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DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti


Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin // Karista's Kitchen

This is a lovely and simple dish filled with sweet and savory flavors of the Tuscan countryside.  Herbs are abundant in Tuscany; fields of rosemary and sage, thyme and lavender dance about the hillsides creating the most fragrant Tuscan breezes.

This succulent pork loin roast is stuffed with fresh sage, dried apricots and a hint of garlic and then roasted to moist and exquisite perfection.  Serve this tasty dish with my Arugula and White Bean Salad and pair with my favorite DaVinci Chianti.

We wouldn’t want to forget dessert… How about a Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate to finish the meal?

For additional DaVinci Chianti recipes click HERE.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti

Serving Size: 4-6

Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti


  • 2-3lb pork loin roast
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 ½ cups white wine (DaVinci Pinot Grigio) If you don’t cook with wine use chicken broth with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • In a small sauce pan warm one cup of wine and soak the apricots for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the apricots from the wine (reserve the wine) and coarsely chop them. Add them to a bowl and then toss with the sage and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of oil to bind the ingredients.
  • With a long blade knife cut into the vertical center of the pork loin roast, making a nice size hole for the stuffing. Pierce all the way through to the other side.
  • Stuff the apricot sage mixture into the pork, spreading as evenly as you can. This takes a little bit of fiddling but it’s fairly easy.
  • Place the stuffed pork loin roast in a small baking dish or small roasting pan. Pour the reserved wine over the pork. Rub a little oil on the pork and season with salt and pepper.
  • Put the pork loin in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350F and roast for another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F.
  • Remove the pork loin from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. While it’s resting, take the pan juices and pour them into a sauce pan.
  • Heat the juices over medium heat and add the butter. If needed, add additional chicken broth to the pan. Whisk until the butter is nicely incorporated and the pan sauce is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve: Slice the pork loin roast and lay the slices on a platter. Pour some of the pan sauce over the pork slices and garnish with additional chopped fresh sage.
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    Here’s a not so great picture of me stuffing a pork loin.  Hope this visual is helpful!

    Stuffing the pork loin roast

    Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

    There’s a new guy in my life.   And I’ve fallen in love.  Again.  Another dark brown-eyed, silky smooth haired, cute as a bug Terrier.

    Gucci, a Biewer Terrier,  came to visit for a few days and we’re all smitten.  Especially Suzie Q.

    Gucci, the Biewer Terrier, and his new favorite girl 🙂

    I walked into my youngest daughter’s room to check on our handsome little guest.  He was as snug as a bug in one of my old willow clothes baskets.  My daughter had padded it down with lots of soft, fluffy blankets and set the basket at her feet while she finished her homework.  Gucci barely opened his sleepy eyes when I peeked in her room.  He gave me what I could swear was a half-smile, and then went back to sleep.

    Gucci Bear

    As you can tell I love dogs.  Actually I love most animals.  Except snakes.  But those aren’t animals.  Thankfully.  And I don’t care for rodents of any kind especially after the squirrel incident.  That’s a long story.

    But to make it short… years ago, a very large and wooly, less than friendly squirrel decided I had invaded his portion of the parking lot.  He made that very clear when he started slowly walking toward me, watching me intently with those brown beady and terrifying eyes.  I thought I might be in a Stephen King movie.

    No matter how far I ran, he ran after me.  Finally jumping on my leg and scaring me speechless.  Actually, I was screaming.

    After doing a little jig and lots of leg shaking around my side of the parking lot, the less than friendly squirrel decided I was too much trouble and let go of my pant leg.  I can truly say this squirrel incident was one of the most horrific animal experiences of my life.

    Although I may need to re-think “most horrific”.  I’ve been bitten on the bum by my pet pig, bucked off my horse into a ditch (because she wanted to chase the hay truck),  had a little standoff on my front porch with a cantankerous raccoon and the ONE camping trip my family took when I was a child, ended after the first day.  Yes…a bear attacked our camp.  I should have known early on that my love of animals came with a price.

    Maybe that’s why I only have dogs.  Though I’d love a miniature donkey.  And I’ve been rallying the Bennett Crew for a chicken coop.  Ranger Craig is always telling me I need to live on a farm.  One day. 🙂

    You may be wondering how in the heck is she going to bring this post back to the subject of food?  I’ll show you a picture.

    Shrimp Scampi Linguine... a perfect spring meal!

    I whipped up this little dish while Gucci was visiting. I had gone a little nuts with the cherry tomatoes and decided to roast the last two pints for a lovely pasta dish.

    Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    What could be more delicious with roasted cherry tomatoes than fresh basil, lemon and shrimp scampi.  All ladled beautifully over linguine.  A perfect spring meal!

    For more information about our adorable little Gucci and Biewer Terriers check out my friends website:

    Spicy Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon


    Serves 4-6

    1 lb linguine, cooked according to package directions

    1 lb shrimp, larger size,  peeled and de-veined (preferably fresh and not farm raised as the farm raised can be mushy)

    2 pints cherry tomatoes

    1 bunch fresh basil, chiffinade (cut into ribbons) Or hand torn

    3 cloves garlic, finely diced

    1 lemon, zested and juiced

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter

    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    ½ pint heavy cream

    ¼ cup white wine

    ½ teaspoon roasted red chili paste (Thai Kitchen) or a good pinch red pepper flakes or even a good splash of Sriracha hot sauce will do the trick.


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Drizzle the tomatoes with a tablespoon or two of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet  and roast in the oven until wilted, about 10 minutes.

    Remove them from the oven and set aside.

    To prepare the shrimp:  Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add two tablespoons of oil.  Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, to aid in carmelization.

    As soon as the oil is hot but not smoking, add the shrimp in a single layer.

    If your pan isn’t large enough you may need  cook your shrimp in two batches.  Let the shrimp cook on one side and then flip them to cook on the other side.  You’re looking for some nice golden brown color on your shrimp.  Total cook time should be about 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.  Once the shrimp are done, remove to a plate or bowl and reserve.

    To prepare the sauce:  In a sauce pan or cleaned skillet, add the butter to the pan over medium high heat.  Once the butter is frothy add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.  Then whisk in the white wine and heavy cream.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the sauce simmer to thicken a bit.  Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look thick and creamy.  This is a “lightly” sauced pasta dish allowing the flavors of the ingredients to shine through.

    Whisk in the chili paste or sriracha, lemon juice and zest and take the pan off the heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

    Fold in the fresh basil and toss the sauce with the pasta.

    Before serving, lightly toss the pasta with the shrimp and tomatoes and add one more drizzle of really good olive oil if desired.

    Garnish with fresh chopped basil and shredded parmesan.  Enjoy!

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Sweet Pepper Chicken

    Sweet Pepper Chicken

    As I’m desperately trying to write this post, Suzie Q (my youngest gal) decides to catch up on her shows.  It’s Saturday morning and I don’t have the heart to tell her to move the party downstairs to the less than fabulous television.

    Sweet Pepper Chicken

    This is what I get for parking myself, and my office, in the dining room.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  It has the most wonderful views of the mountains and it’s the most peaceful room in the house.

    Until now.  I have no door, so I’m resorting to noise reduction headphones and Josh Bell’s Vivaldi.

    Sweet Pepper Chicken

    I think this morning however I’m more in need of some Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies.  But I can’t write when Miranda’s singing.

    She makes me want to grab my spatula and hold a concert in my kitchen.  Not conducive to writing a food post.  So back to Vivaldi I go.

    Peppadews from Divinia

    Now that the television canceling music is in place, I can truly tell you I totally winged this recipe.  This dish was born out of my intense passion for peppadew peppers.  My compelling need to eat a few peppadews with my dinner.  Sounds crazy I know.

    But sometimes I get fixated on a food and that’s that.  Nothing can be done.  Like the time I fell in love with Valbreso Sheep’s Milk Feta (actually, it’s in this recipe too).  I used Valbreso feta in everything I could think of.  I’d even sneak little bites straight out of the frig!  It’s my affliction.  I did the same two summers ago with fresh peaches from Eastern Washington.  I posted peach recipes for a month. 🙂

    If you favor goats cheese crumbles over the feta, I say go for it! It’ll be just as tasty.  Enjoy this little dish while we wait for the spring produce to arrive 🙂

    Sweet Pepper Chicken

    Serves 4


    4 – 6 chicken cutlets (these are thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

    2 tablespoons of your favorite oil (I like coconut, grapeseed and olive)

    1/2 cup sliced peppadew peppers found either in the mixed olive section near the deli or jarred in the pepper aisle… or cherry peppers (seeded)

    1 leek, chopped (white part only)

    1/2 cup feta cheese (I love Valbreso brand sheep’s milk feta; or goat cheese crumbles are delish as well)

    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and/or Italian parsley

    2 tablespoons butter

    1/2 cup white wine

    Salt and Pepper to taste


    In a large skillet heat a little oil over medium high heat and pan sear the chicken cutlets on both sides until they are cooked through.  Cutlets should be “thin cut” and easily cooked stove top.  If you have a thicker cut of chicken breast, brown the chicken on both sides and then pop them in a 350F pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  Thicker boneless skinless chicken breasts shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes cook time in the oven.

    Once the chicken is done transfer to a platter and keep warm.  In a smaller skillet over medium heat, add the butter and saute the leeks until nicely wilted.  Add the garlic and fresh herbs and saute for about one minute longer.

    Then add the white wine and let the wine simmer and reduce by half.

    Take the leeks off the heat and fold in the sliced peppers.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Ladle the leeks and peppers over the chicken and sprinkle with the crumbled feta.  Serve immediately.

    Because this dish is so flavorful I serve it with roasted or steamed asparagus and a lovely saffron infused rice.

    Appetizers Grilling Kid Friendly Pork

    Superbowl Sliders! Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sauteed Sweet Onions and Hot Mustard

    Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sweet Onions and Hot Mustard

    My sister emailed me this morning asking if I had any Superbowl Sunday recipes to share.  “When is Superbowl Sunday?” I emailed back.  “Sunday”  My sister replies.

    Superbowl Sliders

    Oh shoot!  Where have I been?  Hiding under a rock somewhere? I have obviously not been paying attention.  And yes, I’ve seen Ranger Craig watching football since the season began.  But it didn’t occur to me that Superbowl is a few days away.   Honestly, I think I’m way past Superbowl and Groundhog day.  I’ve moved onto Valentines already!

    My new cutting board from my friend Heidi

    Although I seem to be oblivious of football season, I’m not oblivious about the food involved.  So into my recipe vaults I went and pulled out this delish little dish.

    Simply prepared and packed with flavor.  It’ll be a knockout with all the football fans in your home!  Hmmm… I think that’s a boxing term.   How about… it’ll be a roaring touchdown with all the football fans in your home!  I think that’ll work. 🙂

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

    Serves 12


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

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

    1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

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

    1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

    6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

    Dash of sesame oil

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Serve with:

    Sautéed Sweet Onions (recipe below)

    Hot mustard

    Slices of Swiss cheese (optional)

    Mini or slider buns, or Hawaiin Bread Rolls


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

    To prepare:

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

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

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

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

    Serve with Asian hot sauce or hot mustard mixed

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

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

    Sautéed Sweet Onions


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

    4 tablespoons clarified butter or oil


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

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

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

    Chicken Kid Friendly

    Chicken Fricassee and “Ruhlman’s Twenty” Cookbook Giveaway!

    Michael Ruhlman's Weekday Coq au Vin

    I love cookbooks.  Old ones, new ones, cookbooks with stories and cookbooks with beautiful photographs.  I love the obscure cookbook that no one is raving about; but the author is clever and talented, and the recipes are fresh and practical.

    So in honor of the new year, and my love of all things food, I’m giving away cookbooks during the month of February!

    But I’m so excited I can’t wait until February.  So I’m giving away the first book in January.

    20 Techniques, 100 Recipes... Divine!

    Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman.   A book of 20 cooking techniques and 100 recipes that will allow the home chef to become a super star in the kitchen.  And of course I had to give one of the recipes a test run.  The Weekday Coq au Vin is divine.   A most aromatic and delicious dish that was truly simple to prepare, but tasted like it had been simmering for hours.

    To enter, leave a comment on this post.  Tell me what you’d most like to learn to prepare for dinner.  And that’s it.  You’re entered to win “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.   I’ll draw the name of one lucky Fabulous Foodie on Friday, January 20th.  Good luck everyone!

    While were waiting for the exciting news, here’s another delicious and simple braised chicken dish that I prepare all winter long.  Serve over creamy polenta and I promise you’ll want to lick you plate!

    Chicken Fricassee


    3 ½ – 4 ½ lbs Chicken pieces (thighs and legs work best)

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 tablespoons butter

    Salt and Pepper

    8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1 cup dry red wine

    ½ cup red wine vinegar

    1 28oz can diced tomatoes

    2 3inch sprigs of fresh thyme

    ¼ Teaspoon red pepper flakes

    1 bay leaf

    Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

    Creamy Polenta (recipe follows)


    Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Heat the butter and oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottom straight sided skillet or stock pot.  Place the chicken pieces in the pan skin side down and brown each side about 3-5 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a platter and set aside.

    Spoon out all but a few tablespoons of oil remaining in the pan.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30-45 seconds.  Once the garlic is fragrant, add the red wine and vinegar.  Let the wine simmer for a few minutes and then stir in the crushed tomatoes, red pepper, thyme and bay leaf.  Place the chicken back into the skillet and bring the liquid to a boil.  Then decrease the heat to low and cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

    Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with additional salt or pepper.  Serve over Creamy Polenta and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

    Slightly adapted from a recipe by the brilliant Chef Virginia Willis

    Creamy Polenta 

    3 Cups milk

    ½ Cup quick cook polenta (if you can’t find quick cook, use regular polenta and follow the package directions substituting the broth or water for milk)

    ¼ Cup grated parmesan or Romano

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4 quart sauce pan stirring as you bring it to a boil.  While stirring, add the polenta.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes.  Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

    Plate the polenta and then ladle the Fricassee and extra sauce over the polenta.  Enjoy!

    Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Louisiana is where I learned to love seafood. With dishes like fish crusted in chopped pecans and smothered in fresh crab and a lightly spiced white wine beurre blanc, dark and richly flavored seafood gumbo that’s been simmering for hours, and finger licking good crab and crawfish boils.

    Once I got a taste of Cajun cuisine, there was no turning back. My love of all things Cajun was born.

    My twin sis (Kristin) and me at Mardi Gras 1990. It was a blast!

    So when I found this recipe, I was over the moon excited. Cajun Barbecue Shrimp over Sweet Potato Grits.  I was hooked.  On everything except the grits.

    I like grits, but I like grits sweet with sugar and butter.  And that’s about it.  But… my food lovin’ mind got creative and decided a sweet potato polenta would be an excellent substitution.

    A tangy but spicy sauce, smothering fresh Gulf shrimp and then all that goodness ladled over sweet potato polenta.  Someone pinch me!

    Beautiful Gulf Shrimp

    The recipe did not disappoint. Even my little “I don’t eat fish” gal (Suzie Q) loved it.  And Tink raved about the sauce.  It’s a snappy little sauce that would taste just as good over chicken.

    I was hoping for leftovers. The shrimp flew right off the platter, with only a little sweet potato polenta for breakfast tomorrow.  I’m hiding it!

    Unfortunately there aren’t too many sneaky spots to hide food in the frig.  Too bad it couldn’t be stashed in my secret hiding spot for chocolate.

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta


    Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled)

    2 lbs Gulf Shrimp (16-20 count), peeled with tail on and deveined

    ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

    ¼ cup chili sauce

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian Hot Sauce)

    1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

    Sweet potato polenta (recipe follows)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a large bowl whisk together the butter, chili sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Sriracha and smoked paprika. Toss in the shrimp in the sauce and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

    Lightly oil a large baking dish and pour the shrimp with sauce into the baking dish.  Spread out the shrimp into a single layer.

    Bake the shrimp for about 8-10 minutes and just before the shrimp are done turn on the broil and slightly brown the shrimp.  Watch the shrimp carefully or they’ll burn.  (yes, I did this)

    Spoon the sweet potato polenta onto a platter or large bowl and pour the shrimp over the polenta.

    Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and serve hot.

    Sweet Potato Polenta

    Serves 4

    1 cup quick cook polenta

    2 cups water

    1 cup whole milk

    ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup shredded Gouda, Monterey jack or Swiss

    1 – 1 ½ cups mashed, baked sweet potato

    Salt and pepper to taste


    On medium heat, bring the liquid to a slight boil. Add the polenta and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.  Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the cheese and mashed sweet potato.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Quick cooking a sweet potato – slice a sweet potato in half and place cut sides down on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until soft to the touch.

    Recipe adapted from Louisiana Cookin’ (A fabulous resource for all foods Cajun and Creole!)

    Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters with Brandy Butter Sauce

    Roasted Chicken Leg Quarter with Brandy Butter

    Cross country skiing is my sport of choice during the winter months.  You’re probably wondering what this has to do with roasted chicken leg quarters.

    Skiing in the Cascades

    There is a story here.  I promise.  After a day of skiing, Ranger Craig and I are usually famished.  So on the way home, we stop at our local Brewhouse for a pint and some fish tacos.  Mmmm… sounds good doesn’t it?

    My Mountain Man

    I could go home and prepare the fish tacos and pull a pint out of the frig.  But Ranger Craig and I tried that once.  By the time the tacos were done, we had snacked on everything in the pantry and then we weren’t hungry for dinner. 🙁

    So we usually skip the cooking and go right to the Brewhouse.  Except today.

    Cross Country Skiing

    There was leftover chicken leg quarters with brandy butter in the frig.  And to top it off, leftover roasted baby red potatoes with fresh basil and lemon.  All I had to do was roast the green beans and dinner would be ready.  Ok, I could live with this.

    Cross Country Skiing in the Cascades

    It didn’t take long and the leftover chicken was gone.   As soon as the last bite touched my lips, my two sassy gals walked through the front door… looking for, you guessed it, leftover chicken.

    What’s a Mom to do?  I really wanted to say “order a pizza”.  But I didn’t.  Yep, I made more chicken.

    Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters with Brandy Butter Sauce

    The brandy butter sauce is a lovely pan sauce taught by my favorite Chef Instructor during a poultry class.  I thought it a brilliant idea and I’ve used it ever since. If you don’t use wine when cooking, just substitute the brandy with some chicken broth and a splash of white wine vinegar and your sauce will be delish!

    Serves 4 to 6


    4 or 6 chicken leg quarters, bone in and skin on or trimmed (if you can’t find quarters substitute with 4-6 bone in chicken thighs and 4-6 chicken legs)

    Grapeseed oil, safflower or sunflower oil (any high heat oil will be great)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    Large oven proof skillet and/or baking dish

    For the sauce:

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

    3/4 cup brandy

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Fresh thyme leaves for garnish (optional)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Paper towel dry the chicken and season the chicken with salt and pepper.

    In a large oven proof skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of high heat oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add the chicken leg quarters.

    Brown the chicken, and then when they easily lift off the pan, flip over and brown the other side.  You are looking for a nice and toasty color.  It adds a lot of flavor to the chicken.

    Once the chicken pieces are browned, put them in a pre-heated oven to finish roasting.  If using a baking dish, transfer the browned chicken pieces to the baking dish and place in the oven to finish roasting.  This should take about 20 minutes or so, but it’s best to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.

    The chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches 160F.  Remove from the oven and let the chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Put all the chicken juices in a saute pan, or the oven proof skillet, and heat the 2 tablespoons of butter with the juices.  Once the butter is melted and frothy, Whisk in the brandy (If using a gas stove, turn off the gas add the brandy, then turn the gas back on.  We don’t want to risk a fire.)

    Let the brandy simmer and reduce by one half.  Remove the saute pan (or skillet) from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Taste for salt and pepper and then pour over the chicken leg quarters.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves if desired.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Potatoes Dauphinoise

    Potatoes Dauphinoise - potatoes in a cheese and cream sauce

    There is nothing more sumptuous than a dish of Potatoes Dauphinoise sitting on a holiday table.  These cheese and cream filled potatoes are laced with fresh herbs and a garlic and baked to a soft and lush texture.  

    Creamy, flavorful and indulgent, Potatoes Dauphinoise feels like a fancy 5 star dish but it’ll surprise you how simple it is to prepare.

    I adore poetry and poignant quotes so I’ve jotted a few below in honor of this holiday season. Many blessings to you and yours!

    My little Christmas gift to you and a few poems to brew…

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.
    ~Helen Keller

    Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
    ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

    At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.
    ~Thomas Tusser

    Delicious Wishes for the Happiest of Holidays!

    Loads of Love,


    Potatoes Dauphinoise

    Serving Size: 6

    Potatoes Dauphinoise


    • 2 lbs Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 2 tblsp butter, softened
    • 1 pint cream
    • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    • ½ Cup grated cheese, such as Gruyère or Comte if you can find it
    • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tblsp chopped fresh Thyme or Rosemary (Optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a shallow ovenproof dish large enough to hold the potatoes in four layers.
  • Heat the cream to just below boiling point. Make a layer of potatoes in the dish, pour on a little cream and then season with salt and pepper. Then scatter a bit of the chopped garlic, herbs and cheese. Make three more layers in the same way, and then pour on enough cream to cover the top layer of the potatoes and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Dot the top with remaining butter.
  • Cover the potatoes tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and remove the foil from the potatoes. Bake potatoes another 15 minutes or so until they are very tender and almost all the cream has been absorbed and the top of the gratin is bubbling and golden.
  • Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • Options: You can make this gratin without the cheese and herbs and it tastes just as delicious. As well, substitute the garlic with caramelized onions. For a complete meal add 1-2 cups diced smoked or honey ham and ½ cup of peas.
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    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

    Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

    My two sassy gals love this cake.

    A slice of spice

    Actually, my two sassy gals love all cake.  And I can’t forget my main man, Ranger Craig.  He lives for cake.  And seafood with sauce on top. He’s a saucy guy 🙂

    My Two Sassy Gals

    Hmmm… two sassy gals and a saucy guy.  Sounds like my family’s a handful.  They are.  And I love every sassy, saucy moment!

    Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

    Thanks so much to my sweet friend Heidi Rodgers for sharing this fabulously delicious recipe with me!


    1 package (2 layer size) spice cake mix

    1 package (8 oz) Cream Cheese, softened and divided

    1 cup canned pumpkin

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    ½ tsp ground ginger

    6 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

    ½ cup thawed cool whip topping

    2 tablespoons sugar


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake mix as directed on package, reducing water to ½ cup and increasing oil to ½ cup.  Add half of the cream cheese, the pumpkin, cinnamon and ginger.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Stir in chopped chocolate.  Pour into greased 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10 inch tube pan.

    Bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

    Mix the remaining cream cheese, whipped topping and sugar until well blended.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Cut into 16 slices.

    *You can use yellow cake mix for the spice cake mix if you prefer.

    *I like the cake with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of the frosting.  But the Bennett Crew loves the frosting.

    Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Pear Salad with a Shallot Vinaigrette and Red Chard and Spicy Sausage Quiche

    Roasted Pear Salad

    A few weeks ago Full Circle Farm  contacted me and asked if I’d like to sample a month’s worth of their produce.  I’m a huge fan of local, CSA farms and I felt honored they asked me to give them a try.  So I signed up, cruised their user-friendly website and marked my calendar for our first delivery.

    I woke up to a delicious surprise Tuesday morning.  My Full Circle Farm produce box was waiting patiently for me on my front porch.  Exciting! Actually, I’m not sure who was more excited, me or Ranger Craig.  He loves his veggies.

    Organic Produce from Full Circle Farms

    Brilliantly colored Red Chard, bright green pears, pink firm apples, a perfect looking buttercup squash, fingerling potatoes, bright red radishes, crisp celery, sweet baby spinach, green leaf lettuce, organic Satsumas and a giant red beet.  I couldn’t wait to dig in.

    Roasted Pear Salad with Bleu Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

    The pears and the spinach were calling my name, so a roasted pear salad was on the menu last night for dinner.  Added a little of my fave bleu cheese, some toasted walnuts and a divine little shallot vinaigrette and the evening became blissfully delicious.

    Organic Red Chard

    I decided the Bennett Crew needed a little something more than just the salad, although I was completely satisfied with my big bowl of deliciousness.  Browsing my produce stash again, the brilliantly colored red chard caught my eye. A red chard and spicy sausage quiche would make a snappy little dish to go with my roasted pear salad.

    Red Chard and Spicy Sausage Quiche

    So it’s a two for one today! So much goodness I had to post these two recipes together.

    Thanks so much to Full Circle Farms for sharing a months worth of produce with the Bennett Crew.  I’m completely impressed with the produce, the user friendly website, options for ordering my produce, home delivery and pick up options, and a lovely little artisan grocery page for yummy extras.  Local, fresh, organic, high quality, seasonal and convenient.

    Full Circle Farms now delivers to much of the Northwest.  If you don’t live within their delivery area, I highly recommend exploring CSA farms in your local area.  It’s a great way to boost our local economies, help others in our communities and provide our families with healthy, high quality produce.  I even purchase my eggs farm fresh.  They’re less expensive than purchasing at the local market, not to mention delicious.

    If you have little ones, there are many CSA farms in the U.S. that give the option of harvesting your own produce.  We did this when my two sassy gals were little and it was a blast.  It was so much fun to show them how a farm works, how food grows and my little gal loved getting her hands dirty.  My oldest gal just wanted to play with the pigs.

    My Two Sassy Gals... Love

    Delicious Wishes to you all during this most beautiful holiday season!

    Loads of Love,


    Roasted Pear Salad with Baby Spinach, Bleu Cheese, Toasted Walnuts tossed in a Shallot Vinaigrette

    Serves 3-4

    For the Salad:

    5-6 ounces fresh baby spinach

    2 pears, sliced

    1 – 1/4 cups crumbled bleu cheese (I adore Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese)

    1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Shallot Vinaigrette

    1 shallot, finely diced (about 2 tablespoons)

    1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk together all the shallot vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Toss the pears in a drizzle of oil (to keep them from sticking) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  I like them crisp tender, but if they are super ripe before baking they will be soft.  They will still taste yummy.

    When the pears are done, toss the vinaigrette with the spinach.

    Plate the spinach on individual plates or one large platter or bowl.  Top with the warm pears, bleu cheese and toasted chopped walnuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and serve.   Salad recipe adapted from multiple sources

    Red Chard and Spicy Sausage Quiche

    Serves 6


    1 bunch red, rainbow or Swiss chard, chopped (just leaves, save the hard stems for a soup or stock)

    1 onion, diced

    2 tablespoons grapeseed, coconut, safflower or sunflower oil

    1 lb spicy Italian sausage (I used spicy chicken sausage)

    4 eggs

    1 cup heavy cream

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon dried basil

    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, for extra zing!)

    1 cup Swiss or Emmental Cheese, shredded

    1 prepared deep dish pie crust (I use a gluten-free crust from Wheatless in Seattle. The pie crust isn’t deep enough so I take it out of the pie tin and put it in my deep dish pie plate.  It works great!)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    Add a tablespoon of oil to a saute pan or skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onions until wilted and then add the chopped chard.  The chard will wilt like spinach.  Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then transfer to a bowl.

    Add another tablespoon of oil to the saute pan or skillet over medium high heat and brown the sausage.  When the sausage is cooked through, drain the fat and place the crumbled sausage in the prepared pie crust.

    Top the crumbled sausage with the chard and onions, and then the shredded cheese.

    Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, pepper and basil.  Pour over the shredded cheese.

    Bake the quiche for about 45 minutes to one hour or until its done and the top is nicely browned.  Let the quiche cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

    Recipe from Karista’s Kitchen

    Seafood Shrimp

    Tropical Shrimp Curry over Coconut Rice

    Tropical Shrimp Curry over Coconut Rice

    Ranger Craig and I found a beautiful blue summer sky in the mountains yesterday.  Our first cross-country ski of the season.  It was glorious.  Except when I was laying face first in the snow.  The first snow is always a little slippery.  Right?

    First Cross Country Ski of the Season

    Today, I was thinking about that beautiful blue sky.  Then I thought of all the sweet tropical fruit at the market. It seems my mind and taste buds have wandered off in search of summer.

    Fragrant Aromatics

    I’m devoted to seasonal cooking, but when the organic tropical fruits arrive from South America, I just can’t help myself a little indulgence.

    Fresh Gulf Shrimp from Gemini Fish Market

    This is one of those recipes that is a compilation of about five different recipes that didn’t quite strike my fancy.  So I fudged and tweaked… and this is what I ended up with.

    A little winter indulgence to celebrate the warmth of the season.

    Tropical Shrimp Curry Over Coconut Rice

    I know it looks like a long ingredient list, but it’s mostly spices and fresh aromatics.  It’s truly an easy stove top recipe prepared in about 30 minutes.


    1 ½ lbs large fresh Gulf shrimp, shelled and deveined

    For the Curry:

    1 tablespoon high heat veggie or peanut oil

    1 tablespoon curry powder

    ½ cup diced onions

    ½ cup diced green bell pepper

    4 green onions, chopped

    1 ½ cups coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen Organic)

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

    1 cup diced mango (or diced pineapple)

    2 tablespoons fish sauce

    2 tablespoons Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Thai Kitchen), or 1 tablespoon hot sauce (Sriracha is good)

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1/3 cup fresh chopped basil

    Squeeze of lime

    Salt to taste

    Coconut Rice (recipe follows)


    Start the rice (recipe below) and while you are preparing the curry your rice is cooking.

    In a large sauté pan, sauté the onions, bell pepper, green onions, oil and curry powder over medium heat until wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add a little extra oil if needed.

    Stir in the coconut milk, diced mango, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, fish sauce and sweet chili sauce or hot sauce and sugar.

    Let the sauce simmer on low for about 10 minutes to meld all the delicious flavors together.  While the sauce is simmering, prepare the shrimp.

    In a medium skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon or two of ghee (clarified butter) or high heat veggie oil or peanut oil.  Sprinkle the shrimp with a little salt and pan sear the shrimp on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Once the shrimp are done, place them in the curry.  I like to let the shrimp sit in the curry for a few minutes to absorb all the delicious flavors.

    You can also grill the shrimp if you prefer.

    To serve:

    Place the rice in the middle of a large serving bowl.  Pour the shrimp curry over the top and sprinkle with the fresh basil.

    Serve immediately.

    Recipe adapted from multiple sources

    Coconut Rice (recipe can be easily doubled)


    1 cup coconut milk

    ¾ cup basmati rice

    ½ cup water

    2 T sugar

    ¼ t salt


    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.

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Sweet potatoes always grace our Thanksgiving table.  It’s tradition.  And you don’t mess with tradition in the Bennett house.  No sirree Bob.  My two sassy gals will let me know in a New York minute if I’ve left out, or mistakenly altered, time-honored traditions.  It’s almost amusing.  Almost.

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    So, when I mentioned I’d be testing this new sweet potato spoon bread recipe, I had everyone’s attention.  That rarely happens.  It was nice.  All eyes and ears on me.  I could see it on their faces.  Is Mom really changing the menu for Thanksgiving?

    Light, airy and souffle like texture... delicious!

    I went out on a limb and thankfully it didn’t break! The spoon bread won the approval of my sometimes tough food critics.  The finished dish is light, airy, with a souffle like texture, that’s slightly sweet with a hint of fresh thyme.  A lovely addition to our Thanksgiving menu.

    I Wish you all a most beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving holiday.

    Loads of love, Karista

    Sara Foster’s Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Serves 8

    I found this recipe while browsing through a magazine waiting for my Suzie Q at her orthodontist appointment.  Score! That was a great afternoon. And to top it off, I adore Sara Foster recipes.  Check out her website at


    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
    2 1/2 cups milk
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
    4 eggs, separated
    2 teaspoons baking powder


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish with about 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside

    Wrap potatoes in foil. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft to the touch. Remove from oven; discard foil. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard peels. In a large bowl, mash potatoes.

    Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan, bring milk, thyme, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to a low boil over medium heat. In a slow, steady stream, whisk cornmeal into milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, until mixture is thick and pulls away from bottom of pan. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add potatoes, egg yolks, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and baking powder to cornmeal mixture; stir to thoroughly combine.

    In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Leaving obvious swirls of egg white, gently fold egg whites into the potato-cornmeal mixture.

    Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Edges will be firm and the center a bit soft. Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm.