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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese // Karista's Kitchen

Well this has been an interesting day.

I tested a muffin recipe for the fourth time this morning and Horray! It worked. I was sweating this one. I burnt the first set of brown sugar bacon because I wasn’t paying attention and then I added way too much vodka to the bloody mary’s that I was supposed to shoot.  I had to run back to the market for more tomato juice, which of course is more than just a little hike from where I live.

I’m still in my yoga pants and ball cap (because Tank and I went on our run this morning) the kitchen looks like a meal exploded and my daughter has friends coming over in an hour. Hmm…  I will not be sipping bloody mary’s today. 🙁

What did happen was my absolute favorite Broccoli Mac and Cheese recipe.  

I’m out tonight with the youngest sassy gal and I thought I’d make it to leave in the fridge for the rest of my Bennett Crew.  It’s hands down one of the best Broccoli Mac and Cheese recipes I’ve tasted.  Not because I make it ALL the time, but because it’s the most delicious, creamy and lush sauce that will make you want to pour it in a pretty glass and sip.

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese // Karista's Kitchen

Laced with garlic, dry mustard and paprika, this cheese sauce is everything you expect in a macaroni and cheese sauce.

A silky texture that gently blankets the broccoli and macaroni with robust flavor that keeps one coming back for seconds.  Every type and brand of cheddar is a little different and will change the flavor profile a bit.  So be sure to use your favorite cheddar cheese or a quality local cheddar is always a good choice.

After posting this Broccoli Mac and Cheese recipe I’m off to clean up the disaster downstairs and apply a little make-up, so I won’t scare people. Hope your day is a happy one!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Serving Size: 4-6

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces to 1 lb macaroni pasta or gluten free macaroni
  • 1 lb fresh broccoli, cut into bite sized florets or one 10-12 ounce package frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 cups warm half n half, depending on how thin or thick you like the sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of dry-yellow mustard
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded good quality cheddar cheese (I love an aged Irish cheddar)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs or panko
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Butter 4-6 individual serving dishes or one 9x11 baking dish.

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, however, 5-8 minutes prior to the pasta being done, add the broccoli florets to the pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is done and broccoli is crisp tender.

While the pasta and broccoli are simmering, make the sauce.

Add the butter to a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the minced garlic and stir for one minute. Then whisk in the flour and let it cook another minute.

Next slowly whisk in 2 cups of the warm half n half. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add ¼ cup more milk at a time, as needed for the desired consistency

Stir the dry-yellow mustard and paprika into the cheese sauce. Then take the sauce off the heat and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Toss the drained pasta and broccoli with the cheese sauce and then place in the individual baking dishes or one larger baking dish.

Mix together the ¼ cup shredded cheddar, the panko or breadcrumbs and the olive oil. Sprinkle it over the Broccoli Mac and Cheese and pop it under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the topping is toasty.

Remove from the oven and serve.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

What do I serve as a side dish in a pinch?  These gorgeous Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce.  Seasonal mushrooms that are gently sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs and then finished with a light white wine cream sauce. 

These sautéed mushrooms couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re fortunate to have a climate perfect for growing mushrooms.  It’s not difficult to find locally grown or wild mushrooms here in the Pacific Northwest; often finding them at the Farmer’s Market as well as local markets.

Another option is to take a wild mushroom foraging tour.  Ok, I have to admit, I’ve never been on a wild mushroom foraging tour but it’s on my bucket list.  I know, it doesn’t sound exciting enough to be on a bucket list but because I’m such a food nerd it’s super exciting to me.  Not to mention, I’m smack in the middle of mushroom heaven. It’s just something we do up her in the far left hand corner of the U.S.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

Most markets carry a fair assortment of mushrooms.  Crimini’s, buttons, shiitake, seasonal chanterelle, seasonal oyster, seasonal truffle, and seasonal morels as well as a selection of dried mushrooms that I often incorporate into my sautéed mushrooms.  

Because I adore porcini mushrooms, and it’s rare to find them fresh unless you’re in Italy, I reconstitute them in warm white wine and add them to these sautéed mushrooms.  Porcini mushrooms have a distinct, woody and nutty flavor that lends depth to this sautéed mushroom recipe.  I’ve also used dried morels, oyster and chanterelle in a pinch.  Truly any dried mushroom you like, mixed with fresh mushrooms will make a delicious and tantalizing side dish.

I serve these sautéed mushrooms with beef, pork, poultry, salmon and sometimes over mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, or rice.  They’re also divine when topped with a fried egg. 

They’re a lovely and complimentary side dish and I love them served with leftover turkey and gravy.  On the rare occasion you have leftover sautéed mushrooms, add them to a soup or stew for a little extra texture and flavor.

Once you make these sautéed mushrooms you’ll love them so much, you’ll want to make them a regular rotation on your side dish menu.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Serving Size: 4

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster, morels), sliced
  • 1 ounce dried porcini or morels (reconstituted in warm water or wine), chopped
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (Italian parsley, chive, thyme, oregano, marjoram or rosemary)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan for garnish

Instructions

In a medium sauté pan heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir in all the sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up the butter, but will release the oils once the mushrooms have wilted.

Continue tossing the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms until wilted or slightly browned. Stir in the fresh herbs and garlic and sauté for a minute longer.

Add the white wine and stir. Then add the heavy cream and stir. Allow the cream to thicken and then take the pan off the heat, toss with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan and serve.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes Soup

Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

I know I’ve been MIA lately and like all busy working Mom’s, I have a good excuse.  I simply took a break. I decided the world would not end if I didn’t post a new recipe or if I didn’t check my social media to see what I might be missing.

I spent quality time with my family trekking around the Pacific Northwest, ate TONS of great food, (including these Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters) walked miles and miles like a tourist in Europe and found myself taking deep breaths and stopping to smell a few roses.  It was time well spent.

I came back to a garden overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and Swiss Chard… and of course loads of laundry.  Tank came home from his vacation at the Muddy Dog Ranch and promptly walked to his fluffy blue bed and fell asleep.  We haven’t seen him since. 🙂  I think he had a good time.

Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

Once I got back into my office I realized I’d better get these soup shooters posted before labor day or I’d have to rename them something other than Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters.

These lovelies are creamy with a burst of fresh herbs and slightly sweet with the option of adding a dash of hot sauce for a little extra punch.  

I paired this soup with fresh Oregon Bay Shrimp but you can use any size shrimp you have on hand or prefer. Lush and brilliant in color, these corn and shrimp soup shooters are a perfect starter for any meal and great for entertaining.

Happy and successful wishes to all the kiddos headed to back to school!  And happy and restful wishes to all the parents. 🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

 

Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups fresh summer corn, plus ½ cup cooked corn to finish the soup
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth (enough to just cover the potatoes)
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked bay shrimp
  • 10-12 cooked large shrimp
  • Garnish with a dollop of Crème Fraiche and chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the onion and sauté until the onion is wilted. Then stir in the garlic and sauté for a minute longer.

Next, stir in the diced potatoes, 2 cups fresh corn, oregano, thyme, parsley and 3 cups of vegetable broth; just enough broth to cover the potatoes. Depending on how large the potatoes, you may need the 4th cup.

Cover and turn the heat to low and simmer the vegetables for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be soft to the touch. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool slightly. With an immersion blender or in a standing blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup feels too thick, stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

Stir in the ½ cup cooked corn and then season the soup to taste with a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper. This soup can be prepared a day in advance. In fact, it will taste even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the soup from the refrigerator about one hour before serving and gently warm before serving.

To serve the soup, add a few small bay shrimp to the bottom of each shooter glass or small bowl. Pour the soup over the bay shrimp and then top the soup with a dollop of crème fraiche and one large shrimp. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Notes

I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine August 2015 Issue

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Pesto Broccolini

Pesto Broccolini // Karista's Kitchen

Some recipes garner a surprising response.  This little platter of Pesto Broccolini got loads of love on my Instagram and Facebook page which honestly, sort of surprised me.

So, I decided to post it here.  It’s just a simple side that I toss together when I’m in a hurry but I want something fresh and delicious to serve with my dinner entrée.

I was preparing a stuffed trout dish Monday night and I happened to have several bunches of Broccolini, which I typically pair with pasta or Gnocchi.  But Monday night I decided to serve it a la carte tossed with some basil pesto I had made the day before.  Voila! Pesto Broccolini.

This is something I also do with blanched broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed or grilled zucchini and on occasion, roasted baby red potatoes and carrots.  It allows me to serve a fresh seasonal side with minimal fuss – because minimal fuss is important when the day is long and dinner is late.

And who doesn’t love a crisp tender veggie lightly bathed in a spicy and herb laced pesto?  Even my picky eater loves this gorgeous Pesto Broccolini side dish.  If you don’t have the time to knock out a homemade pesto,  just buy one.  There are many excellent, high quality pesto’s in the market these days – many without any preservatives and made exclusively with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.

Here’s to making dinner fresh, simple and delicious! Cheers!

Karista

Pesto Broccolini

Serving Size: 4-6

Pesto Broccolini

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Broccolini, trimmed and larger stalks halved
  • 1/2 - 1 cup Basil Pesto (prepared or homemade)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Instructions

Fill a large pot with water and heat over high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, add about one tablespoon of salt. Then add the broccolini.

Let the broccolini cook for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes for crisp tender or 4 -5 minutes for tender. Drain in a colander and then place in a bowl and toss gently with 1/2 cup of pesto or more if needed. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place on a platter and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Notes

For this recipe, I don't place the broccolini in an ice bath once it's cooked as I'm usually serving this right away. If I were going to hold the dish for a few minutes, I'd prepare a bowl with ice and water and let the broccolini rest for a few minutes in the ice bath after cooking, before tossing it with pesto. If you do decide to let it rest in the ice bath, gently heat the pesto before tossing with the broccolini so the dish is warm when served.

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Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Sliced Red Onions and Fresh Basil // Karista's Kitchen

This is the time of year I’m in food heaven. Summer produce is at its peak and it adorns my table with gorgeous color and delicious flavors, like this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad.  

Most of the plants in my garden are ready to harvest, with the exception of the few plants that have suffered little critter attacks, the heat and my apparent lack of gardening knowledge.  I was so excited about my little strawberry patch, only to walk out one morning and notice tiny teeth marks on my sweet red berries.  Darn bunnies. 🙁

I have a short list of plants I probably won’t attempt growing next year.  I have completely failed at sugar snap peas – and I love sugar snap peas.  Disappointment is looming.  I’m not sure what happened but I think I may have planted them in the wrong spot in the yard.  My knack for growing cauliflower never emerged this season… and then the white flies noticed the fledgling cauliflower hanging about and pretty much decimated what was left of the cauliflower crop.

I’ve had a few successes however.  I am awesome at growing greens!  Which is great because we eat loads of greens in my house.  Bok Choy, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Collards are being harvested daily.  My spring lettuce flourished as did the arugula.  Tomatoes will be ready soon and the cucumbers are popping out everywhere.  Another huge success are the peppers, which is making Ranger Craig very happy.  He could eat peppers daily.  And of course my herb garden is overflowing with the most beautiful and fragrant herbs.  Ok, so I have somewhat of a green thumb.  I believe it may be more determination than an actual green thumb. 🙂

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Red onion and Fresh Basil in a Sherry Vinaigrette

The one vegetable I do wish I’d grown in my garden this year is corn –  so I could make this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad straight from my garden.  

Summer isn’t summer without corn. And well… potato salad, grilled ribs, grilled chicken, burgers, grilled stuffed peppers, macaroni salad and I could go on and on.  Maybe it’s the memories it evokes, noshing on corn on the cob with smears of butter on warm summer days, or watching my family dig into a bowl of this sweet corn and tomato salad.

Grilled summer corn and tomato salad is a staple on our summer table.  

It’s easy to prepare and it holds well in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Although it doesn’t last that long in my house.   Slightly sweet from the corn and a little tang of fresh cherry tomatoes combined with a little spice of sliced red onion and then topped with fresh and fragrant basil.  The simplicity of clean, fresh flavors shines through and is melded together by a little taste of char from the grilled corn.  Earthy, fresh, fragrant and most of all, delicious.

Cheers to a delicious and fun-filled summer!

Loads Of Love,

Karista

P.S. Having a little trouble with my print plugin but hopefully it will be fixed soon.  Thanks so much for your patience!

Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

5-6 cobs of fresh summer corn, husks peeled and rinsed

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade (Julienne)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (start with 2 tablespoons and taste, if you need more add the extra tablespoon)

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the grill to 400F.  Brush each corn on the cob with a little oil and then wrap each corn on the cob in aluminum foil and place them on the grill.  Note: Some people like to soak the corn on the cobs in water for about 10-15 minutes prior to grilling.  But if the corn is fresh and kernels look plump, this step won’t be needed. I don’t typically soak my corn prior to grilling unless its end of the season and the kernels look less than plump.

Grill the corn for about 15-20 minutes, turning with tongs every five minutes to insure even cooking.  Once the corn is done, remove from the heat and let them rest for about five minutes.  Then unwrap the corn and let them rest another five minutes if they are too hot to handle.  Then scrape all the corn off the cob and place it in a bowl.

To assemble the salad, gently toss together the corn, tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, chopped Italian parsley and basil.  Whisk together the olive oil and sherry vinegar and then gently toss with the vegetables.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

This salad is fabulous when it’s had about 30 minutes to sit on the counter at room temperature.  This will allow all those delicious flavors to meld together.  Place any leftover salad in a covered container in the fridge for up to five days.

 

 

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Sweets vegetarian

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with drizzle of honey and fresh mint // Karista's Kitchen

Many of my childhood summers were spent at my Grandparents home.  It was usually hot and dry and the afternoons were begging for either a run through the sprinkler or playing tag with the water hose.

To beat the heat, and most likely for some afternoon entertainment, my grandfather would bring home giant watermelons.  He’d head to his back porch and slice them up and then he’d bring out the juicy pink slices to the back yard and share with all of his grandkids (he had quite a few!).  We’d stand around the yard enjoying our watermelon treat and then inevitably, someone would start a watermelon spitting contest.  I’m not sure who would start it but it was usually one of the boys.  Whoever won the contest got the last piece of watermelon.  I have a feeling that Grandpa might have had the most fun with the seed spitting contest.  😉

I can’t imagine summer without watermelon.  I buy a watermelon at our farm market every week and in only a few days it’ll be gone.  I cube half the watermelon for salads and snacking and the other half I slice and grill or add to fruit smoothies or granita’s.  I especially love to grill watermelon on skewers.  Once the watermelon has a few nice grill marks, I let it cool and then thread cubes of feta in between the watermelon.  A drizzle of honey and a few mint leaves finish the dish beautifully… sort of like a grilled fruit and cheese platter only it’s on a skewer.

There are so many creative and delicious recipes for watermelon, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite watermelon recipes from a few of my favorite food websites:

Chile Lime Watermelon Wedges from Alaska from Scratch  http://www.alaskafromscratch.com/2014/06/19/chile-lime-watermelon-wedges-cilantro/

Watermelon Jicama Salad from Taste Love and Nourish  http://www.tasteloveandnourish.com/2014/07/16/watermelon-jicama-salad-queso-fresco-honey-lime-vinaigrette/

Watermelon Tequila Granita from Pink Patisserie  http://pinkpatisserie.net/2014/07/watermelon-tequila-granita.html

Wishing you a fun and festive weekend… and let there be loads of watermelon seed spitting contests!

Karista

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with Fresh Mint

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

21-25 1-inch cubes of watermelon

12-15 1-inch cubes of feta cheese

Fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup honey

8-15 small skewers or 8 large skewers

Directions

If you are using wood skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using.

Pre-heat the grill to 350F.

Thread the watermelon on 2-4 large skewers. Brush the watermelon with olive oil and when the grill is hot, place the watermelon skewers on the grill for about 3-4 minutes, turning the skewers every few minute or so. You only want the watermelon on the grill long enough to sear the outside of the watermelon and heat the sweet juices.

Transfer the grilled watermelon skewers to a baking sheet or platter. Let them cool. When the watermelon has cooled, gently remove them from the long skewers. Using fresh skewers, small or large, thread watermelon and feta on the skewers; alternating until the skewer is filled. End with a sprig of mint.

Place the watermelon and feta skewers on a serving platter and drizzle with honey and serve.

*created for Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015 

 

 

 

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad


Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad 2
The month of June has been filled with a plethora of emotions.  Professional angst led the way with big decisions looming and changes on the horizon.  I had exciting but tough decisions to consider that made my focus narrow and kept my head buried.  That’s when life came to a screeching halt.

We lost a beloved family member unexpectedly. And although this lovely lady led an adventurous and fulfilled life, it was heartbreaking to lose her.  We spent a week in my old stomping ground, sitting around the old wood table rehashing memories, sorting, giving things away and just when I thought there wasn’t a bright light to be seen, I stumbled upon an old friend that I haven’t seen since the age of 13.  We cried. We sat on sofas and visited, reminisced, laughed, shared stories of our children and remembered why we had been good friends.

Before leaving the old stomping ground, Ranger Craig and I found the sweetest cafe that serves traditional food of the region.  Cuisine I know well, food from my childhood and adolescence, meals that hold memories.  Ranger Craig and I indulged in Fried Catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, chicken fried steak with white gravy, fried okra and sweet tea.  It was a feast!  We left with smiles on our faces and memories swirling in our thoughts.

I returned home, washed clothes, took Tank to his favorite kennel and then headed to the airport for the second time in two weeks.  A family reunion was happening and I couldn’t miss it.  Exhausted but energized because I would see family that I haven’t seen in two years.  More tears, hugs and loads of chatter and conversation.  Nieces, nephew, brother, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and people I had no idea I was related to… all merging at my parents home for a celebration.

The noise levels raised as the house and backyard filled with familiar faces, children’s laughter and larger than life characters with a penchant for comical relief.  Once again food was central around this celebration table.  We served my Mom’s favorite eggplant parmesan, a penne with a tomato cream sauce, lasagna Bolognese, caprese salad, Caesar salad and of course cake for dessert.  I don’t think we have a speck of Italian heritage but it seems to be one of my family’s favorite types of cuisine.  It feels comforting.  It feels like home.

I’ve always identified with the familiar phrase “home is where the heart is”.  It seems a bit cliché sometimes, but it couldn’t ring more true this month.  I’ve left a piece of my heart in many places and with many people who I share memories and special moments.

Once again, I find food to be a common denominator.  Much of life is lived around the table (or, at least mine is).  Sharing a meal and sharing time; creating memories.  Cementing emotions and eventually leaving a piece of my heart with the moment.

We’re home now and I find myself missing my loved ones.  My twin sister and my brother who I feel so connected it would be hard to breathe without them.  My beautiful and loving sister-in-law who is the best sister-in-law in the world.  So much that I call her simply, my sister.   My precious kids. All of them. My own daughters, my nieces, my nephew – giving me so much joy in my life that my heart just might burst.  As my Auntie Ellen would say… they are completely delicious. 🙂

I’ve gotten terribly mushy with this post. I try to keep these posts mostly about food but I couldn’t help myself today.  Although I don’t know each of you individually, I want to thank you for following Karista’s Kitchen.  Thank you for loving the recipes, for your kind comments and for using them to create your “life around the table”.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Marinated Mozzarella // Karista's Kitchen

Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1-2 pints cherry tomatoes or Heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 container or 2 cups marinated mozzarella balls, cherry tomato size (ciliegine)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons aged, good quality balsamic vinegar

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (Julienne) or hand torn (save a little for garnish)

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Transfer the tomatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until they are wilted.  You only want to bring the sugars (sweetness) out of the tomatoes so don’t leave them in too long or they will be too mushy.

In a large bowl toss the marinated mozzarella with the fresh basil.  Then gently fold in the tomatoes and then pour onto a platter.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil on the salad and then the 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Season with another pinch of salt and pepper and then garnish with remaining fresh basil.

Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

*This recipe was originally created for Home By Design Magazine

 

Appetizers Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian VRAI Magazine

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Avocado Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers // Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing quite like a beautiful salad. The color, the scent of fresh greens and produce, all collectively creating edible art on a plate.

 Not only is this Avocado and Watercress Salad impressive in presentation, but it’s mouth-watering delicious in taste.  

Fresh avocado and watercress tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette, gently stacked and then topped with brilliantly colored edible flowers.

 

Spring Vegetable Strata // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

The Avocado and Watercress Salad is simple to prepare – either with round food rings or you can layer the salad on a platter or on individual plates.   This salad is so delicious served with either a quiche or this lovely Spring Vegetable Strata I created for VRAI Magazine.  The fresh flavors of the avocado and peppery watercress pair beautifully with eggs dishes or even a spring lamb chop or roasted rack of lamb would be lovely.

A gorgeous table of food for Mother’s Day brunch or any casual weekend entertaining.  I often serve the strata for Sunday breakfast and fancy it up with the salad if I’m serving it for brunch.  However you decide to serve these dishes, your guests will be completely delighted. Especially if there is a Mimosa sitting next to the plate!

Wishing you all a beautiful and delicious week!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Serving Size: 4

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch watercress, thin stems and leaves only
  • 2-3 large firm but ripe avocados, diced
  • ½ to 1 cup edible flowers (usually purchased in the fresh herb section of a market)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 3-4 inch round food molds, if desired (optional). If you don’t have food molds, a washed and dried tuna with both ends removed will also work.

Instructions

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sugar and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, gently toss the diced avocados with a splash of the lemon vinaigrette. In a seperate bowl, gently toss the watercress with a splash of lemon vinaigrette. The watercress will wilt quickly once it’s dressed with vinaigrette so don’t dress the watercress until right before serving. The avocado should be dressed with vinaigrette as soon as it’s been diced.

If using food molds (or tuna cans), brush the inside with a little olive oil. Set each mold on a plate. Divide the avocado among the plates. Press the avocado firmly into the mold. Next, press the watercress into each mold. Gently remove the molds. It’s ok if the watercress falls, it will still look beautiful. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over each salad if desired and once last pinch of salt and pepper.

Garnish each salad with edible flowers and serve.

If you’d like to make the salad without molds, layer the avocado on plates, top with watercress and then the edible flowers.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes Soup vegetarian

Watercress Soup

Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche and Chopped Chive

The French have this unique way of turning the simplest ingredient into the most lush of recipes.  A filet of fish can be transformed into the loveliest meal; slightly bathed in butter, shallots, fresh Tarragon and red grapes with a touch of cream – bringing elegance to a simple pairing of ingredients.  How about peppercorns pounded into a beautiful cut of beef, pan seared in butter and then topped with a quick pan sauce?  This dish makes for a scrumptious meal that is simply prepared but rich with flavor.

So it didn’t surprise me when I found this recipe for Watercress Soup in one of my cherished French cookbooks.  A few years ago, my daughters had the pleasure of visiting France with their most generous and adoring Great Aunt and Uncle.  Yes, my Aunt and Uncle spoiled the girls completely and it was a trip of a lifetime that they still talk about today.  Visiting Paris with all it’s history and architecture and of course the food, the girls couldn’t help but bring me back a cookbook to add to my ever expanding collection.  Filled with the loveliest recipes that are beautifully prepared with seasonal ingredients in methods only the French could create.

Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche and Fresh Chives // Karista's Kitchen

This watercress soup recipe brought back memories of a soup I dined on back East years ago.  It was also a watercress soup but it included additional ingredients of spring peas and asparagus.  It was beyond delicious.  This soup however is simply prepared but certainly not lacking in flavor.  With a nice base of creamy potatoes, onions and garlic, it’s an easy soup to make and holds beautifully in the fridge.  I topped the soup with a dollop of creme fraiche but a dollop of plain Greek yogurt would also be delicious.

Comforting, warm and so completely perfect for spring, I adore the pale green color of the soup.  It would make a lovely presentation on a Mother’s Day Brunch table or even a family dinner.  I served this soup a la carte with warm crisp baguette slices topped with apple slices and Gruyere cheese and then melted slightly in the oven.   Yes, it was fabulous!

Wishing you all a most delicious week!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche

Serving Size: 6

Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 lbs watercress, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (if needed)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream or half n half
  • Garnish with chopped fresh chives and creme Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt)

Instructions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onions. Let the onions soften for a few minutes and then add the garlic, potatoes, thyme and Italian parsley. Stir to combine.

Stir in 2 cups vegetable broth, enough to cover all the veggies. Bring the broth to a boil and then turn down the heat, cover and let the veggies cook until the potatoes are soft. About 10-15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are soft, stir in the chopped watercress, adding additional broth 1/4 cup at a time if needed. You want the soup to be thick with ingredients as you will puree it into a smooth soup and if there is too much liquid, the pureed soup will have too thin a consistency. You can always add more liquid at the end if the soup is too thick.

Let the watercress simmer for about 5 minutes, until it's nicely wilted. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a bit. Then either transfer it to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Once the soup has been pureed, transfer it back to the soup pot. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. To heighten the flavor of soups and to bring all those flavors together, I add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the soup. Stir this in now if you like.

To finish the soup, stir in the one cup of cream if desired. I used about 1/2 cup heavy cream in my soup. Ladle into bowls or one large serving bowl and garnish with creme Fraiche and fresh chopped chive. Enjoy!

Notes

This soup recipe was adapted from a recipe I found in my French book written by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell. As usual, I made some changes to suit my tastes, but that's what I adore so much about a recipe, making it my own. Feel free to do the same!

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad // Karista's Kitchen

You know that salad you’ve always got to have on hand, stocked in the fridge, or someone in the family just might have a meltdown?  Yep, that is this salad.

I first dined on this salad at my favorite co-op market in Seattle many years ago, PCC Natural Markets.  Not only did I work as a cheese specialist at PCC Natural Markets, but I also taught culinary classes at their IACP award winning culinary school, PCC Cooks, for four years.  A fantastic group of professionals committed to our community farms, quality food and nutrition. I couldn’t have asked for a more gratifying place to work.  I met the loveliest and most interesting people, including fellow chef’s, nutritionists and culinary instructors.  Some are now dear friends – I love it when that happens!

This red quinoa salad was always served in the deli at my local PCC Natural Market.  I never left the store without a medium container filled to the brim with this salad.  Sometimes I’d hide it in the back of my refrigerator when I got home; so I could at least sneak a few bites before the rest of my family found it and devoured it.

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad // Karista's Kitchen

I now live about 275 miles south of the nearest PCC Natural Market – so I make this salad at home.  I snagged this recipe (called Red Quinoa Tabouli on the website) and ended up adapting it a bit to suit my family’s tastes.  My family dubbed it the “Red Quinoa Lunch Salad” because that’s usually when everyone wants to eat it;  at lunch.

My family has also been known to add extra ingredients like Italian salami, sweet peppers, bay shrimp, grilled chicken and on occasion Ranger Craig will toss it with some smoked salmon.  However it’s served it’s nutty, fragrant, full of flavor and so completely satisfying.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.  Don’t forget to move the clock forward one hour! I’m already feeling sleep deprived just thinking about it.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Serving Size: 4-6

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dry red quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Avocado slices for garnish

Instructions

In a medium pan bring the 2 1/3 cups water to a boil. Add the quinoa and bring it back to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about five minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for another five or ten minutes until the quinoa has sprouted or is cooked. Drain well, if needed. Cool in the refrigerator.

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, Dijon mustard and sugar. Toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa and then add the lightly fold in the green onions, cilantro, cucumbers and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Let the salad sit overnight or for a few hours so the flavors can meld together. Serve cold or at room temp.

Garnish with Avocado slices.

Notes

This recipe was slightly adapted from the PCC Natural Markets Red Quinoa Tabouli.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts // Karista's Kitchen

There are moments, much to my children’s dismay, random musings come flying out of my mouth and I realize at that exact moment, most likely my young ladies etiquette training didn’t quite stick.  What would my Grandmother say?

Yes, I had my very own GrandMama.  My paternal Grandmother was a proper lady and a stickler for manners. When I was very young, I would spend hours at her little pink house learning the fine art of a tea party, listening to fascinating stories about her ancestry, learning how to be a gracious hostess and how to sing opera.  We always had tea and toast (Grandmother’s substitute for English biscuits) and my sister, Grandmother and I would all take turns singing Grandmother’s favorite song, Que Sera Sera.  

I was young when my Grandmother passed but she often pops into my thoughts, especially when I do something she wouldn’t approve; which sort of makes me giggle because I can just hear her “Tsk Tsk!”.  I always think of her when I watch Downton Abbey or when my daughters use the wrong cutlery at the table.  I’m not sure she would have cared for the world we live in today… but I think that’s why she charms me.  A character bigger than life, although she stood a scant 5 feet tall.  Living in times past, always regaling me with stories and tall tales that never ceased to amuse me.

Little Lace Box

I thought of Grandmother again this week when my Little Lace Box arrived.  Oh how she would have loved this box! The January Little Lace Box was curated around a theme they call “The Dining Car”.  The theme is to commemorate the beginning of the fifth season of Downton Abbey on PBS.  The box was curated on the notion of “practical vintage”.  The perfect mix of vintage, beauty and practicality.  I can honestly tell you it is the perfect mix of products for me.  Little Lace Box brings the designer to you in an online boutique and curated monthly box full of fabulous finds created by up-and-coming designers.  I love that this company highlights the work of new designers, artists, food artisans and many more.  This is what we all need when we’re starting the  long walk down our entrepreneurial path! A company that will believe in our work, our art and share it with the world.

Little Lace Box

I realize this is a recipe website but I adore Little Lace Box so much I wanted to share it with you – along with a recipe of course.  A recipe that would have been approved by my Grandmother. She would have loved this salad.  So fresh, so lovely and on the prettiest little plate.

One of the most fantastic things about working in my field is all the beautiful people I have the pleasure of meeting.   So many wonderful people who make a lasting impression on me and my work.  The lovely Carolina was our tour guide and historian for my DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience in 2103.  Yep, I’m still talking about that trip because it was so completely heavenly.  Carolina is not only beautiful on the outside, she is every bit as beautiful on the inside. I enjoyed every moment we shared, chatting about life, love, history, art, culture and of course food.  She shared with me this delectable salad that she often makes in her home.  I adapted it a tiny bit, adding the cheese, but it is just as lush and fresh and delicious with or without the cheese.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

Serving Size: 2-3

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup assorted citrus wedges (grapefruit,mandarin oranges, blood oranges,etc)
  • 2-3 cups baby arugula leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (or sub with goats cheese)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Drizzle good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Divide among 2 or 3 plates and then top with citrus and dust with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Serve immediately.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Maple and Miso Roasted Root Vegetables // Karista's Kitchen

I’ve been in a root vegetable rut lately and I’ve been browsing new ideas for preparing these seasonal beauties. I typically prepare root vegetables in all sorts of ways using various cooking methods to keep things interesting. I use them in Irish Beef Stew, Soups and sometimes just roasted with a honey balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve been known to finely grate them, using them in salads or slaws, and I’ve even thrown leftover roasted root vegetables in my morning omelets or top them with a poached egg.  And of course, there is nothing quite like a parsnip puree or a root veggie mash.  All lovely and delicious and palate thrilling.

But when I stumbled onto a Maple and Miso glazed root vegetable dish recently, I was in awe.  Ranger Craig and I were dining at a restaurant in Bend, Oregon and this lovely dish was on the menu.  I was intrigued.  The combination unusual but sounded like it could totally work.

Maple and Miso Roasted Root Vegetables // Karista's Kitchen

I’m not a stranger to either ingredients, in fact, one of my favorite ways to use miso is preparing my Miso Sake Glazed Black Cod or Scallops.  That dish is a staple in my house and it was a huge hit with all my culinary students.  And of course, I adore using maple syrup to glaze roasted vegetables and create lush dressings to pair with spinach, bacon and mushroom salads… but honestly, where have I been?  The combination of these two ingredients doesn’t seem to be a new idea.

After researching the use of maple syrup and miso as a glaze, I discovered all sorts of blog posts and recipes using this unique combination of flavors.  Some use miso and honey, others use miso and maple syrup.  I found loads of creative variations and after testing a few variations of my own, I decided on this simple recipe.

I found that I completely adore the Maple Miso glaze with sweet potatoes.  It just works. But if you have a bin full of root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, beets, golden beets, carrots, red onions and sweet potatoes, this glaze makes the loveliest vegetarian entree or side dish.

I julienned my root vegetables for the photos but cutting them into 1 inch cubes works just as well.  And it makes prep much faster.

I paired this simple roasted root vegetable dish with my herb roasted chicken but it would pair just as beautifully with a slow braised pork, lamb or beef roast for a gorgeous and delicious Sunday supper.  Or try pairing these veggies with braised lentils for a complete vegetarian meal.

Once you try this fragrant and flavorful glaze you’ll be using it on everything!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Quick Note:

Because I always have a tub of organic white miso in my frig, that is what I used for this recipe.  I prefer white miso but feel free to experiment with other types of miso if you wish.  Also, don’t forget, this glaze is fantastic with sweet potatoes.  So if you’ve got a stash of sweet potatoes only, this would make a fun and delicious roasted sweet potato dish.

I adore sweet and savory combined so I always include red onions with my roasted root vegetables.  The red onion gives the dish a lovely layer of flavor and for me, completes the flavor profile of this recipe.

This is truly one of those recipes that can be used as a “guideline”.  A recipe to play with and make your own, adding or subtracting ingredients to your taste.  Enjoy!

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 - 2lbs assorted root vegetables cut into 1 inch cubes (examples: sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, golden beets, parsnips, turnips, red onions)
  • 2 tablespoons organic white miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, optional (I forgot the seeds for the photos!)

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet (or two if you need) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the miso paste, maple syrup and olive oil.

Toss the cubed vegetables with the miso/maple/olive oil blend and then sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper.

Transfer them onto the parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer, using two baking sheet if needed.

Place them in the oven and let them roast for about 25-35 minutes or longer, until they are done. This will depend on how large or small you diced the vegetables. They should be soft in the center and caramelized on the outside. I always check my veggies at about 25 minutes and then give it another 5-10 minutes as needed.

Take the vegetables out of the oven and taste for seasoning, giving them a little extra salt if needed. Transfer to a platter and serve warm.

For an Asian flavor twist add a tablespoon of soy sauce or sake to the miso blend and then garnish with toasted sesame seeds... or for a little spice, whisk in a splash of Sriracha.

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