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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.


Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to take a road trip.  Cruising down the highway to some cool tunes, aptly selected and managed by my teenage daughter.

Stopping for a coffee and then a little snack. Talking, laughing, reminiscing about my daughter’s childhood and the adorable things she did and said when she was little.

Thought provoking discussions about life, love and the pursuit of dreams; and how my little girl will someday help shape the world and make it a better place.

All the while driving through cities and the green valley floor; over the rugged mountains to the end of the road that lead to the blue-gray Pacific ocean.  A magnificent vision.

Angry storm clouds rolling past with wind and light rain, as if to say winter isn’t leaving just yet.  It was beautiful.  Magical.

oregon oceanside

My Sassy Gal, The Photographer

After sharing such a lovely few hours with my daughter, once we arrived to our destination she was ready to kick off her shoes, lounge in her room and watch a movie.  Most likely, while texting or snap chatting her friends about how they were enjoyng their spring breaks.

With the Sassy Gal happily lounging in her room, Ranger Craig and I were ready to explore the little seaside village.  First things first, we found a pub.  The cutest Irish pub with the freshest seafood, and of course, beer.

A festive little pub filled with cheerful souls that made me want to stand on my chair and sing an Irish tune.  But I didn’t.  I gracefully refrained.  Although, I’m sure Ranger Craig wouldn’t have minded.  He’s watched me sing a tune or two.  Thankfully he’s charmed by my somewhat overzealous personality.

Home again, home again and dreaming of the ocean, I decided it was time to bring out the ceviche recipe.  It’s a permanent resident in my frig most of the summer.  Typically prepared with different ingredients depending on my food mood or what I found at the Farmer’s Market.

I hope you love the ceviche so much, it makes you want to stand on your chair and sing an Irish tune. 😉

Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

Feel free to add in your favorite ingredients.  Sometimes I add diced cucumber, diced red pepper, diced mango or diced pineapple.  Just for fun.


1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces

½ lb bay shrimp

1/2 cup white onion, small diced (1 small – medium onion)

5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 teaspoon or more of Sriracha hot sauce

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)

Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)

sea salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado, diced


Place the diced halibut and lime juice in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through.

Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut back in the glass bowl.

Add the diced onion, tomatoes, bay shrimp and cilantro. Toss gently with the Sriracha and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving squeeze lime juice over the avocado and then gently fold into the ceviche.

Serve with blue or yellow corn chips as an appetizer or light dinner.  But my favorite way to enjoy this ceviche is in warm tortillas as tacos!  Top with a little Cotija or Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Recipe from

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, and corn with green onions and cilantro

I created this Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad many years ago when I was teaching culinary classes.

I originally wrote this post in 2011 when I was creating new recipes for my students to prepare in class. There still is nothing quite as wonderful as hearing from readers (or students) how delicious my recipe is or how easy it is to make. Or how it made everyone come to the table with a smile on their face.


My winter quarter classes begin next week and I couldn’t be more excited about the menu.  I’m proud to say this will be my fourth year teaching cooking classes for our local Co-op market here in Seattle.

PCC is the Puget Consumer and Co-op Natural Market that began in 1953.  An amazing story about 15 founding families who wanted to improve the quality and nutrition of available food.  Now over 45,000 members strong, PCC continues to support our local farms with the PCC Farmland Trust and educate our community through our IACP Award winning PCC Cooks.

It does my heart good to see the community supporting our local farms and farming communities.  I think you know how much I’d love to be a farmer. 🙂  Until then, I savor the opportunity to do my part in food education.

Teaching people to cook is essential to good health.  Teaching home chef’s how to make local, seasonal produce, meat, fish and poultry taste delicious is my goal.

Black beans, sweet potatoes, lime vinaigrette

This brightly colored Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad couldn’t be more tempting.  Beautiful to the eye and bursting with flavor to the tongue.  I love versatile and this is one of those versatile salads that can be tweaked to your tastes.

I personally love it loaded with cilantro and green onions.  But I have a friend who doesn’t care so much for cilantro.  Leaving out the cilantro and replacing it with chive or Italian parsley would be also be fabulous.

Sweet potatoes are divine in this recipe but feel free to substitute with winter squash. Especially if that’s what you have on hand. Pumpkin would also be fabulous as a substitute.

Delicious wishes for a healthy and happy winter!

Loads of Love,


Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Serving Size: 4-6

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad


  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced (if the limes are large and juicy, only one may be needed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or 1 teaspoon chili powder)
  • 3-4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup corn, I use local organic frozen corn during the winter months (or a little more, especially if you're making this in the summer when fresh sweet corn is readily available)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Or, if your oven runs cool pre-heat to 425F.
  • In a large bowl, toss the cubed sweet potatoes with a little high heat oil, such as sunflower, safflower or coconut and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, just until crisp tender. Be sure not to overcook. We wouldn’t want mashed sweet potato salad.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the lime juice, zest, salt, pepper, honey, olive oil and chipotle chili powder.
  • Add the cooled potatoes, scallions, beans and cilantro. Toss gently.
  • You may serve at room temperature or refrigerate.
  • Notes

    Roasting the sweet potatoes or squash is preferred. I’ve tried it both ways, boiled and roasted. Roasting brings out the sweetness in the sweet potato and squash, and adds a nice subtle “crisp” on the outside.

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    Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Cilantro Salmon

    Cilantro Salmon

    Last week I told Ranger Craig I’m in need of a field trip.  For those of you who don’t know Ranger Craig, he’s my main man, best bud, adventure partner, resident food critic and husband.  I had a reader ask me once if he was my boyfriend. (Hee hee, that gave me a good chuckle!)  So I went back to my about page and made it clear he’s legally mine. 🙂

    Ranger Craig... with Charley, our Cessna 182

    Ranger Craig is not a Forest Ranger. Although he’d love to be one.  He served in the US Army as an Army Airborne Ranger.  So, I call him Ranger Craig.  And he’s fearless. Which is why I don’t usually let him plan our little field trips lest we end up jumping out of an airplane and that’s where I draw the line.  I don’t mind flying in the airplane, I just don’t want to jump out of it.

    I should have known his inclination for adventure years ago when our first date was a long hike up our local lone Mountain.  Ranger Craig came prepared. Hiking shorts, hiking shoes, appropriate hiking shirt, water canteen, one of those handy tool knifes just in case of an emergency, and would you believe he even had a few Band-Aids in his backpack.

    Me? Adorable pink shorts, bright pink and white matching off the shoulder shirt (it was the 80’s), and gold sparkle sandals with hot pink painted toes. I looked great.  For about 10 minutes.

    Fast forward twenty-five years and I’ve got my own water bottle, travel medical kit, sensible shoes and an appropriate outfit for every adventure occasion. Lucky for me, this field trip didn’t even require sensible shoes.  I could look cute and wear my favorite cowgirl boots.

    My favorite boots from El Paso, Texas

    The Glass Art Museum was breathtaking. Art beyond my imagination. I couldn’t wait to photograph every piece.  Until, to my huge disappointment, I spotted the “No Photography” sign.

    Glass Art by Chihuly

    I did manage a few snaps of the Chihuly Art display. Breathtaking.  So full of vibrant color it inspired my desire for a vibrantly colorful dinner.

    And what better way to celebrate color, than with one of my favorite colors, green.  Fresh Pan Seared Salmon with bright spring green Cilantro Pesto.  It’s a plate licking good sauce that goes with anything.  Just like my favorite cowgirl boots.

    Cilantro Salmon

    Serves 4

    For the Pesto:

    1 large bunch cilantro, lower thicker stems trimmed (upper stems are fine in pureed pesto’s or sauces)

    ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with walnuts)

    1-2 cloves garlic

    1 lemon juiced

    ¼ cup grated parmesan

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

    Salt to taste


    Place the cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan in a blender or food processor.  As you pulse/puree the ingredients add the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

    Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

    For The Salmon:

    1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh wild salmon cut into 4 pieces

    1-2 tablespoon high heat oil ( I love using Spectrum’s Asian flavored oil for pan searing salmon)

    Salt and pepper

    Lemon slices and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


    Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the oil.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

    When the oil is hot add the salmon flesh side down. Let the salmon cook for about 3 minutes or until the salmon easily lifts off the pan.  It should be a lovely golden brown.

    Flip the salmon skin side down and continue cooking until just pink inside, about another 3-4 minutes depending on thickness.

    If the salmon is thick, turn the heat down to medium and cover with a lid and let the salmon finish cooking.  The salmon should lift off the pan easily, leaving the skin in the skillet.

    Drizzle the pesto on a platter or plates and lay the skinless salmon filets on top and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and lemon slice.

    This pesto is fantastic on grilled salmon and grilled chicken too! Enjoy 🙂

    Salmon Seafood

    Salmon Stir Fry with Fresh Cilantro, Bean Sprouts, and Sugar Snap Peas

    I believe I have worn out the welcome for Salmon in my house.  Recently the Bennett crew decided to hold a “family meeting” to discuss the constant appearance of salmon on the Bennett dinner table.  Not that the crew doesn’t love salmon, however, I may have exhausted every method of salmon preparation in my recipe repertoire.

    I’ll admit, I adore salmon.  I am completely in love with the fact that it is so simple to prepare, so healthy, and so absolutely delicious, whether adorned with a multitude of ingredients or simply laced with fresh lemon and grilled to moist perfection.

    Tiring of grilled salmon, I decided to create a quick stir fried salmon with fresh veggies and white rice.

    Marinated in a bit of Dijon mustard and then sautéed with decadent Asian flavors of fish sauce and sesame oil, this salmon dish feels a bit more indulgent and a definite treat to the taste buds.

    Even the Bennett crew gave this dish a high-five; which is peachy considering their intention to revolt if salmon didn’t take a back seat on the weekly menu.

    It looks salmon has made a comeback in my house.  🙂

    Serves 4


    4 salmon fillets, skinless

    ¼ cup Dijon mustard

    1 lime, juiced

    Peanut oil or high heat sunflower or safflower oil

    ¼ cup white wine or water

    1 leek, white to light green part, halved and sliced

    2 cloves garlic, finely diced

    2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

    2 tablespoons honey

    Drizzle, sesame oil

    3 tablespoons fish sauce

    1 cup sugar snap peas, fresh

    ½ cup bean sprouts

    ¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped


    Place the salmon in a glass dish.  Mix together the Dijon mustard and a squeeze of lime juice.  Coat the fish fillets with the mustard and lime.

    In a sauté pan, heat the oil on high or medium high until hot and sauté the salmon until lightly browned on both sides. Remove to a platter and set aside.

    Turn the heat to medium and add the wine (or water) to the sauté pan and then sear the leeks until lightly wilted, adding additional oil if needed.  Stir in the garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, and dash of sesame oil.

    Add the sugar snap peas and bean sprouts and sauté until just crisp tender.  Add the salmon back to the pan, coating with the salmon with the sauce and re-heating the salmon.

    Place each salmon fillet on a plate and top with the sautéed veggies.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and another dash of lime juice.  Serve with your favorite white rice.

    Grilling Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Swordfish

    Grilled Swordfish Topped With a Coconut, Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce

    There are moments when I believe I must eat, drink and sleep “food”.  I wake up most mornings thinking about the next delicious dinner creation, contemplating ideas during most of my day, and mentally assembling those ideas into what I hope will be a winning combination.   

    Once I’ve created the tasty dish, I spend precious moments trying to capture the true essence of the sumptuous food.  Much to my husbands dismay,  when he finally gets his beautiful plate of food it’s usually cooled and needs to be reheated.  I can’t tell you how many times my family has been sitting at the dinner table and I’m somewhere outside snapping photos of our meal.  My little gal will tell you if you eat dinner at our house you need to grab your plate and get your food before Mom grabs the camera. 

    Fish really does taste best served right off the grill, stove top or from the oven. Especially when it’s lightly covered in this fragrant, flavorful sauce.  Once the sauce has been lightly ladled over the fish, top it with diced fresh pineapple and cilantro.  It’s tropical, fresh, and tastes like vacation!

    Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4


    1 ½ – 2 lbs Fresh Swordfish or Mahi Mahi (I think it would also be yummy over halibut)

    Olive oil

    1 3 inch stalk fresh lemongrass, lightly smashed (if you can’t find lemongrass, substitute with ½ teaspoon lemon zest)

    2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

    1 15oz can whole Coconut milk

    ½ cup flaked coconut, toasted

    ¼ cup fresh cilantro, torn or coarsely chopped

    1 ½ cups fresh pineapple, small diced

    1 lime

    Salt and pepper to taste


    To make the sauce: Add the coconut milk, lemongrass and grated ginger to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Let the milk reduce by half, until it’s thickened and creamy.

    Add a 2 tablespoons toasted coconut and a teaspoon of fresh cilantro.  Continue to simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes longer.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

    Gently toss together the remaining cilantro and fresh pineapple, adding a squeeze of fresh lime. 

    For the Fish: Pre-heat the grill to 400F. 

    Brush the fish with olive oil and then dust with salt and pepper.  When you are ready to grill your fish, soak a paper towel with veggie oil.  Using grilling tongs, rub the oiled paper towels over the grill grates. 

    Place the fish on the grill, turning down the heat to medium so it doesn’t burn.  Flip the fish only once, or it will fall apart.  Cook until desired doneness.  Transfer the fish to individual plates or a platter.  Squeeze with fresh lime.

    To Serve:  Ladle a little sauce over the fish and then top with the fresh cilantro and pineapple.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!

    Halibut Salad Seafood

    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche made into tacos from Karista's Kitchen
    Simple Halibut Ceviche is one of the easiest seafood recipes to prepare.  I know you’re probably thinking I’ve had way too much sun this summer, but truly, ceviche can be simple, flavorful and delicious and a perfect seasonal starter.

    There are many different types of ceviche recipes and each South American country has their own version of ceviche. Many ceviche recipes can include ingredients from sweet potatoes and corn to squid and octopus. Although you can certainly add whatever you like to this particular ceviche recipe, I’ve kept it simple for sake of time, and flavor.

    For this Simple Halibut Ceviche, I’ve combined the halibut with lime juice and white onion. Once it’s been cold poached in the lime juice, I drain the liquid and then toss it with diced fresh summer tomatoes, diced jalapeno and chopped fresh cilantro. Then I season to taste with salt and pepper and dash of hot sauce. This gorgeous dish is a delicious starter for dinner guests or fun street style tacos for a light meal.

    I love to serve this Simple Halibut Ceviche with organic blue corn chips.  It makes a lovely presentation and the sweet flavor of the blue corn compliments the spicy and citrus flavors of the ceviche. 

    For something fun and festive, I often prepare patacones to serve with the ceviche.  Patacones are plantains that have been sliced, fried, flattened and fried again and then lightly seasoned with sea salt.   I’ve included a recipe with the ceviche. If you’d like to see a quick tutorial on how I make patacones, you can find it HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche


      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces
    • 1 small white onion, diced
    • Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)
    • 5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
    • 1-2 jalapeno, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)
    • sea salt and pepper
      For the Patacones
    • Patacones (Plantain Chips)
    • 2-3 green plantains
    • High heat or refined veggie oil (a sunflower or safflower oil works well)
    • Sea salt


    For the Ceviche
  • Place the diced halibut, lime juice and all but 1/4 of the diced onion in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt and stir. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through. I often let this marinate overnight.
  • Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut onion mixture back in the glass bowl.
  • Add the remaining diced onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, and cilantro. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
  • Serve with blue or yellow corn chips. You can also serve with Patacones.
  • Optional Add ins: Diced fresh Avocado, diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thin sliced radishes, diced poblano peppers, chili pepper flakes, red pepper flakes, cooked bay shrimp, fresh chopped oregano.
  • For the Patacones (Plantain Chips)
  • Cut off the ends of the plantains and then carefully cut a slit down the length of the skin without cutting into the plantain itself. Using a wooden or small spoon, pry up the edges of the peel and pull off the skin. Once the peel is removed cut the plantain crosswise into slices about 2 inches long.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until it shimmers, about 3 minutes. Add the plantains and fry them until they turn golden on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Flatten the plantains by pressing down on them with a heavy-bottomed pan pressing them into round discs. Return 1/2 of the flattened plantains to the oil and re-fry until deep golden on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer back to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining flattened plantains. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
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    Chicken Halibut Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Mango Cilantro Avocado Salsa over Grilled Halibut

    Tropical salsas can take a fish dinner from good to great! I adore tropical fruits and especially like them paired with fresh fish of the season. 

    This mango salsa recipe is simple, fresh and makes dinner a breeze.  Just top your fresh grilled, or even pan seared or baked fish, or chicken with this mango salsa and serve with an herbed rice, grilled sweet potatoes or grilled plantains and you have a fabulous and fast dinner. 

    This delicious salsa can even be served as an appetizier with blue corn chips!  In fact, I usually prepare enough salsa to top our fish or chicken and then serve a little extra with chips for snacking before dinner is ready.   You can prepare this recipe up to one day in advance, however, do not combine the avocado until you are ready to serve.  Happy Cooking!

    Mango Cilantro Salsa

    Serves 4

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: No cooking required

    2 large mangos peeled and diced

    1-2 large avocados diced

    ½ C purple/red onion diced

    ¼ C (or a good handful) packed chopped cilantro

    1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper seeded and diced (optional) or a pinch of chipotle powder

    1 Lime zested and juiced

    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    Fresh cracked black pepper

    Gently toss mangos, onion, pepper, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice.  Next add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and gently toss again.  Last, add the avocado and gently toss into the salsa.  Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer or over grilled fresh Halibut or grilled Chicken for a main course.  Add a few yummy sides to make a great summer meal.


    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork with Cilantro Slaw

    Slow Roasted Mexican Pork Tacos

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork Taco with Cilantro Slaw

    After culinary school I shunned my slow cooker.  Tsk, tsk!  I’d never use such an appliance again.  After all, real chef’s didn’t use a slow cooker.  Right?

    Then I started my business, had two small children, a husband, a dog and a very complete and busy life.  After a few attempts of Dutch oven cooking after a busy work day, which made dinner so late my kids were asleep by the time it was done,  I decided I should give the slow cooker another shot.

    I adored my Dutch oven and braised dishes were my favorite things to prepare in those days.  So why not apply the same browning technique when using the slow cooker?  Of course it worked beautifully and I finally resolved my love hate relationship with my slow cooker.

    Browning is certainly not a new technique and I’m sure some brilliant chef somewhere had discussed the browning technique prior to using a slow cooker.   However, fresh out of culinary classes,  I most likely had my head buried in the culinary sand and wasn’t listening.  Which of course made me “late to that party”.   When I finally arrived,  slow cooker meals made an appearance on my dinner table once again.  Which made my family so happy they could eat dinner prior to midnight.

    The key to a succulent and delicious slow cooked meal is browning your meat prior to cooking.  This technique applies to most methods of cooking meat, but, it is extremely important when slow cooking or braising.  Browning the meat creates flavor, richens the dish and gives the slow cooked meal more complexity and intensifies flavor.

    This is one of the Bennett Crew’s favorite slow cooker meals.  It’s great for the family and works just as well for casual dinner guests.  Serve with warmed corn tortillas, shredded pepper jack cheese or Cotija, sliced avocado or guacamole, your favorite salsa and a quick Mexican slaw.

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork with Cilantro Slaw

    Serves 4-6


    1 3-4 lb boneless (optional bone in) Pork butt (shoulder) cut into 4 large pieces

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon smoked paprika (not sweet)

    1 teaspoon Coriander (either seeds crushed or ground)

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

    1 28oz can good quality diced tomatoes or 3 large summer tomatoes, chopped

    6 gloves garlic crushed and lightly chopped

    1 white onion sliced

    A small handful of fresh cilantro

    For Cucmber Cilantro Slaw:

    1 small head cabbage thin sliced ( I like using Napa cabbage but regular cabbage is fine)

    1/3 C chopped cilantro

    1/2 cup diced fresh cucumber (if you don’t like cucumber feel free to omit, but it does taste refreshing with the spicy pork)

    1 small lime juiced

    1/4 cup mayonaise

    1 tsp sugar

    Dash of Sriracha or hot sauce

    Salt to taste

    Mix together the mayo, lime juice, sugar, dash of hot sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Just before serving, toss the dressing with the cabbage, cilantro and cucumber and serve with the tacos.

    Serve with:


    Warm corn tortillas

    Mexican style fresh cheese, Cotija or Pepper Jack Cheese

    Lime wedges

    Avocado slices (this is great during the summer months)


    Mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet on medium high and brown your pieces of pork.  Once the pork is browned transfer to a slow cooker and rub with spice mixture.

    Next add the crushed garlic, sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, and fresh sprigs of cilantro.  Set your slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.

    Once the pork is done, warm your corn tortillas either in the oven or stove top.  Mix the slaw together just before serving.  Shred the pork and place on a platter and serve with the tortillas, slaw, and condiments for a delicious fiesta.