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

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad // the perfect spring and summer salad // Karista's Kitchen

It feels so good to write today.  It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve missed writing and posting recipes and all the deliciousness that comes with blogging.  I miss reading the comments and responding – and feeling like I have my very own secret food club of sorts. 😉

So, today I’m back on the blog sharing one of the many salads I make for my family.  The Italian Chopped Salad.

I first developed this Italian Chopped Salad for the lovely professionals at Home By Design Magazine.  It was published last year and although I’ve always meant to post it here, I think I forgot about it.  Until I made it just last week for the Bennett Crew.

This salad is everything a salad wants to be.  Crunchy, crispy, spicy and flavorful, loaded with fresh romaine and radicchio for a lovely blend of greens and tossed with Italian salami, pepperocini’s, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and mozzarella or  smoked provolone.  If I’ve got a few extra ingredients hanging around in the fridge just waiting to be used, I’ll toss those in too.

Italian Chopped Salad // Karista's Kitchen

A chopped salad is a salad in which all ingredients are fairly uniformly chopped.  Which makes the salad easy to dress and easy to eat.  There’s no need to use a knife to cut smaller bite sized pieces of lettuce greens or other veggies.  Just a lovely dish of evenly chopped vegetables dressed and ready to eat.  Chopped salads were über trendy a few years ago.  However, in my salad book, chopped salads have been in style for a very long time and I don’t see them trending down anytime soon.

This Italian Chopped Salad is the perfect spring or summer entrée and it makes a festive side dish to homemade pizza or an Italian pork roast.  It’s one of those salads that is so completely lovely on a warm evening when dinner is served al fresco and the wine flows freely.   Can you tell I’m in summer mode? Even though the temps are back down to the high 60’s here, my summer heart (and palate) moves on.

Cheers to the approaching warm weather, dinners on the patio, sunsets, chilled wine and Italian Chopped Salad!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Italian Chopped Salad

Serving Size: 4-6 as an entree

Italian Chopped Salad

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 1 head radicchio, chopped
  • 6-8 ounces Italian dry salami, chopped or sliced
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, diced or the small bite sized Mozzarella balls called Ciliegine (you can also use 8 ounces smoked provolone, diced)
  • ½ cup pepperoncini peppers, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ - ¾ cup seedless kalamata olives, halved
  • ½ - 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup diced or thinly sliced red onion
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced chiffonade
  • ½ cup diced cucumber (optional)
  • ½ cup diced marinated artichokes (optional)

Instructions

  • Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl gently toss together all the remaining ingredients. Just before serving, dress the salad with half of the vinaigrette, using more if needed. Lastly, season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for spring roasts or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

    I woke up at 3am the other morning thinking about Mango Avocado Salsa and how delicious it would be in a salad. Because honestly, I could eat Mango Avocado Salsa like a salad.

    And wouldn’t that salad be so fantastic if I added some quinoa and maybe greens?  Then I thought to myself how much you would love this salad!  So the next morning, I had to make it.

    It turned out just as tasty as I thought it would.  Quinoa, red onion, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, a little pepper, avocado, mango and micro greens.  It. Is. Divine. 🙂

    Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for lunch, brunch or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

    I had a little leftover yesterday and added it to baby spring greens and dressed it with some of my leftover honey mustard dressing and that was equally as delicious.

    I’ve listed the recipe below but truly, you can create this salad to your tastes.  Adding more greens or less onions, more avocado and less mango.  It’s a base recipe so have fun and create an enticing spring and summer salad that will be so fabulous for brunch, lunch or with spring roasts or summer grilling.

    Wishing you all a most marvelous weekend!

    Loads of love,

    Karista

    PS: Thank you all so much for your heart warming and thoughtful comments about my last post, My Lost Love for Social Media.  I adore you all and I feel so lucky to have such an incredibly lovely group of engaging readers!

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Serving Size: 4

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions (Einkorn or other ancient grain works well too)
    • 1/2 cup diced red onion
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 1 lime juiced
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1-2 mangos, diced
    • 1-2 avocados, diced
    • Handful of micro greens
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh baby greens, baby spinach or arugula if desired
    • Crumbled Cotija cheese, optional

    Instructions

  • Prepare the quinoa according to package directions and then let it cool.
  • Toss together the quinoa, onions, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Layer the salad on a platter or plate with the quinoa, mango, avocado and top with micro greens. Garnish with Cotija cheese if desired or serve the entire salad over a platter or plate of baby greens.
  • For a little extra dressing, whisk together 1 part lime juice with 2 parts olive oil and a dash of honey, salt and pepper. This makes a quick lime vinaigrette. Adding a little Dijon mustard to it is also nice.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash // Karista's Kitchen

    My youngest sassy gal said to me yesterday “Mom, I’m in need of some Christmas. Can we Christmas things up a bit?”

    Ok, so I was thinking I’d done a really good job of creating our little Christmas season indoors – but maybe not so much. 🙁

    My sassy gal has had her head in the books, preparing for college entrance exams and finishing a tough semester at school.  I think she may have just noticed it’s Christmas!

    So today I’m on a mission to fill my daughter’s Christmas well.  We’re off to do our Christmas Eve and Christmas day food shopping, stopping at a few farms along the way that are sweetly decorated for the season.  We’ll stop for tea, cocoa or coffee at one of our local coffee houses and then once we’re home, I’ve got movies and music planned, along with delicious food of course, for our evening’s festivities.  I think this will do it.

    Although I’ve got our Italian holiday tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes, planned for Christmas Eve, and this lovely Prime Rib planned for Christmas Day, tonight’s dinner is a lovely ham served with this gorgeous Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash.

    These little stuffed squash are the perfect compliment to a ham and look so lovely on a holiday table.  Sometimes just for fun I’ll stuff them with coconut rice, golden raisins and top with chopped pistachios.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

    Christmas has always been more than just a gift giving season for me.   It’s a season of love and appreciation, connection and sharing, and most of all, giving of our time and attention.  Even though I may not live near you or able to meet you for coffee or lunch, you are truly appreciated and a special part of Karista’s Kitchen.

    I send you heartfelt thanks for following my blog and for sharing it with others that you care about.   Next year will bring more delicious recipes, snippits of a new project I’m working on, along with a few “how to” videos that hopefully will inspire you in the kitchen.

    I wish you all true joy, happiness, love and a prosperous new year!

    Karista

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Serving Size: 6

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Ingredients

    • 3 smallish Acorn squash, or evenly sized, cut in half and seeds scraped out
    • 1-2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder (I like Frontier brand Chinese Five Spice Powder because it's more sweet than savory)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup wild rice
    • 1 3/4 cups water
    • 1 cube vegetable boullion (I love the Rapunzel vegetable broth cubes)
    • 1/2 cup diced onion
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
    • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Brush the acorn squash halves with olive oil and then season each cut side half with Chinese Five Spice powder and salt.
  • Place them in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until they are soft.
  • To prepare the rice
  • Before preparing the rice, sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion is wilted, add the garlic and sauté a minute longer. Then add the cup of rice, the water and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for about 40-45 minutes or until done. Fluff with a fork.
  • Stir in the cranberries and toasted walnuts while the rice is hot and then cover with a lid for another five minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  • When you're ready to serve, fill the acorn squash with the rice mixture and garnish with the chopped fresh Italian parsley.
  • Notes

    Note: I typically prepare wild rice with 1 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cups water, depending on the brand and type of wild rice you're using. So prepare the rice according to package directions.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    So how does one achieve a gorgeous holiday entrée without hours in the kitchen?  They serve this beautiful Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a Spiced Dried Plum Sauce.  

    Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin is fairly simple to prepare and doesn’t need a lot of prep time before popping it in the oven.  Once it’s in the oven, whip up the sauce and hold it until it’s time to serve.  This mouth-watering recipe will leave you time to prepare other dishes for your celebration, as well as time with your guests. Which is what I love the most… time with my guests!  And the cocktails of course. 🙂

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    I love the rustic simplicity of wrapping strips of bacon around lean pork loin.  This adds flavor and moisture which adds beautiful depth to this dish.

    Serving the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a spiced dried plum sauce laced with spices that compliment both pork and bacon, completes this gorgeous flavor profile – but still keeps the entrée simple.

    Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes // Karista's Kitchen

    To complete this meal, I paired this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a sassy bowl of Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes, because bacon wrapped anything simply needs mashed potatoes.  To lighten up the flavors and refresh the palate, I also paired the meal with an Arugula and Citrus Salad to finish.  Keeping the meal low fuss in preparation but high in flavor for the ultimate holiday dinner celebration.

    Arugula and Citrus Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese // Karista's Kitchen

    Because I originally created this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin for the good folks at Western Horse & Gun Magazine (holiday 2015 issue), I thought I’d end with a closing sentence of western wisdom.

    In the words of the cowgirls and cowboys before us…  get up and dust your trail to a mighty tasty holiday celebration and take a stab at this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce – for the ultimate Yehaw from all your guests.

    Happiest of Holidays to ya!

    Karista

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

    Ingredients

      For the Bacon Wrapped Pork
    • 2 ½ - 3lbs Pork Loin, remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to roasting
    • 2 teaspoons dried Italian Herbs (oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, marjoram)
    • 1 teaspoon of salt
    • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
    • 12 ounces sliced bacon, enough slices to cover the entire pork loin (not thick sliced)
    • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 10 ounce package of dried plums
    • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
    • ½ pint heavy cream
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 heaping tablespoon of red currant jelly (I’ve also used my homemade blackberry jelly and it was delicious)
    • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
      For the Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
    • 3-4lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered
    • 1 cup of heavy cream, slightly warmed
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 ounces crumbled good quality Gorgonzola
    • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
    • Fresh chopped chives for garnish
      For the Arugula and Citrus Salad
    • 1-2 cup assorted citrus wedges (grapefruit, mandarin oranges, blood oranges, etc)
    • 4-6 cups baby arugula leaves, packed
    • 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
    • Drizzle good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    For the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  • Place the paper towel dried pork loin on a baking or roasting sheet. Rub the pork loin with the olive oil. Mix the dried herbs, salt and pepper together and then sprinkle over the pork loin.
  • Starting at one end, wrap the bacon around the pork loin and continue with strips of bacon until the entire pork loin is wrapped. You may not be able to wrap the bacon completely around your pork loin if it’s larger in size. However, it will still be delicious.
  • Once the pork loin is wrapped, place the baking or roasting sheet in the oven. The pork loin should cook for about 20-25 minutes per pound and it should reach an internal temperature of 145F. During the last 5 or 10 minutes I like to turn on the broiler and crisp up the bacon if it has crisped enough.
  • Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  • To make the sauce - In a sauce pan heat the wine on medium heat and add the dried plums. Let the wine and plums simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Gently fold in the cream, cloves, cinnamon, and red currant jelly. Bring the heat back to a boil and then reduce to a lively simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce with the sliced pork loin.
  • For the Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
  • Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cool water. Add a pinch or two of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until you can poke the potatoes easily with a fork.
  • Once the potatoes are done, drain all but about ½ cup of potato water. Mash the potatoes and ½ cup of potato water with a potato masher or in an electric mixer. Once the potatoes are as chunky or as smooth as you like, mix in the butter, warmed heavy cream and Gorgonzola. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve in a beautiful bowl and garnish with chopped fresh chives or a little additional Gorgonzola crumbles.
  • For the Arugula Citrus Salad
  • In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  • Place the dressed arugula on a platter and layer with citrus and then the crumbled goat cheese.
  • Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.
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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)
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • 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, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey. 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.
  • Notes

    If you can't find edible flowers, not to worry. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and some grated fresh carrot and beet or spiralized carrot and beet for some color.

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