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family

Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

Shredded Beef Machaca

Shredded Beef Machaca // Karista's Kitchen

If I’m being totally honest, I’m not a huge fan of leftovers.  Unless its pot roast, roasted or fried chicken and maybe my Tuscan lasagna; which is always better the second day.  Often, a recipe can lose some of the fresh flavor and texture during the process of re-heating and then I promptly lose interest.  I sound like a food snob.  I promise I’m not a food snob, just a little picky about the flavor and texture of my food.

The beauty of leftover pot roast are the many ways it can be re-invented into another recipe.  I adore pot roast sandwiches smothered with caramelized onions and Havarti cheese, a simple pot roast soup with pearled barley and porcini mushrooms and of course this gorgeous shredded beef machaca.

You can certainly prepare a pot roast specifically for this recipe, but it tastes just as delicious with leftovers.

As a child, this dish was a staple in our home.  Although we call it machaca, it’s not a traditional Mexican machaca. Mexican machaca is actually a dried, marinated beef (much like our beef jerky).  However, because we include scrambled eggs in the shredded beef, it was dubbed “machaca” in my house. Sort of a riff on the very popular machaca con huevos, a Mexican beef and egg scramble.

Shredded beef machaca was served as a celebration meal, a meal for dinner guests and on occasion a Sunday supper.  My parents used to make it into burritos with the usual assortment of delicious Mexican condiments.  I serve this machaca with warm corn tortillas, lime wedges, cotija cheese, avocado slices, red chili sauce or my brothers delicious salsa recipe.

When I prepare this for my family I like to make dinner a casual event and place the shredded beef machaca and layering ingredients in the center of the table. Then everyone can assemble their own taco or burrito with their favorite condiments.

The result is loads of easy conversation, laughter, smiling faces and very happy bellies. Which always makes me happy.

Shredded beef machaca makes a delightful meal and can be served a la carte or with salad greens, black beans and a little cerveza to top it off!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Shredded Beef Machaca

Serving Size: 6

Shredded Beef Machaca

Ingredients

    For the pot roast (or use your favorite basic pot roast recipe)
  • 3-4lbs beef chuck roast, halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Machaca
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or high heat oil
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup red chile sauce or your favorite salsa
  • 2-3 large eggs, whisked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Dash of hot sauce, optional
  • Crumbled cotija cheese
  • Avocado slices
  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Salsa

Instructions

To make the pot roast

Pre-heat the slow cooker on low. Season both halves of the beef chuck with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the ghee over medium high heat and brown all sides of the chuck roast. Transfer the chuck roast pieces to the slow cooker and add the beef broth, bay leaf, onions and garlic. I don't add too much liquid when preparing a pot roast in my slow cooker as I want the pot roast to slowly cook in as much of it's own juices as possible. This will make for a very tasty pot roast. Adding too much liquid will cause the roast to boil which will give it a bland and chewy texture.

Let the pot roast cook on low for about 6-8 hours.

When the pot roast is done, shred the beef and set aside.

To prepare the Machaca

Heat a large skillet and add another two tablespoons of ghee or high heat oil. Sauté the diced onions until soft and slightly caramelized and then add the garlic. Sauté for one minute longer. Stir in the diced poblano peppers, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika.

Add the shredded beef and chile sauce and toss to combine.

In another small pan, add a little butter to the pan and cook the eggs, scrambled style. When the eggs are done, fold them into the machaca.

Add a squeeze of lime and season to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce.

Serve with crumbled cotija, avocado slices, warm tortillas, sour cream, fresh cilantro and additional salsa.

Notes

I like to cook the eggs in a separate pan rather than in the machaca directly, to keep the texture from being soggy.

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

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

Can you believe I never liked tomato soup when I was a kid? I mean, really, who doesn’t love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Well, I didn’t.

I’m not sure why I didn’t like tomato soup; honestly I didn’t like any kind of soup.  My mom prepared all sorts of crazy grilled cheese sandwiches just to get me to eat soup. Which I ate. That is, I ate the grilled cheese sandwiches and usually left a nearly full bowl of soup at the table.

However, somewhere along the years and with a more developed palate, I became obsessed with tomato soup.  So much that I serve tomato soup often in my kitchen and today, both my daughters love a bowl of tomato soup, tomato bisque, or just a chunky tomato stew.

For me, it was the creamy texture of tomato bisque that first caught my attention.  I was working in Boston and there was a little Italian deli down the street from where I worked that served the most lush, creamy and cheesy soup.  In a word, it was divine.  The highly entertaining and charismatic deli owner, Giovanni, served it with crusty Italian bread and butter which paired perfectly with the creamy tomato concoction.

I walked to that deli every day for my beloved tomato bisque, when finally, I realized I was developing a bit of an allergy to tomatoes.  I seriously had to back off the soup for a while. Thankfully at that time, spring was making an appearance and my soup days would hopefully be limited with the warmer weather.

Of course, I continue to eat tomato soup – just not every day. I enjoy it the most when the weather is cool and rainy outdoors and when the soup is paired with my friend, Sheri’s, version of grilled cheese with apple butter.  For me, its food heaven.

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

When my client asked for a classic tomato soup recipe for a retro food article, I was thrilled.  I knew I wanted to include grilled cheese somehow, so I made little mini’s and called them grilled cheese croutons.  However, there are times when I really want a hearty grilled cheese and apple butter sandwich with my tomato soup, so feel free to indulge.

This is totally off topic but notice the sweet table-cloth printed with apricots? Yep, it’s my mom’s tablecloth from the 1950’s and it was so perfect for this shoot.  😉

Wishing you warm and cozy days all curled up with this Classic Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28-32 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 8 slices good quality white bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese

Instructions

In a large pot over medium heat, add the ghee or olive oil and onions. Sauté the onions until wilted and then add the garlic and cook one minute longer.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, pinch of crushed red pepper, vegetable broth and sugar. Bring to a slow boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to broil. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place them buttered side down on a baking sheet. Add the cheese slices to the bread and then top with the remaining bread buttered side up. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and toast. Flip the sandwiches and toast the other side.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Slice them into small square croutons.

When the soup is done either transfer to a blender and blend until smooth or using an emersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then stir in the heavy cream.

Serve the warm soup in bowls topped with the grilled cheese croutons.

Notes

This recipe first appeared in Home By Design Magazine Fall 2016

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Rosemary Creme Brûlée from Karista's Kitchen for Home By Design Magazine

It was the moment when a subtle woody, fragrant scent wafted in my direction that I knew cooking and baking with fresh herbs would forever be in my culinary repertoire.   One of my first classes at culinary school, an intensive course in the use of fresh herbs, we prepared a Rosemary Creme Brûlée.  I couldn’t imagine how it would taste or if I’d even like it.  But I had to like it.  I was in culinary school and I couldn’t be the only student that appeared to have the palate of a five year old.  I was over the moon in love with every other dish we’d made in that unit, but what is traditionally a savory herb was now being paired in a sweet custard. It totally worked!  Since that day sixteen years ago, I’ve been using fresh herbs in all my recipes, savory as well as sweet.

If you know me or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know another herb I can’t seem to get enough of is lavender. I adore lavender shortbread cookies, lavender scones, pinches of lavender combined with other fresh herbs over roast chicken, lemon thyme biscuits, Arugula Lemon Risotto, Arugula Chimichurri, and the list goes on.  It’s a rare occasion that I don’t incorporate some type of herb or spice in my recipes; they simply enhance and elevate flavor and create food moments to remember.

Rosemary Creme Brûlée is definitely memorable.  Although I prepare this dessert at home and for friends and clients (I originally created this photo and recipe for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine), I don’t think I’ve ever posted it here. Until now.

Creme Brûlée is a lush and silky custard that is so perfect any time of year.  I prepare this dessert most often around the holidays but I also make it during the warmer months because I can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then serve it when I’m ready.  Pairing it with fresh herbs changes the flavor profile but not the well loved custard.  I’ve used my beloved lavender a few times as well as lemon thyme, but rosemary has to be my favorite herb in creme brûlée.

I’ve prepared this recipe a few different methods, but I think the best method is when the fresh rosemary is gently steeped in the cream, allowing the oils to subtly scent and flavor the custard.  It’s a simple yet impressive dessert that will WOW your guests and your family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

Karista

Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Serving Size: serves 4

Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 1- 3 to 4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, cold
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

Place four ramekins into a baking dish or cake pan. Heat enough water to fill the bottom of the baking dish and come halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is called a Bain-Marie, a hot water bath.

In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream and sprig of rosemary over medium heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then remove the sauce pan from the heat and let the heavy cream and rosemary hang out for about fifteen minutes or so, allowing the rosemary oil to infuse the heavy cream.

In an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is light and creamy, adding in the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Strain the heavy cream removing any and all rosemary leaves and then while whisking, slowly add the rosemary infused cream to the egg and sugar mixture.

Divide the custard evenly among the four ramekins and place the baking dish carefully into the oven.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, just until the custard is set. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove the crème brulee from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top of each custard with about ½ teaspoon of sugar. Using a culinary torch*, scorch the sugar creating the traditional burnt sugar topping.

Serve immediately.

*Culinary blow torches can be found at most kitchen and bath stores or larger home and garden stores.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey // Karista's Kitchen

I can never have too many appetizer recipes floating in my head and at the top of the list are these creamy Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates.

Last minute guests, teenagers invading the kitchen looking for food or a quick treat to pair with a glass of my favorite wine or evening cocktail; these Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are deliciously simple. I love that word. Maybe that’s because life is busy and hearing the word  “simple” seems to instantly infuse calm and tranquility into my moment.

Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey // Karista's Kitchen

I love to use locally sourced goat cheese and honey along with sweet holiday Medjool dates.  If I feel extra fancy, I’ll toast finely chopped hazelnuts or pistachios and sprinkle them on top.  These Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates are so easy to prepare while your guests, friends or family are mingling in the kitchen, chatting, laughing and of course, general merry-making.  Once out of the oven, I walk around with the baking sheet in hand, napkins and little party picks. Casual finger food that is gooey, warm, sweet and a little savory. Perfectly “simple” and delicious.

I wish you the happiest and most delicious of holidays!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

Ingredients

  • Medjool dates, remove the pits which will create a nice opening for the goat cheese
  • Goat cheese, try to find one that is creamy for easy filling
  • Honey
  • Toasted chopped hazelnuts or pistachios

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Fill each date with goat cheese. If the goat cheese is creamy, I sometimes put it into a ziploc bag, snip a corner and pipe the goat cheese into the dates.

Place each goat cheese filled date on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet into the pre-heated oven. Let the dates bake for about 10-15 minutes.

As soon as you remove the dates from the oven, either transfer to a fancy platter or leave them on the baking sheet and then drizzle with a little honey. Top with crushed toasted nuts if you like.

Serve immediately.

Notes

There really isn't much of a recipe here... just a container of dates, goat cheese, honey and nuts. Enjoy!

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Beef Karista's Kitchen VRAI Magazine

Perfect Prime Rib Roast for VRAI Magazine

Roasting the perfect prime rib with Au Jus Gravy and Horseradish Sauce // Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

Every holiday season I ask my family the same question… “what do you want for Christmas dinner”?   And every year I get the same answer.  “Prime Rib!”   I can’t blame them.  Prime Rib is such a grand cut of beef – so exquisite in flavor and texture.

Perfect Prime Rib Roast tutorial from Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

When VRAI Magazine asked me for a Holiday recipe, this was the first thing that came to mind.  If you ever wanted to prepare prime rib but felt too intimidated, this recipe is for you.  Tips, techniques and a simple recipe for preparing the perfect prime rib.

Perfect Roasted Prime Rib with Au Jus Gravy and Horseradish Sauce // Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

Along with this luscious prime rib recipe, I’ve included a quick Beef Broth Gravy and Homemade Horseradish Sauce.  You will also find the loveliest selection of holiday recipes from our VRAI Magazine Contributors as well as travel, lifestyle, fashion and DIY articles.

So head on over to VRAI Magazine and treat yourself to a few holiday moments browsing and reading our Holiday issue!

Wishing you a most magical and delicious holiday season!

Karista

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.

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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.

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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!

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

The Perfect Roast Turkey

The perfect roast turkey // Karista's Kitchen // VRAI Magazine

For me, Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and friends.

I don’t always write about what goes on in my day to day life.  After all, this is a recipe website and delicious food is the focus.   I feel there is enough hardship, sadness and turmoil going on in the world.  Watching it splattered all over the news, I feel I shouldn’t add to the chaos with what happens in my little space in the world.  I’m typically an optimistic person and I believe it’s healthier to share my optimism rather than any negativity.

But I will tell you this – although it’s been a long and arduous few years navigating through my oldest daughters health issues, resulting from a brain tumor in 2012, I am thankful.  I am so thankful she’s brain tumor free. I am so thankful it wasn’t the C word.  I am so thankful she’s able to continue college and move forward with her life.  Has it been hard?  YES. There have been days I just wanted to sit on my living room floor and sob tears of frustration and sadness.  There are still tough moments, but I have the best friends and family in the world that supported me and continue to support me every step of the way –  so that I can support my daughter.   This is truly a Thanksgiving.

As a Contributing Food Editor with VRAI Magazine, I’m sharing this Perfect Roast Turkey recipe for our VRAI Magazine Friendsgiving in Oregon.  Everyone is coming to my house for Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to share this recipe, but I’m even more excited to share with you VRAI Magazine Friendsgiving.  Delicious recipes, home and holiday décor, DIY holiday projects, gift giving ideas, holiday fashion, travel and more.  New friends coming together to celebrate around the table.

To snag this lovely and simple Perfect Roast Turkey recipe click HERE.  Don’t forget to browse the fantastic articles and subscribe to the magazine so you don’t miss a beat. You can also find VRAI Magazine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I am truly grateful and thankful for devoted readers like you.  I wish you the most beautiful and heartwarming holiday season.  May you bask in the deliciousness!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to you all!

Karista

 

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)

Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken) A Tuscan Braised Chicken Recipe How did two Prescott College Graduates become Willamette Valley Chicken Farmers?

That was the first question I asked Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres after meeting them for the second time at this year’s Corvallis Farmers Market.

I met Laura and Robin the first time at the 2014 Oregon Small Farms Conference at OSU in Corvallis. I was attending the conference with a friend from Washington state who is the Founder of Barn2Door, a new ready-to-use web store for farmers and easy to find farm food for buyers .  I remember how fascinated I became while listening to Laura and Robin speak passionately about their chicken farm.  Both intelligent individuals who exude a passion for sustainable farming and the future of our food supply.

Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

Laura and Robin are both graduates of Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. Receiving degrees in Wilderness Leadership and Adventure Education. While working as Outdoor Education Guides they discovered there was a huge disconnect between educating the public about protecting our environment and our less than perfect food supply.

After a visit to Oregon, Laura and Robin decided to switch careers and put their knowledge and passion into helping change our food supply by pursuing agriculture. Robin completed a yearlong internship with Afton Field Farm in early 2014. Not long after, Red Bird Acres was founded.

I saw Laura and Robin every Saturday at the farmer’s market and I always stopped at Red Bird Acres stand to pick up a broiler. One Saturday I couldn’t help but ask if I could visit them at their chicken farm and possibly photograph some of their birds. They smiled and were kind enough to oblige my need to visit with their chickens.

Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon

We set a date, I cooked food to say thank you and one lovely Autumn evening I drove out to Red Bird Acres for a visit.

A beautiful hillside location just outside of Philomath, Oregon, Red Bird Acres is home to several flocks of Freedom Rangers. Some refer to the chickens as French Rangers or Poulet Rouge and they are hatched by the Freedom Ranger Hatchery in Pennsylvania. The Freedom Ranger breeding stock is imported from Burgundy and Brittany, France.  According to the Label Rouge Poultry Program, this breed was derived from an American and European heritage breed that was developed in early 1960 to meet the high standards of the French Label Rouge Free Range program.

A Freedom Ranger chicken at Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

Laura and Robin raise their Freedom Rangers on pasture from the time they are three weeks old; large enough to have grown adult feathers to survive well outside the brooder. The birds roam free range and have access to shelter where they can roost and are protected from the elements as needed.  Portable electric net fencing is set up to separate the different age groups. During the height of the season, Red Bird Acres will raise four flocks of 100 birds on the field.

Each flock’s shelter is moved within each paddock twice a day and the entire paddock is moved every four to five days as the birds graze down the pasture. Laura says “the benefits of this system is that the birds are truly able to express all of their natural behaviors. They can choose to be in their shelter, or they can run in the paddock seeking forage, so it is the most natural, healthy and humane way to allow chickens to live when you are raising them for human consumption”.

Robin of Red Bird Acres holding one of his Freedom Ranger Chickens // Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

Laura and Robin feed their birds a high quality, non-GMO feed milled locally by Union Point Custom Feeds in Brownsville, OR. Laura says “our broilers do a great job of supplementing that feed with what they forage on the pasture. The pasture is definitely not wasted on these birds. That is evident in the flavor of our chickens and the beautiful yellow color of their fat”.

While I was roaming the paddock with the chickens, I noticed the hearty bone structure of the birds – thicker legs and feet that seem to thrive in this free range setting. Friendly, calm and somewhat animated, the chickens were as curious about me as I was about them.  Several of the birds decided I should be greeted and that maybe my shoes required a little taste.

I’ve raised chickens in the past and I have never seen such a happy and playful group of chickens. It was obvious they had grown attached to Laura and Robin; following them all over the paddock.

I asked Laura and Robin about their philosophy on raising chickens in this method and why they felt it was important: “Our biggest values as producers of meat is that we are raising the animals with the utmost care and attention to humane techniques. This goes from breed selection, feed selection, providing the most natural and stress free life on pasture and gentle handling when it comes time to slaughter (which they do themselves). We are trying to raise meat with attention to the impact on the land and acknowledging that eating meat (as opposed to a vegetarian diet) has a bigger footprint, so what we encourage is that our customers eat less meat. But when they do, they should eat better meat.  Better meat usually comes with a higher price. It takes a huge amount of labor to raise chicken in this method but also the feed costs are higher with quality feed. The benefit is a chicken that lives a healthy life and in turn provides delicious and tremendously nourishing food”.

Freedom Ranger chickens at Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

I can tell you from personal experience, the broilers I’ve purchased from Red Bird Acres are premium in every way.   Because this particular breed has a lovely distribution of fat, the taste is much more flavorful than that of a conventional chicken, which also makes the texture more moist and tender.  As well, the birds are not outrageously priced. Red Bird Acres sells their chicken for 4.99lb which is less than some of the organic brand names in the market.

Red Bird Acres will continue to vend at the Corvallis Saturday Farmer’s Market until the end of the season. Eventually, they would like to include pastured heritage turkeys, as well as raise hogs and lambs. Their largest goal is to grow into a multi-species pastured livestock operation, but finding land is the biggest roadblock. They are currently looking for new land to lease to expand their farm.

Laura of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

I spent the most delightful evening at Red Bird Acres. We talked, I took photographs and played with chickens until the sun had almost set. It was difficult to leave the beautiful location. Walking back to my truck we stopped by their little garden and Robin gave me a bucket full of the most gorgeous cherry tomatoes. I think I ate half the bucket before I arrived home.

Laura and Robin of Red Bird Acres in the Willamette Valley Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

I know many of you do not live in the Willamette Valley. I wish you could taste a Red Bird Acres roasted chicken and I wish you could all meet Laura and Robin.   However,  you can support your local chicken farms. I encourage you to find local farms that humanly raise poultry, pork and beef.  Your body and your taste buds will thank you. Purchasing local supports our farmers and encourages a prosperous and healthy community.

For more information about Red Bird Acres click on their website at http://www.redbirdacresfarm.com/

As well follow them on Facebook and Instagram: https://www.facebook.com/redbirdacres/app_267091300008193

I couldn’t end this post without a recipe. This is a recipe a new friend so graciously gave me while we were dining in Tuscany last year.  Giacomo Alari is the DaVinci Wine Ambassador and as we were chatting at dinner one evening, I asked Giacomo what traditional dish he remembered from childhood.  This braised chicken dish is one that his Mother would often prepare.  Simple, with fresh chicken, onion, garlic and balsamic vinegar. His mother would serve it over mashed or roasted potatoes.

I have now prepared this dish at least twice a month for the last year and adapted it a bit to suit my family. I can tell you it’s just as delicious with just the onion, garlic and balsamic vinegar as it is with all the fresh herbs.  So however you prepare it, you will relish in the flavor and the simplicity.

Grazi! Giacomo Alari for sharing your family recipe.

Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)

Serving Size: 4

Pollo Giacomo (Balsamic Chicken)

Ingredients

  • 8 bone in, skin removed, Chicken thighs or 4 chicken leg quarters, or ONE whole chicken broken down into 6 or 8 pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful of fresh herbs, sprig of rosemary, Italian parsley, sprig of oregano, sprigs of thyme, sage is nice too. (no need to chop just toss in with stems)Sometimes I just throw in some thyme and it’s still fabulous.
  • 1 cup high quality aged balsamic vinegar (or as Giacomo’s mother would say “one wine glass of balsamic vinegar”)
  • Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy polenta

Instructions

In a Dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat and then season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot brown the chicken on both sides.

Turn down the heat to medium (so the onion doesn’t burn) and add the onion and sauté until soft, then add the herbs and garlic and sauté another minute.

Place the chicken back into the Dutch oven and pour the balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Cover and turn the heat to low or medium low and simmer for about 30- 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. Chicken should reach 165F when done.

Remove the pot from the heat and then remove the chicken to a platter. Strain the remaining sauce and pour it over the chicken. Serve over creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.

**OPTION - I haven't tried this recipe in a slow cooker but I think using a slow cooker would be a good option. Brown the chicken, add it to the slow cooker, top with onion, garlic, fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar. Cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until the internal temperature has reached 165F. Remove the chicken to a platter, strain the sauce and pour over the chicken. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes or creamy polenta.

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DaVinci Wine Recipes Halibut Karista's Kitchen Seafood

White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

Halibut Florentine from Karista's Kitchen

 

This White Fish Florentine is a lush and flavorful dish inspired by my visit to Tuscany with DaVinci Wine a few years ago.  

Spinach is used in all sorts of Tuscan dishes and it’s also prevalent in many coastal seafood recipes like my Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole.  I love the simple list of ingredients combined with fresh white fish, which is typically easy to find year round.   This gorgeous recipe makes for a fuss free weeknight meal or an elegant meal for entertaining.

Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I use several different types of white fish for this recipe, depending on the season.  I adore this dish when halibut is in season or when I can snag a gorgeous piece of black or ling cod.

I like to enjoy the fresh and enticing flavors of this White Fish Florentine paired with a bottle of DaVinci Pinot Grigio. Perfection!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

Serving Size: 4

White Fish Florentine with DaVinci Pinot Grigio

A great way to use all that fishing trip fish stocked in the freezer or the spinach you froze from summer. Substitute with fresh winter greens instead of spinach and spike with your favorite spices rather than the Dijon.

Ingredients

  • 1lb fresh spinach (or 1 large pkg frozen organic chopped spinach)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (for a saucier dish add ½ cup cream)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest and a few squeezes of lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh fish (Cod, Ling Cod, Halibut, Snapper, Sole, if using snapper try to remove the bones prior to cooking)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • Serve with fresh lemon wedges

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and add the fresh spinach, in batches if you need. Sauté just until the spinach is wilted and transfer to a dish. Continue until all the spinach has been sautéed. Let the spinach cool a bit and then squeeze all the excess liquid from the spinach. Coarsely chop the sautéed spinach and set aside.

Or, if using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out all the excess liquid.

In the same sauté pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic for one minute or until fragrant. Next, stir in the heavy cream, Dijon mustard and lemon zest. Take the pan off the heat and fold in the chopped spinach until combined with the sauce. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, just enough so the fish won’t stick. Season each piece of fish with salt and pepper and place the fish in the baking dish in a single layer.

Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the fish. Then squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the spinach and fish. Mix together the bread crumbs and grated parmesan and then sprinkle on top of the spinach.

Place the fish into the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until the fish is flaky and done. Typically you can cook fish about 10 minutes for every inch of thickness, however, because we’ve layered with spinach and breadcrumbs cooking time may be longer.

When the fish is done, remove from the oven and serve with fresh lemon wedges.

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This dish is inspired by my visit to Tuscany with the 2013 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience and adapted from many versions of Fish Florentine.  I dined on something similar and I was so impressed with the simple but flavorful meal I had to re-create it for this website. Enjoy! 

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes Soup

Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

I could eat my weight in cauliflower and in red curry cauliflower soup.  I like it steamed, roasted, pureed into mashers, served raw with pesto or Bagna Cauda and in soup.  Who knew this opaque and not terribly attractive veggie could light my culinary fire?

I think it has to be in the top five of my favorite veggies.  Cauliflower is versatile, affordable, nutritious and relatively painless to prepare, just like this Red Curry Cauliflower Soup. 

Red Curry Cauliflower Soup // Karista's Kitchen

This soup couldn’t be easier.  It also holds well in the frig for up to three days, as well as in the freezer for up to two months.  I love pairing this soup with a seasonal chopped salad and crusty bread or Naan for dipping.

I also serve this soup as a starter for a dinner party or a light lunch with an Asian chicken salad.  And of course, you can dine on a bowl of this soup a la carte with your favorite glass of wine.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

Serving Size: 2-4

Red Curry Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2-2 1/2 lbs) stemmed and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 stick lemongrass, halved vertically
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk (not light)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Squeeze of lime juice to taste
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat. When it’s hot add the onion and sauté until translucent. Then add the garlic, chopped cauliflower, lemongrass, fresh ginger, cilantro and vegetable broth. Let the veggies and broth simmer on low for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.

Next, stir in the coconut milk, Thai red curry paste and turmeric. Bring it back to a simmer. Let the soup simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes to bring all the flavors together.

With an immersion blender, blend the soup to a puree. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup to a blender or vitamix and puree. Then pour the soup back into the pot. If the soup feels too thick, add another ¼ cup veggie broth until you feel you have the right consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and then add a squeeze or two of lime juice to taste.

Garnish with sliced green onions or fresh cilantro.

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Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Julia’s Banana Bread

Julia's Banana Bread

You know when you stumble onto food that stays in your food memories forever?  That is this banana bread.

A few years ago Ranger Craig and I were exploring the more remote parts of Maui and stumbled onto a banana bread hut.  After driving miles of winding roads, up and down sloping and sometimes steep hillsides, between the greenest and lush valley’s, we found a place called Kahakuloa.  And we found banana bread.  Not just an ordinary banana bread.  This was hands down the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted.  Moist, the perfect amount of sweetness and the purest banana flavor with the most intense banana fragrance.  I’m not sure if it was because we were on vacation and I had just finished a harrowing scuba diving lesson but banana bread has never tasted so good.

I’ve tried recreating this banana bread at least a dozen times.  I’ve come close but for some reason I could never achieve the same taste and texture as the banana bread in Maui.  I knew I was most likely over thinking the ingredient list. So, I decided to hit the web and do a little research.  It seems I’m not the only one smitten by this banana bread recipe.

Julia's Banana Bread

I found it on Bon Appetit  out of the kitchen section.  Julia’s Banana Bread.  There it was in black and white with a snapshot of the lush bread.  As I read the ingredient list I giggled.  So simple, so pure, no wonder this bread is so delicious.

Now I pass it along to you! Just a few simple ingredients that most of us already have stocked.  It doesn’t take but a few minutes to whip up, pop it in the oven for about an hour and you will have the most delicious and pure tasting banana bread.  I baked it exactly as the recipe reads with the exception of using coconut palm sugar instead of granulated sugar (because that’s what I had in my pantry).  The second time I made this bread, I subbed the veggie oil with my favorite extra virgin olive oil.  It was perfection.

Cheers to Fall and all the lush comforting foods that accompany the season!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Julia’s Banana Bread

Serving Size: Makes one 9x3x5 loaf pan

Julia’s Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • Oil or butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed *ripe bananas (about 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with oil or butter.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.

*For more intense ripe banana flavor I set my two peeled bananas in a glass bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the liquid that has accumulated with the banana pulp and use. This will help ripen a "less ripe" banana and intensify the banana flavors.

This bread can be prepared up to three days in advance and store in an airtight container. Which makes this a lovely food gift for the holidays.

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Recipe by Julia’s Banana Bread Treehouse in Kahakuloa, HI