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Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad vegetarian

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Grilled Romaine Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

This summer has proven to be quite a diverse and eclectic season thus far.  My home has been filled to the brim with loveliness and laughter and blonde heads roaming the halls.  

My niece came to stay with us for a college internship and of course my two sassy gals had to be in the thick of things with her.  The girls have grown up together and are separated by two and half to three years each.  I used to call them my stair step kids.  My two girls, six years apart and my niece smack in the middle.  I tell her she’s my middle child.  She laughs her infectious laugh and then we all move on to reminiscing about when the girls were young and watch home movies of dances and plays they performed.

the girls

We spent weekends touring the state and showing our niece the beauty of Oregon and I had the opportunity to try a few new things – like riding the dunes and nearly losing my breakfast on those dunes.  We prepared loads of family meals, barbecues and baked goods and sat around the patio table or living room sofa discussing life, love, dreams, health and nutrition, because one cannot leave the Bennett house without a little discussion on health and nutrition.  We’re just a little weird that way. 😉

Our sweet niece went back to school for her summer quarter and we went back to summer weekends walking the beach (and missing her) and eating seafood to kayaking the alpine lakes in the mountains and stopping for barbecue on the way home.  Time spent together, adventuring, enjoying the outdoors and most importantly, dining together.

Life around my table is never short of interesting conversation, stories of times past or delicious food.  Life – just the way I like it.

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

This lovely Grilled Romaine Salad has been on our summer menu for years.  I started grilling romaine years ago, as a way to get my girls to think the salad was a bit more special and therefore needed to be tasted.  I’d make my sisters sweet and spicy dressing (which I love!) and then top it with gorgonzola, bleu cheese or feta.  When my girls decided they loved goats cheese, I’d sub with goat cheese crumbles.  This Grilled Romaine Salad was served with dressing and cheese, or with dressing, sliced summer tomatoes and fresh cucumber with a sprinkling of cheese on top.  Sometimes I’d include grilled shrimp and make this a meal or crumbled bacon and make it just a bit more indulgent.

However, I served this grilled romaine salad, it was always a favorite way to enjoy our summer meals.

I adore sharing my recipes that represent not only precious times past but also lovely times present.  Food is the element that brings us to the table, where life is lived and memories are made.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Serving Size: 4-6

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 -3 heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise with root end still intact
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup for brushing, 1/2 cup for the dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3-4 ounces bleu cheese, gorgonzola or feta, crumbled (or more if you love cheese)
  • Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the grill to 350F, or heat a grill pan on medium high. Brush the halved romaine hearts with the 1/4 cup olive oil on both sides and then season with salt and pepper.
  • While the grill is heating, whisk together the garlic, onion, ketchup, mustard, sugar, vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil and the water. The dressing should be slightly pink. Add just a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the grill is hot place the halved romaine hearts cut side down on the grill.
  • Let the romaine halves grill for about 1 – 2 minutes and then turn the halves over and grill the other side of the romaine for another 1 – 2 minutes.
  • I like my romaine hearts just a little wilted with a bit of crisp still left in the romaine. Ranger Craig however, likes his romaine hearts a little more grilled and wilted. Feel free to grill them to your tastes.
  • Take the romaine off the grill and place on a platter. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and then drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl for a fresh and simple weeknight meal // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to post for a long time.  Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowl.  Seriously, I think I make this once a week, however, often with whatever I have on hand.

    Sometimes it’s Swiss chard because I’ve got a spring garden full of chard.   Sometimes with organic seasonal greens, spinach, mustard greens or kale that I picked up at the market because someone used all the chard for their green protein smoothie.  😉  That’s actually what happened when I went to make this recipe a few nights ago.  The Swiss chard was gone so I reached for my organic seasonal greens.  But that’s why I love this dish so much.  It can become whatever you want it or need it to be.

    sautéing leeks // Karista's Kitchen

    Begin with a little extra virgin olive oil and sauté the leeks.

     

    On occasion I’ll make this with brown rice, just for the heck of it and because I love that nutty flavor from brown rice.  Sometimes I make it with quinoa when I’m in a quinoa mood or Einkorn berries when I feel like I want to mix things up a bit.   Most often though, I make this recipe with Jasmine or Basmati rice.  I find the clean, fragrant flavor of Jasmine rice compliments the rich bitterness of the Swiss Chard or Kale.

    sautéing leeks and Italian parsley // Karista's Kitchen

    Once the leeks are slightly caramelized, add the fresh herbs and garlic.

     

    During the winter months the Bennett Crew likes a bit of sautéed crumbled Italian sausage mixed in or leftover beef or pork roast.  This dish can easily accommodate leftover roast chicken or turkey as well.

    As for me… I’m happy with a fried egg on top.

    sautéing mushrooms // Karista's Kitchen

    Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook until wilted.

     

    When leeks aren’t in season I use diced onions or sliced green onions.  When my herb box is overflowing, I chop up fresh herbs and throw those in as well.  It’s truly a hearty one dish meal that satisfies everyones palate.

    baby greens sautéing // Karista's Kitchen

    Add the greens and toss gently with tongs until wilted.

     

    sautéing baby greens // Karista's Kitchen

    All the ingredients get served over rice or ancient grain and topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese for good measure.  This, my friends, makes my family so happy. 🙂  Which makes me happy of course.

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl // Karista's Kitchen

    Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowls… Food fresh and simple.  Isn’t that what a weeknight dinner should be?

    Wishing you a very happy weekend with friends and family!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Serving Size: 4

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Ingredients

    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or ghee
    • 2 medium to large leeks, trimmed where the white turns pale green, rinsed, halved lengthwise and diced (or 1 small onion, diced)
    • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
    • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, marjoram, chives)
    • 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, buttons, chanterelle when in season are delicious)
    • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and greens chopped or 3-4 cups seasonal chopped or baby greens
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups cooked white or brown rice
    • Serve with cooked ground Italian sausage, homemade sausages, leftover pork or beef roast, leftover roast chicken and of course top with a fried or poached egg.
    • Garnish with grated parmesan cheese (optional)
    • Sometimes my youngest gal likes a dollop of Greek yogurt on top 🙂

    Instructions

  • In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of the oil or ghee. When the oil is hot add the leeks and sauté until slightly golden. Then add the minced garlic, fresh herbs and mushrooms. Add the additional tablespoon of oil if desired. But remember, the mushrooms will soak up all the liquid and oil in the pan and then once they're cooked, they will release the liquid and oil.
  • Once the mushrooms are done, add the greens in batches if necessary. Toss gently until the greens are incorporated and wilted, but not over cooked.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over rice with garnishes or meats.
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    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

    Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

    Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs // Perfect for Brunch or easy Dinner // Karista's Kitchen

     

    Well, this was a most unintentional silence. 🙁  I got busy with work (which is a good thing) and I just haven’t had a minute to write a decent or articulate post.

    I haven’t had breakfast yet this morning and while rummaging through the fridge, I spied the Swiss chard from my garden and remembered this lovely Sweet Potato Hash.  I thought it would be a great time to share it!

    I have an over abundance of Swiss chard in my garden right now.  My Swiss Chard never died back this winter, it just kept growing and growing.  You’d think this is California with a year round growing season.  But no, this is Oregon where it rains 6 months of the year and it’s supposed to dip down below freezing now and again.  It rained, but we never got the hard freeze this winter, so my chard just hung out and lingered through the winter.  Which is fine with me.

    Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs // Karista's Kitchen

    I adore Swiss chard and use it in almost every meal.  We use it for breakfast smoothies, sautéed with eggs for breakfast, in quiche, egg muffins, dinner stir fry’s, salads and in this Sweet Potato Hash.  I make some sort of hash most weekends and my Swiss chard almost always ends up in the hash.  Along with any additional spring greens I’ve got hanging around like spinach, kale, mustard and dandelion greens.  Sometimes I even throw in the rest of the Napa cabbage from Taco Tuesday.  We waste nothing at the Bennett camp.  😉  And we love our greens!

    This delicious Sweet Potato Hash can easily be prepared with roasted potatoes or roasted butternut, acorn or other squash in the winter months.  And during the summer months when poblanos are in season, they get tossed in for some spice and a little heat, along with red and green peppers.  The icing on the cake?  Top it with a fried or poached egg – and a little goat cheese for good measure.

    Honestly, I could eat this for dinner with a glass of wine and I’d be ever so happy.

    Hope you’re all doing well and loving the spring weather!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

    Serving Size: 8

    Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

    Ingredients

    • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 red onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 cups coarsely chopped spring greens (Swiss Chard, Spinach)
    • 8 eggs
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  
  • Toss the diced sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are almost done.  
  • While the sweet potatoes are baking, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft and then stir in the garlic, thyme, parsley and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and sauté a minute longer.  
  • When the sweet potatoes are done, transfer them to the skillet and then add the chopped greens. Sauté just until the greens are nicely wilted and the sweet potatoes are done. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, transfer the sweet potato hash to a serving plate or platter and top with fried eggs and serve with a side of creme fraiche or sour cream. 
  • Notes

    Published in Home By Design Magazine April 2015

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    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,

    Karista

    Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint

    Linguine with Brown Butter, Parmesan, Peas and Mint

    Ingredients

    • 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

    Instructions

  • 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.
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    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.

    Ingredients

      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

    Instructions

    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.
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    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,

    Karista

     

    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

    Ingredients

    • 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

    Instructions

  • 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.
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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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    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

     

    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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    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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    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,

    Karista

    Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya

    Serving Size: 8

    Chocolate Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Papaya

    Ingredients

      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

    Instructions

  • 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.
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