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roasted peppers

Beef Karista's Kitchen Pork

Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cakes

chorizo and black bean stuffed poblanos with enchilada sauce and spanish rice cakes

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

As I was writing my holiday letter yesterday, I was either laughing or crying.  The year 2013 was anything but typical.  As I reminisced over the past twelve months, I realized it was quite a roller coaster of events.

A year of changes, nail-biting moments, some tears, lots of laughter, because laughter is the best medicine, moments of gratitude, a few panic attacks, and grand adventure. Phew! Yep, all in one year.

Spanish rice cakes and enchiladas poblano stuffed with chorizo and black beans

Without spewing all my emotions here, I’ll just tell you I am so thankful my Bennett Crew is happy and healthy.  In 2013, my oldest gal fought medical hurdles with courage and fierce determination.  She’s my hero.

On the list of events was an extensive house remodel, which caused me to re-think my love of DIY projects.   I know some of you can identify.  Home remodeling can take a toll and make you want to hire the big bad wolf to blow your house down.

A new state, new town, new home… and then a most delicious surprise.  A trip to Italy.  A glorious two weeks that fed my soul and inspired my heart. New and cherished friendships formed and adventure I’ll always remember.  I came back with a renewed love of Italian cuisine and culture, and my recipe developing wheels turning.

In reflection, I’m most grateful for my friends and family, who, as always, gave an abundance of loving support.  Life can be a roller coaster of events, but with friends and family like mine, it makes the curve ball coming at me a little easier to dodge.

In honor of this beautiful new year I thought I’d start off with something spicy, flavorful and festive.  These Enchiladas Poblano and Spanish Rice Cake are pure deliciousness and a perfect way to begin this new year.

I wish you all good health, true joy, lots and lots of laughter, much success in whatever you strive to do, and the love of friends and family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Happy New Year!

Karista

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6 poblano peppers

1lb ground Spanish chorizo (Spanish chorizo is gaining popularity and you can typically find it in most markets next to the other ground meats)

1 small white onion, diced

Handful cilantro leaves coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sliced green onions

¼-1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Red Enchilada Sauce (I love Chef Rick Bayless Frontera Brand of Enchilada sauces. If you can’t find them, I also use Hatch branch red enchilada sauce)

1 cup shredded pepper jack or mozzarella cheese

Sliced limes

Sliced Avocado (optional)

Spanish Rice Cakes (recipe below)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Lay the poblano peppers on a lined baking sheet and roast them for about 10-15 minutes or until they are toasted on the outside and somewhat soft.

While the peppers are roasting heat a skillet over medium high heat with a little oil.  Saute the white onions until soft and then add the ground chorizo.  Break up the chorizo while it’s cooking and when it’s almost cooked through stir in the cilantro and green onions.

Take the skillet off the heat and then gently toss with the black beans and cotija.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the peppers are done and cooled, pull off any of the blistered skin and try not to tear the peppers.  Place the peppers in a large baking dish.

Turn the oven down to 350F.

Slice vertically down the center of the pepper and pull it open a little so you can fill.  Stuff each pepper with the chorizo and black bean filling.  Then ladle a little of the enchilada sauce over the top of each pepper and sprinkle with shredded pepper jack or Mozzarella cheese.

Once all the peppers are filled, sauced and cheesed (don’t you love my snappy culinary lingo?) pop them into the oven for about another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

If you have any leftover sauce I like to ladle it over the poblanos and then top with sliced avocado.  Serve with a side of sliced limes and sour cream.

Spanish Rice Cakes

Makes 12-16 small round cakes

Ingredients

2 cups prepared Spanish Rice

½ cup sliced green onion

¼ – 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese

2 eggs, whisked

Healthy oil for frying

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together.  Heat the oil on medium high heat and then when it’s ready take a tablespoon full of rice mixture, I also use a cookie scoop, roll it in your hands and then smash into a small round cake.  This mixture can feel loose but once you place it in the hot oil it will form a crust on the outside making it easier to handle.

Brown the cakes on both sides and then place on paper towels.  Serve the Spanish Rice cakes with ½ cup of sour cream whisked with the juice of 1 small lime and a pinch of cumin.  It’s a refreshing dip for the rice cakes. Or serve the rice cakes plain with the stuffed enchiladas poblano as a side dish.

 

 

 

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

Ingredients

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)

Directions

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!)

Grilling Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish over Grilled Salmon

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

My youngest gal told me this morning that I talk about food all the time. Really?

Fresh Mini Peppers

This, after my subtle launch into why we don’t consume sugary chocolate cupcakes on an empty morning tummy.  (can you see her eyes rolling?) I know, I know, once in a while we just have to have a sweet for breakfast.  I promise, I’m not a complete food ogre.

I am a bit obsessed with good food however, and totally in love with mini peppers.  I could eat them by the bucket full.   We picked up these divine little peppers at the Port Townsend Farmer’s Market.  And of course I had to snap a few pictures to share.

Port Townsend, WA looking at Admirality Inlet

Me… at the beautiful marina in Port Townsend

I’m enamored with the Bald Eagle

The perfect evening in Port Townsend

Flying Home

These little peppers are perfect for salads, snacking or stuffed as an appetizer.  But I like them best roasted.

After roasting the first batch, I think I ate half the peppers off the baking sheet.  Well, I know I did.  Because I had to run to my local market for more peppers.

After roasting the second batch of mini peppers I only snacked on two (so yummy right out of the oven!) and the rest went straight into the relish.

Then Ranger Craig came into the kitchen while I was grilling the salmon and “sampled” the relish.  Several times.  I started to wonder if we’d have any relish left for the salmon!

I was not going back to the market a third time.  I’ve done that.  It’s so embarrassing.

We ended up with just enough relish to serve with two pieces of salmon (we should have had enough for four pieces).  It was delicious.

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish with Grilled Salmon

Perfectly roasted and sweet with a hint of fresh basil and subtle tang of balsamic vinegar.  It’s going to be a tasty summer!

Roasted Mini Pepper and Fresh Basil Relish

Serves 4

Ingredients

16 oz Mini Sweet Peppers

1 heaping tablespoon chopped or chiffonade fresh basil, plus extra for garnish

Dash of olive oil

Dash of good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

To Roast the Peppers

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Brush the foil or parchment with a little oil so the peppers won’t stick.

Place the peppers on the baking sheet, pop them in the oven and let them roast.  This should take about 15-20 minutes depending on how crisp tender or tender you like them.  I personally like my peppers very soft and toasty.

Once the peppers are done let them cool for a few minutes.

Pull the stem from each pepper and dice.  No need to skin or seed the peppers as we’re using the whole pepper for this relish.

Once the peppers are diced, add the fresh basil, dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Gently toss and taste for seasoning.

Serve with grilled salmon or chicken.  Or toss with fresh greens and feta cheese for a delightful summer salad!

Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs served over Toasted Baguette Slices

It was a busy first day of the work week and once again I arrived home late with all my grocery bags in hand, only to realize it was 5pm.  Great.  I knew I had something in mind for dinner but I couldn’t remember what it was.

I checked my frig and thanked myself for thinking ahead (by one day!) and purchasing a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut the day before.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s what I was thinking.  What am I going to do with that beautiful piece of Halibut?  Ha!  The million dollar question, right?  

Well, I’m feeling oh so very smug right about now.  No, actually I feel a little bit brilliant.  Because not only did I use my beautiful piece of halibut, I also used my sad-looking eggplant (that didn’t get used for eggplant parmesan), 4 bright green organic zucchini that have been waiting to be used in my whole grain zucchini muffins (that obviously is not going to happen now),  and one brilliant shade of yellow pepper that I bought because frankly, it was so beautiful.  Add in my Walla Walla sweet onion, organic garlic, fresh rosemary and sage, 5 or 6 juicy red tomatoes and I had a sweet and distinctly rich ratatouille to serve with my halibut. 

My secret surprise?  A toasted garlicky baguette slice under the flavorful ratatouille!  Ahhh… life is good. (for tonight anyway 🙂 )

Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs

This little dish does have quite a few “steps”, however, if you prep all your veggies first and then follow the steps the dish will come together beautifully.  Once you’ve prepared this dish a few times (hopefully you’ll like it that much!) it will become easier to pull all the steps together more quickly.  This is such a great way to use all that spring, summer and fall produce. Feel free to substitute with different types of squash, but always add the eggplant… it gives this dish its signature sweet flavor. 

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, thick sliced (or 2 smallish eggplant)

4 small zucchini (or 2 very large zucchini), thick sliced

1 sweet onion, halved and sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, roasted and diced

4 large summer tomatoes, or use 5-6 canned organic whole tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (or more if you like sage)

2 tablespoons butter

Olive oil

salt and pepper

1 baguette, sliced (either multi grain or French)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  I use my convection oven option when roasting veggies.  If you don’t have convection oven options, roast the veggies at 425F.  Layer the sliced eggplant on a cooling rack or platter and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes or so to eliminate excess liquid. 

While the eggplant are resting, place the sliced zucchini on a parchment lined cookie sheet and drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper.  Roast the zucchini until they look toasty but not too soft, about 8-10 minutes. (I’ve tried roasting the eggplant and zucchini together to save time, however, the two veggies don’t cook evenly for the same amount of time)

While the zucchini are in the oven, heat a large skillet on medium and add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil.  Once the butter is frothy, add the sliced onions and saute until nicely wilted and a little golden about 5-8 minutes.  Next add the garlic and saute for an additional minute or two. 

When the zucchini are done, add them to the onions and garlic.  Fold in the diced roasted yellow pepper and the chopped tomatoes and any juices that accumulated.  Let this sit over low heat while you put the eggplant in the oven. 

Next, rinse the eggplant and quarter the slices.  Season the eggplant once again with salt and little black pepper and drizzle with a bit of oil.  Place in the oven and roast for about 8-10 minutes or until a little toasty and soft to the touch. 

When the eggplant is done, add them to the veggies in the skillet.  If using canned tomatoes I like to add about 1/4 cup of the tomato juice to the skillet. 

Toss in the rosemary and sage and then taste for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and let the veggies sit so the flavors can meld together while you prepare the baguette slices.

Place the baguette slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with a little olive oil.  Toast in the 400F oven until lightly golden brown.  When they are done remove them from the oven.  Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the garlic on each of the baguette slices.  The bread will be hot so be careful.

To serve, place a baguette slice in the bottom of a bowl or on a plate and top with the ratatouille.  Serve with grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef or all by itself as a hearty lunch or light dinner.