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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Ginger Peanut Dressing

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing and Pumpkin Seeds

It’s Wednesday and it’s already been a whirlwind of a week.   I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten you, so I thought I’d drop by and deliver this lovely little salad.  Truly, if you lived next door I’d bring you this salad. 🙂

Perfect with grilled shrimp or chicken for a busy weeknight, or a delightful and flavorful side for your grilling or slow cooked weekend.  Lush, gorgeous color and mouthwatering flavor.  A little summer sunshine on a plate.

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing and Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds

More deliciousness posting soon!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Carrot Cilantro Salad with Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds in a Ginger Peanut Dressing

Serves 4 – 6


4 cups shredded organic carrots

½ -3/4 cup cilantro leaves

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, raw or roasted

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, white or black


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh EVOO)

¼ cup raw honey (I buy local raw honey)

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon creamy organic peanut butter

¼ -1/2 teaspoon of Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste or a dash of Sriracha

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger (or more if you love ginger)

1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed

A squeeze of fresh lime juice

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste Directions


Puree dressing ingredients in a small food processor or blender and then season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the dressing feels too thick, add a tablespoon of cold water.

In a medium to large bowl, toss together the shredded carrots, cilantro leaves and seeds.  Gently toss the carrot mixture with just enough dressing to coat the carrots.  You don’t want the carrots swimming in dressing.  Reserve remaining dressing for a marinade for shrimp or chicken, or another salad.

Pour onto a large platter and garnish with additional cilantro and seeds.

The salad ingredients can easily be adjusted to your tastes.  A little more red chili paste or hot sauce or a little less ginger, however you prefer.  Pair with grilled shrimp or chicken for a one dish meal.


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Confetti Muffins (Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins)

Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

There comes a moment in time when Mother’s must do what must be done.  Tell a fiblet.

Not a fib or a lie or even a white lie.  A fiblet.  My youngest gal’s favorite word for a “slight truth”.  You might think me a completely terrible parent for telling a fiblet.  But alas, it’s been necessary a time or two.

Especially when my youngest gal announced she no longer ate vegetables. I was horrified. How could my child not eat her vegetables?  I’m a chef for Pete’s sake. Aren’t my children supposed to have advanced palates and eat absolutely anything I cook?  Apparently not.

Confetti Muffins

So,  I did what any good Mother would do.  I hid veggies in the food.   Mashed potatoes included mashed cauliflower, steamed and finely diced broccoli went into the meatballs and roasted zucchini went into our favorite grilled hamburgers.

I was on a role.  I was feeling so proud of my ingenuity and cleverness.  And not once did I have to tell a fiblet.  Until the muffins.

Zucchini, carrot and pineapple muffins.  Yep, I thought to myself, this was going to be great. I’d get my little gal eating veggies for breakfast and dinner.

As soon as the muffins came out of the oven my little gal was sitting at the counter, ready and waiting for her muffin.  She kept telling me how delicious they smelled, and that these were absolutely going to be her favorite muffins ever!

My Little Suzie Q

Then she broke one open and adamantly stated  “What’s all this stuff in my muffin?”  And here’s where that fiblet flew right out of my mouth.  “It’s called a confetti muffin”.  “You know, like those yummy confetti sprinkles we put on cupcakes”.

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking.  If she’d ask me what the “confetti” was made of I would have come clean and told her. I promise.  But she never asked. (Phew!)

My little Suzie Q… almost grown up.


Wishing all you Mom’s loads of love, lots of laughs and giggles, quiet time for yourselves, and true joy.


Confetti Muffins (Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins)

When I created these muffins I wanted them to be as delicious and health friendly as possible.  So I made lots of substitutions that I believe are all in good health.  Most of the ingredients can now be found at any major grocery store chain.  However, if you have a local natural market or a Whole Foods close by, you’ll definitely find a good selection of these ingredients.  I’ve also included a gluten-free recipe following the whole grain recipe.  Happy Baking!

Makes 12 muffins


½ cup coconut oil (softened) or grapeseed oil

½ cup brown sugar or Agave syrup

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup grated fresh zucchini

½ cup grated fresh carrot

½ cup diced pineapple (fresh or organic canned with no added sugars)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I like King Aruthur)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


Pre heat the oven to 350F.

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Whisk together the softened coconut oil and brown sugar until nicely combined.  Add one egg at a time and whisk until creamy.  Then mix in the vanilla.

Fold in the zucchini, carrot and pineapple.

In a separate bowl mix together the wheat and all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Gently stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and try (really hard) not to over mix. (I’ve been known to over mix a time or two)  All you want is for both mixtures to be nicely combined.

Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before serving.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Confetti Muffins

If you are looking for a simple gluten-free muffin mix, I love Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix.  Follow the basic muffin recipe,  adding in the same amount of veggies and pineapple as the recipe above.  If the muffin batter seems too thin, add a bit more of the gluten-free baking mix.  Bake as directed.

I prepare these muffins with Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.  I get a lot of my almond flour recipes from the brilliant gluten-free and paleo blogger, Elana’s Pantry.  She has a delicious selection of gluten-free and paleo friendly recipes on her site.  Here are some blanched almond flour confetti muffins I whipped up… adapted from Elana’s Pantry.


Makes about 8-10 muffins

2 cups Honeyville blanched almond flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 cup agave syrup

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup diced pineapple


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a muffin tin with 8-10 muffin cups.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Then whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Fold in the veggies and pineapple.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and firm to the touch.  Enjoy!

Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Cabbage, Carrot and Dried Cherry Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dijon Dressing

This is my new “go to” salad.  For some reason I’ve been on a cabbage kick lately.  Not sure what got that started but my frig has constantly been full of purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, and Napa cabbage.  I think it’s due to all that beautiful cabbage staring at me when I walk through the produce section of the market.  It can’t help but jump into my basket!  

I often prepare a broccoli slaw recipe from cookbook Author, Kathleen Daelman.  She uses broccoli slaw with dried cranberries and a tangy buttermilk Dijon dressing.    It’s fantastic, but because I had all that cabbage in my frig, and lots of carrots, maybe I could come up with something similar, only using the cabbage.  

As you can see, it was a delicious idea; thin sliced Napa and purple cabbage, and shredded carrots.  I was completely out of dried cranberries but I had a huge bag of dried cherries.  No buttermilk either, however, I always have plain yogurt hanging around.  A great substitution! 

My new “go to” salad is born!  I love it when dishes on a whim come together so beautifully and so tasty!  Crunchy sweet carrots, spicy purple cabbage and tender, mellow Napa cabbage all tangled together in a tangy and spicy, but sweet yogurt dressing.  Add a little grilled chicken or fish and voilla!  You just made dinner.  🙂

Serves 4 (or 2 if you really love salad!)


1 small head organic purple cabbage, thinly sliced

1 head organic Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded carrots (I buy the bagged organic carrot shreds)

1 cup dried cherries (use more if you like)

Salt and pepper

1 cup (or a little more if you love dressing) plain yogurt ( I love Nancy’s plain lowfat organic yogurt)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2-3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (a little more if you love spicy)


Place the purple cabbage, Napa cabbage and carrot shreds in a large bowl.  Hold the cherries until the end or they all fall to the bottom of the bowl.  Sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the yogurt, vinegar, honey and Dijon.  Taste to be sure flavors are perfectly suitable for you.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper if needed. Sometimes I’m feeling my dressing a little sweeter so I add a dash more honey.  And sometimes I want a little more spice so I’ll add a dash more Dijon.  This is definitely a dressing you can play with to make it your own.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  Now toss the salad with the cherries and serve!

This is a delightful spring and summer salad and it pairs deliciously with grilled meats and fish.  Great for barbeques and picnics.  If you’d like to make this a travel dish, prepare the salad and dressing but don’t toss them together until you are ready to serve the salad.  Enjoy!

Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Red Cabbage, Apple and Carrot Coleslaw

Photo credit: Food Matters Website

Recently, Ranger Craig and I watched the full length feature film documentary, Food Matters.  A compelling look at the food we eat and how it affects our health and well-being.  It’s an absolute truth that we are what we eat.  Food can affect our bodies and minds either positively or negatively;  all the more reason to keep your food real and consume less processed foods.

Fresh and flavorful whole foods are a treat to the taste buds.  Whole and healthy foods don’t have to be tasteless, but can be transformed into divine and delicious meals. Using fresh herbs, aromatics (onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery, peppers, etc.), spices, healthy oils and whole seasonings keep the fresh foods bursting with flavor while nourishing our bodies.

So, when you serve your next barbecue pork, chicken or beef (all natural and organic of course), try serving this delicious fresh whole foods mixed coleslaw salad with your meal.  It will complement your main dish, give your body health boosting nutrients and satisfy your taste buds.

I loved this recipe so much I wanted to share!  Recipe (and photo) adapted from the Food Matters website. 

Serves 3-4 (recipe easily doubled)


  • 3 cup of red cabbage (thinly sliced)
  • 6 carrots (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 granny smith apple (thinly sliced)
  • 1-2 cups fresh spring greens (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
(toasted if you like)
  • 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (raw or organic if you can find it)
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

handful of pecans or walnuts for garnish (I like the nuts toasted)


Use a knife or food processor to chop the cabbage, carrots and apple Julienne style. Throw your sesame seeds in (I like using black and white sesame seeds) or toast them lightly in a frying pan.
 Toss all of this together.

For the dressing combine the ginger, vinegar and oil and stir with a spoon.  Add this to the cabbage, carrots and apples evenly.
Top with more sesame seeds (fantastic source of Calcium).  Salt and pepper to taste and add pecan nuts for a delicious nutty taste.


Kid Friendly Pork vegetarian

Yakisoba Noodles with Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin, Fresh Cabbage, Carrots, Shallots and Bean Sprouts

Recently, I had the fun privilege of cooking with my sister-in-law while she, my brother, neice and nephew were visiting from Japan.  Originally from Colombia, South America,  Paula, her Mother and Grandmother prepare the most delicious South American food I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting (which I’ll blog soon!).  However, the dish Paula and I created this time was a divine little Yakisoba she learned while living in Japan. 

Cam (my handsome little brother) poured Paula and I some Plum Sake and we started cooking.  What we ended up with was a yummy dish of Yakisoba noodles tossed with fresh sautéed cabbage, carrots, shallots and bean sprouts.  Top with chopped fresh green onions, chopped Anori (seaweed) or fresh cilantro and you’ve got one heck of a meal! 

If you live here in the Pacific Northwest you’ll probably find Yakisoba noodles readily available in your local market.  My two Bennett gals prefer the refrigerated noodles that contain the seasoning packets (makes for a quick meal).  If you can’t find the refrigerated Yakisoba with the seasoning packet, check in the Asian section of your market for “Soba” noodles that are dry and can be cooked just like pasta.  I’ve listed a quick recipe for the sauce if Yakisoba sauce is not available.  It’ll still be tasty!  And better yet… try locating an Asian market in your corner of the world.  You’ll find all sorts of delectable foods, and like me, you’ll be hooked! 

Just a side note: Leave out the pork and this will also make a fabulous vegetarian or vegan meal.  Extra veggies fresh from your garden?  Throw them in the Yakisoba, it’ll be yummy!

Thanks Paula and Cameron for a fabulous visit!  (And for all the great food too!) Food is fun, brings families together, and creates some of our happiest memories.  Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life!

Happy Cooking!

Serves 4-6


1lb Pork Tenderloin, thinly sliced

1 lb Yakisoba noodles (refrigerated) or Soba noodles (dry)

1/2 cup chopped shallots (or 1 cup chopped yellow onions)

1 small head cabbage (I like chinese cabbage or Napa cabbage)

1 – 1 1/2 cups carrots, Julienne, shredded, or sliced

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

Add ins: Chopped fresh broccoli, asparagus tips, fresh green beans, fresh corn, Japanese squash, butternut squash or zucchini

Garnish with fresh chopped green onions. pickled ginger or Anori (seaweed)

Yakisoba sauce or sauce packets, or Japanese Worcestershire

To make a sauce:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup rice wine (Mirin)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

Mix together until sugar is dissolved and set aside.


Over medium high heat add a little high heat oil to a large skillet or frying pan.  Add the pork and fry until it turns white.  Next, add the onion and carrot and fry until they soften slightly. Then add the cabbage and fry until soft.  Add the bean sprouts last.

Pull the noodles apart to keep them from staying in a clump, and stir them into the mixture. When everything is nicely mixed together, pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of water over it and stir-fry a little longer.

Add the seasoning sauce (powder or liquid) that comes with the package of noodles, or if there is no sauce, use Japanese Worcestershire sauce, or recipe sauce above.

Toss the noodles and veggies with the sauce and serve immediately.  Garnish with pickled ginger, chopped green onions, Anori or fresh chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!

Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Carotte a l’Etuvee (Waterless Cooked Carrots)

I realize carrots aren’t quite as exciting as Sole Veronique or Tournedos Rossini, however, carrots can make a fabulous entree, such as the post of Carrot Ginger Soup, or it can make a delicious side dish.

I adore roasted carrots with a mix of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips.  But this time of year I like to keep my carrots simple and fresh, just like the season.  The perfect method of cooking carrots simply is the classic French version, Carottes a’ l’Etuvee, waterless cooked carrots.  This method uses the carrots own moisture to gently cook them.  What you end up with are vibrant orange carrots that are intensely sweet and ever so crisp tender.

There are also a few simple variations for this carrot recipe.  Add a little fresh chopped ginger to the carrots while cooking, or at the end of cooking, toss the carrots with a splash of brandy.  The Bennett Crew’s favorite… simply a good dose of our favorite dairy product… butter.

Bon Appetit!


2 lbs carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1 sprig fresh thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste


In a saucepan over low heat, add the carrots and then top with the butter.  Cover with a tight fitting lid.

The carrots will begin to steam in their own moisture.  After about 10 minutes check the carrots to be sure they are steaming.  If not increase the heat to medium low.  If you have several layers of carrots in your saucepan it should take about 20 minutes to cook to crisp tender.  If you have a larger pan, your cooking time will be decreased.  Cook the carrots longer if you like them more tender.

Once the carrots are done, remove the lid and let the steam and water evaporate, leaving only the butter at the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and toss in the butter.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped thyme or parsley and serve immediately.

I like to serve these carrots with Roasted Whole Chicken (under chicken in this blog), or a smoked ham.  And of course we love these carrots with our Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Soup vegetarian

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup // Karista's Kitchen

A beautiful, local Artist, who is now a new friend of mine, asked me to prepare a few dishes for her birthday celebration last week.  It was one of the most fun events I’ve ever had the pleasure of catering.  Sandy loves vegetarian, and she loves color.  So we came up with a vegetarian menu that was fresh, colorful and delicious.

Carrot ginger soup was one of Sandy’s requests.  I had a few recipes for carrot soup but nothing that truly “wowed” me.  After browsing through some old recipes I found a carrot ginger soup recipe from the famous five star restaurant, Victoria and Alberts.

However, to keep the vegetarian theme and because I always have to “adapt” recipes to my tastes, I used the Victoria and Albert’s recipe as a guideline and came up with my own version.  I must admit, it is fabulous!  And, if you’d like to keep the recipe Vegan, just omit the small amout of cream that’s in the recipe.

Although I haven’t served this as a cold soup, another friend of mine suggested this might make a fabulous summer soup.  Cathy, an excellent idea for all those summer carrots!

However or whenever you serve this soup, it’ll refresh your taste buds and warm your soul.  A delicious and simple soup to be savored. 

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Carrot Ginger Soup

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 carrots, diced
  • 1 large shallot, diced (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups carrot juice (you can substitute with veggie broth, or use equal parts broth and juice)
  • 1 pint heavy cream (optional, but it does make it creamier)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of dried Basil, crushed


  • Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the garlic, bay leaves, shallots, parsley, celery and carrots. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until all the veggies have softened.
  • Add 3 cups of the carrot juice and sliced ginger to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Add the pinch of dried basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the soup into a blender or vitamix and puree. You may need to do this in stages as all the soup may not fit in the blender all at once. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir in the cream. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • If the soup is too thick, add the remaining 1 cup of carrot juice to thin the soup.
  • Serve immediately. You can keep it warm on the stove if needed. Just keep the heat on low. This soup can be refrigerated and reheated stove top, or microwave. But it’s best freshly prepared.
  • Serve with seasoned croutons and a dollop of crème Fraiche.
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