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Holiday Cheese Board

Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen


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

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

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

Holiday Cheese Board with Nibbles // Karista's Kitchen

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

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

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

Wishing you all a most delicious and happy holiday season!

Loads of Love,


Holiday Cheese Board

Holiday Cheese Board


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


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

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

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    A Summer Cheese Tray

    DaVinci Wine and Cheese Tray

    Al Fresco dining on a summers eve; sun kissed breezes dancing gracefully through the tree tops.

    Bringing with them the fragrant scent of  herbs and warmed pine.

    This is the moment I’ve waited for all year.

    Time slows and with it comes a sense of languish.  Justifying the inability to pull myself out of a cozy deck chair and prepare the evening meal.

    Tonight, it’s simple.  It’s indulgent and it feels just a little naughty.

    A lovely granite tray, reminding me of the dear friend who gave it to me, filled with local artisan cheeses, aged parma harm, fresh chevre lightly bathed in homemade fig preserves and topped off with a bottle (or two) of DaVinci Italian Chianti.

    DaVinci Chianti

    A little excitement has come my way.  Well, a lot of excitement actually.

    I’ve been selected 1 of 12 Finalists in the DaVinci Wine Storytellers Experience, and 1 of 3 Culinary Finalists.  I am deeply honored to be a finalist and feel humbled to be in such lovely company.

    There are 4 categories being judged.  Culinary Arts, Photography, Language Arts and Fine Arts.  1 from each category (4 total) will win a trip to Vinci, Tuscany to visit the birth place of DaVinci Wine.  An extraordinary opportunity.

    I’d love to win.  I’d love to visit Tuscany and share with you my DaVinci Storytellers Experience via blog posts, Facebook updates, Pinterest pics, Tweets and Instagrams.   And if I could pack you all in my suitcase, I would!

    If you could take a moment of your time to click on the link below, I’d love your vote.  You can vote once per day until July 31st (unfortunately the link does not work on mobile devices).

    My deepest Thanks!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Setting a Summer Cheese Tray

    Determine the number of people you will be serving and allow 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per person.  Although 1-2 ounces is a good rule of thumb, I always end up with 3-4 ounces per person.  But I’m a cheese nut.

    Include a few other nibbles such as parma ham, aged prosciutto, assorted artisan salumi, Castelvetrano olives (I could eat buckets of these but beware of the seeds!) and fresh fruit.  During the summer I love our Washington cherries served with my cheese tray.

    Arrange the cheese according to the type of milk used.  Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goats milk. If using a creamy cheese, serve it separately and try pairing it with homemade preserves or red pepper jelly.  My new fave is creamy goats cheese topped with red pepper jelly.

    Keep the bleu’s together and try an assortment.  Rogue Creamery has a lovely smokey bleu which pairs well on a cheese tray with an English or locally produced stilton.  Pecorino Romano, Parrano, aged Parmesan, and other hard cheeses are best paired together.  An excellent local cheese that I paired with a Balsamic Vinegar washed Pecorino Romano is Cascadia Creamery’s Sleeping Beauty.

    A few local Washington cheese favorites: Willapa Hills Orange Blossom Yoghurt Cheese, Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trufflestack and of course no cheese tray is ever complete without Beecher’s Cheese.  They’re all delicious but my fave is “No Woman”.  I know, funny name – excellent cheese.

    Whatever you decide, don’t stress over your cheese tray.  Choose cheese that you love, cheese that pairs well with the wine your serving and be sure to leave plenty of room between each cheese so they’re easy to slice or spoon.  Add the fruit and salumi and a beautiful summer evening begins.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel

    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Bechamel and Toasted Pine Nuts

    This Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine begins with fresh, naturally grown ingredients, clean flavors and brilliant whites. Like waking up to a new snow that’s settled on the frozen ground.

    I like white.  Ask Ranger Craig.  He’ll tell you I have an obsession with white.  It seems every trip to Costco I come home with a package of white towels, white wash cloths, or white kitchen rags.  Last trip I came home with white bed linens.  I like white.

    It’s a good thing I like white. I read recently that cauliflower is making a comeback (I didn’t get the memo that it left) and so this Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine had to make a comeback too.

    I’ve been preparing cauliflower for years.  Even when it wasn’t the cool veggie.  I like cauliflower.  Roasted, baked with lots of good quality cheese, steamed and mashed.  I even like it raw or fried with a spicy aioli for dipping.

    Cauliflower is my inspiration for this winter white Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel and Toasted Pine Nuts.  Fresh, enticing, distinctive in flavor and sporting the color of winter.  The taste of comfort… like a soft white blanket.

    This is a simple dish.  Simply flavored with its few ingredients.  To change things up I like playing with different types of cheese.  I’ve used Manchengo, a firm goats cheese, Parrano, and mixed a few other fave Italian cheeses with it as well.  If you don’t care for garlic, substitute with 1 shallot finely chopped.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love


    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel

    Serving Size: 4


    • 1lb Fettuccine or Pappardelle
    • 1 head fresh cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
    • A squeeze of anchovy paste
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
    • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Toss the trimmed cauliflower florets with the olive oil and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp tender. Remove from the oven and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Prepare the fettuccine according to package directions. While the fettuccine is cooking prepare the béchamel.
  • In a large sauce pan heat the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter is just about melted, whisk in the garlic and anchovy and gently cook until the anchovy is incorporated into the butter. Just a few seconds to a minute. Don’t allow the butter or garlic to brown.
  • Whisk in the flour and allow the flour to cook just for a minute or two, again, careful not to brown. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue whisking until nicely incorporated. As the sauce heats it will thicken. Continue gently whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower and ¼ cup toasted pine nuts to the fettuccine, add a squeeze of lemon and then toss with the sauce. The squeeze of lemon is used to elevate and bring all the flavors together in this dish.
  • Pour the pasta into a large serving bowl and garnish with fresh grated cheese and remaining pine nuts. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    Serve as an entree or side dish to grilled or roasted meats.

    I like using roasted cauliflower as it brings out a deep sweetness to the vegetable. But feel free to blanch the cauliflower if you like.

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    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Baked Eggs in a Basket

    Soft baked eggs and cheese in Canadian bacon

    My twin sister will cringe when she reads this blog post.  Sunshine was my nickname in high school which made me think of these delicious Baked Eggs in a Basket.  Yep, I was quite the perky gal.  Too perky probably.  Annoyingly positive.

    I’m not sure why.  Life certainly wasn’t always sunshine and roses.  But for me, survival was optimism.

    Perky is nice, but I would have rather been sassy.  Like my two sassy gals and these Baked Eggs in a Basket.  I love sassy.

    Soft Baked Eggs in Canadian Bacon

    Baked Eggs in a Basket with Chive and Havarti

    I’ve had several comments on this blog about the word “sassy”.  Thankfully, they found the word as endearing as I do.  Although, many have verbally pondered the meaning of sassy.

    So I thought I’d share my definition of sassy.  According to the dictionary, sassy has several meanings, naughty and nice. (this makes me giggle)

    However, for my two sassy gals it simply means lively, bold, confident, a little cheeky and very clever.  Emphasis on the clever.

    Baked Eggs and Havarti

    Soft Baked Eggs with Canadian Bacon, Fresh Herbs and Havarti

    I call these little lovelies “Baked eggs in a Basket”. They remind me of sunshine.  Which reminded me of my nickname years ago.  Which I hadn’t thought of for years.  My sister will call me.  She will cringe over the phone.  I love my sister.  She keeps me grounded.  But if truth be told, my sassy gals got some of that sass from their Auntie.  😉

    This dish is perfect for breakfast weekdays or weekends. Only a few minutes to assemble and a few minutes to bake.  My youngest gal loves this dish with eggs that are scrambled, but I love them soft baked with a little chive and Havarti.  I probably don’t make these the same way twice.  I use what I have on hand, assorted fresh chopped herbs, Gruyere cheese and sometimes I sneak in a little Brie.  Maybe I should have called this dish “Heavenly Breakfast in a Basket”.

    Baked Eggs in a Basket

    These Baked Eggs in a Basket were inspired by the fabulous Chef David Rocco. This is basically a guideline rather than recipe so make as many as you like. I usually make 6-8, and always wishing I made more.


    • Canadian bacon
    • Fresh eggs
    • Grated fresh Havarti, Cheddar, Jalapeno Jack, or whatever you might have in the frig
    • Fresh chopped chive or other fresh herbs you may have on hand
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Veggie or coconut oil
    • Muffin tin


  • Directions
  • Pre-heat the oven to at least 450F.
  • Brush oil in each muffin cup. Don’t skip this part even with a non-stick pan. This will help remove the baked eggs in a basket easily.
  • Place a slice of Canadian bacon in each muffin cup. Then drop in one egg. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and fresh chopped chive.
  • Top with grated cheese and pop in the pre-heated oven for about 5-10 minutes, depending how soft or hard you like your eggs.
  • Let the eggs cool for a minute and then remove with a small spatula. Serve immediately. Or, you can make these ahead with scrambled eggs and re-heat when needing breakfast or a little snack.
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    Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Perfect British Pasties! Guest Post

    I love pasties!  And my friend Suzie Kuflik is the Queen of pasties.  And the Queen of other fine foods like her Thai Chicken Salad, Sausage Rolls, Lemon Tarts and I could go on and on.  Suzie grew up in England and has a flair for fine food, along with a beautiful British accent.  Enjoy!

    A Cheese and Potato Pasty

    Let’s talk about pasties. Pasties originated in Cornwall on the southern tip of England as a lunch for miners. The miners wives would bake meat, potatoes and vegetables (usually carrot, onion and rutabaga) into one end of the pasty and then fruit (usually apple) into the other end. This tasty treat was standard fare and provided a convenient hand-held lunch that was easy to transport down the mine.

    Cornwall, England

    Today the humble pasty is sold in every bakery in the United Kingdom and comes in several varieties from cheese and onion to chicken curry. The tradition of baking fruit into one end as a dessert has long been lost and I can’t decide if that is for the better or not…

    I always keep puff pastry on hand in my freezer. I buy it from the Cash and Carry in Bellevue (right behind Skate King) and it costs around $25 for a box of 108 (very good quality I may add) 5” squares. With these handy-dandy pastry squares I can bake up sausage rolls, fruit tarts (simply place fruit on the square leaving a small border and bake) and of course pasties in no time at all.

    I have come to love transforming leftovers or all kinds into pasties but probably my favorite is Moo-shu chicken or pork which I make fairly often. I have come to adore the pasty more than the actual moo-shu itself and find myself making it just to have leftovers to make pasties with  the next day. Simply place some hoi sin sauce in the middle of the pastry and top with moo-shu, seal and bake. Chicken curry is my husband’s favorite pasty, while my children adore cheese and mashed potatoes.

    So the next time you are in the grocery store grab a box or two of frozen puff pastry and throw it in your freezer and the next time you have interesting leftovers transform them into pasties… you won’t be sorry!


     18 5” squares or rounds of puff pastry or regular short crust pastry

    1 lb mixed shredded cheese (cheddar, white cheddar, parmesan, smoked gouda) your choice

    3 cups of mashed potatoes

    ½ cup of caramelized or sautéed onions (optional)

    ½ stick of butter

    2 Tbsp of flour

    1 cup of milk, warmed

    ½ tsp of each or the following: salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder plus a pinch of nutmeg

    Milk for sealing


    Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the flour and seasonings. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until well combine and continue to cook for one minute.

    1. Gradually stir in the milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens (it will be quite thick)
    2. Stir cheese, potatoes and onions if using them into the thickened roux mixture and set aside.
    3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; this will stop the pastry for sticking.
    4. Place about 3 Tbsp of the filling onto the middle of each piece of pastry and brush milk around the edges. Fold the pastry over and press out all of the air. Seal the edges with a fork.
    5. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet and make a couple of small slits in the top of each pasty, this will allow steam to escape and help avoid them from bursting during cooking.
    6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pasties are golden brown.
    7. If some of the pasties burst during cooking don’t worry… simply use a butter knife to scoop the filling back inside.

    Note: if you need to reheat the pasties place them in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Resist the urge to microwave them since microwaved pastry becomes soggy.