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appetizers

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

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza from Karista's Kitchen

Summer for me is all about easy, seasonal meals that delight the senses and tame the hunger like my Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza.

I call this playful food; because it combines such fun ingredients that play so well together. I have to admit, fruit and cheese are like long-lost lovers meant to be together. Whether they’re used in a sweet or savory recipe, they always happily compliment each other.

I like my pizza simply topped with just a few fresh ingredients. During the summer months I like to dress pizza with fresh made pesto from basil, arugula or spinach. If I’ve got a plethora of Swiss chard, kale and collard greens in the garden, I’ll often toss those into the pesto as well.  Then I top it with fresh summer fruit and either feta, brie or goat cheese.

The end result is a light but flavorful Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza that enchants my palate. Not to mention, it brings many happy faces to my table.

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza from Karista's Kitchen

I’ve got a delicious pizza crust recipe included however, because I’ve got a gluten intolerant kiddo, I often make a low-carb pizza crust instead. It uses almond flour and mozzarella cheese as the base and I must say it’s divine. A little work to prepare but the end result is worth it. You can find the recipe here. There are several versions of this low-carb crust, however, I like this recipe and the website gives step by step instructions which makes it much easier when preparing the crust for the first time.

Cheers to the summer and all the summer deliciousness ahead!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Serving Size: 4

Apricot, Basil and Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1-2 12-inch pizza crusts or pre-made pizza crusts, flatbread, Naan or pita bread rounds
  • 1/2 – 1 cup traditional basil pesto or your own homemade pesto
  • 4 apricots, pitted and sliced
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 bunch basil, whole leaves only
    Easy Pizza Dough
  • ¾ cups (6 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

To Make the Pizza Crust
  • 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 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.
  • To Assemble the Pizza
  • If using homemade pizza dough, spread ¼ cup or more of basil pesto on the pizza dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese, apricot slices and basil leaves.
  • Bake the pizza on the parchment in a 450°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, garnish with additional basil leaves if desired. Let it cool for about five minutes, then cut and serve.
  • If using a pre-made pizza crust, Naan, flatbread or Pita round
  • Reduce the oven heat to 400F and place them on a pizza stone or baking sheet.
  • Top the crusts with ¼ cup or more of basil pesto, crumbled goat cheese, apricot slices and basil leaves. Bake in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until the goat cheese looks soft and slightly melted and the crust is golden brown.
  • Remove it from the oven and garnish with additional basil leaves if desired. Let it cool for about five minutes then cut slices and serve.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m here to tell you that Bacon Wrapped Peaches are addictive. I have to limit how many I make, otherwise I end up eating half the tray before it makes it to the table. 

    These little lovelies can be baked in the oven or grilled outdoors. Although, I typically bake them in the oven while Ranger Craig is outdoors grilling the entrée.

    During the summer I adore using ripe, fresh peaches.  During the winter months, when I want to make these for football season or the holidays, I use local frozen peaches. Both work beautifully.

    If I want the bacon extra crispy, I’ll pre-bake the bacon in my oven, just until it renders some of the fat and begins to cook.  Just before it gets crispy, I wrap the bacon around the peaches and then finish in the oven.  However, if I’m using a thin sliced bacon, I typically wrap and bake all at one time.

    I adore a smokey, sweet combination of flavors and these Bacon Wrapped Peaches completely deliver.  I love that I can use my locally raised bacon with my locally raised peaches for a locally prepared recipe. 😉

    I also make this dish with pineapple spears. Yep, bacon wrapped pineapple. Also amazing!

    I’m off to the races this week. Not actually the “races”, but I’m racing time and my schedule so this post is short and sweet. Literally!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Bacon Wrapped Peaches

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2-3 summer peaches, halved, pitted and each peach sliced into 6 wedges
    • 8 ounces thin sliced bacon, each slice halved
    • Toothpicks or party picks for serving

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Brush a parchment lined baking sheet with the one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Wrap a halved bacon slice around each slice of peach and place on the baking sheet seam side down.
  • Bake the peaches for about 10-12 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then carefully transfer the bacon wrapped peaches to a serving platter. Serve with toothpicks or party picks.
  • Notes

    On occasion when I want to make these delicious treats but I can’t find fresh peaches or peaches are not in season, I’ll use good quality frozen peaches. Method of cooking is the same using the frozen peach. Don’t thaw the peaches prior to baking.

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    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Seafood Shrimp

    Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

    Hugo's Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing quite like Hugo’s barbecue shrimp with bleu cheese slaw. This is an impressive and simple barbecue shrimp recipe that’ll absolutely become a family favorite. 

    The first time I made this recipe I swear I could have sipped the barbecue sauce. It’s that delicious!

    I first heard about this now famous recipe many years ago when I was working as a private chef and culinary instructor.  I was scheduled to cook for a holiday party for my good friend, Michele, and her husband Ron. When we discussed the menu, they asked me to include their favorite barbecue shrimp recipe, Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw.

    The sauce is much simpler than I would have guessed but it works. Although, I backed off on the lemon juice because I felt the amount listed was a bit too intense for my palate. Otherwise, I followed the recipe for the sauce as written.

    I also deviated from the recipe a bit by seasoning the shrimp with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. It happened to be a cold and rainy December during that time so I decided to pan sear the shrimp in ghee which gave them a deep, creamy flavor along with a hint of smokey flavor from the smoked paprika.

    Hugos Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    As if that isn’t enough, I plated them along with the bleu cheese slaw and I promise I heard angels singing the hallelujah chorus. 🙂

    The sauce holds for at least three days so when I serve it for dinner guests I’ll prepare the sauce a day in advance.  Then all I need to do is grill, pan cook or bake the shrimp and assemble the slaw.

    I also like to serve this with warm garlic crostini or a crusty baguette for dipping into the extra sauce.

    If you make this recipe let me know what you think. You’re going to love it!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

    Serving Size: 6

    Ingredients

      For the barbecue sauce
    • 5 ounces Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
    • 5 ounces soy sauce
    • Strained juice from half a lemon (I used 1/2-1 tablespoon lemon juice)
    • 5 ounces tomato purée
    • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
      For the slaw
    • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) Maytag blue cheese (I used Rogue Creamery's Smokey Bleu Cheese)
    • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
    • Lemon juice, to taste
    • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
    • 2 scallions, sliced thin
    • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
      For the shrimp
    • 36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tail on for easy eating)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 cup peanut oil (I use olive oil or coconut oil for grilling and ghee for pan cooking)
    • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe above)
    • 1 to 2 scallions sliced, to garnish
    • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, to garnish

    Instructions

  • To make the barbecue sauce base, combine all the ingredients except the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer until the cream has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Gradually stir the barbecue base into the heavy cream, stopping when you like the flavor. Bring the combined mixture back to a boil, then simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. The shrimp cook quickly, so have your sauce ready before you begin to cook them.
  • To make the slaw, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice, to taste. Right before cooking the shrimp, toss the cabbage with just enough mayonnaise to coat. Add the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  • Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil or ghee until smoking. Add the shrimp, being careful not to crowd. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • To serve, place a mound of the slaw in the middle of each plate and lean six shrimp against it. Drizzle the shrimp with the barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with scallion slices and blue cheese.
  • Notes

    When the shrimp are done I usually take half the sauce and add it to the shrimp, allowing the shrimp to soak up all the flavor. Then when I plate, the shrimp are already sauced and I serve extra sauce with the platter.

    This is fun set up on a platter for an appetizer or even shared entree.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen

     

    If there is one moment during the year that no one will ever question how long you (I) linger around the hors d’oeuvre table, it’s during the holidays when the table is loaded with glorious amounts of creamy, lush cheese.  After all, what can be more fun than nibbling on new types of cheese or an excuse to indulge in your favorite cheese?

    Putting together a holiday cheese board couldn’t be simpler.  I like to include at least five kinds of cheese ranging from soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard from different regions of the US or International.  You could always create a “local” cheese board with cheese made only from your region.  This would be a delicious way to support not only your local cheese makers but introduce your guests to the cheese produced in your area.

    I also like to assemble an international cheese board, sort of “around the world in cheese”.  This is delectable fun and creates interesting conversation around the food table.  It’s also a great way to introduce guests to new cheese!

    Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen

    I like to label the cheese on the holiday cheese board and if there is room on the label, give a short tasting description.  You can find tasting descriptions online or simply ask your local cheese specialist.  They love to talk cheese. 😉 I should know, I worked as a cheese specialist once upon a time – and I still like to talk about cheese.

    When putting together your holiday cheese board be sure to add in a few extra nibbles either on the board or on platters around the board.  I recently found these lovely parmesan cheese crisp crackers that are divine when paired with cheese.  I also love an interesting selection of charcuterie paired with the cheese, possibly from your local charcuterie shop or butcher.  Assorted oil cured or stuffed olives (I adore lemon rind stuffed green olives), candied or truffle laced nuts, peppers or peppadew peppers, grapes, apple or pear slices dipped in chocolate.  A small assortment of fresh bread, crostini or crackers rounds out this lovely holiday cheese board.

    A holiday cheese board makes a perfect first course for all your dinner parties or celebrations, but it can also make a fabulous last course with cocktails or aperitif.

    Wishing you all a most delicious and happy holiday season!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Holiday Cheese Board

    Ingredients

    • Five types of cheese ranging from soft, semi-soft, semi-hard to soft
    • Oil cured or stuffed olives
    • Charcuterie, assorted (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta, etc)
    • Fresh fruit such as grapes, pear or apple slices
    • Peppers or Peppadew Peppers (goat cheese stuffed peppadews are divine!)
    • Candied, smoked, herbed or truffled nuts
    • Assorted crackers, crostini, fresh bread, slices of pumpkin or banana bread is always fun

    Instructions

  • On a large platter, platters or wood board, place your cheese around the board/platter, spacing it out and cutting a few slices of each to get the slicing started.
  • In between the cheese place bits of grapes/fruit, tiny bowls of nuts, peppers and olives, roll or stack the charcuterie and then wedge the crackers in if there is space. If not, serve the crackers, crostini, bread pieces, etc in small bowls or platters.
  • Label the cheese and serve. Simple and delicious!
  • Notes

    This Holiday Cheese Board was created for Western Horse & Gun Magazine 2016 Holiday Issue.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    I know what you’re thinking.  What is a Baked Boudin Ball?   That’s the question I asked when I first moved to Louisiana many years ago.

    Baked Boudin Balls are a Cajun and Creole tradition, steeped in one of the most delicious culinary histories.

    Friends and co-workers would bring Tupperware bowls of Boudin Balls to work for Friday potluck or birthday celebrations.  I remember the first time I bit into one of those tempting treats, filled with a regional spicy boudin sausage and white rice, rolled in bread crumbs and then fried to perfection.  They were so delicious and so addicting, I found myself standing around the potluck table stuffing my face with the savory nibbles.

    I left that event telling myself I had to learn how to make Boudin Balls at home.

    Boudin Balls got their name from the Cajun/Creole sausage, Boudin, that originates in Louisiana.  You probably won’t find it outside of Louisiana or East Texas, unless you make it yourself.  Typically, Boudin is prepared with pork, rice, green peppers, onions and seasonings, put through a meat grinder and then stuffed into sausage casings.  Grilled, pan seared, steamed or sautéed, every Boudin recipe varies from region to region and family to family.

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    When I left Louisiana, I moved to the northeast and there wasn’t a boudin sausage to be found.  So rather than try making my own, I substituted with local sausage specialties.  Now living in the Pacific Northwest, we have a local sausage house that makes a variety of pork and beef sausages from locally sourced meat that are perfect for making Boudin Balls.

    Sometimes I make Boudin Balls with mild ground chorizo or a sweeter pork breakfast sausage; and sometimes I’ll use a hot and spicy Cajun pork sausage or chicken sausage.  Once, I even used a duck sausage – just for kicks.

    Whatever sausage you decide to use, I’ve simplified my version of Baked Boudin Balls so everyone can make these at home and enjoy a little taste of Cajun and Creole cuisine.

    To make the Boudin Balls even more delicious, I’ve paired them with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce – because you know how much my family loves a good sauce. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    Serving Size: 10-12

    Easy Baked Boudin Balls

    These savory starters are perfect for game day, dinner parties, brunch, after school snacks or holiday celebrations. Or you can make some for a light and simple dinner and pair it with a glass of wine.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground pork breakfast sausage, ground mild chorizo or any ground artisan sausage you prefer
    • 2 cups cooked white rice, warm
    • ¼ cup finely diced green onion or chives
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
    • For the Honey Mustard Sauce:
    • 1 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
    • ¼ cup honey

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground sausage, white rice and green onions until nicely incorporated. Then mix in the whisked egg.
  • Form tablespoon size balls and then roll them in the breadcrumbs and place them on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.
  • While the Boudin Balls are baking, whisk together the mustard and honey and place in a serving bowl.
  • Let the Boudin Balls cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.
  • Notes

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine and originally published in the Feb/Mar 2016 Issue.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork Seafood

    The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

    Garlic Shrimp and Goat Cheese Toasts // Karista's Kitchen

    Super Bowl Sunday is around the corner and it’s time to start planning all those game day nibbles and feasts!

    The Super bowl menu is one of the most fun menu’s to plan – it almost feels like another holiday celebration.

    Cubano Sliders with Marinated Pork, Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Mustard on Sweet Slider Buns // Karista's Kitchen

    Even though my team isn’t in the Super Bowl (crying, sad face) this year, I’m rooting for my cousin Shelby’s team (sorry Carolina fans… Go Broncos!) and cooking up a delicious table of food to commemorate the day.

    Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m posting some tasty food from the archives as well as a new appetizer that is over the top lush with creamy goat cheese and garlic goodness.  My Garlic Shrimp on Goat Cheese Toasts.

    Nori wrapped salmon with fresh herbs, dijon and wasabi

    I’ve also included these flavorful and hearty Cubano Sliders and Asian Salmon Sliders on the Super Bowl menu and for lighter fare, I’m serving my Grilled Crab and Avocado Quesadillas with Pineapple Cilantro Salsa and Nori Wrapped Salmon Bites.

    Crab and Avocado Quesadillas with Pineapple Cilantro Salsa // Karista's Kitchen

     

    Rounding out the Super Bowl menu is my most requested recipe, Slow Oven Baked Ribs.  I like to plan a large table of food so there will be a little something for everyone. 

    Slow Oven Baked Ribs // Karista's Kitchen

    Of course we can’t skip dessert on this momentous occasion, so I’m going to totally step outside this wintry, cold season, reach into my freezer for the last few bags of blueberries that I froze over the summer to make Max’s Five Ingredient Blueberry Cobbler!

    Easy five ingredient blueberry cobbler // Karista's Kitchen

    Super Bowl Sunday never tasted so good!  Bet you wish you were eating at my house next weekend 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

    16-20 Toasts

    The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

    Gulf prawns are tender and sweet and make a delicious pairing with these creamy goat cheese toasts. Combined with fresh garlic and butter, this decadent first course will bring pleasure to everyone’s palate.

    Ingredients

    • 1 large baguette, sliced into 1-2 inch thick slices
    • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing baguette slices
    • 8 ounces creamy goat cheese
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chive
    • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 – 1 ½ lb Gulf Prawns (about 20-24), deveined with tails on, patted dry with a paper towel
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • Squeeze of fresh lemon
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • Additional chopped fresh chive for garnish

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Brush each slice of baguette with olive oil, one side only, and place olive oil side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, just enough to lightly toast the baguette slices. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little salt.
  • In a small bowl mix together the goat cheese and chopped chives. Spread a teaspoon or more onto each toast. Either keep the toasts on the baking sheet or place the toasts on a serving platter.
  • Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat and then add 2 tablespoons butter and the oil. When the butter and oil are hot, almost smoking, place the shrimp in a single layer in the pan and brown on each side, about one to two minutes each side. You may need to brown the shrimp in batches depending on the size of your pan.
  • Once the last batch of shrimp is browned, add all the shrimp back into the pan and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, chopped garlic and squeeze of lemon coating all the shrimp.
  • Place one or two shrimp on each goat cheese toast and then garnish with additional fresh chive. Serve immediately.
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    Appetizers DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Seafood

    Part Two Feast of the Seven Fishes with DaVinci Wine

    Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

    The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delicious Italian tradition where seven delectable fish dishes are served for Christmas Eve dinner.

    This year DaVinci Wine asked me to create seven festive and delightful fish dishes for their Feast of the Seven Fishes. This is the part of my job I absolutely love – especially when it involves fish and DaVinci wine.

    The first five dishes we paired with DaVinci Pinot Grigio. You’ll find them HERE along with the first Feast of the Seven Fishes post HERE.

    In this second post, I’m highlighting the last two fish recipes that we’ve paired with DaVinci Chianti. As well as one of the seven fish dishes that I believe pairs beautifully with both the DaVinci Pinot Grigio and DaVinci Chianti.

    When I visited Italy with DaVinci Wine in 2013, I dined on the most decadent food but also the most decadent seafood dishes. One particular starter that struck me as simple but so lovely in flavor was a crostini with homemade ricotta topped with a single anchovy. I call it Bruno’s Crostini – named after our gracious lunch host and DaVinci grower, Bruno Rossetti.

    Smoked Salmon Crostini with Herbed Ricotta for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

    Although I prepare this starter often, I love using smoked salmon with ricotta cheese. Going a step further, I added fresh chopped herbs to the ricotta for a little more “bite” to the recipe. Salmon pairs extremely well with DaVinci Pinot Grigio, so I included this lovely starter in the first post.

    However, I adore pairing both salmon and smoked salmon with DaVinci Chianti as well. Because DaVinci Chianti is well balanced with jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit, it beautifully compliments the smoked salmon and herbed ricotta crostini – making it another lovely wine pairing for this gorgeous starter.

    Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

    Another recipe from our Feast of the Seven Fishes is an impressive dish everyone will enjoy. An Italian Sausage and Shrimp stew that warms the soul and delights the taste buds. This is an intensely flavored dish, filled with aromatics, fresh herbs that bring earthiness to the recipe, tangy tomatoes and spicy Italian sausage combined with fresh shrimp and clams.   Sounds like a winning combination to me! Although I use the DaVinci Pinot Grigio in the stew, I think this stew is best served with DaVinci Chianti.

    The last fish dish in this series, is the gorgeous Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce). Just the name of this dish sounds enticing.

    Spaghetti Vongole for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

    The Vongole sauce is distinctive and lush, prepared with fresh ingredients and a cup of DaVinci Chianti to round out flavors. It’s a hearty sauce that beautifully envelops the pasta and compliments the steamed clams – garnished with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh Italian parsley.

    Creating a festive and exquisite Christmas Eve celebration is as simple as these seven fish dishes. Feast of the Seven Fishes paired with DaVinci Wine will delight your guests and bring delicious merry making to your holiday celebration.

    Wishing you warm and Delicious Holidays!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

     

     

    Appetizers Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork

    Back to School Sausage Rolls

    Cuisinart Back to School Sausage Rolls 5

    “After school is my favorite part of the day Mom”. This is what my youngest daughter used to tell me when she was little.  I once asked why it was her favorite part of the day and she replied “because when I open the front door it smells like home”.   Tell me that wouldn’t melt your heart into a giant puddle?!

    After melting into that giant puddle I asked “what smells like home?”  My daughter said “it smells like delicious food”.

    I didn’t always work from home so on those days I’d try to have something tasty (and mostly healthy) in the fridge to warm up or on the counter in the treat bin.  Because after that heart melting statement, how could I not have an after school snack for my little gal who obviously cherished that one moment every day?

    Back to School Sausage Rolls with your favorite sausage, cheese and puff pastry // Karista's Kitchen

    Making these sausage rolls is a snap. I first learned of these tasty little treats from my friend Suzie, who is from the UK.  

    She used to bring them to elementary school for events or teacher appreciation day.  I must have been the one adult to eat my weight in these delectable bite sized nibbles.  So when Cuisinart sent me the Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven to review, I thought these savory baked sausage rolls would be a perfect first recipe to prepare and test out this fabulous piece of kitchen equipment.

    Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m not one to load my kitchen with lots of equipment but I have to tell you this toaster oven has gotten a lot of use since it’s arrival.  During the hot summer I cooked everything in it.  From salmon filets and burgers to flatbread pizza, blueberry crisp and brownies.  It was so hot this summer I didn’t want to turn on my oven and grilling outside often seemed way too much effort in the scorching heat.

    The Cuisinart convection feature is perfect for quickly cooking and searing in juices of fish, poultry, pork and meat and it cooked salmon burgers and stuffed portabella mushrooms perfectly.  My family thoroughly enjoys the toaster oven feature. It makes preparing flatbread or pizza and warming up leftover macaroni and cheese simple and quick.  It’s also easy to clean and just the right size so it doesn’t take up too much counter space.

    These tasty sausage rolls keep well in the fridge and can be warmed up in the toaster oven as well.  But I have to admit, they are pretty darn delicious right out of the oven.

    Wishing you a happy and safe school year and a most fabulous Autumn season!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Back to School Sausage Rolls

    6-12 depending on the size of the sausages

    Back to School Sausage Rolls

    Ingredients

    • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
    • 9-12 small sausages or hot dogs, if using sausages gently cut the casing and slide the sausage out of the casing. (I used chicken apple breakfast sausages)
    • 3-4 slices cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
    • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water
    • Yellow Mustard, Honey Mustard or Maple Syrup for dipping
    • Serve with assorted cut or sliced veggies for a delicious and healthy snack

    Instructions

  • This recipe makes 6-12 sausage rolls depending on the size of your sausages. I used smaller chicken apple breakfast sausages, removed from the casing and then cut in half.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F and place a piece of parchment on the baking tray.
  • Roll out the puff pastry and cut three even strips.
  • Depending on the size of your sausages, divide each strip of puff pastry into thirds or half. Cut the cheese slices into halves or thirds.
  • Whisk the egg with the water for the egg wash.
  • At one end of a square of puff pastry, brush with a little egg wash and then place a strip of cheese and then a piece of sausage on the end of the pastry square. Roll up the pastry to enclose the sausage, pinching the seam a bit to keep the pastry closed and then place it seam side down on the baking tray. Repeat the process for each piece of pastry.
  • Once the rolls are done, score the top of each sausage roll with a knife and then brush with the remaining egg wash.
  • Place them in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown and the sausages look done.
  • Let them cool for about 5 minutes before serving. The sausage will be very hot! I like to serve these with honey mustard, yellow mustard or maple syrup for dipping.
  • Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Notes

    To serve these for a party, I also like to serve them with tomato jam or chutney.

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

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

    I know I’ve been MIA lately and like all busy working Mom’s, I have a good excuse.  I simply took a break. I decided the world would not end if I didn’t post a new recipe or if I didn’t check my social media to see what I might be missing.

    I spent quality time with my family trekking around the Pacific Northwest, ate TONS of great food, (including these Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters) walked miles and miles like a tourist in Europe and found myself taking deep breaths and stopping to smell a few roses.  It was time well spent.

    I came back to a garden overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and Swiss Chard… and of course loads of laundry.  Tank came home from his vacation at the Muddy Dog Ranch and promptly walked to his fluffy blue bed and fell asleep.  We haven’t seen him since. 🙂  I think he had a good time.

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters // Karista's Kitchen

    Once I got back into my office I realized I’d better get these soup shooters posted before labor day or I’d have to rename them something other than Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters.

    These lovelies are creamy with a burst of fresh herbs and slightly sweet with the option of adding a dash of hot sauce for a little extra punch.  

    I paired this soup with fresh Oregon Bay Shrimp but you can use any size shrimp you have on hand or prefer. Lush and brilliant in color, these corn and shrimp soup shooters are a perfect starter for any meal and great for entertaining.

    Happy and successful wishes to all the kiddos headed to back to school!  And happy and restful wishes to all the parents. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

     

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Summer Corn and Shrimp Soup Shooters

    Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
    • 2 cups fresh summer corn, plus ½ cup cooked corn to finish the soup
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 3-4 cups vegetable broth (enough to just cover the potatoes)
    • Dash of hot sauce
    • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1 cup cooked bay shrimp
    • 10-12 cooked large shrimp
    • Garnish with a dollop of Crème Fraiche and chopped fresh cilantro

    Instructions

  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the onion and sauté until the onion is wilted. Then stir in the garlic and sauté for a minute longer.
  • Next, stir in the diced potatoes, 2 cups fresh corn, oregano, thyme, parsley and 3 cups of vegetable broth; just enough broth to cover the potatoes. Depending on how large the potatoes, you may need the 4th cup.
  • Cover and turn the heat to low and simmer the vegetables for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be soft to the touch. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool slightly. With an immersion blender or in a standing blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup feels too thick, stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
  • Stir in the ½ cup cooked corn and then season the soup to taste with a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper. This soup can be prepared a day in advance. In fact, it will taste even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the soup from the refrigerator about one hour before serving and gently warm before serving.
  • To serve the soup, add a few small bay shrimp to the bottom of each shooter glass or small bowl. Pour the soup over the bay shrimp and then top the soup with a dollop of crème fraiche and one large shrimp. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.
  • Notes

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine August 2015 Issue

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Cubano Sliders – Small Plate Entertaining

    Cubano Sliders with Marinated Pork, Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles and Mustard on Sweet Slider Buns // Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve always had a love affair with the Cubano sandwich.  What’s not to love?  These Cubano Sliders are packed with so much flavor and texture, it makes me happy just to look at one sitting on my plate.

    I’ve dined on many Cubano’s, some good, but some so spectacular it’s all I could think about for days after dining on the sandwich.   Which is what happened after watching the movie “Chef“.  I stayed up late one evening, waiting for my teenager to arrive home by curfew, (because I can’t sleep until I know she’s home safe and sound) so I decided to watch the movie “Chef”.  I like the cast of actors and of course the premise for the movie intrigued me. 😉

    I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I cheered… and then I was hungry.

    The movie reminded me why I’m so passionate about cooking.  Why I love food and why I love to feed people.  Why I stick with a career that can be both physically and mentally demanding but completely creative and rewarding at the same time.

    Guess what was on the menu a few days later?  Cubano Sliders.

    Not long after my Cubano weekend, I was creating menu ideas for one of my clients “small plates” themed issues and I realized how much fun these Cubano Sliders would be for a small plates dinner party.  

    I couldn’t let the summer slip by without sharing these little lovelies with you.  These Cubano Sliders are perfect for entertaining or dinner or even and after school snack.  Personally, I could eat them any time of the day or night.

    A festive and delicious way to end the summer season and begin the new school year.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Cubano Sliders

    Serving Size: 8-10

    Cubano Sliders

    Ingredients

    • 1 pork tenderloin, about ¾ - 1lb
      For the Marinade
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup pineapple juice
    • 1 small onion sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic smashed
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
      For the Slider
    • Marinated pork tenderloin
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ lb sliced baked ham
    • 1 small jar of sliced pickles
    • 10 slices Swiss cheese
    • Yellow mustard
    • Slider Buns

    Instructions

  • To marinate the pork, place the tenderloin in a non-reactive or glass dish. Mix together the orange juice, pineapple juice, sliced onion, garlic, cumin, all-spice cinnamon stick, cilantro and salt. Pour this mixture over the tenderloin and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • To prepare the pork, preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Paper towel dry the pork and then rub it with one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix together the salt, pepper and the all-spice and rub it onto the pork. Place the pork in a baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F.
  • Remove the pork from the oven and let it cool. Once the pork has cooled, thinly slice the pork and set aside.
  • Turn the oven down to 350F.
  • Slice the slider buns in half and place them on a baking sheet. Add a slice of Swiss cheese to both the top and bottom of each slider bun. Then add a dash of mustard on top of the cheese on both the bottom and top of each slider bun.
  • Place thin sliced pork tenderloin, thin sliced pickles and thin sliced baked ham on the bottom slider buns. Place the tops of the buns (with just the cheese and mustard) over the pork and pickles and the press down slightly to keep the sliders in tact.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and let them warm until the cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Remove the sliders from the oven and serve.
  • Notes

    I originally created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine August/September 2015 issue.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes Soup vegetarian

    Watercress Soup

    Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche and Chopped Chive

    The French have this unique way of turning the simplest ingredient into the most lush of recipes.  A filet of fish can be transformed into the loveliest meal; slightly bathed in butter, shallots, fresh Tarragon and red grapes with a touch of cream – bringing elegance to a simple pairing of ingredients.  How about peppercorns pounded into a beautiful cut of beef, pan seared in butter and then topped with a quick pan sauce?  This dish makes for a scrumptious meal that is simply prepared but rich with flavor.

    So it didn’t surprise me when I found this recipe for Watercress Soup in one of my cherished French cookbooks.  A few years ago, my daughters had the pleasure of visiting France with their most generous and adoring Great Aunt and Uncle.  Yes, my Aunt and Uncle spoiled the girls completely and it was a trip of a lifetime that they still talk about today.  Visiting Paris with all it’s history and architecture and of course the food, the girls couldn’t help but bring me back a cookbook to add to my ever expanding collection.  Filled with the loveliest recipes that are beautifully prepared with seasonal ingredients in methods only the French could create.

    Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche and Fresh Chives // Karista's Kitchen

    This watercress soup recipe brought back memories of a soup I dined on back East years ago.  It was also a watercress soup but it included additional ingredients of spring peas and asparagus.  It was beyond delicious.  This soup however is simply prepared but certainly not lacking in flavor.  With a nice base of creamy potatoes, onions and garlic, it’s an easy soup to make and holds beautifully in the fridge.  I topped the soup with a dollop of creme fraiche but a dollop of plain Greek yogurt would also be delicious.

    Comforting, warm and so completely perfect for spring, I adore the pale green color of the soup.  It would make a lovely presentation on a Mother’s Day Brunch table or even a family dinner.  I served this soup a la carte with warm crisp baguette slices topped with apple slices and Gruyere cheese and then melted slightly in the oven.   Yes, it was fabulous!

    Wishing you all a most delicious week!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche

    Serving Size: 6

    Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche

    Ingredients

    • 2-3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
    • 1 large clove of garlic, finely diced
    • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
    • 2 lbs watercress, trimmed and coarsely chopped
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (if needed)
    • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream or half n half
    • Garnish with chopped fresh chives and creme Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt)

    Instructions

  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onions. Let the onions soften for a few minutes and then add the garlic, potatoes, thyme and Italian parsley. Stir to combine.
  • Stir in 2 cups vegetable broth, enough to cover all the veggies. Bring the broth to a boil and then turn down the heat, cover and let the veggies cook until the potatoes are soft. About 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes are soft, stir in the chopped watercress, adding additional broth 1/4 cup at a time if needed. You want the soup to be thick with ingredients as you will puree it into a smooth soup and if there is too much liquid, the pureed soup will have too thin a consistency. You can always add more liquid at the end if the soup is too thick.
  • Let the watercress simmer for about 5 minutes, until it's nicely wilted. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a bit. Then either transfer it to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  • Once the soup has been pureed, transfer it back to the soup pot. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. To heighten the flavor of soups and to bring all those flavors together, I add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the soup. Stir this in now if you like.
  • To finish the soup, stir in the one cup of cream if desired. I used about 1/2 cup heavy cream in my soup. Ladle into bowls or one large serving bowl and garnish with creme Fraiche and fresh chopped chive. Enjoy!
  • Notes

    This soup recipe was adapted from a recipe I found in my French book written by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell. As usual, I made some changes to suit my tastes, but that's what I adore so much about a recipe, making it my own. Feel free to do the same!

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas // Karista's Kitchen

    I was playing around with tostada recipes the other day and I decided I needed ceviche to top my tostada shells.  I was hungry at that moment and it just sounded delicious.  This is often how my recipes happen.  I’m hungry and something sounds delicious so it’s created and posted.

    I was set on my traditional halibut ceviche because I haven’t made it since the fall and the family keeps asking for it; but there was no halibut at the fish market.  So I grabbed the fresh smallish dry packed scallops, which are best in a recipe like this anyway, and some bay shrimp.  The small dry packed scallops, not to be confused with bay scallops, dwindle to nothing when they’re cooked.  It almost feels like a waste of time to pan sear the small ones, so I either poach them or use them in a ceviche.  I’m all about getting the most out of my ingredients.

    Well this turned out to be a grand idea.  I diced the small scallops and cold poached them in fresh lime juice overnight.   Then I drained them and combined them with the bay shrimp, along with lots of additional lush ingredients.  I think what I love about this ceviche is it’s easily adapted to suit everyone’s favorite flavors.  I love traditional ceviche with tomatoes, white onions and cilantro but instead of diced jalapeño I like a dash of hot sauce and diced cucumber pairs so beautifully with the bay shrimp.  Of course it’s all laced with additional fresh lime juice and a salt to taste.

    I smeared the tostadas with guacamole because it holds the ceviche onto the tostada.   Little pieces still roll off but at least most of it stays planted firmly on the guacamole.  Garnishing with crumbled goat cheese or salty Cotija cheese completed my tostadas and I couldn’t eat just one.

    While I was photographing for this post, one of the tostadas broke – and darn it, I had to eat that one too.

    These little lovelies were a hit with the family and perfect for a mid-week casual meal.  I have to admit however, these will be so much fun to serve on a warm summer day with Sangria and a locally brewed beer.

    Wishing you all a very happy end of the week and weekend!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Serving Size: Serves about 4 as an entree or 6 as an appetizer

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Ingredients

      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb small dry packed scallops, diced
    • 1/2 lb cooked bay shrimp (sometimes called shrimp meat)
    • Fresh squeezed lime juice (enough to cover the diced scallops and a little extra)
    • Handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 - 3/4 cup diced white onion
    • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
    • Dash of hot sauce, or to taste
    • 1-2 cups Guacamole (recipe follows)
    • Tostada shells (usually found in the market or you can fry small corn tortillas)
    • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled or crumbled Goat cheese
    • Salt to taste
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish
    • Serve with lime wedges
      For the Guacamole
    • 2-3 ripe avocados
    • 1-2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • Lime juice and salt to taste

    Instructions

  • Place the diced scallops in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Cover with fresh lime juice and refrigerate overnight.
  • Drain the scallops and discard the lime juice. Place the scallops in a large bowl with the bay shrimp, diced tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro, cucumber, dash of hot sauce and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice and pinch of salt. Toss gently until the ingredients are nicely blended. Taste for salt and lime juice, adding more to your tastes. I usually end up adding more to suit my tastes.
  • Let the ceviche sit while you prepare the guacamole.
  • With a fork, mash the avocado and then gently blend it with the tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt to taste.
  • Spread the guacamole onto the tostadas and then top with the ceviche. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and crumbled Cotija or Goat cheese. Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.
  • Serve immediately.
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