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

Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil

Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil // Karista's Kitchen

A potato side dish can taste indulgent, comforting or even refreshing like this Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil.  

Although I’m a huge fan of classically prepared potatoes such as mashed potatoes, I do have an affinity for a simply roasted potato dish.  Roasting new potatoes or fingerlings gives a crisp outside and soft, creamy inside which pairs well with all sorts of lovely ingredients.

Often I use chopped fresh rosemary, garlic and lemon and finish with sea salt.  But this recipe uses the combination of lemon and basil, which I think are two ingredients that were made for each other.

Sometimes I’ll gently warm a bit of sliced garlic in extra virgin olive oil and then when the potatoes are done, I’ll toss the potatoes with the garlic infused oil and top with the lemon and basil.  And sometimes I skip the garlic and simply finish roasted new or fingerling potatoes with a sprinkling of lemon zest and basil chiffonade.

Or you can do what my youngest gal does… slather these potatoes with some sour cream, Irish cheddar cheese and dig in. 😉

Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil // Karista's Kitchen

When I’ve had my fill of potatoes dauphinoise, gratin, scalloped or mashed potatoes, this lovely side dish is a most refreshing change and a delicious compliment to a meat or poultry entrée.

This potato dish is also fabulous in the spring paired with roast lamb or whatever you might serve for Easter or Mother’s Day Dinner.

This will be my last post until after the Christmas holiday, but until then, you can follow all my food finds and kitchen chaos on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you for your continual support and for sharing Karista’s Kitchen with your friends and family.

Wishing you loads of love, true joy and the most delicious food!


Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil

Serving Size: 4-6

Roasted New Red Potatoes with Lemon and Basil


  • 1lb red new potatoes or fingerlings, scrubbed clean
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 bunch basil, sliced chiffonade or chopped
  • Sea salt to finish


  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F
  • Toss the potatoes in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and then season with some salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and place them in the oven.
  • Roast the potatoes for 25-30 minutes or until toasty brown on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • When the potatoes are done remove them from the oven and let them cool for five minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooling, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over low heat and then add the sliced garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, remove the garlic from the oil.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and toss with the garlic oil, lemon zest and basil chiffonade. Season to taste with sea salt and then transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Serve warm.
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    Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood

    Tacos, Ceviche and a Dessert

    Cinco de Mayo recipes

    Ceviche, Chocoflan and Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Over the years, I’ve had a long love affair with Mexican food.  I must have 50 different taco recipes floating around my kitchen.  All with an abundance of fresh ingredients, fragrant aromas that fill my house and robust and spicy flavored dishes that make my family smile big toothy smiles.

    The Bennett Crew and I have spent countless summer evenings sitting out on the deck, dining on ceviche, salsa, tacos, grilled meats and fish, all with the flavors of Mexico.  Sipping on sangria, cerveza or bright pink virgin margarita’s while watching the sun set in the distance.  Ahhh… makes me think of vacation.

    In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d round-up some of my favorite Mexican and South American recipes.  Some of the recipes are easily prepared and some take a little extra time, but so worth the effort.

    Wishing you all a fun, festive, and of course, completely delicious Cinco de Mayo celebration!

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema.

    chicken tacos

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Halibut Tacos with spicy slaw

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema.

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Crema

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

    slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa

    Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche.

    ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan


    Nelly Rodriguez de Galofre’s Chocoflan

    Karista's Kitchen Salad vegetarian

    Mediterranean Couscous Salad

    Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad from Karista's Kitchen

    Last June I decided it was high time I got out-and-about my local area and begin meeting some of my fellow food bloggers and food writers.  After all, I can’t just hang out with my chicken girls all the time. 😉

    While attending various food and blogging events, I met Alyssa from Everyday Maven.  A lovely, creative and intelligent young woman who is as passionate about healthy and delicious food as I am.

    Today, I am honored to guest post at Everyday Maven.  This Mediterranean Couscous Salad is one of my favorite spring and summer salads, filled with pure deliciousness and enticing flavors.  Once you take a bite, you’ll hear spring and summer calling.

    Thank you Alyssa for the pleasure of guest posting at Everyday Maven.  Head on over and check out Everyday Maven for this recipe and many more mouth-watering nutritious and delectable dishes.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

    jam filled muffins prepared with Einkorn wheat flour

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

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

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

    jam filled muffins prepared with Einkorn whole wheat flour

    Jam Muffins

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

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

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

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

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

    Raspberry Jam Muffins

    Makes 12

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

    1 tablespoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 cup whole milk

    1/3 cup coconut oil or room temp butter

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

    1 large egg

    2 teaspoons vanilla

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


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

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

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

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

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

    More Breakfast Muffin Recipes!

    GF Morning Glory Muffins

    Good Morning Muffins

    Must Make Muffins

    Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins

    Pear and Cardamom Muffins

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes Soup vegetarian

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    I have a brother.  I also have a twin sister, who I completely adore, but this particular post is about my  brother… and Kabocha Squash.

    Yep, my baby brother.  My “Bro” as my sister and I love to call him.  Youngest of three, six feet of handsome, über intelligent and the best brother a gal could have.

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Kabocha Squash Soup

    My brother, Cameron, married the most beautiful Colombian gal, Paula, and they have the most darling of children, my niece and nephew.  Talk about love.  Those two little ones stole my heart the minute they were born.

    Can you tell I’m completely in love with my family? I know, lots of gush in this post.  But I can’t help it.

    My brother, the hiker and kayaker

    My Brother and his family live in Japan.  Work took them to Japan, but it’s now home.  I can hear it in my Brother’s voice, the way he passionately talks about the food, culture, the new friends and all the adventure to be discovered in a foreign land.

    Of course the food is always a highlight of our Skype conversations. 🙂  If my brother wasn’t a genius academic, he’d probably be a chef.  When we get together for family reunions, it’s full on hanging out in the kitchen preparing all kinds of delicious food, lots of new wine to sip, a few fave cocktails and of course, always lots of laughter.

    My sister, my brother and me 🙂

    Cam and I try to chat often and last time we chatted he mentioned dinner at a friend’s home.  He talked about the most amazing Kabocha squash soup.  Simple, sweet, creamy and just a little bit decadent, with a hint of spice.  Perfect for an Autumn evening.

    That conversation got my culinary wheels spinning and I just had to make this soup.  I often roast Kabocha squash and sometimes use it in place of pumpkin if I can’t find a good sugar pie pumpkin.  But I’ve not made Kabocha Squash soup.  Until today.

    Like the butternut squash, Kabocha squash is slightly sweet and feels a bit like sweet potato in texture.  Spices such as cinnamon, five spice powder or a curry blend, beautifully compliment the subtle honeyed flavor.

    If you can’t find Kabocha in your local market, many Japanese substitute with Kuri pumpkin or Sugar Pie Pumpkin.

    I wish you all a most delicious week and leave you with an old Japanese Proverb“One kind word can warm three winter months.” 

    Loads of Love,


    Kabocha Squash Soup

    Adapted by a recipe from Kaori Sakakibara

    Deepest thanks to my brother’s friend, Kaori Sakakibara, for sharing her recipe.


    Serves 4


    1 Kabocha squash (should yield about 1 ¾ – 2 cups cooked squash)

    ¼ cup heavy cream

    2 cups veggie broth

    Pinch or two of cinnamon (to taste, about ½ teaspoon)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    I roast Kabocha squash the same way I roast butternut and pumpkin.

    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.

    Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the pulp and place it in a blender, food processor or vitamix and puree.

    Add the tablespoon of butter to a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, whisk in the squash puree with the heavy cream and veggie broth.

    Heat to a light simmer, adding additional veggie broth if you’d like a thinner soup.

    Whisk in the cinnamon (and fresh ginger if using) and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Keep the soup warm for about 10-15 minutes to allow all the delicious flavors to develop.  Serve warm as a first course or as a light dinner with a fresh salad of winter greens.

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken

    Sauces reign supreme at the Bennett Camp.  And why you might ask?

    I blame it on culinary school.  Almost every entrée recipe I learned to prepare had some sort of brilliant sauce.  I loved practicing sauces.  I relished the challenge of tweaking them to my tastes and adding new and unusual flavors.

    The Bennett Crew loved sampling my sauces.  In fact, my happy little family came to expect a sauce over every entrée I served.

    Until one day… I prepared a Pork Milanese.  Milanese doesn’t have a sauce.  So I served it traditionally. Without a sauce.

    Everyone sat quietly at the table, looking at their plates.  Not a peep.  I asked my sassy family why they weren’t eating their dinner and my handsome husband replied “where’s the sauce?”

    Hmmm.   Never saw that one coming.  I told my family a Milanese doesn’t come with a sauce.  To which my youngest sassy gal replied “but I’d like to have a sauce Mom”.   Well, who could resist those sweet words coming from a  three year old.

    Back into the kitchen I whipped up a little sauce for the Milanese.  Today, almost everything I serve the Bennett Crew comes with a sauce.  😉

    Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    I’ve paired one of my fave little sauces with this Coconut Pecan Crusted Chicken dish.  You can also find this sauce paired with my Thai Shrimp Cakes and it’s just as lovely over grilled pork and chicken.

    Serves 4


    4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs (boneless/skinless)

    1 ½ cups shredded coconut

    1 cup chopped pecans

    ½ cup all purpose flour

    2 eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

    Parchment lined baking sheet

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce (recipe below)


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    In a food processor add the coconut and pecans and pulse until nicely ground together, like bread crumbs.  Set aside.  Per a lovely readers comments, a few tablespoons of panko can be added to the breading for a little extra texture and crunch.

    Set out three bowls. One with flour, one with egg wash and the last one with the coconut pecan mixture.

    Season the chicken with salt and black pepper.

    Lightly dust the chicken in the flour, then the egg wash and then press them into the coconut pecan mixture.  Place them on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes.  This step can be done in the morning and then baked in the evening for dinner.

    Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness or until the chicken is done.  I cook my chicken until the internal temperature reaches about 160F. I highly recommend having a meat thermometer handy for cooking poultry and meat.

    Once the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

    Ladle a bit of the sauce onto four plates.  Place a piece of chicken on the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.  Serve with coconut rice and fresh greens with a sesame dressing.

    Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

    ½ cup apricot preserves

    1-2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

    3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce from Thai kitchen

    ¼ cup water, white wine, sherry or Saki

    In a bowl mix together all the ingredients.  You can lightly warm the sauce in a small pan stove top or in the microwave.  Don’t over warm or the sauce will be too runny.  The sauce will thin once it’s paired with the warm chicken.

    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Seafood

    Miso-Saki Glazed Scallops


    My baby chicks arrived!  They are just as sweet as I imagined.


    Miso-Saki Glazed Scallops

    Ginger, Rosemary, Cocoa and Pepper.

    Baby Chick

    Cocoa, a Silver Laced Wyandotte

    Four little ladies currently basking in the warmth of a heat lamp, or wrapped in a towel and snuggled up with one of the two sassy gals.

    baby chicks

    Ginger and Rosemary

    I keep finding Tank sitting by the brooding crate watching the little ladies.  He seems highly entertained by the baby chicks comedic behavior.

    baby chicks

    Suzie Q and her baby chick Pepper

    In honor of our new little ladies I wanted to post my most delicious Cajun Quiche recipe.  But with my schedule, snapping a picture before the Quiche gets eaten has been challenging.

    baby chicks

    Tink and her little chick Rosemary

    I did manage to snap a few pictures of a new fave scallop dish.  Miso-Saki Glazed Scallops.

    baby chicks

    Sweet little Rosemary with Pepper and Cocoa

    I use this heavenly glaze for a black cod recipe in one of my seafood classes.  However, its divine over pan seared scallops.

    Me and Ginger

    Pair with Cococnut Rice or Coconut Sweet Potato Mashers and dinner is a little slice of heaven.

    Wishing you a most delicious Autumn!

    Loads of Love,


    Miso-Saki Glazed Scallops

    Serves 4


    1- 1 1/2 lbs Dry packed scallops

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter

    1/3 cup white miso paste

    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

    ¼ cup sake (add more to thin the sauce if you like)

    2-3 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

    1 clove garlic, minced

    ½ teaspoon Thai Kitchen Chili paste

    Fresh ground black pepper

    Sliced green onion (garnish optional)


    Whisk together the miso paste, sake, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and chili paste, either by hand or in a blender.  Ladle a bit of sauce on four plates or one large platter.  When the scallops are done you will set the scallops on the sauce and then garnish with the green onion.

    In a large heavy bottom skillet heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter over medium high heat.  Season the scallops with a little salt and pepper.

    When the butter is hot and frothy, add the scallops but don’t over crowd the pan. You may need to cook the scallops in batches.

    Let the scallops brown (about 1-2 minutes) and when they easily pull off the bottom of the pan, turn them over and brown the other side, adjusting heat as necessary.

    Transfer the scallops to the plates or platter laced with the Miso-Saki glaze.  Garnish with sliced green onion and serve immediately.

    Flying Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

    Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Lasagna

    Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Lasagna

    The enchanting colors of Autumn are beginning to make their appearance.

    The beautiful colors remind me of harvest and make me crave Beef Barley soup, squash and hearty leafy greens and sometimes grilled cheese and apple butter on dark rye.

    butternut squash and swiss chard lasagna

    So, I prepared lasagna.  Not my typical hearty meat and sauce lasagna; instead a decadent harvest lasagna.  I used a beautiful butternut squash from my dear friends garden, and some Swiss chard that was singing to me at the market.

    Autumn in a baking dish.

    It was divine.  Paired with a captivating new Italian wine I found at my local market, the dinner was as lovely as the weather.

    The following day the weather was even lovelier.  So exquisite, Ranger Craig and I decided to ditch the chore list and enjoy the day flying.  🙂

    Rather than tell you all about our adventure, I thought I’d show you.

    Flying San Juan Islands

    Early morning flight to Orcas Island with Mt. Baker in the background

    Orcas Island

    A beautiful day in the neighborhood… or nearby anyway

    Orcas Island

    The bay at Eastsound


    Leaving Orcas Island with Mt. Baker and Eastsound in the background


    A sunset flight home

    Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Lasagna


    1 Butternut Squash, about 1 ½ – 2 lbs

    Lasagna sheets, cooked or use the Barilla no boil lasagna, enough for  9×13  pan

    Ricotta cheese, 16 ounces whole milk or part skim

    1 large bunch Swiss chard, leafy greens only  (I freeze the stalks for soups and stews)

    1 small onion, chopped

    2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage

    1 egg, lightly whisked

    1 teaspoon dried basil or oregano

    1/4 cup grated parmesan

    1 ½ cups Mozzarella

    1/2 cup shredded parmesan

    Salt and pepper

    Béchamel Sauce Ingredients

    1 quart whole milk, warmed

    4 tablespoons butter

    ¼ cup flour

    ¼ cup grated parmesan

    Salt and pepper

    Pinch of allspice


    To prepare the Squash

    Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the butternut 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.  While the squash is roasting, prepare the Swiss Chard.

    When the squash has cooled, remove the meat of the squash and place it in a medium mixing bowl.  Set aside.

    To prepare the Swiss Chard

    Give the greens a good chop.  Add about a tablespoon of oil to a skillet or sauté pan and heat over medium heat.  Sauté the chopped onion and just as it’s wilted and slightly golden add the chopped Swiss chard and fresh sage.  Sauté until the chard is nicely wilted.

    Drain any liquid that has accumulated and then lightly season the chard and onion with a dash of salt and pepper.

    Add the chard onion mixture to the bowl with the roasted squash.  Mix lightly to incorporate all three ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and a dash of allspice.

    To prepare the Ricotta

    Whisk together the ricotta cheese, egg, ¼ cup grated parmesan, dried basil or oregano and season with salt and pepper.

    To prepare the Béchamel Sauce

    In a sauté or sauce pan (enough for 4 cups liquid) heat the butter until melted and frothy over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until incorporated into the butter.  Much like making a roux or gravy.

    Then slowly add the warmed milk about 2 cups at a time.  Whisk until it’s smooth and lightly simmer until the sauce has thickened.

    Whisk in the pinch of allspice, grated parmesan and taste for salt and pepper.

    Putting the Lasagna together

    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    This is how I layer the lasagna:

    In the bottom of a 9×13 pan, ladle a little béchamel sauce.  Then layer the lasagna pasta over the béchamel.

    Ricotta mixture and a drizzle of Béchamel

    Lasagna pasta

    Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard mixture

    Lasagna pasta

    Ricotta mixture and a drizzle of Béchamel

    Lasagna pasta

    Any leftover Béchamel or ricotta and then top with Mozzarella and shredded parmesan

    Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes until bubbly on sides and cooked through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden on top.

    Let the Lasagna sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

    A little sweet, for my sweet tooth

    This is the time of year that gets me into trouble.  Yep, I get the baking bug.

    And of course if I bake something, I have to taste test it.  Right?

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

    I also have friends who bake.  And they bake the most delicious treats.  In fact, two of my friends write baking blogs and one of them is a Pastry Chef right here in Seattle.

    Both filled with so much deliciousness, you must click on over and check them out. and  You’re gonna fall in love!

    I’m not sure what possessed me to make these.  I was in the mood for a sweet treat but I wanted something simple to prepare and most delicious to eat.

    I wish I had a really funny story to tell you, or some cute pictures of Tank.  Well, actually, I do have a few cute pictures of Tank.

    Tank needs a haircut

    Tank is handsome now 🙂

    I think these brownies hit the spot.  For the sake of my workout and waistline, I sent most of them on over to my friend’s house and kept a few to enjoy with my coffee later.

    They never made it to the coffee.  I ended up sneaking one as a midnight snack and the other three conveniently disappeared.

    Might be one of the sweet tooth Bennett gals.  😉

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

    Similar to blondies or chocolate chip bar cookies, these divine little treats are less sweet and perfect with coffee or tea.

    I also prepare these with a gluten free flour  that can now be found in most grocery stores.  A few examples are Bob’s Red Mill, Namaste, Gluten Free Mama,  King Arthur

    Makes 12 Squares


    1 ½ cups Wholesome Sweeteners Coconut Palm Sugar or dark brown sugar, packed

    2 eggs

    1 cup peanut butter

    1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    ½ teaspoon salt

    2 cups chocolate chips


    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.

    Whisk together the eggs and sugar and then slowly add the melted butter.

    Then whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.

    Next, mix in the 2 cups flour and ½ teaspoon salt.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.

    Pour the brownie batter into the baking pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the brownies are golden brown and done in the center.

    When the brownies have cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

    Halibut Seafood

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Halibut Tacos

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    I can’t believe I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for 10 years and I just made my first trip to Portland, Oregon.  I’ve been everywhere else in this part of the country but for some reason a visit to Portland just never seemed to happen.

    Pacific Halibut

    Roasting Pacific Halibut

    So, because we were highly intrigued, Ranger Craig and I recently visited Portland for a long weekend.  It was a road trip.  Much to my husbands dismay.  He hates driving longer than 30 minutes at a time.

    We were going to fly Charlie, our Cessna, but the weather wasn’t as cooperative as we’d like.  Or,  let’s just say it wasn’t as cooperative as I like.

    We thought about the train, but I had the bright idea of a road trip.  We should have taken the train.

    Mexican slaw

    Spicy Slaw

    Traffic, traffic and more traffic.  I knew we’d (Ranger Craig) need a pint or two once we got to Portland.  And we were in luck!  We found Rogue Brewery in the Pearl District.  Whoo Hoo!

    As we were enjoying our pints of refreshing beverages, I spotted the famous Powell’s Bookstore down the street.   I couldn’t finish my pint fast enough.  I just had to browse this famous Portland landmark.

    Powell’s Bookstore in Portland

    They say (Powell’s) it’s the largest bookstore in America.  And large it is.  Ranger Craig and I were in book heaven browsing that gigantic store.  I barely made it out of the gardening, food and cooking section to sneak a peak at the mysteries.

    Food Truck

    Portland Food Trucks! This one sold cupcakes 🙂

    After an hour (probably more like two) I found Ranger Craig in the main aisle.  As I walked toward him juggling 7 books in my arms, Ranger Craig looked at me with those eyes that said… “how in the heck are you going to carry all those books back to the hotel”?

    So, I put a few books back (actually three) but left the fabulous bookstore with my four favorites.  (Ranger Craig carried them back to the hotel. 🙂 )

    Of course a visit to Portland isn’t a visit unless you dine at one of the many fantastic restaurants in town.  I admit, I hadn’t done much planning for this impromptu Portland visit and regretted my “see where the wind takes us” attitude.  I remember my Grandma saying to me once “Little Miss, you always fly by the seat of your pants. You may regret that one day”.  I think she was right in this case.

    LIttle Bird

    Little Bird in Portland

    I couldn’t get reservations at Little Bird, Gabriel Rucker’s new restaurant, or a few other delectable restaurant’s I’d heard about.  So, we dined in various small, but tasty, restaurants that provided the most divine oysters, seafood, fresh salads and fabulous wine.  I couldn’t complain a snippet!

    Just like Seattle, Portland loves their dogs.

    All delicious, fresh, locally sourced and mostly organic.  That’s what I love about Portland.  Attention to local, attention to quality and of course lots of creative flair.  Creative flair, truly unique, and as one building sign stated “weird”.   I love weird.  🙂

    Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Serves 4-6


    1 ½ lbs Halibut (or other white flaky fish)

    2 limes

    Chile powder

    Ground Cumin

    Ground Coriander

    Dried Oregano

    Salt and Pepper

    Drizzle of high heat oil (safflower, sunflower, etc)

    Spicy Slaw (recipe below)

    Corn tortillas

    Crumbled Cotija cheese if desired (optional)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Assemble the Spicy Slaw (recipe below) and set aside.

    Place the Halibut in a baking dish and squeeze juice of one lime over the fish.  Then brush with oil.

    Season the fish with a healthy sprinkling of Chile powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper.  Seasoning as much or as little as you like.

    Place the fish in the oven and roast for about 8-10 minutes, or until the fish is flaky and cooked through.  Typically, fish will cook 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

    Remove the fish from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then flake the fish gently to fill the tacos.

    While the fish is resting prepare the tortillas.  I like these tacos served with freshly steamed or warmed corn tortillas.  I usually steam my tortillas in a stove top steamer, microwave steam bowl or the top rack of my rice cooker.

    Add the flaked fish to the steamed tortillas and fold like tacos, layering on a platter. Next fill each taco with some spicy slaw and serve with lime wedges and crumbled Cotija.  Enjoy!

    Spicy Slaw

    Serves 4-6


    2-3 cups thinly shredded Napa or savoy cabbage

    ¼ cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

    ¼ cup thin sliced green onions

    ¼ cup (or a little more if you like your slaw well dressed) Mayonnaise

    ½ – 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Tabasco or any other hot sauce you have on hand

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    Pinch of sugar

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha, lemon juice, sugar salt and pepper.  Place the cabbage, cilantro and green onions in a medium bowl and toss with the dressing.

    Serve on tacos or pulled pork sandwiches.  Yum!

    Kid Friendly Pork

    Herb Crusted Pork Loin with Balsamic Roasted Figs

    Herb Crusted Pork Loin with Balsamic Roasted Figs

    A new page is posting on Karista’s Kitchen, “Weeknight Fresh“.

    Fresh, seasonal and delicious recipes that won’t make dinner feel like a second job.

    Herb Crusted Pork Loin with Balsamic Roasted Figs

    As a busy Mom, business owner, culinary instructor and food blogger,  sometimes life competes with dinner.

    So, to keep dinner competitive, I’ve created a series of recipes I call “Weeknight Fresh”.  Fun, sometimes festive, mostly nutritious ( I sneak in a little butter once in a while) and always mouth-watering delicious.

    Making dinner achievable.  🙂

    Pork and Figs… Simple and Delicious!

    I’m starting with a few of my favorite recipes and I’ll be adding to the page throughout the fall.

    In honor of this new page, I’m posting this most delicious new recipe.  Simple, fresh, and ready to bring to the table in  a little over  30 minutes!  Whoo Hoo!

    Herb Crusted Pork Loin with Roasted Balsamic Figs

    Serves 4-6


    2-3 lbs pork loin

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 teaspoon dried thyme

    ½ teaspoon dried basil

    1 clove garlic, minced

    Olive oil

    Balsamic vinegar

    1 pint of black mission figs, halved (or more if you love roasted figs!)

    Pinch of salt

    A little kitchen twine or toothpicks


    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

    Place the halved figs in a medium bowl and toss with a drizzle of oil and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

    In a small bowl mix together the salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, basil and minced garlic.  Drizzle with just a little oil to make a paste.

    Place the pork loin in a roasting pan or baking dish.  Make a horizontal cut, about 1/2 way through, down the center of the pork loin.  Put a little of the herb mixture in this pocket and then rub the pork with the remaining herb mixture. Take some kitchen twine (or toothpicks) and tie the pork closed so the herb mixture will season the interior of the roast.

    Then pour the dressed figs into the roasting pan or baking dish and arrange them around the pork.

    Put the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until the pork reaches 145F internal temperature.

    It’s very important to cook pork by temperature as pork can over cook quickly.  Cooking the pork to 140-145F and then taking it out of the oven to rest for about 5-10 minutes, is the best method for a juicy and perfect pork loin.  So be sure to invest in a meat thermometer, about $6-8 at most stores.

    Once the pork has rested, thin slice the pork loin and place on a platter, scattering the roasted figs around the pork.  Don’t forget to drizzle all the juices from the bottom of the pan over the pork.  Serve immediately.

    I love this recipe served with Roasted Broccoli Parmesan.  The broccoli can be roasted in the oven at the same time as the pork, on the rack below.  Making dinner simple, nutritious and delicious!

    Grilling Sweets vegetarian

    Grilled Summer Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

    Peach Crepes

    Grilled Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

    One of best things about being a chef is teaching people to cook.

    I cherish the moment when I see the knowing gleam of light in a student’s eyes.  The moment when they have mastered a new cooking technique or when they have discovered the answer to a daunting cooking question that may have plagued them for years.


    Light and Airy Crepes

    It’s that very moment  I feel complete and utter professional and personal satisfaction.  My heart soars with emotion and I realize, another home chef is born.

    “Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should feed our soul, nourish our bodies and delight our senses”.  This is my mission.


    Dried Lavender Buds

    To teach, to feed, to bring joy through the most soul satisfying and nourishing food.  Food that is fresh, simple and delights the taste buds. Clean, fresh flavors that aren’t hidden in a mountain of ingredients.

    Simple goodness from the earth, prepared into a culinary adventure for our senses.

    Lavender field

    My two sassy gals when they were little… sitting in a lavender field.

    Nothing could be more sensory satisfying than these lovely grilled peach crepes with lavender mascarpone.  These little beauties were created using the mountain of crepes I’ve been making (my practice test run) for a girl scout cooking class.

    Cooking class

    Entertaining the troop with my weird facial expressions 🙂

    cooking class

    Making sweet and savory crepes

    cooking class

    Serious discussion about crepe making.

    I had so much fun making crepes with these lovely little ladies.  Delightful, clever and brilliant, these gals will rule the world some day.  🙂

    Wishing you all a delicious summer!

    Loads of Love,


    Grilled Summer Peach Crepes with Lavender Mascarpone

    If you happen to find yourself with a flat of apricots, nectarines or plums, these would also be delicious substitutions for the peaches.

    Serves 8


    8 ounces mascarpone, room temp so it’s easier to mix and spread

    1 tablespoon dried lavender

    ¼ cup sugar

    4 peaches (firm but give a little when squeezed), halved and pit removed

    1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    ¼ cup good quality honey (I use a local wildflower honey)

    8 crepes (recipe below)

    Drizzle of honey and chopped fresh mint for garnish


    Preheat the grill to 400F.

    In coffee grinder, food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the sugar and dried lavender together.  Make sure the lavender is finely minced.

    Mix together the lavender sugar and the mascarpone and set aside.

    Brush the peach halves with veggie oil and grill until the peaches are tender to the touch and nicely marked with grill marks.

    Place the grilled peaches on a cutting board and slice.  Then put the sliced peaches in a bowl and drizzle with honey.

    Fill each crepe with a tablespoon or two of lavender mascarpone and a few grilled peach slices and then roll.  Garnish with an additional drizzle of honey and fresh mint.

    Crepes Recipe

    I’ve tested at least five different crepe recipes and this is hands down my favorite.  My dear friend, Pastry Chef Laurie Pfalzer of Pastry Craft Seattle, gave me this recipe and of course like all her recipes, it’s perfectly delicious!

    Classic French crepes are perfect for dessert and plenty of savory dishes too. Make the batter a day ahead for best results.

    1 ¼ cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour

    ¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) granulated sugar

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    3 each eggs, room temperature

    3 each egg yolks, room temperature

    6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter

    1 ½ cups (12 ounces) whole milk


    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

    Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until just warm to the touch and the butter has melted. (If it gets too warm, transfer it to a metal bowl to cool some.)

    In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.

    Add the eggs to the dry mixture and whisk until combined. The batter will become a thick paste. Add the milk and butter all at once and whisk gently until combined.

    Let the crepe batter sit for at least one hour, but preferably over night.

    Making the crepes:  Cut or tear 20 pieces of parchment about 6×6 inches each. Set them aside.

    Heat a skillet (8-10 inches) or crepe pan over medium-high heat.  (See more info on crepe pans below.) Make sure the pan is hot before you add the batter. Add ¼ to 1/3 cup crepe batter to the pan and gently tilt the pan to distribute the batter over the entire bottom of the pan. Return the pan immediately to the heat.  Cook the crepe until the top bubbles and the edges start to curl, about 1 minute. Using a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently loosen the edges of the crepe. Turn the crepe with the spatula or use an offset spatula or pancake turner. (I like to lift the edge of the crepe with my fingers, slide the rubber spatula under and flip it over. You can use your fingers and the spatula to straighten it in the pan if needed.)  Cook the crepe on the second side for less than 1 minute or until it is brown and releases easily from the pan.

    Slide the cooked crepe onto a piece of the cut parchment and repeat the steps above for the second crepe. Lay a piece of parchment on top of the first crepe and slide the second crepe onto the parchment. (This way you will have a stack of parchment/crepe/parchment/crepe and so on.)

    Continue cooking the crepes until all of the batter is gone. It is important to stir the batter frequently, as the solids will settle toward the bottom.  You can make as many crepes as you need and store the remaining batter in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  (Be sure to stir the batter well before making the crepes. I like to let the refrigerated batter sit on the counter for 30 minutes so that it is not cold.)

    Crepe Pans:  There are a number of crepe pans on the market today, including plenty of basic skillets that also work well. I keep a non-stick pan on hand just for eggs and crepes. Usually, you won’t need to use butter or any other oil to keep the crepes from sticking when using a non-stick pan in good condition. However, sometimes the first crepe will stick some. If this happens to you, just remove it (and have it as a snack).  Then make sure the pan is clean, add one teaspoon of butter to coat the pan and start with the second crepe. This will often “season” the pan and it will cook your crepes perfectly from here on.  If you prefer to use a pan that is not non-stick, use a small amount of clarified butter before cooking each crepe.

    Recipe adapted from unknown source by Pastry Craft.