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Julia’s Banana Bread

Julia's Banana Bread

You know when you stumble onto food that stays in your food memories forever?  That is this banana bread.

A few years ago Ranger Craig and I were exploring the more remote parts of Maui and stumbled onto a banana bread hut.  After driving miles of winding roads, up and down sloping and sometimes steep hillsides, between the greenest and lush valley’s, we found a place called Kahakuloa.  And we found banana bread.  Not just an ordinary banana bread.  This was hands down the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted.  Moist, the perfect amount of sweetness and the purest banana flavor with the most intense banana fragrance.  I’m not sure if it was because we were on vacation and I had just finished a harrowing scuba diving lesson but banana bread has never tasted so good.

I’ve tried recreating this banana bread at least a dozen times.  I’ve come close but for some reason I could never achieve the same taste and texture as the banana bread in Maui.  I knew I was most likely over thinking the ingredient list. So, I decided to hit the web and do a little research.  It seems I’m not the only one smitten by this banana bread recipe.

Julia's Banana Bread

I found it on Bon Appetit  out of the kitchen section.  Julia’s Banana Bread.  There it was in black and white with a snapshot of the lush bread.  As I read the ingredient list I giggled.  So simple, so pure, no wonder this bread is so delicious.

Now I pass it along to you! Just a few simple ingredients that most of us already have stocked.  It doesn’t take but a few minutes to whip up, pop it in the oven for about an hour and you will have the most delicious and pure tasting banana bread.  I baked it exactly as the recipe reads with the exception of using coconut palm sugar instead of granulated sugar (because that’s what I had in my pantry).  The second time I made this bread, I subbed the veggie oil with my favorite extra virgin olive oil.  It was perfection.

Cheers to Fall and all the lush comforting foods that accompany the season!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Julia’s Banana Bread

Serving Size: Makes one 9x3x5 loaf pan

Julia’s Banana Bread


  • Oil or butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed *ripe bananas (about 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil)


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with oil or butter.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  • Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes.
  • Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.
  • *For more intense ripe banana flavor I set my two peeled bananas in a glass bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the liquid that has accumulated with the banana pulp and use. This will help ripen a "less ripe" banana and intensify the banana flavors.
  • This bread can be prepared up to three days in advance and store in an airtight container. Which makes this a lovely food gift for the holidays.
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    Recipe by Julia’s Banana Bread Treehouse in Kahakuloa, HI




    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta

    No cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over Pasta

    Recently I came across an opinionated article about dinner posted on Social Media. It left me speechless. It read more like whining rather than a valid concern or issue. When I shared the article on my social media expressing my inability to find words to respond to this article, I was bombarded with passionate comments from friends.  Dinner is a touchy subject.

    As I began to respond to the comments, I soon realized it would take more than a few words to describe why I held utter disdain for the article.

    Today, I’ve decided to stir the pot. This is a subject to important not to discuss and its near and dear to my heart.

    We all face the dinner hour every single day. It will always be there, it will never change or go away.  We have to eat. Right?  So why do so many of us want to bury our “dinner making” heads in the sand?  Because it’s one more thing to do after a very long day.  I get it. I really do get it.

    Friends, I’ll begin by saying… the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner.  Even though I’m a chef and food is my job and I post lots of fun and intriguing recipes on my website… my family doesn’t always get a five course meal for dinner.  In fact, many evenings dinner is something fresh and quick or leftovers.

    With that being said, I do believe dinner is important. It isn’t just about the food. It’s about the time of day – the feelings and emotions the dinner hour evokes in our family.  It’s a time when my kids talk about their day;  their proud moments or their worries.   Whether we’re eating dinner in shifts because of school activities or work, my family finds dinner the most comforting moment of the day.  Dinner gives children a sense of security – and whether it be sandwiches and soup or pasta with jarred pasta sauce, dinner says a great big I love you.

    Do I ever complain about making dinner?  Yes. There are days when I feel like I drag myself into my kitchen after a very long day or I’ve been sitting at my desk for hours and my head is nowhere near the subject of dinner. That’s when I pull the soup out of the freezer, ask my daughter to make a few grilled cheese sandwiches or my husband to throw together a quick bowl of greens for a salad. The point is – we all meet at the table.

    Quick No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over Pasta

    Although dinner isn’t just about the food, studies have shown we eat healthier when we eat dinner at home. Not only is our physical health impacted by the dinner hour, our children’s mental and emotional health are impacted as well.

    I found an excellent article from Forbes Contributor Katie Kelly BellAccording to The Family Dinner Project website, “Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem.  Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression. We also believe in the power of family dinners to nourish ethical thinking.”  “What I find personally traumatizing is the fact that we even have a grassroots campaign dedicated to preserving the family meal. How far we have strayed.” 

    Let’s also chat about the financial impact of dinner. If you know me, you know my monthly food bill is higher than most. Yes, some of that cost is due to my occupation, and some of that cost is because I refuse to purchase fake or toxic food.  It is a crying shame that we as Americans are forced to make the choice whether or not we spend our money on quality food or a vacation. It’s a travesty.

    However, keeping my food purchases as close to home as possible helps cut my food bill by one third.  I try to purchase all my produce, meat and poultry  at my local farm market, co-op market or local farmers.  Even our local Costco has started stocking local grass fed beef and chicken, as well as many Oregon organic food products. And I’m there for bath tissue anyway.  Then, all I need are the basics from my local grocery store.  If I don’t have time for that many stops, we divide and conquer.

    My children are no longer children. One is in college and the other in high school. Did we have glorious idealistic dinners each night? No. But we did have dinner.  My girls may not remember the food they ate, but they will always remember the time spent together.  They still love to gather around the table for dinner.  I see it in their beautiful faces, the comfort, the internal joy found by sharing a meal. The sense of security and unconditional love.  Isn’t that what it’s really about?

    Friends I want you to know I will try my very best to post more dinner friendly recipes here at Karista’s Kitchen.  I will adhere to my personal nutritional values, but I promise to make the meals achievable. I’d love your feedback!  What types of meals are easy for you to prepare? Are there cooking techniques you would like me to demonstrate that would make it easier to achieve dinner?

    Until then, today I’m posting a no cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over your Favorite Pasta. It can easily be prepared in under 20 minutes tops. As well, I’m listing a few of my favorite quick dinner websites. Remember, the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner.

    If you’d like to read the article that got me so wound up, click here.  But please read Joel Salatin’s response.  It’s excellent and I couldn’t agree with him more.


    Jamie’s 15 minute meals – What is not to love about this chef or website?!

    The Nourished Kitchen – I love this as a nutritional resource as well as traditional recipes

    Foodista – an excellent resource for all types of recipes from quick and easy to holiday dinners

    Farmstr – For those of you living in Western Washington, this is an excellent resource for local produce, meat, fish and poultry!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta

    Serving Size: 4-6

    No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta


    • One 8 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (with herbs if you can find it)
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
    • ¼ cup heavy cream (omit if you eat dairy free)
    • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
    • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade or just chopped if you’re in a hurry
    • ¼ - ½ cup reserved pasta water
    • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
    • Squeeze of fresh lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserving at least ½ cup of pasta water (I love Strozzapreti pasta or something similar. I think pappardelle would be great with this sauce as well)


  • In a food processor or blender add the sun dried tomatoes with oil (and herbs if included), smashed garlic, grated parmesan and ¼ cup pasta water. Pulse to a puree. If needed, add additional pasta water. Add the heavy cream and pulse one or two times just to blend, you don’t want to whip the heavy cream.
  • Toss the pasta with the sauce, chopped fresh basil, squeeze of lemon and plate. Drizzle each plate with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and garnish with extra parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
  • For a heartier dish serve with Sweet or Hot Italian Sausages. And don’t forget the DaVinci Chianti 🙂
  • Buon Appetito!
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a miracle!  I have now posted two sweets in one week.  Thought I’d never see the day this would happen but I couldn’t help myself.

    My sister, Kristin from Little Lace Box,  mentioned it’s National Donut day and I should post a donut recipe.  That’s code for “Hey, I need a donut recipe to make for my family this weekend.”  🙂 I love requests!

    I’m more of a savory foods kind of gal but there are moments when a donut sounds like a lovely indulgence. However, truth be told, I’m terribly picky about my donuts.  You could say I’m a bit of a donut snob.  I like a real, honest to goodness quality ingredient donut.  The kind that my sweet neighbor used to make in her little country kitchen.

    Cardamom Coconut Flour with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    Aunt Nancy, as we so lovingly called her, made the best donuts I’ve ever eaten.  She made cake donuts and yeast donuts, putting loads of love into every donut that came out of her oven or her big cast iron pot of sizzling oil.

    Then she would slather them in icing or powdered sugar, set them on her kitchen table and serve them with glasses of fresh whole milk.  Such a delicious memory!

    Today, when I do indulge in a donut it’s usually from Top Pot Donuts in Seattle or VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Alas, I’m nowhere near either of those locations this week, so I made my own donuts.  These are what I call “Bennett friendly” donuts.  With all the food allergies in this house I had to come up with something everyone can enjoy.

    Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs and few other ingredients makes for a delicious donut that has the texture of a cake donut.  I know, I know, this is not a traditional donut like Aunt Nancy used to make.  But these are delicious and if you are craving a sweet indulgence, this will definitely keep your swimsuit eating plan in check, as well as avoid those nagging food allergies.

    I top my donuts with a rich vanilla icing drizzle and sprinkles or white chocolate chips.  The fragrant cardamom shines through but doesn’t over power; and the vanilla icing brings all the flavors and textures together for one lovely, enticing sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Makes 6 large donuts or 9 mini donuts


    ½ cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)

    1/3 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    ¾ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

    Pinch of salt

    2 eggs, preferably room temperature

    3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

    ½ cup warm water

    Donut pans (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond)

    Vanilla Icing

    1 cup powdered sugar

    1 -2 tablespoons milk

    1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and pinch of salt.

    In an electric mixer, mix together the 2 eggs, oil and warm water.

    Once the wet mixture is nicely blended slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth but firm batter.  If will feel almost like a dough.

    Spray the donut pans with olive oil or coconut spray and then fill them evenly.

    Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

    Let them cool a bit and then turn them onto a cooling rack.  When the donuts are cool you can frost or drizzle the icing onto the donuts and decorate with pretty sprinkles or mini white chocolate chips.

    This batter also makes excellent muffins or mini muffins!

    Recipe adapted from

    Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes Seafood Soup

    Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-up!

    8 Cinco de Mayo recipes from Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing more delicious than a blog post filled with Mexican and South American inspired recipes.  The rich, bold and spicy flavors remind me summer is on the horizon and it makes this chef delirious with anticipation.  Outdoor grilling, fresh local summer produce, casual dining, flip flops or barefoot; it positively makes me giddy just thinking about it.

    Cinco de Mayo is Monday, May 5th and to celebrate,  I’ve got a fabulous line up of festive recipes.   So sit back, relax, fire up that grill, shake up a tasty cocktail and enjoy the deliciousness of the season.


    Spicy Cabbage Salad

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

    Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

    Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

    Smoked Salmon Wonton Tacos


    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,






    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken

    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Whole Chicken

    One of the first classes on my culinary school schedule was devoted solely to the art of preparing poultry.   I drove to class that day over the moon excited about tackling the preparation of poultry.

    Finally, I was going to learn how to prepare a roasted chicken without mangling it with kitchen twine and drying it out to a tasteless plate of bones.

    Sadly… my excitement faded shortly after class began.

    Not only was half the chicken skin missing on the chicken legs, due to my wrangling the chicken with kitchen twine, my lovely chicken was terribly over cooked and nearly a platter of chicken bones.  (The Thanksgiving dinner scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation came to mind)

    After all my classmates roasted chickens had been presented, it was my turn to step up and talk about my very dark and dismal looking roasted chicken.  Something I did NOT want to do.

    My chef instructor was quite the perfectionist.  A somewhat gruff and bigger than life demeanor – he was a wee bit intimidating.  He appeared absolutely frustrated by my inability to roast a chicken to perfection and decided to make an example of my over cooked chicken.

    “Bennett” he said, in his thick German accent. “Zee. cheeken. iz dead! No need to keel it again.” Yes, I’ve spelled and punctuated the words just the way I remember him saying this in the class.  Although I could feel my face turning several shades of bright red, I knew then what he was trying to tell me.  Stop over cooking the chicken!

    Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken Before and After

    The key to making a perfect roasted chicken?  Don’t take it out of the oven until it’s reached an internal temperature of 165F.  And, be sure to purchase a local, hopefully pasture raised, chicken.  Chicken that has traveled across the country to rest in your local market’s refrigerated poultry bin is probably not going to yield a tasty or moist result. Finding a local farmer that sells fresh chicken to your local co-op or market or even to the public, is definitely the tastier and moister choice.   And, you will be helping your local farmer stay in business, which supports the local community.

    If you live in Western Washington, check out the online marketplace for local produce, poultry, eggs, meat and seafood called Farmstr.  Coming soon to new locations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond!


    In honor of over-roasted chicken, I thought I’d share my grandma’s method for a moist and tasty chicken using mayonnaise.  Yep, mayonnaise.  Grandma used to massage mayonnaise all over her roasters before popping them in the oven.  And when she ran out of mayo, she used butter.

    I took this mayonnaise slathering technique a little further and incorporated fresh chopped herbs and garlic into the mayo and then added the step of placing some of that herb mayo under the skin of the chicken breast, legs and thighs.  This creates not only flavor, but a tender, juicy roasted chicken.

    Delicious Wishes and loads of love,


    Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken

    The key to creating a perfectly roasted chicken is making sure you remove the chicken from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Testing the meat temperature at the joint between the thigh and leg is best.  Then take it out of the oven and tent the chicken with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes.  This will raise the internal temperature another 5 degrees and allow the juices to re-distribute.  The final result should be a moist and perfectly roasted chicken. 


    1  4-5lb fresh, organic whole chicken

    1/3 cup organic regular or homemade mayonnaise

    Small handful of fresh herbs finely chopped.  (thyme, oregano, Italian parsley, basil, chive, rosemary)

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1 lemon, quartered

    Salt and Pepper


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Mix together the fresh herbs, garlic and mayonnaise.  Add a few pinches of salt and pepper.

    Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken and stuff with the lemon quarters.  And some extra garlic cloves if you like.

    Next spread about half the herb mayonnaise under the skin of the chicken breast, leg and thighs.  It’s typically fairly tough but if it breaks don’t worry…  it’ll still be fabulous.

    Slather the remaining mayonnaise over the outside of the chicken and then lightly season with some cracked black pepper and salt.

    Place it in a roasting pan or baking dish, or even on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

    Once the chicken has reached 165F, remove it from the oven and tent it with some aluminum foil.  Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before carving or breaking down to serve.

    I adore this roasted chicken all by itself but during the spring months I serve it with baby spring greens tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.  Or serve it with this lovely spring salad from Pink Patisserie.  A lovely meal!

    ** Rarely do I truss my chicken unless I’m serving a roasted chicken for guests or a holiday meal.  It does help seal the cavity and therefore technically keep the chicken from drying out.  However, I’m typically in a time crunch to get the chicken in the oven and stuffing the cavity with extra herbs and lemon will usually achieve the same result.  The chicken just won’t look quite so Julia Child.  But it’ll still taste delicious.  However, if you’d like to learn how to truss a chicken, click here. It’s a great technique to add to your culinary skills.  Bon Appetit!

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork


    Colcannon with Swiss chard, ground pork sausage, green onions and Irish cheddar / Karista's Kitchen

    I’m deeply enamored with Ireland.  It feels a poetic and romantic place.  Melodic Celtic music that seems to transcend time, lush green landscapes, drifting fog and rugged shores. All creating visions of charm and daydreams.   

    I’m just as enamored with Irish cuisine.  Deep, rich flavors that warm a belly and comfort the soul.  Hearty fare my Grandmother used to call “stick to your ribs” cuisine.  Perfect for the cool evenings still to come.

    Colcannon Bake text

    There’s no celebrating the arrival of spring at my house without some festive and hearty Irish fare.  One of my favorite dishes to prepare is Colcannon. Traditionally a mashed potato, cabbage and green onion side dish, I decided to re-create this lush recipe into a one pot meal.

    Sautéed onions and ground sausage with wilted Swiss chard and green onion all gently swirled in mashed potatoes – and then topped with creamy Irish cheddar.  A perfectly enchanting one-dish meal.   Skip the ground sausage and serve it as a Sunday side dish with corned beef and cabbage or a traditional pot roast.    I promise, there will not be a speck of leftovers.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Karista’s Kitchen Colcannon

    Serves 4-6


    1-2 tablespoons oil

    1 small onion, diced

    1-2 cloves garlic, finely diced

    1lb ground mild or sweet pork or turkey sausage

    1 large bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed and chopped

    2 green onions, chopped

    4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes

    4-6 tablespoons butter

    ½ cup sour cream

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 1/2 cups Shredded Irish Cheddar (I used Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar)

    8×8 or 9×11 buttered baking dish


    Heat the oven to 350F.  Prepare the mashed potatoes.

    Place the cubed potatoes in a medium or large pot and cover with cold water.  Add a few pinches of salt.  Bring the water to a boil and continue a lively simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.

    Drain the potatoes and then place back into the pot.  Add the butter and mash the potatoes with a potato masher.  For smoother potatoes, I transfer them to my kitchen aid mixer (with the paddle attachment) and mix until smooth.

    Gently mix in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and try not to sneak bites. 🙂

    In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or two of oil and sauté the onions.  When the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and ground meat and cook until done.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer the ground meat to a bowl and reserve.

    Using the same skillet, sauté the Swiss chard over medium heat until wilted. Take the skillet off the heat and toss with the green onions.

    Next, gently fold together the mashed potatoes, wilted Swiss Chard/green onions and ground sausage.

    Pour into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle evenly with shredded Irish cheddar.

    Place the baking dish in the oven and heat until the cheddar is melted and sides are bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

    Let the Colcannon cool slightly – then garnish with additional sliced green onions and serve.  This can certainly be served as a one dish meal; or serve with spring greens dressed in lemon or citrus vinaigrette.

    Original publication March 2013, Issaquah Press
    Recipe and article by Karista Bennett
    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Cube Steak Parmesan

    Cube Steak Parmesan - Karista's Kitchen

    When I was a kid, a week didn’t go by that cube steak wasn’t served for dinner.  To me, those were the best dinner evenings.  I would pony up to the table salivating; just waiting for Mom to put the finishing touches on the gravy.

    My Mom rarely made the traditional chicken fried steak.  You know, the one that everyone thinks of when you say those two words… cube steak.  Nope, she was a typical working Mom and cut prep corners when she could.  Like seasoning the cube steak and then lightly dusting it in flour and then pan searing in a little oil.  When both sides were golden brown, she’d place them on a platter and serve with her pan gravy that was made from beef stock and the pan drippings.

    I have to admit, I love a good chicken fried steak and gravy – which is probably one of the most popular recipes for cube steak.   I grew up in the South and I’ve had the pleasure of dining on the most succulent and perfectly prepared chicken fried steak.  But for a busy weeknight, this quick prep cube steak method is perfect.

    Every year we purchase a quarter side of beef and with it comes a lot of cube steak.  This is one of those recipes born out of the need to use up all the cube steak in my freezer, while keeping the meal on the lighter side.  It was an instant hit at my house.  So I decided to prepare it for one of my favorite clients who had been asking for cube steak but couldn’t have the heavy chicken fried steak version.  He loved this recipe so much it became a regular on his menu.  I love it when that happens.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Cube Steak Parmesan

    Serves 4-6

    To dress up this dish, I like to serve it over fresh seasonal greens that are tossed with a little good quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Makes a lovely presentation and makes me feel a little better about using my abundance of cube steak.

    For those who would like this dish wheat free, try dusting the seasoned cube steak in a little corn starch, just to crisp it a bit.


    1 1/2 – 2lbs cube steak (if the steaks are large I cut them in half)

    Salt and Pepper

    Dried oregano

    All-purpose flour or corn starch for dusting

    Oil for pan searing (I like safflower or EVOO)

    2 cups of your favorite or homemade tomato sauce

    Mozzarella cheese, about 8 slices (part skim or whole milk)

    Basil leaves – about 8-10

    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

    Spring greens tossed with salt, pepper, a drizzle of oil and balsamic vinegar


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Season the steaks with salt and pepper and a pinch of dried oregano.  Dust the steaks in all-purpose flour or corn starch.

    Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.  Enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the cube steak on both sides and then transfer to a baking dish or lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all the cube steak has been browned.   Cube steak is usually very thin so this browning process will most likely cook the steak through. If not, it will finish cooking in the oven.

    Place a slice of cheese on each steak and then a basil leaf.  Ladle a little sauce over each steak and top with parmesan cheese.

    Place the baking dish or baking sheet in the pre-heated oven until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

    Place your prepared greens on a large platter and then place each of the steaks on the greens.  Serve with extra sauce.  Sometimes I serve this creamy polenta or gnocchi.

    *If using a baking dish you can keep the steaks in the baking dish and serve the greens on the side.



    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Italian Porketta with Apple Cherry Chutney

    Italian porketta with apple cherry chutney

    My little buddy Tank and I went for our run this morning and it didn’t take us long to complete our laps.  Instead of spring approaching it felt like winter! Yep, I think the polar vortex is about to swoop down onto the Willamette Valley and give us a few more weeks of winter.

    I’ve seen the trees and plants start to bud and I was hoping that was a sign warmer weather would be arriving soon.  I guess not.

    Apple Cherry Chutney with Braised Italian Porketta

    So with the impending cold front and gray skies above, I thought we needed a little warm and cozy for dinner tonight.   This boldly seasoned pork roast pairs beautifully with my favorite Apple Cherry Chutney.  A little spicy, a little sweet.  Ha! Just like me.

    I’m off to stuff a few more tasks into my busy day, so I’ll leave you with this lovely little recipe to entice your taste buds and warm your evening.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Braised Italian Porketta with Apple Cherry Chutney

    Serves 4-6

    This is best when the pork is bathed in the dry rub and sits overnight in the refrigerator.  It can be popped in a slow cooker but I prefer this prepared in the Dutch oven as it’s not browned prior to cooking.


    The Porketta:

    2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1 tablespoon fennel seeds

    2 teaspoons sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon granulated garlic

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    3-4lbs pork shoulder, boneless

    1 small onion, halved and then sliced

    1 cup white wine or chicken broth

    Kitchen Twine

    Serve with Apple Cherry Chutney (recipe follows) 


    Mix together the dry ingredients.  Cut the pork down the center, just midway and open like a book. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the rub in the crevice.  Close it up and tie it with kitchen twine.  Then use the remaining rub on the outside of the pork.   Wrap it in plastic wrap and place the pork in the refrigerator at least overnight.  I promise, this will taste so good!

    When you are ready to prepare the pork, pre-heat the oven to 350F.   Heat a little oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven and sauté the onions.  Remove the plastic wrap and place the pork into the Dutch oven and then add the cup of white wine or broth.  Bring the wine/broth to a boil.  Turn off the stove and place the lid on the Dutch oven and transfer it to the preheated oven.

    The pork will cook for about an hour to an hour and a half depending on weight.  Check the internal temperature after one hour.  The final cooking temperature should reach 145F.

    While the pork is braising prepare the Apple Cherry Chutney.

    Apple Cherry Chutney


    2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced (I like larger pieces for a heartier chutney)

    1 cup dried cherries, soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes

    1/3 cup brown sugar

    ½ cup orange juice

    ½ cup apple cider vinegar

    1 stick cinnamon

    2 whole cloves

    1 tablespoon diced shallots

    Olive oil


    In a medium pan over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, sauté the shallots for  a minute or two, or until wilted and soft.  Next stir in the apples, drained dried cherries, brown sugar, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon stick and cloves.

    Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a lively simmer.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and it reaches your desired consistency.  If you feel the chutney isn’t soft enough, add a little water and continue simmering.

    Lightly season with a pinch of sea salt.

    To Serve:

    Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing.

    Remove the kitchen twine and slice thin against the grain.  Place the slices of Porketta on a platter and ladle the chutney around the pork.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley.  Serve warm.

    *I love this dish served with roasted or steamed broccoli or broccoli rabe with parmesan and garlic.








    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Dark Chocolate Granola, Fruit and Nut Snack


    dark chocolate coated granola, nuts and dried fruit snack mix

    I love my bright red cake tin. To leave it sitting empty would be a crime.  So, it’s often filled with my youngest gals favorite Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies or my family’s go to breakfast, Confetti Muffins.

    On occasion I’ll surprise my Bennett Crew with a little something new like Chef Laurie’s Classic Pound Cake or Pink Patisseries gluten free chocolate cupcakes.  I won loads of happy faces for those two treats.

    However, when that bright red cake tin is empty, I am promptly notified.

    My bright red vintage cake tin... holds mouthfuls of deliciousness

    My bright red vintage cake tin… holds mouthfuls of deliciousness

    It’s not that we consume many sweets in this house.  Actually, dinner is the highlight around here and it can make or break the day… so I’ve been told. But the comfort of knowing the red cake tin holds a bit of indulgence, seems to keep the bright and cheery going strong.

    Especially if that indulgence includes chocolate.

    This lovely little mix of dark chocolate covered granola, fruit and nuts seems to fly out of the cake tin.  I made this treat over the weekend and by Wednesday all but a few granola crumbs were gone.

    You can use any kind of granola (or no granola if you eat grain free), nuts or dried fruit but my family loves this with a mix of tree nuts, vanilla granola, dried diced apricots and dried blueberries.  It’s a simple recipe with lots of room for variation and experimentation.

    It also makes a fun and tempting treat for your aspiring young chef’s to create. Not to mention this decadent little snack pairs beautifully with a glass of one of my favorite cabernet’s the Collinetta Cabernet from Rocca Vineyards.  Not a bad way to start the weekend. 🙂

    Here’s to the little things in life.  Like chocolate… and a bright red cake tin filled with something sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Dark Chocolate Granola, Fruit and Nut Snack


    8 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate ( I love the 65% Colombian dark chocolate that I purchase from my local Co-op Natural Market. It pairs beautifully with the fruit and nuts)

    1 cup of your favorite granola (my family loves plain vanilla granola, or granola with dried blueberries both of which are lovely with this recipe)

    1 1/2 cups tree nuts or your favorite nut mix (I use a bulk nut mix from my Co-op market that includes almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios and pepita (pumpkin) seeds)

    1 cup of your favorite dried fruit such as dried blueberries, raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, chopped dried bananas, pineapple, mango, etc.

    Sea salt (because a dash of salt makes everything taste better)


    Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

    In a large bowl combine the granola, fruit and nuts.

    In a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler (stovetop) gently melt the chocolate until “just melted”.   If you are microwaving the chocolate be sure to microwave in 15-20 second increments so you don’t over cook or scald the chocolate.

    Once the chocolate is melted, pour it over the granola, fruit and nuts and gently stir to combine.

    Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet as thin or as thick as you like.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

    Let the mix cool at room temperature for about an hour or until it has hardened and can be broken into pieces.

    Store in your favorite container or “cake tin”.  Or store it in a Ziploc bag.  Keep it in a cool place.  Enjoy!




    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

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel

    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Bechamel and Toasted Pine Nuts

    This Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine begins with fresh, naturally grown ingredients, clean flavors and brilliant whites. Like waking up to a new snow that’s settled on the frozen ground.

    I like white.  Ask Ranger Craig.  He’ll tell you I have an obsession with white.  It seems every trip to Costco I come home with a package of white towels, white wash cloths, or white kitchen rags.  Last trip I came home with white bed linens.  I like white.

    It’s a good thing I like white. I read recently that cauliflower is making a comeback (I didn’t get the memo that it left) and so this Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine had to make a comeback too.

    I’ve been preparing cauliflower for years.  Even when it wasn’t the cool veggie.  I like cauliflower.  Roasted, baked with lots of good quality cheese, steamed and mashed.  I even like it raw or fried with a spicy aioli for dipping.

    Cauliflower is my inspiration for this winter white Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel and Toasted Pine Nuts.  Fresh, enticing, distinctive in flavor and sporting the color of winter.  The taste of comfort… like a soft white blanket.

    This is a simple dish.  Simply flavored with its few ingredients.  To change things up I like playing with different types of cheese.  I’ve used Manchengo, a firm goats cheese, Parrano, and mixed a few other fave Italian cheeses with it as well.  If you don’t care for garlic, substitute with 1 shallot finely chopped.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love


    Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine with Garlic Béchamel

    Serving Size: 4


    • 1lb Fettuccine or Pappardelle
    • 1 head fresh cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
    • A squeeze of anchovy paste
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
    • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Toss the trimmed cauliflower florets with the olive oil and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp tender. Remove from the oven and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Prepare the fettuccine according to package directions. While the fettuccine is cooking prepare the béchamel.
  • In a large sauce pan heat the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter is just about melted, whisk in the garlic and anchovy and gently cook until the anchovy is incorporated into the butter. Just a few seconds to a minute. Don’t allow the butter or garlic to brown.
  • Whisk in the flour and allow the flour to cook just for a minute or two, again, careful not to brown. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue whisking until nicely incorporated. As the sauce heats it will thicken. Continue gently whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower and ¼ cup toasted pine nuts to the fettuccine, add a squeeze of lemon and then toss with the sauce. The squeeze of lemon is used to elevate and bring all the flavors together in this dish.
  • Pour the pasta into a large serving bowl and garnish with fresh grated cheese and remaining pine nuts. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    Serve as an entree or side dish to grilled or roasted meats.

    I like using roasted cauliflower as it brings out a deep sweetness to the vegetable. But feel free to blanch the cauliflower if you like.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    roasted pumpkin risotto

    I probably have 20 different methods of preparing risotto.  Mostly because that’s the one dish my youngest gal always requests.

    Suzie Q will request risotto for her birthday dinner, when she’s sick, when she scores a perfect 100 on an exam, when she’s having a really rotten day, or any other evening she might need a little comfort.  For my youngest gal, risotto is celebration and comfort food.

    pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    For me, risotto is luxurious.  Especially when I’m not the person who’s done all the stirring.  🙂

    I adore the silky, creamy rice simply prepared with shallots, white wine, vegetable broth, parmesan and a dash of truffle oil.  Suzie Q loves it laced with ribbons of  ham, a Risotto alla Milanese.

    roasted pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    Risotto with arugula and lemon, risotto with chicken, risotto with wild mushrooms and of course during the Autumn months, risotto with roasted winter squash.  The minute I see the beautiful harvest squash arrive, my risotto wheels start turning.

    Today, I let the roasted sugar pie pumpkin do all the driving.

    It’s a mellow squash that is slightly sweet and tastes in flavor and texture much like a true sweet potato.  Roasted, it makes a divine addition to any dish.  Especially risotto.  Either served as a main entrée or as a side, this beautiful, brightly colored risotto will grace any Autumn or holiday table.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    Just in case you’re in need of sugar pie pumpkin recipes, I’ve got just the blog for you.  My friend Smidge, from Just a Smidgen, posted several most delicious sugar pie pumpkin recipes recently, and as well, gives a lovely photographic tutorial on roasting these divine little squash.  Be sure to click on over and check out the post.   Just a Smidgen

    Serves 6-8


    1 sugar pie pumpkin (roasting instructions below)

    2 cups Arborio rice

    ½ – 2/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

    1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

    2- 3 tablespoons butter

    ½ cup white wine

    6 cups vegetable broth (I love the Rapunzel brand bouillon cubes, available at PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods)

    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Fresh sage leaves


    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 golden brown and toasty.

    When the squash has cooled, remove the meat of the squash and place it in a food processor or blender, add just a sprinkle of salt and pepper and puree.  If you don’t have either a food processor or blender feel free to mash with a fork or potato masher until nicely pureed.

    To prepare the risotto:

    In a large saucepan bring the broth to a simmer.  Cover and keep warm over low heat.

    Heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottom, large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped sweet onions and sauté until just tender, about 2-3 minutes.

    Add the rice and fresh chopped sage and stir for about 1 minute until the rice is nicely coated in butter.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.

    Stir in 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer until it is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Cook until the rice is almost tender, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring often, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, about 25-30 minutes.

    Stir in the roasted pumpkin puree and fresh grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with either chopped fresh sage or butter seared sage leaves.   Serve immediately.

    To re-heat the risotto: Add ½ cup water to the cooled risotto and re-heat over medium low heat or in a microwave safe steam bowl.  This will bring the creamy texture back to the risotto.

    ** A fun and delish twist to this risotto is to omit the sage and add a teaspoon of finely minced ginger to the pumpkin puree along with a pinch of curry powder.  Yum!