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Beef Karista's Kitchen

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

beef tenderloin with madeira wine sauce

When I was little, I would stand with my face pressed against the chain link fence that surrounded our yard, watching my Grandfather attempt his daily chores outside.  Grandpa was a hard worker.  Once a policeman, then a plumber and always semi-retired.

Grass never grew under Grandpa’s feet.  He was always up to something.  Digging holes for posts so he could hang a new tire swing for the Grandkids, tinkering in his man cave with his motorcycles, somehow resisting the ache of taking a long ride through the country.

A hearty man.  Skin made of leather from years in the sun, barely a speck of blonde hair left on a shiny brown head.  Scars and a crooked nose from numerous motorcycle accidents never deterred the sweetness of his face.  A smile that could warm the heart and the bluest eyes that twinkled brightly.

Until the moment my Grandmother opened the front door and shouted his name.  He pretended he didn’t hear her calling.

This always made me giggle.  I’d keep his secret.  I’d never tell Grandma where he was, although I’m sure she knew.


I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had, and continue to have, many good men in my life.  Uncles, Grandfather’s, Father’s, brother’s, cousins who are like my brothers, friends and of course my main man and love of my life, Ranger Craig.   Men of character and integrity, respect for the strong women in their lives, men who were, and still are, some of the best Father’s I’ve ever known.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and most delicious Father’s Day!

Loads of Love,


Beef Tenderloin Medallions with a Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

Serves 2 (can easily be doubled)


2 Beef Tenderloin approximately 5-6 ounces each

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons high heat oil or clarified butter (Ghee)

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup beef stock

½ cup Madeira wine

1/2 cup sliced sautéed cremini mushrooms (optional)

1 tablespoon beef demi-glaze.  This gives a little richer flavor to the sauce and can be found at most markets, usually near the beef broth, or in the freezer section

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish (optional)


Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides.  In a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering and hot, place the beef tenderloin in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.  About 6-7 minutes per side for medium doneness. Transfer the beef to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Then stir in the chopped shallots.  Once the shallots are fragrant stir in the flour.  Once the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds to one minute, whisk in the beef stock and then the Madeira wine.

Continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened just a bit.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle a bit of sauce on a plate and place a tenderloin on top with any remaining beef juices from the beef plate.  Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately.

I love this beef dish with Potatoes Dauphinoise and Roasted Asparagus.

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!


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.

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

Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa I’ve been trying to write this post for at least a week.  I’d like to think my days are so filled with exciting and essential work, of momentous proportions, that I had to continuously delay this post.

Nope.  Just my beautiful life.  Work, family, chasing chicken gals who escape their chicken yard, chasing Tank down the street because he thinks he’s a hunting dog (I do a lot of chasing), making the 20 weekly trips to the market ( I exaggerate a bit, but not by much) and the mountain of test recipes that go awry and end up in the garbage.  Or in Tanks food bowl.

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Thankfully, one recipe that didn’t go awry was this beautiful slow braised beef.  Barbacoa is the Mexican version of our barbecue.  Slow braised, lightly spiced and scented with earthy, smoky flavors of unsweetened cocoa and chipotle chili powder.  Topped with spring shades of green cucumber and avocado salsa that balances the rich and decadent dish with bright and refreshing flavors.

Just a little sunshine on the palate while waiting for the summer sun.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Serves 6-8


3 lbs Beef Brisket

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa

½ heaping teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or Italian)

½ cup tomato sauce

1 cup red wine (or 1 cup beef broth with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar)

1 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 cup water, reserved

To Serve:

Corn tortillas

Crumbled Cotija cheese

Cucumber Avocado Salsa (recipe below)


In a small bowl mix together the unsweetened cocoa, chipotle chili powder, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat the oven to 325F.  Heat a Dutch Oven with a tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

Once the brisket is browned, transfer to a dish and turn the heat down to medium.  Add the onions and sauté until wilted.

Then stir in the garlic, tomato sauce, wine or broth and seasonings.  Add the brisket back into the Dutch oven tossing to coat in the sauce and bring the mixture back to a lively simmer.

Place the Dutch oven in the pre-heated oven and let it cook for about 1 ½ – 2 hours, until the brisket is fork tender.  After about 45 minutes of cook time, check for liquids.  If the pot seems to dry add about ½ cup water to the brisket.  Adding the full cup if needed.

Once the brisket is done, shred for tacos.  Serve with corn tortillas, cotija cheese and Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

Cucumber Avocado Salsa

1 cucumber, small dice

1 avocado, small dice (I use an avocado that isn’t overly ripe)

Handful of cilantro, chopped

Squeeze of lime juice

Salt to taste

Gently toss the cucumber, avocado, cilantro and lime juice together.  Season to taste with salt.

For another fabulous Barbacoa recipe check out

Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta Pork

Hearty Winter Bolognese

Hearty Winter Bolognese // Karista's Kitchen

When I was little, I remember my Grandmother standing at the stove top stirring her homemade tapioca pudding.

I stood close by, waiting, asking to help, so I could somehow sneak a sample of her delicious recipe.

Grandma smiled and with a twinkle in her bright blue eyes, she said “little one, I think you should dip your finger in the pudding”.  I said “why Grandma?”  She replied “because it will make the pudding taste better”.


Food memories are often the most enduring. Filled with moments of kindred spirit, sanctuary… love.

These days, nothing says Sunday love better than a big bowl of Hearty Winter Bolognese over pasta – a pleasure for the palate.

Hearty Winter Bolognese isn’t just a meat sauce. It’s a slow braised Italian meat sauce with deep, satisfying flavors ready to blanket your favorite pasta.

Like every Italian Nonna, traditional Bolognese recipes vary from chef to chef.   Typically, Italian Bolognese is prepared with pancetta, soffritto (onions, carrots, celery) white wine, minced beef, pork or veal and milk.

However, many American versions of Hearty Winter Bolognese are prepared with olive oil, red wine and a mixture of ground beef and pork. I have several versions myself, depending on what I have on hand, or what flavors I’m in the mood to use.

However you decide to prepare your Bolognese, allowing the sauce to simmer stove top for several hours will create a most delicious experience.

And… don’t forget to dip your finger in the sauce.  It’ll make it taste better. 🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Hearty Winter Bolognese

Serving Size: 6-8


  • 1 lb ground beef (local and grass fed beef tastes best)
  • 1lb Hot or mild Italian pork sausage (if you don’t eat pork, sub with Hot Italian chicken sausage)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine ( I use DaVinci Chianti for a perfect sauce)
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 28 ounce jar crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a Dutch oven or stock pot add the oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the carrots, onions and celery. Sauté until the vegetables are wilted. Then stir in the garlic and sauté a minute longer.
  • Next add the ground beef and sausage and let the meat cook through. Once cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the wine.
  • Let the wine decrease by half and then add the oregano, bay leaf, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring the sauce to a simmer and season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Let the sauce simmer stove top uncovered on low for about 2 hours.
  • Before serving, remove the oregano and bay leaf. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and then stir in the ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley.
  • Serve with your favorite pasta and garnish with a handful of grated parmesan.
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    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

    jam filled muffins prepared with Einkorn wheat flour

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

    I’ve always felt dinner was the easy meal.  You know me, I’m all over dinner.  It’s been my life’s work for the last 13 years and I’d like to believe I’ve gotten it down to a science.  Well… most days anyway.

    But breakfast?  Ugh.  It’s the meal that remains a thorn in my side.  Although, I have plenty of great ideas,  my darling Bennett Crew remains resistant to my delicious weekday morning breakfast ideas.

    jam filled muffins prepared with Einkorn whole wheat flour

    Jam Muffins

    I’ve prepared and frozen homemade breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza, waffle sandwiches, breakfast sandwich roll-ups, fruit and protein smoothies, and currently, I’m working on the perfectly balanced breakfast cookie.  Which will take a bit more recipe testing as the last batch had to go into the compost.  Even Tank wouldn’t eat them and he eats everything.

    So I make muffins.  Everyone loves muffins.  Or at least the Bennett Crew loves muffins.  I sneak all sorts of things into my muffins.  Zucchini, pineapple, carrots, winter squash, sweet potato, apples, pears, spices, berries, oatmeal, ground almonds and anything else I can think of that’s nutritious and filling.

    Today however, I added jam to the muffins.  Just for fun.  A sweet little surprise just waiting to be tasted.  A great way to use homemade jam from summer berries and fruit.

    Hooray for the jam muffins.  Suzie Q said they were a huge success and she should know.  She’s my muffin critic.

    I think these muffins made my Bennett Crew very happy.  I love happy.  🙂

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

    Makes 12

    2 cups Einkorn Ancient Grain Whole Wheat Flour ( I love, love, love this flour.  It’s silky texture translates to the most delicious and perfectly soft crumb as well as beautifully sweet.  It contains the antioxident lutein and Jovial einkorn flour is high-extraction flour at 80%, which means most of the germ and bran have been removed for lighter flour that stays fresh for longer.  You can find this at most Whole Foods, PCC Natural Market or your local natural market.  Or you can order online. If you don’t have access to this flour use 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour) This recipe can also be prepared gluten free using your fave gluten free baking blend. 

    1 tablespoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 cup whole milk

    1/3 cup coconut oil or room temp butter

    1/3 cup coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)

    1 large egg

    2 teaspoons vanilla

    1/2 cup of jam or preserves  (I used seedless raspberry jam but you can use anything.  I’ve even used apple and pumpkin butter.  Delish!)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    Line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking cups.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a kitchen aid mixer or large bowl add the coconut oil or butter and sugar.  Whisk until nicely combined and then whisk in the egg until the mixture is creamy.  Whisk in the milk and vanilla.

    Gently combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and then lightly fold in the jam but don’t over mix.  You want to see the jam in the batter.

    Fill the muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the muffins are done and golden brown on top.

    For a little variation:  fill each muffin tin half way with batter.  Then dollop jam in the center of the batter in each muffin tin and then top with remaining batter.

    More Breakfast Muffin Recipes!

    GF Morning Glory Muffins

    Good Morning Muffins

    Must Make Muffins

    Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins

    Pear and Cardamom Muffins

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Pork

    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    stuffed olive and sausage bites

    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    There is no doubt the holidays are always a busy time of year.  However, the last few years it’s become a reason to put the brakes on.  Or at least slow down long enough to savor the season.

    I find myself turning off my computer earlier in the evening, leaving the iPad on my desk, losing my phone (ok… I do this year round), and hanging out by the fire watching old holiday films, sipping my new fave wine and enjoying the company of my beautiful family.

    It’s amazing how something as simple as a Christmas movie and a good cup of cocoa can bring everyone into the family room.For me, the holidays are also a time of reflection.  Reflection on the unexpected blessings, the mountainous hurdles that have been jumped and long winding roads that were crossed.

    The joy of being a mom of two beautiful and sassy gals, the ever present love, laughter and hilarious adventure with a man who is my best friend. Reflection on the love of family and friends, and new friendships.

    Stuffed olives and sausage rolled in panko and baked

    One evening at a food blogging event this past summer,  I found myself standing alone at a tall table in the corner of a large barn like building.  I was trying to look casual holding my cocktail and putting my pride in check after a disappointing moment.  I’m typically eager to meet new people and make new friends.  However, sometimes I forget others are not so eager.

    So with my pride somewhat bruised and mentally giving myself a good lecture, I stood there watching the crowd as if I were on the outside looking in.

    I checked the time on my phone and only half an hour had passed.  Oh well, I thought. It’s time to pack it in, go home, put on the pajamas and read a good book.  There were also three Bennett’s at home that would give me no shortage of conversation.

    Just as I was fishing around my handbag for my keys, a lovely lady with a bright as a Christmas tree smile introduced herself.  I probably looked stunned.  I’m sure it took me a minute but I soon realized she was speaking to me and I should probably speak back.

    Melanie is genuine. She presented me with a kindness I will never forget.  Along with a few more lovely women from the event, Melanie became a new friend.

    Melanie is the author of the blog Melanie in the Middle and now her newest project, A Beautiful Bite, Where Passion and Plate Collide. Fresh, fun, beautiful and mouthwatering recipes.  And she has the best giveaways!

    So, in honor of A Beautiful Bite, I thought I’d share these lovely little Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites.  Perfect starters for your holiday table.

    Or if you’re like me… you eat them for lunch. 😉

    Happy Holidays and Loads of Love,


    Stuffed Olive and Sausage Bites

    Makes about 18-20 depending on size of the olives


    1 jar (or about 20) feta or bleu cheese stuffed green olives.  Sometimes I can find orange peel stuffed olives and these are fabulous in this starter.

    About ½ – ¾ panko style bread crumbs

    1 pound sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage


    Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Make sure you lightly paper towel the olives so the sausage will stick.

    I usually place the olives in one bowl, the sausage in another and the bread crumbs in a third bowl.

    Flatten out a tablespoon sized portion of sausage in your palm. Place an olive in the center, then shape the sausage around it, enclosing the olive.

    Roll the sausage wrapped olive in the bread crumbs. Continue to shape it and pressing the bread crumbs into the sausage slightly.  As olives are prepared, space them apart on a baking sheet.

    Repeat with the remaining olives.

    The olives can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.  Cover tightly.

    At least 20 minutes before baking, remove them from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 450F.  Bake the olives for about 12-14 minutes, until the sausage is cooked and lightly browned.

    Serve on a long olive tray or speared with fun picks.

    Recipe slightly adapted from the fabulous Chef Kathy Casey, Sips and Apps

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Turkey, Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Enchiladas Verdes

    Turkey Enchiladas Verdes

    Many thanks to my Suzie Q who donned an apron and held the plate for this picture. 🙂

    Enchiladas seemed the perfect dish for my leftover Thanksgiving turkey this year.  Combined with the lone pumpkin left on my kitchen counter and some fresh Swiss chard from a local farm, Turkey Enchiladas Verdes is our follow-up feast.

    I know you’ll be giving thanks this post is short and sweet. I realize I’ve gone long the last few posts.  I’m terribly chatty in person but rarely on paper. 😉

    Off to help decorate the family Christmas tree, while we watch Elf (one of our favorite Christmas movies) and eat Turkey Enchiladas Verdes!

    Wishing you all a most delicious Holiday Season.

    Loads of Love,


    Turkey Enchiladas Verdes with Roasted Pumpkin and Swiss Chard

    This recipe can be as simple or as complex as you’d like.  If you’re in a pinch for time use your favorite jarred Salsa Verde, about 2 cups (I completely adore Frontera Brand).  If you prefer to make your own, I’ve included the recipe.

    It appears a lengthy recipe, but it’s really very simple.  I’ve been a bit wordy and tried to write the directions in stages.  To keep things as simple as possible.

    This also makes a fabulous vegetarian Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Enchiladas Verdes.  If for some reason you really are tired of turkey.

    Serves 4-6


    For the Salsa Verde:

    2 cans tomatillos

    ½ cup diced onions

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1 jalapeno, roasted and seeded

    ½ cup water or chicken broth if needed

    Salt to taste

    For the Enchilada filling:

    2-3 cups chopped roasted turkey

    1 sugar pie pumpkin

    1 small bunch Swiss chard, washed and trimmed of stalks and coarsely chopped

    1 small white onion, chopped

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    ½  teaspoon ground cumin

    ½  teaspoon ground coriander

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1-2 cups shredded Jalapeno Jack cheese

    10-12 corn tortillas

    Chopped green onions for garnish

    For the Crema:

    1 cup sour cream

    1 lime juiced

    ¼ teaspoon ground coriander

    ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

    To prepare the Salsa Verde

    Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor and puree.

    Add a little oil to a medium sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until wilted.

    Stir in the pureed tomatillos, cilantro and jalapeno and let it simmer on low for about five minutes, adding water or chicken broth if necessary.  Set aside while preparing the enchiladas.  Reserve ½ cup to top the enchiladas.

    To Roast the Pumpkin:

    Preheat the oven to 400F.  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 a little toasted.  You will want the pumpkin a little firmer than if you were roasting for a pie.

    Once the pumpkin has cooled, peel it and slice it or crumble into pieces.

    To Sauté the Swiss Chard in a large skillet over medium heat with just a bit of oil.  Once it has wilted, but not watery, transfer the wilted chard to a large bowl.  Mix in the turkey, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, cumin, coriander and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    Heat the tortillas in a stove top steamer, or use the steamer function on a rice cooker or you can always pop the tortillas one or two at a time into the microwave for about 10 seconds.  You need the tortillas soft so they will roll and not tear.  Keep the tortillas covered and warm until you use them.  If they firm up, steam or microwave a little more.

    Ladle a little sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Take a tortilla and fill one end with a few pieces of pumpkin, a spoonful of filling and roll. Continue this until your baking dish is full or you’ve run out of tortillas.

    Ladle a cup or so of Salsa Verde over the enchiladas.  Then ladle the crema over the salsa verde.  Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the crema and bake for about 20 minutes or until the enchiladas are heated through.  Let them cool for a few minutes and then garnish with green onion and serve.