Browsing Tag

blog

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood

Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers

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

Just when I think I’m tapped out and the creative well has gone dry, I stumble onto an interesting read or find a stack of old notebooks from years ago, brimming to the seams with ideas.  Some of the ideas are pretty darn clever and some not so good – which is why a few of those recipes never happened.

It’s been an interesting and creative few weeks (along with a monster of a cold that hung on like the winter back East).  I relish creative moments.  I write and I write and I write.  I don’t erase anything no matter how silly or gross tasting it might appear at that moment.  Because when I eventually come back to it, sometimes it makes perfect sense.  Creativity is a crazy process.  Creativity feels like freedom to think outside a box, letting imagination change perspective at will.

So, when new culinary companies approach me about their products, it’s one more opportunity to be creative.  I don’t promote too many food brands on this website but the few that I do promote must meet a few requirements. Does it identify with my food values? Would I serve it to my family?  Is it something my readers would enjoy?  Where and how is it made or grown or raised?

When Verlasso Salmon first contacted me about using one of my salmon recipes I was intrigued, and honestly, a little skeptical.  As you know I’m not a fan of farm raised fish of any kind. Verlasso Salmon is the exception; because it’s an exceptional product.

Not only is Verlasso Salmon the first and only farm raised Atlantic salmon to receive the “good alternative” buy ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch, the flavor and texture of Verlasso Salmon is almost identical to wild salmon.  I found the oil content balanced, the texture to be firm and less “mushy” than traditional farmed salmon and the taste every bit as flavorful as wild salmon.

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

Verlasso says “Verlasso’s driving force has been the call for a more responsible aquaculture worldwide. It guides all of our business efforts and continues to shape our approach for the long-term. We are taking the lead in establishing a new model for fish farming, one that’s always in balance with nature. It’s an evolutionary way of thinking about—and raising salmon.”

You’re probably saying to yourself “Karista, you live in the Pacific Northwest, home of wild salmon. Why are you talking about Atlantic salmon?” Because you, my readers, subscribers and followers of social media, live all over North and South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  I feel lucky to live in the land of Pacific Northwest Salmon.  I value this resource and I’d like to keep it flourishing.  So when companies like Verlasso embark on such a noble cause, I want you to know about it.

For more information about Verlasso Salmon and their sustainable fish farming methods, along with additional salmon recipes, check out their website HERE.  

In the meantime, I created these delicious and festive Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers for Verlasso Salmon and now I’m sharing them with you.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers

8-10 Salmon Cakes

Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers

Ingredients

    For the Salmon Cakes
  • 1 lb Salmon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Thai roasted red chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg, slightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Panko style breadcrumbs
    For the Aioli:
  • ½ - ¾ cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lime zested
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon wasabi paste, optional
    For the Cucumbers
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • Serve with slider buns and fresh arugula leaves

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  • Place the salmon on a baking sheet or in a baking pan and brush with a little olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the oven and roast the salmon for about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. When the salmon is done, remove from the oven and let it cool.
  • While the salmon is cooking, whisk together the ½ - ¾ cup mayonnaise with the finely chopped cilantro, lime zest and garlic. Set aside.
  • In a non-reactive bowl, add the sliced cucumbers and enough rice wine vinegar to cover the cucumbers. Let them sit and marinate for about 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  • Once the salmon has cooled, shred the salmon, removing any bones and skin, and add it to a medium size bowl. Add the green onions, grated fresh ginger, Thai roasted red chili paste, lemon juice and about ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Mix with a fork until nicely incorporated.
  • Next, gently mix in the egg, mayonnaise and panko breadcrumbs until all the ingredients are nicely incorporated. Don’t over mix, just enough so the salmon will form into patties. If the salmon mix is too dry, add one additional tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  • Place the salmon mix in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to chill. This will help form the patties.
  • Divide the salmon mixture into 8-10 pieces and form patties.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil – enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.
  • When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the patties to the skillet. Let the salmon cakes cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side until dark golden brown, almost toasted in color. Adjust the heat lower if the salmon cakes get too dark too quickly.
  • Once the salmon cakes are done, place each salmon cake on a slider bun and serve with the cilantro lime aioli, marinated cucumbers and fresh arugula leaves. Enjoy!
  • Recipe by Chef Karista Bennett
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2015/02/20/asian-salmon-sliders-with-cilantro-lime-aioli-and-marinated-cucumbers/

     

     

    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon and a Virtual Baby Shower

    Salmon with Arugula Chimichurri // Karista's Kitchen

    I remember when my oldest daughter was about four years old and we were hanging out on the living room floor, reading books and talking about how someday she would have a baby brother or sister.

    As we were chatting, she turned her rosy cheeked, sweet blue eyed, blonde head to me and said “Mom, how did you know to pick me?”  I was a little surprised by the question and I asked “what do you mean?” She replied “you know, how did you know you wanted ME?”  The question caught me by surprise and as I tried to recover I said “Well… Dad and I saw all the baby angels playing in heaven and that’s when we spotted you. We instantly fell in love and knew we wanted you for our baby.”

    Everyday Maven's Baby Celebration

     

    Now, I know some of you might think that’s one tall tale to tell a four year old, but honestly, that is what I came up with.  My heart was so warmed by the question, I wanted my answer to reflect how much we wanted her and how much we cherished our little sassy blonde girl.

    Salmon with Arugula Chimichurri

    She clung to those words for years to come and when our second daughter arrived, my sassy little gal said to her Dad, “I guess this is the one you picked?”

    As you know, I have two sassy gals now and they are the food for my soul.  Motherhood and parenting have been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade a minute.

    My Two Sassy Gals on Mother's Day 2014

    My Two Sassy Gals on Mother’s Day 2014

    I’m truly honored to have been asked to participate in my sweet friend’s virtual baby shower.  Alyssa, of Everyday Maven, her handsome husband and their adorable little boy will soon know the joy of welcoming a new baby boy to their family.

    Several years ago, I met Alyssa at a blog conference in Seattle – while noshing on the most divine appetizers.  I liked her immediately.  A breath of fresh air, exuding a warm and genuine personality, Alyssa is a most beautiful and lovely lady.

    I’m happy to say, we’ve been friends ever since.

    Alyssa writes the delicious food blog Everyday Maven and has published two fantastic e-Books.  Her recipes are drool worthy and written with good health and nutrition in mind. I think one of my favorite Everyday Maven recipes has to be the Cabbage Rolls.  And of course her guest post for my blog, Karista’s Kitchen,  gluten free Banana Chip Cookies.

    Today, several other bloggers and myself are hosting a virtual baby shower for Alyssa.  A plethora of delicious recipes to celebrate but also recipes to prepare during the first few months after the new baby’s arrival.  Recipes to comfort and nourish with ease of preparation for a quick meal or leisurely weekend.  Although as we know, there is nothing “leisurely” about a new baby in the house; just lots of love and smiles and hopefully, soon to be restful nights.

    Congratulations Alyssa and family!

    Here is a list of Alyssa’s Virtual Baby Shower Recipes, lovingly prepared by some fabulous food bloggers!

    Breakfast 

    Fried Egg Topped Curried Sweet Potatoes from A Beautiful Bite

    Chocolate Orange Protein Smoothie from The Lemon Bowl

    Spaghetti Squash Hash from Eats Well With Others

    Lunch 

    Hearty Garbanzo Soup from Sweet Life Bake

    Pumpkin White Bean Soup from Blue Kale Road

    Dinner

    Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast from Jeanette’s Healthy Living

    Slow Cooker Beef and Bacon Stew from Girlichef

    Lemon Pepper Chicken with Arugala from Virtually Homemade

    Roast Chicken Ratatouille from An Edible Mosaic

    Snack

    Spiced Honey Nut and Seed Snack Mix from Fake Food Free

    Charred Brussel Sprout, Bacon, and Toasted Sesame Guacamole from Baker by Nature

    Quick and Easy Cucumber Bites, Three Ways from Hip Foodie Mom

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon

    About 1 1/2 cups

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon

    Ingredients

    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 cup fresh baby arugula leaves, packed
    • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
    • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    Instructions

  • In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients and blend until ingredients are pureed into a smooth sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve over pan seared or grilled halibut and serve with wild rice pilaf, white rice and/or roasted veggies.
  • For a step by step pictorial on how to pan sear salmon, click here
  • Notes

    I love serving this Arugula Chimichurri with roasted salmon, but it's also fabulous with pan seared or grilled scallops and makes a tasty dipping sauce for grilled or poached shrimp.

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/12/05/arugula-chimichurri-over-roasted-salmon-and-a-virtual-baby-shower/

     

    DaVinci Wine Recipes Halibut Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    Halibut Florentine from Karista's Kitchen

     

    This White Fish Florentine is a lush and flavorful dish inspired by my visit to Tuscany with DaVinci Wine a few years ago.  

    Spinach is used in all sorts of Tuscan dishes and it’s also prevalent in many coastal seafood recipes like my Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole.  I love the simple list of ingredients combined with fresh white fish, which is typically easy to find year round.   This gorgeous recipe makes for a fuss free weeknight meal or an elegant meal for entertaining.

    Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I use several different types of white fish for this recipe, depending on the season.  I adore this dish when halibut is in season or when I can snag a gorgeous piece of black or ling cod.

    I like to enjoy the fresh and enticing flavors of this White Fish Florentine paired with a bottle of DaVinci Pinot Grigio. Perfection!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    Serving Size: 4

    White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    A great way to use all that fishing trip fish stocked in the freezer or the spinach you froze from summer. Substitute with fresh winter greens instead of spinach and spike with your favorite spices rather than the Dijon.

    Ingredients

    • 1lb fresh spinach (or 1 large pkg frozen organic chopped spinach)
    • Olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream (for a saucier dish add ½ cup cream)
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest and a few squeezes of lemon
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh fish (Cod, Ling Cod, Halibut, Snapper, Sole, if using snapper try to remove the bones prior to cooking)
    • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
    • Serve with fresh lemon wedges

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and add the fresh spinach, in batches if you need. Sauté just until the spinach is wilted and transfer to a dish. Continue until all the spinach has been sautéed. Let the spinach cool a bit and then squeeze all the excess liquid from the spinach. Coarsely chop the sautéed spinach and set aside.
  • Or, if using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out all the excess liquid.
  • In the same sauté pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic for one minute or until fragrant. Next, stir in the heavy cream, Dijon mustard and lemon zest. Take the pan off the heat and fold in the chopped spinach until combined with the sauce. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, just enough so the fish won’t stick. Season each piece of fish with salt and pepper and place the fish in the baking dish in a single layer.
  • Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the fish. Then squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the spinach and fish. Mix together the bread crumbs and grated parmesan and then sprinkle on top of the spinach.
  • Place the fish into the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until the fish is flaky and done. Typically you can cook fish about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness, however, because we’ve layered with spinach and breadcrumbs cooking time may be longer.
  • When the fish is done, remove from the oven and serve with fresh lemon wedges.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/11/01/white-fish-florentine/

    This dish is inspired by my visit to Tuscany with the 2013 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience and adapted from many versions of Fish Florentine.  I dined on something similar and I was so impressed with the simple but flavorful meal I had to re-create it for this website. Enjoy! 

    Duck Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Chianti at Home

    Allspiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze over Coconut Rice

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    The mornings are felt with a slightly cool breeze from the west, drifting from the ocean that lies just beyond the small range of mountains.  As I sit on my back porch with my morning coffee in hand, I hear the sound of a train in the distance and my choir of bull frogs are beginning the morning hush after an evening of choir practice.

    My songbirds are chiming though, making it known the competition is on.  Their melodies much sweeter to the human ears.  I won’t tell my bull frog choir however.  They seem to delight in their nightly choir practice.

    Where the songbirds sing in my backyard // Karista's Kitchen

    And so now, as I sit on my back porch watching the warm sun rise from the east, sipping my coffee that I actually took the time to make via my French press (the one I so joyfully discovered at the bottom of a box yesterday).. this is home.

    They say, home is where you hang your hat.  Or at least that’s what I’ve always heard.  At the moment however, no hats have been hung in my house.  Most likely because we can’t find the box of hats.

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Asian Cherry Glaze // Karista's Kitchen

    We have however,  found the dishes, the cutlery, the pots and pans along with all the essentials for a well stocked kitchen.  Including our wine glasses. Definitely essential items for a well stocked kitchen.

    Along with our stash of kitchen items, I found the box filled with my very carefully wrapped selection of wine; including my favorite Chianti.

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice

    Although I pair DaVinci Chianti at home with our hearty winter dishes of pasta and slow cooked meats, I also adore DaVinci Chianti served with spring and summer dishes of grilled chicken, salmon and Ahi Tuna Tacos.

    Recently, I served our favorite chianti with an Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin topped with an Asian Cherry Glaze.  Simple to prepare, yet it feels slightly indulgent with the subtle flavors of Asian cuisine.

     

    Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice

    DaVinci Chianti pairs easily with the sweet, warm, earthy flavors of the Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.  Typically used in desserts, the allspice, which is a single spice, has subtle notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg and is often used in Jamaican savory cuisine.

    I’ve paired the Allspice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze which also uses one cup of DaVinci Chianti.  I love how easy it is to roll this tenderloin in the fragrant Allspice and either grill it outdoors during the summer months or roast it in the oven on a busy weeknight.  The glaze is easily assembled and prepared, and when served with the grilled or roasted tenderloin and coconut rice, it makes a delicious and beautiful meal for the weeknight or weekend dinner guests.

    For those who like wild game or want to prepare this dish for a special occasion, I’ve also included a version of this recipe using pan seared duck.  It makes a lovely presentation and the rich flavor of the duck is beautifully complimented by the rich fruit flavors and medium body of the Chianti.

    Pan Seared Duck Breast with an Asian Cherry Glaze and Coconut Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    Chianti at Home describes special moments in a day. Moments that bring family and friends, delicious food and great wine together.  Moments that remind me of my glorious visit to Tuscany, getting to know the beautiful people behind this gorgeous wine.

    The loveliest of individuals who take great pride in creating this enchanting Chianti.  I think of them as I sip, as I savor the lush flavors that dance on the tongue.  Flavors that mingle and play ever so nice together

    2013 DaVinci Wine Storytellers

    Almost a year has passed since traveling to Italy as a DaVinci Wine Storyteller.   It’s now time to pass the baton.  Twelve new finalists for the 2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience have now been revealed.  I’m riddled with anticipation and excitement for these fantastic twelve, talented individuals. Who will be the final four 2014 Storytellers?

    You can help select the final four Storytellers by voting for your favorite in each category: Photography, Travel, West Coast Foodie and East Coast Foodie.  Click HERE, be sure to “like” the DaVinci Wine Facebook page and then browse the list and categories and vote.

    2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Finalists

    2014 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Finalists

    Chianti at Home … a wine for every season, every occasion.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    All-Spice Rubbed  Pork Tenderloin with an Asian Cherry Glaze

    The tenderloin can be grilled or roasted as listed in the Directions

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    For the rub:

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground all-spice

    1 large pork tenderloin or 2 small; this can also be prepared with Duck Breast. Recipe Follows.

    Olive oil

    Coconut Rice (recipe follows)

    Green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

    For the sauce:

    1 cup sour cherries

    2 tablespoons honey

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

    ½ teaspoon corn starch (optional)

    Directions

    Mix together the salt, pepper and ground all-spice.  Rub the tenderloin with oil and then season with the salt, pepper, all-spice mixture.  Let the tenderloin sit for a few minutes while starting the glaze.

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low or medium low, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced.  The sauce should thicken as it cools, however, if you’d like to thicken it while it’s warm, add two tablespoons of warm glaze to a small bowl and then whisk in the ½ teaspoon of corn starch.  Once this mixture (called a slurry) is smooth, whisk it into the glaze and bring the glaze back to a boil for about one minute.  This will thicken the sauce.

    Preheat the oven or grill to 400F.   To roast the tenderloin, place it in a baking dish and then place the baking dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the center of the tenderloin reaches 145F.

    To grill the tenderloin, place it on the pre-heated grill, cover and cook, turning every 2-3 minutes for about 10-15 minutes, depending on size.  The tenderloin is done when the internal temperature reaches 145F.

    Let the pork tenderloin rest for few minutes before slicing.  This will allow juices to redistribute and keep the tenderloin moist and juicy.

    Place the coconut rice on a platter and then slice the tenderloin.  Place the tenderloin slices on top of the coconut rice and drizzle with the Asian Cherry Glaze.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

    Serve with DaVinci Chianti!

    Pan Seared Duck Breast with Asian Cherry Glaze

    Serves 2-3

    Ingredients

    For the rub:

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground all-spice

    2 Duck Breasts, thawed if previously frozen (Often I find them in the freezer section of my meat market)

    Olive oil

    Coconut Rice (recipe follows)

    Green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

    For the sauce:

    1 cup sour cherries

    2 tablespoons honey

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

    ½ teaspoon corn starch (optional)

    Directions

    Mix together the salt, pepper and ground all-spice.  Rub the Duck Breasts with the seasoning. On a cutting board lined with parchment or plastic wrap, place the duck breast one at a time on top of the parchment or plastic and then place another piece of parchment or plastic on the duck breast.  Pound the duck breast with a meat mallet or a rolling pin until it’s a bit thinner and will cook a bit faster.  If you like, score the duck breast skin in a crisscross pattern.  Do not remove the skin.  The skin has delicious flavor and gets crispy when pan seared.

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low or medium low, and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced.  The sauce should thicken as it cools, however, if you’d like to thicken it while it’s warm, add two tablespoons of warm glaze to a small bowl and then whisk in the ½ teaspoon of corn starch.  Once this mixture (called a slurry) is smooth, whisk it into the glaze and bring the glaze back to a boil for about one minute.  This will thicken the sauce.

    To prepare the duck pre-heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a dash of olive oil.  Once the skillet is hot, place the duck breasts skin side down and brown, about 5 minutes.  Once the skin is nice and deep golden brown, flip the duck breasts to the other side and cook another 5 minutes.  I like my duck breasts medium rare, a little pink in the center.  Cook another 2-3 minutes if you prefer it cooked through.

    Once the duck is done, transfer it to a carving board and let it rest for a few minutes.  Place the coconut rice on a platter and then slice the duck.  Place the duck breast slices on top of the coconut rice and drizzle with the Asian Cherry Glaze.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

    Serve with DaVinci Chianti!

    Coconut Rice

    This recipe is easily doubled

    Ingredients

    1 cup coconut milk

    ½ cup water

    ¾ cup basmati rice

    ¼ t salt

    Directions

    Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.

     

    Recipe by Chef Karista Bennett

     

     

    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Hawaiian Grilled Chicken and The Writing Process Tour

    Pineapple Juice, soy sauce marinated and grilled chicken // karista's Kitchen

    Recently my friend and colleague, Wendy of Chez Chloe the food blog (and also by the same name – a gorgeous Home and Kitchen store on Orcas Island, Washington) asked if I would participate in an online writing process tour.

    Because I am completely nosy and curious about how other writers pen their poetic or educational prose, and because often, I stalk my favorite writers and then proceed to ask lots of writing related questions – I thought it would be fun to participate.

    What are you working on? 

    Hmmm… I think the best question would be, what am I not working on?  My work takes me in many different directions.  Which feeds my generous love for diversity in my daily schedule.

    Currently, I’m writing and testing recipes for a winter/holiday magazine issue for one of my lovely clients; writing and testing wine-pairing recipes for two more fantastic clients; writing and testing recipes for future issues of VRAI Magazine; writing food related content for an online e-commerce fashion and home accessories website; desperately trying to finish a small e-cookbook on salmon (to be released soon) and posting my personal recipes and musings on my website.

    How does your work differ from others of its genre?

    I learned a long time ago I’m not a traditional food blogger.  I tried. But I soon realized I arrived late to the party, as usual, and I’m not fiercely competitive.  I am however, passionate. Passionate about culinary arts, culinary education and quality, clean, local food.  I am passionate about the local farmer and how we can help each and every one of them sustain their farms. I am passionate about food products that use only the best, cleanest ingredients to help keep our bodies healthy.  In a sentence… I want my work to reflect my passion.

    I don’t typically write personal posts, going on and on about my day or how I’m feeling at the moment.  I don’t mind reading blogs that share more personal information, sometimes I rather enjoy them. But I feel my job and professional strengths are to inform, educate, inspire and sometimes amuse.  I love to laugh and I love to hear laughter.

    On occasion though, I might write about my sweet pup, Tank, who amuses me terribly. Or my two sassy gals – who make my life worth living.  Or my adventurous husband who always seems to take adventure to a new level.  He most definitely feeds my generous love of daily diversity!

    Karista's Kitchen

    The Bennett Five

    I believe my work only differs in that it reflects me.  It reflects my deep and profound love for what I do.  The passion, the art, the education and all the deliciousness that’s infused into every recipe and post I write.  I write to share. That’s how it all began.

    Why do you write what you do?

    I think I answered that in the paragraph above.  I’m famous for not directly answering a question.  Ask my husband.  He get’s half a novel with each question he asks.

    How does your writing process work?

    This too differs daily.  I develop recipes, write content about the recipe and photograph the recipe. Each portion is equally important, which is why I give lots of thought and research to every recipe I develop.

    Writing the related content about the recipe depends on my clients specifications.  Much of what I write is written specifically for the publication and their demographic.  I tailor the content as beautifully as I can, weaving in non-fiction stories if warranted, or poetic verse about the season.

    When I write, it’s usually always while sitting at my small, rather rustic, painted black desk in front of a window that faces east… with morning light.  Sometimes I play a little Josh Bell or cello music.  Vivaldi is my preferred music to write by, but on occasion some Wailin Jenny’s or Allison Krause will do the job.  I like the house to be quiet when I write. Which is why I write in the morning.  I never, ever answer my phone while I’m writing.  In fact, I turn it off.  This annoys my children.

    There are times when I’m testing a recipe – cooking, plating, photographing – when verse will come to mind and I’ll stop and jot it down.  I keep pens and notepaper all over the house and in my handbag.  I never know when something inspirational will pop into my head and I’ll need to write it down.

    Often my husband and I will be out and about or having dinner somewhere and I’ll grab my phone and start making notes.  It’s amazing how so many things around me can inspire me.  A beautifully plated creation at a new restaurant, a farmer’s market brimming with brilliantly colored produce,  dark and ominous storm clouds rolling past, threatening to unleash at any moment; an older couple strolling the sidewalk holding hands or a songbird singing his best song outside my window.  Little things that provoke or awaken and inspire.

    pineapple and tamari marinated grilled chicken // Karista's Kitchen

    Today, I’m sharing a recipe as well. This, a consolation for reading my very wordy post.

    This grilled chicken dish is one my husband and I have been making for at least the last 20 years. Prior to culinary school the marinade was extremely simple.  Teriyaki sauce and pineapple juice.  Recently I jazzed it up a bit adding garlic and honey and using gluten free Tamari instead of a Teriyaki sauce.

    Flavorful, moist and juicy grilled chicken that will have you licking your lips.  I serve this dish with my Carrot Cilantro Salad or my Mother in laws Macaroni Salad.  Perfect for the casual summer barbecue.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Hawaiian Grilled Chicken

    This is one of my simplest chicken recipes.  So easy, so delicious and perfect for a casual summer meal.

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    4-5lbs bone-in, skin on, chicken pieces (breast, legs, thighs)

    3 cups pineapple juice (not sweetened)

    10 ounces Tamari (soy sauce)

    1/4 cup honey

    4-5 garlic cloves, smashed

    1/4 cup sliced green onions for garnish

    Directions

    Whisk together the pineapple juice, Tamari, honey and garlic.  Place the chicken pieces in a large non-reactive dish or bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.  On occasion, I’ll prepare it first thing in the morning and it’s ready to grill by dinner time.

    Heat the grill to at least 400F.  Brush the grill grates with oil.  The chicken will stick at first, but should turn easily after a few minutes.  Watch the flame as the marinade can burn.  Turn the chicken a few times while grilling and in between turns, keep the grill lid down so the chicken will cook evenly.  Adjust the heat as needed.

    The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165F.  Depending on the type of grill you use it will take about 20-30 minutes.  Place the chicken on a platter and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with grilled corn on the cob and my Carrot Cilantro Salad or Macaroni Salad.  A perfect summer meal!

     

     

     

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels // Karista's Kitchen

    I can’t think of any dish that feels more comforting to me than a big ‘ole bowl of steamers.  Whether it be clams or mussels, my enjoyment level that comes from a big bowl of steamers placed in front of me at the table is mountainous.  Living on both coasts of the U.S. has made a seafood lover out of me.  And with that seafood love comes my deep affection for these lovely shellfish.

    I remember my first encounter with mussels.  Living on the East coast years ago, we frequented a little seafood restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island called The Black Pearl.  There, I dined on the most succulent of mussels bathed in white wine, garlic and fresh herbs.  From that moment, I became a huge fan of steamed shellfish whether they be bathed in wine, beer, broth, with chorizo or homemade sausage, fresh herbs, onions and garlic… no matter, I’ll eat them.

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels // Karista's Kitchen

    To mix it up a bit I thought why not steam these little lovelies in curry?  And just as I was toying with the thought, Ranger Craig and I dined at a fabulous restaurant in Bend, Oregon which served Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry.  This absolutely proves the point – if it’s a good idea, someone, somewhere, has already thought of it.

    So now I’m passing along this dish to you.  Whether it be spring, summer, fall or winter, this dish seems to compliment any season.  Be sure to serve with a bowl of rice to add to the curry when you’ve polished off the mussels.  Or crusty garlic crostini to dip into the curry is also quite divine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Thai Green Curry Steamed Mussels

    Just a quick note.  When I purchase fresh mussels at my market or fish market they are bagged and tied.  When you get home, untie the bag, place the open bag of mussels in a bowl and set the bowl in your refrigerator.  It’s best to use the mussels the same day they are purchased, however, they are fine if used the very next day.

    Serves 2 for an entrée or 4 for a starter

    Ingredients

    2lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed and rinsed in cold water and little “beards”s pinched off.  Don’t add any mussels that are open or broken.  If you squeeze the mussel shut and it opens again, it’s not any good.  It’s rare I can find the smaller mussels, but if you find them, snag them.  They are sweeter and less briny than the larger mussels.

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    2 tablespoons green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

    1 can organic coconut milk (don’t use the “light” coconut milk)

    2-3 lime leaves (now easily found in the fresh herb section of most markets)

    1 stalk lemongrass, split lengthwise (also found in the herb section of most markets)

    1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce

    1-2 cloves garlic, smashed

    1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

    1/2 small red hot pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you don’t like spicy food omit the pepper)

    Squeeze of fresh lime

    Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or sliced green onions

    Directions

    In a large pasta or soup pot (you can also use a large skillet but I prefer a large pot), heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the green curry paste.  Let the paste warm and mix with the oil for about 30 seconds or so.

    Then add the coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass, Asian fish sauce, smashed garlic, fresh ginger slices and red pepper if using.  Stir to combine and simmer on medium to medium low for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The coconut milk will thicken a bit.

    Turn the heat up to medium high and add the mussels.  Cover with a tight lid and let them cook for a few minutes, or until all the mussels are open and opaque.

    Give them a toss in the curry and then pour into a large serving bowl.  Garnish with lots of fresh chopped cilantro or green onion.

    Serve with rice to eat with the curry when all the mussels are gone.  Or some toasty garlic bread for dipping.

    Recipe inspired by my Thai Green Curry Steamers in Bend, Oregon

     

     

    Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

    Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

    Grilled Rib-Eye With Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette Karista's Kitchen

    We’ve just launched the 4th fabulous issue of VRAI Magazine and I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting and new online magazine!  Filled with food, travel, DIY, Gardening and more.

    VRAI Magazine is made up of real bloggers, with varying backgrounds, expertise and unique perspectives, who are passionate about sharing stories. In these stories, you’ll also find wonderful ideas, inspirations and information for everyday living, as well as topics of interest that are designed to spark genuine conversations. “Life is filled with stories both big and small. They can be found in big events and milestones throughout life or even in the most mundane acts of each day — there is always a story worth telling.  Through VRAI Magazine, we hope to capture and share some of them with you.”

    In this issue of VRAI Magazine I talk GRILLING!  Here’s a sneak peek:

    I get positively giddy this time of year.  With the longer days and warmer temperatures, grilling once again becomes my preferred method of cooking.  Gone are the cooler days and Pacific Northwest winter weather that requires rain gear while grilling. 

    Although I enjoy most methods of cooking, there is something about grilling that feels just a bit festive, carefree and whimsical. Maybe it’s the feeling of warm summer months when life is slower and less scheduled.  Fresh produce arriving with color and intense ripened flavors just aching to be tossed into some delicious concoction to share.

    Grilling steak couldn’t be easier, but there are a few simple steps that will make your steak taste like perfection. 

    1. Quality is key –  Purchasing a quality cut of beef is key to a delicious and flavorful steak.  I prefer purchasing local beef that has been grazing in a nice open pasture and preferably grass-fed only. (I know, I sound like the television show Portlandia) Truly, fresh is best for optimum flavor.  Not only does buying local mean your steak will be fresh, you will be supporting your local economy.  If  you don’t have access to a  local beef rancher, try to purchase beef from your region.  Most local markets purchase regionally,  or ask your local butcher.

    For the Grilled Rib-eye with Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and a Grilled Romaine Recipe head on over to VRAI Magazine…  Click Here!

    Stay Tuned – Coming up this week, I will be posting a most delicious and special pastry recipe from Italy.   Buon Appetito!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

     

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

    Thighs with Coconut Rice

    It took me a few days to put into words how I feel about this lovely lady.  A most poetic author, who never fails to capture my attention with her “dreamy” prose.

    Dreamy.  Marni’s word.  Every time I hear it, read it, see it – I think of her.  Long time acquaintances, now friends.  I won’t give away the story as she’s written a bit about it below, but I can tell you, I never forgot her.  You know, that one person you sort of knew, really liked, but never had the opportunity to be real friends?  And then, years later I discovered her blog.  Her love of the written word.  Her talent I so admire.

    Sometimes Marni lets me sneak peaks at what she’s writing, what she’s working on.  And again, it’s always “dreamy”.   A talented gal, Marni started a stationary company along with her blog called “noted“.  There you’ll find her beautiful and exquisite line of stationary as well as poetic verse of life, love, family, humor and anything that strikes her fancy.  I find myself constantly checking her blog just to read a new snippet of her writing.  And of course, I have “noted” stationary (and a pencil!) in my office.  She’s a published author, gracious and lovely with a quiet strength that exudes a zest for life and love and all that’s dreamy.

    In honor of this most delicious post, Marni asked me to post a dish that one might take to a neighbor.  A perfect pairing with her story.   This Spiced Apricot Chicken with Coconut Rice is an enchanting meal for a neighbor, family or friends.  Thank you Marni for guest posting!

    t Rice

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Hi! My name is Marni and I am the creator of “noted.”, a stationery line as well as a blog where I note my favorite moments. Karista has been a friend both near… here in Mesa, Arizona, and far… social media and through blogging.

    Her daughter Alex and my son Hayden were friends in kindergarten. Back then life was a blur of childhood activity. There seemed to be only short moments of pocketed conversation between school drop offs and pick-ups and the occasional play date or birthday party for catching up.

    I remember Alex attending Hayden’s sixth birthday party at the park, and then, as if time fast forwarded leaving a bit of itself behind, there is Karista four years later, packed and ready to move to Washington.  I can see her, standing at one end of my living room while I am at the other, she is looking up and over me, maybe admiring the newly faux finished walls (fad of the times), or maybe looking out the shuttered window behind me at our swimming pool, and then an emptiness fills me that we missed our moment to connect.

    We could have been more than our children’s mothers to one another, we could have been close friends. That  moment  is stamped to my memory, a  memorized  profile pic that pops up whenever I think about her or she sends me a quick text, bringing me back to that day in my living room, and I notice our connection was there all along, waiting for us to realize it.

    Sometimes it’s a parenting question or more often a note of confidence, stirring me on, keeping my words bubbling gently to the top, she knows I work best at a slow simmer. My dreamiest times happen there. Something warm on the stove that needs my calm attention giving my mind space to wander, eyes gazing out the window, drawing them to notice the tree that was bare for the past two years has gathered up the courage to leaf out!

    I honestly didn’t think it would make it. It was a transplanted tree you see. We moved into our home two years ago this past December and immediately our next door neighbor came to my husband,  outside unloading boxes in the garage, and asked if we would mind cutting down a backyard tree. His first introduction. He even had the business card in hand of the tree service and offered to pay himself! He wanted that washed out shade of green with needle like leaves that didn’t seem to serve any purpose but litter his pool, gone.

    I didn’t really like the tree, knew it was temporary, but my territorial defenses surrounding our new space we had as yet to associate as home, rose at the request.  How dare he ask us to cut down OUR  tree.

    After a few months, and experiencing his same pool grief, we agreed, paying for it ourselves while making it clear to him that we would be planting a new tree in that same approximate space. One that wasn’t so messy but a replacement tree none the less.  He was silent. We went ahead and planted a tree that was young and spindly but tall enough to make a subtle statement. Once planted it seemed to fill the space perfectly, not too close to our shared block wall and with the hope of a future canopy of green! I was looking forward to having a shady green corner one day, romanticizing, imagining myself sipping lemonade while turning the dog-eared pages of a borrowed book. Soon the spare amount of leaves it had clinging to its few branches dropped. Mostly in our yard.  Crunchy and dry, the tree went from green to brown in days.

    All that next spring and summer it was bald, like our neighbor Eric. It seemed as soon as it was nestled snug in the newly dug hole it went dormant. Maybe in shock from the new soil, or too much fertilizer, or maybe Eric had won. My curtain of hope closed. Nothing would grow in that finicky spot which is why the previous owners had chosen such a nuisance of a tree. Eric would be happy.  A private person, we would probably never know if he liked the outcome or not. He wasn’t unlikeable, just hard to read, a quiet neighbor…which I know from past experience can be the best neighbor.

    So here we are two years later, I was pretty much ready to give the tree the boot this spring if it didn’t perk up and produce, but this quiet tree I nicknamed “Eric’s tree” is now full of leaves.  Crazy happy leaves, bright green and lush as if it had been resting, quietly saving its energy just to surprise!

    Eric died in a small plane crash along with two other pilots taking off from Telluride this past January. I miss seeing his silent face, occasionally catching his eye long enough to challenge him with a friendly wave.  I am sad for his family. He never had much to say to me but “his” tree will grow to offer quiet shade in both our yards and its lovely ode to life makes me smile every day.

     

    Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

    Serving Size: 4

    Ingredients

      For the Spiced Apricot Chicken
    • A tablespoon or two of coconut oil
    • 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 medium shallot, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 star anise
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 cup dried apricots (or a mixture of dried apricots, golden raisins or dried cherries)
    • 1 cup white wine
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish (if you don’t like cilantro substitute with fresh Italian parsley
      For the Coconut Rice
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • ½ cup water
    • ¾ cup basmati rice
    • ¼ t salt

    Instructions

  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium high heat, adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken thighs. You want to see a nice deep brown color on the thighs. This creates flavor and will make the dish taste fabulous.
  • Once all the chicken thighs are browned (you may need to do this in batches) transfer to a plate and hold.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add additional coconut oil to the Dutch oven or large pot if needed. Stir in the shallots and let them wilt a bit. Next stir in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, star anise, fresh thyme and dried apricots. Give it a quick stir and then add the white wine.
  • Add the chicken thighs back into the Dutch oven or large pot and turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then turn the heat to low. Cover and let the chicken slow cook for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reach 165F.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Coconut Rice.
  • Once the chicken is done take it off the heat and let the chicken rest in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the coconut rice on a platter and then layer the chicken thighs on the rice. Ladle the sauce with the dried fruit over the chicken and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  • To prepare the Coconut Rice
  • Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/04/25/spiced-apricot-chicken-and-a-guest-author/

     

    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,

    Karista

    Nori Wrapped Salmon

    Ingredients

    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)

    Directions

    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

    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Hooligan Squash Oatmeal Muffins

    Hooligan Squash Oatmeal Muffins

    Do you ever walk through your market and wonder what all those beautiful different types of winter squash are called?  Every time I see a new squash I go home and look it up.  So I have to tell you, I was feeling pretty darn smug about my squash knowledge… until last week.

    As I was power walking through my local co-op market, I spotted two cute little pumpkin like squash I thought would be delish for these muffins.  I was sure they were Sweet Lightening Squash but when I got home I kept thinking they were a little small for Sweet Lightening.  I was right.  These little darlings are called Hooligans.  What a name, right?

    winter squash muffins with oatmeal brown sugar topping

    The name alone would make me buy these again.  But the taste is the real reason for purchasing these lovelies.  Sweet like a Delicata but the texture less starchy.  So lip-smacking good,  I was eating pieces of the roasted squash right off the baking sheet.

    These little Hooligans made for a sweet, moist muffin.  I also think they’d make the most divine squash soup or a roasted squash side dish, sprinkled with my favorite Five Spice Powder or a little curry powder.  Hooligans are a nice little surprise during this very stormy and cold winter – and just enough to keep me going until spring.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Hooligan Squash Oatmeal Muffins

    Makes about 12

    Ingredients

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup rolled oats

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    1 ½ cups squash puree (recipe below) (from about 2-3 Hooligan squash, depending on size)  on occasion I sub with sweet potato puree

    ¼ cup coconut oil or healthy vegetable oil

    2 eggs

    ½ cup coconut palm sugar or  brown sugar, packed

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger added to the squash puree

    Topping: (optional)

    3 tablespoons rolled oats

    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    3 tablespoons brown sugar

    3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine squash, vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Divide muffins among 12 prepared muffin cups.

    Combine oats, sugar and oil in a small bowl. Divide mixture among the tops of muffin batter. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

    Let them cool before removing from tin. Because they are so moist, it’s best to store them in the fridge.

    Roasting Squash for Puree

    Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the squash in half, from top to bottom.  Scoop out the seeds.

    Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little olive oil. Lay the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and add a little water to the pan.   Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and skins are golden brown and toasty.  Remove from the oven and  when the squash has cooled, remove the meat of the squash and place it in a medium mixing bowl, mashing it as much as possible.  Set aside.

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Italian Porketta with Apple Cherry Chutney

    Italian porketta with apple cherry chutney

    My little buddy Tank and I went for our run this morning and it didn’t take us long to complete our laps.  Instead of spring approaching it felt like winter! Yep, I think the polar vortex is about to swoop down onto the Willamette Valley and give us a few more weeks of winter.

    I’ve seen the trees and plants start to bud and I was hoping that was a sign warmer weather would be arriving soon.  I guess not.

    Apple Cherry Chutney with Braised Italian Porketta

    So with the impending cold front and gray skies above, I thought we needed a little warm and cozy for dinner tonight.   This boldly seasoned pork roast pairs beautifully with my favorite Apple Cherry Chutney.  A little spicy, a little sweet.  Ha! Just like me.

    I’m off to stuff a few more tasks into my busy day, so I’ll leave you with this lovely little recipe to entice your taste buds and warm your evening.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Braised Italian Porketta with Apple Cherry Chutney

    Serves 4-6

    This is best when the pork is bathed in the dry rub and sits overnight in the refrigerator.  It can be popped in a slow cooker but I prefer this prepared in the Dutch oven as it’s not browned prior to cooking.

    Ingredients

    The Porketta:

    2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1 tablespoon fennel seeds

    2 teaspoons sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon granulated garlic

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    3-4lbs pork shoulder, boneless

    1 small onion, halved and then sliced

    1 cup white wine or chicken broth

    Kitchen Twine

    Serve with Apple Cherry Chutney (recipe follows) 

    Directions

    Mix together the dry ingredients.  Cut the pork down the center, just midway and open like a book. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the rub in the crevice.  Close it up and tie it with kitchen twine.  Then use the remaining rub on the outside of the pork.   Wrap it in plastic wrap and place the pork in the refrigerator at least overnight.  I promise, this will taste so good!

    When you are ready to prepare the pork, pre-heat the oven to 350F.   Heat a little oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven and sauté the onions.  Remove the plastic wrap and place the pork into the Dutch oven and then add the cup of white wine or broth.  Bring the wine/broth to a boil.  Turn off the stove and place the lid on the Dutch oven and transfer it to the preheated oven.

    The pork will cook for about an hour to an hour and a half depending on weight.  Check the internal temperature after one hour.  The final cooking temperature should reach 145F.

    While the pork is braising prepare the Apple Cherry Chutney.

    Apple Cherry Chutney

    Ingredients

    2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced (I like larger pieces for a heartier chutney)

    1 cup dried cherries, soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes

    1/3 cup brown sugar

    ½ cup orange juice

    ½ cup apple cider vinegar

    1 stick cinnamon

    2 whole cloves

    1 tablespoon diced shallots

    Olive oil

    Directions

    In a medium pan over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, sauté the shallots for  a minute or two, or until wilted and soft.  Next stir in the apples, drained dried cherries, brown sugar, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon stick and cloves.

    Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a lively simmer.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and it reaches your desired consistency.  If you feel the chutney isn’t soft enough, add a little water and continue simmering.

    Lightly season with a pinch of sea salt.

    To Serve:

    Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing.

    Remove the kitchen twine and slice thin against the grain.  Place the slices of Porketta on a platter and ladle the chutney around the pork.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley.  Serve warm.

    *I love this dish served with roasted or steamed broccoli or broccoli rabe with parmesan and garlic.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Dark Chocolate Granola, Fruit and Nut Snack

     

    dark chocolate coated granola, nuts and dried fruit snack mix

    I love my bright red cake tin. To leave it sitting empty would be a crime.  So, it’s often filled with my youngest gals favorite Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies or my family’s go to breakfast, Confetti Muffins.

    On occasion I’ll surprise my Bennett Crew with a little something new like Chef Laurie’s Classic Pound Cake or Pink Patisseries gluten free chocolate cupcakes.  I won loads of happy faces for those two treats.

    However, when that bright red cake tin is empty, I am promptly notified.

    My bright red vintage cake tin... holds mouthfuls of deliciousness

    My bright red vintage cake tin… holds mouthfuls of deliciousness

    It’s not that we consume many sweets in this house.  Actually, dinner is the highlight around here and it can make or break the day… so I’ve been told. But the comfort of knowing the red cake tin holds a bit of indulgence, seems to keep the bright and cheery going strong.

    Especially if that indulgence includes chocolate.

    This lovely little mix of dark chocolate covered granola, fruit and nuts seems to fly out of the cake tin.  I made this treat over the weekend and by Wednesday all but a few granola crumbs were gone.

    You can use any kind of granola (or no granola if you eat grain free), nuts or dried fruit but my family loves this with a mix of tree nuts, vanilla granola, dried diced apricots and dried blueberries.  It’s a simple recipe with lots of room for variation and experimentation.

    It also makes a fun and tempting treat for your aspiring young chef’s to create. Not to mention this decadent little snack pairs beautifully with a glass of one of my favorite cabernet’s the Collinetta Cabernet from Rocca Vineyards.  Not a bad way to start the weekend. 🙂

    Here’s to the little things in life.  Like chocolate… and a bright red cake tin filled with something sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Dark Chocolate Granola, Fruit and Nut Snack

    Ingredients

    8 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate ( I love the 65% Colombian dark chocolate that I purchase from my local Co-op Natural Market. It pairs beautifully with the fruit and nuts)

    1 cup of your favorite granola (my family loves plain vanilla granola, or granola with dried blueberries both of which are lovely with this recipe)

    1 1/2 cups tree nuts or your favorite nut mix (I use a bulk nut mix from my Co-op market that includes almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios and pepita (pumpkin) seeds)

    1 cup of your favorite dried fruit such as dried blueberries, raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, chopped dried bananas, pineapple, mango, etc.

    Sea salt (because a dash of salt makes everything taste better)

    Directions

    Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

    In a large bowl combine the granola, fruit and nuts.

    In a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler (stovetop) gently melt the chocolate until “just melted”.   If you are microwaving the chocolate be sure to microwave in 15-20 second increments so you don’t over cook or scald the chocolate.

    Once the chocolate is melted, pour it over the granola, fruit and nuts and gently stir to combine.

    Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet as thin or as thick as you like.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

    Let the mix cool at room temperature for about an hour or until it has hardened and can be broken into pieces.

    Store in your favorite container or “cake tin”.  Or store it in a Ziploc bag.  Keep it in a cool place.  Enjoy!