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Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

pear galette

Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

My culinary journey has been a winding road.  Sometimes with hairpin turns and sometimes with steep uphill jogs. (If you know me, you know I am NOT a jogger) A few downhill walks and some lovely flat, grassy roads have led me from the past to the present.

And it seems that in every phase, I gain a little more passion and a bit more vision into my culinary world.  Often scribbling words that become my foodie quotes.  Pieces of paper with the written word littering the top of my desk.  I find notes in my handbags, in my drawers,  in my files, and a few found their way into the kitchen junk drawer.  🙂

Today, I often find myself thinking of this quote.  The one that truly speaks my heart. “Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should feed our soul and nourish our bodies while delighting our senses”.  So with every recipe I create, or cook, or teach, this is always my reminder.

Pear Galette

Delighting the senses is exactly what I had in mind when I created this dish.  I’m often asked to review new food products. Most of them I turn down.  However, a few have captured my attention.

The Spicy Gourmet company contacted me and asked if I would review their new line of organic and fair trade spices.  They had me at organic and fair trade.  But would flavor be just as impressive?  I was delighted and intrigued.

Dinesh Perera of The Spicy Gourmet sent me the Classic Garam Masala Spice Kit.  So off to testing I went.

Thinking seasonal, thinking spicy, thinking holiday parties made me think of something sweet.  Festive and just a little indulgent.  But just a little.  😉

Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce.  A little spicy, a little saucy and a lot of delicious.  The Classic Garam Masala is an exquisite spicy blend, perfect for all savory dishes.  But I loved the idea of this spicy blend in a sweet dish.

I did cut the black pepper in half as well as the cumin and then added in a little ginger and nutmeg.  Perfect.

I adore fresh, whole, spices, ground as needed for optimum flavor.  I was so impressed with the quality, taste and fragrance of my new spices, I chucked my old bottles of cardamom and cloves!

Many thanks to Dinesh Perera at The Spicy Gourmet for allowing me the opportunity to test their products.  This is a small company with big flavor.

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

Loads of Love,


Garam Masala Spiced Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Serves 6-8


Galette Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cold butter, cubed

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup ice-cold water


3-4 pears, sliced

1 tablespoon butter, diced

2 teaspoons Spicy Gourmet Garam Masala*

½ teaspoon Ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup sugar (I love using Coconut Palm Sugar in this recipe)

Chocolate Drizzle

4 ounces dark chocolate

¼ cup heavy cream

2-3  tablespoons water


Prepare the dough –  In a food processor add the flour, salt, sugar and butter and pulse until the ingredients resemble coarse crumbs.

While the food processor is on slowly add ½ cup water.  The dough should form a ball to one side of the food processor bowl.  If the dough is too dry, add a little more water.

Place the dough in the center of plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling – Place the pears in a large bowl and toss with the diced butter, Garam Masala, ginger and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the dough into a large circle.  Place the galette dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Reserve about 5-6 slices of pear.  Place the remaining pears in the center of the galette dough, leaving about a 2 inch border.  Pull up the sides to form an open face tart.  Artfully place the remaining pears on top of the other pears in the center of the galette.  Brush the galette with a little melted butter and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Place the galette into the oven and bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.  Turn down the heat to 375F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the galette is golden brown.

While the galette is baking make the chocolate sauce.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and whisk in the heavy cream and water until smooth and glossy. Adding all the water if you’d like the sauce a bit thinner.

When the galette is done, remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Drizzle the chocolate sauce on top, reheating the sauce if necessary.

Drizzle dessert plates with a little more chocolate sauce and then place slices on top of the sauce. Serve immediately.

*Each Garam Masala will have a different blend of spices.  I highly recommend blending your own Garam Masala with spices from the Spicy Gourmet.  However, if you have your own Garam Masala blend, or purchased a prepared Garam Masala, be sure it doesn’t include the ginger or nutmeg.  If it does, then feel free to omit the ginger and nutmeg in the recipe, or add in a little less if desired.

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork

Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork with Roasted Pears

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

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

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

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

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

Delightful is the word that comes to mind. 🙂

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

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

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

Wishing you all a most delicious week!

Loads of Love,


Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

Serves 4

Rub ingredients can easily be doubled.


1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

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

2 tablespoons of oil or clarified butter

1-2 pears, thick sliced


Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kabocha Squash Soup

Kabocha Squash Soup

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

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

Kabocha Squash Soup

Kabocha Squash Soup

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

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

My brother, the hiker and kayaker

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

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

My sister, my brother and me 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

Loads of Love,


Kabocha Squash Soup

Adapted by a recipe from Kaori Sakakibara

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


Serves 4


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

¼ cup heavy cream

2 cups veggie broth

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

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

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

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

Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little oil. Lay the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and add a little water to the pan.   Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and skins are golden brown and toasty.

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

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

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

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

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

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Confetti Muffins (Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins)

Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins

There comes a moment in time when Mother’s must do what must be done.  Tell a fiblet.

Not a fib or a lie or even a white lie.  A fiblet.  My youngest gal’s favorite word for a “slight truth”.  You might think me a completely terrible parent for telling a fiblet.  But alas, it’s been necessary a time or two.

Especially when my youngest gal announced she no longer ate vegetables. I was horrified. How could my child not eat her vegetables?  I’m a chef for Pete’s sake. Aren’t my children supposed to have advanced palates and eat absolutely anything I cook?  Apparently not.

Confetti Muffins

So,  I did what any good Mother would do.  I hid veggies in the food.   Mashed potatoes included mashed cauliflower, steamed and finely diced broccoli went into the meatballs and roasted zucchini went into our favorite grilled hamburgers.

I was on a role.  I was feeling so proud of my ingenuity and cleverness.  And not once did I have to tell a fiblet.  Until the muffins.

Zucchini, carrot and pineapple muffins.  Yep, I thought to myself, this was going to be great. I’d get my little gal eating veggies for breakfast and dinner.

As soon as the muffins came out of the oven my little gal was sitting at the counter, ready and waiting for her muffin.  She kept telling me how delicious they smelled, and that these were absolutely going to be her favorite muffins ever!

My Little Suzie Q

Then she broke one open and adamantly stated  “What’s all this stuff in my muffin?”  And here’s where that fiblet flew right out of my mouth.  “It’s called a confetti muffin”.  “You know, like those yummy confetti sprinkles we put on cupcakes”.

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking.  If she’d ask me what the “confetti” was made of I would have come clean and told her. I promise.  But she never asked. (Phew!)

My little Suzie Q… almost grown up.


Wishing all you Mom’s loads of love, lots of laughs and giggles, quiet time for yourselves, and true joy.


Confetti Muffins (Zucchini, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins)

When I created these muffins I wanted them to be as delicious and health friendly as possible.  So I made lots of substitutions that I believe are all in good health.  Most of the ingredients can now be found at any major grocery store chain.  However, if you have a local natural market or a Whole Foods close by, you’ll definitely find a good selection of these ingredients.  I’ve also included a gluten-free recipe following the whole grain recipe.  Happy Baking!

Makes 12 muffins


½ cup coconut oil (softened) or grapeseed oil

½ cup brown sugar or Agave syrup

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup grated fresh zucchini

½ cup grated fresh carrot

½ cup diced pineapple (fresh or organic canned with no added sugars)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I like King Aruthur)

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


Pre heat the oven to 350F.

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Whisk together the softened coconut oil and brown sugar until nicely combined.  Add one egg at a time and whisk until creamy.  Then mix in the vanilla.

Fold in the zucchini, carrot and pineapple.

In a separate bowl mix together the wheat and all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Gently stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and try (really hard) not to over mix. (I’ve been known to over mix a time or two)  All you want is for both mixtures to be nicely combined.

Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before serving.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Confetti Muffins

If you are looking for a simple gluten-free muffin mix, I love Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix.  Follow the basic muffin recipe,  adding in the same amount of veggies and pineapple as the recipe above.  If the muffin batter seems too thin, add a bit more of the gluten-free baking mix.  Bake as directed.

I prepare these muffins with Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.  I get a lot of my almond flour recipes from the brilliant gluten-free and paleo blogger, Elana’s Pantry.  She has a delicious selection of gluten-free and paleo friendly recipes on her site.  Here are some blanched almond flour confetti muffins I whipped up… adapted from Elana’s Pantry.


Makes about 8-10 muffins

2 cups Honeyville blanched almond flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 cup agave syrup

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup diced pineapple


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a muffin tin with 8-10 muffin cups.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Then whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Fold in the veggies and pineapple.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and firm to the touch.  Enjoy!