Browsing Tag

holiday recipes

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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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

    Pumpkin Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce

    Pumpkin Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s the weekend and I think we need something sweet like these adorable Pumpkin and Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce! 

    It’s that time of year when I jump into all things pumpkin and I couldn’t be more excited.  I’m whipping up a pumpkin chili, pumpkin cornbread to go with that chili, these tasty pumpkin coconut tarts with caramel sauce and Sunday I’ve planned pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon maple syrup – or maybe some pumpkin crepes with cinnamon cream.  Ok, I’ve gone totally pumpkin overboard.

    When there’s a chill in the air and the leaves begin to turn their brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow, I find myself pulling out my fall sweaters and setting out my cozy sofa blanket.  And of course creating all things pumpkin and Autumn and delicious.  All I need now is my chai tea and I’ll be set.

    This is my favorite time of the year.  Although the summer months were filled with fun and frolic and food from the grill, this new season seems to invigorate me and inspire a new collection of recipes as well as a seasonal change in how I frolic and fun. 😉

    Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Ricotta, Shrimp and Pasta // Karista's Kitchen and A View to Delicious Magazine

    Speaking of a new collection of recipes… (you know I had to mention the magazine) I’ve created several new recipes for our first digital food magazine, A View to Delicious.  Butternut Squash Gratin, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Ricotta, Pasta and Shrimp (and a drizzle of truffle oil just for fun), Roasted Chicken with Brandy Butter and more! So if you’re looking for Fall recipe inspiration be sure to click here and download your copy.

    Back to dessert… these Pumpkin Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce are the perfect small portion size with just enough sweetness that is slightly spiced, rich and creamy.  They make the loveliest after dinner nibble or perfect with a mid-morning cup of coffee.

    However you serve these pumpkin coconut tarts with caramel sauce, I’m certain once they’re gone, you’ll be asked for more. 

    Cheers to the new season, cozy blankets, hot spiced tea and delicious desserts!

    Loads of Love,


    Pumpkin Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce

    Serving Size: Makes 8-10 tarts

    Pumpkin Coconut Tarts with Caramel Sauce

    These little tarts make the most delicious ending to a delicious meal. They also make fun and tasty after school treats and on occasion, a quick nibble with morning coffee, sans the caramel sauce. However you enjoy them, they will delight the palate and enchant the sweet tooth.


      Pie Dough (Pate Brisee):
    • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour or pastry flour
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon ice water
      Pumpkin Coconut Filling
    • 1 15 ounce can organic canned pumpkin puree (you can also substitute with sweet potato puree)
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup organic canned coconut milk (do not use “lite” coconut milk)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    • 3 large eggs
    • Pinch of salt
      Caramel Sauce
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • Pinch of salt
    • Dash of vanilla or brandy


    For the Pate Brisee
  • If you don’t have pastry flour on hand, combine 2 parts all purpose flour with 1 part cake flour. (I keep this combination handy in a separate container, so I always have some ready to use.)
  • Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.
  • Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse a few more times until the butter and flour resemble coarse pea sized pieces or a coarse meal.
  • As you pulse the food processer add the egg and water and pulse only until the dough is holding together in one piece.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead just a few times forming the dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so, or overnight. Often I’ll make several batches of pate brisee and then keep them wrapped in the freezer, pulling them out when I know I’ll need them.
  • Remove the chilled disk from the refrigerator and roll it out with a wooden rolling pin. With a biscuit cutter or mouth of a drinking glass, cut out discs large enough to press into the mini tart pans. Fill all the mini tart pans and then place in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill them with the pumpkin filling.
  • Pumpkin Coconut Filling
  • In an electric mixer or blender, combine all the ingredients until well blended.
  • Caramel Sauce
  • In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat mix together the sugar, butter, heavy cream and pinch of salt. Add a dash of vanilla if you like, or a dash of brandy.
  • Whisk the ingredients until it comes to a boil and then let it simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until it thickens.
  • Let it cool slightly and serve over the Pumpkin Coconut Tarts or Vanilla ice cream.
  • Finishing up
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Place all the mini tart pans on a baking sheet and fill each mini tart pan with pumpkin coconut filling.
  • Place the baking sheet of tarts in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the filling is nicely firm and crusts are golden.
  • While the tarts are baking prepare the caramel sauce.
  • Once the tarts are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Remove each tart and place onto a small dessert plate. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Toasted coconut makes a love garnish but is optional.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash // Karista's Kitchen

    My youngest sassy gal said to me yesterday “Mom, I’m in need of some Christmas. Can we Christmas things up a bit?”

    Ok, so I was thinking I’d done a really good job of creating our little Christmas season indoors – but maybe not so much. 🙁

    My sassy gal has had her head in the books, preparing for college entrance exams and finishing a tough semester at school.  I think she may have just noticed it’s Christmas!

    So today I’m on a mission to fill my daughter’s Christmas well.  We’re off to do our Christmas Eve and Christmas day food shopping, stopping at a few farms along the way that are sweetly decorated for the season.  We’ll stop for tea, cocoa or coffee at one of our local coffee houses and then once we’re home, I’ve got movies and music planned, along with delicious food of course, for our evening’s festivities.  I think this will do it.

    Although I’ve got our Italian holiday tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes, planned for Christmas Eve, and this lovely Prime Rib planned for Christmas Day, tonight’s dinner is a lovely ham served with this gorgeous Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash.

    These little stuffed squash are the perfect compliment to a ham and look so lovely on a holiday table.  Sometimes just for fun I’ll stuff them with coconut rice, golden raisins and top with chopped pistachios.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

    Christmas has always been more than just a gift giving season for me.   It’s a season of love and appreciation, connection and sharing, and most of all, giving of our time and attention.  Even though I may not live near you or able to meet you for coffee or lunch, you are truly appreciated and a special part of Karista’s Kitchen.

    I send you heartfelt thanks for following my blog and for sharing it with others that you care about.   Next year will bring more delicious recipes, snippits of a new project I’m working on, along with a few “how to” videos that hopefully will inspire you in the kitchen.

    I wish you all true joy, happiness, love and a prosperous new year!


    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Serving Size: 6

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


    • 3 smallish Acorn squash, or evenly sized, cut in half and seeds scraped out
    • 1-2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder (I like Frontier brand Chinese Five Spice Powder because it's more sweet than savory)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup wild rice
    • 1 3/4 cups water
    • 1 cube vegetable boullion (I love the Rapunzel vegetable broth cubes)
    • 1/2 cup diced onion
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
    • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Brush the acorn squash halves with olive oil and then season each cut side half with Chinese Five Spice powder and salt.
  • Place them in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until they are soft.
  • To prepare the rice
  • Before preparing the rice, sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion is wilted, add the garlic and sauté a minute longer. Then add the cup of rice, the water and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for about 40-45 minutes or until done. Fluff with a fork.
  • Stir in the cranberries and toasted walnuts while the rice is hot and then cover with a lid for another five minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  • When you're ready to serve, fill the acorn squash with the rice mixture and garnish with the chopped fresh Italian parsley.
  • Notes

    Note: I typically prepare wild rice with 1 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cups water, depending on the brand and type of wild rice you're using. So prepare the rice according to package directions.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Pasta vegetarian

    Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter

    Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

    You know that feeling you get when you bite into a fork full of food so lush, so decadent, it causes a sort of euphoria? And for a moment, you’re senses are transported to another place – relishing the taste, the textures and aroma.  That’s Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter.

    This isn’t just another lovely dish, it’s a dish to be savored, served with the best wine and the best company.  It’s a perfect “date night in” recipe, or something you’d serve to a few close friends.  When you prepare this dish, give your self plenty of time in the kitchen.  You know the old saying, the one your mom probably said a thousand times, “stop taking your sweet time and get a move on it”?  Well this is the time to ignore that saying.   Although it’s not a difficult recipe to prepare it does take a gentle hand and a little “sweet” time.

    Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

    When I was thinking about what I’d write for VRAI Magazine’s December issue, I knew I wanted it to be special.  I’d planned a roasted Tri-Tip that turned out sumptuous in every way – but it just didn’t feel right for the season.  It had to be Raviolo al Uovo.

    Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

    I know you’ll love this recipe and you can find it at VRAI Magazine.   If you make it,  I’d love to know how it turned out.  And of course, you can always email me with questions.

    Wishing you all a beautiful and very delicious Holiday Season!

    Loads of Love,



    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Beef Wellington

    Beef Wellington with Gorgonzola and Madeira Wine Reduction // Karista's Kitchen

    If there were ever an entrée that shouted “indulgence”, it would be this Beef Wellington recipe.

    One of the tenderest cuts of beef enveloped in earthy mushrooms, fresh herbs, buttery Gorgonzola and flaky puff pastry – finished with a decadent Madeira Wine reduction sauce.  I can’t think of a beef dish more loved by my family than this Beef Wellington.  Although the Christmas prime rib often comes in as a close second.

    What’s not to love about beef tenderloin or puff pastry?  I think putting these two ingredients together is brilliant. Of course adding the buttery Gorgonzola seems to take it to the next level.  Which makes this Beef Wellington such a lovely addition to your Christmas dinner or holiday celebrations.

    Back in the day when I was researching Beef Wellington, I found it was traditionally prepared with a pate of foie gras and duxelles (finely chopped sautéed mushrooms), wrapped in pastry and baked.  Today, you’ll find an assortment of recreations.  This particular version has become a Bennett holiday tradition (Christmas parties and sometimes Easter) created many years ago when I finally learned how to cook.  Yes, those culinary school days reaped a lot of recipe trial and error.  This Beef Wellington recipe saw much trial and much error unfortunately.  Until I found the perfect combination to suit our Bennett taste buds.  With the inclusion of a sauce.  Because as you know, my family loves sauce.

    Beef Wellington with Gorgonzola and Madeira Wine Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    If you’ve read my blog since the beginning, you’ll remember the many stories I’ve told about my family always asking if there is sauce for the entrée.  Guaranteed, if you dine around my table, there will always be sauce. 😉

    The sauce for this gorgeous dish is a Madeira wine reduction which seemed the perfect complement to this Beef Wellington.  A bit of a boozy bite in contrast to the gorgonzola with all the flavors complimentary to the tender beef filet and creating an exquisite dining experience.

    The lovely part about this Beef Wellington?  It’s not terribly difficult.  I promise.  It may take a little practice wrapping in the pastry, otherwise it’s easy to assemble, roast and serve.

    If you decide to prepare this lovely dish, let me know! I’m happy to walk you through the steps or give advice should you need it. Just send me an email at or leave a comment on this post.  I’ll get back to you asap.

    Here’s to great food, fantastic friends and family and the most delicious time of the year!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Beef Wellington

    Serving Size: 4


    • 1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed, about 2 ¼ lbs,
    • ¾ - 1lb cremini or shitake mushrooms, finely chopped
    • 2 -3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (Italian parsley, oregano, thyme)
    • 4 - 6 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions
    • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water
      For the Sauce:
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme
    • ¼ cup dry red wine
    • ¾ cup Madeira wine
    • ½ cup prepared demi glaze (often found in the freezer aisle or meat counter)
    • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
      For the Sauce without a Demi Glaze:
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
    • ½ cup Madeira wine
    • ½ cup beef broth
    • 1 sprig of thyme
    • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat the oven to 400F.
  • In a large sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and shallots and cook until the mushrooms are nicely wilted. Then stir in the garlic and fresh herbs and cook for one minute longer. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
  • Roll out the thawed puff pastry and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the mushrooms onto the puff pastry the length of the size of the tenderloin. Then sprinkle the Gorgonzola over the mushrooms.
  • Season the beef tenderloin with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add a dash of oil to the pan. When the pan is hot, brown the tenderloin. Don’t cook the beef through you just want to brown it.
  • Place the browned tenderloin on the Gorgonzola and mushrooms. Roll one side over the length tenderloin, and then the other side and then fold the ends up toward the seam. Flip the pastry wrapped tenderloin over, seam side down.
  • Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash and then place the baking sheet in the oven to bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. The beef should be medium rare, 135F. Once the beef is done, remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  • To make the sauce:
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted add the shallots and thyme. Saute just until the shallots are wilted and fragrant.
  • Whisk in the red wine and Madeira wine and let it reduce by half. Then whisk in the demi glaze and season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, strain the sauce through a mesh sieve or colander.
  • To make the sauce without a demi glaze:
  • In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted add the shallots and thyme. Saute until wilted and fragrant. Then whisk in the wine and beef broth and reduce by half. Then whisk in the tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve:
  • Ladle a little sauce on the bottom of each plate and then place a slice beef wellington on top of the sauce. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    To double the recipe I recommend purchasing two tenderloins or one large and then cut in half, keeping the beef wellington manageable and easier to roast.

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    Beef Karista's Kitchen VRAI Magazine

    Perfect Prime Rib Roast for VRAI Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wishing you a most magical and delicious holiday season!


    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue

    DaVinci Chianti at Home for the Holidays // Karista's Kitchen Southern Style Barbecue

    There are a few things I’m terribly traditional about.  A birthday dinner of choice on one’s actual birthday, ghost shaped pancakes on Halloween morning, pan seared beef tenderloin medallions with a Madeira wine sauce on Valentine’s Day and a Southern style barbecue around the holidays.

    Barbecue might seem a little out of place during the holidays, but at my house it’s a yearly tradition.  Mostly because my family loves barbecue and could dine on it year round.  The cooler holiday months also seem like the perfect time to capture a bit of summer whimsy within these festive dishes.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Succulent and bursting with flavor, I pair a Southern style pulled pork with my DaVinci Chianti BBQ Sauce.  A slightly sweet and tangy sauce laced with my favorite Chianti wine.  With aromas of ripe plum and cherry accented by peppery notes, DaVinci Chianti is a medium bodied and well balanced wine; blending beautifully into a most lush and silky sauce.  It’s so delicious, my family will wrangle for the last drop of sauce.  You just might be tempted to lick your plate!

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    Although I like a traditional coleslaw, for this meal I serve an elevated slaw of Apple, Fennel and Napa Cabbage, which is lightly tossed in a sweet dressing.  Along with the Southern style pulled pork, lush Chianti barbecue sauce and Apple Fennel Slaw, I also serve a delicious dish of homemade Baked Beans to round out the meal. After all, it’s not a barbecue without the beans.

    To celebrate our holiday barbecue, the table is set with holiday china while the music of the season fills the room. Our guests are seated, the Chianti is poured and our Southern style barbecue is served.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a festive occasion that feels special, and yet, warm and inviting with the enticing scent of earthy and rich flavors filling the house.  I love to hear the clink of glasses filled with the deep ruby colored DaVinci Chianti which pairs so perfectly with this holiday meal.

    When the dishes are empty and the last of the Chianti has been poured, it’s almost difficult to leave the table, lingering over conversation and a celebration of all that is most precious to us.

    Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a festive meal to serve for any holiday celebration. The recipes can be doubled to accommodate a large crowd and are fairly fuss free to prepare.  The baked beans can be prepped a day or two in advance and slider rolls or large barbecue buns can be served with the pulled pork, making for a lovely casual dining atmosphere or a sit down dinner.

    Cheers! to a most delicious and happy holiday season.

    Bon Appetito!


    Southern Style Pulled Pork with Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6-8


    4-5lbs boneless pork shoulder, halved


    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    ½ teaspoon garlic powder

    ½  teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon ground allspice

    ½ cup apple cider vinegar

    Slow cooker


    Pre-heat a slow cooker on high.

    Mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and allspice.

    Season the two pork shoulder pieces with salt and then brown on all sides.  Transfer the pork pieces to the slow cooker and season with the brown sugar mixture. Making sure to cover both pieces of pork.  Pour the apple cider vinegar over the pork pieces, cover with the lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until the pork pieces are fork tender.

    Tip: When using a slow cooker to prepare a pork shoulder or beef chuck, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of liquid as the slow cooker allows these cuts of meat to cook in their own juices.

    Once the pork shoulder is done, shred with two forks and keep moist with juices from the slow cooker.

    Option: If you’d like, add a ¼ – ½ cup of the Chianti BBQ sauce to the pulled pork and serve with additional sauce on the side.

    Serve with barbecue buns or slider buns, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. And don’t forget the Chianti!


    Chianti Barbecue Sauce

    Serves 6


    2 cups organic ketchup

    1 cup DaVinci Chianti wine

    3 teaspoons dry English mustard

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup unsulphured molasses

    3 tablespoons Worcestershire

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


    In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat stir together the ketchup, wine, mustard, brown sugar, molasses and Worcestershire. Bring it to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.  Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

    Because I like to use this sauce in my Homemade Baked Beans recipe, I usually double the recipe. It’s a travesty when I run out of sauce!   However, feel free to use a barbecue sauce of your choice in the Homemade Baked Beans recipe.

    Serve the Chianti Barbecue Sauce with Southern Style Pulled Pork, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. 


    Apple Fennel Slaw

    Serves 6 -8


    One medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shredded and fronds saved

    1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded

    2 cups shredded apples, or thinly sliced apples and spritzed with a little lemon juice

    1 cup mayonnaise

    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    ¼ cup sugar

    Dash of hot sauce, optional

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sugar until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Set aside until ready to serve.

    Gently toss together the fennel, cabbage and apples.  Chop the fennel fronds and toss them on top of the slaw.

    Dress the slaw with half the dressing, using more if needed, just before serving.

    Serve with Southern style pulled pork and baked beans. 


    Homemade Baked Beans

    Serves 6-8


    4 ounces bacon, diced

    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    3 15ounce cans navy beans, drained

    1/2 cup Chianti Barbecue Sauce, or a barbecue sauce of your choice

    1 small onion, finely diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire

    ¼ cup molasses

    ¼ cup brown sugar

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Medium to large baking dish


    Heat the oven to 350F.

    Heat a large skillet and cook the diced bacon.  Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.  Add a little olive oil if needed and sauté the onion.  When the onion is golden and soft, add the garlic and sauté another minute longer.  Add the bacon back into the skillet and stir in the beans.

    Stir in the one cup of barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.

    Pour the beans into a baking dish and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are hot and bubbly.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes

    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts

    Brussels sprouts, apples and bacon side dish or one dish meal // Karista's Kitchen

    I have to admit, roasted Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, salt and pepper is simple perfection.  I make them often but on occasion I switch things up and make this lovely Bacon, Apple and Brussels Sprouts side.  It’s easy to prepare and combines three distinct flavors that pair exquisitely together.  The smokiness of the bacon combined with the sweet of the apple… honestly, I could eat these two ingredients all by themselves.  But toss in some Brussels sprouts and the recipe somehow tastes complete.

    Of course I throw in some fresh garlic and sometimes add a splash of parmesan to the finished dish.  I think some shredded Irish cheddar would be tasty as well.

    Not only does this make a great side dish or one dish meal, it’s a lovely side for all the holiday dinner celebrations.  It happily accompanies turkey, prime rib, whole roasted salmon and a honey glazed ham.  Now I’m hungry!

    Just in case you’re not convinced Brussels sprouts are for you… I’ve added a few additional sides to browse.  You know, just in case. 😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Bacon, Apples and Brussel Sprouts


    • 6-8 ounces bacon, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 cups thin sliced apples, whatever is local and in season (I use Oregon local Honey Crisp)
    • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cleaned, bottom ends trimmed but core intact and then halved through the core. I prefer the smaller to medium sprouts if you can find them.
    • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • Squeeze of lemon


  • Fill a large pot with water and season the water generously with salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the Brussels sprouts. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the sprouts cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the sprouts are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Shake out the excess water and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add about 1 - 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot add the diced bacon and cook. When the bacon is crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon and add the Brussels sprouts.
  • Increase the heat to medium high allowing the Brussels to brown and crisp a bit. When the Brussels look golden brown, gently toss in the garlic and the apples.
  • Turn the heat back down to medium and let the apples cook until crisp tender. Once the apples are done, stir in the bacon and give it a squeeze of lemon.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm.
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    Mashed cauliflower side dish

    Cauliflower Mashers


    Several years ago I posted this Cauliflower Mashers recipe in a post with several other enticing side dishes. 

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachos and Toasted Coconut


    Another lovely and sweet side for Roast Turkey and Honey Baked Ham.

    roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

    Winter Roasted Beet Salad


    A gorgeous and delicious salad easily prepped and served – making your holiday celebration stress free.

    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts


    Hands down one of my favorite salads.  Again, easy to prepare and so delicious paired with Roast Turkey, Whole Roasted Salmon, Duck Breast, Honey Baked Ham or Prime Rib.

    brussels sprouts gratin

    Brussels Sprouts Gratin


    Brussels Sprouts are grand all on their own, but combined in a gratin with cheese and cream totally elevates this dish to spectacular!

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Sweets vegetarian

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving at my house without some sort of cranberry salad like this gorgeous Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad.  

    When chatting with my Mom about what she’d like me to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, I threw out all kinds of ideas.  From sweet potato soufflé to stuffing muffins and how about a prime rib for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey?  I was greeted with intense silence on the other end of the phone.  My Mother is very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  I was hoping she might entertain the thought of new versions of old favorites.  I think it’s a no.

    Although, she seemed intrigued by this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad tossed with toasted coconut and topped with chopped pistachios.  All of which she loves.  Especially the cranberries.  Every year she likes to make my great Aunt’s cranberry salad.  Not that my great Aunt’s cranberry salad isn’t tasty, it’s that I’m ready for something new. With a little less marshmallows.  After all, my sweet potato soufflé was struck down like a lightening bolt so we’re having the traditional sweet potato casserole; which my Mom reminded me was topped with marshmallows.

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    What I love about this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad is you can create your favorite version, or versions your family members prefer.

    With or without the toasted coconut, substitute toasted walnuts for the pistachios, and add a few mini marshmallows if you must. If you’re serving for adults, I think a splash of French Brandy is divine and just a little bit decadent.

    However you prepare this Cranberry and Mandarin Salad, I know your guest will feel loved and thankful.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    This salad is best when freshly prepared and served immediately.  Mandarins tend to fall apart once tossed with other ingredients. So to keep your salad gorgeous, toss everything together right before serving.  I list options and prep below.

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios


    • 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    • 1/2 cup of sugar or more (just enough to coat all the cranberries)
    • pinch of sea salt
    • 3 cups mandarin orange slices (either fresh or canned. If canned, drain before using)
    • 1/2 flaked coconut (not sweetened) toasted
    • 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
    • Splash of balsamic vinegar
    • Splash of extra virgin olive oil (I adore California Olive Ranch Arbosana extra virgin olive oil on this salad)
    • Options: omit coconut and add a handful mini marshmallows; substitute toasted walnuts for pistachios; omit balsamic vinegar and add a splash of French brandy instead


  • Heat the oven to 350F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment and then toss the cranberries with the olive oil and the sugar - just enough sugar to coat all the cranberries.
  • Pour the cranberries onto the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the cranberries are wilted.
  • Let the cranberries cool. Pour them into a large mixing bowl and toss gently with the mandarin oranges and toasted coconut. Pour them onto a platter or serving bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and top with toasted pistachios. Serve immediately.
  • ANOTHER OPTION: Spread the roasted cranberries on a platter, then layer with the mandarins, then coconut and then pistachios. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with just a pinch of sea salt.
  • If you would like to prep the salad a few hours before serving, roast the cranberries and let them cool. Place them in a large bowl and hold until ready to serve the salad. Then gently toss together the remaining ingredients and dress with vinegar and oil just before serving.
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