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easy recipes

Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs // Perfect for Brunch or easy Dinner // Karista's Kitchen

 

Well, this was a most unintentional silence. 🙁  I got busy with work (which is a good thing) and I just haven’t had a minute to write a decent or articulate post.

I haven’t had breakfast yet this morning and while rummaging through the fridge, I spied the Swiss chard from my garden and remembered this lovely Sweet Potato Hash.  I thought it would be a great time to share it!

I have an over abundance of Swiss chard in my garden right now.  My Swiss Chard never died back this winter, it just kept growing and growing.  You’d think this is California with a year round growing season.  But no, this is Oregon where it rains 6 months of the year and it’s supposed to dip down below freezing now and again.  It rained, but we never got the hard freeze this winter, so my chard just hung out and lingered through the winter.  Which is fine with me.

Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs // Karista's Kitchen

I adore Swiss chard and use it in almost every meal.  We use it for breakfast smoothies, sautéed with eggs for breakfast, in quiche, egg muffins, dinner stir fry’s, salads and in this Sweet Potato Hash.  I make some sort of hash most weekends and my Swiss chard almost always ends up in the hash.  Along with any additional spring greens I’ve got hanging around like spinach, kale, mustard and dandelion greens.  Sometimes I even throw in the rest of the Napa cabbage from Taco Tuesday.  We waste nothing at the Bennett camp.  😉  And we love our greens!

This delicious Sweet Potato Hash can easily be prepared with roasted potatoes or roasted butternut, acorn or other squash in the winter months.  And during the summer months when poblanos are in season, they get tossed in for some spice and a little heat, along with red and green peppers.  The icing on the cake?  Top it with a fried or poached egg – and a little goat cheese for good measure.

Honestly, I could eat this for dinner with a glass of wine and I’d be ever so happy.

Hope you’re all doing well and loving the spring weather!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

Serving Size: 8

Sweet Potato Hash with Spring Greens and Fried Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped spring greens (Swiss Chard, Spinach)
  • 8 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  
  • Toss the diced sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are almost done.  
  • While the sweet potatoes are baking, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft and then stir in the garlic, thyme, parsley and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and sauté a minute longer.  
  • When the sweet potatoes are done, transfer them to the skillet and then add the chopped greens. Sauté just until the greens are nicely wilted and the sweet potatoes are done. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, transfer the sweet potato hash to a serving plate or platter and top with fried eggs and serve with a side of creme fraiche or sour cream. 
  • Notes

    Published in Home By Design Magazine April 2015

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Soup Turkey

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    Although Thanksgiving turkey dinner is a treat, it’s really the leftovers that excite my family.  During the cooler months, soup is king in my house.

    This Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup is the perfect way to use leftover turkey, along with the loads of delicious turkey stock I prepare the day after Thanksgiving.

    It wasn’t long ago we lived back east and visited Plymouth Village every Thanksgiving.  It felt surreal to walk through the village on Thanksgiving day, soaking up the history while giving thanks for family and friends.

    A few Thanksgiving dinners we dined at the village for their annual feast. Other times we would dine at one of the many local restaurants in the area serving Thanksgiving dinner.

    One particular year we dined at the sweetest restaurant which was in a renovated Victorian home.  This was of course before my days at culinary school, so something as simple as a delicious soup still mystified me.  Honestly, I don’t think I had ever tasted such an exquisite soup like the Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup we had that day.  So rich and flavorful with tender pieces of roast turkey and the woody, heady scent of the mushrooms combined with aromatics of thyme and sherry… I was in soup heaven.

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    Each Thanksgiving since, I re-create that soup.  And each Thanksgiving I always think I’ve done a pretty good job with my re-creation.  This Thanksgiving season, I decided it was time to share the recipe for my Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup. 🙂

    This year we had a lovely Thanksgiving day with our family that began with Mimosa’s and then continued with silly faces for the camera, everyone in the kitchen cooking and singing – and a few peeled off into the family room for a dance off. We’re a crazy lot, but I love our zest for life and love and family and for the gratefulness we all share.

    My messy kitchen from Thanksgiving Day // Karista's Kitchen My oldest sassy gal preparing the Thanksgiving dressing // Karista's Kitchen My two sassy gals at Thanksgiving // Karista's Kitchen Thanksgiving Table // Karista's Kitchen

    Life around my table is always filled with love, inspiration and of course, tasty food.  Bringing us together, cementing our connection and supporting each other.  During this holiday season I try to extend my reach and bring others to the table that aren’t so fortunate by donating to our local food bank, giving to our local shelters and community centers as well as churches in our valley that support local families.

    This year I encourage you to extend your love and life around the table by giving to a local family or a food bank in need;  filling their empty well with your love of food or service this holiday season.  After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? For loving each other, giving freely and supporting each other.

    In the past, I was the fortunate recipient of this kind of love.  It was extended to my family many years ago when I was a child.  A time when our family was at one of the lowest points of my childhood.  A time when my parents needed help, needed compassion and love.

    Our community brought us food, not just for Thanksgiving dinner but for several weeks after.  That compassion made a huge impression on my 10-year-old self.  I’ll never forget the kindness and grace in our neighbors faces as they delivered the food.  For me, it meant survival – and a little joy during a joyless time in our lives.

    I treasure you all and I’m so thankful for your support here at Karista’s Kitchen. I wish you the happiest, most delicious and joyous of holiday seasons.

    Loads of love,

    Karista

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

    Ingredients

    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup sliced fresh seasonal mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster)
    • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup dry sherry
    • 6 cups turkey or chicken broth
    • 1 cup wild rice, not cooked
    • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
    • 3 cups diced turkey meat (this recipe is also great with leftover roasted chicken)
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms for garnish
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

    Instructions

  • Heat 1 cup of water to boiling. Place the dried porcini mushroom in a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling water over the mushrooms making sure all the mushrooms are moistened. Let that sit for about 15-20 minutes. The gently remove the mushrooms to a chopping board with a mesh strainer. Reserve at least 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid to add to the soup. Chop the porcini mushrooms and add them to the fresh mushrooms.
  • In a large pot, add the extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onions and celery and sauté until wilted. Then stir in the garlic, the porcini and one cup fresh mushrooms and thyme and cook for one to two minutes longer or until the mushrooms begin to wilt.
  • Stir in the sherry and let it reduce by half. Then stir in the turkey or chicken broth, 1/2 cup of porcini mushroom liquid and bring it to a boil.
  • Stir in the rice and Italian parsley and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes or longer until the rice is cooked.
  • Stir in the diced turkey or chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté the 1/2 cup of mushrooms and minced garlic clove in a bit of butter and then season with salt and pepper. Use the mushrooms and chopped Italian parsley to garnish each bowl of the soup.
  • Notes

    This is a great recipe for leftover roasted chicken as well. Increase the fresh or dried mushrooms as you prefer. As well, add or delete broth depending on how thick or thin you like your soup. I prefer a heartier soup so often I'll only add five cups liquid instead of six.

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    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon and a Virtual Baby Shower

    Salmon with Arugula Chimichurri // Karista's Kitchen

    I remember when my oldest daughter was about four years old and we were hanging out on the living room floor, reading books and talking about how someday she would have a baby brother or sister.

    As we were chatting, she turned her rosy cheeked, sweet blue eyed, blonde head to me and said “Mom, how did you know to pick me?”  I was a little surprised by the question and I asked “what do you mean?” She replied “you know, how did you know you wanted ME?”  The question caught me by surprise and as I tried to recover I said “Well… Dad and I saw all the baby angels playing in heaven and that’s when we spotted you. We instantly fell in love and knew we wanted you for our baby.”

    Everyday Maven's Baby Celebration

     

    Now, I know some of you might think that’s one tall tale to tell a four year old, but honestly, that is what I came up with.  My heart was so warmed by the question, I wanted my answer to reflect how much we wanted her and how much we cherished our little sassy blonde girl.

    Salmon with Arugula Chimichurri

    She clung to those words for years to come and when our second daughter arrived, my sassy little gal said to her Dad, “I guess this is the one you picked?”

    As you know, I have two sassy gals now and they are the food for my soul.  Motherhood and parenting have been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade a minute.

    My Two Sassy Gals on Mother's Day 2014

    My Two Sassy Gals on Mother’s Day 2014

    I’m truly honored to have been asked to participate in my sweet friend’s virtual baby shower.  Alyssa, of Everyday Maven, her handsome husband and their adorable little boy will soon know the joy of welcoming a new baby boy to their family.

    Several years ago, I met Alyssa at a blog conference in Seattle – while noshing on the most divine appetizers.  I liked her immediately.  A breath of fresh air, exuding a warm and genuine personality, Alyssa is a most beautiful and lovely lady.

    I’m happy to say, we’ve been friends ever since.

    Alyssa writes the delicious food blog Everyday Maven and has published two fantastic e-Books.  Her recipes are drool worthy and written with good health and nutrition in mind. I think one of my favorite Everyday Maven recipes has to be the Cabbage Rolls.  And of course her guest post for my blog, Karista’s Kitchen,  gluten free Banana Chip Cookies.

    Today, several other bloggers and myself are hosting a virtual baby shower for Alyssa.  A plethora of delicious recipes to celebrate but also recipes to prepare during the first few months after the new baby’s arrival.  Recipes to comfort and nourish with ease of preparation for a quick meal or leisurely weekend.  Although as we know, there is nothing “leisurely” about a new baby in the house; just lots of love and smiles and hopefully, soon to be restful nights.

    Congratulations Alyssa and family!

    Here is a list of Alyssa’s Virtual Baby Shower Recipes, lovingly prepared by some fabulous food bloggers!

    Breakfast 

    Fried Egg Topped Curried Sweet Potatoes from A Beautiful Bite

    Chocolate Orange Protein Smoothie from The Lemon Bowl

    Spaghetti Squash Hash from Eats Well With Others

    Lunch 

    Hearty Garbanzo Soup from Sweet Life Bake

    Pumpkin White Bean Soup from Blue Kale Road

    Dinner

    Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast from Jeanette’s Healthy Living

    Slow Cooker Beef and Bacon Stew from Girlichef

    Lemon Pepper Chicken with Arugala from Virtually Homemade

    Roast Chicken Ratatouille from An Edible Mosaic

    Snack

    Spiced Honey Nut and Seed Snack Mix from Fake Food Free

    Charred Brussel Sprout, Bacon, and Toasted Sesame Guacamole from Baker by Nature

    Quick and Easy Cucumber Bites, Three Ways from Hip Foodie Mom

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon

    About 1 1/2 cups

    Arugula Chimichurri over Roasted Salmon

    Ingredients

    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 cup fresh baby arugula leaves, packed
    • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
    • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    Instructions

  • In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients and blend until ingredients are pureed into a smooth sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve over pan seared or grilled halibut and serve with wild rice pilaf, white rice and/or roasted veggies.
  • For a step by step pictorial on how to pan sear salmon, click here
  • Notes

    I love serving this Arugula Chimichurri with roasted salmon, but it's also fabulous with pan seared or grilled scallops and makes a tasty dipping sauce for grilled or poached shrimp.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta

    No cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over Pasta

    Recently I came across an opinionated article about dinner posted on Social Media. It left me speechless. It read more like whining rather than a valid concern or issue. When I shared the article on my social media expressing my inability to find words to respond to this article, I was bombarded with passionate comments from friends.  Dinner is a touchy subject.

    As I began to respond to the comments, I soon realized it would take more than a few words to describe why I held utter disdain for the article.

    Today, I’ve decided to stir the pot. This is a subject to important not to discuss and its near and dear to my heart.

    We all face the dinner hour every single day. It will always be there, it will never change or go away.  We have to eat. Right?  So why do so many of us want to bury our “dinner making” heads in the sand?  Because it’s one more thing to do after a very long day.  I get it. I really do get it.

    Friends, I’ll begin by saying… the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner.  Even though I’m a chef and food is my job and I post lots of fun and intriguing recipes on my website… my family doesn’t always get a five course meal for dinner.  In fact, many evenings dinner is something fresh and quick or leftovers.

    With that being said, I do believe dinner is important. It isn’t just about the food. It’s about the time of day – the feelings and emotions the dinner hour evokes in our family.  It’s a time when my kids talk about their day;  their proud moments or their worries.   Whether we’re eating dinner in shifts because of school activities or work, my family finds dinner the most comforting moment of the day.  Dinner gives children a sense of security – and whether it be sandwiches and soup or pasta with jarred pasta sauce, dinner says a great big I love you.

    Do I ever complain about making dinner?  Yes. There are days when I feel like I drag myself into my kitchen after a very long day or I’ve been sitting at my desk for hours and my head is nowhere near the subject of dinner. That’s when I pull the soup out of the freezer, ask my daughter to make a few grilled cheese sandwiches or my husband to throw together a quick bowl of greens for a salad. The point is – we all meet at the table.

    Quick No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over Pasta

    Although dinner isn’t just about the food, studies have shown we eat healthier when we eat dinner at home. Not only is our physical health impacted by the dinner hour, our children’s mental and emotional health are impacted as well.

    I found an excellent article from Forbes Contributor Katie Kelly BellAccording to The Family Dinner Project website, “Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem.  Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression. We also believe in the power of family dinners to nourish ethical thinking.”  “What I find personally traumatizing is the fact that we even have a grassroots campaign dedicated to preserving the family meal. How far we have strayed.” 

    Let’s also chat about the financial impact of dinner. If you know me, you know my monthly food bill is higher than most. Yes, some of that cost is due to my occupation, and some of that cost is because I refuse to purchase fake or toxic food.  It is a crying shame that we as Americans are forced to make the choice whether or not we spend our money on quality food or a vacation. It’s a travesty.

    However, keeping my food purchases as close to home as possible helps cut my food bill by one third.  I try to purchase all my produce, meat and poultry  at my local farm market, co-op market or local farmers.  Even our local Costco has started stocking local grass fed beef and chicken, as well as many Oregon organic food products. And I’m there for bath tissue anyway.  Then, all I need are the basics from my local grocery store.  If I don’t have time for that many stops, we divide and conquer.

    My children are no longer children. One is in college and the other in high school. Did we have glorious idealistic dinners each night? No. But we did have dinner.  My girls may not remember the food they ate, but they will always remember the time spent together.  They still love to gather around the table for dinner.  I see it in their beautiful faces, the comfort, the internal joy found by sharing a meal. The sense of security and unconditional love.  Isn’t that what it’s really about?

    Friends I want you to know I will try my very best to post more dinner friendly recipes here at Karista’s Kitchen.  I will adhere to my personal nutritional values, but I promise to make the meals achievable. I’d love your feedback!  What types of meals are easy for you to prepare? Are there cooking techniques you would like me to demonstrate that would make it easier to achieve dinner?

    Until then, today I’m posting a no cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over your Favorite Pasta. It can easily be prepared in under 20 minutes tops. As well, I’m listing a few of my favorite quick dinner websites. Remember, the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner.

    If you’d like to read the article that got me so wound up, click here.  But please read Joel Salatin’s response.  It’s excellent and I couldn’t agree with him more.

    Resources

    Jamie’s 15 minute meals – What is not to love about this chef or website?!

    The Nourished Kitchen – I love this as a nutritional resource as well as traditional recipes

    Foodista – an excellent resource for all types of recipes from quick and easy to holiday dinners

    Farmstr – For those of you living in Western Washington, this is an excellent resource for local produce, meat, fish and poultry!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta

    Serving Size: 4-6

    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta

    Ingredients

    • One 8 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (with herbs if you can find it)
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
    • ¼ cup heavy cream (omit if you eat dairy free)
    • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
    • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade or just chopped if you’re in a hurry
    • ¼ - ½ cup reserved pasta water
    • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
    • Squeeze of fresh lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserving at least ½ cup of pasta water (I love Strozzapreti pasta or something similar. I think pappardelle would be great with this sauce as well)

    Instructions

  • In a food processor or blender add the sun dried tomatoes with oil (and herbs if included), smashed garlic, grated parmesan and ¼ cup pasta water. Pulse to a puree. If needed, add additional pasta water. Add the heavy cream and pulse one or two times just to blend, you don’t want to whip the heavy cream.
  • Toss the pasta with the sauce, chopped fresh basil, squeeze of lemon and plate. Drizzle each plate with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and garnish with extra parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
  • For a heartier dish serve with Sweet or Hot Italian Sausages. And don’t forget the DaVinci Chianti 🙂
  • Buon Appetito!
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Slow Cooked Italian Pork Roast with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Apples

    Italian Pork Roast with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Apples // Karista's Kitchen

    This was one of those meals I threw together on the fly.  I had a pork roast in the frig, sage from the garden and fresh apples from my local farmer.  Dinner needed to happen and it needed to happen with little effort from me, as my time was limited yesterday.

    This is exactly why I have learned to embrace my slow cooker.  For years I wouldn’t even think of using a slow cooker.  Heresy I said!  After all, chef’s don’t use a slow cooker.  But alas, I am a working Mom first and my time isn’t always my own.

    Yes, my slow cooker and I once again became friends.  Very good friends actually.

    Because this recipe happened on the fly, and my family was patiently waiting for dinner, my food photo isn’t terribly exciting.  Nothing fancy or creative, just the recipe plated in all it’s delicious Autumn glory, ready to be served and devoured.  The crispy sage and brown butter apples complimented the seasoned pork roast beautifully and kept my family coming back for more.

    Sweet, spicy, savory, earthy and fragrant. The first Autumn meal of the new school year – celebrated with lush harvest flavors.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Slow Cooked Italian Pork Roast with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Apples

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    3-4 lbs pork shoulder roast or pork butt

    Italian seasoning:

    2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1 tablespoon fennel seeds

    2 teaspoons sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon granulated garlic

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1 sweet onion, sliced

    2-3 cloves garlic, smashed

    ½ cup red wine or beef broth

    1 handful of fresh sage leaves

    2 apples, peeled and sliced

    4-6 tablespoons sweet cream butter

    ½ teaspoon sugar or brown sugar

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    Set the slow cooker on low heat.

    Mix together the Italian seasoning and rub on and into the pork roast.  This can be done the night before and allows the pork to marinate in the seasoning for better flavor.

    Heat a skillet and brown two or more sides of the pork roast.  Transfer to the slow cooker.

    Top with the onions, garlic and wine and cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until fork tender.

    Just before you are ready to serve the roast, heat a skillet over medium heat with the butter and when the butter is melted and hot add the sage leaves and cook for a minute or two until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

    In the same skillet add the sliced apples and additional butter if needed.  Let the apples cook until tender and then season with a little sugar, salt and pepper.

    Place the apples on a platter and then top with pieces of the cooked Italian pork roast.  Scatter crispy sage over the top and ladle the roast with a little of the au jus from the slow cooker.

    Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Winter Roasted Beet Salad

    roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

    Winter Roasted Beet Salad

    You may be surprised to learn that beets haven’t always topped my favorite veggie list.  It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve completely embraced this lush red or golden root veggie.  My favorite method of consumption?  Roasted.  Roasting brings out the sweetness in most vegetables but especially root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and beets.

    Often I’ll bring home 2 or 3 bunches of local beets, clean them, roast them and store them in the frig.  When I need a quick side or salad, voila!

    roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

    This salad is easy to prepare with ingredients that can be prepped in advance.  Not only is it delicious, it looks like art on a platter.  Which makes this the perfect holiday or winter salad.

    I’m keeping this post short and sweet today.  Tank hasn’t had his morning run and he’s sitting at my feet staring at me with his “please take me for a walk” look.  And really, who could resist those terrier eyes.

    Wishing you all things merry and bright this holiday season!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Winter Roasted Beet Salad

    Serves about 6-8

    Ingredients

    About 6 medium size red or gold beets (or a mixture of both)

    1 – 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

    1/2 – 1 cup good quality crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (Rogue Creamery and Salemville have nice mid-range rice options that are quite delicious)

    1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts (found in most markets, especially during the holidays.  However, I’ve given a quick recipe below)

    Good quality Balsamic Vinegar (this is the time to break out the good stuff)

    Good quality Olive oil, about 1/4 cup (I used California Olive Ranch Arbosana Extra Virgin Olive oil.  One word, divine!)

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Wash the beets and trim just a bit.  Place in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil and wrap, tenting it a little.  Roast for about 45 minutes or until the beets can be pierced with a fork or knife.  I like my beets slightly undercooked, otherwise the texture tends to be a bit mushy.  So check them at 35 – 40 minutes.  Let the beets cool and then peel off the skins.  This is a colorful and messy job but well worth the effort.  If you are roasting the beets in advance, place the roasted whole beets in a Ziploc bag and pop them in the frig until they are ready to use.

    Place the thinly sliced shallots in a small bowl and toss with a drizzle or two of balsamic vinegar.  I love the shallots marinated in the balsamic vinegar. Cuts the harshness of the shallot and adds extra balsamic flavor to the salad.  Let the sliced shallots hang out in the vinegar while you prepare the salad.

    Slice the beets, not too thick, and layer them on a platter.  Dust lightly with a little sea salt.

    Next, toss the marinated shallots over the beets.  Then sprinkle the beets and shallots with Gorgonzola and garnish with the chopped candied walnuts.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Serve immediately.

    Option:  During the summer months, I add sliced or coarsely chopped cucumber to the salad for a little fresh, clean, crisp flavor.

    Quick candied nuts

    1/4 cup sugar

    1/2 cup chopped nuts

    Pinch of salt

    In a heavy bottom pan over medium heat add the sugar.  Let the sugar melt.  Once melted, sprinkle the chopped nuts into the sugar and give it a stir.  Once the nuts look well coated pour them out onto wax paper to cool.  Sprinkle lightly with a pinch of salt.  Break with a knife or by hand.

     

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

    Pasta Cortona

    linguine with napa cabbage and mixed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil

    Pasta Cortona

    How could I travel to Italy and not visit the mountain top village of Cortona?  I resisted.  Truly I did.  I didn’t want to be one of those blurry eyed, dreamy looking tourists on a quest to visit a place they’ve read about in a novel or seen on television in a movie.

    With a clever grin and knowing eyes, my darling husband kindly dispelled my silly notion by telling me I’d already been walking around for days like a blurry eyed tourist with eyes the size of saucers.  Hmmm… and I thought I was being rather cool and collected.

    Early one morning, my husband, who is a sport, no – he’s a super sport,  kindly obliged my longing to see Cortona. We hopped a train and arrived at the small, more modern town of Camucia Cortona which lies at the bottom of the mountain where Cortona is so beautifully is perched.

    Camucia Cortona Train Station

    Camucia Cortona Train Station

    Once inside the walls of the medieval city I felt myself becoming the blurry eyed tourist, eyes wide with amazement of this ancient city.  The architecture so unique with steep narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.  Breathtaking.

    Nonni's of Cortona

    Nonni’s of Cortona walking home from mass.

    Ranger Craig and I spent the day walking the steep and narrow streets, talking to the locals, snapping more pictures than I thought was possible, touring the churches and viewing art of the Renaissance.  A magical day that ended with food.  Actually, I think we ate our way through Cortona.  Pasta, soups, salumi, pastry, wine, more wine and then caffe.

    Trattoria in Cortona

    Trattoria in Cortona

    One of the most delicious meals I dined on in Italy was in Cortona.  A dish of fresh handmade linguine tossed with savoy cabbage in a light wine and butter sauce, topped with shaved truffle and fresh pecorino.  A little heaven in a bowl.

    dog in cortona,Italy

    A furry friend in Cortona saying hello as we passed by

    mountain garden in Cortona, Italy

    Mountain garden in Cortona

    Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona, Italy

    Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona

    Now that I’m home, I wanted to create a lovely version of that dish.  Something fresh, simple but flavorful.  We don’t have an abundant of truffles here in the states so I decided to make this an easy dish to prepare with local mushrooms and my favorite Napa cabbage.  And of course, if you wish, a drizzle of black truffle oil over the top.  A tribute to the lovely day in Cortona.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Pasta Cortona

    Serving Size: 3-4

    Ingredients

    • 12 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1-2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I love porcini mushrooms so I use 2 oz)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 leek, white part only, root trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 3 cups sliced Napa cabbage (about ½ a medium cabbage)
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan
    • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • Drizzle of black truffle oil (optional, but it’s really good!)
    • Shaved aged Pecorino for garnish

    Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions. When draining the linguine, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a sauce pan and pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Give them a stir, cover and let them sit for about 20 minutes. When they are soft, drain the liquid, let them cool for a moment and then lightly chop the mushrooms.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil is hot, add the shallots and leeks and sauté until wilted and fragrant.  Add the garlic and saute one minute longer.
  • Stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and Italian parsley. Let them cook for about 1 minute and then add the white wine. Let the wine reduce by half and then stir in the heavy cream, grated parmesan and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Next toss in the sliced Napa cabbage, and gently toss with the mixture, adding the additional olive oil as needed.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Add the linguine and ½ cup of pasta water to the cabbage and mushrooms. The sauce will thicken as it cools. However, if the sauce seems a bit thin, place the skillet back over medium heat and let the sauce cook for a few minutes which will thicken the sauce.
  • Transfer the pasta to a platter or individual serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil if desired and shaved aged pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
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    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Shortbread Toffee Bars

    Once in a blue moon we must have a dessert post.  I’m not big on dessert mind you, only because when I make dessert I end up consuming much of what I’ve just prepared… with no leftovers!  

    I have a huge sweet tooth for warm baked cookies, cakes, puddings, souffles, French pastries, and anything chocolate.  And I couldn’t be more enamored with this simple but divine little cookie bar.

    My friend Heidi is one of my “sweets” recipe suppliers.  Yes, she keeps my sweet habit in existence with her yummy and tantalizing baked treats.  This delish little bar is one of the dessert recipes Heidi recently sent me.  And of course, I just had to share!

    Put on a kettle of tea and treat yourself to a simple but delicious little treat this winters day.  Happy Baking!

    Makes 12-16 Bars

    Ingredients

     2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

    3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

    1 cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee bars PLUS 1/2 cup coarsely

          chopped toffee bars.  (SKOR or Heath bars, about 8 total.)

    1/4 cup heavy cream

    Directions

    With rack in upper third, preheat oven to 300. 

    Spray or butter an 8 inch square baking pan.  Whisk flour and salt together in a medium bowl.

    In a separate larger bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium high until creamy, 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add brown sugar, beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes more. 

    Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture, mix just until combined. 

    Press dough evenly into prepared pan.  (It should be as flat as possible.) With plastic over dough, chill 45 minutes in refrigerator.

    Pierce dough all over with a wooden skewer.  Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and center is firm, about 60 minutes. 

    Transfer to a wire rack, let cool 10 minutes.  You may need to pierce the dough again, as many holes may have baked shut.

    Meanwhile, heat finely chopped toffee bars and cream in a saucepan, stirring constantly, over medium low until smooth.  Pour over shortbread in pan, and then sprinkle with coarsely chopped toffee.  Let cool slightly.  Cut into squares.  Let cool completely. 

    Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, but chances are they won’t last that long!

    Recipe compliments of Heidi Rodgers