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

Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for spring roasts or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

I woke up at 3am the other morning thinking about Mango Avocado Salsa and how delicious it would be in a salad. Because honestly, I could eat Mango Avocado Salsa like a salad.

And wouldn’t that salad be so fantastic if I added some quinoa and maybe greens?  Then I thought to myself how much you would love this salad!  So the next morning, I had to make it.

It turned out just as tasty as I thought it would.  Quinoa, red onion, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, a little pepper, avocado, mango and micro greens.  It. Is. Divine. 🙂

Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for lunch, brunch or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

I had a little leftover yesterday and added it to baby spring greens and dressed it with some of my leftover honey mustard dressing and that was equally as delicious.

I’ve listed the recipe below but truly, you can create this salad to your tastes.  Adding more greens or less onions, more avocado and less mango.  It’s a base recipe so have fun and create an enticing spring and summer salad that will be so fabulous for brunch, lunch or with spring roasts or summer grilling.

Wishing you all a most marvelous weekend!

Loads of love,


PS: Thank you all so much for your heart warming and thoughtful comments about my last post, My Lost Love for Social Media.  I adore you all and I feel so lucky to have such an incredibly lovely group of engaging readers!

Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

Serving Size: 4

Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions (Einkorn or other ancient grain works well too)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 mangos, diced
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • Handful of micro greens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh baby greens, baby spinach or arugula if desired
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese, optional


  • Prepare the quinoa according to package directions and then let it cool.
  • Toss together the quinoa, onions, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Layer the salad on a platter or plate with the quinoa, mango, avocado and top with micro greens. Garnish with Cotija cheese if desired or serve the entire salad over a platter or plate of baby greens.
  • For a little extra dressing, whisk together 1 part lime juice with 2 parts olive oil and a dash of honey, salt and pepper. This makes a quick lime vinaigrette. Adding a little Dijon mustard to it is also nice.
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    Appetizers Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian VRAI Magazine

    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

    Avocado Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers // Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing quite like a beautiful salad. The color, the scent of fresh greens and produce, all collectively creating edible art on a plate.

     Not only is this Avocado and Watercress Salad impressive in presentation, but it’s mouth-watering delicious in taste.  

    Fresh avocado and watercress tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette, gently stacked and then topped with brilliantly colored edible flowers.


    Spring Vegetable Strata // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    The Avocado and Watercress Salad is simple to prepare – either with round food rings or you can layer the salad on a platter or on individual plates.   This salad is so delicious served with either a quiche or this lovely Spring Vegetable Strata I created for VRAI Magazine.  The fresh flavors of the avocado and peppery watercress pair beautifully with eggs dishes or even a spring lamb chop or roasted rack of lamb would be lovely.

    A gorgeous table of food for Mother’s Day brunch or any casual weekend entertaining.  I often serve the strata for Sunday breakfast and fancy it up with the salad if I’m serving it for brunch.  However you decide to serve these dishes, your guests will be completely delighted. Especially if there is a Mimosa sitting next to the plate!

    Wishing you all a beautiful and delicious week!

    Loads of Love,


    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

    Serving Size: 4

    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers


    • 1 large bunch watercress, thin stems and leaves only
    • 2-3 large firm but ripe avocados, diced
    • ½ to 1 cup edible flowers (usually purchased in the fresh herb section of a market)
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 3-4 inch round food molds, if desired (optional). If you don’t have food molds, a washed and dried tuna with both ends removed will also work.


  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, gently toss the diced avocados with a splash of the lemon vinaigrette. In a seperate bowl, gently toss the watercress with a splash of lemon vinaigrette. The watercress will wilt quickly once it’s dressed with vinaigrette so don’t dress the watercress until right before serving. The avocado should be dressed with vinaigrette as soon as it’s been diced.
  • If using food molds (or tuna cans), brush the inside with a little olive oil. Set each mold on a plate. Divide the avocado among the plates. Press the avocado firmly into the mold. Next, press the watercress into each mold. Gently remove the molds. It’s ok if the watercress falls, it will still look beautiful. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over each salad if desired and once last pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Garnish each salad with edible flowers and serve.
  • If you’d like to make the salad without molds, layer the avocado on plates, top with watercress and then the edible flowers.
  • Notes

    If you can't find edible flowers, not to worry. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and some grated fresh carrot and beet or spiralized carrot and beet for some color.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Soup vegetarian

    Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

    spicy black bean soup with lime crema and avocado

    I have selected two words for 2014.  I think I’m only supposed to choose one but I couldn’t make a decision between these two words.

    Maybe my new word for the year should be decisive.

    Someone once told me I had a talent for connecting.  Ok, never thought I’d hear that described as one of my talents.  But I’ll take it.

    A bright young professional, a former business acquaintance, visionary; someone that waltzed through my life but for a season.  Although much younger and less life experience, this astute and intuitive young professional was correct.  Without ever paying attention to that little habit of mine, I realized, I like to connect people.  Of course, if it’s a love connection I’m even more delighted.  But I don’t think I’ll be changing my career path to match maker anytime soon.

    Shortly after that thought provoking moment, one of my dearest friends told me her Mom once said “one of the most important things in life is our relationships”.  That too struck me and I’ve never forgotten. (Thank you Kristen… and Lola)

    My friends Mom was correct. Relationships, connections, for a lifetime or for a season, help shape us, make us who we are and who were meant to be;  often helping us and others find a solid path.

    A New Year's Weekend at the Beach

    So, I started this year thinking my word for 2014 would be connect.  However, I’m also quite fond of the word listen.  If I hadn’t been listening I would never have “heard” both my business acquaintance or my friend.  Two words that allowed me to pause and reflect, and then proceed with open ears and an open heart.

    I admit, it’s not always easy to actively listen. I have so much swimming around in my head most of the time.  I’d like to tell you I often contemplate super cool subjects like why stars split or why some years we have La Nina or El Nino. And, although the weather and astronomy interest me, my head is usually swimming with a list of seasonal ingredients and how I might pull them deliciously together in a new recipe.  Among other things of course, like being a Mom.

    And how will I segue into this lush little recipe?  Well… I’ve been listening to my readers and I’m now connecting you with this delightful, seasonal and delicious recipe that simmers warm and cozy for the winter months. (apparently, I also like adjectives)

    It’s a new year with new recipes and hopefully a few new food projects. I love hearing from my readers.  If you have recipe ideas or questions, meal ideas or meal idea questions feel free to email me at  I’ll answer as quickly as I can.  I promise I will listen and hopefully connect you with the information you need.

    Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,


    Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

    I know the ingredient list looks long.  But I promise you’ll probably have most the ingredients on hand and I’ve broken down the ingredient list in order of use.  Sectioning ingredients always helps me when I’m preparing a new recipe.  So I thought it might be helpful for you as well.  Enjoy!!

    Serves 4-6


    The Veggies:

    Tablespoon or two of olive oil

    1 white onion, diced

    2 cloves garlic, finely diced

    1 poblano pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced

    The Spices:

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    ½ teaspoon ground coriander

    ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

    ¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    The Base of the Soup:

    1 14 ounce can organic diced tomatoes with juice

    4 cups vegetable broth

    6-8 cups cooked black beans OR 4 14 ounce cans organic black beans

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 lime, squeezed

    The Garnish:

    1 lime sliced

    Sliced green onions

    Hand torn cilantro

    Sliced avocado

    ½ cup sour cream mixed with a squeeze of lime juice


    Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the oil.  When the oil is hot add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent.  Then stir in the garlic and roasted poblano pepper and stir for a minute longer.

    Next stir in all the spices, the tomatoes, vegetable broth and *black beans *reserving  two cups or 1 can of black beans. This is a semi pureed soup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Let the soup simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.  Add a squeeze or two of lime juice, about a tablespoon, and then take it off the heat.  Puree the soup with either a hand blender or carefully transfer the soup in batches to a vitamix or blender and puree.

    Add the soup back to the soup pot and stir in the last two cups of black beans or last can of black beans.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and extra lime juice if needed.

    Serve the soup in small bowls and garnish with sliced green onions, torn cilantro leaves, sliced avocado, a slice of lime and dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood

    Sugar-Crusted Salmon with Avocado Peach Salsa… a Guest Post by Alaska From Scratch


    It’s amazing how new friendships are born.  I’ve been following Maya at Alaska From Scratch for a while now and after a few blog comments and email correspondence she has become a cherished colleague and dear friend.  Her delicious food blog captured my attention, but Maya’s writing, her sweet, kind spirit and love of family and friends brings me back almost daily.  It’s an honor and pleasure to have Maya of Alaska from Scratch Guest Posting on Karista’s Kitchen today.  You are in for a treat!


    Hugs from Alaska to all of my new friends here at Karista’s Kitchen. Of course, an extra big squeeze to my special blogging buddy, Karista, for inviting me to guest post here today. She is a real gem, bursting with talent and grace, and I am blessed to know her and to get to count her as both a colleague and a friend.

    July in Alaska means seemingly endless amounts of daylight, lush green scenery, sparkling blue waters, and fishing. Gobs of fishing. There is nothing more seasonal in Alaska in July than a wild-caught salmon directly from our local shores. We have a dear friend living with us for the summer while he fishes commercially in Cook Inlet. One evening, after 13 hours out on the water, our friend came home with a marvelous king salmon. Although it was late, it was still light out, and he and my husband (known affectionately on my blog as Pastor Alaska) made quick work of filleting while I pulled up a recipe. It wasn’t long before the fish was sizzling in a hot pan, filling the house with the aroma of spices and saltwater mingling together.

    Ocean to table. There is truly nothing better.

    Salmon CollageThat night, we made this flavorful Sugar-Crusted Salmon recipe. Together, we oohed and ahhed over the smokiness of the paprika and the cumin, the kick of the chili powder and dry mustard, the nice sweetness from the sugar and a surprising pinch of cinnamon. And can we just talk about that beautiful charred crust for a moment… the stunning caramelization you get when a hot pan swirled with olive oil meets a perfectly fresh fillet of salmon, patted dry (this is key), and rubbed generously. “I have to blog about this,” I said aloud between bites, squeezing a wedge of lime over my fillet before diving back in, “We have to make this again.” Two nights later, we indeed made it again, and this time I made a bright, summery avocado peach salsa to go with it.

    Sugar-Crusted Salmon with Avocado Peach Salsa

    Serves 4

    For the Salsa: 2 sweet, but firm peaches (I used yellow saturn peaches), pitted and finely chopped 2 ripe avocados, finely chopped 1 small red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped 1/2 cup red onion, diced 1-2 jalapeños (to taste), seeds removed and minced 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 1 lime, juiced salt and pepper, to taste

    For the Salmon: 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard pinch of cinnamon 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 4-6 wild-caught salmon fillets (about 4-6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed 2 tablespoons neutral olive oil

    Directions In a bowl, gently stir together the peaches, avocados, bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    In a smaller bowl, stir together the sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, pepper, and salt.

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry and liberally season the top of each fillet with the rub, patting it so it will adhere. Place the fillets seasoned side down into the hot pan. Cook about two minutes, until rub is fragrant and caramelized, but not burnt. Flip each fillet and continue to cook on the other side 2-6 minutes more, being careful not to overcook (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets and your preferred doneness. I like my wild salmon fillets medium in the center, so mine were ready after 4 minutes). Plate the salmon and top with Avocado Peach Salsa.

    Sugar-Crusted Salmon recipe adapted from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute via Chena Girl Cooks.

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Chicken Avocado Tortilla Torta

    chicken avocado tortilla torta

    Oh for the love of all things Avocado.  I’m on an intense avocado kick these days.  I feel like adding avocado to everything.

    Actually, Suzie Q, my youngest, made that very comment the other day.  “Mom, you add avocado to everything.  Next it’ll be in our dessert”.   Hmmm… I just came across ice cream prepared with avocado.  Trying that one next. 🙂

    Avocado lends a creamy and sometimes buttery texture to dishes.  It’s not terribly aromatic but it can taste of olive oil and fresh grass when eaten ripe.

    chicken avocado tortilla torta

    I love it sliced on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with poached or pan-fried farm fresh eggs. I also add diced avocado to my Mexican stuffed peppers which eliminates the need for extra cheese.  When the avocado is heated the texture becomes a bit creamy,  just like warm or melted cheese.

    Avocado is perfectly delicious added to my ceviche, tacos and sandwiches.  I keep a squishy, ripe one on the counter for spreading like mayonnaise.  During the summer months I love an heirloom tomato and avocado sandwich with just a sprinkling of my favorite gourmet salt.

    So of course when I was whipping up this chicken torta, I had to add avocado.  Combined with fresh cilantro, white onion, salsa Verde and Cotija cheese… fresh, clean flavors that deliciously marry well together.  Made dinner feel just a little bit special.

    Tank thought so too.  My oldest gal captured this picture of Tank.  Waiting patiently, staring down the deliciousness, while I was working to snap a food photo.  What can I say,  he cracks me up!

    cairn terrier, food photography

    Tank Waiting Patiently

    Delicious wishes and loads of love!


    Chicken Avocado Tortilla Torta

    Serves 6


    2 cups small cubed or shredded cooked chicken

    ½ white onion, small diced (about 1 cup)

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 teaspoon chili powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    Salt and pepper to taste

    2-3 cups diced avocado, tossed gently with a little lime juice (approx 2 avocados)

    12-18 corn tortillas, sliced in half

    2-3 cups salsa Verde (green enchilada sauce, Hatch is a quality brand I recommend) (recipe below for when tomatillos are in season.  I do recommend canning tomatillos during the summer for delicious salsa Verde year round.)

    2 cups cotija cheese

    1 cup mozzarella or creamy farmer’s cheese, Mexican Queso


    Heat the oven to 375F.

    You will need an 8×8 or 9×13 baking dish.  I like a deep dish torta so I use the 8×8.  But the 9×13 also works well.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cooked chicken, white onion, fresh cilantro, 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese, chili powder and cumin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Very gently fold in the diced avocado.

    Pour the salsa Verde in a bowl large enough to dip the halved tortillas.  Dip 4-6 tortilla halves and place them in the bottom of the baking dish.  You will feel like you’re making a lasagna.

    Sprinkle with the chicken avocado mixture and then dip a few more tortilla halves into the salsa Verde and arrange on top of the chicken avocado mixture.  Repeat with the layering process until you have used all your chicken avocado mixture.  I can usually get three layers in an 8×8 pan.

    Be sure to end the layers with salsa Verde dipped tortillas.  Sprinkle with Mozzarella and remaining Cotija cheese.

    Bake uncovered for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sides are bubbly.  Let the torta stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

    I love this dish with Cabbage and Cucumber slaw.  I’ve listed the recipe below.  Enjoy!

    Fresh Salsa Verde


    2 cans tomatillos (I prefer Hatch brand)

    ½ cup diced onions

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 jalapeno, roasted and seeded

    ½ cup water or chicken broth if needed

    Salt to taste


    Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor and puree.

    Add a little oil to a medium sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until wilted.

    Stir in the pureed tomatillos, cilantro and jalapeno and let it simmer on low for about five minutes, adding water or chicken broth if necessary.   Take it off the heat and set aside until needed.  Or refrigerate for up to 3 days.


    Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw

    Serves 4-6


    1 small to medium head Napa cabbage, halved and then sliced so you get ribbons of cabbage.

    1 large cucumber, sliced (peeled if you like)

    4-5 green onions, sliced

    ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

    1-2 teaspoons sugar or agave

    Dash of Sriracha or hot sauce to taste

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk together the mayonnaise, citrus juice, sugar and Sriracha.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Toss the dressing with the cabbage and then layer the cucumber, green onion and cilantro on top.  Serve and enjoy!

    *my family likes a well dressed slaw so I often double the dressing recipe.  But I think it tastes great lightly dressed.

    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

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa I’ve been trying to write this post for at least a week.  I’d like to think my days are so filled with exciting and essential work, of momentous proportions, that I had to continuously delay this post.

    Nope.  Just my beautiful life.  Work, family, chasing chicken gals who escape their chicken yard, chasing Tank down the street because he thinks he’s a hunting dog (I do a lot of chasing), making the 20 weekly trips to the market ( I exaggerate a bit, but not by much) and the mountain of test recipes that go awry and end up in the garbage.  Or in Tanks food bowl.

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    Thankfully, one recipe that didn’t go awry was this beautiful slow braised beef.  Barbacoa is the Mexican version of our barbecue.  Slow braised, lightly spiced and scented with earthy, smoky flavors of unsweetened cocoa and chipotle chili powder.  Topped with spring shades of green cucumber and avocado salsa that balances the rich and decadent dish with bright and refreshing flavors.

    Just a little sunshine on the palate while waiting for the summer sun.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    Serves 6-8


    3 lbs Beef Brisket

    Vegetable oil

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa

    ½ heaping teaspoon chipotle chili powder

    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or Italian)

    ½ cup tomato sauce

    1 cup red wine (or 1 cup beef broth with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar)

    1 white onion, chopped

    3 cloves garlic, smashed

    1 cup water, reserved

    To Serve:

    Corn tortillas

    Crumbled Cotija cheese

    Cucumber Avocado Salsa (recipe below)


    In a small bowl mix together the unsweetened cocoa, chipotle chili powder, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

    Heat the oven to 325F.  Heat a Dutch Oven with a tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

    Once the brisket is browned, transfer to a dish and turn the heat down to medium.  Add the onions and sauté until wilted.

    Then stir in the garlic, tomato sauce, wine or broth and seasonings.  Add the brisket back into the Dutch oven tossing to coat in the sauce and bring the mixture back to a lively simmer.

    Place the Dutch oven in the pre-heated oven and let it cook for about 1 ½ – 2 hours, until the brisket is fork tender.  After about 45 minutes of cook time, check for liquids.  If the pot seems to dry add about ½ cup water to the brisket.  Adding the full cup if needed.

    Once the brisket is done, shred for tacos.  Serve with corn tortillas, cotija cheese and Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

    Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    1 cucumber, small dice

    1 avocado, small dice (I use an avocado that isn’t overly ripe)

    Handful of cilantro, chopped

    Squeeze of lime juice

    Salt to taste

    Gently toss the cucumber, avocado, cilantro and lime juice together.  Season to taste with salt.

    For another fabulous Barbacoa recipe check out

    Chicken Kid Friendly

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    chicken tacos

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    I’m almost embarrassed to post these.  I feel like the crazy taco woman.

    In fact, I think I’m a taco posting maniac.  I probably serve tacos once a week.  It’s the one night during the week that everyone shows up for dinner, all at the same time.  Really.

    I know, this shocked me too.

    But let’s face it, tacos are fun food. Fun food prepared with fresh, whole food ingredients and piled into a most delicious corn tortilla. It almost feels like a celebration.

    I love hearing the chatter and laughter around my dinner table, filled with those delicious tacos.  Of course, I have two sassy gals so most dinners consist of chatter and laughter… and drama and unsolicited advice from big sister.  Ranger Craig and I don’t even think about chiming in here.

    We listen, smile, shake our heads and then ask about grades, homework and boyfriends.  This will most certainly quiet the chatter.  😉

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Avocado Crema

    Sometimes I make these tacos simply with the avocado crema, cotija cheese and shredded cabbage.  When I have a bit more time, I serve these tacos with a cilantro slaw.  Either way, they are 100% delicious!  And definitely chatter and laughter inducing.

    Serves 4-6


    2-3 cups diced roasted chicken (If I don’t have leftover roast chicken, I buy a roasted free-range organic roasted chicken in my market deli)

    1 small white onion, diced

    1 small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

    2 ripe avocados

    1 lime

    ½ cup tomatillo salsa or salsa verde (Mexican Green Salsa)

    ¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream (if you’d like to make this dairy free just skip the sour cream)

    8-12 corn tortillas

    Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)

    Extra salsa for garnish (optional)

    Shredded cabbage or lettuce for garnish (optional) or Cilantro Slaw


    Place the avocados, salsa, sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice, and a bit of the chopped cilantro in a blender or food processor until the cream is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, add a little oil (about a tablespoon) and sauté the onion until wilted and golden.  Add the diced chicken and just cook to warm.

    Remove the chicken onion mixture and toss with a small handful of the chopped cilantro.  About ¼ – 1/3 cup or as desired.

    Now prepare the taco shells.  Either steam them in a microwave steam bowl, your rice cooker or a stove top steamer.  To make the taco shells a bit more firm use this oven method:

    Oven Method

    Heat the oven to 375F.  Place a sheet of parchment or foil over two baking sheets and put 4-6 tortillas on each baking sheet.  Brush them with high heat oil on both sides.

    Place them in the oven and let them get slightly toasty and soft.  Remove them from the oven and sprinkle lightly with a little salt.  Fold them over into tacos.

    Fill the tacos with a few tablespoons of chicken and top with the avocado crema and a sprinkling of cotija cheese.  Serve with shredded cabbage or slaw and extra salsa.

    Enjoy!  (