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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Seafood

Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen // A perfectly delicious way to start a dinner party or holiday gathering.

I call this crab salad, Retro Crab Salad, because its much like the crab salad I used to nibble on “back in the day”.

This is the kind of crab salad that would have been beautifully displayed on my mom’s orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  I didn’t always remember every dish of food that would grace the table but for some reason, I always remember that table-cloth.  Funny how we remember the most unusual things from our childhood.  This table-cloth (and the food that adorned it) and my gram’s tapioca pudding are two of my favorite food memories.

A few months ago when I was visiting my mom, she reminded me to browse through her old linens and take what I wanted.  Well wouldn’t you know it… the first linen I saw was the old orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  Of course, I had to have it – and I had to use it for a retro menu that I created for one of my clients.

Retro Crab Salad and Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen

This lovely little retro crab salad was one the recipes I created for that menu.  Along with a few other delectable retro dishes, this crab salad has been a staple in my kitchen all summer long. Mostly because Ranger Craig and I went deep-sea fishing and crabbing and came home with 16 crab.  I made scores of crab salad, crab cakes, crab stuffed Dover sole and crab beurre blanc.  Crab landed in every dinner meal that week.  And I wasn’t a bit sad about that. 😉

Crab is a staple here in the Pacific Northwest.  It can be pricey certain times of the year, but when it’s in season, or we go crabbing, it’s economical and the perfect seafood to add to our dinner menu.  Although, crab has ended up in breakfast omelets a time or two.

I love this retro crab salad any time of the year.  But I think this dish is especially fun during the holiday season.  You can certainly serve it with crostini or crackers, but serving it with toast points somehow feels befitting.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

Serving Size: 4-6

Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

This retro crab salad includes all the traditional elements of crab salad using pimentos, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. However, the addition of thinly sliced green onions gives it a little bite that blends so deliciously with the other ingredients.


  • 8-12 ounces of crabmeat (if fresh crab is not available, feel free to use good quality canned crabmeat)
  • ¼ -1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 2-ounce jar of pimentos, drained
  • ¼ cup thin sliced green onions
  • ¼-1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-12 slices of good quality white bread or dark rye
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


  • Squeeze the excess water from the crabmeat. In a medium bowl, mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, pimentos, green onions, cheddar cheese and squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place it in the refrigerator while you make the toast points.
  • Pre-heat the oven to broil. Brush each slice of bread with butter on both sides. Place the bread slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Once the bread is golden brown on the first side, turn the slices over to toast the other side. This shouldn’t take long so watch your toast carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven, sprinkle each slice of bread with a pinch of salt and let the toast cool. Trim the crust and slice each piece of bread diagonally to make two triangles.
  • Serve the chilled crab salad with the toast points.
  • Notes

    This recipe originally created for Home by Design Magazine

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin


    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Salmon Seafood

    Nori Wrapped Salmon

    Nori wrapped salmon with fresh herbs, dijon and wasabi

    Working as a chef translates into many things.  Personal clients, catering, recipe development, food photography, prep chef, sometimes dishwasher/kitchen cleaner and cheese specialist (yep did that too).  I’ve had (and still have) several unique positions being a chef and it’s been an absolute blast.  I have to say however, one of my most favorite positions has been that of culinary instructor.

    Over the last several years I taught culinary classes at one of our local culinary schools in Seattle.  I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the loveliest and most talented Chefs, Assistants and Nutritionists, as well as some amazing students.  One of the Nutritionists, Jennifer Adler, makes this exquisite and healthy recipe for her students and recommends it for her clients.  The ingredient list alone made my mouth water and I knew this bit of deliciousness had to make a regular rotation on my menu – for my family as well as my clients.

    Nori wrapped salmon with fresh herbs, Dijon, and wasabi

    Not only does this wrapped salmon make a lovely meal, I also prepare it in small bite size portions. These little bites make a simple and enticing starter for a brunch or evening dinner party.  Not only are they packed with flavor and good nutrition, they look like little pieces of art resting on a platter.

    So if you aim to please some taste buds but you want to keep things on the light side – or you want to impress your guests, this is a perfect savory recipe.  For even more taste-bud enchantment I like to pair my Nori Wrapped Salmon with pickled ginger, coconut rice and sautéed Asian greens.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Nori Wrapped Salmon


    1lb salmon fillet, cut into 2-4 pieces (have your fishmonger remove the skin if you like)

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs. I use thyme, basil, chive, oregano or mint, Italian parsley, garlic, salt and pepper

    3 tablespoons quality Dijon mustard

    Pinch of wasabi

    4 sheets of Nori (usually found in the Asian food aisle in your local market)


    Preheat the oven to 350F.

    Mix together the oil,  herbs, salt and pepper.  Rub the salmon with this mixture.

    Mix together the mustard and wasabi.  Spread this mixture onto a square of nori, large enough to wrap your fillet.  Place the salmon piece on the edge of the nori and wrap.  Like a little package. The nori will stick to itself and the fish.

    Place the wrapped fish in a slightly oiled baking dish or on a baking sheet.  Fish should cook for about 10 minutes to every inch of thickness.  However, with the nori wrap the cooking time could take a little longer.  I like my salmon under cooked just a bit so I usually stick to the 10 minutes per inch rule.

    Remove the fish from the oven and serve with pickled ginger and coconut rice if desired.  If you want to dress up the wrapped salmon, I like to tie it in a blade of chive and serve.   Enjoy!

    Recipe from Jennifer Adler, MS, CN

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Pork Seafood vegetarian

    Holiday Antipasti Platter



    Antipasti platter with crostini, salumi, and cheese

    Holiday Antipasti Platter with Assorted Cheese, Salumi and Crostini

    While visiting Tuscany this past Autumn, almost every meal began with an antipasti; signifying the beginning of the meal.  It’s a first course served to create anticipation of the meal to come, as well as stimulate the appetite without filling the stomach. Much like the French hors d’oeuvres and Spanish tapas or the American appetizer, Antipasti sets the stage for the dinner meal.

    In Tuscany, antipasti usually consists of assorted dry cured meats, olives, cheese, roasted peppers, Crostini, marinated artichokes and traditional Bruschetta.  For a special occasion or light lunch the traditional pappa al pomodoro, ribollita (a lovely cabbage and bread stew) and rosemary white beans might be served.

    Antipasti is the perfect starter for holiday celebrations, special occasions, dinner parties or social events. Lovely nibbles to build excitement of the event.

    Holiday Antipasti Platter

    This my favorite assortment of antipasti, including two of my favorite crostini and a traditional bruschetta.  Many of these were served for lunch or before dinner while visiting Tuscany with the Storytellers.  A delicious combination that pairs beautifully with all the DaVinci wines.

    I created this platter for DaVinci Wine and it can be found on their Facebook page. Just click HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Buon Appetito,


    PS: Wishing everyone a very happy and safe New Years Eve!


    Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to take a road trip.  Cruising down the highway to some cool tunes, aptly selected and managed by my teenage daughter.

    Stopping for a coffee and then a little snack. Talking, laughing, reminiscing about my daughter’s childhood and the adorable things she did and said when she was little.

    Thought provoking discussions about life, love and the pursuit of dreams; and how my little girl will someday help shape the world and make it a better place.

    All the while driving through cities and the green valley floor; over the rugged mountains to the end of the road that lead to the blue-gray Pacific ocean.  A magnificent vision.

    Angry storm clouds rolling past with wind and light rain, as if to say winter isn’t leaving just yet.  It was beautiful.  Magical.

    oregon oceanside

    My Sassy Gal, The Photographer

    After sharing such a lovely few hours with my daughter, once we arrived to our destination she was ready to kick off her shoes, lounge in her room and watch a movie.  Most likely, while texting or snap chatting her friends about how they were enjoyng their spring breaks.

    With the Sassy Gal happily lounging in her room, Ranger Craig and I were ready to explore the little seaside village.  First things first, we found a pub.  The cutest Irish pub with the freshest seafood, and of course, beer.

    A festive little pub filled with cheerful souls that made me want to stand on my chair and sing an Irish tune.  But I didn’t.  I gracefully refrained.  Although, I’m sure Ranger Craig wouldn’t have minded.  He’s watched me sing a tune or two.  Thankfully he’s charmed by my somewhat overzealous personality.

    Home again, home again and dreaming of the ocean, I decided it was time to bring out the ceviche recipe.  It’s a permanent resident in my frig most of the summer.  Typically prepared with different ingredients depending on my food mood or what I found at the Farmer’s Market.

    I hope you love the ceviche so much, it makes you want to stand on your chair and sing an Irish tune. 😉

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    Feel free to add in your favorite ingredients.  Sometimes I add diced cucumber, diced red pepper, diced mango or diced pineapple.  Just for fun.


    1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces

    ½ lb bay shrimp

    1/2 cup white onion, small diced (1 small – medium onion)

    5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

    1 teaspoon or more of Sriracha hot sauce

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)

    Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)

    sea salt and pepper

    1 ripe avocado, diced


    Place the diced halibut and lime juice in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through.

    Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut back in the glass bowl.

    Add the diced onion, tomatoes, bay shrimp and cilantro. Toss gently with the Sriracha and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Before serving squeeze lime juice over the avocado and then gently fold into the ceviche.

    Serve with blue or yellow corn chips as an appetizer or light dinner.  But my favorite way to enjoy this ceviche is in warm tortillas as tacos!  Top with a little Cotija or Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

    Recipe from

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    A Little Spring Love

    lemon, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, hummus

    The song birds have begun their annual melodies of sweet tunes announcing the arrival of spring.

    Each morning, at the break of dawn, It sounds like a festival of  little bird choirs outside my window.

    Making me smile as I slowly wake, I listen quietly to the mini concert.  Thinking to myself how much joy such simple sounds bring.

    Spring feels like a second chance.  A new beginning.  A do over.

    I think you get the picture. 🙂

    Lemon and Cilantro Hummus

    Lemon Cilantro Hummus

    I’d like to think it’s a second chance at making this new growing season the best yet.  And although the weather still hasn’t warmed enough to start planting, I can’t wait to begin my annual dig in the earthy sweet soil.

    Always striving to improve my green thumb, I’ve decided it was time to invest in some farming classes.  So I’m going to Farm School.   It just seems a natural progression.  Culinary school. Farm School.

    It’s my friend Janelle’s fault.  She’s an Urban Farmer Extraordinaire and one of my culinary hero’s.  She’s been talking about farm school for a while now and of course, I caught the bug.

    If you don’t already follow Janelle’s blog, Talk of Tomatoes, head on over and check it out.  Pure food and urban farm love!

    I leave you with this little celebration of spring.  Something I imagine my little song birds would love to feast on.  Or probably “in” as it’s served in bowl.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Lemon Cilantro Hummus.  Enticing flavors of fresh cilantro and lemon swirled in homemade hummus with a spritz of my favorite olive oil.  Simply served with blue corn chips, pita chips, veggies or fresh bread or slathered on your favorite sandwich.  My sister loves hummus in a wrap with sliced apples and arugula or add smoked sliced turkey for a little extra protein. 

    Lemon Cilantro Hummus

    Serves 6-8


    2 – 15ounce cans chickpeas or garbanzo beans

    ½ cup of liquid from the beans/chickpeas reserved

    2 lemons, one zested, both juiced (about ¼ cup lemon juice)

    ¼ -1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 ½ teaspoon salt

    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, a little extra for drizzling

    ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (if you aren’t a fan of cilantro, sub with fresh basil)


    Drain the chickpeas or garbanzo beans making sure to reserve at least ½ cup of the liquid.  Add the chickpeas or beans to a food processor with the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, ¼ cup of reserved liquid and olive oil.  If the hummus feels too dry, continue adding a tablespoon of reserved liquid until you reach the desired consistency.

    Once pureed and smooth, fold in all but a teaspoon of chopped cilantro and most of the zest, reserving just a bit for garnish.

    Taste for seasoning and then drizzle with additional olive oil and top with garnish.  Serve with warm pita bread, blue corn chips, fresh sliced veggies or use it as a spread for sandwiches, wraps or layer in a salad of fresh spring produce.  During the summer months I love to serve it with a platter of grilled veggies.

    Inspired by many sources.

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Super Bowl Sunday Round-up!

    As usual I’m “late to the party” with this post.  But if you’re like me and haven’t decided what to prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, here’s a rowdy round-up of complete deliciousness 🙂


    Chicken Wonton Tacos with Sesame Slaw from Alaska from Scratch

    Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites with Jalapeno Spiced Raspberry Glaze from 1227 Foster

    Butterbean Hummus with Smoked Paprika Oil from Frugal Feeding

    Award Winning Beef chili from Blue Kale Road

    Can’t forget the dessert!

    Cherry Berry Chocolate Ice Cream Cake from Pink Patisserie

    Coconut Tuiles from Pastry Craft Seattle

    Dreamy Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting from A Beautiful Bite

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Grilled Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sautéed Sweet Onions and Swiss Cheese

    Serves 12


    2 lbs Pork Tenderloin (not marinated) Each whole tenderloin is about 1lb each.

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

    1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

    1 teaspoon (or more to taste) Asian chili paste or hot sauce (I like Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste)

    1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

    6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

    Dash of sesame oil

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Serve with:

    Sautéed Sweet Onions (recipe below)

    Hot mustard

    Slices of Swiss cheese (optional)

    Mini or slider buns, or Hawaiian Bread Rolls


    Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag or glass baking dish.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    To prepare:

    Pre-heat the grill to 375F (The pork can also be oven roasted. See below).  Place the tenderloins on the grill and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145F.

    You may need to flip the tenderloins a time or two to keep the marinade from burning and evenly brown the pork.

    When the pork is done remove from the heat and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

    Thinly slice the pork and assemble on slider buns, topped with a small slice of Swiss cheese and warm sautéed sweet onions.

    Serve with Asian hot sauce or hot mustard mixed

    *The pork can also be roasted in a 375F oven until the internal temperature reaches 145F.  About 20 minutes.

    Add a little of the marinade in the roasting pan or baking dish to keep the tenderloin moist.

    Sautéed Sweet Onions


    3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, Texas Sweet)

    4 tablespoons clarified butter or oil


    Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan or skillet.  When the butter is melted and/or oil is hot, add all the onions. Keep turning the onions in the pan for the first few minutes to keep them from burning.  Turn down the heat to medium low if needed.

    Let the onions cook down, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and caramelized.  This usually takes about 20 – 30 minutes.  Once they are nicely golden brown remove them from the heat.

    Season with a pinch of salt and serve with the pork sliders.

    Appetizers Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

    turkey meatballs with curry spices and fresh apple

    Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

    Everyone seemed to land at home today.  No school, no work, no plans, on this cold and foggy winter day.  Wow! That almost never happens.

    It was nice. Nice to have everyone under one roof, all at the same time.  Food simmering stove top and fragrantly spiced meatballs baking in the oven.  All of us hanging about the kitchen chatting, laughing, telling stories, with a few lively debates mixed in. (of course all led by two sassy gals)

    These are the moments that never cease to warm my heart.

    Even Tank joined in the fun while I tackled my yard chores.  He teased the chicken gals by putting his face against the fence. Then jumped back playfully when they try to peck at him.  One day I’ll catch that on video.

    Turkey meatballs with curry spices and fresh apple

    Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

    Among a few other enticing dishes, today I made the Bennett Crew’s favorite turkey meatballs.

    Moist, fragrant, delightfully spiced and a hint of golden color.  Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs.  A perfect, versatile dish that can travel to a party or the short walk to the dinner table.

    In my case however, most of them flew right off the baking sheet. 🙂

    Delicious wishes for a healthy and happy week!

    Loads of Love,


    Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

    I keep these stashed in the frig for late night snacks, quick lunches or a dinner meal.  Perfect for popping in the freezer (par-cooked) and then pulling them out when you need dinner in a pinch.

    I have my friend Gazala to thank for this lovely spice blend.  Truly magical!

    The key is to purchase fresh quality spices, whole if you can find them, toast and then grind in a spice grinder.  Refresh your spices about every six months for best flavor.  The Spicy Gourmet is my online source for quality spices.

    Serves 4-6


    1lb ground dark turkey meat

    ½ cup finely chopped red onion

    1/4 cup grated fresh apple

    2 teaspoons turmeric

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 teaspoon finely minced or grated fresh ginger

    1 teaspoon salt

    Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

    ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    2 teaspoons fresh ground curry spice (recipe follows)

    1/3 cup breadcrumbs

    1 egg, whisked


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with just a little oil.

    In a large bowl add the ground dark turkey, curry spice mix, turmeric, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, onion and apple.  Gently mix together and then add the breadcrumbs and whisked egg and gently incorporate into the spiced ground turkey.

    Make tablespoon sized meatballs and place on the lined baking sheet.  I also use a medium cookie scoop for even measuring.  As well, you could use a very small scoop for tiny appetizer meatballs.

    Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.

    Serve with cauliflower mashers, coconut sweet potato mashers or a Mediterranean couscous.  You can also serve these meatballs with a delicious Moroccan Meatball Sauce that you’ll find at   Delicious!

    Fresh Ground Spice Mix


    2 tablespoons whole coriander

    1 tablespoon cumin seeds

    10 cardamom pods

    3 whole cloves

    ½ stick cinnamon


    Place the spices in a dry small pan and toast over medium heat.  Once toasted, remove from the pan and let the spices cool.  Then grind them together in a spice grinder.  You will only need two teaspoons for the meatballs, so reserve the remaining spice mix for soups, stews, curries, egg dishes and veggies.

    I purchase my fresh spices from

    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I’m basking in the quiet this morning.  A rare moment.  The day will get busier and by the end, I’ll wonder where time went.

    With a full daily schedule, I constantly remind myself “be present in the moment”.  Sage advice from my lovely yoga Instructor.  Advice that has allowed me to relish time, instead of passing through it at mach speed.

    I walk around mumbling these words.  So often that I found myself reciting this phrase in the market yesterday.  To my embarrassment, a fellow shopper thought I was talking to her.  No, just talking to myself.

    I realized how much I miss in life when I’m not present in the moment.  Little things my daughters say, a hidden smile from my husband, sadness in a friend’s voice or joy in my niece’s email telling me she got into the college of her choice.

    Even the pained look on Tank’s face when I’ve forgotten to feed him.  Although he usually won’t let anyone forget to feed him.  Even though he’s sporting a little extra “husky” these days and could use a tiny reduction in his food consumption.

    Being present in the moment has become more important to me as of late. The tragedy in Newtown is devastating.  I cannot imagine.

    Like many, I’ve shed a thousand tears. My heart continues to grieve for those who lost their precious children and loved ones.  My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them.

    I wish you all true joy, much love and peace this holiday season!

    Loads of Love,


    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I love this dish as an entree with Mexican Diver Scallops or as an appetizer with smaller scallops U 20-30.   The Raspberry Chipotle Glaze is even fabulous on grilled salmon, chicken and shrimp.  A lovely and versatile sauce. 🙂


    Serves 2-3

    10 large dry packed scallops (for appetizer use smaller dry packed scallops U 20-30, but not Bay Scallops)

    5-8 slices prosciutto (sliced in half lengthwise)

    10 rosemary stalks for skewers (or pretty party picks that can withstand heat)

    Salt and Pepper

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    1 cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds, although I prefer without seeds.  If you can’t find without seed, just strain the glaze before using)

    1/4 – 1/3 cup white wine or port

    1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce

    Pinch of black pepper


    To make the sauce,  in a blender or food processor, pulse the preserves, chipotle chili and wine.  Just until nicely combined.  Transfer to a small pot and heat on low.  Stir in a pinch of black pepper.  The heat thin the sauce a bit.  The sauce thickens as it cools.

    To make the scallops, wrap one strip of prosciutto around the scallop and secure with a rosemary skewer.  Continue to do this with the remaining scallops.

    Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of clarified butter or high heat oil.  Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper.  When the butter is hot, brown the scallops on both sides.  About 1-2 minutes on each side depending on size of the scallop.  You may need to adjust your heat and turn it down to medium if your pan gets too hot.  You want the scallops to have a nice golden brown crust on each side.  Click on this link for a visual tutorial on how to perfectly pan sear scallops.

    Drizzle sauce on plates or a platter and then place the cooked scallops on top of the sauce and serve immediately.  As well, you can plate the scallops and then drizzle the sauce on top.  Either way, it’ll taste fantastic!

    Recipe inspired by my favorite fishmonger, Jim at Gemini Fish Market 🙂

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Pork

    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    stuffed olive and sausage bites

    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    There is no doubt the holidays are always a busy time of year.  However, the last few years it’s become a reason to put the brakes on.  Or at least slow down long enough to savor the season.

    I find myself turning off my computer earlier in the evening, leaving the iPad on my desk, losing my phone (ok… I do this year round), and hanging out by the fire watching old holiday films, sipping my new fave wine and enjoying the company of my beautiful family.

    It’s amazing how something as simple as a Christmas movie and a good cup of cocoa can bring everyone into the family room.For me, the holidays are also a time of reflection.  Reflection on the unexpected blessings, the mountainous hurdles that have been jumped and long winding roads that were crossed.

    The joy of being a mom of two beautiful and sassy gals, the ever present love, laughter and hilarious adventure with a man who is my best friend. Reflection on the love of family and friends, and new friendships.

    Stuffed olives and sausage rolled in panko and baked

    One evening at a food blogging event this past summer,  I found myself standing alone at a tall table in the corner of a large barn like building.  I was trying to look casual holding my cocktail and putting my pride in check after a disappointing moment.  I’m typically eager to meet new people and make new friends.  However, sometimes I forget others are not so eager.

    So with my pride somewhat bruised and mentally giving myself a good lecture, I stood there watching the crowd as if I were on the outside looking in.

    I checked the time on my phone and only half an hour had passed.  Oh well, I thought. It’s time to pack it in, go home, put on the pajamas and read a good book.  There were also three Bennett’s at home that would give me no shortage of conversation.

    Just as I was fishing around my handbag for my keys, a lovely lady with a bright as a Christmas tree smile introduced herself.  I probably looked stunned.  I’m sure it took me a minute but I soon realized she was speaking to me and I should probably speak back.

    Melanie is genuine. She presented me with a kindness I will never forget.  Along with a few more lovely women from the event, Melanie became a new friend.

    Melanie is the author of the blog Melanie in the Middle and now her newest project, A Beautiful Bite, Where Passion and Plate Collide. Fresh, fun, beautiful and mouthwatering recipes.  And she has the best giveaways!

    So, in honor of A Beautiful Bite, I thought I’d share these lovely little Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites.  Perfect starters for your holiday table.

    Or if you’re like me… you eat them for lunch. 😉

    Happy Holidays and Loads of Love,


    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    Makes about 18-20 depending on size of the olives


    1 jar (or about 20) feta or bleu cheese stuffed green olives.  Sometimes I can find orange peel stuffed olives and these are fabulous in this starter.

    About ½ – ¾ panko style bread crumbs

    1 pound sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage


    Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Make sure you lightly paper towel the olives so the sausage will stick.

    I usually place the olives in one bowl, the sausage in another and the bread crumbs in a third bowl.

    Flatten out a tablespoon sized portion of sausage in your palm. Place an olive in the center, then shape the sausage around it, enclosing the olive.

    Roll the sausage wrapped olive in the bread crumbs. Continue to shape it and pressing the bread crumbs into the sausage slightly.  As olives are prepared, space them apart on a baking sheet.

    Repeat with the remaining olives.

    The olives can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.  Cover tightly.

    At least 20 minutes before baking, remove them from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 450F.  Bake the olives for about 12-14 minutes, until the sausage is cooked and lightly browned.

    Serve on a long olive tray or speared with fun picks.

    Recipe slightly adapted from the fabulous Chef Kathy Casey, Sips and Apps

    Halibut Salad Seafood

    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche made into tacos from Karista's Kitchen
    Simple Halibut Ceviche is one of the easiest seafood recipes to prepare.  I know you’re probably thinking I’ve had way too much sun this summer, but truly, ceviche can be simple, flavorful and delicious and a perfect seasonal starter.

    There are many different types of ceviche recipes and each South American country has their own version of ceviche. Many ceviche recipes can include ingredients from sweet potatoes and corn to squid and octopus. Although you can certainly add whatever you like to this particular ceviche recipe, I’ve kept it simple for sake of time, and flavor.

    For this Simple Halibut Ceviche, I’ve combined the halibut with lime juice and white onion. Once it’s been cold poached in the lime juice, I drain the liquid and then toss it with diced fresh summer tomatoes, diced jalapeno and chopped fresh cilantro. Then I season to taste with salt and pepper and dash of hot sauce. This gorgeous dish is a delicious starter for dinner guests or fun street style tacos for a light meal.

    I love to serve this Simple Halibut Ceviche with organic blue corn chips.  It makes a lovely presentation and the sweet flavor of the blue corn compliments the spicy and citrus flavors of the ceviche. 

    For something fun and festive, I often prepare patacones to serve with the ceviche.  Patacones are plantains that have been sliced, fried, flattened and fried again and then lightly seasoned with sea salt.   I’ve included a recipe with the ceviche. If you’d like to see a quick tutorial on how I make patacones, you can find it HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche


      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces
    • 1 small white onion, diced
    • Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)
    • 5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
    • 1-2 jalapeno, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)
    • sea salt and pepper
      For the Patacones
    • Patacones (Plantain Chips)
    • 2-3 green plantains
    • High heat or refined veggie oil (a sunflower or safflower oil works well)
    • Sea salt


    For the Ceviche
  • Place the diced halibut, lime juice and all but 1/4 of the diced onion in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt and stir. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through. I often let this marinate overnight.
  • Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut onion mixture back in the glass bowl.
  • Add the remaining diced onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, and cilantro. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
  • Serve with blue or yellow corn chips. You can also serve with Patacones.
  • Optional Add ins: Diced fresh Avocado, diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thin sliced radishes, diced poblano peppers, chili pepper flakes, red pepper flakes, cooked bay shrimp, fresh chopped oregano.
  • For the Patacones (Plantain Chips)
  • Cut off the ends of the plantains and then carefully cut a slit down the length of the skin without cutting into the plantain itself. Using a wooden or small spoon, pry up the edges of the peel and pull off the skin. Once the peel is removed cut the plantain crosswise into slices about 2 inches long.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until it shimmers, about 3 minutes. Add the plantains and fry them until they turn golden on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Flatten the plantains by pressing down on them with a heavy-bottomed pan pressing them into round discs. Return 1/2 of the flattened plantains to the oil and re-fry until deep golden on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer back to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining flattened plantains. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
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