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Beef Karista's Kitchen Pork

Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cakes

chorizo and black bean stuffed poblanos with enchilada sauce and spanish rice cakes

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

As I was writing my holiday letter yesterday, I was either laughing or crying.  The year 2013 was anything but typical.  As I reminisced over the past twelve months, I realized it was quite a roller coaster of events.

A year of changes, nail-biting moments, some tears, lots of laughter, because laughter is the best medicine, moments of gratitude, a few panic attacks, and grand adventure. Phew! Yep, all in one year.

Spanish rice cakes and enchiladas poblano stuffed with chorizo and black beans

Without spewing all my emotions here, I’ll just tell you I am so thankful my Bennett Crew is happy and healthy.  In 2013, my oldest gal fought medical hurdles with courage and fierce determination.  She’s my hero.

On the list of events was an extensive house remodel, which caused me to re-think my love of DIY projects.   I know some of you can identify.  Home remodeling can take a toll and make you want to hire the big bad wolf to blow your house down.

A new state, new town, new home… and then a most delicious surprise.  A trip to Italy.  A glorious two weeks that fed my soul and inspired my heart. New and cherished friendships formed and adventure I’ll always remember.  I came back with a renewed love of Italian cuisine and culture, and my recipe developing wheels turning.

In reflection, I’m most grateful for my friends and family, who, as always, gave an abundance of loving support.  Life can be a roller coaster of events, but with friends and family like mine, it makes the curve ball coming at me a little easier to dodge.

In honor of this beautiful new year I thought I’d start off with something spicy, flavorful and festive.  These Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cake are pure deliciousness and a perfect way to begin this new year.

I wish you all good health, true joy, lots and lots of laughter, much success in whatever you strive to do, and the love of friends and family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Happy New Year!


Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

Serves 4-6


6 poblano peppers

1lb ground Spanish chorizo (Spanish chorizo is gaining popularity and you can typically find it in most markets next to the other ground meats)

1 small white onion, diced

Handful cilantro leaves coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sliced green onions

¼-1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Red Enchilada Sauce (I love Chef Rick Bayless Frontera Brand of Enchilada sauces. If you can’t find them, I also use Hatch branch red enchilada sauce)

1 cup shredded pepper jack or mozzarella cheese

Sliced limes

Sliced Avocado (optional)

Spanish Rice Cakes (recipe below)


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Lay the poblano peppers on a lined baking sheet and roast them for about 10-15 minutes or until they are toasted on the outside and somewhat soft.

While the peppers are roasting heat a skillet over medium high heat with a little oil.  Saute the white onions until soft and then add the ground chorizo.  Break up the chorizo while it’s cooking and when it’s almost cooked through stir in the cilantro and green onions.

Take the skillet off the heat and then gently toss with the black beans and cotija.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the peppers are done and cooled, pull off any of the blistered skin and try not to tear the peppers.  Place the peppers in a large baking dish.

Turn the oven down to 350F.

Slice vertically down the center of the pepper and pull it open a little so you can fill.  Stuff each pepper with the chorizo and black bean filling.  Then ladle a little of the enchilada sauce over the top of each pepper and sprinkle with shredded pepper jack or Mozzarella cheese.

Once all the peppers are filled, sauced and cheesed (don’t you love my snappy culinary lingo?) pop them into the oven for about another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

If you have any leftover sauce I like to ladle it over the poblanos and then top with sliced avocado.  Serve with a side of sliced limes and sour cream.

Spanish Rice Cakes

Makes 12-16 small round cakes


2 cups prepared Spanish Rice

½ cup sliced green onion

¼ – 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

2 eggs, whisked

Healthy oil for frying


Mix all the ingredients together.  Heat the oil on medium high heat and then when it’s ready take a tablespoon full of rice mixture, I also use a cookie scoop, roll it in your hands and then smash into a small round cake.  This mixture can feel loose but once you place it in the hot oil it will form a crust on the outside making it easier to handle.

Brown the cakes on both sides and then place on paper towels.  Serve the Spanish Rice cakes with ½ cup of sour cream whisked with the juice of 1 small lime and a pinch of cumin.  It’s a refreshing dip for the rice cakes. Or serve the rice cakes plain with the stuffed enchiladas poblano as a side dish.




Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Pork Seafood vegetarian

Holiday Antipasti Platter



Antipasti platter with crostini, salumi, and cheese

Holiday Antipasti Platter with Assorted Cheese, Salumi and Crostini

While visiting Tuscany this past Autumn, almost every meal began with an antipasti; signifying the beginning of the meal.  It’s a first course served to create anticipation of the meal to come, as well as stimulate the appetite without filling the stomach. Much like the French hors d’oeuvres and Spanish tapas or the American appetizer, Antipasti sets the stage for the dinner meal.

In Tuscany, antipasti usually consists of assorted dry cured meats, olives, cheese, roasted peppers, Crostini, marinated artichokes and traditional Bruschetta.  For a special occasion or light lunch the traditional pappa al pomodoro, ribollita (a lovely cabbage and bread stew) and rosemary white beans might be served.

Antipasti is the perfect starter for holiday celebrations, special occasions, dinner parties or social events. Lovely nibbles to build excitement of the event.

Holiday Antipasti Platter

This my favorite assortment of antipasti, including two of my favorite crostini and a traditional bruschetta.  Many of these were served for lunch or before dinner while visiting Tuscany with the Storytellers.  A delicious combination that pairs beautifully with all the DaVinci wines.

I created this platter for DaVinci Wine and it can be found on their Facebook page. Just click HERE.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

Buon Appetito,


PS: Wishing everyone a very happy and safe New Years Eve!


Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

Pasta Cortona

linguine with napa cabbage and mixed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil

Pasta Cortona

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

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

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

Camucia Cortona Train Station

Camucia Cortona Train Station

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

Nonni's of Cortona

Nonni’s of Cortona walking home from mass.

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

Trattoria in Cortona

Trattoria in Cortona

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

dog in cortona,Italy

A furry friend in Cortona saying hello as we passed by

mountain garden in Cortona, Italy

Mountain garden in Cortona

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona, Italy

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona

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

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Pasta Cortona

Serving Size: 3-4


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


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

    Slow Oven Baked Ribs

    oven baked baby back ribs from

    If there is one thing the Bennett Crew loves, it’s a barbecue.  The deck table filled with Grandma Eilene’s Macaroni Salad, Chipotle Lime Grilled Corn on the Cob, Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes and this weekends highlight, Slow Oven Baked Ribs.

    Once the weather turns lovely, we dine outside every evening.  A tradition since the two sassy gals were little ones.  Running around the house with bare feet, sliding across the wood floors, onto the earthy wood boards of the outside deck.  Clean fresh breezes with the scent of pine and fresh turned garden dirt – all ceremoniously accompanied by the melodies of returning songbirds.

    After a few glorious minutes savoring the beautiful and fragrant evening, I can always count on a scruffy little terrier patiently sitting by my chair hoping a crumb will drop.  Life around my table is filled with continuous laughter, bright and cheerful eyes gleaming and sweet souls comforted by the connection of family and the love of good food like these favorite Slow Oven Baked Ribs.

    Ranger Craig’s grilled baby back ribs are a must at every barbecue. As well as his secret spice grilled chicken and bleu cheese burgers.  But this weekend I decided to make these slow oven baked ribs and then finish them off on the gas grill.  Perfectly seasoned and perfectly “fall of the bone” tender with just a little crisp on the outside.  You’ll want to make extra because everyone will want seconds.

    This gorgeous meal is complete when served with my favorite DaVinci Chianti and a sunset filled sky that is gracefully announcing the return of summer.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Slow Oven Baked Ribs

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Slow Oven Baked Ribs


    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 slabs baby back ribs
      For the Barbecue Sauce
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or homemade preserves
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • Dash of cayenne


  • Line a baking sheet with foil. Season the ribs with salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, ground cumin, ground chili powder, smoked paprika and cayenne.
  • Rub the spice blend over both slabs of ribs. Let the ribs sit while you preheat the oven to 300F.
  • When the oven has reached temperature, place the baking sheet in the oven and let them bake for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, or a little longer should they be meaty ribs. The meat should be tender and easily separate from the bone when the ribs are done.
  • Once the ribs are done, brush with your favorite barbecue sauce, or use the sauce recipe below. If you like a crisp outside texture, fire up your gas grill and let the ribs crisp a bit over the grill. Or place directly under the broiler until you achieve the desired amount of crisping.
  • Slice up the ribs and place them on a platter. Serve immediately. These are also delicious re-heated the second or third day… if they last that long.
  • To make the barbecue sauce, mix all the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Adjust sweet and spicy according to taste.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Chive Blossom Popovers from Pink Patisserie

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    I love seasonal, I love fresh, especially fresh from the garden or local farm, and I love my friend Maria.

    Maria is the author of the baking blog Pink Patisserie.  I’ve known Maria for over 10 years.  A gracious, beautiful and talented gal who hails from deep Norwegian roots.  Immersed in her family’s heritage, Maria has been baking along side her Mother and Grandmother since childhood.  She has an artistic eye for the naturally beautiful art of food and baking, and embraces the flavors of the sweet and the seasons.

    Thank you Maria for your most delicious spring recipe of Chive Blossom Popovers!

    CHIVE BLOSSOM POPOVERS from Pink Patisserie

    Hello!  My name is Maria of Pink Patisserie, and I want to extend a huge thank you to my lovely friend Karista for allowing me to guest write here today on her beautiful blog.

    One of the things I love about Karista is her wholehearted devotion to cooking seasonally. In light of that I thought it appropriate to share with you a recipe that had at least one seasonal ingredient.  Here in the Pacific Northwest as in most of the country, rhubarb is currently in season.  As a result, I have been raiding my vegetable patch almost weekly to pull the latest of the ripening stalks for the many recipes I love to make this time of year.  Last week while in the garden surveying the rhubarb, I happened to glance in the oft-neglected corner of my garden where my chive plants grow.  To my great surprise I noticed that the chive flowers were almost fully in bloom. In all my rhubarb furor I’d completely overlooked them.

    chive blossom popovers

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Chives are so simple to grow really, one of the most low maintenance plants, and if you don’t have one I encourage you to head to the nursery now to pick one up.  They grow beautifully in pots too if you are space challenged.  And in the summer, I love nothing more than to run out and snip some for salads and baked or boiled potatoes.  This recipe for chive blossom popovers is lovely with the blossoms, but really if you don’t have a plant, don’t worry; they taste just as fantastic without them.

    Our favorite way to eat these is at dinner, with steaks or a lovely roast on a Sunday afternoon. Fresh, light spring onion flavors in a buttery, crispy bun.  Simply seasonal, simply spring, simply heaven.

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Serves 12

    Prep time 10 minutes

    Bake time 30


    2 T. unsalted butter, melted

    1 ½ C. all purpose flour

    ¾ tsp.  Kosher salt

    3 large eggs

    1 ½ C. milk

    4 T. chopped chives with blossoms, reserve additional blossoms for garnish


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Grease popover pans or large muffin tins with butter, about ½ tsp per muffin well.  Place the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes to preheat.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, eggs, milk and melted butter until no lumps remain.  Batter will be thin. Fill each well in the popover or muffin tin halfway with batter. Bake for 30 minutes.  Avoid opening the oven door while baking.   Serve with chive butter.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Banana Chip Cookies from Everyday Maven

    Nut Free Paleo Cookies from

    I’m so pleased to present this most delicious Guest Post and recipe by my friend and fellow food blogger, Alyssa from Everyday Maven.

    I met Alyssa last year at a blogging conference here in Seattle and we’ve been friends ever since.  Alyssa is an NYU Graduate and a dynamic, beautiful young woman on a mission to help others achieve a healthy, active lifestyle through delicious whole foods.    Her recipes are mouth-watering and feel indulgent, although prepared with the enticing flavors of whole foods.

    Alyssa has so graciously developed a dessert recipe for Karista’s Kitchen and I for one am thrilled!  I’m not much of a baker so the sweets posted here at Karista’s Kitchen seem to be few and far between.  Huge thanks to Alyssa for this lovely post and decadent Banana Chip Cookies.

    BANANA CHIP COOKIES (grain free, gluten free, nut free) FROM EVERYDAY MAVEN ~

    Hello Everyone and a huge Thank You to Karista for hosting me here today!

    My name is Alyssa and I publish Everyday Maven. Everyday Maven is where whole foods meets weight watchers – real food recipes for the home cook who wants to keep their food clean and their waistline trim.

    A couple of months ago, my family started down the road of eliminating gluten and most grains from our diet. This was no small undertaking and a huge sea change for us as we were used to baking and cooking with all kinds of whole grain flours. I will admit that it was somewhat of a reluctant change for the family. Add in a 3+ year old self proclaimed, “chocolate chip cookie monster” who is about to lose his precious cookies and you are pretty much on the verge of a crisis.

    Obviously, I needed a Grain Free and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie in my repertoire to help bridge the transition and make everyone happy. I searched high and low and tried at least a dozen recipes.

    The majority of the recipes I found contained some type of nut flour (almond, hazelnut, etc.) which is fine for us as we don’t have any nut allergies but my son’s preschool is nut-free and I wanted a recipe that was safe to bring to school functions and would make all of the toddlers (and their parents) happy.

    After some trial and error, I finally settled on this version. These have a great chocolate chip flavor with a slight banana undertone. They are naturally sweet from the banana and only need 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar for 2 dozen!

    Nut Free Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies from

    The tapioca starch helps them crisp up a bit more than just using coconut flour and they keep well for a couple days. These are a softer cookie and tend to stay that way, even when stored in a cookie tin overnight. However, these Banana Chip Cookies disappear really fast so you may not even wind up with that problem.

    I hope you’ll visit me over at Everyday Maven for more real food recipes!



    Follow Everyday Maven FacebookFollow Everyday Maven Google+Follow Everyday Maven TwitterFollow Everyday Maven PinterestFollow Everyday Maven InstagramFollow Everyday Maven RSS

    BANANA CHIP COOKIES by Everyday Maven
    1 Points Plus Per Serving — Individual Serving is 1 Cookie — Recipe Makes 24
    {Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo, Primal, Kid Friendly}
    1 1/2 large frozen banana, cut into chunks and thawed
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
    2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil, melted but not hot
    1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    3 Tablespoons sifted coconut flour
    1 Tablespoon sifted tapioca starch
    1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grab a baking sheet and line with a Silpat. If you don’t have a Silpat, use parchment paper. I have tried these cookies on both and really prefer the results using a Silpat.
    2. Combine thawed banana chunks, egg and coconut palm sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attachment. Start off by beating slowly (setting 1 or 2) and work up to 4. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until banana chunks are broken down.
    3. With the mixer still running, pour in the melted coconut oil. Continue beating for another minute and turn off mixer.
    4. Add in the vanilla, cream of tartar, baking soda and sea salt. Beat until well combined.
    5. Finally, add in sifted coconut flour and tapioca starch. Beat on low speed until completely mixed in.
    6. Remove bowl from mixer and gently stir in chocolate chips.
    7. Use a tablespoon to drop batter onto the baking sheet. You do not need to leave a lot of room around the edge of these cookies as they do not spread very much. I usually fit all 24 on 1 baking sheet. Use your finger to spread the cookies and form them.
    8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven when edges begin to brown.1-IMG_8940
    9. Allow cookies to cool for 1 or 2 minutes and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Once completely cool, store in a cookie tin or wrapped in tin foil. Enjoy!

    Nut Free Paleo Cookies from

    Adapted From: Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies from Ditch the Wheat

    Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood

    Tacos, Ceviche and a Dessert

    Cinco de Mayo recipes

    Ceviche, Chocoflan and Slow Braised Barbacoa

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

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

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

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

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema.

    chicken tacos

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Halibut Tacos with spicy slaw

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema.

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Crema

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

    slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa

    Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche.

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

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan


    Nelly Rodriguez de Galofre’s Chocoflan

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    Porcini and rosemary braised pot roast

    There is something exceptional about porcini mushrooms.  They aren’t your run of the mill button’s and much more interesting than cremini; although I do love a bowl of sautéed cremini’s.

    Still, much more flavorful than shitake‘s and almost as intriguing as chanterelles or oyster mushrooms.  I nearly swoon when I see the first of the fresh local chanterelles.  I will plan my menu around those little lovelies just to have the excuse to use them while fresh and seasonal.

    The porcini mushroom is often described as nutty, with a smooth texture and the distinctive aroma similar to sourdough.   Rarely do we find them fresh here in the states but once they’re re-constituted in  hot water, wine or broth, these flavorful mushrooms make the loveliest and quite delectable addition to many dishes.

    I don’t often use porcini in the spring and summer.  I always think to use them during Fall and Winter, when I typically braise more meats and poultry.  But it’s been a busy spring with cool evenings and a slow braised (or slow cooked) pot roast seemed perfectly suited to this time of year.   Honestly, there are days I just need pot roast for dinner.

    Comforting to the soul, fragrant to the senses, and most delicious to the taste buds.  It feels like a big hug on a plate. 🙂

    Loads of Love,


    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    This recipe can be slow braised in a Dutch Oven or slow cooked in a Slow Cooker.  Adjust the liquids as I’ve instructed below. 

    Serves 6 – 8


    4-5lbs beef chuck roast

    Salt and pepper

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

    1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1-2 ounces)

    Red wine (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    Beef broth (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    Serve over Creamy Polenta (recipe below)


    If using a Dutch oven, pre-heat the oven to 325F.  If using the slow cooker, pre-heat the slow cooker on high.

    Re-constitute the porcini mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering them with very hot water.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes, then drain and chop.  Set aside.

    Season the beef with salt and pepper.

    Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet with a little oil and brown the beef on all sides.  Transfer the beef to a platter or the slow cooker.

    In the same Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for a minute or two, adding the rosemary and porcini.  Stir in the red wine and beef broth and pour over the beef in the slow cooker.  Secure the slow cooker lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    Or, add the beef roast back to the Dutch Oven and cover with the lid. Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for about 2-3 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    When the beef is done, transfer to a platter and slice or lightly shred.

    To make the beef liquid thicker and saucier, pour the liquid in a sauce pan and reduce it until it thickens a bit. This will also concentrate the flavors of the sauce.  This sauce will be more of an Au Jus.

    For a thicker, more gravy like sauce, add a few spoonful’s of the hot liquid to a small bowl with a teaspoon of corn starch.  Whisk together to make a little paste.  Whisk this paste “slurry” into the simmering liquid.  The sauce will eventually thicken, adding additional beef broth if necessary.

    Adjust seasoning to taste.  Strain the liquid with a mesh strainer and ladle over the beef.

    Serve with Creamy Polenta and roasted Spring Asparagus for a beautiful and delicious meal.

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups milk

    ½ cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

    Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

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

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to take a road trip.  Cruising down the highway to some cool tunes, aptly selected and managed by my teenage daughter.

    Stopping for a coffee and then a little snack. Talking, laughing, reminiscing about my daughter’s childhood and the adorable things she did and said when she was little.

    Thought provoking discussions about life, love and the pursuit of dreams; and how my little girl will someday help shape the world and make it a better place.

    All the while driving through cities and the green valley floor; over the rugged mountains to the end of the road that lead to the blue-gray Pacific ocean.  A magnificent vision.

    Angry storm clouds rolling past with wind and light rain, as if to say winter isn’t leaving just yet.  It was beautiful.  Magical.

    oregon oceanside

    My Sassy Gal, The Photographer

    After sharing such a lovely few hours with my daughter, once we arrived to our destination she was ready to kick off her shoes, lounge in her room and watch a movie.  Most likely, while texting or snap chatting her friends about how they were enjoyng their spring breaks.

    With the Sassy Gal happily lounging in her room, Ranger Craig and I were ready to explore the little seaside village.  First things first, we found a pub.  The cutest Irish pub with the freshest seafood, and of course, beer.

    A festive little pub filled with cheerful souls that made me want to stand on my chair and sing an Irish tune.  But I didn’t.  I gracefully refrained.  Although, I’m sure Ranger Craig wouldn’t have minded.  He’s watched me sing a tune or two.  Thankfully he’s charmed by my somewhat overzealous personality.

    Home again, home again and dreaming of the ocean, I decided it was time to bring out the ceviche recipe.  It’s a permanent resident in my frig most of the summer.  Typically prepared with different ingredients depending on my food mood or what I found at the Farmer’s Market.

    I hope you love the ceviche so much, it makes you want to stand on your chair and sing an Irish tune. 😉

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    Feel free to add in your favorite ingredients.  Sometimes I add diced cucumber, diced red pepper, diced mango or diced pineapple.  Just for fun.


    1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces

    ½ lb bay shrimp

    1/2 cup white onion, small diced (1 small – medium onion)

    5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

    1 teaspoon or more of Sriracha hot sauce

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)

    Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)

    sea salt and pepper

    1 ripe avocado, diced


    Place the diced halibut and lime juice in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through.

    Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut back in the glass bowl.

    Add the diced onion, tomatoes, bay shrimp and cilantro. Toss gently with the Sriracha and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Before serving squeeze lime juice over the avocado and then gently fold into the ceviche.

    Serve with blue or yellow corn chips as an appetizer or light dinner.  But my favorite way to enjoy this ceviche is in warm tortillas as tacos!  Top with a little Cotija or Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

    Recipe from

    Karista's Kitchen Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Herbed Quinoa Salad

    quinoa salad with fresh herbs, aromatics and Asian dressing

    Herbed Quinoa Salad

    Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several culinary, health and nutrition professionals.  Brilliant individuals who have grown their passions into successful careers and practices.  One such professional is Frances Arnold, a Registered Dietician and Yoga Teacher and author of the website, Namaste Nutritionist

    I read Frances’ blog often and I’m constantly inspired by her work.  So inspired I asked Frances if she’d write a guest post for Karista’s Kitchen.  She said yes! 

    Not only did she write a post but she’s also shared one of her mouth-watering and beautiful recipes, Herbed Quinoa Salad.  I prepared it today and I have to tell you its divine.  Filled with the flavors of fresh herbs and aromatics combined with a lick your plate dressing.  Enticing, lush and tastes ever so slightly sensual.  I can understand why Frances chose this special dish to serve at her wedding reception. 

    Thank you Frances for being a contributing author on Karista’s Kitchen! 

    WHOLE FOODS vs HEALTH FOODS  by Frances Arnold

    Keeping health and youthful good looks requires precious resources. Whole foods provide those precious resources in the form of countless compounds, whose synergistic dance is ancient and beyond full comprehension to mankind. When we eat nature-made food, our bodies sigh in relief, for this is real food that the body understands.

    Whole, unprocessed foods help us look youthful and feel energized. They help prevent disease. In the US, one in two Americans will develop at least one chronic disease. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise are the leading causes.

    Whole foods support brain health. This means more mental acuity, enhanced memory, and improved mood. Poor nutrition is linked with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Apple, anyone?

    Many so-called “health foods” are highly processed and anemic of their nature-made nutrition. Food manufacturers manipulate the nutrients, then dress it up in a pretty package, hoping to win your dollars. These are new foods, and our bodies often don’t process them well. These foods charge us twice: once when we take it from the store, and then again when we’re fighting for our health.

    Here are two simple tips to help you eat wholesome foods:

    1. Stay in control of your food by cooking at home with high-quality ingredients.
    2.  Eat REAL FOOD – the stuff that your ancestors would eat – as much as possible. These are the foods our bodies understand, which includes breast milk for babies, fresh produce, and grass-raised proteins.

    Frances’ Bio:

    Frances helps address weight problems, migraines, IBS, digestion, arthritis, brain fog, wimpy immunity and fatigue with delicious food and yoga.  She is a Registered Dietitian and registered yoga teacher.  Find helpful resources here:

    Herbed Quinoa Salad

    All of the ingredients listed below will get you something scrumptious, no doubt.  Adjust the seasonings to suite your taste. Add either less or more of anything, according to your own good sensibilities.

    Trust yourself. Your mouth and tummy will lead you to the right place.

    Ingredients (it’s all approximate, okay?):

    5 cups cooked quinoa

    2 cups of chopped herbs (thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano. . . you get the idea)

    1 cup chopped red onion or garden chives

    1 cup toasted almonds (almonds can be whole, sliced, slivered, green, purple, psychedelic . . . however you like)


    Remember: it’s all approximate. I’ve never measured my dressing out. I just taste it and decide when it’s good! You can do the same, or look up a recipe if you want.

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    1/4 cup lemon or lime juice

    1-2 tbsp ginger juice

    1-2 tbsp Tamari, Bragg’s Amino Acids, or Soy Sauce

    1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

    1-2 cloves chopped garlic

    A dash or two of cayenne pepper

    Easy-Peasy Instructions:

    Step 1. Cook the quinoa. It’s delicious when cooked in flavorful broth!

    Step 2. Spread almonds into an even layer. Toast them at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The only rule is this: don’t let them burn.

    Step 3. Wash and chop herbs, garlic, and onion.

    Step 4. Mix olive oil, lemon or lime juice, Tamari and ginger juice (this is your dressing). Add chopped garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper. Blend well.

    IMPORTANT: Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning to your liking BEFORE mixing into the salad.

    Step 5. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and blend.

    Step 6. Blend all the rest of your ingredients into the salad and mix well.

    Optional: Top with edible flowers, such as pansies, calendula, honeysuckle or nasturtium. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, then follow me. You are in for a wild food adventure!)

    Recipe from Frances Arnold, Namaste Nutritionist

    Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen

    Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye

    Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye with Rosemary and Garlic

    The sun is slowly setting, gradually creating a luminescent twilight.  With twilight comes the warm fragrance of fresh and earthy rosemary, combined with the spicy knowing scent of simmered garlic in the freshest of olive oil.

    Two perfectly grilled rib eye steaks bask in the fragrant and luxurious liquid.  With just a moment of time, the tender and flavorful beef will be infused and ready to serve with the deepest ruby-red Cabernet Sauvignon.

    We dined in silence, Ranger Craig and I.  Savoring every bite, savoring every sip, and feeling as if we’d been transported to a grassy knoll on a Tuscan hillside.

    There is something magical about simplicity.  A Tuscan grilled rib-eye and a glass of Rocca Family Vineyards newest release, the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon.  A brilliant red, big without being too bold, velvet to the tongue and elegant to the senses.

    I was elated to discover this lovely little vineyard on my last visit to Napa.  A small family vineyard with a beautiful story of passionate and sweet beginnings, transformed into world-class and award-winning wines.

    A cool spring sunset, gastronomy at its most indulgent and a brilliant wine.  For just an evening, life was simply perfect.

    Tuscan Grilled Ribeye

    Serves 2-4


    2-4 bone in beef ribeyes

    Extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

    Sea salt

    Fresh cracked black pepper

    3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

    3 medium cloves garlic, thin sliced


    Set out the steaks while pre-heating a charcoal or gas grill, preferably around 400F.

    Brush steaks with a little oil and then season with sea salt and pepper.  Place on the preheated grill and cook to desired doneness.

    While steaks are grilling, in a small pan on low heat gently warm ½ cup olive oil, rosemary and garlic.  Do not boil; just gently warm for about 5 minutes.

    Pour the warm herbed and garlic oil into a large baking dish.  When the steaks are done, immediately transfer the steaks to the oil.  Coat each side of the steaks and let them sit in the oil for about 5 minutes.

    Serve immediately topping each steak with the herbed, garlic and steak jus oil.  A fresh salad of spring greens topped with Smokey bleu and candied hazelnuts is the perfect complement to the steaks.

    Serve with the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon from Rocca Family Vineyards

    *This is not a sponsored post.  I just wanted to share my love and heartfelt enthusiasm of Rocca Family Vineyards wine and California Olive Ranch Olive Oil.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood

    Crawfish Fettuccine

    Crawfish Fettucine - Karista's Kitchen

    Late winter and early spring I always get a craving for crawfish.  It’s in season around this time of year and paired with Mardi Gras, these two events always remind me of several delicious years living in Louisiana.

    My time in Louisiana were pre-culinary school.  My lack of culinary skills back then were sorely evident.  Especially when I brought home a delectable dish made for me by one of my patients.  Usually a Cajun chicken stew, gumbo or etouffee; and once a divine Crawfish Fettuccine.

    I’d dance happily into the kitchen of our little pink house and plant my gift of food on the bright green counter.  Ranger Craig and I would carefully, almost ceremoniously, open the plastic containers filled with food and stare at amazement.

    crawfish fettuccine with white wine bechamel sauce

    Crawfish Fettuccine

    This makes me smile now.  We were so enthralled with the deliciousness bestowed upon us by the kindest, sweetest Cajun women.  All with hearts of gold, wanting to feed two young people who had no idea how to cook.

    Maybe this is why I love to give the gift of food.  Brings back memories of the kindness shown to Ranger Craig and I many years ago when we were just starting our careers… and hadn’t given a second thought as to how we might eat.

    Unfortunately, I never got the recipe for the crawfish fettuccine.  And that’s ok.  Although I would have loved Mrs. Breaux’s recipe, several years ago I re-created this slightly decadent dish.

    Rather than a traditional heavy cream sauce I’ve prepared this dish with a béchamel laced with white wine, a hint of lemon and of course a dash of Tabasco.  This keeps the dish a little lighter but with all the unique flavors of Cajun cuisine.

    Tastes like Mardi Gras in a pasta bowl.  🙂

    Crawfish Fettuccine

    Serves 6-8


    1 lb fettuccine, prepared according to package directions (I often sub with gluten free fettuccine)

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter

    ½ cup finely chopped onions

    ½ cup finely diced green pepper

    2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1 ½ cups warm milk

    ½ cup white wine

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chive, plus more for garnish

    Spritz of lemon

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 lb cooked crawfish tails (or cooked shrimp or lobster pieces)

    Grated parmesan for garnish

    Lemon wedges for serving


    In a large sauce pan, heat the butter on medium high and when the better is melted add the onions and green peppers.  Once the onions and green peppers are wilted add the garlic and sauté for a minute longer.

    With a whisk, add the flour, stirring for a minute or two, just don’t let the flour brown.  Turn the heat to medium low and then slowly whisk in the warm milk.  Once incorporated and smooth add the white wine.  Continue to whisk until the béchamel has thickened.  Adding additional milk if the sauce is too thick.

    Stir in the fresh chive and spritz of lemon and then season to taste with salt and pepper. I love using fine sea salt to season this dish.  Last, add a dash or two of Tabasco to taste.

    Place the cooked fettuccine on a large platter or in a large pasta bowl.  Fold the crawfish tails into the sauce and pour over the fettuccine.  Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and additional chopped chive.  Serve with extra lemon wedges.