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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Soup vegetarian

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut squash soup with apple and coconut milk

Butternut Squash, Apple and Coconut Soup

I never met a squash I didn’t like.  Roasted, steamed, grilled, sautéed, battered and fried, pureed for tarts and desserts and of course soups.  Paired with additional Autumn ingredients, butternut squash is a lush and mouthwatering seasonal produce that’s not only good for the soul, but good for the body.

Ok, I could totally go nerdy here.  I LOVE (can you hear me singing that word?) sharing the health benefits of whole foods.  However, for the sake of time, my time – as I’m supposed to be in my car picking up my teenager at this very moment – I’ll keep the nerdy stuff to a minimum.

Low in fat, heart healthy, significant amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and folate.  Not too mention it’s beautiful rich and orange hue signifies it’s abundance of carotenoids and beta carotenes.  All of which keep the heart, eyes and immune system healthy.  It’s also been known to help decrease inflammation caused by arthritis and asthma.  Phew!

There is no doubt butternut squash is a power food.  A power food with a velvet and creamy texture when cooked and can be prepared sweet or savory.

butternut squash soup

Butternut Squash, Apple and Coconut Soup

I adore this soup. It’s like a warm hug in a bowl.  Combined with the sweet tart of the Autumn apple and tropical flavor of coconut milk, this soup is a staple in my frig during the holidays and winter months. Easy to prepare and stays in the frig for up to 5 days.   Make an extra batch to freeze in small bowls for after school snacks or a light lunch.  It also makes an excellent holiday party starter, served in small pretty bowls.

I like to pair the soup with my favorite grilled Irish cheddar on cinnamon raisin bread.  Lovely flavors that compliment the rich and creamy butternut squash soup.  When I serve this to the Bennett Crew for dinner, I include roasted green beans or broccoli or a spinach salad to round out the meal.   Perfecto! (yes, I still believe I’m in Italy)

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Butternut Squash, Apple and Coconut Soup

All the ingredients can be adjusted to taste and preference.  I’ve given approximates, but feel free to add a little more of this or a little less of that to create a soup to your family’s tastes.

Serves 6 for a dinner meal or 12 for a party starter


1 medium to large butternut squash

1 medium shallot, finely diced (about 2-3 tablespoons)

1 medium to large apple, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger (or more to taste at end of cooking)

2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil

Olive oil

1 – 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (whole coconut milk in a can.  I prefer Thai Kitchen Organic)

2-3 cups vegetable broth (or more if needed)

Pinch of cinnamon (or as an option, pinch of curry spice)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Serve with Grilled Irish Cheddar on Cinnamon Raisin Bread


Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the butternut squash in half vertically – lengthwise (very carefully).  Scoop out the seeds.

Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little olive oil. Lay the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and add a little water to the pan.   Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and skins are golden brown and toasty.  Remove from the oven and  when the squash has cooled, remove the meat of the squash and place it in a medium mixing bowl, mashing it as much as possible.  Set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat add the butter or coconut oil.  When the butter/oil is melted and hot, but not smoking, add the shallot and diced apple.  Sauté until the shallot is translucent and the apple is starting to soften.

Next, stir in the mashed butternut squash, pinch of cinnamon, coconut milk and veggie broth (start with 2 cups and add more as needed).  Heath through and bring to a very slow simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

With an emulsion blender, or in your vitamix, carefully puree the soup. It will be very hot.  Continue to adjust seasoning and liquid to your tastes.

Allow the soup to slowly simmer covered for about 15 minutes.  Watch the soup as you don’t want it to burn.  Turn off the heat and let the soup sit stove top for another 15 minutes.

This soup intensifies in flavor the longer it sits.  If serving for dinner I’d prepare it as early as possible so the flavors have time to develop and meld together.  Better yet, prepare the soup a day before and re-heat stove top for the evening meal.

The soup will hold in the frig for about 5 days.  However, if you have leftovers, freeze after 3 days.  The soup will hold in the freezer for about 3 months.






Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Sweets

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

baked oatmeal with apples and spices

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Tractors humming in the distance, the scent of coffee in the air, the word “mom” can be heard chiming down the hallway and then I see Tank’s little furry face and big brown eyes peaking over the side of my bed.

I’m home.

I admit, it feels good to be home.  Although the last two weeks have been more magical than I ever imagined.

By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.  Thank you.


Cantine Leonardo DaVinci Chef Ana

Me and Chef Ana

I have many beautiful stories to share, mouthwatering recipes to unveil, and delightful new friends to introduce.

In the beginning, I felt so lucky to be chosen the 2013 DaVinci Wine Culinary Arts Storyteller.  Now, I feel blessed.

DaVinci Wine

An enchanting week of food, wine and friends.

More to come.  Until then, here’s a new recipe to start your Autumn morning, or maybe, end your Autumn day.

Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,


Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Serves 4-6

4-6 small ramekins or one 8-inch baking dish, buttered


About 2 cups chopped apple (1-2 apples depending on size) I used our local honeycrisp apple but you can use whatever you have on hand.

2 cups organic rolled oats (if you choose to use steel cut oats be sure to soak them overnight before preparing)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (and a little more for dusting apples)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

½ cup dark brown sugar (or ¾ cup coconut palm sugar)

2 eggs, slightly whisked

1 cup milk

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


Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Whisk together the oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and olive oil.

Dust the apples with a little cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a excellent spice for lowering blood sugar.

Combine the oat mixture with the egg mixture and then fold in the apples.

Ladle into buttered ramekins or baking dish.  Add a small pat of butter on top of each filled ramekin or a few pats of butter on top of the oatmeal in the baking dish.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the baked oatmeal is mostly firm to the touch.

Serve warm… and if you like, drizzle a little maple syrup over the top.

Happy Harvest!

Breakfast Sweets vegetarian

Orange Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

orange, cinnamon, raisin baked french toast

With sleepy eyes and mussed hair my youngest gal saunters into the kitchen for breakfast.  On the weekends my sassy gal of 14 is the last one to rise.

I know she can smell whatever I’m cooking.  The lingering scent of food travels right to her bedroom.  It’s the best method for waking a teenage girl.

The scent of sweet orange and warm cinnamon drifts through the house and it doesn’t take long before I have three hungry Bennett’s sitting at the counter.

Plates set, napkins passed and cutlery ready.  Someone inevitably forgets to set out the syrup.  And the butter.  But everyone is sporting a smile.  Almost giddy.

This makes my heart sing.  Hearing the happy morning chatter over Baked French Toast with fresh juice and hot coffee.  Laughter, conversation, smiles.

Food Love.

Orange Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

Serves 6-8


1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

8 eggs

Zest of one orange

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup Grand Marnier

1 ½ cups half and half or heavy cream

1 cup raisins


With 1-2 tablespoons butter, grease the bottom of a 9×11 or 9×13 baking dish.  Lightly butter several slices of cinnamon raisin bread and then lay them on the bottom of the baking dish.

Scatter some of the raisins on top and then layer with more buttered slices of bread.  Scatter more raisins and then topping with a final layer of buttered cinnamon raisin bread.

Whisk together the eggs, half and half, orange zest, Grand Marnier and Maple syrup.  Pour the mixture over the bread and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes while pre-heating the oven.  Or, cover the baking dish and let it sit overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the Baked French Toast golden brown on top and feels done to the touch.

Let the Baked French Toast cool slightly before serving.  Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.  (I love it served with banana slices)

Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Ranger Craig and I are always looking for the next big adventure.  Probably Ranger Craig more than me.  Which is why he was the Ranger and I clearly would never pass basic training.   And although I truly love home and hearth, I love to experience new places, new people and especially new food!

A room with a view, Victoria, British Colombia

In our quest for a little fall adventure, we sailed over to Victoria, BC for a long weekend.  Actually, it wasn’t long enough.  Not only did Ranger Craig and I walk our way through the city for three days, we ate our way through as well.  It was fantastic!

Brasserie L’Ecole, Cafe Brio and The Local Kitchen to name a few.  The most amazing food.  Sitting at the bar in Brasserie L’Ecole, the restaurant so full we would have waited an hour for a table, Ranger Craig and I ate in Silence.  Literally, the food so divine we couldn’t speak.  Pure food love!

Scottish Stone Fired Ale

A visit to Victoria isn’t complete without a stop at one of the famous Irish or Scottish pubs.  Bard and Banker Scottish Pub found its way into our afternoon one day.  As did a pint of the famous Scottish Stone Fired Ale.  🙂

Butchart Gardens in Fall

Butchart Gardens in the Fall

While walking and eating our way through this beautiful and unique city, Ranger Craig and I also took a quick little detour north to see the famous Butchart Gardens.  Even in the Pacific Northwest Drizzle, the gardens were mesmerizing.

Darling homes on Fisherman’s Wharf

Of course, the desserts did not disappoint.  We dined on the most decadent Apple Cake.  Moist with a silky but delicate crumb, filled with sweet and tart apples and just a hint of cinnamon. I had to duplicate the recipe.  Or at least close to it.

Sweet Washington Apples

And because the Bennett Crew loves cake for breakfast, I prepared this apple cinnamon cake with less sweetener, lots of apple pieces and plenty of cinnamon.  The perfect beginning to a perfect fall day.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Recipe adapted from multiple sources

I tested this recipe with two different types of flour.  My favorite is the Einkorn flour from Jovial.  It gave the most silky and soft crumb without the cake falling apart.  I also tested the recipe with 2 parts organic all-purpose flour and 1 part cake flour.  A fun little trick taught to me by my good friend and well-known Seattle Pastry Chef, Laurie Pfalzer.   This combination also gave a lovely delicate crumb.   But if you’d like to try the Einkorn flour, an ancient whole grain, check out the website to find it in a store near you.

Serves 8


2 cups organic flour (I used Einkorn Ancient grain flour which makes this cake light, silky and moist.  You can also use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/2 cup cake flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup grapeseed oil (substitute with 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, combine just a tad less than one cup milk with one tablespoon white vinegar. Let it sit for about five minutes)

2-3 apples peeled and diced (I used 3, but I love lots of apples in my apple cake)


Pre-heat the oven to 375F, 8×8 baking dish.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, beat together the oil and sugar.  Once combined add the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Gently mix in the buttermilk.

Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the diced apples.

Pour into the greased baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cake is done.  It will be nicely golden brown on top.

Let the cake sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.  Enjoy!

Kid Friendly Sweets

Breakfast Cookies with Oatmeal, Cinnamon and Raisins

I wish my house could smell like fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies all the time.   The sweet smells of  cinnamon and brown sugar remind me of  my childhood, when I’d come home from school and my Mom had made her famous oatmeal cherry chocolate chip and everything but the kitchen sink cookies.  That was always a happy day.

I still bake those cookies for my family, but I’ve come up with a version that’s perfect for breakfast, and my morning coffee. 

Morning coffee in my favorite mug from Spruce Goose Cafe in Port Townsend, WA

Whole grain flour, rolled oats, raisins and cinnamon baked just a little crispy outside and soft and chewy inside.  Mmmm… these are pure heaven in a cookie.  Especially at 5am in the morning when I’m summoned out of bed by my wooly mammoth pretending to be an old sweet Airedale.

My wooly mammoth giving me a grin

Makes about 24 Cookies


1 Cup organic coconut oil, or ½ cup butter and ½ cup organic coconut oil

3/4 Cup dark brown sugar (sometimes I use only ½ cup and they still taste great)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (King Arthur)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups uncooked oats (quick cook or rolled oats)

1 cup organic raisins


Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and brown sugar until light and creamy.  Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. 

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the oil brown sugar mixture and mix well.  Mix in the oats and raisins until thoroughly combined. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Using a small ice cream scoop, drop cookies onto the baking sheet two inches apart.  Bake 12 – 14 minutes or until the cookies are a golden brown.  Cool for one minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.  Store tightly covered.

Kid Friendly Sweets

Peach, Cardamom and Cinnamon Crisp

As spring ends and summer begins I start craving our beloved Northwest stone fruit.  Unfortunately, the delicious, ripe and juicy fruit won’t arrive for another month or two, depending on the weather.  So what’s a girl to do when she’s in need of a yummy peach crisp?  Buy frozen peaches!

For desserts, I often opt for frozen fruit, especially if using peaches.  Most frozen fruits are packaged at the peak of ripeness and  make a good substitute for fresh, especially when you’re craving a yummy peach crisp.

In addition to a passion for fresh stone fruit I adore the aromatic spice cardamom.  I typically use cardamom in my apple pies, however, I was thinking I’d be a little daring and try a smidge of cardamom in a peach crisp.  Cardamom is a unique tasting spice used in many savory Indian dishes and is one of the spices included in the lovely spice mixture garam masala. 

I purchase whole cardamom pods, crack them open and then toast them before grinding in a coffee or spice mill.  However, if you want to skip those steps, feel free to purchase ground cardamom in the jar, or in the bulk spice section of your market.  I’ve given instructions for using either whole pods or ground cardamom. 

These tantalizing spices beautifully compliment the peaches and makes a delicious and mouth-watering dessert.  Serve with fresh whipped cream or a vanilla bean ice cream.  Or, if it’s hot outside and you like preparing homemade ice cream, try this dessert with a homemade peach ice cream.  Yum! 

Serves 8


For the peaches

4 cups sliced frozen peaches, thawed (or fresh peaches when in season)

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or tapioca starch

1 teaspoon ground cardamom*

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Crisp

1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix

1 cup quick cook oats

½ cup brown sugar

Pinch of Kosher salt

12 tablespoons chilled butter, diced into small pieces


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, toss together the sugar, flour, cardamom and cinnamon.  Add the peaches and vanilla extract and coat well with the sugar mixture.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together on low the flour, oats, brown sugar and pinch of salt.  Add the chilled butter and let the mixture continue to mix together until it begins to look like small pieces of dough.  Don’t allow the mixture to mix too long as you’ll end up with one big piece of dough and this will not crisp. 

Pour the peaches into a 9×13 baking dish and top with the crisp mixture.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top of the crisp is golden brown and the peach mixture is heated through and bubbly. 

Let the crisp cool slightly and then serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. 

*For whole Cardamom pods:  6 pods should give ½ teaspoon of seeds.  Remove the seeds and toast them.  Put them in a coffee mill with about ¼ cup sugar and grind.