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Cassoulet from Karista's Kitchen // A slow cooked French stew

Classic Cassoulet is a hearty slow-cooked dish originating in the south of France.  It’s often referred to as the “unofficial” national dish of France.

Traditionally, cassoulet includes what my Grandmother would refer to as “everything except the kitchen sink”.  Meaning that almost any meat, poultry, skin, gizzards, beans and whatever was available went into this succulent dish.

I’ve had a few truly authentic and amazing cassoulet’s in the past. All filled with decadent duck confit, pork skin, pork belly, mutton, sausages, fava beans and white beans. A meal so rich and lush, it’s everything you’d expect from a slow cooked French dish.

My cassoulet however is slightly less time-consuming, and not to worry, it doesn’t contain duck confit, mutton or pork belly. Although those ingredients are delicious in a cassoulet, I wanted to create this recipe to be simple, yet flavorful.

I also wanted this slow cooked stew to reflect the bounty of the Willamette Valley here in Oregon.  We’re so lucky to have an abundance of small farms and ranches nearby that raise grass-fed and pastured pigs, cattle and chickens. Not to mention all the gorgeous produce and fresh herbs.

I’ve included locally raised meat and poultry (chicken thighs, pork shoulder, sausages), white beans and lots of fresh herbs and aromatics.  You could also substitute with beef chuck roast, lamb or pork belly – and any type of sausages that you love.

This meal is perfect a la carte with a glass of French Burgundy or a Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s also quite lovely paired with a Salad Lyonnaise or Ratatouille, which I’ll get around to posting soon.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Serving Size: 6-8


  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or all-purpose flour
  • 2lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 2-3 pork or beef sausages (I used my favorite German pork sausages)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 3-inch sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs de Provence
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth, enough to just cover the meat
  • 2-3 15ounce cans white beans, drained (cannellini beans work best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley


  • In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them to the pot and brown on both sides. Transfer to a bowl or platter.
  • Next season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and then toss with the tablespoon of corn starch or flour. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pot and brown the pork. You may need to brown the pork in batches, otherwise the pork won’t brown if the pot is over crowded. When the pork is browned, transfer to the bowl or platter with the chicken.
  • Next brown the sausages, adding additional oil if needed. Once the sausages are brown, transfer them to the bowl or platter with the chicken and pork.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and then stir in the onions. Saute the onions until wilted and fragrant and then add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.
  • Stir in the ½ cup of white wine, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and dried herbs. Place the chicken thighs, pork cubes and sausages back into the pot and then add the chicken broth. Enough to cover the meat.
  • Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let the meat simmer in the broth and veggies for about 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.
  • Remove the lid and then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. The longer this stew sits the more flavor it will develop. I like to make this the day before I’m serving it, however, if I make it the same day I’m going to serve it, I’ll make it several hours prior and then let it sit for about 30 minutes on the stove top before serving. If you feel the flavors need a little boost, sometimes a teaspoon of white wine vinegar will bring all the flavors together.
  • Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chopped Italian parsley and a basket of crusty French bread.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork VRAI Magazine

    Marinated Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice

    Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice // Karista's Kitchen for VRAI Magazine

    It’s starting to feel like spring and I am beyond elated! The high today is 67 here in the valley and it’s going to be a great day for prepping the new garden.  Ranger Craig is building the rest of the garden boxes while I prepare a quick meal for my friends over at Red Bird Acres.  We’re off to see baby chicks and piglets again!  Ok, I admit, I’m really excited about seeing the baby chicks and piglets this afternoon.

    Before I get my day started, I want to share with you my latest recipe and article for VRAI MagazineMarinated Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice. The blend of marinated pork with sweet mango, peppers and red onion make for the tastiest combination of flavors.  Perfect for a casual weekend with friends and family.  If it’s too cold to grill outdoors, these skewers can easily be prepared indoors on a grill pan.  Or stir fried and then ladled over the coconut rice.

    Enjoy your weekend!  Just in case you haven’t seen pictures from the last piglet visit, I’ve posted a few for you 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Red Bird Acres in Corvallis, Oregon


    DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti


    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a lovely and simple dish filled with sweet and savory flavors of the Tuscan countryside.  Herbs are abundant in Tuscany; fields of rosemary and sage, thyme and lavender dance about the hillsides creating the most fragrant Tuscan breezes.

    This succulent pork loin roast is stuffed with fresh sage, dried apricots and a hint of garlic and then roasted to moist and exquisite perfection.  Serve this tasty dish with my Arugula and White Bean Salad and pair with my favorite DaVinci Chianti.

    We wouldn’t want to forget dessert… How about a Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate to finish the meal?

    For additional DaVinci Chianti recipes click HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Apricot and Sage Stuffed Pork Loin Roast and DaVinci Chianti


    • 2-3lb pork loin roast
    • 1 cup dried apricots
    • 1 ½ cups white wine (DaVinci Pinot Grigio) If you don’t cook with wine use chicken broth with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
    • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • In a small sauce pan warm one cup of wine and soak the apricots for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the apricots from the wine (reserve the wine) and coarsely chop them. Add them to a bowl and then toss with the sage and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of oil to bind the ingredients.
  • With a long blade knife cut into the vertical center of the pork loin roast, making a nice size hole for the stuffing. Pierce all the way through to the other side.
  • Stuff the apricot sage mixture into the pork, spreading as evenly as you can. This takes a little bit of fiddling but it’s fairly easy.
  • Place the stuffed pork loin roast in a small baking dish or small roasting pan. Pour the reserved wine over the pork. Rub a little oil on the pork and season with salt and pepper.
  • Put the pork loin in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350F and roast for another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F.
  • Remove the pork loin from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. While it’s resting, take the pan juices and pour them into a sauce pan.
  • Heat the juices over medium heat and add the butter. If needed, add additional chicken broth to the pan. Whisk until the butter is nicely incorporated and the pan sauce is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve: Slice the pork loin roast and lay the slices on a platter. Pour some of the pan sauce over the pork slices and garnish with additional chopped fresh sage.
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    Here’s a not so great picture of me stuffing a pork loin.  Hope this visual is helpful!

    Stuffing the pork loin roast

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    I am deeply in love with Pork Chile Verde.  The tangy flavors of tomatillo and lime combined with the spicy heat from poblanos makes for a most delicious and comforting meal.  Add in a scoop of Basmati rice and I’m in comfort food heaven.  It’s a “warm you to the bones” dish that has once again returned to its rightful place on the Fall dining table.

    This dish is simple to prepare but it does have several steps involved.  Most often I make this on the weekend and let it simmer low and slow.  But sometimes I’ll roast the poblanos, cube and season the pork (not with the flour however) make the sauce Verde and make the rice the on a weeknight.

    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice // Karista's Kitchen

    Then the next evening, I’ll put it all together and simmer until done.  We’re a late dinner family by American standards; most of the time dinner is served at 7pm. So prepping the night before and then making the dish next evening works well at my house.

    Cheers to the enjoying the new season with a bowl of comfort!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Pork Chile Verde with Basmati Rice

    Serves 4-6


    3-4lbs pork shoulder, boneless and cut into 2 inch cubes

    Salt and pepper

    Extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup all-purpose flour for dusting pork cubes (omit for GF recipe)

    2 12 ounce cans whole tomatillos, drained

    2 white onions, 1 onion coarsely chopped and 1 onion diced

    2 cloves garlic

    Juice of one lime

    Handful cilantro

    2-3 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded

    2 cups chicken broth

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Fresh cilantro or chopped green onion for garnish

    Serve with cooked basmati rice


    If you have roasted the poblanos, start them now. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Then place the poblanos on a foil lined baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast until skins are blackish brown and blistered.  Remove them from the oven and wrap them in the foil from the baking sheet.  Let them rest for about 5-10 minutes while you prepare the Chile Verde.  When the poblanos are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, tops and seeds inside and then dice the poblanos.

    In a blender, vita mix or food processor, add the tomatillos, coarsely chopped onion, garlic, juice of one lime and handful of cilantro. Pulse until the sauce Verde is smooth. Set aside.

    Place the pork cubes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Then toss the pork cubes with ¼ cup all purpose flour.

    Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add a little oil and when the pan and oil are hot add the pork cubes in batches.  You don’t want to add to much pork at one time or the pork cubes won’t brown.  It usually takes me 3-4 batches to brown the pork.

    Transfer the browned pork to a plate and then add the diced onion to the large pot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium if needed.

    Saute the onions until they are wilted and a golden brown. Then add the pork cubes and any juice from the pork and the diced roasted poblano peppers back into the pot.  Stir in the sauce Verde and chicken broth.  Bring the Chile Verde to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer the Chile Verde uncovered for at least 1 ½ -2 hours.

    Season to taste with salt and pepper. I’ve found poblano peppers can be extremely hot or somewhat mild.  As with most peppers, the heat is in the seeds and veins.  If your Chile Verde isn’t spicy enough, add a dash of chipotle chile powder or hot sauce.

    The Chile Verde is ready when the pork is fork tender and the chile has thickened a bit. Serve in bowls with a scoop of Basmati Rice and chopped fresh cilantro or green onions.








    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 Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Roasted Red Peppers, Hazelnut, sauce for pork

    Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    I always keep a spare pork tenderloin, or two, in the freezer.  It’s one of those quick fix meals that pairs beautifully with most any sauce or roasted winter fruit.  I had planned to use this tenderloin with a spiced apple compote, which is delicious, but I just wasn’t feelin’ the apples that day.

    I must be longing for summer, or maybe I need extra vitamin C,  because my taste buds have been craving the flavor of roasted red peppers.  A little smoky, slightly sweet with a touch of tang, that makes for a lovely pairing with pork, lamb, poultry, pasta and veggies.

    And don’t get me started with the mini roasted sweet peppers.  I can eat them like candy.  So sweet and so flavorful, I often roast them with a little oil, salt and pepper and serve them as a side dish.  They’re also fabulous stuffed with cheese.

    Bell peppers (and mini sweets) make the loveliest sauces, salsas, and relishes.  Complimenting grilled or roasted meats and fish so beautifully.  I read somewhere that bell peppers are like the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world.  All that bright beautiful color in all those wonderful shapes and sizes.

    This sassy little sauce is no exception.  Combined with toasted hazelnuts, fresh herbs and olive oil, this sauce’s bright orange/red color is pleasing to the eye and tantalizing to the taste buds.

    Extravagant in taste, but simply prepared.  My favorite kind of weeknight meal 🙂

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Serves 4


    1 1/2 pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 to 1 inch medallions

    Salt and pepper

    4 tablespoons high heat oil, or clarified butter (ghee)

    Fresh chopped Italian parsley (for garnish)

    Sauce Ingredients

    2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

    1/3 cup Hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

    2 cloves garlic, peeled

    2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

    1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon Thai Kitchen roasted red chili paste or a dash of hot sauce

    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil  (decrease the olive oil to ¼-1/3 to use this sauce as a pesto or dip)


    To Prepare the Sauce:

    Place all the sauce ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until the hazelnuts are finely ground.

    Next, with the processor running, pour the olive oil over the mixture until well blended.  The sauce should have a very thick salad dressing consistency.  You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times in between blending.

    The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to one week.   Bring the sauce to room temperature before using or warm lightly in a double boiler, never getting the sauce to hot as the oil will separate.

    Serve over any grilled meats and poultry.  Or serve as a dip for crudités or pesto for Crostini. 

    To Prepare the Pork Tenderloin Medallions:

    Season the medallions with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering,  add the medallions (you may need to cook in batches) adding more oil as needed.

    When they are brown on the first side, flip and brown them on the second side.  It shouldn’t take long for the pork medallions to cook through, 2 minutes on each side depending on thickness.  Pork should be cooked to 145F internal temperature for perfectly moist and juicy pork.

    Ladle the sauce on a platter and place the cooked pork on top of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately.

    Recipe adapted from Chef Jerry Traunfeld, The Herbfarm Cookbook (a must have in your cook book library!)

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Super Bowl Sunday Round-up!

    As usual I’m “late to the party” with this post.  But if you’re like me and haven’t decided what to prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, here’s a rowdy round-up of complete deliciousness 🙂


    Chicken Wonton Tacos with Sesame Slaw from Alaska from Scratch

    Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites with Jalapeno Spiced Raspberry Glaze from 1227 Foster

    Butterbean Hummus with Smoked Paprika Oil from Frugal Feeding

    Award Winning Beef chili from Blue Kale Road

    Can’t forget the dessert!

    Cherry Berry Chocolate Ice Cream Cake from Pink Patisserie

    Coconut Tuiles from Pastry Craft Seattle

    Dreamy Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting from A Beautiful Bite

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Grilled Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sautéed Sweet Onions and Swiss Cheese

    Serves 12


    2 lbs Pork Tenderloin (not marinated) Each whole tenderloin is about 1lb each.

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

    1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

    1 teaspoon (or more to taste) Asian chili paste or hot sauce (I like Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste)

    1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

    6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

    Dash of sesame oil

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Serve with:

    Sautéed Sweet Onions (recipe below)

    Hot mustard

    Slices of Swiss cheese (optional)

    Mini or slider buns, or Hawaiian Bread Rolls


    Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag or glass baking dish.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    To prepare:

    Pre-heat the grill to 375F (The pork can also be oven roasted. See below).  Place the tenderloins on the grill and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145F.

    You may need to flip the tenderloins a time or two to keep the marinade from burning and evenly brown the pork.

    When the pork is done remove from the heat and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

    Thinly slice the pork and assemble on slider buns, topped with a small slice of Swiss cheese and warm sautéed sweet onions.

    Serve with Asian hot sauce or hot mustard mixed

    *The pork can also be roasted in a 375F oven until the internal temperature reaches 145F.  About 20 minutes.

    Add a little of the marinade in the roasting pan or baking dish to keep the tenderloin moist.

    Sautéed Sweet Onions


    3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, Texas Sweet)

    4 tablespoons clarified butter or oil


    Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan or skillet.  When the butter is melted and/or oil is hot, add all the onions. Keep turning the onions in the pan for the first few minutes to keep them from burning.  Turn down the heat to medium low if needed.

    Let the onions cook down, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and caramelized.  This usually takes about 20 – 30 minutes.  Once they are nicely golden brown remove them from the heat.

    Season with a pinch of salt and serve with the pork sliders.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork

    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork with Roasted Pears

    I think the vanilla bean is underused in savory cooking.  It’s a uniquely flavored spice that can certainly make any dessert taste spectacular.  But it can also make a plain pork chop light up the dinner hour.

    You guessed it.  I had some pork chops that needed to be prepared, and a few pears that had seen better days.

    I also had two vanilla beans that have been staring at me every time I open my pantry doors.  I can’t remember why I purchased them, but I had them, and darn it, I was going to use them.

    Now, coming up with the right blend of spice, herb and seasoning was the trick.

    I blended a few different versions of this spice rub and Ranger Craig chose the winner.  I have to agree, this spice rub is fragrant, immense in flavor and complementary to the sweetness of the pears.

    Delightful is the word that comes to mind. 🙂

    Rosemary and Ginger playing; Cocoa posing for the camera. Pepper declined to be photographed.

    Another delightful topic… my baby chickens. 🙂  My friend, Mandy over at The Complete Cookbook,  has asked about my baby chickens and I finally had a moment to capture a few pictures of my growing girls.

    Cocoa, Ginger, Rosemary and Pepper.  They are growing and cheeping non-stop and now spend a few hours outside each day.  Cocoa is the friendliest, always hopping onto my hand or arm as I reach into their crate.  I think she’d live in the house if she could.

    Wishing you all a most delicious week!

    Loads of Love,


    Vanilla Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears

    Serves 4

    Rub ingredients can easily be doubled.


    1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

    ½ teaspoon dried thyme

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon salt

    ¼ teaspoon black pepper

    4 pork chops or pork loin chops (this rub also works well on a pork tenderloin)

    2 tablespoons of oil or clarified butter

    1-2 pears, thick sliced


    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

    In a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or a bowl with a small spoon, mix together the vanilla, thyme, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.  If mixing in a bowl with a spoon make sure you distribute the vanilla evenly throughout the rub.

    Spread the vanilla spice rub on both sides of each pork chop and toss the remaining rub with the pears.

    Heat the oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the pork chops and then layer in the pears around the pork.

    *If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, transfer the pork chops to a baking dish and then add the pears to the baking dish with the pork.

    Place the oven proof skillet (or baking dish) in the pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  Usually just another 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chop.  The pork is done when the internal temperature has reached 145F.

    Remove from the oven and serve with creamy polenta or sweet potato hash (from The Attainable Gourmet) and wilted winter greens.

    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

    sweet onion marmalade

    Nothing says Washington State like sweet onions, apples, stone fruit, blackberries, Dungeness crab, lavender and of course…. rain.   Just to name a few.

    Seattle is a culinary heaven.  James Beard award-winning chefs, a divine selection of restaurants that garner national attention, organic and sustainable farms and ranches, food artisans, and of course a wealth of fabulous food bloggers.

    To celebrate these delightfully food passionate people,  Keren Brown, Author of Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle and the food blog Frantic Foodie, created the local event called Foodportunity.

    Sweet Onions, Photo Credit

    This past June, I had the opportunity to attend a Foodportunity event with my good friend and fellow blogger, Maria, from Pink Patisserie.

    As I was walking up the stairs in the Pan Pacific Hotel, who did I run into but one of my fave Seattle Food Bloggers and fellow farm girl at heart, Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes.  The day was off to a brilliant beginning.

    sweet onion marmalade

    And to think I almost didn’t attend.  I’m not much of a social butterfly.  I love meeting new people, but placed in a room full of people makes me break out into a serious sweat.

    Where do I start?  Who do I talk to first?  So, I casually saunter over to the food table.  Although I wish my saunter were a bit more “look at me glide across the room in these heels”.  But it’s not.  It’s sort of a march, I just prefer the word saunter.  In a few paragraphs down I use the word mosy.  I like that word too.

    While standing at the food table, with a mouth full of food, I met Erina, from the blog, Shut Up and Cook.  Cool title huh?  Erina is a dynamo.  She’s a hot tamale, firecracker, and ready to set the food writing world on fire.  And maybe the airwaves too.  Erina is a competitor in a local food event developed by our very own Theirry Rautreau, Kitchen Circus.  Check it out and cheer Erina on!

    After polishing off seconds of the quail egg and salmon apps, I decided to “mosy” on over to the wine table.  One must sample the wine at these events 🙂

    Lucky for me, en route to the wine table I ran into Emmy, from Emmy Cooks and Alyssa, from Everyday Maven.  Lovely ladies with delicious and creative food blogs, who I now consider my good foodie friends.

    I left that day feeling pretty darn good.  I even won a cook book!  That never happens.

    I’m still not a social butterfly, but I do love a good Foodportunity.  Especially when there’s really great food.  And of course wine. 🙂

    Sweet Onion Marmalade with Pork Chops

    Makes about 1 ½ cups marmalade (recipe can be doubled)


    3 large sweet onions, halved and thin sliced (I used Walla Walla)

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

    ¼ cup dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

    Sprig of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


    Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauté or sauce pan.  When the butter is melted add the onions and brown mustard seeds.  Let the onions cook down for about 10 minutes and then add the sprig of thyme.

    Simmer the onions until they are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

    Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and let the onions simmer for another 15-30 minutes depending on how caramelized you like your onions.  My marmalade simmered for about an hour.

    Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

    Lovely additions to this marmalade are dried cherries, cranberries, currents or raisins.   

    Serve with grilled or pan seared pork chops, roast pork loin, roast pork tenderloin or slow cooked pork shoulder.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork Sassy Side dishes

    Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

    Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Roast

    I wish I could tell you I just got back from a spectacular Hawaiian vacation.  But I didn’t. 🙁  It’s been a few years since visiting Maui, but I remember it like yesterday.

    Probably because when I vacation with Ranger Craig it’s not really a vacation.  It’s an adventure of epic proportions.  Seriously.

    Coconut Rice

    I remember vividly our first vacation twentysomething years ago.

    I thought we might lounge on the beach and sip cocktails.  Not a chance.

    Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Roast with Fresh PIneapple

    We were hiking long stretches of beach, exploring old ruins and caves, sunfish surfing, snorkeling, day tripping out to a remote island, only to hike its gigantic mountain.

    By the fifth day I put my foot down.  I suited up, grabbed my beach towel and told Ranger Craig we were hanging on the beach that day.  He relented.  But only in Ranger Craig style.

    A room with a view

    While I was lounging on my beach chair sipping a refreshing cocktail and reading a fabulous mystery, Ranger Craig went surfing, snorkeling and then surfing again.

    I saw him for lunch.  And then finally at dinner.  I knew then life with Ranger Craig would always be an adventure.

    Look! No Hands! My third dive all by myself 🙂

    So that leads me to our more recent Maui vacation.  You guessed it.  Not much lounging on the beach.  Instead Ranger Craig thought we should both get scuba diving certified.

    Hmmm… I thought that would be nice.

    The first dive I almost had a heart attack and died.  I’m not kidding.  Of course, Ranger Craig chose the one diving company in town that believes getting into the ocean for your first dive is the best way to learn.  Well, maybe for most people.

    Ranger Craig and a Maui Sea Turtle

    But I’m not most people.  Although adventurous at heart, athletic I’m not.

    Finally when I was brave enough to stick my head in the water and breathe properly, guess who I saw casually cruising the ocean floor.  Yep, my husband.  In my somewhat competitive nature,  I was not going to let Ranger Craig get scuba diving certified without me.

    Sunset on the beach

    So, I grabbed my instructors hand and the rest is history.  Although, my instructors hand may never be the same again.  I held a tight grip on his hand for the first two dives.  By the third dive we had to have a little chat.  I had to let go, my instructor said.

    Thankfully, the third dive I was so overwhelmed by swimming with sea turtles, I didn’t even notice the instructor had left my side.

    Ranger Craig wants to return to Hawaii for another vacation someday soon.  I’m sure he will come up with something new for us to try.  Probably paddle surfing.  That won’t be pretty.  🙁

    Ranger Craig and I were reminiscing about our Maui vacation recently and laughing (lots of hysterical laughing) about my arduous scuba diving training.  In honor of our fun and adventurous vacation I thought a Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast would be perfect.  Served with coconut rice just takes this dish over the top.

    Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

    Serving Size: 6


    • 3-4lbs Pork Shoulder, bone in
    • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and halved
    • 1 sweet onion (Walla Walla or Vidalia) sliced
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    • 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple (if you can’t find a fresh ripe pineapple, organic canned is a good substitution)
    • ½ cup Tamari (or soy sauce)
    • Salt and pepper
    • Drizzle of oil
      For the Coconut Rice
    • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk (not the light or reduced fat)
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
    • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Warm up your slow cooker by turning it on to high.
  • Season the outside of the pork shoulder with salt and pepper.
  • In a large heavy bottom skillet, heat a drizzle of oil on medium high heat and brown all sides of the pork shoulder. Browning gives the meat a richer flavor while searing in the moisture.
  • Transfer the pork shoulder to the slow cooker and turn the temperature down to low.
  • Layer the sliced onion, garlic cloves, pineapple and grated fresh ginger on top of the pork shoulder and then add the Tamari. Cook for about 5 hours or until the internal temperature of the pork roast reaches 145F and is tender and falls apart.
  • Transfer the pork to a platter, slice or shred and ladle the pineapple and onions with a little sauce over the pork roast. Serve with coconut rice and stir fried greens.
  • To prepare the rice
  • Combine coconut milk, rice, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring a few times, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
  • Notes

    The rice recipe can easily be doubled.

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    Kid Friendly Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

    Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

    It’s the first day of spring.

    It feels like winter.

    Winter in the Cascades

    I wish it were summer.

    I love summer in the Northwest.

    Blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries and raspberries.  Rainier cherries, apricots and peaches.

    And sunshine. 🙂

    Summer Flying!

    And flying!

    I heard single engine planes over my roof this afternoon.

    Getting ready for fair weather.  Arriving soon.  We hope.

    Huckleberry Barbeque Sauce

    I feel so lucky to have the sweetest of friends.

    Friends who give me summer berries in the middle of winter.   (Thank you Traci and Nick!)

    Barbeque Sauce and Northwest Huckleberries

    Picked with love and exuberance by two precious little boys on summer vacation.

    Bagged and frozen by Mom and Dad, and then given to me.

    Frozen berries that warm my heart.  (Kisses to Z and M!)

    Huckleberry Barbecue Sauce with Thin Cut Pork Loin Chops

    I probably have two or three barbeque sauce recipes hanging around.  And I love them all.  However, on occasion even a chef needs a little trick or two to get dinner rolling.  Yes, this is one of my “cheat” recipes.  And I love it!  Huckleberries are the perfect addition to my jarred sauce.  If you can’t find huckleberries, try blackberries.  And, if you don’t care for the blackberry seeds, strain the sauce through a mesh strainer.


    1 Jar of your fave barbeque sauce, about 2 cups

    1 cup huckleberries, blackberries or blueberries (if frozen, thawed and drained)

    1/4 – 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (depending on sweetness of the fruit)

    1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional, I like this for an extra kick of smokey spice)

    4-6 Thin cut pork loin chops or pork chops, or a pork tenderloin (no thicker than 3/4 inches, larger chops will take longer to cook)

    Fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped


    In a small sauce pan or pot over medium heat, mix together the berries, sugar and barbeque sauce.

    Bring to a lively simmer and let the sauce sit over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until the berries have lightly infused the sauce and sugar is dissolved.

    Stir in the chipotle chili powder and taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar or chili powder as desired.

    Before serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme leaves.

    To Prepare the Pork Loin Chops:

    Heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of high heat veggie oil.  Season the chops with salt and pepper on both sides.

    When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chops.  Brown them on each side.

    If they are thin, it shouldn’t take long for the chops to cook through.  About 3-4 minutes each side.  The chops will be done when they reach 145F.

    Thicker chops will take much longer to cook.  After browning the thicker chops, place them in a 350F pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  They will be done when they reach 145F.  About 10-15 minutes total cook time.

    This sauce is also delicious over grilled pork chops or grilled pork tenderloin.

    Kid Friendly Pasta Pork

    Weeknight Ragu over Jovial Brown Rice Pasta

    Weeknight Ragu over Jovial Brown Rice Pasta

    Yep, I did it again. Second time in a week I forgot to plan dinner.  I plan at least 3-4 meals at one time.  Always.  But it’s my busy season and I got sidetracked.

    It happens. Right? Thankfully my crew is easy to please (Mmmm… fairly easy).

    A few tasty ingredients for a simply delicious dish!

    So, I took stock of my frig and pantry and put together this lovely little dish.  So lovely I went back to the kitchen to take a picture and the entire dish of Weeknight Ragu was gone.

    Not to worry.  I did mention it was the second time in a week I forgot to plan dinner.  I know, this is tragic and I can’t believe it either.

    Wildly Delicious Dish!

    I prepared Weeknight Ragu again. This time I snapped pictures before my crew hit the table.  I sound like I have a hungry crew of 10 boys.

    Just my two sassy gals, Ranger Craig and my trusty sidekick, Tank.  I think they like my cooking. 🙂

    Weeknight Ragu

    Serves 4


    1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, or safflower, sunflower or coconut oil

    1 red onion, diced

    1 lb spicy or mild pork sausage (I also love this with chicken sausage)

    1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I love Muir Glen)

    1 15 oz can tomato sauce

    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

    1/2 cup water (if needed)

    Drizzle of olive oil

    Handful of fresh basil, chopped or chiffinade (tasty garnish)

    Cooked pasta of your choice. I love Jovial brand pastas, Einkorn and Brown Rice


    In a large saute pan heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until nicely wilted and translucent.  About 5 minutes.

    Next, add the sausage and cook through, crumbling the sausage as it’s cooking.

    Once the sausage is cooked through, stir in both tomato sauces, red wine vinegar and a pinch of red pepper flakes, being careful of splatter.  Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes.  Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup water if you’d like a thinner ragu.

    Season to taste with salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    Serve over your favorite pasta and garnish with fresh basil.  Enjoy!

    *This sauce also does well on a low simmer for about 30 minutes, for more intense flavor.