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holiday appetizers

Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table vegetarian

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

My oldest daughter is holding this lovely tray of Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers.

It had been a year since her brain tumor surgery and she was working hard to get back on her feet and back to college. I think that’s why I love this photo so much. She was beginning to feel better and she was quite determined that day to help me shoot my food photos.

I love that about my kids. They are strong, brave and determined young women who have a heart for helping others. Although when it comes to helping mom in the kitchen… not so much. 😉

I’ve been planning my Thanksgiving menu and these delicious little nibbles will be on the appetizer table. Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers are simple to make, a little spicy, a little sweet and the creamy goat cheese brings all the unique flavors together. Honestly I could eat my weight in these peppers. 

If goat cheese isn’t your preference, these are just as tasty with feta cheese combined with mascarpone cheese or garlic and herbs laced cream cheese. On occasion I’ve even added a little bleu cheese to mascarpone and piped it into these little red beauties.

Top them with chopped toasted nuts, a Marcona almond or a pistachio for a little festive flair. Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers make such a bright and cheerful presentation and pair deliciously with cocktails. I’ve also been known to make them my dinner.

Wishing you all a warm, joyous and delicious Thanksgiving holiday. May your hearts and home be full of love and laughter!


Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Serving Size: 3 peppers per person


  • 2-3 jars of Peppadew peppers (I allow three peppers per person)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (try to find a nice cream goat cheese that will be easy to pipe into the peppers)
  • 2 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (optional)
  • Chopped toasted nuts or Marcona almonds for garnish (optional)


  • Mix together the goat cheese and mascarpone (if using). The mascarpone or cream cheese will make the goat cheese easier to pipe into the peppers. Although, I've found a brand of creamy goat cheese that works well on it's own.
  • Place the peppers on a tray. Fill a pastry bag with the cheese and pipe the cheese into each pepper. Garnish if desired and serve. You can make these a few hours in advance and leave them in the fridge before serving. Just remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to serving. I think the peppers and cheese taste best at room temperature.
  • Notes

    This recipe was first published in Home by Design Magazine 2014.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Seafood

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen // A perfectly delicious way to start a dinner party or holiday gathering.

    I call this crab salad, Retro Crab Salad, because its much like the crab salad I used to nibble on “back in the day”.

    This is the kind of crab salad that would have been beautifully displayed on my mom’s orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  I didn’t always remember every dish of food that would grace the table but for some reason, I always remember that table-cloth.  Funny how we remember the most unusual things from our childhood.  This table-cloth (and the food that adorned it) and my gram’s tapioca pudding are two of my favorite food memories.

    A few months ago when I was visiting my mom, she reminded me to browse through her old linens and take what I wanted.  Well wouldn’t you know it… the first linen I saw was the old orange and yellow fruit covered table-cloth.  Of course, I had to have it – and I had to use it for a retro menu that I created for one of my clients.

    Retro Crab Salad and Toast Points // Karista's Kitchen

    This lovely little retro crab salad was one the recipes I created for that menu.  Along with a few other delectable retro dishes, this crab salad has been a staple in my kitchen all summer long. Mostly because Ranger Craig and I went deep-sea fishing and crabbing and came home with 16 crab.  I made scores of crab salad, crab cakes, crab stuffed Dover sole and crab beurre blanc.  Crab landed in every dinner meal that week.  And I wasn’t a bit sad about that. 😉

    Crab is a staple here in the Pacific Northwest.  It can be pricey certain times of the year, but when it’s in season, or we go crabbing, it’s economical and the perfect seafood to add to our dinner menu.  Although, crab has ended up in breakfast omelets a time or two.

    I love this retro crab salad any time of the year.  But I think this dish is especially fun during the holiday season.  You can certainly serve it with crostini or crackers, but serving it with toast points somehow feels befitting.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Retro Crab Salad with Toast Points

    This retro crab salad includes all the traditional elements of crab salad using pimentos, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. However, the addition of thinly sliced green onions gives it a little bite that blends so deliciously with the other ingredients.


    • 8-12 ounces of crabmeat (if fresh crab is not available, feel free to use good quality canned crabmeat)
    • ¼ -1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise
    • 2-ounce jar of pimentos, drained
    • ¼ cup thin sliced green onions
    • ¼-1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 8-12 slices of good quality white bread or dark rye
    • 2 tablespoons melted butter


  • Squeeze the excess water from the crabmeat. In a medium bowl, mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, pimentos, green onions, cheddar cheese and squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place it in the refrigerator while you make the toast points.
  • Pre-heat the oven to broil. Brush each slice of bread with butter on both sides. Place the bread slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Once the bread is golden brown on the first side, turn the slices over to toast the other side. This shouldn’t take long so watch your toast carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven, sprinkle each slice of bread with a pinch of salt and let the toast cool. Trim the crust and slice each piece of bread diagonally to make two triangles.
  • Serve the chilled crab salad with the toast points.
  • Notes

    This recipe originally created for Home by Design Magazine

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Tips and Techniques

    Holiday Gift Guide from Karista’s Kitchen

    Holiday Appetizers from Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve got some special gifts I’d love to share with you, including links to these delightful appetizer recipes which you’ll find at the end of this post. 🙂

    This Holiday Gift Guide is filled with products from very special companies and artists that I completely adore – companies and artisans with integrity in their products and their mission.  

    Maybe you’re looking for that special gift for that special someone or for family members that seem to stump the gift giving every year.  I’m certain you’ll love one or more of these unique gift ideas that won’t break the bank but will warm the loved one’s heart.

    I don’t know about you but I love Little Lace Box delivery day.  The excitement that wells up inside of me when I see that red little box on my door step is literally overwhelming.

    A fruit spoon from Little Lace Box

    My fruit spoon from Little Lace Box

    Little lace box is dedicated to seeking out only the most talented and creative up-and-coming designers, whose products might not have even hit the market yet.  This year you can choose to “gift” your box to whoever you choose at any time during the year. This creates an easy and fun way to remember birthdays, holidays, special occasions or just because moments.

    Not only can you subscribe to the gift box but Little Lace Box also hosts my Karista’s Kitchen store. We carry a gorgeous line of products on the website that are carefully curated for our customers from new designers and artisans. Truly the unique and special gift for that special someone.  

    For the food lover or home chef in your life, I have two food companies that provide the perfect food gifts to give.

    smoked salmon from Two If By Seafoods

    Smoked Salmon from Two if By Seafoods and Barn2Door

    Barn2Door is a marketplace to help consumers purchase clean, sustainable, local and regional food. This is a company near and dear to my heart. As a culinary professional with time spent in nutrition, I can’t advocate enough for local, clean, healthy food.

    Barn2Door makes it easier to find local growers and food from your area, or specialty foods from other regions that ship directly to you, the consumer.  It’s truly a win-win for everyone – supporting our local farmers and food artisans and preparing healthy food for our family.

    I’ve been a fan of Jovial foods for many years now. I bake with Einkorn flour and I use many of their pasta products in my recipes. Jovial has created this lovely Einkorn baking gift set that is the perfect gift for the home chef in your life. If you’d like to read more about the Einkorn cookbook and flour, check out my book review here.

    Einkorn - Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat Fudgey Chocolate Brownies

    Fudgey Brownie Recipe from the Einkorn Cookbook

    If fine art is what you’re looking for, look no further.  A dear friend, who happens to be one of the most talented artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, has an Etsy shop filled with her gorgeous prints.  Krystyna has an impressive resume and has sold her paintings and commissioned work all over the world.  I feel so lucky to own four of her prints, proudly displayed in my home.

    Another friend of mine, Jim O’Donnell, is an experienced and amazing travel photographer, writer and archeologist.  He also has a lovely collection of photography prints that makes me swoon every time I see them.  Jim writes a fabulous travel and photography blog Around the World in Eighty Years.  You won’t want to miss it!  Jim O’Donnell prints make a perfect gift for the photography enthusiast, or for someone who is a connoisseur of photographic art.

    Now I’m hungry and I want to go shopping. 🙂

    Happy gift giving!


    To find the appetizer recipes click on the links below:

    Honey Dijon Glazed Pork Belly with Rosemary White Bean Puree 

    Asian Salmon Cake Sliders

    Sausage Rolls

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates 



    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

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

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

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

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

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

    I wish you the happiest and most delicious of holidays!

    Loads of Love,


    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey

    Baked Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey


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


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Fill each date with goat cheese. If the goat cheese is creamy, I sometimes put it into a ziploc bag, snip a corner and pipe the goat cheese into the dates.
  • Place each goat cheese filled date on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet into the pre-heated oven. Let the dates bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  • As soon as you remove the dates from the oven, either transfer to a fancy platter or leave them on the baking sheet and then drizzle with a little honey. Top with crushed toasted nuts if you like.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Notes

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

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