oil

1 ½ lbs fresh Halibut, cut into 3-4 pieces


In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the tablespoon of butter.

When the butter is melted and frothy add the onions and sauté for a minute or two to soften.

Next, stir in the chopped nectarines, raisins, sugar, five spice powder, pinch of red pepper flakes and white wine vinegar.

Turn the heat to low and let the chutney simmer for about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

While the chutney is simmering, prepare the halibut.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Add the Ghee or oil to a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter/oil is sizzling, add the halibut skin side down.

Let the halibut cook for a few minutes, until the skin side is nicely browned.  Place the skillet in the oven and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the fish is flaky and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and plate the fish.  Top each piece of fish with a few tablespoons of chutney and serve immediately.

I like this dish with pearled couscous, brown rice, or coconut rice and mixed spring greens with a light vinaigrette.

Grilling Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish over Grilled Salmon

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

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

Fresh Mini Peppers

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

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

Port Townsend, WA looking at Admirality Inlet

Me… at the beautiful marina in Port Townsend

I’m enamored with the Bald Eagle

The perfect evening in Port Townsend

Flying Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish with Grilled Salmon

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

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

Serves 4


16 oz Mini Sweet Peppers

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

Dash of olive oil

Dash of good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste


To Roast the Peppers

Preheat the oven to 400F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Cilantro Salmon

Cilantro Salmon

Last week I told Ranger Craig I’m in need of a field trip.  For those of you who don’t know Ranger Craig, he’s my main man, best bud, adventure partner, resident food critic and husband.  I had a reader ask me once if he was my boyfriend. (Hee hee, that gave me a good chuckle!)  So I went back to my about page and made it clear he’s legally mine. 🙂

Ranger Craig... with Charley, our Cessna 182

Ranger Craig is not a Forest Ranger. Although he’d love to be one.  He served in the US Army as an Army Airborne Ranger.  So, I call him Ranger Craig.  And he’s fearless. Which is why I don’t usually let him plan our little field trips lest we end up jumping out of an airplane and that’s where I draw the line.  I don’t mind flying in the airplane, I just don’t want to jump out of it.

I should have known his inclination for adventure years ago when our first date was a long hike up our local lone Mountain.  Ranger Craig came prepared. Hiking shorts, hiking shoes, appropriate hiking shirt, water canteen, one of those handy tool knifes just in case of an emergency, and would you believe he even had a few Band-Aids in his backpack.

Me? Adorable pink shorts, bright pink and white matching off the shoulder shirt (it was the 80’s), and gold sparkle sandals with hot pink painted toes. I looked great.  For about 10 minutes.

Fast forward twenty-five years and I’ve got my own water bottle, travel medical kit, sensible shoes and an appropriate outfit for every adventure occasion. Lucky for me, this field trip didn’t even require sensible shoes.  I could look cute and wear my favorite cowgirl boots.

My favorite boots from El Paso, Texas

The Glass Art Museum was breathtaking. Art beyond my imagination. I couldn’t wait to photograph every piece.  Until, to my huge disappointment, I spotted the “No Photography” sign.

Glass Art by Chihuly

I did manage a few snaps of the Chihuly Art display. Breathtaking.  So full of vibrant color it inspired my desire for a vibrantly colorful dinner.

And what better way to celebrate color, than with one of my favorite colors, green.  Fresh Pan Seared Salmon with bright spring green Cilantro Pesto.  It’s a plate licking good sauce that goes with anything.  Just like my favorite cowgirl boots.

Cilantro Salmon

Serves 4

For the Pesto:

1 large bunch cilantro, lower thicker stems trimmed (upper stems are fine in pureed pesto’s or sauces)

½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with walnuts)

1-2 cloves garlic

1 lemon juiced

¼ cup grated parmesan

Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

Salt to taste


Place the cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan in a blender or food processor.  As you pulse/puree the ingredients add the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

For The Salmon:

1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh wild salmon cut into 4 pieces

1-2 tablespoon high heat oil ( I love using Spectrum’s Asian flavored oil for pan searing salmon)

Salt and pepper

Lemon slices and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the oil.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot add the salmon flesh side down. Let the salmon cook for about 3 minutes or until the salmon easily lifts off the pan.  It should be a lovely golden brown.

Flip the salmon skin side down and continue cooking until just pink inside, about another 3-4 minutes depending on thickness.

If the salmon is thick, turn the heat down to medium and cover with a lid and let the salmon finish cooking.  The salmon should lift off the pan easily, leaving the skin in the skillet.

Drizzle the pesto on a platter or plates and lay the skinless salmon filets on top and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and lemon slice.

This pesto is fantastic on grilled salmon and grilled chicken too! Enjoy 🙂

Kid Friendly Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

It’s the first day of spring.

It feels like winter.

Winter in the Cascades

I wish it were summer.

I love summer in the Northwest.

Blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries and raspberries.  Rainier cherries, apricots and peaches.

And sunshine. 🙂

Summer Flying!

And flying!

I heard single engine planes over my roof this afternoon.

Getting ready for fair weather.  Arriving soon.  We hope.

Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce

I feel so lucky to have the sweetest of friends.

Friends who give me summer berries in the middle of winter.   (Thank you Traci and Nick!)

Barbeque Sauce and Northwest Huckleberries

Picked with love and exuberance by two precious little boys on summer vacation.

Bagged and frozen by Mom and Dad, and then given to me.

Frozen berries that warm my heart.  (Kisses to Z and M!)

Huckleberry Barbecue Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

I probably have two or three barbeque sauce recipes hanging around.  And I love them all.  However, on occasion even a chef needs a little trick or two to get dinner rolling.  Yes, this is one of my “cheat” recipes.  And I love it!  Huckleberries are the perfect addition to my jarred sauce.  If you can’t find huckleberries, try blackberries.  And, if you don’t care for the blackberry seeds, strain the sauce through a mesh strainer.


1 Jar of your fave barbeque sauce, about 2 cups

1 cup huckleberries, blackberries or blueberries (if frozen, thawed and drained)

1/4 – 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (depending on sweetness of the fruit)

1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional, I like this for an extra kick of smokey spice)

4-6 Thin cut pork loin chops or pork chops, or a pork tenderloin (no thicker than 3/4 inches, larger chops will take longer to cook)

Fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped


In a small sauce pan or pot over medium heat, mix together the berries, sugar and barbeque sauce.

Bring to a lively simmer and let the sauce sit over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until the berries have lightly infused the sauce and sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the chipotle chili powder and taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar or chili powder as desired.

Before serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme leaves.

To Prepare the Pork Loin Chops:

Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of high heat veggie oil.  Season the chops with salt and pepper on both sides.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chops.  Brown them on each side.

If they are thin, it shouldn’t take long for the chops to cook through.  About 3-4 minutes each side.  The chops will be done when they reach 145F.

Thicker chops will take much longer to cook.  After browning the thicker chops, place them in a 350F pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  They will be done when they reach 145F.  About 10-15 minutes total cook time.

This sauce is also delicious over grilled pork chops or grilled pork tenderloin.

Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp

Asian Style Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce with Mandarin Oranges… Perfect for Scallops, Shrimp or Pork

Asian Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce with Mandarin Oranges

Vivaldi is playing softly in the background and songbirds are humming a tune outside my window.

A tranquil moment in time.

A moment I relish with deep pleasure.

Another picture of the Scallops... I couldn't decide which to post!

And then the front door slams.

Tank, the mean and ferocious terrier, barks and howls as two voices chatter loudly all the way into the kitchen.

Which is right next to my office.  Which happens to be the dining room we never use.

It has the best view of the mountains.  So I joyfully turned it into my office, hoping the beautiful view and songbirds would inspire.

And they do.  Most of the time.

Until the Bennett Crew arrives home and Vivaldi is replaced by Jason Mraz, and songbirds are replaced by the ever escalating giggling conversations of the two sassy Bennett gals.  Ahhh… the tranquility.

I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Asian Style Rhubarb and Ginger Sauce

Serve this sauce with pan seared scallops, grilled shrimp, roasted pork loin or pan seared or grilled pork chops.  I also love it served with mandarin oranges and lots of sliced scallions (green onions).

Serves 3-4


2 – 3 stalks fresh rhubarb (try to find the thinner stalks, about 1- 1 1/2 inches in width)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons Tamari (I used low sodium)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (or more to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon roasted red chili paste (I like Thai Kitchen), or a dash of Sriracha or a pinch of cayenne

1/2 – 1 cup mandarin oranges

1/4 cup or good handful sliced scallions (green onions)


Trim the ends of the rhubarb and then thinly slice the rhubarb stalks and place into a small pot.  Add the brown sugar, Tamari, vinegar, grated ginger, garlic and red chili paste and stir over medium high heat.

Bring the mixture to a lively simmer and stir.  Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer until the rhubarb has softened and broken down, about 8-10 minutes.

Give it a good stir and let it cool for a few minutes.  Place the sauce in a blender or food processor and puree.  Adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed to thin the sauce.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, chili, ginger or cayenne as needed.  This is definitely one of those sauces prepared to taste.

Serve the sauce with mandarin oranges and sliced scallions (green onions).  Serve with pan seared or grilled scallops, shrimp, or pork.  Great as a grill sauce!

Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters with Brandy Butter Sauce

Roasted Chicken Leg Quarter with Brandy Butter

Cross country skiing is my sport of choice during the winter months.  You’re probably wondering what this has to do with roasted chicken leg quarters.

Skiing in the Cascades

There is a story here.  I promise.  After a day of skiing, Ranger Craig and I are usually famished.  So on the way home, we stop at our local Brewhouse for a pint and some fish tacos.  Mmmm… sounds good doesn’t it?

My Mountain Man

I could go home and prepare the fish tacos and pull a pint out of the frig.  But Ranger Craig and I tried that once.  By the time the tacos were done, we had snacked on everything in the pantry and then we weren’t hungry for dinner. 🙁

So we usually skip the cooking and go right to the Brewhouse.  Except today.

Cross Country Skiing

There was leftover chicken leg quarters with brandy butter in the frig.  And to top it off, leftover roasted baby red potatoes with fresh basil and lemon.  All I had to do was roast the green beans and dinner would be ready.  Ok, I could live with this.

Cross Country Skiing in the Cascades

It didn’t take long and the leftover chicken was gone.   As soon as the last bite touched my lips, my two sassy gals walked through the front door… looking for, you guessed it, leftover chicken.

What’s a Mom to do?  I really wanted to say “order a pizza”.  But I didn’t.  Yep, I made more chicken.

Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters with Brandy Butter Sauce

The brandy butter sauce is a lovely pan sauce taught by my favorite Chef Instructor during a poultry class.  I thought it a brilliant idea and I’ve used it ever since. If you don’t use wine when cooking, just substitute the brandy with some chicken broth and a splash of white wine vinegar and your sauce will be delish!

Serves 4 to 6


4 or 6 chicken leg quarters, bone in and skin on or trimmed (if you can’t find quarters substitute with 4-6 bone in chicken thighs and 4-6 chicken legs)

Grapeseed oil, safflower or sunflower oil (any high heat oil will be great)

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Large oven proof skillet and/or baking dish

For the sauce:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3/4 cup brandy

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Fresh thyme leaves for garnish (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Paper towel dry the chicken and season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large oven proof skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of high heat oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add the chicken leg quarters.

Brown the chicken, and then when they easily lift off the pan, flip over and brown the other side.  You are looking for a nice and toasty color.  It adds a lot of flavor to the chicken.

Once the chicken pieces are browned, put them in a pre-heated oven to finish roasting.  If using a baking dish, transfer the browned chicken pieces to the baking dish and place in the oven to finish roasting.  This should take about 20 minutes or so, but it’s best to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.

The chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches 160F.  Remove from the oven and let the chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Put all the chicken juices in a saute pan, or the oven proof skillet, and heat the 2 tablespoons of butter with the juices.  Once the butter is melted and frothy, Whisk in the brandy (If using a gas stove, turn off the gas add the brandy, then turn the gas back on.  We don’t want to risk a fire.)

Let the brandy simmer and reduce by one half.  Remove the saute pan (or skillet) from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Taste for salt and pepper and then pour over the chicken leg quarters.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves if desired.

Appetizers Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp

Shrimp Cakes with Apricot Ginger Glaze and Coconut Rice

Shrimp Cakes with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce

Washingtonians love festivals.  Yep, we have a festival for pretty much everything.  Apples, wine, lavender, birds, art, music, aviation (Ranger Craig’s fave),and Octoberfest in almost every region of our state.

You name it, we celebrate it.  We even celebrate fish.  Salmon Days in Issaquah.

Issaquah, WA

Every year half of Western Washington attends this lively festival.  Well, probably not half of Western Washington but that’s what it feels like for two days in October.  Food, art, glass, crafts, music and more food!  I love the food.

Smoked Salmon on a Bagel!


Our very own chocolate factory… Boehms Chocolates!

Of course all that walking around looking at art, crafts, and food made me hungry.  I “taste tested” a few bites of Ranger Craig’s Philly Steak Sandwich and then decided I was still hungry and ended up with smoked salmon on a bagel.  But then I couldn’t leave without a crab cake, and just had to top it all off with ice cream dipped in decadent Boehms dark chocolate.

Suzie Q with her very own Boehm’s dark chocolate dipped ice cream

Now we had to walk home. Up a very long and steep mountain.  I’m in pretty decent shape but after Philly steak sandwich, smoked salmon on a bagel, crab cakes, and a Boehms dark chocolate dipped ice cream… our mountain walk felt like a three-day hike.

On the bright side, hiking back up the mountain gave me time to think.  Time to think about food.

Yes, I think about the next greatest recipe almost every minute of the day.  Ok, I’m embellishing again but I do think about food, a lot.

Shrimp Cakes with Apricot Ginger Glaze and Coconut Rice

This time I was thinking about crab cakes.  But I didn’t have crab on hand so I thought shrimp cakes might be a fun and tasty alternative.

Organic Green Onions

I was right. Score again. The Bennett Crew loved the shrimp cakes and told me I should make a double batch the next time.   And I think I need a double batch of the coconut rice. I could eat my weight in coconut rice!

Organic Cilantro

Luckily I had plenty of the Apricot Ginger Glaze on hand.  You know how the Bennett Crew feels about their sauces.  I should have a sign hanging in my kitchen…  “Don’t forget the sauce”.

Shrimp Cakes with Apricot Ginger Glaze and Coconut Rice

Serves 3-4


¾ – 1 lb cooked bay shrimp (also called shrimp meat, baby shrimp, salad shrimp)

1/3 cup chopped green onion/scallions

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 egg, lightly whisked

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I like a little more)

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or more to taste)

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

½ teaspoon black pepper


Finely dice the bay shrimp and mix together with scallions, lemon juice, Dijon, cilantro, ginger, old bay seasoning, pepper and bread crumbs.  Add a dash of hot sauce if

Chill for about 10 minutes.  Form patties, making sure they are tightly formed, and pan sear on each side in grapeseed or coconut oil.  Try flipping the shrimp cakes gently, with a fork to keep them from falling apart.  A few crumbs will escape but if the cakes are tightly formed they will stay together.

Serve with apricot ginger sauce and white or coconut rice.

This recipe was adapted from multiple sources.

Apricot Ginger Drizzle

½ cup apricot preserves

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce from Thai kitchen

¼ cup water, white wine or sherry


In a small sauce pan, heat the preserves, grated ginger, chili sauce and white wine over medium heat. Let is simmer for a few minutes then take off the heat.  When it cools it will thicken.  Just re-heat the sauce to thin.

My shortcut creation… no adapting here. 🙂

 Coconut Rice


1 cup coconut milk

¾ cup basmati rice

½ cup water

2 T sugar

¼ t salt


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

Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

Chicken in Coconut Sauce

Chicken in Coconut Sauce
School is back in session and I’m doin the happy dance!  I love back to school days.  Crisp cool evening breezes, a new season of fruits and veggies, that are almost ready to roll into Autumn’s delish dishes and Monday night football!  Whoo hoo!
Not that I love watching hours of football, but for some reason it just makes me feel festive hearing all that noise in the background while I whisk away at a new recipe in the kitchen. 
And speaking of something new…  Colombian inspired and simply prepared.  This chicken dish even impressed Ranger Craig.  And he doesn’t like coconut. 

Santa Marta, Colombia courtesy Tourism Colombia

I’m deeply intrigued by Colombian cooking,  Ummm…. probably obsessed at this point.  I routinely bug my beautiful sister-in-law, who happens to be from Colombia, for Colombian recipes.   

Colombian Chicken Soup from Simply Recipes

I love the unique blend of flavors in Colombian and South American food.  And I try my best to re-create those dishes as often as possible.  Although we don’t have some of the ingredients needed here in the states, there’s always a good substitute.  (or at least that’s my motto!)

A Table of Colombian Food

I found this lovely chicken dish on one of my fave Colombian food blogs, My Colombian Recipes.  Simple, fresh, delicious!  However, in typical Karista fashion, I fudged. 
Yep, I’m like the gal that can’t keep her fingers out of the chocolate chip cookie dough.  Or out of the frosting bowl. 
I always say to myself, I’m going to prepare the recipe as written. And then, somehow, when it’s done, I’ve changed something.  Usually because I didn’t have an ingredient or two and needed to substitute, or… I suppose I should say I can’t leave well enough alone. 
So you guessed it, I changed a few things.  I revise for my family’s tastes, and sometimes for my mood.  You can make this recipe a little more Thai style by adding fresh grated ginger, some diced jalapeno and maybe some curry powder.   
Let me know what you think.  I’d love to hear your version!  Post a comment in the comment section with your changes and/or comments about the dish.   Let’s have some food fun!

Chicken in Coconut Sauce

Serves 4 (recipe easily doubled)

Recipe adapted from the blog My Colombian Recipes


8 pieces chicken, bone in and skin on (or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons high heat veggie oil, grapeseed oil or coconut oil

1 small white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small red pepper, small diced

1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon)

My favorite broth base

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 14oz can coconut milk (I prefer Thai Kitchen)

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

White Rice for serving


 Season the chicken with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet, sauce pan or Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.

Add the onions and red pepper to the sauce pan. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and sauté a minute longer. 

Add the tomato paste and cumin and cook stirring constantly for a minute or two. 

Return the chicken to the skillet and stir in the coconut milk and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. If using chicken breasts, cook time will be shorter. Check after about 10 minutes. 

Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve warm over brown or white rice.

* This recipe is also fabulous over fish! 

Halibut Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa with Pan Seared Scallops

Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa

It’s been a busy summer.  And we’re not done yet!  Although school starts soon (doin’ a happy dance right now) it still feels like summer in these parts and I’ve got a few more summer recipes to post.  Here in the Northwest, we hang on to summer as long as we can. 

Pan Seared Scallops over Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa

For me summer is all about gardens, farms, farmer’s markets, pea patches, and anything that’ll give me fresh ingredients to create a great meal.  But alas (big sigh), I do not have a green thumb.  I hear you all gasping for air.  I wish I had a green thumb.  My peppers pooped out, my lettuce greens and strawberries were eaten by the bunnies and I think I probably planted my squash in the wrong location. 

Pineapple Mint

But I can grow a bumper crop of herbs.  That’s my specialty.  Yesiree I grow the prettiest mint, the prettiest oregano and the prettiest thyme, rosemary, chives and parsley.  I’m so proud of my herb garden.  It’s beautiful and I feel like Farmer Karista when I look out my window at my beautiful box of herbs. 

The lettuce thief!

To celebrate my bumper crop of herbs I created this tasty little salsa.   Sweet, tangy and full of fresh herbs and capers, the salsa made a beautiful and delicious plate for my pan seared scallops.   I love it when enticing and mouth-watering flavors come together to make a surprisingly decadent dish.  Ah… it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. 

Cherry Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa with Pan Seared Scallops

Serves 4


2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quarterd

1 cup green olives, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh Oregano and Italian parsley

Drizzle of Olive oil (this is the perfect time to pull out the good stuff!)

Squeeze of lemon

Sea salt and Fresh ground black pepper


Gently toss together the tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, capers, squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Serve with pan seared scallops, grilled halibut or chicken.  Yum!

Beef Grilling Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

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

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

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

Me and My Sisters

The Taylor Crew

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

A morning hike with the family 🙂

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

Excellent Orthodontia!

My two funny gals!

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

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

Tempura Shrimp Tacos at the Temecula Farmer’s Market

Temecula Olive Oil Company

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

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

Beautiful onions for our salsa!

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

Salsa Verde Guacamole

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

Tio Cameron’s Salsa Verde

Serves 4 – 6


5 fresh tomatillos, blanched

1 Pasilla pepper (preferred) or Green bell pepper

3 scallions

1 clove of garlic

1/3 bunch of cilantro

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

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. white wine vinegar or lime juice.

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


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