Browsing Tag


Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing // Food Fresh and Simple from Karista's Kitchen

Bowl food is all the rage at the moment and for good reason.  It’s easy to assemble and typically filled with the most delicious ingredients like this spicy chicken and vegetable rice bowl.

This recipe is a lovely twist on the traditional chicken and vegetable bowl as I’ve used Harissa powder or paste to add a little flair, spice and flavor to the chicken.  Harissa is an aromatic and spicy chili paste or powder that is traditionally used in African or Middle Eastern cooking.  It’s become quite popular in the U.S. in the last few years and it’s now easily found in most markets.  I think Harissa makes a nice change in flavor to curry or sriracha.

I’ve paired this Harissa seared chicken with carrots, zucchini, red peppers and I’ve included diced pineapple to balance the flavors.  To finish off the dish, I’ve topped this recipe with sunflower seeds, fresh cilantro and then a drizzle of avocado lime dressing. On occasion, I’ll substitute some of the ingredients with wilted greens, spinach, tomatoes, green onions, radishes and mandarin oranges.

This spicy chicken and vegetable rice bowl definitely nourishes the body and delights the senses. Which is what good food is all about, right?

It’s been a busy winter and I haven’t posted here as often as I’d like. It’ll be another few weeks before I post again because I’m moving! Yep, again. We’re moving just up the road a few miles to a new house, but we’re still located in the lovely Willamette Valley. When I’m in and settled, I hope to tape some cooking videos in the new kitchen! I’m not terribly tech savvy so we shall se how it goes. 😉 In the meantime, I’ll be posting on Instagram and Facebook so you can keep up with all the deliciousness on my social media.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and delicious spring!



Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing

Serving Size: Makes Two Bowls

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced chicken, either breast or dark meat
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa powder or Harissa paste (easily found in most markets)
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, optional
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice, warm
  • ½ cup shredded or diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced zucchini, not cooked
  • ¼ cup diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup diced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • In a sauté pan over medium high heat add the 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper and then toss with the harissa paste or powder.
  • Add the seasoned diced chicken to the sauté pan and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
  • In a small food processer or blender, add the avocado, lime juice, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, garlic clove, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Pulse until the dressing is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you’d like the dressing a bit thinner in consistency, add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you’ve reached desired consistency.
  • To assemble, place one cup of warm rice into each bowl. Top with cooked chicken, carrots, zucchini, red pepper, pineapple, sunflower seeds and fresh cilantro. Drizzle with the avocado lime dressing and serve immediately.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin


    Beef Chicken Duck Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork


    Cassoulet from Karista's Kitchen // A slow cooked French stew

    Classic Cassoulet is a hearty slow-cooked dish originating in the south of France.  It’s often referred to as the “unofficial” national dish of France.

    Traditionally, cassoulet includes what my Grandmother would refer to as “everything except the kitchen sink”.  Meaning that almost any meat, poultry, skin, gizzards, beans and whatever was available went into this succulent dish.

    I’ve had a few truly authentic and amazing cassoulet’s in the past. All filled with decadent duck confit, pork skin, pork belly, mutton, sausages, fava beans and white beans. A meal so rich and lush, it’s everything you’d expect from a slow cooked French dish.

    My cassoulet however is slightly less time-consuming, and not to worry, it doesn’t contain duck confit, mutton or pork belly. Although those ingredients are delicious in a cassoulet, I wanted to create this recipe to be simple, yet flavorful.

    I also wanted this slow cooked stew to reflect the bounty of the Willamette Valley here in Oregon.  We’re so lucky to have an abundance of small farms and ranches nearby that raise grass-fed and pastured pigs, cattle and chickens. Not to mention all the gorgeous produce and fresh herbs.

    I’ve included locally raised meat and poultry (chicken thighs, pork shoulder, sausages), white beans and lots of fresh herbs and aromatics.  You could also substitute with beef chuck roast, lamb or pork belly – and any type of sausages that you love.

    This meal is perfect a la carte with a glass of French Burgundy or a Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s also quite lovely paired with a Salad Lyonnaise or Ratatouille, which I’ll get around to posting soon.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Serving Size: 6-8


    • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch or all-purpose flour
    • 2lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
    • 2-3 pork or beef sausages (I used my favorite German pork sausages)
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • 2 3-inch sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs de Provence
    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • 2-4 cups chicken broth, enough to just cover the meat
    • 2-3 15ounce cans white beans, drained (cannellini beans work best)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley


  • In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them to the pot and brown on both sides. Transfer to a bowl or platter.
  • Next season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and then toss with the tablespoon of corn starch or flour. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pot and brown the pork. You may need to brown the pork in batches, otherwise the pork won’t brown if the pot is over crowded. When the pork is browned, transfer to the bowl or platter with the chicken.
  • Next brown the sausages, adding additional oil if needed. Once the sausages are brown, transfer them to the bowl or platter with the chicken and pork.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and then stir in the onions. Saute the onions until wilted and fragrant and then add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.
  • Stir in the ½ cup of white wine, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and dried herbs. Place the chicken thighs, pork cubes and sausages back into the pot and then add the chicken broth. Enough to cover the meat.
  • Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let the meat simmer in the broth and veggies for about 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.
  • Remove the lid and then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. The longer this stew sits the more flavor it will develop. I like to make this the day before I’m serving it, however, if I make it the same day I’m going to serve it, I’ll make it several hours prior and then let it sit for about 30 minutes on the stove top before serving. If you feel the flavors need a little boost, sometimes a teaspoon of white wine vinegar will bring all the flavors together.
  • Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chopped Italian parsley and a basket of crusty French bread.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin




    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Chicken Veronique

    Chicken Veronique // One of the easiest and most delicious weeknight meals // Karista's Kitchen

    Chicken Veronique sounds fancy but it’s truly one of the easiest weeknight meals I prepare.

    Typically, I make this dish in the summer with halibut, sole (which is traditional) or another seasonal white fish.  However, this recipe works just as beautifully with chicken.

    The traditional recipe calls for poaching the sole in white wine and then topping it with a white sauce and garnishing with fresh grapes.  Although I do love a wine poached fish, I prefer to pan sear my fish and chicken for this recipe.

    Because the chicken takes a bit longer to cook, I finish it in the oven.  Once it’s done, I transfer the chicken to a platter and then make the sauce in the same pan.  Using any juices that have collected in the pan makes for a deeper flavored sauce.  Chicken Veronique is one of the easiest and most delicious weeknight meals! // Karista's Kitchen

    Fresh tarragon makes this Chicken Veronique sing! I’ve used dried tarragon and it just doesn’t taste the same, although if you can’t find fresh, dried tarragon will do.  I adore the combination of fresh grapes with fresh tarragon and they both pair well with white fish and chicken.  I do typically use chicken breasts that I’ve butterflied and cut in half so they’re more of a “cutlet” size. This also makes them easier to cook stove top.

    However, you can certainly use boneless, skinless chicken thighs if it strikes your fancy. 😉

    A little prep, a bit of dancing about at the kitchen stove and in 25-30 minutes you’ll have a delightful one dish meal.  Because the sauce is quite lush, I serve Chicken Veronique with herbed farro, quinoa, rice pilaf or cauliflower rice and a steamed or roasted, seasonal veggie.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Chicken Veronique



    • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and then halved, making 4 "cutlets"
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (optional but it does give a nice bit of crisp to the chicken)
    • 2-4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
    • 1 medium to large shallot, diced
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
    • 1 cup halved seedless grapes (red or green)
    • Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish


  • Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. In a large bowl, mix together the one tablespoon fresh tarragon and the all-purpose flour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a large oven proof skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons ghee. While the ghee is heating, lightly dust the chicken with the tarragon and flour mixture.
  • When the ghee is hot, add the four chicken cutlets to the ghee and brown, about 5 minutes. Then turn each chicken breast over and then place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, about 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. The chicken breast should reach at least 160F internal temperature.
  • When the chicken is done, carefully remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a platter.
  • Over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee to the same pan. When the ghee is melted, add the shallots to the pan and stir, pulling up those lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the shallots are wilted and translucent, stir in the wine and then the heavy cream.
  • Let the liquid come to a boil and then simmer on low until it begins to reduce and thicken slightly. The sauce should coat the back of spoon.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and then stir in the tablespoon of fresh tarragon and the grapes. Let the grapes warm in the sauce for a few minutes.
  • Place the chicken either back in the pan, nestled in the sauce or place the chicken on a platter and ladle with the sauce.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and serve.
  • Notes

    This recipe serves 3-4 and can be doubled.

    If you'd like a smooth sauce, strain the sauce prior to adding the fresh tarragon and grapes. Then add the sauce back to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper and then add the fresh tarragon and grapes.

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

    Book Reviews Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Tips and Techniques VRAI Magazine

    Our First Digital Food Magazine!

    Sweet Potato and Apple Tarte Tatin // Karista's Kitchen // A View to Delicious Magazine digital food magazine

    Friends, we’ve launched our first digital food magazine called A View to Delicious.

    I’m so excited to share this beautiful and mouth-watering food issue with you. It’s been a fun, challenging and adventurous project all rolled up into a magazine that I hope you’ll enjoy. We’ve filled the magazine with new seasonally inspired recipes, stunning visuals, stories about the pacific northwest life as well as healthy living tips and cooking advice.

    And we’ve got our first review!

     “I just want to cook today. Make it all. Love the question and answer page! Things I’ve wondered answered. All the recipes simply put and so understandable. Gentle. Like you are wanting people to succeed not overpower them with your knowledge” ~Marni Zarr 

    Along with VRAI Magazine Editor, Danny de la Cruz and Creative Designer Mary Jo Cadiz, we’ve created this premiere digital food magazine to celebrate the season and of course all things food, farm and healthy living.

    My editor also talked me into a little “getting to know” section about me and how in the world I ended up in this most delicious profession of culinary arts. You don’t want to miss all the fun  –  cooking tips and techniques, cooking questions answered, new recipes, holiday recipe round-up and loads of cute farm animals. 🙂

    Just click HERE  to purchase your downloadable copy!

    A View to Delicious Magazine digital food magazine // Fall 2016 // Karista's Kitchen

    Thank you friends for following along this delicious journey. I’d so appreciate if you’d share this post with friends and family or check out my Facebook page or Instagram page and share on our social media sites.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!




    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Chicken Gaston Gerard

    Chicken Gaston Gerard // French Chicken with Dijon, caramelized onions, paprika and creme fraiche // Karista's Kitchen for VRAI Magazine

    Chicken Gaston Gerard… I love to say these words. Makes me feel as if I’m sitting in a cafe in Paris dining on decadent cuisine and sipping French wine.

    Ahhh… but alas, I’m sitting in my upstairs office writing this little paragraph while sipping ginger tea that my sister in law sent me from Japan. Ha. Life’s crazy isn’t it?

    Chicken Gaston Gerard may be familiar to many of you. I posted this gorgeous recipe years ago and I received such positive feedback and comments over the years, I thought it would be fun to share this lovely recipe in the February issue of VRAI Magazine.

    If you haven’t made this recipe yet, head over to VRAI Magazine and snag it.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  In fact, I think you’ll love it so much it might just become a regular on your dinner menu rotation.  While you’re over at VRAI Magazine, feel free to stay a while and browse the new recipes from all the fantastic food contributors.  I spotted a pink cocktail that is calling my name. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    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,


    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


    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


    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 Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes Seafood Soup

    Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-up!

    8 Cinco de Mayo recipes from Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing more delicious than a blog post filled with Mexican and South American inspired recipes.  The rich, bold and spicy flavors remind me summer is on the horizon and it makes this chef delirious with anticipation.  Outdoor grilling, fresh local summer produce, casual dining, flip flops or barefoot; it positively makes me giddy just thinking about it.

    Cinco de Mayo is Monday, May 5th and to celebrate,  I’ve got a fabulous line up of festive recipes.   So sit back, relax, fire up that grill, shake up a tasty cocktail and enjoy the deliciousness of the season.


    Spicy Cabbage Salad

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

    Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

    Smoked Salmon Wonton Tacos


    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,






    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


      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


  • 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


    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken

    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Whole Chicken

    One of the first classes on my culinary school schedule was devoted solely to the art of preparing poultry.   I drove to class that day over the moon excited about tackling the preparation of poultry.

    Finally, I was going to learn how to prepare a roasted chicken without mangling it with kitchen twine and drying it out to a tasteless plate of bones.

    Sadly… my excitement faded shortly after class began.

    Not only was half the chicken skin missing on the chicken legs, due to my wrangling the chicken with kitchen twine, my lovely chicken was terribly over cooked and nearly a platter of chicken bones.  (The Thanksgiving dinner scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation came to mind)

    After all my classmates roasted chickens had been presented, it was my turn to step up and talk about my very dark and dismal looking roasted chicken.  Something I did NOT want to do.

    My chef instructor was quite the perfectionist.  A somewhat gruff and bigger than life demeanor – he was a wee bit intimidating.  He appeared absolutely frustrated by my inability to roast a chicken to perfection and decided to make an example of my over cooked chicken.

    “Bennett” he said, in his thick German accent. “Zee. cheeken. iz dead! No need to keel it again.” Yes, I’ve spelled and punctuated the words just the way I remember him saying this in the class.  Although I could feel my face turning several shades of bright red, I knew then what he was trying to tell me.  Stop over cooking the chicken!

    Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken Before and After

    The key to making a perfect roasted chicken?  Don’t take it out of the oven until it’s reached an internal temperature of 165F.  And, be sure to purchase a local, hopefully pasture raised, chicken.  Chicken that has traveled across the country to rest in your local market’s refrigerated poultry bin is probably not going to yield a tasty or moist result. Finding a local farmer that sells fresh chicken to your local co-op or market or even to the public, is definitely the tastier and moister choice.   And, you will be helping your local farmer stay in business, which supports the local community.

    If you live in Western Washington, check out the online marketplace for local produce, poultry, eggs, meat and seafood called Farmstr.  Coming soon to new locations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond!


    In honor of over-roasted chicken, I thought I’d share my grandma’s method for a moist and tasty chicken using mayonnaise.  Yep, mayonnaise.  Grandma used to massage mayonnaise all over her roasters before popping them in the oven.  And when she ran out of mayo, she used butter.

    I took this mayonnaise slathering technique a little further and incorporated fresh chopped herbs and garlic into the mayo and then added the step of placing some of that herb mayo under the skin of the chicken breast, legs and thighs.  This creates not only flavor, but a tender, juicy roasted chicken.

    Delicious Wishes and loads of love,


    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken

    The key to creating a perfectly roasted chicken is making sure you remove the chicken from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Testing the meat temperature at the joint between the thigh and leg is best.  Then take it out of the oven and tent the chicken with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes.  This will raise the internal temperature another 5 degrees and allow the juices to re-distribute.  The final result should be a moist and perfectly roasted chicken. 


    1  4-5lb fresh, organic whole chicken

    1/3 cup organic regular or homemade mayonnaise

    Small handful of fresh herbs finely chopped.  (thyme, oregano, Italian parsley, basil, chive, rosemary)

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1 lemon, quartered

    Salt and Pepper


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Mix together the fresh herbs, garlic and mayonnaise.  Add a few pinches of salt and pepper.

    Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken and stuff with the lemon quarters.  And some extra garlic cloves if you like.

    Next spread about half the herb mayonnaise under the skin of the chicken breast, leg and thighs.  It’s typically fairly tough but if it breaks don’t worry…  it’ll still be fabulous.

    Slather the remaining mayonnaise over the outside of the chicken and then lightly season with some cracked black pepper and salt.

    Place it in a roasting pan or baking dish, or even on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

    Once the chicken has reached 165F, remove it from the oven and tent it with some aluminum foil.  Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before carving or breaking down to serve.

    I adore this roasted chicken all by itself but during the spring months I serve it with baby spring greens tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.  Or serve it with this lovely spring salad from Pink Patisserie.  A lovely meal!

    ** Rarely do I truss my chicken unless I’m serving a roasted chicken for guests or a holiday meal.  It does help seal the cavity and therefore technically keep the chicken from drying out.  However, I’m typically in a time crunch to get the chicken in the oven and stuffing the cavity with extra herbs and lemon will usually achieve the same result.  The chicken just won’t look quite so Julia Child.  But it’ll still taste delicious.  However, if you’d like to learn how to truss a chicken, click here. It’s a great technique to add to your culinary skills.  Bon Appetit!

    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce over Roasted Eggplant

    I’ve been a member of several book clubs over the years.  Each time, I joined with the exuberance of a puppy playing with a new bone.  Excited about all the new books I’d be discovering and reading, all the new friendships to be made and girlfriend time to be savored.

    Unfortunately each time, my enthusiastic participation ended much too soon.  Either work or other commitments inhibited my attendance and sometimes my busy schedule caused my eyes to close 15 minutes into opening my book.

    Yep, book clubs have come and gone and with them my humiliation of not being able to meet my reading or attendance commitment.  My head bows in shame and disappointment.

    So when I was asked to join this “new” kind of book club, I was a little hesitant.  Until I realized it was right up my alley, Cook this Book.  I have no problem staying awake reading cookbooks.  Browsing the beautiful pages of deliciousness that sometimes inspires new culinary creations or simply reminds me of one I haven’t prepared in years.  A discovery of new types of cuisine and how it relates to the culture it originates.  Exciting!

    Even more exciting, the dynamic and brilliant women that are part of this book club.  Writers, chef’s, professors, food bloggers, professionals and of course fellow lovers of all things foodie, lovely, gracious women from all walks of life.

    Roasted chicken with cardamom and ginger spiced yogurt sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Yogurt Sauce with Roasted Chicken

    The event has come and gone and my taste buds have never sampled such a mingling of beautiful and fragrant flavors.  Our book for the month was Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  Middle Eastern cuisine encompasses a variety of styles and flavors that creates a plethora of dinner options.

    One particular dish from this book is now one of my family’s favorites.  A spiced yogurt sauce that is laced with cardamom and ginger and so beautifully compliments poultry, lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.

    Honestly, I kept sticking my spoon in the sauce bowl, swiping mouthfuls of the sauce when no one was looking.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce for Roasted Chicken or Vegetables

    Serves 4-6


    2 cups plain whole milk yogurt

    1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or the seeds toasted and crushed

    1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, grated

    1 small onion, finely diced

    Serve with roasted or grilled chicken pieces, pan seared chicken cutlets or roasted eggplant, winter squash and zucchini.


    In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the cardamom and ginger.  Set aside while you saute the onions.  Heat a skillet and a tablespoon or two of oil over medium heat and saute the onions until golden.  Remove the onions from the heat and stir in the spiced yogurt.  Do not put your skillet over the heat or your yogurt will separate.  The warmth of the skillet and onions will warm the yogurt nicely.

    Serve the spiced sauce with grilled or roasted chicken pieces, pan seared chicken breast cutlets or roasted eggplant, zucchini or winter squash.  I love a dollop of this yogurt sauce over a roasted butternut squash. 🙂

    Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    slow cooked chicken thighs, ginger, soy and tomato sauce

    One of my dear friends in Washington state makes a fantastic Chicken Adobo and Chicken Long Rice which she has so graciously shared with me several times.  So heavenly, I keep begging her for the recipes.  Of Filipino decent, my friend used to watch her Grandfather prepare these traditional dishes when she was little.  She now prepares them for her family, and her extremely grateful friends.  Since then, I’ve come to know another friend and colleague of Filipino decent (Danny, you know who you are!) and I continuously drool over his very delicious looking Instagram feed.

    Because I’m of the curious sort and I’m inspired by my friends ancestral cuisine, several years ago I decided to explore the flavors of the Philippines.  Many recipes and full tummies later, this fragrant and enticing slow cooked red ginger chicken was created. This recipe is simple and brimming with the flavors I was craving.  

    As well, at that time I had a full private chef client list and I was on a mission to create more slow cooker meals for our very busy family schedule.

    When I originally posted this slow cooked red ginger chicken recipe I was raising backyard chickens (laying hens only, they were not raised for consumption) and posted the photos below.  I adored my chicken gals, and you know, I think they adored me too.  When we left Washington state, my girls landed a cushy gig at a local farm where they would live out their sweet chicken lives in chicken luxury.  Since that time I haven’t had the opportunity to build another chicken coop and raise backyard chickens, but I’m sure that time will come again.


    Urban Farm Chickens

    Rosemary, Cocoa and Pepper

    I still dabble with this recipe at times, adding a little heavy cream to the sauce when the mood strikes.  On occasion I’ve prepared the sauce stove top, added a little heavy cream and then ladled the sauce over grilled chicken breasts.  I like chicken breasts either grilled or pan seared and then finished in the oven.  Slow cooked chicken breasts can have a strange chewy texture and for some reason I just don’t find that palatable. Surprisingly I do have a bit of a fussy palate. 😉

    If you make this recipe let me know how it turns out for you and how you like it. I’d love your thoughts. This is one of those recipes that keeps evolving and one day it just might be perfected.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to you!


    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken


    • 8-10 chicken thighs, no skin but you can use bone in or boneless
    • 1- 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
    • 1 cup tomato sauce (a great way to use your canned tomatoes!)
    • ½ cup Tamari (or soy sauce)
    • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
    • Fresh ground pepper
    • Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions for garnish
    • White Rice


  • Pre-heat the slow cooker on low.
  • Thick slice the ginger into 5-6 pieces. Whisk together the tomato sauce, tamari, garlic and ginger and reserve.
  • Season the chicken pieces with pepper and brown in a skillet on both sides. You’ll want to achieve a nice deep brown color on the chicken as this will give the chicken a lot of flavor. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to the slow cooker.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and slow cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F. Chicken thighs and legs cook up better in the slow cooker, rather than chicken breasts.
  • When the chicken is done, transfer the chicken to a platter. Strain the *sauce through a mesh colander and ladle over the chicken. Serve over white rice and garnish with chopped fresh green onion or cilantro.
  • To make a thicker sauce, heat the strained sauce in a small sauce pan. In a small bowl, mix together a spoonful or two of the heated sauce with about 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch. Then whisk that mixture back into the sauce pan and let it come to a boil for only a few seconds or until you've reached desired consistency.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin


    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken

    Sauces reign supreme at the Bennett Camp.  And why you might ask?

    I blame it on culinary school.  Almost every entrée recipe I learned to prepare had some sort of brilliant sauce.  I loved practicing sauces.  I relished the challenge of tweaking them to my tastes and adding new and unusual flavors.

    The Bennett Crew loved sampling my sauces.  In fact, my happy little family came to expect a sauce over every entrée I served.

    Until one day… I prepared a Pork Milanese.  Milanese doesn’t have a sauce.  So I served it traditionally. Without a sauce.

    Everyone sat quietly at the table, looking at their plates.  Not a peep.  I asked my sassy family why they weren’t eating their dinner and my handsome husband replied “where’s the sauce?”

    Hmmm.   Never saw that one coming.  I told my family a Milanese doesn’t come with a sauce.  To which my youngest sassy gal replied “but I’d like to have a sauce Mom”.   Well, who could resist those sweet words coming from a  three year old.

    Back into the kitchen I whipped up a little sauce for the Milanese.  Today, almost everything I serve the Bennett Crew comes with a sauce.  😉

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    I’ve paired one of my fave little sauces with this Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken dish.  You can also find this sauce paired with my Thai Shrimp Cakes and it’s just as lovely over grilled pork and chicken.

    Serves 4


    4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs (boneless/skinless)

    1 ½ cups shredded coconut

    1 cup chopped pecans

    ½ cup all purpose flour

    2 eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

    Parchment lined baking sheet

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce (recipe below)


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    In a food processor add the coconut and pecans and pulse until nicely ground together, like bread crumbs.  Set aside.  Per a lovely readers comments, a few tablespoons of panko can be added to the breading for a little extra texture and crunch.

    Set out three bowls. One with flour, one with egg wash and the last one with the coconut pecan mixture.

    Season the chicken with salt and black pepper.

    Lightly dust the chicken in the flour, then the egg wash and then press them into the coconut pecan mixture.  Place them on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes.  This step can be done in the morning and then baked in the evening for dinner.

    Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness or until the chicken is done.  I cook my chicken until the internal temperature reaches about 160F. I highly recommend having a meat thermometer handy for cooking poultry and meat.

    Once the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

    Ladle a bit of the sauce onto four plates.  Place a piece of chicken on the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.  Serve with coconut rice and fresh greens with a sesame dressing.

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    ½ cup apricot preserves

    1-2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

    3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce from Thai kitchen

    ¼ cup water, white wine, sherry or Saki

    In a bowl mix together all the ingredients.  You can lightly warm the sauce in a small pan stove top or in the microwave.  Don’t over warm or the sauce will be too runny.  The sauce will thin once it’s paired with the warm chicken.