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Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs

Tomato sauce prepared with DaVinci Chianti over Italian Meatballs/Karista's Ktichen

When I serve a Chianti wine, it has always been a DaVinci Chianti.  My absolute favorite Chianti for years, long before I so proudly became the 2013 DaVinci Wine Culinary Arts Storyteller.  And, might I add, DaVinci Chianti has always been an important ingredient in my tomato gravy, or as my family calls it, my Sunday sauce.

I mentioned this to Jenna, one of our lovely DaVinci Reps, during a conversation about the Chianti – when Jenna quickly said “it’s Vinci sauce!”.  And that was that.  My family’s favorite Sunday sauce is now Vinci Sauce.

Vinci Sauce is magnificent all on its own – smothering fresh pastas, gnocchi or polenta.   However, I also adore this sauce paired with Italian meatballs that simmer in the Vinci Sauce before serving.

Vinci tomato sauce and meatballs collage

Because I created these recipes for DaVinci Wine they can be found on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.  Click here to download the recipes for Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs.

Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Appetizers Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

turkey meatballs with curry spices and fresh apple

Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

Everyone seemed to land at home today.  No school, no work, no plans, on this cold and foggy winter day.  Wow! That almost never happens.

It was nice. Nice to have everyone under one roof, all at the same time.  Food simmering stove top and fragrantly spiced meatballs baking in the oven.  All of us hanging about the kitchen chatting, laughing, telling stories, with a few lively debates mixed in. (of course all led by two sassy gals)

These are the moments that never cease to warm my heart.

Even Tank joined in the fun while I tackled my yard chores.  He teased the chicken gals by putting his face against the fence. Then jumped back playfully when they try to peck at him.  One day I’ll catch that on video.

Turkey meatballs with curry spices and fresh apple

Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

Among a few other enticing dishes, today I made the Bennett Crew’s favorite turkey meatballs.

Moist, fragrant, delightfully spiced and a hint of golden color.  Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs.  A perfect, versatile dish that can travel to a party or the short walk to the dinner table.

In my case however, most of them flew right off the baking sheet. 🙂

Delicious wishes for a healthy and happy week!

Loads of Love,


Apple and Curry Spiced Turkey Meatballs

I keep these stashed in the frig for late night snacks, quick lunches or a dinner meal.  Perfect for popping in the freezer (par-cooked) and then pulling them out when you need dinner in a pinch.

I have my friend Gazala to thank for this lovely spice blend.  Truly magical!

The key is to purchase fresh quality spices, whole if you can find them, toast and then grind in a spice grinder.  Refresh your spices about every six months for best flavor.  The Spicy Gourmet is my online source for quality spices.

Serves 4-6


1lb ground dark turkey meat

½ cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup grated fresh apple

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely minced or grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh ground curry spice (recipe follows)

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, whisked


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with just a little oil.

In a large bowl add the ground dark turkey, curry spice mix, turmeric, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, onion and apple.  Gently mix together and then add the breadcrumbs and whisked egg and gently incorporate into the spiced ground turkey.

Make tablespoon sized meatballs and place on the lined baking sheet.  I also use a medium cookie scoop for even measuring.  As well, you could use a very small scoop for tiny appetizer meatballs.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.

Serve with cauliflower mashers, coconut sweet potato mashers or a Mediterranean couscous.  You can also serve these meatballs with a delicious Moroccan Meatball Sauce that you’ll find at   Delicious!

Fresh Ground Spice Mix


2 tablespoons whole coriander

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

10 cardamom pods

3 whole cloves

½ stick cinnamon


Place the spices in a dry small pan and toast over medium heat.  Once toasted, remove from the pan and let the spices cool.  Then grind them together in a spice grinder.  You will only need two teaspoons for the meatballs, so reserve the remaining spice mix for soups, stews, curries, egg dishes and veggies.

I purchase my fresh spices from

Appetizers Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

Aunt Dagmar’s Swedish Meatballs

I feel as if I just found the culinary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  Melt in your mouth exquisitely delicious Aunt Dagmar’s Swedish Meatballs.  

I have been on a determined search for the perfect Swedish Meatball and I must say after reviewing and testing many variations, this is absolutely the most delicious.  I have my fabulous friend, Maria Nelson, to thank for this recipe.  A treasured family recipe she has so graciously allowed me to share.

This delightful recipe contains a lovely blend of ground beef and pork, delicate shallots, breadcrumbs soaked in warm milk and a bit of allspice.  A delicate consistency that lends itself well to rolling into small balls and baking in the oven.  Maria’s family serves these yummy treats with lingonberry jam and boiled parsley potatoes.

The Bennett Crew loved Aunt Dagmar’s Swedish Meatballs so much I could hardly get them plated and sauced as they were eating them right off the baking sheet!  Ranger Craig asked me to save a few for a snack but I couldn’t resist eating the leftovers for lunch.  Guess I’ll be making more Swedish Meatballs soon.

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of Sweden!

Loads of Love,


Aunt Dagmar’s Swedish Meatballs

Serving Size: 4-6


  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ½ cup finely ground bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
  • ½ cup warmed milk
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, finely diced
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
    For the Swedish Meatball Cream Gravy
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Directions
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk, cooking the flour for 2-3 minutes, careful not to brown the roux.
  • Slow whisk in the warm milk, then the broth and bring to a slow boil until thickened. If the boil is too lively, turn down the heat and slowly simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened.


For the Meatballs
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Combine the beef and pork in a medium bowl. Soak the bread crumbs in warm milk until softened and then add to the meat mixture, gently mixing ingredients together.
  • Mix in the remaining ingredients to the meat mixture. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop (for uniformity), form into small balls and place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
  • The meatballs can be prepared with two methods:
  • Oven method: Once all the meatballs are on the lined baking sheet, place them in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned. (I used a convection roast option and the meatballs were done in about 12 minutes and beautifully browned.)
  • Pan Seared method: Pre-heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon high heat oil in a large non-stick, ceramic coated or cast iron pan. Brown the meatballs in batches and then place on the baking sheet. Place the meatballs in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Serve these delicious meatballs with the Cream Gravy below, along with boiled new potatoes and lingonberry jam. Yum!
  • For the Gravy
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk, cooking the flour for 2-3 minutes, careful not to brown the roux.
  • Slow whisk in the warm milk, then the broth and bring to a slow boil until thickened. If the boil is too lively, turn down the heat and slowly simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
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    Beef Kid Friendly Pasta Pork

    Italian Meatballs – Simple and Delicious!

    I believe I’ve made twenty different types of meatballs over the last few years.  Each time hoping I’ve come up with the perfect meatball recipe.  I’m not sure there is such a thing, especially with my family’s diverse taste buds.  However, I think I’ve come up with one darn good recipe that’ll be sure to please even the pickiest of meatball connoisseurs.  And the best news is, they are easily prepared with minimum fuss and maximum flavor.

    To save time, make a double batch and freeze half for another meal.  Then, when you need a meal in a pinch, just thaw the frozen meatballs (or meatball mix) and bake as directed in the recipe.  The meatballs also make a yummy appetizer for a casual dinner party.  Hold the meatballs and sauce in a chafing dish or warmer and serve with party picks for easy self serving.

    I’ve included a simple tomato sauce recipe for the meatballs.  This sauce can be doubled and then half of the sauce can be frozen for your next meal that requires a fresh tomato sauce.  A quick tip:  I often spend one weekend day a month making homemade tomato sauce.  It’s easy to freeze and can be used in a multitude of recipes.

    However, if time is a factor, feel free to substitute your favorite jarred sauce.  Cooks Illustrated recently rated jarred pasta sauces.  Bertolli’s Tomato and Basil Sauce won the highest recommendation for not being over seasoned and having a fresh tomato taste.  If you’re looking for an organic sauce choice, my personal favorite is Muir Glen Cabernet Marinara.  All the Muir Glen sauces are delicious and make suitable substitutions for homemade sauce.   Bon Appetito!

    Italian Meatballs and Simple Tomato Gravy


    ½ lb Ground Pork

    ½ lb Ground Beef

    ½ lb Ground Veal

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

    ½ cup yellow onion, small diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 teaspoons dried oregano

    1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs or seasoned bread crumbs mixed with 1/3 cup warm milk

    ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley (optional)

    Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

    1 egg whisked


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Mix lightly, all ingredients together with a spoon or hands.  Form into tablespoon size balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Repeat the process until all the meatball mixture has been used.

    Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.  Remove from the oven and place the meatballs in the pot of tomato gravy.  Serve over your favorite pasta and garnish with additional parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese.

    Simple Tomato Gravy

    1 28oz can tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes for a chunkier sauce)

    2-3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion diced

    2-3 cloves garlic, diced

    1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)

    1 tsp dried oregano (or ½ tsp fresh chopped oregano)

    1 tsp tomato paste

    Pinch of red pepper (optional)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    ½ cup water (keep on hand to thin out sauce)

    Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and sauté the onions.   When the onions have become translucent, add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant.  Do not brown the garlic as it will taste bitter.  Add the red wine and reduce by half.

    Add the tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and red pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  If the sauce appears to think, add about ¼ cup of water at a time to thin the sauce.  Taste for seasoning.

    A few tips:  If your sauce tastes a little to “bright” or has too much acidity, try adding a pat of butter to your sauce to mellow out the acid.

    Although it is a rare occasion, I sometimes run out of staple ingredients such as garlic and Italian parsley.  Not to worry.  Simply substitute with a teaspoon of garlic powder and, either fresh chopped basil or a teaspoon of dried basil.  Basil is not parsley, however, just like parsley, basil compliments the meatball mixtures flavor.

    Bon Appetito!