Browsing Tag

cooking

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad

Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad

 

Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad // Karista's Kitchen

OLIVE AND ROSEMARY CHICKEN SALAD

It’s not unusual for me to open a can of California Ripe Olives with the intent of using them in a recipe and then a few minutes later half the can of olives is missing.  My family and I just cannot keep our hands out of the olive can.

Olives have always been a staple in my house. I often reach for a can of California Ripe Olives when I want a quick snack or when I want to add a little extra flavor to a recipe. Olives make my meals seem a bit more special, while adding color and texture to my recipes.

As if being an olive fanatic isn’t enough, a few weeks ago I was asked to attend the California Ripe Olive Experience in St. Helena, California – I jumped at the opportunity. An event completely devoted to olives? I had to be there and sample all the olive goodness.

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena_

A ROOM WITH A VIEW

 

California Ripe Olive Experience in St. Helena, California

ST. HELENA, CALIFORNIA

 

Culinary Institute of America // Karista's Kitchen

GREYSTONE CAMPUS CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA

The California Ripe Olive Experience was held at the Greystone campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, California. Now, I’m a total culinary school junkie and I’d be a forever culinary student if it were possible.  So, a visit to the Greystone CIA to mingle with olive growers, and canners, cook with olives, eat olives and olive inspired recipes seemed like a little slice of olive and culinary heaven to me.

Meeting the growers, canners and the many professionals involved with California Ripe Olives was an absolute pleasure. “The California Ripe Olive community is composed of two canneries and about 700 family farmers, who raise olives on about 27,000 acres of orchards that crisscross the warm inland valleys of California.”

I knew California grew a large percentage of the olive crops in the United States but I had no idea that California produces 95% of all the olives grown here in the U.S.

Many of the California Ripe Olive family farms are multi-generational groves and they’re powered by hardworking farmers and their families. Some of the olive groves are over 100 years old and today, most of the olives are still harvested by hand. In recent years, development of mechanical harvesting has emerged but many of the older groves have trees that are dense in size so harvesting remains by hand.

 

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena 5

CHEF PAUL IRVING

 

Chef Paul Irving and Me // California Ripe Olive Experience

ME AND CHEF PAUL IRVING AT THE CIA KITCHEN

 

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena 6

THE TALTENTED ELISE BAUER, FOUNDER OF SIMPLY RECIPES

 

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena 7

CALIFORNIA RIPE OLIVES

In addition to meeting the lovely members of the Culinary Olive Committee I had the pleasure of meeting CIA Chef Paul Irving, Elise Bauer, founder of Simply Recipes and many more wonderful culinary and blogging professionals.

One of the evening meals was developed by Elise Bauer, founder of Simply Recipes. A gorgeous Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Figs & Olives. In a word, divine. I’ve included the link to the recipe HERE. You will absolutely want to make this lovely dish.

We also experimented a bit with olives and taste tested Chef Paul Irving’s olive creations. From smoked olives to candied olives and everything in between, we sampled the many ways an olive can be used in a recipe. Chef Paul Irving also created a gorgeous and mouth-watering lunch at the end of the event. He used smoked olives in a Pasta Puttanesca that was outstanding. The smoked olives added an additional element of flavor that complimented the spicy sauce.

 

California Ripe Olive Experience St. Helena 8

OUR TEAM RECIPE: ROASTED OLIVE AND KUMQUAT RELISH WITH PORK TENDERLOIN AND GOAT CHEESE POLENTA

 

California Ripe Olive Experience // My Culinary Teammates // Karista's Kitchen

MY LOVELY TEAMMATES

During the event, I also had the opportunity to get into the CIA kitchen and create a mouth-watering recipe with three lovely new food-blogging friends, Leigh-Anne from Your Home Based Mom, Kelly from The Suburban Soapbox and Heather from Heather Likes Food.

Although every recipe was completely delicious, I thought my team rocked. We created a Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish and paired it with a pan cooked Pork Tenderloin with a pan sauce and then layered the pork and the relish over goat cheese polenta. Topped off with toasted pine nuts and served with asparagus.

The roasted olive and kumquat relish is so delicious I’ve paired it with not only pork tenderloin but with spring halibut over a herbed couscous. I’ll post these additional olive recipes soon.

 

Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad // Karista's Kitchen

After the event, I promptly came home and added olives to everything I cooked. One of my favorite recipes, that honestly, I didn’t think would be my favorite, is an Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad.

The chicken is poached in chicken broth with fresh rosemary, then diced and combined with additional fresh chopped rosemary, sliced green olives, red onion, green onions, mayonnaise, shredded cheddar cheese and a splash of lemon. My family cannot seem to get enough of this chicken salad and I find myself making a batch weekly.

Thank you California Ripe Olives for an amazing experience and for sharing with me your love and passion for California Ripe Olives. For more recipes and all things olives check out California Ripe Olives on Facebook.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

*This post has been sponsored by California Olive Committee 

Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad

Serving Size: 6

Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1lb. chicken breasts or chicken breasts and thighs
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2-2/3 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sliced California Ripe Black Olives
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish

Instructions

  • Add chicken, rosemary sprigs, garlic and bay leaf to a pot. Fill it with chicken broth just until it covers the chicken. Heat the broth over medium heat until it just barely simmers. Let the broth simmer slowly for about 15 minutes or until the chicken breasts have reached 165F. internal temperature. Take the pot off the heat and transfer the chicken to a platter and let them cool.
  • Once the chicken is cool, dice or shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and then place it in a large bowl.
  • Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper and then toss with the mayonnaise, celery, onion, scallions, fresh rosemary and cheddar cheese. Add a squeeze of lemon and then fold in the olives. Adjust salt and pepper to your tastes.
  • Transfer to a platter lined with butter lettuce leaves and serve with toast points, crostini or as tea sandwiches. Or you can just eat it out of a bowl like my family. 🙂
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2017/06/07/olive-and-rosemary-chicken-salad/

     

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue

    DaVinci Chianti at Home for the Holidays // Karista's Kitchen Southern Style Barbecue

    There are a few things I’m terribly traditional about.  A birthday dinner of choice on one’s actual birthday, ghost shaped pancakes on Halloween morning, pan seared beef tenderloin medallions with a Madeira wine sauce on Valentine’s Day and a Southern style barbecue around the holidays.

    Barbecue might seem a little out of place during the holidays, but at my house it’s a yearly tradition.  Mostly because my family loves barbecue and could dine on it year round.  The cooler holiday months also seem like the perfect time to capture a bit of summer whimsy within these festive dishes.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Succulent and bursting with flavor, I pair a Southern style pulled pork with my DaVinci Chianti BBQ Sauce.  A slightly sweet and tangy sauce laced with my favorite Chianti wine.  With aromas of ripe plum and cherry accented by peppery notes, DaVinci Chianti is a medium bodied and well balanced wine; blending beautifully into a most lush and silky sauce.  It’s so delicious, my family will wrangle for the last drop of sauce.  You just might be tempted to lick your plate!

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Although I like a traditional coleslaw, for this meal I serve an elevated slaw of Apple, Fennel and Napa Cabbage, which is lightly tossed in a sweet dressing.  Along with the Southern style pulled pork, lush Chianti barbecue sauce and Apple Fennel Slaw, I also serve a delicious dish of homemade Baked Beans to round out the meal. After all, it’s not a barbecue without the beans.

    To celebrate our holiday barbecue, the table is set with holiday china while the music of the season fills the room. Our guests are seated, the Chianti is poured and our Southern style barbecue is served.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a festive occasion that feels special, and yet, warm and inviting with the enticing scent of earthy and rich flavors filling the house.  I love to hear the clink of glasses filled with the deep ruby colored DaVinci Chianti which pairs so perfectly with this holiday meal.

    When the dishes are empty and the last of the Chianti has been poured, it’s almost difficult to leave the table, lingering over conversation and a celebration of all that is most precious to us.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a festive meal to serve for any holiday celebration. The recipes can be doubled to accommodate a large crowd and are fairly fuss free to prepare.  The baked beans can be prepped a day or two in advance and slider rolls or large barbecue buns can be served with the pulled pork, making for a lovely casual dining atmosphere or a sit down dinner.

    Cheers! to a most delicious and happy holiday season.

    Bon Appetito!

    Karista 

    Southern Style Pulled Pork with Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6-8

    Ingredients

    4-5lbs boneless pork shoulder, halved

    Salt

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    ½ teaspoon garlic powder

    ½  teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground allspice

    ½ cup apple cider vinegar

    Slow cooker

    Directions

    Pre-heat a slow cooker on high.

    Mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and allspice.

    Season the two pork shoulder pieces with salt and then brown on all sides.  Transfer the pork pieces to the slow cooker and season with the brown sugar mixture. Making sure to cover both pieces of pork.  Pour the apple cider vinegar over the pork pieces, cover with the lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until the pork pieces are fork tender.

    Tip: When using a slow cooker to prepare a pork shoulder or beef chuck, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of liquid as the slow cooker allows these cuts of meat to cook in their own juices.

    Once the pork shoulder is done, shred with two forks and keep moist with juices from the slow cooker.

    Option: If you’d like, add a ¼ – ½ cup of the Chianti BBQ sauce to the pulled pork and serve with additional sauce on the side.

    Serve with barbecue buns or slider buns, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. And don’t forget the Chianti!

    ————————————————————

    Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    2 cups organic ketchup

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti wine

    3 teaspoons dry English mustard

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup unsulphured molasses

    3 tablespoons Worcestershire

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Directions

    In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat stir together the ketchup, wine, mustard, brown sugar, molasses and Worcestershire. Bring it to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.  Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

    Because I like to use this sauce in my Homemade Baked Beans recipe, I usually double the recipe. It’s a travesty when I run out of sauce!   However, feel free to use a barbecue sauce of your choice in the Homemade Baked Beans recipe.

    Serve the Chianti Barbecue Sauce with Southern Style Pulled Pork, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. 

    —————————————————————–

    Apple Fennel Slaw

    Serves 6 -8

    Ingredients

    One medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shredded and fronds saved

    1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded

    2 cups shredded apples, or thinly sliced apples and spritzed with a little lemon juice

    1 cup mayonnaise

    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    ¼ cup sugar

    Dash of hot sauce, optional

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sugar until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Set aside until ready to serve.

    Gently toss together the fennel, cabbage and apples.  Chop the fennel fronds and toss them on top of the slaw.

    Dress the slaw with half the dressing, using more if needed, just before serving.

    Serve with Southern style pulled pork and baked beans. 

     ——————————————————————–

    Homemade Baked Beans

    Serves 6-8

    Ingredients

    4 ounces bacon, diced

    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    3 15ounce cans navy beans, drained

    1/2 cup Chianti Barbecue Sauce, or a barbecue sauce of your choice

    1 small onion, finely diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire

    ¼ cup molasses

    ¼ cup brown sugar

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Medium to large baking dish

    Directions

    Heat the oven to 350F.

    Heat a large skillet and cook the diced bacon.  Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.  Add a little olive oil if needed and sauté the onion.  When the onion is golden and soft, add the garlic and sauté another minute longer.  Add the bacon back into the skillet and stir in the beans.

    Stir in the one cup of barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.

    Pour the beans into a baking dish and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are hot and bubbly.

    DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti

     

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a lovely and simple dish filled with sweet and savory flavors of the Tuscan countryside.  Herbs are abundant in Tuscany; fields of rosemary and sage, thyme and lavender dance about the hillsides creating the most fragrant Tuscan breezes.

    This succulent pork loin roast is stuffed with fresh sage, dried apricots and a hint of garlic and then roasted to moist and exquisite perfection.  Serve this tasty dish with my Arugula and White Bean Salad and pair with my favorite DaVinci Chianti.

    We wouldn’t want to forget dessert… How about a Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate to finish the meal?

    For additional DaVinci Chianti recipes click HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti

    Ingredients

    • 2-3lb pork loin roast
    • 1 cup dried apricots
    • 1 ½ cups white wine (DaVinci Pinot Grigio) If you don’t cook with wine use chicken broth with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
    • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • In a small sauce pan warm one cup of wine and soak the apricots for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the apricots from the wine (reserve the wine) and coarsely chop them. Add them to a bowl and then toss with the sage and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of oil to bind the ingredients.
  • With a long blade knife cut into the vertical center of the pork loin roast, making a nice size hole for the stuffing. Pierce all the way through to the other side.
  • Stuff the apricot sage mixture into the pork, spreading as evenly as you can. This takes a little bit of fiddling but it’s fairly easy.
  • Place the stuffed pork loin roast in a small baking dish or small roasting pan. Pour the reserved wine over the pork. Rub a little oil on the pork and season with salt and pepper.
  • Put the pork loin in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350F and roast for another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F.
  • Remove the pork loin from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. While it’s resting, take the pan juices and pour them into a sauce pan.
  • Heat the juices over medium heat and add the butter. If needed, add additional chicken broth to the pan. Whisk until the butter is nicely incorporated and the pan sauce is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve: Slice the pork loin roast and lay the slices on a platter. Pour some of the pan sauce over the pork slices and garnish with additional chopped fresh sage.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/11/29/apricot-and-sage-stuffed-pork-loin-roast-and-a-thank-you/

    Here’s a not so great picture of me stuffing a pork loin.  Hope this visual is helpful!

    Stuffing the pork loin roast

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes

    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts

    Brussels sprouts, apples and bacon side dish or one dish meal // Karista's Kitchen

    I have to admit, roasted Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper is simple perfection.  I make them often but on occasion I switch things up and make this lovely Bacon, Apple and Brussels Sprouts side.  It’s easy to prepare and combines three distinct flavors that pair exquisitely together.  The smokiness of the bacon combined with the sweet of the apple… honestly, I could eat these two ingredients all by themselves.  But toss in some Brussels sprouts and the recipe somehow tastes complete.

    Of course I throw in some fresh garlic and sometimes add a splash of parmesan to the finished dish.  I think some shredded Irish cheddar would be tasty as well.

    Not only does this make a great side dish or one dish meal, it’s a lovely side for all the holiday dinner celebrations.  It happily accompanies turkey, prime rib, whole roasted salmon and a honey glazed ham.  Now I’m hungry!

    Just in case you’re not convinced Brussels sprouts are for you… I’ve added a few additional sides to browse.  You know, just in case. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts

    Ingredients

    • 6-8 ounces bacon, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 cups thin sliced apples, whatever is local and in season (I use Oregon local Honey Crisp)
    • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cleaned, bottom ends trimmed but core intact and then halved through the core. I prefer the smaller to medium sprouts if you can find them.
    • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • Squeeze of lemon

    Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with water and season the water generously with salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the Brussels sprouts. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the sprouts cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the sprouts are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Shake out the excess water and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add about 1 - 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot add the diced bacon and cook. When the bacon is crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon and add the Brussels sprouts.
  • Increase the heat to medium high allowing the Brussels to brown and crisp a bit. When the Brussels look golden brown, gently toss in the garlic and the apples.
  • Turn the heat back down to medium and let the apples cook until crisp tender. Once the apples are done, stir in the bacon and give it a squeeze of lemon.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://karistaskitchen.com/2014/11/13/bacon-apples-and-brussel-sprouts/

    Mashed cauliflower side dish

    Cauliflower Mashers

    FIVE SASSY SIDES

    Several years ago I posted this Cauliflower Mashers recipe in a post with several other enticing side dishes. 

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachos and Toasted Coconut

    ROASTED CRANBERRY AND MANDARIN SALAD

    Another lovely and sweet side for Roast Turkey and Honey Baked Ham.

    roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

    Winter Roasted Beet Salad

    WINTER ROASTED BEET SALAD

    A gorgeous and delicious salad easily prepped and served – making your holiday celebration stress free.

    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts

    GREEN BEAN AND SMOKED GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES AND TOASTED PINE NUTS

    Hands down one of my favorite salads.  Again, easy to prepare and so delicious paired with Roast Turkey, Whole Roasted Salmon, Duck Breast, Honey Baked Ham or Prime Rib.

    brussels sprouts gratin

    Brussels Sprouts Gratin

    BRUSSELS SPROUTS GRATIN

    Brussels Sprouts are grand all on their own, but combined in a gratin with cheese and cream totally elevates this dish to spectacular!

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta

    Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

    Tuscan style lasagna with bechamel and sugo

    Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

    Due to legalities you have to promise you’re 21 or older before proceeding to read this post.  Yes, we are talking wine and food.  But it’s the wine that’s the tricky part.  Thanks!

    ————————————————————————

    Nothing could have prepared me for the magic and beauty of Tuscany.  Although I’ve read about Tuscany for years, viewed what feels like a million photographs and watched several films, it didn’t even begin to compare to the moment I stepped onto the gloriously beautiful landscape.

    Now, never a day goes by that Tuscany doesn’t come to mind. The lovely memories of decadent food and wine, beautiful landscape, warm and hospitable residents and our DaVinci Wine team… seem to linger and cause my heart to long as if I’ve lost a true love.

    Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

    Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

    Sounds dramatic I know.  But as my sister said to me after her trip to London – I feel forever changed.  Traveling abroad and experiencing life in a new land is an enlightening feeling.  Probably because I’ve always been so intrigued by people and their food.  Our own food culture here in the states is beautifully diverse as well and possibly some of the most intriguing.  But to experience Tuscany was indeed a highlight that makes me feel forever changed.

    My trip was full of little surprises – like when Ranger Craig and I were in search of breakfast.  Eggs?  I think not. A pastry and espresso is found on every corner.  Ask for an egg and you just might be tossed out of the pastry shop.  Honestly , I didn’t mind.  Who wouldn’t mind having a gorgeous pastry and espresso for breakfast.  Nothing terribly sweet, just a little something to start the day.    Or when my fellow Storyteller, Jim O’Donnell asked for an Americano at a little establishment just outside Monteriggioni. He promptly received a “no”; with an espresso instead. A hilarious moment that you can read all about it here.

    DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience

    Harvesting the Sangiovese grapes and Photographer Leela Cyd catching the action.

    While dining at a restaurant in Florence, I was surprised by the lasagna I ordered.  Not at all the version we prepare here in the states.  Although our Italian American version is divine, this thing of beauty included layers of lush and buttery lasagna pasta sheets with rich béchamel, parmesan, pecorino and rich Bolognese sauce, or as they call it here, sugo.

    The absence of ricotta and mozzarella was startling. But I must say it wasn’t missed.  So when I arrived home, I simply had to re-create this lovely dish I so vividly remember.

    Because this Tuscan Lasagna al Forno was created for my friends at DaVinci Wine, you can find it on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.   To check out the websites of our other two Storytellers, just click on their names… Kristina Laurendi Havens and Leela Cyd.

    I wish you all Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

    Ingredients

    For the Sugo:

    ¾ – 1 lb ground beef or ground Italian sausage

    1 red onion, diced

    1 carrot, small diced

    1 rib of celery, small diced

    1-2 cloves garlic, minced

    ½ cup DaVinci Chianti

    2-3 cups tomato sauce

    Pinch dried oregano

    Pinch of allspice or pumpkin pie spice (I know  this seems unusual but a kind Trattoria Chef told me this ingredient is always included in his Sugo for Lasagna al Forno)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a heavy bottom skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until nicely golden brown, almost caramelized. Add the ground meat and garlic to the soffrito (diced veggies) and cook until done, breaking up any big pieces.  The meat should be small and somewhat minced.

    Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the wine, scraping up the bits of good stuff (fond) on the bottom of the pan.

    Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and allspice or pumpkin pie spice and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.  Put the skillet back on the heat and bring to a low simmer.  Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the béchamel.

    Bechamel or White Ragu:

    Ingredients

    6 tablespoons unsalted butter

    6 tablespoons flour

    3 cups warm whole milk

    Pinch of nutmeg

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  When the butter is melted whisk in the flour.  Then slowly whisk in the warm milk.

    Continue whisking until your milk comes to a simmer and begins to thicken.  Turn the heat down so you don’t burn the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.

    Stir in the pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    You will want this béchamel (white ragu) thicker than a béchamel that you might toss with pasta.  So if it feels heavy or thick that’s ok.  It’ll be perfect for the lasagna.

    For the Lasagna:

    Ingredients

    Fresh lasagna sheets, cooked – enough to fill a lasagna baking dish or a 9×13 baking dish.  I love a deep baking dish for this lasagna.

    3-4 cups Sugo

    3-4 cups Béchamel

    ½ cup grated parmesan

    ½ cup shaved pecorino Toscana

    Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    Ladle a little Sugo in the bottom of the baking dish and line with pasta sheets.  Ladle the pasta sheets with béchamel, sprinkle of parmesan and pecorino. Continue alternating the béchamel and Sugo until you’ve created 5-6 layers or used all your pasta sheets.  Be sure to save a cup of Sugo for the top of the lasagna.

    Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are bubbly.

    Raise the heat to 400F.  Remove the foil and cook the lasagna until the top is toasty and cheese is golden brown, another 10 minutes or so.  Sometimes I put it under the broiler for extra color.

    Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  This will allow the béchamel and cheese to firm for slicing.

    Serve with a side of extra Vinci sauce and grated parmesan if desired.

     

     

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Chicken Avocado Tortilla Torta

    chicken avocado tortilla torta

    Oh for the love of all things Avocado.  I’m on an intense avocado kick these days.  I feel like adding avocado to everything.

    Actually, Suzie Q, my youngest, made that very comment the other day.  “Mom, you add avocado to everything.  Next it’ll be in our dessert”.   Hmmm… I just came across ice cream prepared with avocado.  Trying that one next. 🙂

    Avocado lends a creamy and sometimes buttery texture to dishes.  It’s not terribly aromatic but it can taste of olive oil and fresh grass when eaten ripe.

    chicken avocado tortilla torta

    I love it sliced on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with poached or pan-fried farm fresh eggs. I also add diced avocado to my Mexican stuffed peppers which eliminates the need for extra cheese.  When the avocado is heated the texture becomes a bit creamy,  just like warm or melted cheese.

    Avocado is perfectly delicious added to my ceviche, tacos and sandwiches.  I keep a squishy, ripe one on the counter for spreading like mayonnaise.  During the summer months I love an heirloom tomato and avocado sandwich with just a sprinkling of my favorite gourmet salt.

    So of course when I was whipping up this chicken torta, I had to add avocado.  Combined with fresh cilantro, white onion, salsa Verde and Cotija cheese… fresh, clean flavors that deliciously marry well together.  Made dinner feel just a little bit special.

    Tank thought so too.  My oldest gal captured this picture of Tank.  Waiting patiently, staring down the deliciousness, while I was working to snap a food photo.  What can I say,  he cracks me up!

    cairn terrier, food photography

    Tank Waiting Patiently

    Delicious wishes and loads of love!

    Karista

    Chicken Avocado Tortilla Torta

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    2 cups small cubed or shredded cooked chicken

    ½ white onion, small diced (about 1 cup)

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 teaspoon chili powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    Salt and pepper to taste

    2-3 cups diced avocado, tossed gently with a little lime juice (approx 2 avocados)

    12-18 corn tortillas, sliced in half

    2-3 cups salsa Verde (green enchilada sauce, Hatch is a quality brand I recommend) (recipe below for when tomatillos are in season.  I do recommend canning tomatillos during the summer for delicious salsa Verde year round.)

    2 cups cotija cheese

    1 cup mozzarella or creamy farmer’s cheese, Mexican Queso

    Directions

    Heat the oven to 375F.

    You will need an 8×8 or 9×13 baking dish.  I like a deep dish torta so I use the 8×8.  But the 9×13 also works well.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cooked chicken, white onion, fresh cilantro, 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese, chili powder and cumin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Very gently fold in the diced avocado.

    Pour the salsa Verde in a bowl large enough to dip the halved tortillas.  Dip 4-6 tortilla halves and place them in the bottom of the baking dish.  You will feel like you’re making a lasagna.

    Sprinkle with the chicken avocado mixture and then dip a few more tortilla halves into the salsa Verde and arrange on top of the chicken avocado mixture.  Repeat with the layering process until you have used all your chicken avocado mixture.  I can usually get three layers in an 8×8 pan.

    Be sure to end the layers with salsa Verde dipped tortillas.  Sprinkle with Mozzarella and remaining Cotija cheese.

    Bake uncovered for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sides are bubbly.  Let the torta stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

    I love this dish with Cabbage and Cucumber slaw.  I’ve listed the recipe below.  Enjoy!

    Fresh Salsa Verde

    Ingredients

    2 cans tomatillos (I prefer Hatch brand)

    ½ cup diced onions

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 jalapeno, roasted and seeded

    ½ cup water or chicken broth if needed

    Salt to taste

    Directions

    Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor and puree.

    Add a little oil to a medium sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until wilted.

    Stir in the pureed tomatillos, cilantro and jalapeno and let it simmer on low for about five minutes, adding water or chicken broth if necessary.   Take it off the heat and set aside until needed.  Or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

     

    Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    1 small to medium head Napa cabbage, halved and then sliced so you get ribbons of cabbage.

    1 large cucumber, sliced (peeled if you like)

    4-5 green onions, sliced

    ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

    1-2 teaspoons sugar or agave

    Dash of Sriracha or hot sauce to taste

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, citrus juice, sugar and Sriracha.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Toss the dressing with the cabbage and then layer the cucumber, green onion and cilantro on top.  Serve and enjoy!

    *my family likes a well dressed slaw so I often double the dressing recipe.  But I think it tastes great lightly dressed.

    Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood

    Tacos, Ceviche and a Dessert

    Cinco de Mayo recipes

    Ceviche, Chocoflan and Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Over the years, I’ve had a long love affair with Mexican food.  I must have 50 different taco recipes floating around my kitchen.  All with an abundance of fresh ingredients, fragrant aromas that fill my house and robust and spicy flavored dishes that make my family smile big toothy smiles.

    The Bennett Crew and I have spent countless summer evenings sitting out on the deck, dining on ceviche, salsa, tacos, grilled meats and fish, all with the flavors of Mexico.  Sipping on sangria, cerveza or bright pink virgin margarita’s while watching the sun set in the distance.  Ahhh… makes me think of vacation.

    In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d round-up some of my favorite Mexican and South American recipes.  Some of the recipes are easily prepared and some take a little extra time, but so worth the effort.

    Wishing you all a fun, festive, and of course, completely delicious Cinco de Mayo celebration!

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema.

    chicken tacos

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Halibut Tacos with spicy slaw

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema.

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Crema

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

    slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa

    Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche.

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

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan

    Chocoflan

    Nelly Rodriguez de Galofre’s Chocoflan

    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.

    Ingredients

    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

    Directions

    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 karistaskitchen.com

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Italian slow braised roast beef with red wine and creamy polenta

    Italian Beef Stracotto with Creamy Polenta

    Years ago I met a lovely woman named Sianna.  An older woman, a wise woman and a woman whose every word I seemed to tuck away in the file drawers of my mind.  She was fascinating. Full of  adventurous life stories and snippets of wisdom that I’m sure she felt my ears needed to hear.

    Sianna, originally from Tuscany, sent me the most wonderful book; The Tuscan Year by Elizabeth Romer.   Written many years ago by the English Author who spent a year with a Tuscan family.  Elizabeth Romer documents each seasons harvest and the foods prepared in the region as well as the everyday life of the small Tuscan village.  If you love books about culture and food, this is a fun, and might I say delicious read.

    One of the recipes, a Stracotto, is a beef stew made with wine and herbs.  It’s braised until the meat falls apart and is almost overcooked, which is what “stracotto” means, overcooked.  But this is no dried out tasteless beef stew!  This Stracotto couldn’t be more decadent or simple.  It’s a rich, herby and full flavored Italian beef stew that is a perfect meal for a cold winter or spring night.

    Now in typical Karista’s Kitchen fashion, I’ve adapted this recipe to be easily recreated in American home kitchens.  It still needs to cook for quite a good length of time, but works well in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.  The Stracotto creates the most mouth watering scents in my house and anyone who walks in my front door can’t wait to eat!

    Enjoy this delicious taste of Tuscany!  Bon Appetito!

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    4 lbs Beef top rump or top side roast

    5 – 6 slices Pancetta (or 4 slices bacon), chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 ribs celery, chopped

    2 carrots, chopped

    6-8 cloves garlic, thin sliced

    2 cups dry red wine (This dish taste best with DaVinci Chianti wine) Note: if using a slow cooker reduce wine to 1 cup.

    1 18 oz. jar Organic whole tomatoes (I use Jovial Whole Tomatoes) crush them just a bit with your hands.

    1 teaspoon dried Rosemary, crushed (or 1 stalk fresh Rosemary)

    ½ teaspoon dried Oregano

    ½ teaspoon dried Thyme (or 1 stalk fresh Thyme)

    1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian Parsley

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

    Directions

    Season the roast with salt and pepper on all sides and preheat the oven to 350F.

    In an oven proof Dutch oven or heavy stock pot on medium high heat brown the roast on all sides.  Transfer the browned roast to a plate and set aside.

    Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped pancetta.  Brown the pancetta until crisp and then add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook the veggies until soft and translucent, and then add the garlic.  Cook for another few minutes.

    Sprinkle the veggies with the teaspoon of pepper and then add the wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Let the wine simmer for a minute or two and stir in the tomatoes.

    Add the dried herbs and chopped fresh Italian parsley and combine with the veggie mixture.  Let the mixture come to a slow boil and then place the beef back into the pot.

    Turn off the stove top, put the lid on the pot and place the pot in the preheated oven.  Cook for about 4-5 hours in the oven until the beef falls apart.  Check for seasoning, adding the teaspoon salt if needed.

    Serve the Stracotto over a Creamy Parmesan Polenta and serve immediately.

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand) Or prepare according to package directions.

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir.

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the Stracotto or any beef or pork stew or use in place of pasta with a delicious ragu.

    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Run To The Bus Breakfast

    banana maple oatcakes

    My kitchen was tea and jelly stained Saturday morning.  Trying desperately to get the “perfect” picture of these delicious little lovelies, I must have been leaning over to far and my darling little red step stool went flying out from under me.

    You can only guess what happened then.  Yep. Tea, jelly, oatcakes, linens and dishes went flying as I slammed into them on my way down to the hardwood floor.  It was quite the scene.

    A few minutes later, Suzie Q walked into the kitchen and announced I was making way too much noise.  I had woken Sleeping Beauty.

    Sleeping Beauty couldn’t be irritated for long because I had a delicious stack of Banana Maple Oatcakes on the counter for breakfast.  These were the oatcakes that managed to avoid the crash.

    Banana Maple Oatcakes

    Banana Maple Oatcakes

    I’m constantly encouraging (most likely nagging) my family to sit at the counter and slowly enjoy breakfast.  However, a few of my family members (make that one in particular) would rather sleep until the last-minute and then eat breakfast walking out the door.  She calls these moist and tasty oatcakes “run to the bus breakfast”.  This is because many mornings she can be seen racing to the bus with a few oatcakes in hand.

    Banana Maple Oatcakes look like a cookie but feel more like a pancake met a muffin.  They are perfect for breakfast, as a snack, with coffee or tea and with a little homemade jam smeared on top.

    And as Tank, our feisty Cairn Terrier and general kitchen floor sweeper, would tell you if he could talk… they’re tasty eaten right off the hardwood floor.

    Banana Maple Oatcakes

    Ingredients

    1 ½ cups flour (I used Jovial Einkorn Whole Grain Flour)

    1 cup quick oats

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1/3 – ½ cup real maple syrup

    2 eggs

    ¼ cup oil

    ¼ cup milk

    1 large very ripe banana, smashed

    Directions

    Mix together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.

    Then whisk together the maple syrup, eggs, oil, milk and mashed banana.

    Heat a griddle or large non-stick pan you use for pancakes on medium to medium low and lightly butter or oil the pan.

    Ladle rounds of about ¼ cup each onto the hot pan and brown each side just like making pancakes.

    Transfer to a platter and serve warm with jelly, almond butter, fresh fruit and Devonshire cream or anything else that tickles your fancy.

    I love to make extra and keep them in a bag in the frig for a quick “on the go” breakfast.  Re-heat for just a few seconds in the microwave.

    Add Ins:  Sometimes I add raisins, chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit and spices like cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg.

    Related Posts:

    http://abeautifulbite.com/good-morning-muffins/

    http://karistaskitchen.com/2013/02/08/raspberry-jam-muffins/

    http://www.pastrycraftseattle.com/blog/2012/09/11/juniors-oatmeal/

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Seafood Shrimp

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp and Polenta Cakes

    Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day… all in one week.   Boy, did those two events sneak up on me.

    Feeling like “Last Minute Karista”, I quickly planned my week’s menu and raced off to the market yesterday morning before the Andouille sausage could sell out.

    I know you’re wondering how Andouille sausage could ever possibly sell out here in Seattle.  I thought the same thing last year around Fat Tuesday.  I’m sure I dug through every type of sausage in my market’s meat cooler before asking where they hid the Andouille.  That’s when Mr. Meat Cutter told me my favorite brand of Andouille  sausage was sold out.  God help the Gumbo!  It just wasn’t the same without my favorite Andouille.

    As I walked into the market, I grabbed my food cart and power walked  to the back of the store.  I opened the cooler door and there sat the last two packages of my beloved sausage.  Phew!  Fat Tuesday will be a success.  The last ingredient to purchase was crawfish.   Of course, there would surely be lots of crawfish because who in Seattle eats crawfish.  Right?

    Behold devastation.  My fish market was completely cleaned out of crawfish.

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    I can only imagine the look on my face as the two young fishmongers were wide-eyed and speechless.  I’m sure they were both wondering if I was going to have a meltdown in the fish market.  They tried desperately to make me feel better and promised more crawfish tails would be arriving soon.  In the meantime one of the fishmongers asked me if I could substitute.  Substitute? Normally I’m all over subbing, but this is Fat Tuesday dinner we’re talking about.  One. Must. Have. Crawfish.

    I quickly re-gained my composure and thanked the courteous young fishmonger for his help.  Feeling badly that I could hardly speak because they sold out of crawfish, I purchased fresh Gulf shrimp and my favorite Ahi Poke.

    Home with my purchases, I was now stocked with fresh produce, Andouille sausage, Ahi Poke and fresh Gulf shrimp.  So what to do with that beautiful fresh shrimp?

    I remembered a Moroccan shrimp recipe from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Cuisine cookbook I wanted to try, and hoped I had all the ingredients on hand.  I didn’t.  But I’m an expert at subbing (unless it’s crawfish) and winged the recipe a bit.

    Score! This is now one of Ranger Craig’s favorite shrimp dishes, besides the shrimp taco’s of course.  A rich and spicy sauce glazing the flavorful Gulf shrimp and served on polenta cakes .

    A delicious dish that is filled with enticing and fragrant flavors.  The perfect recipe for a spicy Valentine dinner. 🙂

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Serves 2-4

    This dish is also great as an appetizer.  Serve one shrimp on a mini polenta cake, trimmed with a small cookie cutter.

    Ingredients

    1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    Salt and pepper

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 teaspoons paprika

    1 teaspoon cumin

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    1 teaspoon Harissa (a hot or spicy chili paste used in North African cooking.  It can be purchased at most markets, Whole Foods or a Gourmet specialty store, or you can make it at home.  If you don’t have Harissa or don’t have time to make it substitute with Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste, a splash of Sriracha or pinch of red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper.

    1 cup tomato sauce

    1/4 cup water

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

    Quick cook polenta

    Directions

    Prepare the quick cook polenta to package directions.  I like to add a little grated parmesan to my polenta and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the polenta into a baking dish and let it cool.  Once cooled, cut out rounds of polenta with a 3″ cookie cutter.  Heat a little oil in a saute pan and pan sear each side of the polenta cakes, making them a little crispy on the outside.  Place on a paper towel to cool.

    Mix together the paprika, cumin, ground ginger and minced garlic and Harissa with a splash of olive oil.  Set aside.  Mix the water with the tomato sauce.

    In  large skillet over medium high heat add the clarified butter.  Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and when the butter is hot, pan sear the shrimp on both sides.  You may need to do this in batches.

    When each side is nicely golden brown and the shrimp are opaque, take the skillet off the heat and toss with the garlic and spice mixture.  Mix in the tomato sauce and then place the skillet back over medium heat just for a few minutes to let the sauce coat the shrimp.

    Place a polenta round on a plate and top with shrimp.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

    For family style service, pour the quick cook polenta onto a platter.  No need to cut out and pan sear.  When the shrimp is done, ladle the shrimp and sauce over the polenta and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately.

    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,

    Karista

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce for Roasted Chicken or Vegetables

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    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.

    Directions

    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