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Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing // Food Fresh and Simple from Karista's Kitchen

Bowl food is all the rage at the moment and for good reason.  It’s easy to assemble and typically filled with the most delicious ingredients like this spicy chicken and vegetable rice bowl.

This recipe is a lovely twist on the traditional chicken and vegetable bowl as I’ve used Harissa powder or paste to add a little flair, spice and flavor to the chicken.  Harissa is an aromatic and spicy chili paste or powder that is traditionally used in African or Middle Eastern cooking.  It’s become quite popular in the U.S. in the last few years and it’s now easily found in most markets.  I think Harissa makes a nice change in flavor to curry or sriracha.

I’ve paired this Harissa seared chicken with carrots, zucchini, red peppers and I’ve included diced pineapple to balance the flavors.  To finish off the dish, I’ve topped this recipe with sunflower seeds, fresh cilantro and then a drizzle of avocado lime dressing. On occasion, I’ll substitute some of the ingredients with wilted greens, spinach, tomatoes, green onions, radishes and mandarin oranges.

This spicy chicken and vegetable rice bowl definitely nourishes the body and delights the senses. Which is what good food is all about, right?

It’s been a busy winter and I haven’t posted here as often as I’d like. It’ll be another few weeks before I post again because I’m moving! Yep, again. We’re moving just up the road a few miles to a new house, but we’re still located in the lovely Willamette Valley. When I’m in and settled, I hope to tape some cooking videos in the new kitchen! I’m not terribly tech savvy so we shall se how it goes. 😉 In the meantime, I’ll be posting on Instagram and Facebook so you can keep up with all the deliciousness on my social media.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and delicious spring!



Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing

Serving Size: Makes Two Bowls

Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowl with Avocado Lime Dressing


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced chicken, either breast or dark meat
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa powder or Harissa paste (easily found in most markets)
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, optional
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice, warm
  • ½ cup shredded or diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced zucchini, not cooked
  • ¼ cup diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup diced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • In a sauté pan over medium high heat add the 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper and then toss with the harissa paste or powder.
  • Add the seasoned diced chicken to the sauté pan and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
  • In a small food processer or blender, add the avocado, lime juice, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, garlic clove, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Pulse until the dressing is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you’d like the dressing a bit thinner in consistency, add 1-2 tablespoons of water until you’ve reached desired consistency.
  • To assemble, place one cup of warm rice into each bowl. Top with cooked chicken, carrots, zucchini, red pepper, pineapple, sunflower seeds and fresh cilantro. Drizzle with the avocado lime dressing and serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl for a fresh and simple weeknight meal // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to post for a long time.  Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowl.  Seriously, I think I make this once a week, however, often with whatever I have on hand.

    Sometimes it’s Swiss chard because I’ve got a spring garden full of chard.   Sometimes with organic seasonal greens, spinach, mustard greens or kale that I picked up at the market because someone used all the chard for their green protein smoothie.  😉  That’s actually what happened when I went to make this recipe a few nights ago.  The Swiss chard was gone so I reached for my organic seasonal greens.  But that’s why I love this dish so much.  It can become whatever you want it or need it to be.

    sautéing leeks // Karista's Kitchen

    Begin with a little extra virgin olive oil and sauté the leeks.


    On occasion I’ll make this with brown rice, just for the heck of it and because I love that nutty flavor from brown rice.  Sometimes I make it with quinoa when I’m in a quinoa mood or Einkorn berries when I feel like I want to mix things up a bit.   Most often though, I make this recipe with Jasmine or Basmati rice.  I find the clean, fragrant flavor of Jasmine rice compliments the rich bitterness of the Swiss Chard or Kale.

    sautéing leeks and Italian parsley // Karista's Kitchen

    Once the leeks are slightly caramelized, add the fresh herbs and garlic.


    During the winter months the Bennett Crew likes a bit of sautéed crumbled Italian sausage mixed in or leftover beef or pork roast.  This dish can easily accommodate leftover roast chicken or turkey as well.

    As for me… I’m happy with a fried egg on top.

    sautéing mushrooms // Karista's Kitchen

    Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook until wilted.


    When leeks aren’t in season I use diced onions or sliced green onions.  When my herb box is overflowing, I chop up fresh herbs and throw those in as well.  It’s truly a hearty one dish meal that satisfies everyones palate.

    baby greens sautéing // Karista's Kitchen

    Add the greens and toss gently with tongs until wilted.


    sautéing baby greens // Karista's Kitchen

    All the ingredients get served over rice or ancient grain and topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese for good measure.  This, my friends, makes my family so happy. 🙂  Which makes me happy of course.

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl // Karista's Kitchen

    Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowls… Food fresh and simple.  Isn’t that what a weeknight dinner should be?

    Wishing you a very happy weekend with friends and family!

    Loads of Love,


    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Serving Size: 4

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl


    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or ghee
    • 2 medium to large leeks, trimmed where the white turns pale green, rinsed, halved lengthwise and diced (or 1 small onion, diced)
    • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
    • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, marjoram, chives)
    • 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, buttons, chanterelle when in season are delicious)
    • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and greens chopped or 3-4 cups seasonal chopped or baby greens
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups cooked white or brown rice
    • Serve with cooked ground Italian sausage, homemade sausages, leftover pork or beef roast, leftover roast chicken and of course top with a fried or poached egg.
    • Garnish with grated parmesan cheese (optional)
    • Sometimes my youngest gal likes a dollop of Greek yogurt on top 🙂


  • In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of the oil or ghee. When the oil is hot add the leeks and sauté until slightly golden. Then add the minced garlic, fresh herbs and mushrooms. Add the additional tablespoon of oil if desired. But remember, the mushrooms will soak up all the liquid and oil in the pan and then once they're cooked, they will release the liquid and oil.
  • Once the mushrooms are done, add the greens in batches if necessary. Toss gently until the greens are incorporated and wilted, but not over cooked.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over rice with garnishes or meats.
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    Karista's Kitchen Life Around My Table Pasta Risotto Sassy Side dishes

    Chianti Risotto

    Chianti Risotto with DaVinci Chianti

    Chianti Risotto tastes like one giant food hug.

    Fall of 2013, I was in a whirlwind of excitement and slowly coming down off my travel and culinary cloud after being in Italy for two weeks.  I think in all that excitement I failed to post this lovely dish.

    I originally created this gorgeous Chianti Risotto for DaVinci Wine . I was one of four very lucky bloggers to join the DaVinci Wine team in Vinci, Italy to learn all about Chianti wine-making. It. Was. Glorious.

    Naturally, I had to pair these two ingredients together, making one very cozy and gorgeous looking dish.

    This Chianti Risotto is one of those special recipes I reserve for a weekend when everyone is home and gathered in the kitchen.  We take turns stirring the risotto, chatting, sipping wine, nibbling on bruschetta and savoring the precious moments together.  You can certainly make this on a weeknight (and I do that as well) but it’s such an indulgent and rich dish I love to sit and relish the dish over a long weekend evening.

    Risotto is a staple in most Italian kitchens and it’s served in many forms. Which is truly the beauty of risotto.  It travels through seasons adapting to a multitude of ingredients, never wearing out its welcome on the dinner table.

    I adore the subtle fruitiness of the DaVinci Chianti and I thought it would make a lovely addition to risotto. Top with crispy fried sage, fresh grated parmesan or shaved pecorino and this is comfort food at its most delicious.  For a heartier version of this deeply colored risotto, I topped it with a farm fresh fried egg.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Chianti Risotto

    Serving Size: 2-3 as an entree, 4 as a side dish


    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced (about 2-3 tablespoons)
    • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
    • 1 cup DaVinci Chianti
    • 4 -5 cups beef broth, warmed
    • Knob of unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 6-8 large sage leaves
    • Shaved pecorino
    • Optional: top each serving with a fried egg


  • In a large pot over medium high heat add the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the shallots and sauté for just a minute or two and then add the rice. Stir the rice for about 2 minutes and then add the cup of DaVinci Chianti and stir until the wine is absorbed.
  • Turn the heat down to medium or medium low and stir in 1 cup of the warm beef broth. Simmer until the broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Repeat this process with about ½ cup of broth at a time and continue to cook until the rice is almost tender.
  • Be sure to allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next. This takes about 20 minutes. When the rice is done, add additional broth if you feel the risotto is too thick. I like a thinner risotto.
  • Stir in the parmesan cheese and a knob of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the risotto rest while you prepare the sage leaves and/or fried eggs.
  • In a small sauté pan heat some olive oil and when the oil is very hot add the sage leaves, turning them in the oil as they brown. Once crispy, take the pan off the heat and set the fried sage on a paper towel lined plate.
  • Place the risotto in individual serving bowls and garnish with a fried sage leave, shaved pecorino, and if you wish, a fried egg.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Risotto Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Fresh Spinach, Arugula and Lemon Risotto

    spinach, arugula and lemon risotto

    Fresh Spinach, Arugula and Lemon Risotto

    One of my chicken gals laid an egg today!  Yes, I splattered the good news all over facebook, instagram, and twitter.

    After my little social media blitz, I joyously announced the good news to my two sassy gals.  To which the reply was less than enthusiastic.

    One of my sassy gals gets a pass on enthusiasm as she’s still recovering from surgery, but I thought my youngest gal would be a little more thrilled about the good news.  I was on the receiving end of “that’s nice Mom”.

    chicken egg

    Our first egg

    I did however get a resounding “hurrah” for this lovely little spring green dish of risotto.  One of my youngest gals favorite comfort foods.

    Risotto can be simply flavored with just a hint of spiciness from sautéed shallots, layered with the subtle saltiness of fresh grated parmesan, or exquisitely prepared with earthy porcini’s and lightly drizzled with the distinct pungent flavor of truffle oil.

    This risotto however is most beautifully in between.  Hmmm… I’m sounding a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  This risotto is just right. 🙂

    spinach, arugula and lemon risotto

    Fresh Spinach, Arugula and Lemon Risotto

    Beautifully green with the distinct peppery taste of fresh arugula and the subtle grassiness of fresh spinach.  Then combined with a spritz of fresh lemon, garlic cloves and olive oil, this risotto seems to complete the spring season of risottos.

    Bright in color and happy on the palate.  What every spring risotto aspires to be.

    Fresh Spinach, Arugula and Lemon Risotto

    Serves 4 to 6


    1 cup fresh spinach, packed (I used baby spinach leaves)

    1 cup fresh arugula, packed (I used baby arugula leaves)

    1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

    Zest of one lemon

    2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and pepper to taste

    3 tablespoons butter

    1 shallot, chopped

    2 cups Arborio rice

    ½ cup dry white wine

    6 cups vegetable broth, warmed

    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese


    Combine the arugula and spinach leaves, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor.  Blend until coarsely chopped.  Fold in the lemon zest.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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

    Melt the butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped shallot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

    Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.

    Stir in 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer until it is absorbed, stirring frequently. Cook until the rice is almost tender, adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring often, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, about 20 minutes.

    Stir in the spinach arugula mixture. Continue cooking, adding more broth ¼ cup at a time, until rice is creamy and tender, about 10 minutes longer.

    Season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.


    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    slow cooked chicken thighs, ginger, soy and tomato sauce

    One of my dear friends in Washington state makes a fantastic Chicken Adobo and Chicken Long Rice which she has so graciously shared with me several times.  So heavenly, I keep begging her for the recipes.  Of Filipino decent, my friend used to watch her Grandfather prepare these traditional dishes when she was little.  She now prepares them for her family, and her extremely grateful friends.  Since then, I’ve come to know another friend and colleague of Filipino decent (Danny, you know who you are!) and I continuously drool over his very delicious looking Instagram feed.

    Because I’m of the curious sort and I’m inspired by my friends ancestral cuisine, several years ago I decided to explore the flavors of the Philippines.  Many recipes and full tummies later, this fragrant and enticing slow cooked red ginger chicken was created. This recipe is simple and brimming with the flavors I was craving.  

    As well, at that time I had a full private chef client list and I was on a mission to create more slow cooker meals for our very busy family schedule.

    When I originally posted this slow cooked red ginger chicken recipe I was raising backyard chickens (laying hens only, they were not raised for consumption) and posted the photos below.  I adored my chicken gals, and you know, I think they adored me too.  When we left Washington state, my girls landed a cushy gig at a local farm where they would live out their sweet chicken lives in chicken luxury.  Since that time I haven’t had the opportunity to build another chicken coop and raise backyard chickens, but I’m sure that time will come again.


    Urban Farm Chickens

    Rosemary, Cocoa and Pepper

    I still dabble with this recipe at times, adding a little heavy cream to the sauce when the mood strikes.  On occasion I’ve prepared the sauce stove top, added a little heavy cream and then ladled the sauce over grilled chicken breasts.  I like chicken breasts either grilled or pan seared and then finished in the oven.  Slow cooked chicken breasts can have a strange chewy texture and for some reason I just don’t find that palatable. Surprisingly I do have a bit of a fussy palate. 😉

    If you make this recipe let me know how it turns out for you and how you like it. I’d love your thoughts. This is one of those recipes that keeps evolving and one day it just might be perfected.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to you!


    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken


    • 8-10 chicken thighs, no skin but you can use bone in or boneless
    • 1- 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
    • 1 cup tomato sauce (a great way to use your canned tomatoes!)
    • ½ cup Tamari (or soy sauce)
    • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
    • Fresh ground pepper
    • Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions for garnish
    • White Rice


  • Pre-heat the slow cooker on low.
  • Thick slice the ginger into 5-6 pieces. Whisk together the tomato sauce, tamari, garlic and ginger and reserve.
  • Season the chicken pieces with pepper and brown in a skillet on both sides. You’ll want to achieve a nice deep brown color on the chicken as this will give the chicken a lot of flavor. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to the slow cooker.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and slow cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F. Chicken thighs and legs cook up better in the slow cooker, rather than chicken breasts.
  • When the chicken is done, transfer the chicken to a platter. Strain the *sauce through a mesh colander and ladle over the chicken. Serve over white rice and garnish with chopped fresh green onion or cilantro.
  • To make a thicker sauce, heat the strained sauce in a small sauce pan. In a small bowl, mix together a spoonful or two of the heated sauce with about 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch. Then whisk that mixture back into the sauce pan and let it come to a boil for only a few seconds or until you've reached desired consistency.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

    roasted pumpkin risotto

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

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

    pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

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

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

    roasted pumpkin risotto

    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

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

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

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

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

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

    Serves 6-8


    1 sugar pie pumpkin (roasting instructions below)

    2 cups Arborio rice

    ½ – 2/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

    1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

    2- 3 tablespoons butter

    ½ cup white wine

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

    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Fresh sage leaves


    To roast the pumpkin:

    Preheat the oven to 400F.  Slice the stem section off the squash first and then slice the squash in half (very carefully).  Scoop out the seeds.

    Brush the cut sides of the squash with a little oil. Lay the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and add a little water to the pan.   Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and skins are golden brown and toasty.

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

    To prepare the risotto:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Grilling Halibut Sassy Side dishes Seafood Swordfish

    Garam Masala Crusted Fish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

    Garam Masala Crusted Swordfish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

    Score! A beautiful day on a weekend in September… in Western Washington.  This can only mean one thing.  It’s flying weather.  O Happy Day!

    Pretty Puffy Clouds at Jefferson Co. Airport, Port Townsend

    As soon as the sun came up Ranger Craig and I were packing for a quick little day trip over to one of our favorite spots, Port Townsend, WA.  Fresh seafood, beautiful produce, my favorite espresso cafe and a little shopping to round out the day.

    Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

    But… Ranger Craig was thinking more along the lines of a hike from Fort Worden into town and maybe a little kayaking or a visit to the wooden boat museum.  All really great ideas, yesiree bob.  But ya know,  I was ready for a little less action and a little more food shopping.

    My little flying foodie, who's taller than her Mama!

    Adventure Bound Bennett's

    And of course, as soon as my youngest gal heard the word shopping, her adventure meter tipped the scale and she was in.

    What a 13 year old will do to shop!

    How much longer do I have to hike this beach?

    Ok, so we compromised.  We hiked the long beach from the fort into town.  And conveniently for Ranger Craig, the wooden boat museum was on the way.

    Finding a little happy in hiking

    Kayaking sort of fell by the wayside, after the hour and half hike on the beach.  My hunky hiking guy had two hungry gals following him and he knew from experience that finding lunch should be next on our list of activities.  🙂

    Halibut Fish and Chips

    Seafood Stew with a splash of Gruyere

    The Public House on Water Street was the perfect spot for lunch.  The halibut was so fresh and moist and delightfully beer battered with fresh herbs; served with Asian slaw and of course french fries.  I’d love to tell you I was a very health concious diner and didn’t eat my fries.  I ate every last one off my plate.

    Ranger Craig had a seafood stew with white wine, garlic, fresh herbs and topped with a little Gruyere.  Suzie Q opted for her favorite, a grilled chicken burger which she ate in record time.  I think she was just a little hungry.

    Flying Home

    On the way home I had fish on the brain and more fish for dinner sounded divine.  I love swordfish and coconut and Ranger Craig loves sauce.   I’d been craving coconut rice and had a new sauce to test over fish.  I think dinner was just decided.

    Tank, my Toto in disguise.

    Although, I was so full from all those fries!  You’ll be glad to know, I hiked an hour with Tank the next day.  See… we can have our fries and eat them too. 🙂

    Garam Masala Crusted Fish with Cucumber Mango Raita and Coconut Rice

    Recipe adapted from multiple sources

    Serves 2


    For the Fish:

    2 Swordfish or Mahi Mahi Steaks (halibut or Hawaiin Opah is also a great alternative) Buying fresh fish is the key to any delicious fish dish.  If the fish isn’t fresh, eat chicken.

    1 tablespoon Garam Masala

    Pinch of salt and Pepper

    2 T high heat oil (I like pan searing in grapeseed oil)

    For the Raita:

    ½ cup cucumber, finely diced

    ½ cup mango, finely diced

    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

    2 tablespoons plain yogurt

    Juice of ½ lime

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Mix together the cucumber, mango, cumin, yogurt and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    In a skillet, heat the oil on medium high.  Season the two steaks on both sides with salt, pepper and garam masala.

    For pan searing fish, use a well seasoned cast iron pan or ceramic coated pan.

    Pan sear the fish for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

    Serve warm with the cucumber mango raita and coconut rice.

    Classic Coconut Rice

    Serves 2-4


    1 cup coconut milk

    ¾ cup basmati rice

    ½ cup water

    1 T sugar

    ¼ t salt

    1/4 cup raisins (optional)


    Combine coconut milk, rice, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork and add the raisins if desired.  Cover and keep warm.

    Beef Chicken Kid Friendly

    Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

    If there is a new recipe created in my house, it’s typically the result of my work, or my youngest gal was watching another episode of Dr. Oz and felt compelled to re-create a recipe shown on an episode.

    I think I may have the only 12-year-old on earth who records the Dr. Oz Show.  And when I hear a recording begin (she records every episode), I’m generally intrigued and almost half listening as I’m working.

    Par-roasting the peppers before stuffing

    During a recent episode, a cookbook author and health advocate showcased her decadent looking stuffed peppers recipe.  My ears were immediately drawn to the animated voice of the Kitchen Diva and then I heard all sorts of wonderful words… spinach, ground chicken, bell peppers, sour cream, cheese, and the list goes on!

    I left my work filled desk and made my way into the family room to catch a glimpse of  those beautiful peppers stuffed with mouth-watering fresh ingredients.  Now, I’m totally in love with my good friend Daniella’s Italian stuffed peppers… absolutely divine!   But these unique stuffed peppers looked so fun and fresh and beautifully delicious, I knew I had to make the Bennett Crew some Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers.  And of course, my little gal completely agreed.

    Fresh baby spinach added to the ground chicken mixture

    After experimenting with these brightly colored peppers, as in typical Karista fashion, I had to change a few things here and there.  Mostly because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand and needed to make substitutions.  The result was a fiesta of spicy and full flavored stuffed peppers.

    It was a good day on the Dr. Oz show and it was a great night around the dinner table in the Bennett house…Muy Bueno!!!

    Keep dinner simple, fresh and delicious… Enjoy the flavor of life!

    Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Recipe adapted from the Kitchen Diva’s Stuffed Bell Peppers.  For more information about the fantastic Kitchen Diva check out her website at

    Serves 4-6


    4-6 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)

    1 lb ground chicken, turkey or beef (or a mixture of all three) (for vegetarian substitute with beans)

    1 cup diced white onion

    4 cloves garlic, minced

    1 package Simply Organic Southwest Taco Seasoning

    ½ cup warm water

    2 cups fresh baby spinach

    1 cup salsa

    ½ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (a firm and slightly salty Mexican cheese)

    2 cups cooked brown rice (I like short grain brown rice)

    1 – 1 ½ cups pepper jack cheese

    ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro

    Sliced avocados and sour cream (or plain yogurt) for garnish


    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  Cut the top off each pepper and scrape out the seeds and ribs, if any.

    Place the peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a large baking dish and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  The peppers will be soft, but firm enough to be filled.

    While the peppers are roasting, heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add a little high heat oil to the skillet. I like Spectrum brand high heat Safflower or Sunflower oil.  The high heat peanut oil is also a tasty alternative as is coconut oil.

    When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and cook until translucent.  Next, add the minced garlic and cook for a minute or two.

    Then add the ground meat and cook through, breaking up the ground meat.  Mix together the water and taco seasoning and then add it to the ground meat and onion mixture.  Stir to combine.  Then stir in the salsa and let it simmer for a few minutes.  If the skillet is too hot, turn the heat down to medium.

    Add the fresh baby spinach leaves to the skillet and continue to gently toss the spinach in the ground meat mixture until the spinach leaves have wilted slightly.

    Mix in the Cotija cheese and brown rice.  It will look like one giant skillet of goulash but it will be a delicious filling for the peppers.

    Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste if needed.  Cotija is a salty cheese so be sure to taste before adding extra salt.

    Fill each pepper with the stuffing and then place the baking dish in the oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the peppers are soft or crisp tender, however you like your peppers.

    Remove the peppers and sprinkle with pepper jack cheese and chopped cilantro.

    Serve with avocado slices and sour cream or plain yogurt.  Enjoy!

    Options: Make these vegetarian and substitute beans for the ground meat.