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Socca (chickpea flatbread)

Socca (Chickpea Flatbread) // Karista's Kitchen

Sometimes I feel this humble blog is my somewhat ignored child.  I think about this blog all the time and I’m constantly planning a million things to post here.  But alas, paid work must come first and sometimes that work takes up most of my time… which is a good thing is it not?

You should see my list of recipes I’ve got going.  Every season I make this long list of recipes to prepare, photograph and post here for you to completely revel in and enjoy.   However, half of those recipes never make it onto the blog. The really delicious recipes that I feel you MUST have come rain or shine or snowstorm or vacation actually get posted.  Other recipes sort of hang around season after season until before I know it, it’s been a full year and the recipe is still on my “to post” list.

This Socca (chickpea flatbread) is one such recipe.  I can’t say for certain why it’s taken me so long to post this other than it often disappears before I can snap a few photos.

Socca (Chickpea Flatbread) // Karista's Kitchen

Socca is such a simple, fragrant, tasty little recipe that I prepare at least two or three times a week.  Sometimes I’ll make Socca on the weekends and we nibble on it with cheese and wine for a light dinner or snack.  My sassy gals love socca with fresh herbs and garlic as a compliment to a dinner salad or soup.

Socca is so versatile I use it for pizza crust on occasion or serve it for breakfast with fried eggs and wilted greens.

Socca, also referred to as Farinata, originated in Italy.  It’s a simple flatbread made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and typically rosemary.  Although, many versions of socca can be found all over the world.  Some recipes call for resting the batter for several hours prior to baking.  I’ve tried it both ways. Whisking the batter and baking it off within minutes of preparation. Or letting the batter sit for several hours before popping it in the oven before dinner.  Personally, I love the end result when the batter has had time to rest and flavors meld and allow all the delicious magic to happen.  But if you’re in a hurry and just need to get it in the oven, it will still taste delicious.

I’ve listed a basic socca recipe but feel free to add your favorite fresh chopped herbs, garlic, sautéed onions, shallots or garlic.  I love it simply with rosemary, salt and pepper and eaten right out of the pan.  Which is how I finally managed to photograph the socca.  I suppose I could have fancied up the photo but socca is simple goodness and truly needs nothing fancy added.  Maybe just hungry family members. 😉

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Socca (chickpea flatbread)

Serving Size: Makes 8 slices

Socca (chickpea flatbread)


  • 1 cup chickpea flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup - 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or a mixture of fresh herbs or chives)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided


Whisk together the chickpea flour, 3/4 cup water (adding more for a thinner flatbread), salt, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes or covered in the fridge for about 2-3 hours or overnight if you're preparing for breakfast.

When you are ready to bake the socca, pre-heat the oven to 425F. Place a 10 inch cast iron or iron skillet in the oven and let it pre-heat with the oven.

When the oven is ready, carefully remove the pre-heated skillet and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the pan. Pour in the socca batter.

Carefully place the skillet back in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until it's golden brown and a little cracked on top.

Remove it from the oven and slice into 8 wedges and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad VRAI Magazine

Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Autumn Harvest Salad from A View to Delicious Magazine // Karista's Kitchen

I know I’m blasting your inbox with posts today and I’m hoping you don’t mind an extra post.  I wanted to mention that this gorgeous Autumn Harvest Salad recipe is included in our first digital food magazine, A View to Delicious!

We published A View to Delicious to highlight the bounty of the season and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  This magazine is our first issue and it won’t be our last.  We’re working on a second issue that is going to be jam-packed with even more recipes, stories, photos, tips and techniques that you won’t want to miss.  I’ll announce more about it later. 😉

Until then, A View to Delicious is on sale!  Click HERE  (and enter code “delicious 50” for 50% off ) to download your copy today and don’t miss all the delectable recipes that are so perfect for this time of year.  And so perfect for your holiday table!

As well, we have a new kitchen shop that is filled with the most unique and fun kitchen finds and so perfect for your holiday shopping.  You’ll find the link at the top of the front page under “Shop Karista’s Kitchen Store”.  Check out the new Karista’s Kitchen Fall Baking and Spice box. I love this little box for gift giving.

This beautifully curated box is perfect for the FOODIE and home chef!  The Karista’s Kitchen Fall Spice & Baking Box contains hand selected, high-quality spices that are perfect for all seasons but especially wonderful for Fall Baking! Included in the box are two packages each of fragrant smoked paprika and Korinje cinnamon and a delightful matcha green tea salt.  I completely adore the Matcha Green Tea Salt as a finishing salt for the Autumn Harvest Salad.

Also in the box are four Kilner square spice jars, crafted in the U.K., three recipes from Karista’s Kitchen and a gorgeous tea towel from Claudia Pearson or Belle & Union. Purchase the box as a hostess gift, birthday gift or gift to yourself.  Be sure to use the coupon code for 25% off this box! Coupon Code is: kkbox25

Karista's Kitchen Spice and Baking Box from the Karista's Kitchen Shop


Loads of love and gratitude to you all for reading and supporting Karista’s Kitchen!

Delicious Wishes,



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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Book Reviews Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Tips and Techniques VRAI Magazine

Our First Digital Food Magazine!

Sweet Potato and Apple Tarte Tatin // Karista's Kitchen // A View to Delicious Magazine digital food magazine

Friends, we’ve launched our first digital food magazine called A View to Delicious.

I’m so excited to share this beautiful and mouth-watering food issue with you. It’s been a fun, challenging and adventurous project all rolled up into a magazine that I hope you’ll enjoy. We’ve filled the magazine with new seasonally inspired recipes, stunning visuals, stories about the pacific northwest life as well as healthy living tips and cooking advice.

And we’ve got our first review!

 “I just want to cook today. Make it all. Love the question and answer page! Things I’ve wondered answered. All the recipes simply put and so understandable. Gentle. Like you are wanting people to succeed not overpower them with your knowledge” ~Marni Zarr 

Along with VRAI Magazine Editor, Danny de la Cruz and Creative Designer Mary Jo Cadiz, we’ve created this premiere digital food magazine to celebrate the season and of course all things food, farm and healthy living.

My editor also talked me into a little “getting to know” section about me and how in the world I ended up in this most delicious profession of culinary arts. You don’t want to miss all the fun  –  cooking tips and techniques, cooking questions answered, new recipes, holiday recipe round-up and loads of cute farm animals. 🙂

Just click HERE  to purchase your downloadable copy!

A View to Delicious Magazine digital food magazine // Fall 2016 // Karista's Kitchen

Thank you friends for following along this delicious journey. I’d so appreciate if you’d share this post with friends and family or check out my Facebook page or Instagram page and share on our social media sites.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!




Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad Sassy Side dishes Sweets Tips and Techniques VRAI Magazine

Our Premiere Digital Food Issue

A View to Delicious // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine premiere food issue Fall 2016

I’ve partnered with VRAI Magazine and we wrote our very first digital food issue, A View to Delicious! 

We’ve been working hard to craft a beautifully photographed food and lifestyle digital food issue featuring the freshest farm-to-table recipes, healthy lifestyle tips, articles on unique destinations that dot the landscape of this scenic region and more cooking inspiration, tips and advice from my years in the culinary profession.

A View to Delicious is a little taste of what I create at home in my kitchen.  This digital food issue is a glimpse into where I live and why I adore my region of the world.  It’s also a little insight into how I feel about healthy and happy living and inspiration for creating life the table.  It also contains lovely verse and poetry by a few of my friends and lots of farm animals. Did I mention the farm animals?

A View to Delicious // Karista's Kitchen

Our premiere digital food issue, A View to Delicious, is available for pre-order now and until the 25th of September.  You can snag it HERE. The magazine will launch on Monday, September 26th!

As I’m writing this, I’m filled with over the moon excitement.  I can’t wait to share with you the delicious new recipes and a peek into my crazy delicious world. 🙂

I hope you’ll pre-order A View to Delicious and then tell me what you think when you read it. I always love hearing from my readers!

Wishing you a very happy and healthy fall season.

Loads of Love,



Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Seafood

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole with Spicy Tomato Sauce from Karista's Kitchen

I just realized I may be a tiny bit obsessed with ricotta cheese.  My last two recipes have included ricotta cheese and now I’m posting this lovely Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole with a Spicy Tomato Sauce.  Completely unintentional as it may be, I must have a sub-concious need for ricotta cheese. Maybe I’m simply channeling my inner Italian, or my need to return to Italy. 🙂 Yep, it’s my need to return to Italy.

This is a dish that keeps a regular rotation on my dinner menu.  Which is why I’m surprised I’ve never shared this enchanting recipe until now.  I’m fairly certain it was due to the food being eaten before I could snap a photo.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole is a simple entree that assembles easily and can be popped into the oven and served with a lovely Citrus and Arugula Salad or Pesto Broccolini for a beautiful meal.

On occasion I’ll prepare the ricotta stuffing the night before and let it sit in the fridge until needed the next evening; making it even easier to assemble, bake and serve this saucy and creamy Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole with Spicy Tomato Sauce from Karista's Kitchen

I’ve prepared this dish with fresh spinach, sautéed, chopped and squeezed, but I find for reasons of time and texture that frozen, chopped spinach which has been thawed and squeezed works better in this recipe.

That said, once, I forgot to pick up frozen spinach at the market so I walked outside, snipped some Swiss chard from my garden and used it instead.  Not quite as delicate in flavor as the spinach, but still lovely and delicious.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole with Spicy Tomato Sauce from Karista's Kitchen

I love it when dinner comes together quickly and involves cheese and sauce.  Not too mention, it’s a great way to serve more seafood during the week without a lot of fuss.

An interesting wine tip…  I’ve paired this recipe with a dry, un-oaked chardonnay as well as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Although these two wines have completely different flavor profiles, both wines were complimentary.  🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole

Serving Size: 4

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Dover Sole


    For the Dover Sole
  • 1lb Dover Sole
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 package (about 8-12oz) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped Italian parsley, divided
  • ½ cup shredded Mozzarella
  • ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 14oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil an 8 ½ x 11 baking dish.

In a food processor add the ricotta, spinach, garlic, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, oregano and Italian parsley. Pulse until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Season each Dover sole filet with salt and pepper. Place a teaspoon or two of the spinach ricotta mixture on one end of the filet and then roll, being careful not to squeeze the filling out of the sides. Some will inevitably escape during cooking. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all the filets have been stuffed and rolled.

Mix together the mozzarella, ¼ cup parmesan and bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the stuffed, rolled filets and then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Place the baking dish in the oven and let it cook for about 10-12 minutes. Turn the broiler on for a minute or two, just before the fish is done to toast the bread crumbs and melt the cheese.

To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot sauté the onions until wilted, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté one minute longer.

Next, stir in the red wine and let it reduce by half. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Once incorporated put it back over medium heat and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, adding a little water if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle sauce on a plate and then place a stuffed filet or two over the sauce and garnish with additional chopped fresh Italian parsley.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad

Apple Jicama Slaw

Apple Jicama Slaw with a creamy apple cider vinegar dressing // Karista's Kitchen

Crunchy, sweet, crisp and tangy, this Apple Jicama Slaw seems the perfect combination of flavors and textures.

We eat a lot of salad and slaw at my house which sometimes challenges my salad making creativity, especially when I make a salad for almost every dinner meal.

I adore using all sorts of fun and fresh ingredients for our salads and often they’re simply composed of whatever is left in the fridge and whatever is fresh on the counter.   And of course, whatever might be in season.

This is definitely apple season and I have quite a few sitting on my counter.  I also keep jicama in the fridge for when my snack craving gets the best of me.  This oval-shaped root vegetable has a beautifully crisp and slightly sweet texture which makes it a great snack to reach for when you’re hungry.  If you’ve never tried jicama, it’s definitely worth the effort.  Slice away the rough brown exterior and you’ll find a creamy white flesh that is perfect for slicing and snacking, julienne or grated for salads, and in Mexico, you’ll find it served sliced, chilled, seasoned with salt, chili powder and lime juice.

Apple and Jicama Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

I created a mayonnaise based dressing for this Apple Jicama Slaw recipe, however, a yogurt base would be just as delicious.  For a non-dairy version, a lime vinaigrette with a hint of Dijon would also be tasty.

I serve this salad a la carte for lunch or a light dinner and on occasion I’ll serve it with heartier fare, such as Cajun spiced shrimp or grilled or roasted chicken.  I also serve this Apple Jicama Slaw with my Slow Roasted Mexican Pork Tacos –  for taco perfection!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Apple and Jicama Slaw

Serving Size: 4-6

Apple and Jicama Slaw


  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, halved and sliced into shreds
  • 2 cups grated or julienned jicama
  • 2 cups thinly sliced apples
  • 1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the cabbage and jicama in a large bowl and lightly toss with some of the dressing.

Pour the dressed cabbage and jicama onto a platter or in a serving bowl and then top with the thinly sliced apples and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Classic Eggplant Parmesan // Karista's Kitchen

I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year than with this dreamy Classic Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t long ago that I could hardly boil water.  I’m not kidding.  Years ago, anything I cooked could have caused a slow and painful death. Yep, I’m a tiny bit dramatic, but truly, it may not be far from the truth.

Back in the day, my signature meal was a sausage quiche I learned to make while living in Louisiana, fried chicken, biscuits, turkey kielbasa and sauerkraut and a few meals on the grill.  That was it. My culinary repertoire. On occasion I would branch out and follow a recipe just to make something different, but even then my culinary skills were terribly limited.

This is why I originally enrolled in culinary school almost 17 years ago – and as they say the rest is history. 😉

Of course, it didn’t help that I lived next door to the most incredible Italian home chef.  Unbelievably delicious scent’s drifting from next door right into my open windows – while I’m trying to prepare a decent meal and all I can think of is that I’d rather be eating at my neighbor’s house tonight.   Knowing how much I loved her cooking, my sweet neighbor would always bring me a sample.

Daniella’s eggplant parmesan was my favorite dish she made – olive oil fried eggplant layered among shredded mozzarella and homemade sauce.  A little bit of work but so worth every ounce of effort.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan for years now and tweaked the original recipe just a hair since those days.  Rather than labor over the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, I simply salt, pepper and flour the eggplant (I can be a lazy chef), lightly fry and then begin to layer.  Sometimes I’ll layer in a bit of herbed ricotta and I adore using whole milk mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella.  You can make your own sauce or use your favorite.

I like to make this in individual serving dishes but family style works just as well.  Serve with your favorite tossed green salad or THIS salad or THIS salad and I also love THIS salad, and some crusty Italian bread.

However you like to prepare this Classic Eggplant Parmesan, it will be a huge hit at your kitchen table.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Serving Size: 4-6

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

This is probably one of the most quintessential Italian dishes. Lush and rich in flavor as well as texture, this dish can stand on it’s own or be served as a lovely side dish.

Photos originally published in 2015 Dec/Jan Issue of Home By Design Magazine by Karista Bennett


  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick rounds or sliced lengthwise
  • Sea or Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced
  • 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for garnish
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl for about 20-30 minutes to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.

Dust the eggplant slices with the flour, shaking off the extra flour. Using a large skillet or frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.

Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, pan-fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown. Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish. You can also prepare this recipe in individual baking dishes.

Layer slices of eggplant over the tomato sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a layer of mozzarella and Romano and a little chopped fresh basil. Continue layering the eggplant, sauce, cheese and basil. I usually end up with 3-4 layers.

Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.

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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.


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 Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Soup Turkey

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

Although Thanksgiving turkey dinner is a treat, it’s really the leftovers that excite my family.  During the cooler months, soup is king in my house.

This Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup is the perfect way to use leftover turkey, along with the loads of delicious turkey stock I prepare the day after Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t long ago we lived back east and visited Plymouth Village every Thanksgiving.  It felt surreal to walk through the village on Thanksgiving day, soaking up the history while giving thanks for family and friends.

A few Thanksgiving dinners we dined at the village for their annual feast. Other times we would dine at one of the many local restaurants in the area serving Thanksgiving dinner.

One particular year we dined at the sweetest restaurant which was in a renovated Victorian home.  This was of course before my days at culinary school, so something as simple as a delicious soup still mystified me.  Honestly, I don’t think I had ever tasted such an exquisite soup like the Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup we had that day.  So rich and flavorful with tender pieces of roast turkey and the woody, heady scent of the mushrooms combined with aromatics of thyme and sherry… I was in soup heaven.

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

Each Thanksgiving since, I re-create that soup.  And each Thanksgiving I always think I’ve done a pretty good job with my re-creation.  This Thanksgiving season, I decided it was time to share the recipe for my Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup. 🙂

This year we had a lovely Thanksgiving day with our family that began with Mimosa’s and then continued with silly faces for the camera, everyone in the kitchen cooking and singing – and a few peeled off into the family room for a dance off. We’re a crazy lot, but I love our zest for life and love and family and for the gratefulness we all share.

My messy kitchen from Thanksgiving Day // Karista's Kitchen My oldest sassy gal preparing the Thanksgiving dressing // Karista's Kitchen My two sassy gals at Thanksgiving // Karista's Kitchen Thanksgiving Table // Karista's Kitchen

Life around my table is always filled with love, inspiration and of course, tasty food.  Bringing us together, cementing our connection and supporting each other.  During this holiday season I try to extend my reach and bring others to the table that aren’t so fortunate by donating to our local food bank, giving to our local shelters and community centers as well as churches in our valley that support local families.

This year I encourage you to extend your love and life around the table by giving to a local family or a food bank in need;  filling their empty well with your love of food or service this holiday season.  After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? For loving each other, giving freely and supporting each other.

In the past, I was the fortunate recipient of this kind of love.  It was extended to my family many years ago when I was a child.  A time when our family was at one of the lowest points of my childhood.  A time when my parents needed help, needed compassion and love.

Our community brought us food, not just for Thanksgiving dinner but for several weeks after.  That compassion made a huge impression on my 10-year-old self.  I’ll never forget the kindness and grace in our neighbors faces as they delivered the food.  For me, it meant survival – and a little joy during a joyless time in our lives.

I treasure you all and I’m so thankful for your support here at Karista’s Kitchen. I wish you the happiest, most delicious and joyous of holiday seasons.

Loads of love,


Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Serving Size: 6-8

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup


  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced fresh seasonal mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 6 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 cup wild rice, not cooked
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 cups diced turkey meat (this recipe is also great with leftover roasted chicken)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish


Heat 1 cup of water to boiling. Place the dried porcini mushroom in a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling water over the mushrooms making sure all the mushrooms are moistened. Let that sit for about 15-20 minutes. The gently remove the mushrooms to a chopping board with a mesh strainer. Reserve at least 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid to add to the soup. Chop the porcini mushrooms and add them to the fresh mushrooms.

In a large pot, add the extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onions and celery and sauté until wilted. Then stir in the garlic, the porcini and one cup fresh mushrooms and thyme and cook for one to two minutes longer or until the mushrooms begin to wilt.

Stir in the sherry and let it reduce by half. Then stir in the turkey or chicken broth, 1/2 cup of porcini mushroom liquid and bring it to a boil.

Stir in the rice and Italian parsley and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes or longer until the rice is cooked.

Stir in the diced turkey or chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sauté the 1/2 cup of mushrooms and minced garlic clove in a bit of butter and then season with salt and pepper. Use the mushrooms and chopped Italian parsley to garnish each bowl of the soup.


This is a great recipe for leftover roasted chicken as well. Increase the fresh or dried mushrooms as you prefer. As well, add or delete broth depending on how thick or thin you like your soup. I prefer a heartier soup so often I'll only add five cups liquid instead of six.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

What do I serve as a side dish in a pinch?  These gorgeous Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce.  Seasonal mushrooms that are gently sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs and then finished with a light white wine cream sauce. 

These sautéed mushrooms couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re fortunate to have a climate perfect for growing mushrooms.  It’s not difficult to find locally grown or wild mushrooms here in the Pacific Northwest; often finding them at the Farmer’s Market as well as local markets.

Another option is to take a wild mushroom foraging tour.  Ok, I have to admit, I’ve never been on a wild mushroom foraging tour but it’s on my bucket list.  I know, it doesn’t sound exciting enough to be on a bucket list but because I’m such a food nerd it’s super exciting to me.  Not to mention, I’m smack in the middle of mushroom heaven. It’s just something we do up her in the far left hand corner of the U.S.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

Most markets carry a fair assortment of mushrooms.  Crimini’s, buttons, shiitake, seasonal chanterelle, seasonal oyster, seasonal truffle, and seasonal morels as well as a selection of dried mushrooms that I often incorporate into my sautéed mushrooms.  

Because I adore porcini mushrooms, and it’s rare to find them fresh unless you’re in Italy, I reconstitute them in warm white wine and add them to these sautéed mushrooms.  Porcini mushrooms have a distinct, woody and nutty flavor that lends depth to this sautéed mushroom recipe.  I’ve also used dried morels, oyster and chanterelle in a pinch.  Truly any dried mushroom you like, mixed with fresh mushrooms will make a delicious and tantalizing side dish.

I serve these sautéed mushrooms with beef, pork, poultry, salmon and sometimes over mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, or rice.  They’re also divine when topped with a fried egg. 

They’re a lovely and complimentary side dish and I love them served with leftover turkey and gravy.  On the rare occasion you have leftover sautéed mushrooms, add them to a soup or stew for a little extra texture and flavor.

Once you make these sautéed mushrooms you’ll love them so much, you’ll want to make them a regular rotation on your side dish menu.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Serving Size: 4

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce


  • 1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster, morels), sliced
  • 1 ounce dried porcini or morels (reconstituted in warm water or wine), chopped
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (Italian parsley, chive, thyme, oregano, marjoram or rosemary)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan for garnish


In a medium sauté pan heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir in all the sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up the butter, but will release the oils once the mushrooms have wilted.

Continue tossing the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms until wilted or slightly browned. Stir in the fresh herbs and garlic and sauté for a minute longer.

Add the white wine and stir. Then add the heavy cream and stir. Allow the cream to thicken and then take the pan off the heat, toss with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan and serve.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Pear and Cardamom Crisp

Pear and Cardamom Crisp with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Have you ever tasted an ingredient that made your taste buds fall instantly in love? Cardamom is my instant love ingredient and it couldn’t pair more beautifully than in this Pear and Cardamom Crisp. 

I know, I often associate emotions with ingredients.  It can’t be helped.  So I will regale you with yet another tale of my childhood. (can you see me smiling?)

It started when I was little and I could smell Grandpa’s coffee brewing in the wee hours of the morning.  Grandpa got up before the sun and always spent a quiet hour sipping his coffee while deep in thought and ponder. I’d sneak out of the guest room and walk down the long hall that led to the kitchen and where I would be greeted with a toothy grandpa grin.  He’d ask me if I’d like to join him for a cup of joe, that it would make me tough and grow up faster.  Then he’d laugh and smile again.  He was a crusty old soul but a sweet pile of marshmallows with his grandchildren.

Scent, taste, touch and often sight, all play a large roll in how we perceive food and if it feels worthy of our taste buds.  This Pear and Cardamom Crisp meet all those requirements and can be visually enticing. Which is perfect when you’re serving this for a dinner party.

The soft, silky texture of baked pear and the floral citrus scent of cardamom makes this Pear and Cardamom Crisp perfect for any occasion.

  I thought I’d dress it up even more and top it with a Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.  Because who doesn’t love whipped cream?


Pear and Cardamom Crisp ready to given as edible gifts

 I do love a large baking dish of fruit crisp, often making gift size dishes to give to friends and neighbors.  For a festive celebration or dinner party, this Pear and Cardamom Crisp is gorgeous in individual ramekins and then topped with edible flowers or even a few lavender buds or sprinkle of vanilla sugar.

Although it’s a simple preparation, this is a beautiful and delightful dessert.  Sweet, yet fragrantly spiced – and it would work well for a brunch or a holiday dessert.  Sometimes I make a large baking dish of Pear and Cardamom Crisp on the weekend and then my family nibbles on it throughout the week.  Occasionally having a scoop for breakfast ( I see the fork marks in the pan but no one admits to it) and always a little dish at night after dinner. A special seasonal treat that always makes my family smile (and apparently sneaky).

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Pear and Cardamom Crisp

Serving Size: 6-8

Pear and Cardamom Crisp

If you love cardamom this just might be your new favorite spring dessert. Simple to prepare and a delight to the senses. Sweet and fragrant and a perfect way to end a spring meal. It can be prepared in an 8x8 or 9x11 pan or individual ramekins.


  • 3 – 3 ½ lbs ripe pears, cored and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the baking dish/dishes
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar


Pre-heat the oven to 400F

Grease one 8” or 9” baking dish with butter or 6 – 8 oven safe ramekins. If using ramekins or small oven proof dishes, place them on a baking sheet.

Mix together the 3 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cardamom. Toss the cardamom sugar with the sliced pears. Place the sliced pears in the baking dish or divide among ramekins.

In a medium bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flour, dark brown sugar and pinch of salt. Then mix in the butter. I like to mix this with my hands to make a well infused buttery crumble. You should end up with pea sized crumbles.

Spread the crumble mixture over the pears. Place the baking dish or baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pears are bubbly on the sides and crisp topping is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let them rest while you make the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

In a kitchen aid mixer or with a hand held mixer, whisk together the whipping cream, vanilla bean seeds and powdered sugar until thick and fluffy.

Once the crisp has cooled slightly, serve the crisp with the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.


I originally created this recipe for the lovely folks over at Home By Design Magazine.

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