Browsing Category


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta vegetarian

Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint

Linguine in Brown Butter with Parmesan, Peas and Mint for a delicious light and spring season meal // Karista's Kitchen

The title of this recipe sort of makes me giddy – Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint.  

I threw it together yesterday for lunch as I was shooting two other recipes and it was so completely delicious – I once again wondered why I’d never posted it.

If you’re not a huge fan of mint, you might question adding the sassy herb to this lovely pasta dish.  However, there is just something so fanciful about the combination of peas and mint.  It’s as if they were meant to be together.  They work deliciously together with the toasty flavor of the brown butter and parmesan cheese and gives a nice contrast to the flavor profile of the pasta – making a most enchanting dining experience. Even when it’s lunch!

Linguine in Brown Butter with Parmesan, Peas and Mint for a delicious and spring filled meal! Karista's Kitchen

Though if you like peas, you’ll love this Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint.

Spring peas will be in season soon and they will inevitably find their way into a multitude of my recipes.  Sweeter and more tender in texture than summer peas, I adore their flavor and they make a fantastic addition to spring pastas, salads, sauces and pestos.  Until they arrive however, I keep a stash of frozen spring peas in my freezer.

Linguine in Brown Butter with Parmesan, Peas and Mint // Karista's Kitchen

I feel a little indulged as my co-op market carries frozen, local spring peas in bulk and I keep them on hand for soups, stews and veg dishes during the winter.   Ahhh… the beauty of living in a farming community; even when I’m stuck behind a tractor or a hay truck on the only road to the market, I still marvel at the luxury of having so many gorgeous farms and ranches at my finger tips.

Simple pleasures are often found in the fresh, clean flavors of the season – like this lovely Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan and Peas.  I promise, it’ll make you giddy too.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint

Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint


  • 12-16oz linguine or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions (I often sub with my fave gluten free pasta)
  • 8-10 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup spring peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped


In a large, light colored saute pan, so you can see the butter turn brown, heat the butter over medium heat.

Move the pan around a bit as the butter melts and just before it browns it will become frothy. Once the foam dissipates, you'll be able to see the milk solids start to brown and become brown butter. Once you see them begin to brown, stir in the garlic. Sauté just a few seconds, until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic or the butter and then add the pasta, swirling the pasta to soak up all the butter and garlic.

Take the pan off the heat and toss the pasta with the peas, parmesan and fresh mint. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Serve immediately.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin



Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

Making Pizza at Home

Making Pizza dough at home // Karista's Kitchen

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

This is why I started making pizza at home.

Making Pizza dough at home // Karista's Kitchen

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

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

Making Pizza at Home // Karista's Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

It was a huge success. (of course!)

Pizza Margherita // Karista's Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

Making Pizza at Home

2 12-inch pizzas

Making Pizza at Home

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


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


To make the pizza dough

Heat the oven to 500° F. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the middle of the oven.

Mixing the pizza dough: Measure the water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and let it dissolve, about 30 seconds. Stir the water to dissolve the yeast.

Add the flour, salt, oil and sugar to the water and mix with a wooden spoon or bowl scraper until the dough starts to come together.

Lightly dust the counter or board with flour and move the dough to the floured space. With floured hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.

Resting the pizza dough: With a bench knife, divide the dough into 2 pieces. Round each piece of dough and place the dough rounds on a lightly floured counter to rest for 30 minutes. (While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings.)

After 30 minutes, fold the dough by stretching each side and folding it into the middle of the dough. Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest again for 15 to 30 minutes.

Shaping the pizza dough: Handling one piece of dough at a time, gently stretch the dough with floured hands. You can also use a rolling pin, but I prefer using my hands. Once the dough is about ¼ - ½ inch thick, lay it on a piece of very lightly floured parchment. You can adjust the shape at this point, but don’t worry about it being perfectly round. Shape the second piece of dough.

Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Finishing the pizza: Spread the dough lightly with sauce and add the shredded cheese and then your choice of toppings.

Baking the pizza: Bake the pizza on the parchment in a 500°F oven either on the heated pizza stone or on a cookie sheet. The pizza is done baking when the crust is brown and crisp on the edge and bottom. This should take about 6 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, cut it and eat while hot. Enjoy!

To make the sauce

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onion and sauté until the onion is wilted. Then add the garlic and sauté for one minute longer.

Stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste and dried herbs and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until it’s thickened a bit.

Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool before using. You can store the pizza sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Classic Eggplant Parmesan // Karista's Kitchen

I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year than with this dreamy Classic Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t long ago that I could hardly boil water.  I’m not kidding.  Years ago, anything I cooked could have caused a slow and painful death. Yep, I’m a tiny bit dramatic, but truly, it may not be far from the truth.

Back in the day, my signature meal was a sausage quiche I learned to make while living in Louisiana, fried chicken, biscuits, turkey kielbasa and sauerkraut and a few meals on the grill.  That was it. My culinary repertoire. On occasion I would branch out and follow a recipe just to make something different, but even then my culinary skills were terribly limited.

This is why I originally enrolled in culinary school almost 17 years ago – and as they say the rest is history. 😉

Of course, it didn’t help that I lived next door to the most incredible Italian home chef.  Unbelievably delicious scent’s drifting from next door right into my open windows – while I’m trying to prepare a decent meal and all I can think of is that I’d rather be eating at my neighbor’s house tonight.   Knowing how much I loved her cooking, my sweet neighbor would always bring me a sample.

Daniella’s eggplant parmesan was my favorite dish she made – olive oil fried eggplant layered among shredded mozzarella and homemade sauce.  A little bit of work but so worth every ounce of effort.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan for years now and tweaked the original recipe just a hair since those days.  Rather than labor over the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, I simply salt, pepper and flour the eggplant (I can be a lazy chef), lightly fry and then begin to layer.  Sometimes I’ll layer in a bit of herbed ricotta and I adore using whole milk mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella.  You can make your own sauce or use your favorite.

I like to make this in individual serving dishes but family style works just as well.  Serve with your favorite tossed green salad or THIS salad or THIS salad and I also love THIS salad, and some crusty Italian bread.

However you like to prepare this Classic Eggplant Parmesan, it will be a huge hit at your kitchen table.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Serving Size: 4-6

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

This is probably one of the most quintessential Italian dishes. Lush and rich in flavor as well as texture, this dish can stand on it’s own or be served as a lovely side dish.

Photos originally published in 2015 Dec/Jan Issue of Home By Design Magazine by Karista Bennett


  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick rounds or sliced lengthwise
  • Sea or Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced
  • 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for garnish
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl for about 20-30 minutes to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.

Dust the eggplant slices with the flour, shaking off the extra flour. Using a large skillet or frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.

Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, pan-fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown. Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish. You can also prepare this recipe in individual baking dishes.

Layer slices of eggplant over the tomato sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a layer of mozzarella and Romano and a little chopped fresh basil. Continue layering the eggplant, sauce, cheese and basil. I usually end up with 3-4 layers.

Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

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!


Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serving Size: 6

Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


  • 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


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.


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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Pasta vegetarian

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

You know that feeling you get when you bite into a fork full of food so lush, so decadent, it causes a sort of euphoria? And for a moment, you’re senses are transported to another place – relishing the taste, the textures and aroma.  That’s Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter.

This isn’t just another lovely dish, it’s a dish to be savored, served with the best wine and the best company.  It’s a perfect “date night in” recipe, or something you’d serve to a few close friends.  When you prepare this dish, give your self plenty of time in the kitchen.  You know the old saying, the one your mom probably said a thousand times, “stop taking your sweet time and get a move on it”?  Well this is the time to ignore that saying.   Although it’s not a difficult recipe to prepare it does take a gentle hand and a little “sweet” time.

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

When I was thinking about what I’d write for VRAI Magazine’s December issue, I knew I wanted it to be special.  I’d planned a roasted Tri-Tip that turned out sumptuous in every way – but it just didn’t feel right for the season.  It had to be Raviolo al Uovo.

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

I know you’ll love this recipe and you can find it at VRAI Magazine.   If you make it,  I’d love to know how it turned out.  And of course, you can always email me with questions.

Wishing you all a beautiful and very delicious Holiday Season!

Loads of Love,



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,


The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Serving Size: 4-6

The Best Broccoli Mac and Cheese


  • 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


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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin


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,


Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Serving Size: 4

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce


  • 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


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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

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!


Pesto Broccolini

Serving Size: 4-6

Pesto Broccolini


  • 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


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.


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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya

Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya // Karista's Kitchen

I’m a little late on that promise!  I promised to post this decadent little recipe yesterday and I got completely side-tracked with other projects. I think my brain is mush these days.  I try not to multi-task and that’s the problem.  I like to focus.  Focus generates quality.  And I like quality; especially if it’s got my name on it.

I found that my thoughts on this subject have been researched and I most recently came across this study conducted at Stanford University which states “Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully”.   I feel so validated.

Yes, there are moments I am forced to multi-task.  But as I tell my children… it’s not my favorite.  These are the words I often say when one of them is standing in front of my desk talking and all I see are lips moving because I’m so focused.  This does not make my people happy – but I know they will completely understand one day.

Until then, let’s eat chocolate!

I created this lovely recipe this past spring for the fabulous folks at Home By Design Magazine.  However, I’ve been making this Mexican Chocolate Sauce for years.  The one thing I love about chocolate?  It’s not seasonal!  Which is great news because I have to admit, I keep a chocolate drawer in the kitchen.  And I have a little piece each day.  Unless I indulge in a slice of this cake, slathered with the chocolate sauce and topped with fresh papaya.

If you’re not keen on baking a cake during this hot summer season, just buy one.  But definitely make the sauce and find a fresh papaya.

Perfect for a weeknight, weekend dinner guests or a weekend barbecue.  And I’ve been known to have a slice for breakfast.  🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya

Serving Size: 8

Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya


    For The Cake
  • ¾ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Papaya slices
  • Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
  • For the Sauce
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, crumbled
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 drops almond or coffee extract
  • Pinch of cayenne


Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease a standard 5 x 9 loaf pan.

Whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl or electric mixer, mix together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time while mixing and then mix in the unsweetened cocoa mixture until all ingredients are blended.

Add the flour to the batter and mix gently or on low speed until the batter is smooth and combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and place it into the oven. Bake the cake for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool 10 minutes before slicing.

To prepare the Mexican Chocolate Sauce, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.

In a medium saucepan add the cream and water over medium low heat. Once the cream and water are heated through, whisk in the melted chocolate and cinnamon. Take the sauce off the heat and whisk in the extract and pinch of cayenne.

This sauce can be refrigerated up to one week. Re-heat as necessary.

To serve, top each slice with fresh Mexican chocolate sauce and papaya slices. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint if desired.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

I’m in salad mode these days and this gorgeous Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad is my obsession as of late.

I’m harvesting a plethora of produce from my garden and what I didn’t grow or can’t grow, I’m finding at our local farmer’s market and farms around the valley.  I feel like a kid in a candy store!

My arugula grew beyond my expectations and my Swiss Chard is still going strong, which makes me super happy.  Swiss Chard is my favorite leafy green; I adore it for it’s peppery bite and it’s a bit more hearty when sautéed.  It makes the loveliest fillings for morning omelets or frittatas and works well in my simple weeknight one dish meal of white rice, sliced green onions, sliced fresh mushrooms, diced roasted poblanos (optional) and ground Italian sausage for the Bennett Crew and a poached egg for me. 🙂

Due to my exploding arugula, I’ve created more recipes to include arugula this year than ever before.  However, with the heat recently, I try not to turn on the oven, so this Roasted Fig and Arugula salad plus a grilled entrée is often served for dinner.  Actually, I can eat this salad without anything else, that’s how much I love it.

Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

I roast the figs early in the day and then refrigerate them.  Or I’ll grill the figs if I get busy and forget to roast them.

I dress the arugula with a honey balsamic vinaigrette, a pinch of salt and pepper and then layer with the roasted figs and crumbled goat cheese for the yummiest and most indulgent Roasted Fig and Arugula salad.

Although it’s been a hot summer, it’s been a lovely summer.  Quick day trips to the coast and dining at my absolute favorite coastal seafood restaurant, Local Ocean Seafood in Newport, hikes in the mountains with Tank and a visit with my sweet family.  The best part of this summer?  No moves! I’ve moved the last two summers and it feels so nice to be settled and enjoying the season.  Even if it’s been brutally hot.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer, staying cool and spending lots of time gathered around the table with family and friends.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese

Serving Size: 4-6

Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese


  • 4-6 cups of baby arugula leaves
  • 1-2 pints fresh figs
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Slice the figs in half and then toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Place the figs in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they are soft and a little caramelized.

Remove the figs from the oven and let them cool.

Whisk together the 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over the arugula and toss. Plate the arugula and then layer with the roasted figs, drizzling a bit more vinaigrette over the figs if desired, and then sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese.

Serve immediately.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin


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,


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


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


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

Watermelon Jicama Salad from Taste Love and Nourish

Watermelon Tequila Granita from Pink Patisserie

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


Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with Fresh Mint

Serves 4-6


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


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