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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

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    I am deeply in love with Pork Chile Verde.  The tangy flavors of tomatillo and lime combined with the spicy heat from poblanos makes for a most delicious and comforting meal.  Add in a scoop of Basmati rice and I’m in comfort food heaven.  It’s a “warm you to the bones” dish that has once again returned to its rightful place on the Fall dining table.

    This dish is simple to prepare but it does have several steps involved.  Most often I make this on the weekend and let it simmer low and slow.  But sometimes I’ll roast the poblanos, cube and season the pork (not with the flour however) make the sauce Verde and make the rice the on a weeknight.

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    Then the next evening, I’ll put it all together and simmer until done.  We’re a late dinner family by American standards; most of the time dinner is served at 7pm. So prepping the night before and then making the dish next evening works well at my house.

    Cheers to the enjoying the new season with a bowl of comfort!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    3-4lbs pork shoulder, boneless and cut into 2 inch cubes

    Salt and pepper

    Extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup all-purpose flour for dusting pork cubes (omit for GF recipe)

    2 12 ounce cans whole tomatillos, drained

    2 white onions, 1 onion coarsely chopped and 1 onion diced

    2 cloves garlic

    Juice of one lime

    Handful cilantro

    2-3 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded

    2 cups chicken broth

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Fresh cilantro or chopped green onion for garnish

    Serve with cooked basmati rice

    Directions

    If you have roasted the poblanos, start them now. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Then place the poblanos on a foil lined baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast until skins are blackish brown and blistered.  Remove them from the oven and wrap them in the foil from the baking sheet.  Let them rest for about 5-10 minutes while you prepare the Chile Verde.  When the poblanos are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, tops and seeds inside and then dice the poblanos.

    In a blender, vita mix or food processor, add the tomatillos, coarsely chopped onion, garlic, juice of one lime and handful of cilantro. Pulse until the sauce Verde is smooth. Set aside.

    Place the pork cubes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Then toss the pork cubes with ¼ cup all purpose flour.

    Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add a little oil and when the pan and oil are hot add the pork cubes in batches.  You don’t want to add to much pork at one time or the pork cubes won’t brown.  It usually takes me 3-4 batches to brown the pork.

    Transfer the browned pork to a plate and then add the diced onion to the large pot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium if needed.

    Saute the onions until they are wilted and a golden brown. Then add the pork cubes and any juice from the pork and the diced roasted poblano peppers back into the pot.  Stir in the sauce Verde and chicken broth.  Bring the Chile Verde to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer the Chile Verde uncovered for at least 1 ½ -2 hours.

    Season to taste with salt and pepper. I’ve found poblano peppers can be extremely hot or somewhat mild.  As with most peppers, the heat is in the seeds and veins.  If your Chile Verde isn’t spicy enough, add a dash of chipotle chile powder or hot sauce.

    The Chile Verde is ready when the pork is fork tender and the chile has thickened a bit. Serve in bowls with a scoop of Basmati Rice and chopped fresh cilantro or green onions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Pasta Risotto Sassy Side dishes

    Chianti Risotto

    Chianti Risotto with DaVinci Chianti

    Chianti Risotto tastes like one giant food hug.

    Fall of 2013, I was in a whirlwind of excitement and slowly coming down off my travel and culinary cloud after being in Italy for two weeks.  I think in all that excitement I failed to post this lovely dish.

    I originally created this gorgeous Chianti Risotto for DaVinci Wine . I was one of four very lucky bloggers to join the DaVinci Wine team in Vinci, Italy to learn all about Chianti wine-making. It. Was. Glorious.

    Naturally, I had to pair these two ingredients together, making one very cozy and gorgeous looking dish.

    This Chianti Risotto is one of those special recipes I reserve for a weekend when everyone is home and gathered in the kitchen.  We take turns stirring the risotto, chatting, sipping wine, nibbling on bruschetta and savoring the precious moments together.  You can certainly make this on a weeknight (and I do that as well) but it’s such an indulgent and rich dish I love to sit and relish the dish over a long weekend evening.

    Risotto is a staple in most Italian kitchens and it’s served in many forms. Which is truly the beauty of risotto.  It travels through seasons adapting to a multitude of ingredients, never wearing out its welcome on the dinner table.

    I adore the subtle fruitiness of the DaVinci Chianti and I thought it would make a lovely addition to risotto. Top with crispy fried sage, fresh grated parmesan or shaved pecorino and this is comfort food at its most delicious.  For a heartier version of this deeply colored risotto, I topped it with a farm fresh fried egg.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

     

    Chianti Risotto

    Serving Size: 2-3 as an entree, 4 as a side dish

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about 2-3 tablespoons)
    • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
    • 1 cup DaVinci Chianti
    • 4 -5 cups beef broth, warmed
    • Knob of unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 6-8 large sage leaves
    • Shaved pecorino
    • Optional: top each serving with a fried egg

    Instructions

  • In a large pot over medium high heat add the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the shallots and sauté for just a minute or two and then add the rice. Stir the rice for about 2 minutes and then add the cup of DaVinci Chianti and stir until the wine is absorbed.
  • Turn the heat down to medium or medium low and stir in 1 cup of the warm beef broth. Simmer until the broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Repeat this process with about ½ cup of broth at a time and continue to cook until the rice is almost tender.
  • Be sure to allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next. This takes about 20 minutes. When the rice is done, add additional broth if you feel the risotto is too thick. I like a thinner risotto.
  • Stir in the parmesan cheese and a knob of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the risotto rest while you prepare the sage leaves and/or fried eggs.
  • In a small sauté pan heat some olive oil and when the oil is very hot add the sage leaves, turning them in the oil as they brown. Once crispy, take the pan off the heat and set the fried sage on a paper towel lined plate.
  • Place the risotto in individual serving bowls and garnish with a fried sage leave, shaved pecorino, and if you wish, a fried egg.
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    Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood Shrimp

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Fresh Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Cilantro Slaw

    I wish I could tell you this is a new recipe.  It’s not.  Actually it’s a revision, maybe adaption is a better word.  Most likely due to changes in my palate as well as changes in my culinary style.   I’ve been making assorted fish tacos for years.  Assembling the little lovelies differently each time.  Allowing my playful culinary visions to shine through.   I posted the original recipe way back in 2010, when I used my little point and shoot Canon to take food photos.  A hearty little silver blue camera that did the job for a while.

    But then I started getting fussy about my food pictures.  I read somewhere that chef’s are the worst food photographers.  At first glance I took offense to that statement.  But it couldn’t have been more true, especially way back in the day when I started this website.  For me, It’s always been about the food.  The explosion of flavor that happens when something delectable hits the palate.  But somewhere in the mix, I realized a great photo was a true representation of my masterpiece.  And it should look as good as the food tastes.  Not to mention, the old photo made me cringe.  Literally, it kept me up at night.

    This is a lovely dish that certainly deserves a lovely photo.  And it’s a lovely dish that can be prepared so many different ways.  Grilled or Roasted Salmon (or any fresh fish you have on hand), spicy or sweet crema, spicy or sweet slaw, with our without pineapple and/or mango.  And if you love avocado as much as I do, toss a slice on top of your taco to complete this lush recipe.

    I’ve included some fun options for these tacos in the recipe below.  Different ideas to season, additional options for the slaw and the crema… or as my family likes to say “the sauce”.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema and Fresh Cilantro Slaw

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    For the Salmon

    1 1/2 lbs fresh salmon filets

    Olive oil

    ½  teaspoon chili powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

    ½ teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    Options:  Instead of using my fish spice mixture, feel free to use your favorite spicy fish taco seasoning or Emerils Essence Seasoning also makes a delish option for these tacos. 

    For the Chipotle Lime Crema

    ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (you may want to begin with 1/4 teaspoon, taste, and then add more if you like)

    1 cup crème Fraiche or sour cream

    zest of 1 lime

    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    1 teaspoon sugar

    Options: substitute mayonnaise for the sour cream and Sriracha or hot sauce for the chipotle chili powder. 

    For the Cilantro Slaw

    2 cups shredded fresh cabbage

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    2  tablespoons sugar

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Options:  add diced fresh pineapple, mango or papaya to the slaw. If you don’t like cilantro, substitute with sliced green onions.

    Garnish

    Your favorite salsa or pico de gallo

    8 – 10 corn tortillas, steamed or warmed (I either warm them over my grill, gas stove top or in the microwave.

    Fresh sliced Avocado (optional)

    Lime wedges

    Directions

    Heat the grill to 400F. Brush the grill racks with oil.

    Mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.  Rub the salmon with oil and then sprinkle liberally with the spice mixture.

    When the grill is hot, place the salmon flesh side down on the grill. Let the salmon sear and cook for about 4 minutes, and then carefully flip the fish with a wide spatula and grill another 4 minutes, or a little longer for salmon that is cooked through.  If the salmon doesn’t want to flip, it’s probably not ready.  Just let it sit for another minute or two, turning the heat down if needed.  Rule of thumb: fish should cook 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

    Transfer the cooked salmon to a platter to cool.

    While the salmon is cooling, whisk together the creme fraiche, chipotle chili powder, lime zest, lime juice and sugar. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set aside.

    Wisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss the dressing with the shredded cabbage and cilantro.

    Flake the grilled salmon, removing any bones. Fill the steamed tortillas with the grilled salmon, top with chipotle lime crema, your favorite salsa or pico de gallo, and the shredded cabbage with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and fresh avocado slices. Enjoy!

     

     

    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Hawaiian Grilled Chicken and The Writing Process Tour

    Pineapple Juice, soy sauce marinated and grilled chicken // karista's Kitchen

    Recently my friend and colleague, Wendy of Chez Chloe the food blog (and also by the same name – a gorgeous Home and Kitchen store on Orcas Island, Washington) asked if I would participate in an online writing process tour.

    Because I am completely nosy and curious about how other writers pen their poetic or educational prose, and because often, I stalk my favorite writers and then proceed to ask lots of writing related questions – I thought it would be fun to participate.

    What are you working on? 

    Hmmm… I think the best question would be, what am I not working on?  My work takes me in many different directions.  Which feeds my generous love for diversity in my daily schedule.

    Currently, I’m writing and testing recipes for a winter/holiday magazine issue for one of my lovely clients; writing and testing wine-pairing recipes for two more fantastic clients; writing and testing recipes for future issues of VRAI Magazine; writing food related content for an online e-commerce fashion and home accessories website; desperately trying to finish a small e-cookbook on salmon (to be released soon) and posting my personal recipes and musings on my website.

    How does your work differ from others of its genre?

    I learned a long time ago I’m not a traditional food blogger.  I tried. But I soon realized I arrived late to the party, as usual, and I’m not fiercely competitive.  I am however, passionate. Passionate about culinary arts, culinary education and quality, clean, local food.  I am passionate about the local farmer and how we can help each and every one of them sustain their farms. I am passionate about food products that use only the best, cleanest ingredients to help keep our bodies healthy.  In a sentence… I want my work to reflect my passion.

    I don’t typically write personal posts, going on and on about my day or how I’m feeling at the moment.  I don’t mind reading blogs that share more personal information, sometimes I rather enjoy them. But I feel my job and professional strengths are to inform, educate, inspire and sometimes amuse.  I love to laugh and I love to hear laughter.

    On occasion though, I might write about my sweet pup, Tank, who amuses me terribly. Or my two sassy gals – who make my life worth living.  Or my adventurous husband who always seems to take adventure to a new level.  He most definitely feeds my generous love of daily diversity!

    Karista's Kitchen

    The Bennett Five

    I believe my work only differs in that it reflects me.  It reflects my deep and profound love for what I do.  The passion, the art, the education and all the deliciousness that’s infused into every recipe and post I write.  I write to share. That’s how it all began.

    Why do you write what you do?

    I think I answered that in the paragraph above.  I’m famous for not directly answering a question.  Ask my husband.  He get’s half a novel with each question he asks.

    How does your writing process work?

    This too differs daily.  I develop recipes, write content about the recipe and photograph the recipe. Each portion is equally important, which is why I give lots of thought and research to every recipe I develop.

    Writing the related content about the recipe depends on my clients specifications.  Much of what I write is written specifically for the publication and their demographic.  I tailor the content as beautifully as I can, weaving in non-fiction stories if warranted, or poetic verse about the season.

    When I write, it’s usually always while sitting at my small, rather rustic, painted black desk in front of a window that faces east… with morning light.  Sometimes I play a little Josh Bell or cello music.  Vivaldi is my preferred music to write by, but on occasion some Wailin Jenny’s or Allison Krause will do the job.  I like the house to be quiet when I write. Which is why I write in the morning.  I never, ever answer my phone while I’m writing.  In fact, I turn it off.  This annoys my children.

    There are times when I’m testing a recipe – cooking, plating, photographing – when verse will come to mind and I’ll stop and jot it down.  I keep pens and notepaper all over the house and in my handbag.  I never know when something inspirational will pop into my head and I’ll need to write it down.

    Often my husband and I will be out and about or having dinner somewhere and I’ll grab my phone and start making notes.  It’s amazing how so many things around me can inspire me.  A beautifully plated creation at a new restaurant, a farmer’s market brimming with brilliantly colored produce,  dark and ominous storm clouds rolling past, threatening to unleash at any moment; an older couple strolling the sidewalk holding hands or a songbird singing his best song outside my window.  Little things that provoke or awaken and inspire.

    pineapple and tamari marinated grilled chicken // Karista's Kitchen

    Today, I’m sharing a recipe as well. This, a consolation for reading my very wordy post.

    This grilled chicken dish is one my husband and I have been making for at least the last 20 years. Prior to culinary school the marinade was extremely simple.  Teriyaki sauce and pineapple juice.  Recently I jazzed it up a bit adding garlic and honey and using gluten free Tamari instead of a Teriyaki sauce.

    Flavorful, moist and juicy grilled chicken that will have you licking your lips.  I serve this dish with my Carrot Cilantro Salad or my Mother in laws Macaroni Salad.  Perfect for the casual summer barbecue.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Hawaiian Grilled Chicken

    This is one of my simplest chicken recipes.  So easy, so delicious and perfect for a casual summer meal.

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    4-5lbs bone-in, skin on, chicken pieces (breast, legs, thighs)

    3 cups pineapple juice (not sweetened)

    10 ounces Tamari (soy sauce)

    1/4 cup honey

    4-5 garlic cloves, smashed

    1/4 cup sliced green onions for garnish

    Directions

    Whisk together the pineapple juice, Tamari, honey and garlic.  Place the chicken pieces in a large non-reactive dish or bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.  On occasion, I’ll prepare it first thing in the morning and it’s ready to grill by dinner time.

    Heat the grill to at least 400F.  Brush the grill grates with oil.  The chicken will stick at first, but should turn easily after a few minutes.  Watch the flame as the marinade can burn.  Turn the chicken a few times while grilling and in between turns, keep the grill lid down so the chicken will cook evenly.  Adjust the heat as needed.

    The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165F.  Depending on the type of grill you use it will take about 20-30 minutes.  Place the chicken on a platter and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with grilled corn on the cob and my Carrot Cilantro Salad or Macaroni Salad.  A perfect summer meal!

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Cucumber Greek Salad

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I can’t eat enough salad these days.  Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s all the beautiful produce at the Farmer’s Market and my Co-op – quietly taunting me with brilliant shades of summer color and fresh earthy scents as I slowly meander by.

    Salad is a lovely way to enjoy the warmer months.  No need to turn on a stove top or oven, fresh ingredients that are easily prepped and assembled and can be as fun and festive or as traditional as you desire.

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I keep an assortment of vinegar and olive oil in my pantry for a quick dressing.  Don’t worry about getting to fancy or spending a lot of time making the dressing.  Just a dash of your best olive oil and favorite vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper will do.  Get a little wild and purchase a champagne, pinot noir or sherry vinegar or high quality flavored vinegar to keep on hand for all your summer salad creations.

    This enticing Cucumber Greek Salad was inspired by the traditional Greek salad that we all know and love.  I makes a lovely light lunch or paired with grilled salmon for the loveliest of summer al fresco dining.  Divine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Cucumber Greek Salad

    All the ingredients are approximate.  Feel free to adjust to your taste preference.  Sometimes I load the salad with olives and sometimes I keep it simple with just a few.  Let your taste buds be your guide.

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    2 large cucumbers, peeled or partially peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch slices.

    1/2 cup pitted assorted olives (I like using stuffed green and pitted kalamata olives)

    1/2 cup small diced or crumbled herbed or marinated feta cheese

    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

    1/4 cup coarsely chopped or torn fresh mint leaves

    Optional: Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

    Salt and pepper

    Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

    Drizzle of sherry, champagne, red wine, pinot noir or balsamic vinegar

    Directions

    Layer the cucumber on a platter or in a large serving bowl.  Next layer the olives, then the feta cheese, next the red onion and then last, top with the fresh mint.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil.

    I love this served on a large platter but if you prefer, put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and vinegar.  Garnish with extra chopped mint.

    Enjoy!

     

     

     

     

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a miracle!  I have now posted two sweets in one week.  Thought I’d never see the day this would happen but I couldn’t help myself.

    My sister, Kristin from Little Lace Box,  mentioned it’s National Donut day and I should post a donut recipe.  That’s code for “Hey, I need a donut recipe to make for my family this weekend.”  🙂 I love requests!

    I’m more of a savory foods kind of gal but there are moments when a donut sounds like a lovely indulgence. However, truth be told, I’m terribly picky about my donuts.  You could say I’m a bit of a donut snob.  I like a real, honest to goodness quality ingredient donut.  The kind that my sweet neighbor used to make in her little country kitchen.

    Cardamom Coconut Flour with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    Aunt Nancy, as we so lovingly called her, made the best donuts I’ve ever eaten.  She made cake donuts and yeast donuts, putting loads of love into every donut that came out of her oven or her big cast iron pot of sizzling oil.

    Then she would slather them in icing or powdered sugar, set them on her kitchen table and serve them with glasses of fresh whole milk.  Such a delicious memory!

    Today, when I do indulge in a donut it’s usually from Top Pot Donuts in Seattle or VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Alas, I’m nowhere near either of those locations this week, so I made my own donuts.  These are what I call “Bennett friendly” donuts.  With all the food allergies in this house I had to come up with something everyone can enjoy.

    Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs and few other ingredients makes for a delicious donut that has the texture of a cake donut.  I know, I know, this is not a traditional donut like Aunt Nancy used to make.  But these are delicious and if you are craving a sweet indulgence, this will definitely keep your swimsuit eating plan in check, as well as avoid those nagging food allergies.

    I top my donuts with a rich vanilla icing drizzle and sprinkles or white chocolate chips.  The fragrant cardamom shines through but doesn’t over power; and the vanilla icing brings all the flavors and textures together for one lovely, enticing sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Makes 6 large donuts or 9 mini donuts

    Ingredients

    ½ cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)

    1/3 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    ¾ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

    Pinch of salt

    2 eggs, preferably room temperature

    3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

    ½ cup warm water

    Donut pans (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond)

    Vanilla Icing

    1 cup powdered sugar

    1 -2 tablespoons milk

    1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and pinch of salt.

    In an electric mixer, mix together the 2 eggs, oil and warm water.

    Once the wet mixture is nicely blended slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth but firm batter.  If will feel almost like a dough.

    Spray the donut pans with olive oil or coconut spray and then fill them evenly.

    Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

    Let them cool a bit and then turn them onto a cooling rack.  When the donuts are cool you can frost or drizzle the icing onto the donuts and decorate with pretty sprinkles or mini white chocolate chips.

    This batter also makes excellent muffins or mini muffins!

    Recipe adapted from pure2raw.com

    Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

    Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

    Grilled Rib-Eye With Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette Karista's Kitchen

    We’ve just launched the 4th fabulous issue of VRAI Magazine and I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting and new online magazine!  Filled with food, travel, DIY, Gardening and more.

    VRAI Magazine is made up of real bloggers, with varying backgrounds, expertise and unique perspectives, who are passionate about sharing stories. In these stories, you’ll also find wonderful ideas, inspirations and information for everyday living, as well as topics of interest that are designed to spark genuine conversations. “Life is filled with stories both big and small. They can be found in big events and milestones throughout life or even in the most mundane acts of each day — there is always a story worth telling.  Through VRAI Magazine, we hope to capture and share some of them with you.”

    In this issue of VRAI Magazine I talk GRILLING!  Here’s a sneak peek:

    I get positively giddy this time of year.  With the longer days and warmer temperatures, grilling once again becomes my preferred method of cooking.  Gone are the cooler days and Pacific Northwest winter weather that requires rain gear while grilling. 

    Although I enjoy most methods of cooking, there is something about grilling that feels just a bit festive, carefree and whimsical. Maybe it’s the feeling of warm summer months when life is slower and less scheduled.  Fresh produce arriving with color and intense ripened flavors just aching to be tossed into some delicious concoction to share.

    Grilling steak couldn’t be easier, but there are a few simple steps that will make your steak taste like perfection. 

    1. Quality is key –  Purchasing a quality cut of beef is key to a delicious and flavorful steak.  I prefer purchasing local beef that has been grazing in a nice open pasture and preferably grass-fed only. (I know, I sound like the television show Portlandia) Truly, fresh is best for optimum flavor.  Not only does buying local mean your steak will be fresh, you will be supporting your local economy.  If  you don’t have access to a  local beef rancher, try to purchase beef from your region.  Most local markets purchase regionally,  or ask your local butcher.

    For the Grilled Rib-eye with Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and a Grilled Romaine Recipe head on over to VRAI Magazine…  Click Here!

    Stay Tuned – Coming up this week, I will be posting a most delicious and special pastry recipe from Italy.   Buon Appetito!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

    Karista

     

    Karista's Kitchen Salad vegetarian

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

    Do you remember this blast from the past?  Green Goddess Dressing.  My Mom used to serve this dressing with our dinner salad at least once a week.  As a kid I thought it was such a peculiar name for a salad dressing and I remember I liked to say “Green Goddess” as if it were some magical word that might turn me into a super hero.  Yes, those were the days I was watching Electra Woman and Dyna Girl on Saturday mornings.  Ah… the mind of a child.

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

    Today, the dressing doesn’t quite hold the same meaning for me – but it’s still magical to my taste buds.  Although this dressing is prepared with a mayonnaise and sour cream base, it’s rather light with fresh lemon and assorted fresh herbs, garlic, intensely flavored anchovies and of course the crowning glory of my version of this lovely dressing, avocado.  Whipped up into a lovely pastel colored dressing for greens, vegetables, salads, shrimp and fish.

    I adore Oregon pink shrimp, the small bay size shrimp, and if I have them stocked in my frig, I’ll toss those over the top as well.   And on occasion, I’ll slather it on toast and then proceed to make myself a summer tomato and avocado sandwich.

    Wishing you all Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes!

    Karista

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing

    Ingredients

    1 ripe medium avocado

    1/4 cup mayonnaise

    1/4 cup sour cream

    2 anchovies

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    1 clove garlic

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I like Italian parsley, basil, oregano and chive)

    1/4 cup fresh chopped chive for garnish

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Sprinkling of diced cooked bacon (optional)

    Bay Shrimp (optional)

    Avocado slices

    lemon wedges

    Directions

    Place in a blender or food processor the avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh herbs and garlic clove. Puree until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

    Serve over fresh butter lettuce wedges and garnish with chopped fresh chive, avocado slices and lemon wedges.  For a heartier meal I love sweet bay shrimp tossed onto the butter lettuce wedges or diced cooked bacon.

    This dressing is also lovely over mixed greens, grilled romaine or romaine wedges.

    Karista's Kitchen Salad Seafood

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with DaVinci Chianti

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucmber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

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

    “DaVinci wine is created in a magical place.  Tuscany; a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.  The air smells of sweet, sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs –  all muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil”.

    These were the first words I wrote the day I arrived at the Casale Leonardo da Vinci Villa in Vinci, Italy last fall.

    Never have I been so enamored with a landscape; and enchanted by the people who inhabit it.

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucumber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

    On a warm summer day last August, 2013, my daughter and I had loaded the last of our belongings into the car.  I walked back down the little gravel path and stood in the entry doorway, giving my home once last glance – then closing and locking it one last time.  We were moving to Oregon.  Bittersweet.  Trying to hold back the tears as we looked back at the house we had called home for 12 years.  My daughter, being a brave soul, reassured her Mom that it would be ok. “We aren’t moving that far away” she said.  I smiled.

    Then I said, “this is the beginning of a new adventure”.

    And it was.

    Just as we crossed the Washington Oregon border my phone rang.  Thankfully, my teenage daughter was driving so I answered the call.   A lovely lady announced to me that I had been selected the 2013 Culinary Arts DaVinci Wine Storyteller.  I remember asking the lovely lady to repeat what she had said.  The only words that would escape my lips was “really?” “I never win anything!” And then of course, thanking her profusely for delivering the most fantastic news.

    This time I really was in tears.  So excited, so honored to have been selected to represent the culinary arts for DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience 2013.

    DaVinci Chianti with Radish Cucumber Salad 4

    Radish Cucumber Greens with Spicy Crema and DaVinci Chianti

    It was a grand adventure.  Looking back and reading my second journal entry I recall the swells of emotion. “The beauty of Tuscany mirrors the beauty of its people and its food”. “A culture rich with history and laced with passion. A passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table”.

    The 2014 Storyteller Experience is under way and DaVinci Wine is once again looking for the best storytellers in culinary arts, photography, writing, fine arts and more.  Bloggers and creative storytellers of all kinds can now apply.   Grab a pen, warm up the typing fingers, “Like” the DaVinci Facebook page and go fill out the application.  The deadline is May 31, 2014.   Twelve finalists will be chosen and then voted on by DaVinci Wine Facebook fans to ultimately select the final four winners.

    I’m excited just thinking about it! If you’d like to apply, click HERE.  Be sure to check out the winners from years past by clicking HERE!

    The lovely folks from DaVinci Wine, who I adore, have asked me to share my Storyteller Experience and how I now create a little “Chianti at Home”.  Over the next few months, I will be pairing the DaVinci Chianti, Chianti Reserva and Pinot Grigio with recipes I serve at my family table.  Lush, enticing and mouthwatering recipes that pair perfectly with DaVinci Chianti here at Home.

    Chianti at Home with Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos and DaVinci Chianti

    The first of the “Chianti at Home” recipes is this flavorful and festive Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos.  Simply prepared and laced with fresh and spicy flavors of the season.  Although this is  technically a “seafood” taco, the delicate but firm and meaty texture of the Ahi tuna pairs beautifully with the DaVinci Chianti.

    The subtle fruit notes and smooth texture of the Chianti compliments the fresh and spicy flavors of the radish and cucumber greens and crema, as well as the firm and meaty texture of the seared Ahi tuna.  If you’re looking for a complimentary white wine to pair with the tacos, the DaVinci Wine Pinot Grigio also beautifully compliments this lovely dish..  Flavors that balance, entice the palate and compliment DaVinci Wines.

    Celebrate the Spring and Summer seasons by bringing a little Chianti to your Home!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    *This is a sponsored post by the lovely folks at DaVinci Wine

                                                                                                                                                         

    Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish Cucumber Greens and Spicy Crema

    Serves 4 (can easily be doubled for guests)

    Ingredients

    1 ½ lbs Ahi tuna fillets, sushi grade (remove the tuna from the frig 15 minutes prior to cooking. This will allow the skillet to stay hot and quickly sear the tuna)

    Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

    ½ teaspoon dried oregano

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

    2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter (or another high heat oil)

    For the Greens and Spicy Crema

    2 medium radishes, thinly sliced

    1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

    2 cups (or more if you’d like an extra side salad) mixed seasonal greens

    ½ crumbled Cotija cheese

    ¼ cup cilantro leaves (optional)

    ½ cup good quality mayonnaise

    2 tablespoons lime juice

    1 teaspoon sugar or any other natural alternative (not honey however, as honey is more of a flavoring rather than a sweetener)

    Dash of chipotle powder or Sriracha (both are delicious, however the chipotle powder gives a smoky flavor)

    2 limes, quartered

    Corn tortillas

    Directions

    In a small bowl mix together the dried oregano, ground cumin and paprika.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper and then rub the herb/spice mixture on both sides of the tuna fillets.

    Next, heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat.  (A cast iron skillet works well for this recipe)  Add a few tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or any other high heat oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place one tuna fillet in the skillet and let it brown.  About two minutes on each side.  You want both sides golden brown with a pink center.

    Remove the tuna fillet and set it on a cutting board.  Repeat the process with the remaining tuna fillets.

    Once the tuna is done, slice against the grain so the tuna doesn’t fall apart.  Set aside and prepare the greens.

    Toss together the radishes, cucumber, mixed greens and cilantro leaves.  Season with a little salt and pepper and squeeze of lime juice.

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and chipotle powder or Sriracha.

    Warm the tortillas in a steamer or wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven making sure they don’t dry out.  If you have a microwave, corn tortillas warm nicely in about 10 seconds in a microwave.

    To assemble:

    Place the radish and cucumber greens in the bottom of a tortilla and then top with a slice or two of Ahi tuna.  Drizzle with the spicy crema and garnish with cotija cheese.  Repeat the process and place the tacos on a large platter with the quartered limes to serve.

    Serve with your favorite homemade salsa, guacamole, tortilla chips – and DaVinci Chianti.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

    Thighs with Coconut Rice

    It took me a few days to put into words how I feel about this lovely lady.  A most poetic author, who never fails to capture my attention with her “dreamy” prose.

    Dreamy.  Marni’s word.  Every time I hear it, read it, see it – I think of her.  Long time acquaintances, now friends.  I won’t give away the story as she’s written a bit about it below, but I can tell you, I never forgot her.  You know, that one person you sort of knew, really liked, but never had the opportunity to be real friends?  And then, years later I discovered her blog.  Her love of the written word.  Her talent I so admire.

    Sometimes Marni lets me sneak peaks at what she’s writing, what she’s working on.  And again, it’s always “dreamy”.   A talented gal, Marni started a stationary company along with her blog called “noted“.  There you’ll find her beautiful and exquisite line of stationary as well as poetic verse of life, love, family, humor and anything that strikes her fancy.  I find myself constantly checking her blog just to read a new snippet of her writing.  And of course, I have “noted” stationary (and a pencil!) in my office.  She’s a published author, gracious and lovely with a quiet strength that exudes a zest for life and love and all that’s dreamy.

    In honor of this most delicious post, Marni asked me to post a dish that one might take to a neighbor.  A perfect pairing with her story.   This Spiced Apricot Chicken with Coconut Rice is an enchanting meal for a neighbor, family or friends.  Thank you Marni for guest posting!

    t Rice

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Hi! My name is Marni and I am the creator of “noted.”, a stationery line as well as a blog where I note my favorite moments. Karista has been a friend both near… here in Mesa, Arizona, and far… social media and through blogging.

    Her daughter Alex and my son Hayden were friends in kindergarten. Back then life was a blur of childhood activity. There seemed to be only short moments of pocketed conversation between school drop offs and pick-ups and the occasional play date or birthday party for catching up.

    I remember Alex attending Hayden’s sixth birthday party at the park, and then, as if time fast forwarded leaving a bit of itself behind, there is Karista four years later, packed and ready to move to Washington.  I can see her, standing at one end of my living room while I am at the other, she is looking up and over me, maybe admiring the newly faux finished walls (fad of the times), or maybe looking out the shuttered window behind me at our swimming pool, and then an emptiness fills me that we missed our moment to connect.

    We could have been more than our children’s mothers to one another, we could have been close friends. That  moment  is stamped to my memory, a  memorized  profile pic that pops up whenever I think about her or she sends me a quick text, bringing me back to that day in my living room, and I notice our connection was there all along, waiting for us to realize it.

    Sometimes it’s a parenting question or more often a note of confidence, stirring me on, keeping my words bubbling gently to the top, she knows I work best at a slow simmer. My dreamiest times happen there. Something warm on the stove that needs my calm attention giving my mind space to wander, eyes gazing out the window, drawing them to notice the tree that was bare for the past two years has gathered up the courage to leaf out!

    I honestly didn’t think it would make it. It was a transplanted tree you see. We moved into our home two years ago this past December and immediately our next door neighbor came to my husband,  outside unloading boxes in the garage, and asked if we would mind cutting down a backyard tree. His first introduction. He even had the business card in hand of the tree service and offered to pay himself! He wanted that washed out shade of green with needle like leaves that didn’t seem to serve any purpose but litter his pool, gone.

    I didn’t really like the tree, knew it was temporary, but my territorial defenses surrounding our new space we had as yet to associate as home, rose at the request.  How dare he ask us to cut down OUR  tree.

    After a few months, and experiencing his same pool grief, we agreed, paying for it ourselves while making it clear to him that we would be planting a new tree in that same approximate space. One that wasn’t so messy but a replacement tree none the less.  He was silent. We went ahead and planted a tree that was young and spindly but tall enough to make a subtle statement. Once planted it seemed to fill the space perfectly, not too close to our shared block wall and with the hope of a future canopy of green! I was looking forward to having a shady green corner one day, romanticizing, imagining myself sipping lemonade while turning the dog-eared pages of a borrowed book. Soon the spare amount of leaves it had clinging to its few branches dropped. Mostly in our yard.  Crunchy and dry, the tree went from green to brown in days.

    All that next spring and summer it was bald, like our neighbor Eric. It seemed as soon as it was nestled snug in the newly dug hole it went dormant. Maybe in shock from the new soil, or too much fertilizer, or maybe Eric had won. My curtain of hope closed. Nothing would grow in that finicky spot which is why the previous owners had chosen such a nuisance of a tree. Eric would be happy.  A private person, we would probably never know if he liked the outcome or not. He wasn’t unlikeable, just hard to read, a quiet neighbor…which I know from past experience can be the best neighbor.

    So here we are two years later, I was pretty much ready to give the tree the boot this spring if it didn’t perk up and produce, but this quiet tree I nicknamed “Eric’s tree” is now full of leaves.  Crazy happy leaves, bright green and lush as if it had been resting, quietly saving its energy just to surprise!

    Eric died in a small plane crash along with two other pilots taking off from Telluride this past January. I miss seeing his silent face, occasionally catching his eye long enough to challenge him with a friendly wave.  I am sad for his family. He never had much to say to me but “his” tree will grow to offer quiet shade in both our yards and its lovely ode to life makes me smile every day.

     

    Spiced Apricot Chicken and a Guest Author

    Serving Size: 4

    Ingredients

      For the Spiced Apricot Chicken
    • A tablespoon or two of coconut oil
    • 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 medium shallot, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1 star anise
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 cup dried apricots (or a mixture of dried apricots, golden raisins or dried cherries)
    • 1 cup white wine
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish (if you don’t like cilantro substitute with fresh Italian parsley
      For the Coconut Rice
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • ½ cup water
    • ¾ cup basmati rice
    • ¼ t salt

    Instructions

  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium high heat, adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken thighs. You want to see a nice deep brown color on the thighs. This creates flavor and will make the dish taste fabulous.
  • Once all the chicken thighs are browned (you may need to do this in batches) transfer to a plate and hold.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add additional coconut oil to the Dutch oven or large pot if needed. Stir in the shallots and let them wilt a bit. Next stir in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, star anise, fresh thyme and dried apricots. Give it a quick stir and then add the white wine.
  • Add the chicken thighs back into the Dutch oven or large pot and turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then turn the heat to low. Cover and let the chicken slow cook for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reach 165F.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Coconut Rice.
  • Once the chicken is done take it off the heat and let the chicken rest in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the coconut rice on a platter and then layer the chicken thighs on the rice. Ladle the sauce with the dried fruit over the chicken and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  • To prepare the Coconut Rice
  • Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

    Tuscan Herb Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Quick Tomato Sauce

    I have a saucy crew.  Serving a meal without a sauce, salsa, relish, chutney, drizzle, vinaigrette… you get the idea –  is just not done in my house.  Many of you may already know the story about my saucy crew, especially if  you attended my culinary classes.  I love telling this story. 🙂

    Years ago, I would arrive home from every culinary class motivated to master every challenge and every technique my instructors gave me.   So I practiced. Every night.  Most everything I chose to practice came with some sort of a sauce.  It was a French cooking school after all and much of the cuisine was French inspired… and saucy.

    However, one day I prepared a Chicken Milanese – which you might notice is not posted anywhere on my website.  I should post one; now that I think about it.  I served that Milanese in the traditional style and with just a squeeze of lemon.  No sauce.

    Oh the horror.  My darling family asked “where’s the sauce?”  I replied “there isn’t a sauce, it’s a Milanese.” To which my darling husband said “but we always have a sauce.”  Huh.

    So back into the kitchen I went to make a sauce.  It ended up being a delicious idea.  I whipped up a light and quick tomato sauce that paired perfectly with the chicken Milanese, making it taste a bit like a chicken parmesan sans the mozzarella.

    Today, the tradition continues.  A sauce or something “sauce like” is paired with most our family meals.  Which is why this lovely Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin is lounging on a platter of homemade tomato sauce.  Originally I paired this tenderloin recipe with a white wine sauce, however, on occasion I switch to this lovely and light tomato sauce.  A nice transition into spring and summer dining.

    If you’re short on time, and you don’t have homemade tomato sauce in the freezer, don’t worry about making your own sauce.   Your favorite good-quality jarred tomato sauce will do.  I typically make pots and pots of sauce (and stock) and keep it in my freezer for these occasions, but a jarred sauce is perfect when you’re preparing this on a busy weeknight.

    Wishing you all a most delicious and Happy Easter!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

    Serves 4-6 

    Ingredients

    1 ½ – 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin

    ¼ cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped

    ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or oregano

    3 cloves garlic minced

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne (optional)

    ½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

    Extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and Pepper

    Kitchen twine

    Quick Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

    Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan

    Serve with Gnocchi, pasta or creamy polenta and an Arugula and White Bean Salad 

    Directions

    In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, parsley, oregano or sage and garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and if you like a little spice add just a pinch of either cayenne or red pepper flakes.

    Place both tenderloins (most tenderloins come in pairs) on a cutting board and slice the tenderloins lengthwise about ¾ of the way through.  Fill the tenderloins with equal amounts of the herb and garlic mixture.  Next, sprinkle with salt and pepper and tie up the pork with kitchen twine, in about three different places to secure the herbs.

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Heat a large oven proof skillet on medium high heat and add a few drizzles of olive oil.  When the skillet is hot, but not smoking, brown the tenderloins on all sides.  Next add the white wine or chicken broth to the skillet and let it deglaze the pan a bit.

    Place the skillet in the oven and let the tenderloins roast for about 20-25 minutes or until done, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 140F degrees.  Once your pork is out of the oven, let it rest for at least 5 minutes to achieve optimum flavor and final cooking temperature of 145F.

    While your tenderloins are roasting prepare the tomato sauce.  Or, if you’re using homemade or jarred sauce, heat about 2 cups of sauce for the pork.

    Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board, remove the twine and slice at a slight diagonal about 8-10 slices per tenderloin.  Ladle the tomato sauce on the bottom of a platter and then place the tenderloin medallions on the sauce.  Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and grated parmesan.

    Quick Tomato Sauce

    Makes about 2-3 1/2 cups

    Ingredients

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    4-6 anchovies (keep the leftovers in the frig for soups, stews, salads and sauces, or to add to an antipasti platter)

    1 small red onion, diced

    2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced

    1 handful Italian parsley, chopped (sometimes during the summer I also add in extra fresh Italian herbs I have from my garden. Basil, oregano, marjoram)

    Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    1 18-28 ounce jar tomato sauce (about 2-3 cups) ( I like using glass jarred tomato sauce, but if using a tin can find one that is BPA free or enamel lined)

    Squeeze of lemon

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a large skillet over medium heat add a few tablespoons of olive oil and then add in the anchovy.  Let the oil and anchovy heat.  As the oil gets hot stir the anchovy a bit, the anchovy will begin to break up and blend with the oil.  When this happens, stir in the diced onion and sauté the onion until wilted.  Next stir in the garlic, parsley and pinch of red pepper flakes and let it cook for about one minute.

    Take the pan off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce.  I take the pan off the heat so the tomato sauce won’t splatter everywhere.  Mix to combine ingredients and then place the skillet back over the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Let the sauce cook for about 10-20 minutes.  The longer it cooks the more flavorful it will be.

    Season the sauce with a little squeeze of lemon and then salt and pepper to taste.  The leftover sauce can be frozen for another use.