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Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

slow cooked chicken thighs, ginger, soy and tomato sauce

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

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

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

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


Urban Farm Chickens

Rosemary, Cocoa and Pepper

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

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

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to you!


Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

Serving Size: 4-6

Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken


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


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

    A Delicious New Year!

    One of my favorite things to do, is share the love of good food.  Being in the culinary business, I’m constantly surrounded by fabulous foodies, inspiring chef’s, passionate farmer’s, rancher’s and food artisans and in general, really great people.  I feel so blessed!

    This first post of 2013 is a sharing post, a thank you post, and a delicious food post.  A three for one.

    I am quite tardy in saying Thank You.  My apologies to these fabulous five bloggers who have so graciously and thoughtfully awarded me these special honors.  I am deeply honored to be recognized by my blogging peers.

    Danny at 1227 Foster is relatively new on the food scene but you’d think Danny has been present for years.  I’ve never seen a lifestyle blogger transform their blog so quickly, so beautifully and so deliciously as Danny.  Armed with a fierce passion for delicious food, eye-catching décor, exciting travel destinations and most definitely a talent for all things beautiful.  I adore Danny, admire his passion and definitely recommend subscribing to his blog.  Thank you Danny for awarding me your 2012 Blog of the Year, Reality Blog Award and the Sensual Blogging Award.  I love to think my food could be labeled as sensual. 🙂

    Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

    Cara at This Little Light is one of my most favorite writers.  She has a talent for beautiful words, thought-provoking subjects, and heartwarming stories.  I feel as if I’ve known her all my life.  If we lived closer we’d be best of friends I’m sure.  A lovely and captivating young woman who exudes passion for her craft and will no doubt be a bestselling author soon.  You must absolutely check out both her blogs: This Little Light and her newest project Awakening Foster Kelley ( a novel!) .  Thank you Cara for nominating me for 2012 Blog of the Year Award.  Hugs to you and I wish you huge success!!

    I completely adore Emma at Sweet Mabel.  A fun, crafty, delicious, beautiful blog that makes me stay and browse a while when I’m there.  Her warm and charming personality shines through every post.  Her love of vintage matches mine and I’m mesmerized by all her vintage finds.  Truly one of my favorite blogs to visit.  I just wish we were closer so we could sit and chat over a cup of tea. 🙂  Thank you Emma for the Inspiring Blog Award!

    Nancy Creative is a fun, creative, delicious and crafty blog.  I run short on crafty so I’m always looking to these lovely blogs for inspiration.  Nancy at Nancy Creative is a writer and designer and you can see these passions come through in her beautiful blog.  A lovely lady who shines with warmth and inspiration. Thank you Nancy for the One Lovely Blog Award!

    Chef Mimi and I are newly acquainted through blogging. She’s a lovely lady who has devoted her life to the love of food and cooking.  An impressive career, Chef Mimi’s passion for great food shines through each and every recipe.  Thank you so much Chef Mimi for the Sunshine Award!

    According to the rules for most of these awards I’m to tell you 7 things about myself that you don’t already know. Hmmm… that may be difficult, I feel like an open book most the time. 🙂

    1. When I was young I had three pigs named Josephine, Charlotte and Lester.  Lester was a little tyrant.  While I was climbing over the pig fence (age 7), Lester decided he didn’t like me and bit me smack dab in the butt.  Still sporting the scar. 🙁   I still love pigs.
    2. I once sang professionally.  No, you won’t find me on iTunes but you will find my fabulous cousins, The Univited and Fish Ranch Road. Love my guys!
    3. Mystery books and old cookbooks are my weakness.
    4. I much prefer savory over sweet.  Which is why my “sweets” recipe section is lacking.
    5. The one thing I can cook with my eyes closed.  Pan seared salmon.  My chef instructor once made me pan sear several pieces of salmon during a class because I kept cooking it all the way through (which is how I like it).  I practiced so many times at home, I can prepare it in my sleep.
    6. I am passionate about nutrition.   Food not genetically modified, food raised without pesticides and raising awareness about purchasing power.  Making better food choices will allow future generations greater health.  My little soapbox speech for the day.
    7. Autumn has always been my most favorite time of the year.

    Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

    I nominate the following WordPress blog 2012 Blog of the Year:  Just a Smidgen 

    Smidge (as I call her), is a poet, writer, artist and food blogger.  She encompasses all that is beautiful in this world.  Her writing has brought tears to my eyes, made me howl with laughter and given my heart peace.  Her food is always delicious and beautifully photographed.  And she’s crafty too! A beautiful and multi-talented lady who I adore and admire.

    Wishing you all a most delicious, successful and happy new year!

    Loads of Love,


    Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I’m basking in the quiet this morning.  A rare moment.  The day will get busier and by the end, I’ll wonder where time went.

    With a full daily schedule, I constantly remind myself “be present in the moment”.  Sage advice from my lovely yoga Instructor.  Advice that has allowed me to relish time, instead of passing through it at mach speed.

    I walk around mumbling these words.  So often that I found myself reciting this phrase in the market yesterday.  To my embarrassment, a fellow shopper thought I was talking to her.  No, just talking to myself.

    I realized how much I miss in life when I’m not present in the moment.  Little things my daughters say, a hidden smile from my husband, sadness in a friend’s voice or joy in my niece’s email telling me she got into the college of her choice.

    Even the pained look on Tank’s face when I’ve forgotten to feed him.  Although he usually won’t let anyone forget to feed him.  Even though he’s sporting a little extra “husky” these days and could use a tiny reduction in his food consumption.

    Being present in the moment has become more important to me as of late. The tragedy in Newtown is devastating.  I cannot imagine.

    Like many, I’ve shed a thousand tears. My heart continues to grieve for those who lost their precious children and loved ones.  My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them.

    I wish you all true joy, much love and peace this holiday season!

    Loads of Love,


    Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with a Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

    I love this dish as an entree with Mexican Diver Scallops or as an appetizer with smaller scallops U 20-30.   The Raspberry Chipotle Glaze is even fabulous on grilled salmon, chicken and shrimp.  A lovely and versatile sauce. 🙂


    Serves 2-3

    10 large dry packed scallops (for appetizer use smaller dry packed scallops U 20-30, but not Bay Scallops)

    5-8 slices prosciutto (sliced in half lengthwise)

    10 rosemary stalks for skewers (or pretty party picks that can withstand heat)

    Salt and Pepper

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    1 cup raspberry preserves (with or without seeds, although I prefer without seeds.  If you can’t find without seed, just strain the glaze before using)

    1/4 – 1/3 cup white wine or port

    1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce

    Pinch of black pepper


    To make the sauce,  in a blender or food processor, pulse the preserves, chipotle chili and wine.  Just until nicely combined.  Transfer to a small pot and heat on low.  Stir in a pinch of black pepper.  The heat thin the sauce a bit.  The sauce thickens as it cools.

    To make the scallops, wrap one strip of prosciutto around the scallop and secure with a rosemary skewer.  Continue to do this with the remaining scallops.

    Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of clarified butter or high heat oil.  Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper.  When the butter is hot, brown the scallops on both sides.  About 1-2 minutes on each side depending on size of the scallop.  You may need to adjust your heat and turn it down to medium if your pan gets too hot.  You want the scallops to have a nice golden brown crust on each side.  Click on this link for a visual tutorial on how to perfectly pan sear scallops.

    Drizzle sauce on plates or a platter and then place the cooked scallops on top of the sauce and serve immediately.  As well, you can plate the scallops and then drizzle the sauce on top.  Either way, it’ll taste fantastic!

    Recipe inspired by my favorite fishmonger, Jim at Gemini Fish Market 🙂

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    All I Want For Christmas Is Bleu Cheese and Bacon

    It was my birthday last week.   Although the new number is daunting, I love birthdays.  Not so much my birthday,  I love celebrating my family and friend’s birthdays.

    As long as I remember the birthdays.  Thank goodness for Facebook.

    Ranger Craig surprised me with the sweetest, most thoughtful of gifts.  New muck boots and a waterproof work coat.  Brought a tear to my eye.

    No, not because it wasn’t a diamond, but because it’s what I really wanted.

    My new muck boots :)

    My new muck boots 🙂

    My old boots have seen their last days and my old work coat is water-resistant, which doesn’t mean much here in Seattle.  The last time I was mucking out the chicken pen and roaming around doing various yard projects, I think my darling man must have heard me mutter a few words about my leaky boots and soaking jacket.

    He even hung a beautiful brushed nickel jacket hook by the back door and a copper tray for my muddy boots.  I love that man.

    Ok, enough of the mushy stuff.

    It’s a five for one today.  Five fabulous starters.  One from me, and four from a few of my favorite food bloggers.   I suppose I could’ve titled this post “ Five Fabulous Starters”… but that doesn’t sound quite as catchy.

    Perfect holiday starters for your perfect holiday party. 😉

    Loads of Love,


    Bleu Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Medjool Dates

    Big thanks to my friend Gazala, who recommended a stuffed date appetizer. 🙂 Love!

    Makes about 25 -30 pieces


    25-30 Medjool dates

    4-5 slices bacon, cooked (I usually cook more than five as my family will walk by the stove and sneak a few slices)

    6-8 ounces good quality bleu cheese (I love Rogue Creamery Bleu’s), or Gorgonzola


    Remove the seeds from the dates and arrange on a platter.

    Finely dice the bacon or place it in a small food processor and mince.

    Place the bleu cheese in a food processor or with a hand mixer, cream the bleu cheese.  Transfer the creamed bleu cheese to a pastry bag or a small ziploc bag.

    Cut a small hole in one corner of the ziploc bag or a larger hole in the pastry bag.  Pipe the creamed bleu cheese into each date.

    Sprinkle each date with minced bacon, gently tapping it on the cheese to keep it secure.  Serve at room temperature.


    This is a lovely app that can be prepared prior to serving.  Cream the bleu cheese and hold in the frig.  Cook the bacon, mince and then hold in the frig.  Pit the dates and also hold in the frig.  Then right before guests arrive, pipe in the blue cheese and top with the bacon.  Delish!

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    From the time my two sassy gals were little, I’ve given them this tidbit of advice.  Be aware of your surroundings. Keep alert, watch where you’re going, and watch your step.  Excellent Motherly advice.  Right?

    Why you ask? Because I am notorious for ending up sprawled out on a parking lot, grassy hills,  rocky slopes, sidewalks, and several times down the stairs of my back deck.  Yep, if there is a fall waiting to happen, I usually oblige.

    Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is a Wine Master with Rocca Vineyards.

    Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is the Sales Director for Rocca Vineyards.

    I do heed my own advice.  Really I do.  But sometimes I’m mentally multitasking and probably not paying close attention (ya think?) to where my feet are going.  I’m not the only one with this affliction.  My twin sister.  Yep, she’s got it too.

    My sister, Kristin, and I recently discussed our unintentional inability to stay firmly planted on our feet.  It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other and we met in Napa for a little fun, wine, and film at the Napa Wine and Film Festival.

    Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

    Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

    Between wine tastings, divine food and film, Ranger Craig and my handsome Brother in law, Kevin, decided we should all go hiking.  K and I love to hike, so we were eagerly on board with the idea.

    Just as I got out of the car what does my hunk of burnin’ love say to me? Smiling and trying oh so hard not to laugh… “Babe, watch your step. I don’t want to have to carry you back down the mountain”.

    A beautiful day to hike Napa

    A beautiful day to hike Napa

    Yep.  This has happened.  Probably on more than one occasion, but I think I’ve repressed those memories.  The last time Ranger Craig and I hiked, I did a “slide into home base” down Mt. Si.  Ranger Craig and I had hiked up the mountain (without so much as a trip!) but when we were on our way down, we were deep in glorious conversation (or rather I was) when all of a sudden the mountain moved right out from under me.  And thus sending me into a forward pitch down the hill to claim home plate.

    Thankfully, hiking in Napa proved painless and crashless. My sister and I laughed and reminisced through the hike about our variety of mishaps, sidewalks moving, and wide holes opening in the ground for us to step in and perform unladylike face plants.

    I’m so thankful I’m not alone in the world of stumbling, falling, slipping out of my jeep onto the pavement, and those beautiful and graceful face plants. I couldn’t be more thankful for my beautiful sis. A brilliant woman who amazes me with her determination, leadership, cleverness and hilarious sense of humor.  She has a big heart and a generous spirit. I love her.

    Friends and family are constant reminders of true love, joy and the spirit of Christmas.  Wishing you all a joyous and delicious holiday season.  And be sure to keep alert, watch where you’re going and watch your step. 😉

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    I love fresh.  I love delicious.  I love simple.  Especially this time of year when it’s tempting to get take out instead of cook.  This is one of my fave pasta dishes.  It can easily be vegetarian with roasted veggies subbed for the shrimp.  It’s a great way to use leftover roasted chicken,  and sometimes I sub the shrimp for pan seared or grilled scallops.  Delicious!

    Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

    Serves 4-6


    1 package good quality dried or fresh linguine, cooked according to package directions (my fave pasta is Jovial Brand Pastas, delicious every time!)

    1½ lbs fresh shrimp (I like larger shrimp), deveined and peeled just to the tail.  Keep the tail on as it’s easier to prepare.

    2 tablespoons butter

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Pinch of cayenne

    For the Pesto

    2 heaping cups fresh arugula (I used baby arugula) about 3-4 ounces

    ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

    2 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

    ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan

    ½ cup good quality extra virgin California Ranch Olive Oil (I love the Arbequina in this dish)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Zest of one lemon

    Fresh grated parmesan for garnish


    Prepare the Pasta.

    Prepare the pesto.  While pasta is boiling, place the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper, in a blender, vitamix or food processor.  Pulse the ingredients just until nicely incorporated.  Then drizzle in the olive oil until the ingredients are a smooth puree.  Fold in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Prepare the Shrimp.  In a large skillet over medium high heat add the butter.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  When the butter is frothy, place each shrimp one at a time in the bottom of the pan.  You may need to pan sear the shrimp in batches.  Sear the shrimp on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.  You will want the shrimp to be golden brown on the outside and opaque to the eye.   Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and sprinkle with just a pinch of cayenne. This may seem tedious but shrimp cook quickly and pan seared shrimp will add a lot more flavor to the dish.

    Toss the warm pasta with the pesto.  Pour the pasta in a large serving bowl and layer the shrimp on top.  Garnish with additional chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan.

    This dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes.  🙂

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork with Roasted Pears

    I think the vanilla bean is underused in savory cooking.  It’s a uniquely flavored spice that can certainly make any dessert taste spectacular.  But it can also make a plain pork chop light up the dinner hour.

    You guessed it.  I had some pork chops that needed to be prepared, and a few pears that had seen better days.

    I also had two vanilla beans that have been staring at me every time I open my pantry doors.  I can’t remember why I purchased them, but I had them, and darn it, I was going to use them.

    Now, coming up with the right blend of spice, herb and seasoning was the trick.

    I blended a few different versions of this spice rub and Ranger Craig chose the winner.  I have to agree, this spice rub is fragrant, immense in flavor and complementary to the sweetness of the pears.

    Delightful is the word that comes to mind. 🙂

    Rosemary and Ginger playing; Cocoa posing for the camera. Pepper declined to be photographed.

    Another delightful topic… my baby chickens. 🙂  My friend, Mandy over at The Complete Cookbook,  has asked about my baby chickens and I finally had a moment to capture a few pictures of my growing girls.

    Cocoa, Ginger, Rosemary and Pepper.  They are growing and cheeping non-stop and now spend a few hours outside each day.  Cocoa is the friendliest, always hopping onto my hand or arm as I reach into their crate.  I think she’d live in the house if she could.

    Wishing you all a most delicious week!

    Loads of Love,


    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

    Serves 4

    Rub ingredients can easily be doubled.


    1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

    ½ teaspoon dried thyme

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon salt

    ¼ teaspoon black pepper

    4 pork chops or pork loin chops (this rub also works well on a pork tenderloin)

    2 tablespoons of oil or clarified butter

    1-2 pears, thick sliced


    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

    In a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or a bowl with a small spoon, mix together the vanilla, thyme, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.  If mixing in a bowl with a spoon make sure you distribute the vanilla evenly throughout the rub.

    Spread the vanilla spice rub on both sides of each pork chop and toss the remaining rub with the pears.

    Heat the oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the pork chops and then layer in the pears around the pork.

    *If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, transfer the pork chops to a baking dish and then add the pears to the baking dish with the pork.

    Place the oven proof skillet (or baking dish) in the pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  Usually just another 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chop.  The pork is done when the internal temperature has reached 145F.

    Remove from the oven and serve with creamy polenta or sweet potato hash (from The Attainable Gourmet) and wilted winter greens.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Sweet Potato and Apple Bread Pudding

    Sweet potato bread pudding

    Much of my daily culinary work leads me down the path of nutrition.   It’s amazing the healing power of whole foods, herbs and spices.

    “Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should nourish our body, feed our soul and delight our senses”  Karista~

    This runs through my mind constantly.  Especially when I’m writing recipes for a culinary class or customizing recipes for a client.

    sweet potato bread pudding

    So now that the holiday season has officially begun (for me that’s the day after Halloween), I thought I’d list a few whole foods, herbs and spices that are nutritious but make holiday recipes delicious.  Ha! Whoever thought one could combine “holiday foods” and “nutritious” in one sentence?

    We see a lot of sweet potatoes this time of year.  And I love it!  Sweet potatoes seem to turn a recipe into something just a little more special, almost indulgent.  They’re slightly sweet, dense, with a creamy texture that blends well with most spices, herbs and aromatics.  Making this one of my favorite whole foods.  Especially for the holidays.

    sweet potato bread pudding

    Sweet Potato and Apple Bread Pudding

    The sweet potato is a root vegetable, not a potato and not a tuber.  There are many variety of sweet potatoes, all with slightly different texture, taste and sweetness. The darker the better.  So when you’re choosing your sweet potatoes at the market choose the darkest in color.

    They are extremely rich in carotenes (precursor of vitamin A).  They are also an excellent source of vitamins C, B2, B6, E and biotin (B7).  In the minerals department, they provide good amounts of manganese, folate (folic acid), copper and iron.  Also rich in dietary fiber.   Whoo Hoo!

    Sweet potatoes are also excellent sources of plant proteins with very low calories (unless of course you add tons of sugar).  Unlike other starchy root vegetables, it’s low in sugar and a good blood sugar regulator.

    Sweet potatoes have also been found to contain a high amount of anti-oxidant, making it suitable for combating inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout, etc.   This fibrous root is also suitable for diabetics as it’s a good blood sugar regulator, helping to stabilize and lower insulin resistance.

    Who wouldn’t eat a sweet potato now?!  Of course, simply roasted with a pat of butter or coconut oil and a good dose of cinnamon is one of the best ways to eat sweet potato.  However, in this beautiful holiday season, jazzing up the sweet potato with a few additional ingredients is always a tasty idea.

    I add sweet potato to soups, stews, roasted with chicken instead of potatoes, souffles, muffins, breads, cakes, in polenta and most recently I’ve added it to my breakfast bread pudding.

    I seem to have gone long on my sweet potato post, so I’ll reserve the remaining holiday foods, spices and herbs for the next few posts.  🙂 But just to name a few (because I’m so excited about them):  Fresh cranberries, cinnamon, onions, leeks, garlic, ginger, peppermint, horseradish, daikon radish, turnips, parsnips, oatmeal and wheat berries.  I’ll make the effort to keep it short and sweet in the next post, while mentioning a few lovely compliments about each ingredient.

    Meanwhile, for additional informative and interesting nutritional, health and well-being information, I love these two websites:

    Wishing you all a most delicious, healthy and happy holiday season!

    Loads of Love,


    Sweet Potato and Apple Bread Pudding with Whipped Maple Butter

    8-10 servings


    2 cups sweet potato puree (usually 3 large sweet potatoes)*

    6 eggs

    1 cup heavy cream*

    1 cup whole milk*

    1 tablespoon cinnamon

    Pinch of salt

    Dash of vanilla

    ½ cup real maple syrup or maple flavored Agave syrup

    1 loaf Cinnamon Raisin Bread, 1 inch cubed (If using gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, let it sit for 15-30 minutes prior to baking)

    2 apples, peeled and diced

    4 Tablespoons butter (or coconut butter), divided


    In a 9×13 baking dish or 8-10 individual ramekins, grease with 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil.

    *I roast my sweet potatoes by pre-heating the oven to 400F.  Pierce the flesh of each sweet potato with a fork or knife.  Set on a lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.  Once the sweet potato has cooled, peel the flesh (it comes off easily) and place the sweet potato in a blender or food processor to puree.

    Blend together in a food processor, blender or vitamix the sweet potato puree, eggs, heavy cream, milk, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, dash of vanilla and maple syrup.

    In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato mixture with the cubed cinnamon raisin bread and apples.  Pour mixture into the baking dish, or individual ramekins.  Dot with a little more butter or coconut oil and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.  If using gluten free cinnamon bread do not let it sit for longer than 30 minutes prior to baking.

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Bake the 9×13 pan for about 40-45 minutes or until the center is set.  Bake the ramekins for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.

    Remove from the oven and let the bread pudding rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  This bread pudding is also great refrigerated and re-heated the next day.

    If desired, whip together 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly melted, with about ¼ cup of real maple syrup.  Drizzle over the top of the bread pudding and serve.

    You can also sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa over the top and serve with a dollop of honey yogurt.

    This makes a lovely holiday breakfast served with chicken or pork breakfast sausages and fresh sliced melon.

    *I’ve also substituted the 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk for 1 can of organic coconunt milk.   It turned out great!

    Nutrition information source:   and

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Soup vegetarian

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    I have a brother.  I also have a twin sister, who I completely adore, but this particular post is about my  brother… and Kabocha Squash.

    Yep, my baby brother.  My “Bro” as my sister and I love to call him.  Youngest of three, six feet of handsome, über intelligent and the best brother a gal could have.

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    My brother, Cameron, married the most beautiful Colombian gal, Paula, and they have the most darling of children, my niece and nephew.  Talk about love.  Those two little ones stole my heart the minute they were born.

    Can you tell I’m completely in love with my family? I know, lots of gush in this post.  But I can’t help it.

    My brother, the hiker and kayaker

    My Brother and his family live in Japan.  Work took them to Japan, but it’s now home.  I can hear it in my Brother’s voice, the way he passionately talks about the food, culture, the new friends and all the adventure to be discovered in a foreign land.

    Of course the food is always a highlight of our Skype conversations. 🙂  If my brother wasn’t a genius academic, he’d probably be a chef.  When we get together for family reunions, it’s full on hanging out in the kitchen preparing all kinds of delicious food, lots of new wine to sip, a few fave cocktails and of course, always lots of laughter.

    My sister, my brother and me 🙂

    Cam and I try to chat often and last time we chatted he mentioned dinner at a friend’s home.  He talked about the most amazing Kabocha squash soup.  Simple, sweet, creamy and just a little bit decadent, with a hint of spice.  Perfect for an Autumn evening.

    That conversation got my culinary wheels spinning and I just had to make this soup.  I often roast Kabocha squash and sometimes use it in place of pumpkin if I can’t find a good sugar pie pumpkin.  But I’ve not made Kabocha Squash soup.  Until today.

    Like the butternut squash, Kabocha squash is slightly sweet and feels a bit like sweet potato in texture.  Spices such as cinnamon, five spice powder or a curry blend, beautifully compliment the subtle honeyed flavor.

    If you can’t find Kabocha in your local market, many Japanese substitute with Kuri pumpkin or Sugar Pie Pumpkin.

    I wish you all a most delicious week and leave you with an old Japanese Proverb“One kind word can warm three winter months.” 

    Loads of Love,


    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Adapted by a recipe from Kaori Sakakibara

    Deepest thanks to my brother’s friend, Kaori Sakakibara, for sharing her recipe.


    Serves 4


    1 Kabocha squash (should yield about 1 ¾ – 2 cups cooked squash)

    ¼ cup heavy cream

    2 cups veggie broth

    Pinch or two of cinnamon (to taste, about ½ teaspoon)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    I roast Kabocha squash the same way I roast butternut and pumpkin.

    Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the squash in half (very carefully).  Scoop out the seeds.

    Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little 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.

    Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the pulp and place it in a blender, food processor or vitamix and puree.

    Add the tablespoon of butter to a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, whisk in the squash puree with the heavy cream and veggie broth.

    Heat to a light simmer, adding additional veggie broth if you’d like a thinner soup.

    Whisk in the cinnamon (and fresh ginger if using) and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Keep the soup warm for about 10-15 minutes to allow all the delicious flavors to develop.  Serve warm as a first course or as a light dinner with a fresh salad of winter greens.

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

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

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

    Serves 4


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

    1 ½ cups shredded coconut

    1 cup chopped pecans

    ½ cup all purpose flour

    2 eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

    Parchment lined baking sheet

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce (recipe below)


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

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

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

    Season the chicken with salt and black pepper.

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

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

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

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

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    ½ cup apricot preserves

    1-2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

    3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce from Thai kitchen

    ¼ cup water, white wine, sherry or Saki

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

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Soup vegetarian


    Mulligatawny Soup from Karista's Kitchen

    Every morning I find myself sitting on the kitchen floor in front of my baby chick’s crate, coffee cup in hand, chatting and playing with my four fuzzy little gals. This morning was no different.

    I heard Ranger Craig walk up the stairs to the kitchen and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a  slight smile forming around his mouth.  He tells me I need a farm.  I tell him I’ve known this for years. 🙂

    My oldest gal suggested we get a pig.  Not a “raise it for ham” sort of pig, but a “play with the cute little piggy” pig.  That’s out of the question… but did mention I’d love a goat?

    Mulligatawny Soup from Karista's Kitchen

    Mulligatawny Soup

    My new friend and local blogger Wendy, over at Chez Chloe , recommends two Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  I agree!  I have a Washington cold rain forest jungle behind my house.  I’ve often thought a few goats might take care of that jungle for me.  And fresh goats milk for cheese sounds delightful.

    If you’re my neighbor and you’re reading this, never fear.  I won’t be getting goats any time soon.  Mostly because my two sassy (human) gals would probably sneak them into the house.  That would not be good.

    Until then, I’m completely happy sitting on the kitchen floor… talking to my baby chickens.


    This is a soup with many variations.  A tumeric laced soup with huge flavor and usually includes beef, chicken or lamb.  My version of Mulligatawny is filled with all the wonderful flavors of Autumn.

    Apples, sweet potatoes and the lovely Indian blend of spices, Garam Masala.  Instead of rice, I’ve used wheat berries.  I adore Jovial Foods Einkorn Wheat Berries, nutty, with a little hint of sweetness, these wheat berries make a delicious substitute for rice.

    Serves 4-6  can easily be doubled


    2  teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

    1  tablespoon Garam Masala or:

    2  teaspoons ground coriander

    1 teaspoon ground turmeric

    ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

    ¼  teaspoon ground nutmeg

    Pinch of ground cloves

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger

    1 tablespoon butter

    1 onion, diced

    1 carrot diced

    4-6 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth for vegetarian version)

    3 tablespoons tomato paste

    1-2  teaspoons Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chile Paste (or a teaspoon of hot sauce)

    1 apple peeled and diced

    1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

    2 cups diced cooked chicken (optional)

    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

    1-2 cups cooked wheat berries

    Salt to taste


    Mix together the black pepper and Garam Masala.  If using the individual spices, mix together the spices and black pepper and set aside.

    Heat the butter over medium heat in the bottom of a soup pot and then add the onion and carrots.  When the veggies have softened and wilted add the garlic, ginger and spice mixture, stirring for about one minute.

    Then slowly mix in the chicken broth.  Stir in the tomato paste, roasted red chile paste, apples and sweet potatoes.  Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.

    Add the diced cooked chicken and cooked wheat berries.  Taste for seasoning adding salt as needed.  If you feel the soup needs a “lift” in flavor, add a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar.  The longer this soup sits the better it will taste.

    An excellent soup for freezing.

    Additional add ins:  Diced parsnips, diced turnips, or winter greens.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    roasted pumpkin risotto

    I probably have 20 different methods of preparing risotto.  Mostly because that’s the one dish my youngest gal always requests.

    Suzie Q will request risotto for her birthday dinner, when she’s sick, when she scores a perfect 100 on an exam, when she’s having a really rotten day, or any other evening she might need a little comfort.  For my youngest gal, risotto is celebration and comfort food.

    pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    For me, risotto is luxurious.  Especially when I’m not the person who’s done all the stirring.  🙂

    I adore the silky, creamy rice simply prepared with shallots, white wine, vegetable broth, parmesan and a dash of truffle oil.  Suzie Q loves it laced with ribbons of  ham, a Risotto alla Milanese.

    roasted pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    Risotto with arugula and lemon, risotto with chicken, risotto with wild mushrooms and of course during the Autumn months, risotto with roasted winter squash.  The minute I see the beautiful harvest squash arrive, my risotto wheels start turning.

    Today, I let the roasted sugar pie pumpkin do all the driving.

    It’s a mellow squash that is slightly sweet and tastes in flavor and texture much like a true sweet potato.  Roasted, it makes a divine addition to any dish.  Especially risotto.  Either served as a main entrée or as a side, this beautiful, brightly colored risotto will grace any Autumn or holiday table.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    Just in case you’re in need of sugar pie pumpkin recipes, I’ve got just the blog for you.  My friend Smidge, from Just a Smidgen, posted several most delicious sugar pie pumpkin recipes recently, and as well, gives a lovely photographic tutorial on roasting these divine little squash.  Be sure to click on over and check out the post.   Just a Smidgen

    Serves 6-8


    1 sugar pie pumpkin (roasting instructions below)

    2 cups Arborio rice

    ½ – 2/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

    1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

    2- 3 tablespoons butter

    ½ cup white wine

    6 cups vegetable broth (I love the Rapunzel brand bouillon cubes, available at PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods)

    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Fresh sage leaves


    To roast the pumpkin:

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

    Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little 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.

    When the squash has cooled, remove the meat of the squash and place it in a food processor or blender, add just a sprinkle of salt and pepper and puree.  If you don’t have either a food processor or blender feel free to mash with a fork or potato masher until nicely pureed.

    To prepare the risotto:

    In a large saucepan bring the broth to a simmer.  Cover and keep warm over low heat.

    Heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottom, large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped sweet onions and sauté until just tender, about 2-3 minutes.

    Add the rice and fresh chopped sage and stir for about 1 minute until the rice is nicely coated in butter.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.

    Stir in 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer until it is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Cook until the rice is almost tender, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring often, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, about 25-30 minutes.

    Stir in the roasted pumpkin puree and fresh grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with either chopped fresh sage or butter seared sage leaves.   Serve immediately.

    To re-heat the risotto: Add ½ cup water to the cooled risotto and re-heat over medium low heat or in a microwave safe steam bowl.  This will bring the creamy texture back to the risotto.

    ** A fun and delish twist to this risotto is to omit the sage and add a teaspoon of finely minced ginger to the pumpkin puree along with a pinch of curry powder.  Yum!

    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

    sweet onion marmalade

    Nothing says Washington State like sweet onions, apples, stone fruit, blackberries, Dungeness crab, lavender and of course…. rain.   Just to name a few.

    Seattle is a culinary heaven.  James Beard award-winning chefs, a divine selection of restaurants that garner national attention, organic and sustainable farms and ranches, food artisans, and of course a wealth of fabulous food bloggers.

    To celebrate these delightfully food passionate people,  Keren Brown, Author of Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle and the food blog Frantic Foodie, created the local event called Foodportunity.

    Sweet Onions, Photo Credit

    This past June, I had the opportunity to attend a Foodportunity event with my good friend and fellow blogger, Maria, from Pink Patisserie.

    As I was walking up the stairs in the Pan Pacific Hotel, who did I run into but one of my fave Seattle Food Bloggers and fellow farm girl at heart, Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes.  The day was off to a brilliant beginning.

    sweet onion marmalade

    And to think I almost didn’t attend.  I’m not much of a social butterfly.  I love meeting new people, but placed in a room full of people makes me break out into a serious sweat.

    Where do I start?  Who do I talk to first?  So, I casually saunter over to the food table.  Although I wish my saunter were a bit more “look at me glide across the room in these heels”.  But it’s not.  It’s sort of a march, I just prefer the word saunter.  In a few paragraphs down I use the word mosy.  I like that word too.

    While standing at the food table, with a mouth full of food, I met Erina, from the blog, Shut Up and Cook.  Cool title huh?  Erina is a dynamo.  She’s a hot tamale, firecracker, and ready to set the food writing world on fire.  And maybe the airwaves too.  Erina is a competitor in a local food event developed by our very own Theirry Rautreau, Kitchen Circus.  Check it out and cheer Erina on!

    After polishing off seconds of the quail egg and salmon apps, I decided to “mosy” on over to the wine table.  One must sample the wine at these events 🙂

    Lucky for me, en route to the wine table I ran into Emmy, from Emmy Cooks and Alyssa, from Everyday Maven.  Lovely ladies with delicious and creative food blogs, who I now consider my good foodie friends.

    I left that day feeling pretty darn good.  I even won a cook book!  That never happens.

    I’m still not a social butterfly, but I do love a good Foodportunity.  Especially when there’s really great food.  And of course wine. 🙂

    Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

    Makes about 1 ½ cups marmalade (recipe can be doubled)


    3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (I used Walla Walla)

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    Sprig of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


    Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauté or sauce pan.  When the butter is melted add the onions and brown mustard seeds.  Let the onions cook down for about 10 minutes and then add the sprig of thyme.

    Simmer the onions until they are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

    Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and let the onions simmer for another 15-30 minutes depending on how caramelized you like your onions.  My marmalade simmered for about an hour.

    Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

    Lovely additions to this marmalade are dried cherries, cranberries, currents or raisins.   

    Serve with grilled or pan seared pork chops, roast pork loin, roast pork tenderloin or slow cooked pork shoulder.