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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing//Karista's Kitchen

When I was a kid I remember walking down the quiet country road near our house, passing a little gas station and quick market that sold the best bologna and cheese sandwiches, to our neighbor’s house.  Our neighbor, Ms. Nancy, was one of the best home cook’s.  She could cook anything but her specialty was pie, cake and donuts.   Aunt Nancy, as we called her, would welcome me in and cut me a slice of pie or cake without even asking if I’d like a slice.  I think she could see the excitement in my face as I eyed the sweets on her counter.

It’s these brief memories that always remind me how food brings people together.  It’s love and comfort, nourishment and medicine, not only for the body, but often for the soul.  These are the moments I remember most.  My life around the table.

This delicately sweet lemon yogurt cake with lavender icing reminds me of my time spent in Aunt Nancy’s kitchen.  It also reminds me of summer and the sweet memories visiting lavender fields with my children when they were little.  We’d sample lavender ice cream, lavender creme brûlée, lavender chocolate, lavender tea and my oldest gal’s favorite a lavender steamer.

Lavender pairs beautifully with lemon and gives this lemon cake just a hint of fragrance.  It’s light and simple and is lovely for breakfast or a dessert.  It’s one of those cakes you can leave on the counter for a quick treat or if you’re a member of my family, a quick bite in passing.  As a result, I always find a selection of used forks in the sink. 🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing

Serving Size: 6-8

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon extra for dusting the pan
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 standard loaf pan (8 ½ x 4 ¼ )
  • For the Lavender Icing
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
  • ½ cup boiling water


Prepare the Lavender tea by combining the dried lavender buds with the boiling water. Let this steep for 15 minutes.

While the lavender tea is steeping, prepare the cake.

Grease the loaf pan with oil and then lightly dust with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, shaking out the excess.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, Greek yogurt and vegetable oil.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients making sure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, strain the lavender buds from the water, making a tea. Mix together the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons of the lavender tea. If you feel the icing is to thick to be drizzled on, add a dash more lavender tea to thin the icing.

When the cake is done, let it cool for a few minutes before removing it from the pan. Then drizzle the lavender icing over the warm cake. Slice and serve.


I originally created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine April/May 2015 Issue.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Rosemary Creme Brûlée from Karista's Kitchen for Home By Design Magazine

It was the moment when a subtle woody, fragrant scent wafted in my direction that I knew cooking and baking with fresh herbs would forever be in my culinary repertoire.   One of my first classes at culinary school, an intensive course in the use of fresh herbs, we prepared a Rosemary Creme Brûlée.  I couldn’t imagine how it would taste or if I’d even like it.  But I had to like it.  I was in culinary school and I couldn’t be the only student that appeared to have the palate of a five year old.  I was over the moon in love with every other dish we’d made in that unit, but what is traditionally a savory herb was now being paired in a sweet custard. It totally worked!  Since that day sixteen years ago, I’ve been using fresh herbs in all my recipes, savory as well as sweet.

If you know me or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know another herb I can’t seem to get enough of is lavender. I adore lavender shortbread cookies, lavender scones, pinches of lavender combined with other fresh herbs over roast chicken, lemon thyme biscuits, Arugula Lemon Risotto, Arugula Chimichurri, and the list goes on.  It’s a rare occasion that I don’t incorporate some type of herb or spice in my recipes; they simply enhance and elevate flavor and create food moments to remember.

Rosemary Creme Brûlée is definitely memorable.  Although I prepare this dessert at home and for friends and clients (I originally created this photo and recipe for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine), I don’t think I’ve ever posted it here. Until now.

Creme Brûlée is a lush and silky custard that is so perfect any time of year.  I prepare this dessert most often around the holidays but I also make it during the warmer months because I can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then serve it when I’m ready.  Pairing it with fresh herbs changes the flavor profile but not the well loved custard.  I’ve used my beloved lavender a few times as well as lemon thyme, but rosemary has to be my favorite herb in creme brûlée.

I’ve prepared this recipe a few different methods, but I think the best method is when the fresh rosemary is gently steeped in the cream, allowing the oils to subtly scent and flavor the custard.  It’s a simple yet impressive dessert that will WOW your guests and your family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Serving Size: serves 4

Rosemary Creme Brûlée


  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 1- 3 to 4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, cold
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

Place four ramekins into a baking dish or cake pan. Heat enough water to fill the bottom of the baking dish and come halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is called a Bain-Marie, a hot water bath.

In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream and sprig of rosemary over medium heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then remove the sauce pan from the heat and let the heavy cream and rosemary hang out for about fifteen minutes or so, allowing the rosemary oil to infuse the heavy cream.

In an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is light and creamy, adding in the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Strain the heavy cream removing any and all rosemary leaves and then while whisking, slowly add the rosemary infused cream to the egg and sugar mixture.

Divide the custard evenly among the four ramekins and place the baking dish carefully into the oven.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, just until the custard is set. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove the crème brulee from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top of each custard with about ½ teaspoon of sugar. Using a culinary torch*, scorch the sugar creating the traditional burnt sugar topping.

Serve immediately.

*Culinary blow torches can be found at most kitchen and bath stores or larger home and garden stores.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sweets

Open Nature Prickly Pear Sorbet Champagne Cocktail

Open Nature Prickly Pear Sorbet Champagne Cocktail // Karista's Kitchen

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Safeway culinary kitchens in Pleasanton, California. Wow! Did it ever feel fabulous to waltz through a professional kitchen once again. Ok, truth be told I could have planted myself in that test kitchen for days, following the staff around and soaking up all the culinary exploration.  I’m sure I seemed like the nerdy female who is always raising her hand asking questions.  Yep, that was me.

Safeway Event 12

Not only were the Safeway hosts gracious and informative, the chef staff was exemplary.  I had the opportunity to chat with many of the staff, watch first hand how products are developed and most importantly, how Safeway’s new super premium ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and gelato’s are made.

Safeway’s Open Nature product line are made using only ingredients from natural sources.  There are no artificial ingredients and every product is thoughtfully prepared with as little processing as possible.  I’ve used several of the Open Nature products in my home but I’ve never tasted the ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and gelato until now.  After sampling almost all of the 23 flavors, I was blown away by the exceptional taste and texture of these products.

Safeway Test Kitchens // Open Nature // Liza Gershman Photography

Safeway Test Kitchens // Open Nature // Liza Gershman Photography

The fabulous Chef Jeff // photo credits Liza Gershman Photography

The fabulous Chef Jeff // photo credits Liza Gershman Photography

I feel a bit like an ice cream snob, because rarely does an ice cream meet my expectations. For example, I’m a huge fan of a simple chocolate ice cream but it’s not often I find a chocolate ice cream that is rich and melodious in chocolate flavor while perfectly sweetened.  So I was over the moon excited (and surprised!) when I sampled the the Open Nature Super Premium Chocolate Ice Cream.  The super premium chocolate ice cream is perfectly dreamy with a pure and lush chocolate taste, velvety texture and just the right amount of sweetness that allows the flavor of chocolate to shine.  I could have stopped at the chocolate ice cream, but with 23 flavors of ice cream sitting on the counter I decided to indulge in sampling. I couldn’t find one that I didn’t like!

Open Nature Super Premium Ice Cream, Sorbet, Gelato and Frozen Yogurt

Although I completely fell in love with the chocolate ice cream, I believe my absolute favorite is the Prickly Pear Sorbet.  A bright but elegant shade of pink, the prickly pear sorbet is sweet, delicately fruity and refreshing.  I kept thinking as I snacked on my pink prickly pear sorbet cone with sprinkles, that this sorbet would make a most excellent champagne cocktail.  Like many great ideas, I wasn’t the first to think of this as we were served a Prickly Pear Champagne Cocktail at Wente Vineyards that evening.  The Prickly Pear Sorbet paired beautifully with the Wente Brut, setting the tone for all the delicious dishes and wine to be served later in the evening.

Bloody Mary Shrimp prepared with Open Nature products at Wente Vineyards

Bloody Mary Shrimp on Open Nature Crackers at Wente Vineyards


It couldn’t have been a lovelier few days.  Great food and wine, new friends and of course the most delicious of ice cream!

New friends at the Safeway Open Nature Event in Pleasanton, CA

New friends Lori Rice of Fake Food Free; Karen of The Food Charlatan; Joanna of Baked by Joanna; Luci of Luci’s Morsels; and the fabulous Jake and Amanda.

Open Nature Event // Safeway // Wente Vineyards // Liza Gershman Photography

Open Nature Event // Wente Vineyards // Liza Gershman Photography

To celebrate the launch of the Open Nature Super Premium Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Gelato and Sorbet, Safeway has generously offered a $50 Safeway gift card for one of my readers.  Look for the details on how to snag that gift card on my Facebook page here: Karista’s Kitchen on Facebook. 

Of course I couldn’t write a post without leaving you with something delicious, so I’ve posted the gorgeous Prickly Pear Champagne Cocktail we enjoyed at Wente Vineyards. So perfect for summer and holiday celebrations!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Open Nature Prickly Pear Sorbet Champagne Cocktail

Open Nature Prickly Pear Sorbet Champagne Cocktail


  • 1 pint Open Nature Prickly Pear Sorbet by Safeway
  • 1 bottle Champagne or Prosecco, preferably dry
  • Champagne glasses


Place two small scoops of Prickly Pear Sorbet into the bottom of each champagne glass.

Then gently pour champagne over the top about until 3/4 full.

Serve immediately.


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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Banana Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream

Banana Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream // Karista's Kitchen

It has been one of those weeks that desperately required a sweet.  Not just any little ole sweet but a down and dirty, honest to goodness, sweet.  Which for me is anything that includes chocolate.

I think this cake has it all.  It’s totally and unabashedly sweet. The kind of sweet that requires either a large glass of milk or a lovely cup of tea.  A cake rich with banana, dark chocolate, marshmallow cream and another drizzle of chocolate.  I believe I have achieved my goal.

This cake recipe came from one of my favorite chocolate cookbooks written by Max Brenner, Chocolate, A Love Story.  The original title is so fun it caught my eye immediately – Lipstick Banana Chocolate Cake Bonbons enrobed in well-behaved white chocolate and a nutmeg lady’s coat.  How fun is that?  It stopped my page turning immediately.  I read through it, bookmarked it and now it’s one of my go to sweet recipes for when I need a little indulgence.  I’ve made the recipe as written and then I’ve deviated.  I think you know by now I love to deviate.

Banana Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream // Karista's Kitchen

This is my deviated version, or one of them at least.  I was too lazy to cut squares out of the cake to make the bonbons, so I decided to make the recipe using these cute little cupcake papers.  Rather than topping these cakes with the white chocolate glaze, I did what I often do… top that cake with some marshmallow cream.  I know, you can’t believe I have marshmallow cream in my pantry!  I do.  It sneaks in the pantry once a year around the holidays for baking and for dipping into with large spoons for general holiday merriment.   For some reason my jar of marshmallow cream was never opened this last holiday.  So I put it to good use on these cakes.

These are fun, festive and most of all, satisfies the sweet tooth!

I’m taking a little time off to enjoy my family this next week.  A little hiking, a little biking, lots of reading, my daughter hopes a little shopping is included, definitely exploring some new restaurants and popping open that bottle of Rocca wine I’ve beens saving.  If you are on Instagram I’ll be posting some candids of our week so be sure to check it out.  And I promise I’ll post something completely delicious when I return.  Happy Spring!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Banana Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream

6 large mini cakes or 12 cupcakes or 1 8-inch loaf

Banana Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream

Cake recipe by Max Brenner from Chocolate, A Love Story


  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or creme fraiche, room temperature
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons aged brown rum (I used 1 teaspoon rum extract)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate chips (I probably used a bit more)
  • For the Topping
  • Marshmallow Cream
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to 400F

Either butter and flour an 8 inch loaf pan or use cupcake liners for a cupcake tin

In an electric mixer or by hand, mix together the mashed bananas, butter and sour cream until smooth. Gradually mix in the sugar, egg and rum or rum extract.

In a separate bowl mix together the the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, mixing just until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan or cupcake tin and then place them in the oven. Turn the heat down to 325F. Bake until puff and golden brown on top. The loaf pan should take about 40 minutes, the cupcakes should take about 20-30 minutes.

Gently heat the dark chocolate and tablespoon of water in the microwave 10-15 seconds at a time, whisking gently until the chocolate is smooth enough to drizzle.

Let the cake/cupcakes cool and then top with marshmallow cream and chocolate drizzle right before serving.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salmon Seafood Sweets

Superbowl Sunday Recipe Ideas

Superbowl Sunday Recipe Ideas // Karista's Kitchen

Have you planned your Superbowl menu yet?  I should have done that weeks ago but I finally narrowed it down to a few selections.

Slow Oven Baked Ribs // Karista's Kitchen

I’m definitely serving Ranger Craig’s fave Slow Oven Baked Ribs.  These are moist, succulent and full of delicious flavor.  Not to mention, so easy to prepare!

Asian Marinated Pork Sliders with Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mustard // Karista's Kitchen

Superbowl Sliders

My youngest gal and her teenage friends loves sliders, so I’m making the teen crew Asian Marinated Pork Sliders with Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mustard.  The marinated pork is so perfect for sliders but I often make this dish without buns and serve it over rice and steamed Bok Choy.

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Cilantro Slaw

My oldest gal and I are huge taco fans so I’m making my Salmon Tacos with Pineapple Cilantro Slaw.

Will I be cooking all day?  Probably.  But as my daughter once said to her friends “my Mom loves to feed people. It makes her happy.”  And so it does. 🙂

Peanut Butter Brownies // Karista's Kitchen

My crew also loves to indulge in a little something sweet now and again; especially at Superbowl Sunday.  So I’m making these lovely little Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies for a quick sweet that doesn’t require a lot of fuss.

Below is a list of these delicious recipes.  Click on the recipe title and it will take you to the recipe.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Smoked Salmon Wonton Tacos

Lemon Cilantro Hummus

Bleu Cheese Baked Potato Chips

Southern Style Pork BBQ Sliders and Fennel Apple Slaw

Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos 

Retro Ham and Olive Bites

Rogue Spruce Gin & Tonic


    For one serving
  • Crushed ice
  • 2 - 3 ounces Rogue Spruce Gin
  • 4 - 5 ounces Tonic Water
  • Squeeze of fresh lime


Add crushed ice to an tumbler

Pour the Rogue Spruce gin over the ice

Next pour the tonic water over the ice

Give it a quick stir and squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Sweets vegetarian

Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving at my house without some sort of cranberry salad like this gorgeous Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad.  

When chatting with my Mom about what she’d like me to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, I threw out all kinds of ideas.  From sweet potato soufflé to stuffing muffins and how about a prime rib for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey?  I was greeted with intense silence on the other end of the phone.  My Mother is very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  I was hoping she might entertain the thought of new versions of old favorites.  I think it’s a no.

Although, she seemed intrigued by this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad tossed with toasted coconut and topped with chopped pistachios.  All of which she loves.  Especially the cranberries.  Every year she likes to make my great Aunt’s cranberry salad.  Not that my great Aunt’s cranberry salad isn’t tasty, it’s that I’m ready for something new. With a little less marshmallows.  After all, my sweet potato soufflé was struck down like a lightening bolt so we’re having the traditional sweet potato casserole; which my Mom reminded me was topped with marshmallows.

Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

What I love about this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad is you can create your favorite version, or versions your family members prefer.

With or without the toasted coconut, substitute toasted walnuts for the pistachios, and add a few mini marshmallows if you must. If you’re serving for adults, I think a splash of French Brandy is divine and just a little bit decadent.

However you prepare this Cranberry and Mandarin Salad, I know your guest will feel loved and thankful.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


This salad is best when freshly prepared and served immediately.  Mandarins tend to fall apart once tossed with other ingredients. So to keep your salad gorgeous, toss everything together right before serving.  I list options and prep below.

Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios

Serving Size: 4-6

Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios


  • 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar or more (just enough to coat all the cranberries)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 cups mandarin orange slices (either fresh or canned. If canned, drain before using)
  • 1/2 flaked coconut (not sweetened) toasted
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil (I adore California Olive Ranch Arbosana extra virgin olive oil on this salad)
  • Options: omit coconut and add a handful mini marshmallows; substitute toasted walnuts for pistachios; omit balsamic vinegar and add a splash of French brandy instead


Heat the oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with parchment and then toss the cranberries with the olive oil and the sugar - just enough sugar to coat all the cranberries.

Pour the cranberries onto the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the cranberries are wilted.

Let the cranberries cool. Pour them into a large mixing bowl and toss gently with the mandarin oranges and toasted coconut. Pour them onto a platter or serving bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and top with toasted pistachios. Serve immediately.

ANOTHER OPTION: Spread the roasted cranberries on a platter, then layer with the mandarins, then coconut and then pistachios. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with just a pinch of sea salt.

If you would like to prep the salad a few hours before serving, roast the cranberries and let them cool. Place them in a large bowl and hold until ready to serve the salad. Then gently toss together the remaining ingredients and dress with vinegar and oil just before serving.

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Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Julia’s Banana Bread

Julia's Banana Bread

You know when you stumble onto food that stays in your food memories forever?  That is this banana bread.

A few years ago Ranger Craig and I were exploring the more remote parts of Maui and stumbled onto a banana bread hut.  After driving miles of winding roads, up and down sloping and sometimes steep hillsides, between the greenest and lush valley’s, we found a place called Kahakuloa.  And we found banana bread.  Not just an ordinary banana bread.  This was hands down the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted.  Moist, the perfect amount of sweetness and the purest banana flavor with the most intense banana fragrance.  I’m not sure if it was because we were on vacation and I had just finished a harrowing scuba diving lesson but banana bread has never tasted so good.

I’ve tried recreating this banana bread at least a dozen times.  I’ve come close but for some reason I could never achieve the same taste and texture as the banana bread in Maui.  I knew I was most likely over thinking the ingredient list. So, I decided to hit the web and do a little research.  It seems I’m not the only one smitten by this banana bread recipe.

Julia's Banana Bread

I found it on Bon Appetit  out of the kitchen section.  Julia’s Banana Bread.  There it was in black and white with a snapshot of the lush bread.  As I read the ingredient list I giggled.  So simple, so pure, no wonder this bread is so delicious.

Now I pass it along to you! Just a few simple ingredients that most of us already have stocked.  It doesn’t take but a few minutes to whip up, pop it in the oven for about an hour and you will have the most delicious and pure tasting banana bread.  I baked it exactly as the recipe reads with the exception of using coconut palm sugar instead of granulated sugar (because that’s what I had in my pantry).  The second time I made this bread, I subbed the veggie oil with my favorite extra virgin olive oil.  It was perfection.

Cheers to Fall and all the lush comforting foods that accompany the season!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Julia’s Banana Bread

Serving Size: Makes one 9x3x5 loaf pan

Julia’s Banana Bread


  • Oil or butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed *ripe bananas (about 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil)


Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with oil or butter.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.

*For more intense ripe banana flavor I set my two peeled bananas in a glass bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the liquid that has accumulated with the banana pulp and use. This will help ripen a "less ripe" banana and intensify the banana flavors.

This bread can be prepared up to three days in advance and store in an airtight container. Which makes this a lovely food gift for the holidays.

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Recipe by Julia’s Banana Bread Treehouse in Kahakuloa, HI




Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

Apple Gingerbread

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread // Karista's Kitchen


When I lived back East many years ago, I took my then pre-school daughter apple picking every year.  We lived in beautiful New England where apple farms dotted the hillsides.

Every year my little gal and I would layer up and slide on our wellies and go traipsing through apple orchards, picking the succulent juicy apples and filling our buckets.  I have vivid memories of my curly blonde haired gal bopping up and down singing and dancing through the orchards while picking apples off the ground instead of off the apple trees.

Of course we never missed the hay ride and hot apple cider served at the barn.  I think that might have been my little gals most favorite part of apple picking.

All that apple picking resulted in weeks of apple recipes.  Pies, breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, baked apples, apple sauce and my little gal’s favorite, brown butter apples with her breakfast ham.  This was back in the day when I hadn’t a clue how to cook.  I faked it most the time and thankfully all that faking resulted in some pretty delicious food.  Which is how the brown butter apples and ham came to be.

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread

During one of our apple farm visits I found a little paperback of apple recipes.  I’ve used the paperback so often it’s now tattered, torn, splattered and sporting a few coffee spills.  I love this little book.  Written by a cookbook author and illustrator who hand wrote her cookbooks in calligraphy with the sweetest illustrations.  One of my most loved recipes in this book is the Upside Down Apple Gingerbread.  I simply call it Apple Gingerbread.

Rich in color and flavor but not overly sweet, this gingerbread deliciously pairs with a cup of coffee or tea.  I haven’t altered the recipe too much, although I omit the cloves.  The gingerbread is so rich and flavorful I felt it just didn’t need the cloves.  However, I’ve kept it in the recipe if you’d like to use ground cloves.  There is also a fun twist in this recipe – a 3/4 cup of black coffee, which subtly intensifies the rich flavor of the gingerbread.

Truly an autumn treat that makes you want to gather at the table with family and friends.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Upside Down Apple Gingerbread

Serves 8

Ingredients in order of use

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 cups sliced apples

1/3 cup brown sugar


1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I leave this out but feel free to include it)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup hot black coffee

1 –  10inch springform pan


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Pour 1/4 cup melted butter into a 10″ springform pan.  Arrange the apples and sprinkle with the 1/3 cup brown sugar.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted butter with molasses, sugar, brown sugar and egg.

In another bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients and then add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, alternating with the black coffee.

Pour the batter over the apples.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch.  Cool for 15 minutes before inverting pan and releasing the spring.  I baked my cake about 55 minutes.  The cake is very moist.


Recipe from the book “Apples” part of the Country Kitchen Collection written and illustrated by Jean Childress

Karista's Kitchen Sweets vegetarian VRAI Magazine

Summer Fruit “Cocktail”

Summer Fruit Cocktail laced with wine or your favorite liquer

I have back to back recipes posting over at VRAI Magazine.  More deliciousness coming your way along with photos and travel on the Oregon Coast.

This lovely little Fruit Cocktail is my version of boozy fruit salad but more of a “cocktail” to enjoy after dinner or after a summer brunch.

summer fruit cocktail with wine or your favorite liquer

Fruit abounds this time of year and lacing it with a favorite wine or liqueur is a fun and delicious way to enjoy our seasons bounty of fresh fruit and berries.

Click HERE for the recipe and a little tour of the Oregon coast.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Mango Sorbet and Ginger Beer Floats

Mango Sorbet and Ginger Beer Floats

I got a Facebook message one evening from my friend Jan.  She told me she had just made a mango sorbet and ginger beer float and it was fantastic!

As I was reading the message I thought to myself “how brilliant!”.  But of course, I’d expect nothing short of brilliant from Jan.  She’s a passionate foodie as well as a fantastic home chef.

So I had to try it.  However, me, being me, I plowed through the market at mach speed because my to do list was much longer than my day, grabbed a carton of mango sorbet and what I thought was ginger beer.

I got home and put it all together for dessert one sultry, hot evening and realized my ginger beer was ginger “brew”, a very nice high quality version of ginger ale.

I decided to try it with the ginger ale and it was delicious.  Topped with a sprig of mint, this Mango Sorbet and Ginger Brew Float made a lovely after dinner treat.  Not too heavy and perfectly refreshing.

Mango Sorbet and Ginger Beer Floats

Although this float made a tasty little dessert, I had to try the float with ginger beer.  Why you ask?  Because ginger ale or ginger brew is not the same as ginger beer.  Ginger beer goes through a brewing and fermenting process and isn’t quite as sweet as ginger ale. Ginger beer also tastes more like real ginger.  Some ginger beer can even be a bit spicy – and it’s also less carbonated.  Ginger ale is much sweeter and more like a soda than a beer.

Both versions of the float were fabulous.  Although the ginger beer float was much less sweet and a bit more spicy.

I would absolutely serve both versions.  If you don’t like ginger beer, ginger ale works beautifully. Ginger ale is also a great sub for the kiddos.

If you’re a fan of ginger beer, you’ll love this refreshing, tropical and slightly sassy dessert.

Thanks Jan for this fantastic recipe! xo

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Jan’s Mango Sorbet and Ginger Beer Float

Makes 6 floats


2 pints mango sorbet

2-3 12 ounce bottles ginger beer or ginger ale

Sprigs of mint

Festive straws and long spoons


Scoop the sorbet into frosty mugs and then poor the ginger beer or ginger ale slowly over the sorbet.  Garnish with a sprig of mint and a pretty straw.

Sip and enjoy.






Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sweets vegetarian

White Peaches in Sangria with Fresh Mint

White Peaches in Sangria // Karista's Kitchen  The perfect summer dessert!

This is one of those summer desserts that I love to prepare when it’s super hot outside and something sweet and refreshing is in order.  Not to mention, all that needs to be done is peel and slice the peaches and add them to a bowl of sangria to marinate for 30 minutes.  It’s also a great way to use a flat of local sun ripened white peaches.

A few years back Ranger Craig and I bought a few flats of white peaches from a local farmer.  We ate peaches all the way home (a two hour trip).  Windows down, warm air filling the jeep while drips of the sweet, juicy peaches slid down our chins.

Super excited about our white peach stash, I made a pie with the white peaches and local blueberries, I added them to pancakes, muffins and a lovely steak salad with gorgonzola.  Froze a few bags for a peach pie and slow roasted pork mid-winter, but I still had plenty left to use.  That’s when I decided we’d be using the rest for some White Peaches in Sangria.

White Peaches in Sangria // Karista's Kitchen The perfect summer dessert!

Most often I purchase the sangria but you can certainly make your own.   I have a few sangria recipes I adore, but most of the time I’m so deeply involved in preparing the starters, entrees and sides… I forget to make the sangria.  So I always keep a bottle in stock.   I’ve found a few lovely sangrias at several Spanish food shops and my local market.  Something light, sweet and a bit spicy will do.  If you don’t have a favorite Sangria recipe, HERE is a fabulous article from Wine Enthusiast “The Anatomy of Sangria“.  I highly recommend the article.

I’m going to be MIA for a little while, we’re moving again and I know it’ll take some time to put a kitchen back together as well as set up my office.  It’s not a big move like last year, but nonetheless, its still packing, unpacking and trying to figure out where to put things.  As well, I think I’m going to enjoy the weather a bit and spend a little time with my lovely family.  I hope you have the chance to do the same!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


White Peaches in Sangria

Although I typically serve these White Peaches in Sangria for dessert, often I will serve this as a light cocktail starter.  It’s refreshing and the perfect warm weather starter for a gathering mid-summer.


White Peaches, peeled and sliced


Mint leaves


Place white peach slices in a large glass or non-reactive bowl.  Pour Sangria over the peaches and let them marinate for about 30 minutes.  Then ladle peaches and sangria into martini glasses and garnish with a sprig of mint.





Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

It’s a miracle!  I have now posted two sweets in one week.  Thought I’d never see the day this would happen but I couldn’t help myself.

My sister, Kristin from Little Lace Box,  mentioned it’s National Donut day and I should post a donut recipe.  That’s code for “Hey, I need a donut recipe to make for my family this weekend.”  🙂 I love requests!

I’m more of a savory foods kind of gal but there are moments when a donut sounds like a lovely indulgence. However, truth be told, I’m terribly picky about my donuts.  You could say I’m a bit of a donut snob.  I like a real, honest to goodness quality ingredient donut.  The kind that my sweet neighbor used to make in her little country kitchen.

Cardamom Coconut Flour with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

Aunt Nancy, as we so lovingly called her, made the best donuts I’ve ever eaten.  She made cake donuts and yeast donuts, putting loads of love into every donut that came out of her oven or her big cast iron pot of sizzling oil.

Then she would slather them in icing or powdered sugar, set them on her kitchen table and serve them with glasses of fresh whole milk.  Such a delicious memory!

Today, when I do indulge in a donut it’s usually from Top Pot Donuts in Seattle or VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Alas, I’m nowhere near either of those locations this week, so I made my own donuts.  These are what I call “Bennett friendly” donuts.  With all the food allergies in this house I had to come up with something everyone can enjoy.

Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs and few other ingredients makes for a delicious donut that has the texture of a cake donut.  I know, I know, this is not a traditional donut like Aunt Nancy used to make.  But these are delicious and if you are craving a sweet indulgence, this will definitely keep your swimsuit eating plan in check, as well as avoid those nagging food allergies.

I top my donuts with a rich vanilla icing drizzle and sprinkles or white chocolate chips.  The fragrant cardamom shines through but doesn’t over power; and the vanilla icing brings all the flavors and textures together for one lovely, enticing sweet.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

Makes 6 large donuts or 9 mini donuts


½ cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)

1/3 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, preferably room temperature

3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

½ cup warm water

Donut pans (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond)

Vanilla Icing

1 cup powdered sugar

1 -2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and pinch of salt.

In an electric mixer, mix together the 2 eggs, oil and warm water.

Once the wet mixture is nicely blended slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth but firm batter.  If will feel almost like a dough.

Spray the donut pans with olive oil or coconut spray and then fill them evenly.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

Let them cool a bit and then turn them onto a cooling rack.  When the donuts are cool you can frost or drizzle the icing onto the donuts and decorate with pretty sprinkles or mini white chocolate chips.

This batter also makes excellent muffins or mini muffins!

Recipe adapted from