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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad vegetarian

Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley

Blackberry Burrata Salad // Karista's Kitchen

What do three U-pick berry farms, a cafe, a diner, a farm co-op, a vineyard and an amazing new Portland restaurant have in common? They all inspired this lush and seasonal Blackberry Burrata Salad. 

Several weeks ago I was fortunate enough to tour the lovely Tualatin Valley here in Oregon, compliments of Washington County Visitors Association. I’d heard of the Tualatin Valley but I’ve never had a chance, until now, to tour the area and get to know this warm and vibrant community.

The Tualatin Valley is situated in the northern part of the Willamette Valley, in the Tualatin River Basin. It’s nestled just outside of Portland, Oregon, which makes it a lovely little paradise for city dwellers as well as visitors.

Our first stop was Hoffman Farms Store, a U-pick berry farm with a gorgeous farm store filled with a plethora of berry inspired products, jams, pies and ready-picked produce.  For a little more berry adventure you can grab a wagon and a bucket and head out to the scenic berry patches for some berry picking.

On the way to the berry patches I completely enjoyed the incredible views of the valley from this beautiful farm. Hoffman Farms also has a new wedding venue that is spectacular for the barn wedding inspired bride and groom. Every inch of the barn is warm and festive and plenty of space for catering and dancing.

Hoffman Farms is run by first-generation farmers, Jay and Kelly Hoffman, since 1983. They began with blueberries and now grow strawberries, raspberries, marionberries, blackberries and tayberries. After touring the berry patches we went back to the farm store to do a little browsing. I left with the most heavenly tayberry jam and an enchanting mixed berry pie with a crust that could rival my southern grandmother’s crust.

Thank you to Kelly, Megan and Jayson for your warm hospitality and for making our berry farm tour delicious.

Hoffman Family Farms in Beaverton, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

After leaving Hoffman Farms Store we drove over to the South Store Cafe, which happens to be right across the street from Smith Berry Barn, the second berry farm on our tour. But first, lunch!

I’d heard diners talking about the South Store Cafe Reuben so that’s exactly what I ordered. I was not disappointed. A perfectly prepared corned beef with just the right amount of melted cheese, sauerkraut and dressing. All on home-baked toasted rye. The coffee and hospitality were just as delicious. A fun and tasty stop while touring the Tualatin Valley.

South Store Cafe's Signature Reuben Sandwich // Karista's Kitchen

Just across the street from the South Store Cafe is the Smith Berry Barn Farm and Garden Market run by first generation farmers, Rich and Joelle Hildner.  While touring the farm with Rich, we found gorgeous seasonal berries, hanging flower baskets galore and the most lovely garden plants. Among the garden and berries there are a few friendly Pygmy goats for feeding and several large berry patches for U-pick berries. During the fall months, this is also a great place to do some apple and pear picking!

In the center of all the beautiful produce and garden plants is an impressive farm market with a gourmet gift shop with farm inspired decor, custom gift baskets, homemade jams, jellies and local honey. Toward the back of this charming little farm store is an espresso bar that also happens to create amazing berry milkshakes.

Thank you Rich for giving us a tour of your enchanting farm!

Smith Berry Barn // Karista's Kitchen

Last stop of the first day was Our Table Farm Co-operative. They are a regional co-op helping to create a resilient and interdependent local food culture. Food for the community! I am absolutely in love with what this co-op is doing.

As I walked through the co-op building, the market, the kitchens, the produce gardens, the chicken yard and beyond, my heart was leaping with joy and hope. What an impressive organization helping to feed the community with locally grown produce, meat, poultry and beef. Among everything they grow and raise at the co-op, they also host farm dinners, barbecues, Friday night pizza night and happy hour. Truly a community hangout with a mission.

Our Table Cooperative // Karista's Kitchen

After the delicious day of berries we checked into McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. A unique hotel and spa with 77 European style guest rooms, several bars, a restaurant and as we were walking the hotel grounds we found the prettiest little produce garden. McMenamins is a Oregon treasure with several locations throughout Oregon.

Bites Restaurant in Forest Grove, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

Bites Restaurant is located in downtown Forest Grove, Oregon just a few miles from our hotel. A quaint suburb of Portland, Forest Grove now boasts of this glorious new restaurant in town.  I’m not surprised Bites Restaurant won the 2016 Reader’s Choice Award for best fine dining, best new restaurant and best appetizers. Our meal was exquisitely delightful, beginning with Kalbi Tacos, Bites Korean BBQ Wings and the Crab Cake Bites. Every bite of food so delicious, I could have ordered a second plate of everything.

We moved on to our entrée’s of Ahi Tuna Salad and the Seoul Noodles – heaven on plates! The ahi tuna was perfectly prepared, the salad greens and vegetables were fresh and vibrant in color and the wasabi ranch dressing was cleverly layered on the bottom of the plate, so that one could conveniently swirl the vegetables and ahi in as much or as little dressing as desired. The Seoul noodles were balanced in flavor and spice and deliciously laced with fresh cabbage, onions, celery, bell pepper and the optional addition of pork belly.  To complement our meal we had the Bites signature mojito that is prepared with quality ingredients. Truly one of the best mojito’s I’ve sipped!

Thank you Fon and Thomas for your gracious and delicious hospitality!

Unger Family Farms // Karista's Kitchen

The next morning we drove out to our third and final U-pick berry farm, Unger Family Farms. What a scenic and magical farm it is. It was a typical cloudy and cool Oregon summer day but the views of the surrounding landscape from Unger Family Farms were so beautiful, the weather never got a second thought.

Along with ready-picked produce, farm made jams, jellies and farm inspired decor, the delightful Unger Farm Store has a cafe called The Berry Cafe. The cafe serves an assortment of home-baked berry goods, sandwiches and salads for a light breakfast or lunch – with a tranquil seating area to enjoy all the delicious.

Unger Family Farms is a third generation farm run by Matt and Kathy Unger. Along with their four adult children, Matt and Kathy run a 144 acre farm, U-pick berry patch, the farm store, along with booths at 10 farmer’s markets around the area. Needless to say they are one busy family! Thank you Kathy and Laura Unger for your time and gracious hospitality while visiting your farm.

Ardiri Vineyards in the Tualatin Valley, Oregon // Karista's Kitchen

After leaving Unger Family Farms it was on to wine tasting! The drive to Ardíri Winery was nothing short of spectacular. A beautiful hilltop winery with surrounding vineyards and the most spectacular view of Mt. Hood – voted one of Oregon’s top wineries with panoramic views.

Ardíri Vineyards and Winery is located in the heart of the Chehalem Mountains in the Tualatin Valley. They specialize in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. On that lovely day we sipped the gorgeous Pink Tractor Rosé along with a Pinot Gris and several Pinot Noir. Breathtaking views, a lovely open-air facility for wine tasting and of course excellent Oregon wine. Yes, we left with a few bottles. 🙂

Kitty who jumped in my car at the Cruise In Country Diner // Karista's Kitchen

Last stop was lunch at the Cruise-In Country Diner where the warm and welcoming owner, Terry Hummel, makes his rounds to each table to chat with guests and diners. The diner kitty, Tiger, also greets guests and this particular day she decided to greet us and hop in my car. After several minutes of pets and purrs, she hesitantly jumped out of my car and followed us to the front door of the diner.

Country Cruise-In Diner is a family run burger joint decorated with classic car memorabilia from the 1950’s – 1960’s and a menu that features organic and sustainable local produce and quality oils for frying. So of course I had a beer, burger and a few french fries. Yep nothing like going all out at lunch time. Right?
Blackberry Burrata Salad // Karista's Kitchen

After much reflection of my Tualatin Valley Tour, loads of photos edited, notes re-written and memories jotted down, I knew a berry inspired seasonal recipe was in order. Blackberries are currently in season and make the loveliest addition to sweet and savory recipes.

I personally adore fruit in savory recipes so I created this Summer Blackberry Burrata Salad drizzled with a silky balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with Oregon toasted hazelnuts. Each of the ingredients mingles tastefully with each other and makes for a dreamy plate of seasonal deliciousness. Because who can resist blackberries and burrata?

Thank you to Jackie Hagan and the Washington County Visitors Association for the opportunity to tour this lovely area of Oregon.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley

Serving Size: 4-6

Blackberry Burrata Salad and a farm tour of the Tualatin Valley


  • 1-2 pints fresh seasonal blackberries
  • 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or 1-2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 6 cups fresh, washed salad greens or 4 good handfuls (I used an assortment of butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce and romaine, friseé and baby spinach would also be lovely)
  • 2 knobs of burrata cheese, sliced right before placing on the salad
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of gourmet finishing salt (grey salt, etc)


  • Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and dash of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • On a large platter, scatter salad greens, layer with sliced tomatoes or cherry tomato halves, fresh torn basil, burrata cheese, blackberries and toasted hazelnuts. Eyeball the ingredients and create the salad to your tastes.
  • Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette and then sprinkle with finishing salt. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad VRAI Magazine

    Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

    Autumn Harvest Salad from A View to Delicious Magazine // Karista's Kitchen

    I know I’m blasting your inbox with posts today and I’m hoping you don’t mind an extra post.  I wanted to mention that this gorgeous Autumn Harvest Salad recipe is included in our first digital food magazine, A View to Delicious!

    We published A View to Delicious to highlight the bounty of the season and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  This magazine is our first issue and it won’t be our last.  We’re working on a second issue that is going to be jam-packed with even more recipes, stories, photos, tips and techniques that you won’t want to miss.  I’ll announce more about it later. 😉

    Until then, A View to Delicious is on sale!  Click HERE  (and enter code “delicious 50” for 50% off ) to download your copy today and don’t miss all the delectable recipes that are so perfect for this time of year.  And so perfect for your holiday table!

    As well, we have a new kitchen shop that is filled with the most unique and fun kitchen finds and so perfect for your holiday shopping.  You’ll find the link at the top of the front page under “Shop Karista’s Kitchen Store”.  Check out the new Karista’s Kitchen Fall Baking and Spice box. I love this little box for gift giving.

    This beautifully curated box is perfect for the FOODIE and home chef!  The Karista’s Kitchen Fall Spice & Baking Box contains hand selected, high-quality spices that are perfect for all seasons but especially wonderful for Fall Baking! Included in the box are two packages each of fragrant smoked paprika and Korinje cinnamon and a delightful matcha green tea salt.  I completely adore the Matcha Green Tea Salt as a finishing salt for the Autumn Harvest Salad.

    Also in the box are four Kilner square spice jars, crafted in the U.K., three recipes from Karista’s Kitchen and a gorgeous tea towel from Claudia Pearson or Belle & Union. Purchase the box as a hostess gift, birthday gift or gift to yourself.  Be sure to use the coupon code for 25% off this box! Coupon Code is: kkbox25

    Karista's Kitchen Spice and Baking Box from the Karista's Kitchen Shop


    Loads of love and gratitude to you all for reading and supporting Karista’s Kitchen!

    Delicious Wishes,



    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad vegetarian

    Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

    Grilled Romaine Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

    This summer has proven to be quite a diverse and eclectic season thus far.  My home has been filled to the brim with loveliness and laughter and blonde heads roaming the halls.  

    My niece came to stay with us for a college internship and of course my two sassy gals had to be in the thick of things with her.  The girls have grown up together and are separated by two and half to three years each.  I used to call them my stair step kids.  My two girls, six years apart and my niece smack in the middle.  I tell her she’s my middle child.  She laughs her infectious laugh and then we all move on to reminiscing about when the girls were young and watch home movies of dances and plays they performed.

    the girls

    We spent weekends touring the state and showing our niece the beauty of Oregon and I had the opportunity to try a few new things – like riding the dunes and nearly losing my breakfast on those dunes.  We prepared loads of family meals, barbecues and baked goods and sat around the patio table or living room sofa discussing life, love, dreams, health and nutrition, because one cannot leave the Bennett house without a little discussion on health and nutrition.  We’re just a little weird that way. 😉

    Our sweet niece went back to school for her summer quarter and we went back to summer weekends walking the beach (and missing her) and eating seafood to kayaking the alpine lakes in the mountains and stopping for barbecue on the way home.  Time spent together, adventuring, enjoying the outdoors and most importantly, dining together.

    Life around my table is never short of interesting conversation, stories of times past or delicious food.  Life – just the way I like it.

    Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

    This lovely Grilled Romaine Salad has been on our summer menu for years.  I started grilling romaine years ago, as a way to get my girls to think the salad was a bit more special and therefore needed to be tasted.  I’d make my sisters sweet and spicy dressing (which I love!) and then top it with gorgonzola, bleu cheese or feta.  When my girls decided they loved goats cheese, I’d sub with goat cheese crumbles.  This Grilled Romaine Salad was served with dressing and cheese, or with dressing, sliced summer tomatoes and fresh cucumber with a sprinkling of cheese on top.  Sometimes I’d include grilled shrimp and make this a meal or crumbled bacon and make it just a bit more indulgent.

    However, I served this grilled romaine salad, it was always a favorite way to enjoy our summer meals.

    I adore sharing my recipes that represent not only precious times past but also lovely times present.  Food is the element that brings us to the table, where life is lived and memories are made.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing


    • 2 -3 heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise with root end still intact
    • salt and pepper
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup for brushing, 1/2 cup for the dressing)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon grated onion
    • 1 tablespoon ketchup
    • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 3-4 ounces bleu cheese, gorgonzola or feta, crumbled (or more if you love cheese)
    • Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley


  • Pre-heat the grill to 350F, or heat a grill pan on medium high. Brush the halved romaine hearts with the 1/4 cup olive oil on both sides and then season with salt and pepper.
  • While the grill is heating, whisk together the garlic, onion, ketchup, mustard, sugar, vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil and the water. The dressing should be slightly pink. Add just a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the grill is hot place the halved romaine hearts cut side down on the grill.
  • Let the romaine halves grill for about 1 – 2 minutes and then turn the halves over and grill the other side of the romaine for another 1 – 2 minutes.
  • I like my romaine hearts just a little wilted with a bit of crisp still left in the romaine. Ranger Craig however, likes his romaine hearts a little more grilled and wilted. Feel free to grill them to your tastes.
  • Take the romaine off the grill and place on a platter. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and then drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley. Serve immediately.
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    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with green onions, pickle relish, shredded carrots and cilantro // Karista's Kitchen

    Simply saying the word “summer” evokes some of the sweetest of memories.  Grilling outdoors with a cold beverage or tasty cocktail in hand, fresh fruit in abundance sitting on the kitchen counter, berry picking until our hands are bright red or purple, sweet cobblers and homemade ice cream, walking barefoot (my favorite!) and feeling the earth beneath my feet and of course Macaroni Salad.

    Summer just wouldn’t be summer without macaroni salad.

    I’ve made Grandma Eilene’s Macaroni Salad for years and my Bennett Crew adores this side dish.  However, recently I developed and photographed another very popular macaroni salad for my lovely clients, Home By Design Magazine.  Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.  Not surprising that it was a huge hit at my house.  I’d sampled versions of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad when visiting Maui a few years ago and I totally fell in love with this version of the quentisential American side dish.

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is still macaroni salad but it’s loaded with all sorts of delicious ingredients.  

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s quite heavy on the mayonnaise as well, which doesn’t bother me one bit because I love mayonnaise.  I love it so much I’m terrified we’ll run out so I keep two extra jars in the pantry at all times.  I also make mayonnaise on occasion and my homemade version is so absolutely divine in this salad. Using your favorite mayonnaise is key because mayonnaise plays a big part in flavoring this salad.

    I’ve recently discovered this mayonnaise from Thrive Market. My new favorite!  My youngest gal is allergic to canola oil, for reasons I won’t get into here unless you want me to stand on my non-GMO and Monsanto is bad soapbox. 😉  So I’m always looking for a tasty alternative mayonnaise to keep in stock.  On occasion I can find this at my local market but most of the time I purchase through Thrive Market.  This online market is such a convenient option for all your healthy pantry items, not to mention many of the items are priced less at Thrive Market than at my own market.

    No kickbacks or payment for this mention, I just wanted to pass on my fun and fabulous find!   I still support local as much as possible. While were on the subject of supporting local… I love Barn2Door for my other local and regional ingredients.  Clean, sustainable food right from the people who grew it! 

    Now that we’ve chatted mayonnaise and markets, I’ll get back to the rest of the salad ingredients.  I include shredded carrots, cilantro, sliced green onions, sweet pickle relish, sometimes shredded or cubed cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs and avocado slices for garnish.  Loaded with flavor and texture, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is a deliciously festive side dish for all our summer barbecues.

    Wishing you all a very happy and healthy summer!

    Loads of Love,


    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    Serving Size: 6

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    You’ve never had a macaroni salad quite like Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Creamy, dreamy and filled with flavor, this salad is fresh comfort food at it’s best. Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is laced with a sizeable amount of mayonnaise. Personally, I adore mayonnaise and often make it at home. But if it’s not on your favorite ingredient list, feel free to adjust measurements.


    • 1 lb macaroni pasta cooked according to package directions
    • 1 cup shredded carrots
    • ½ cup chopped cilantro
    • 4-5 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped or sliced
    • ½ cup sliced green onions
    • 2 cups mayonnaise (adjust to taste)
    • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • Avocado slices for garnish


  • In a large bowl, add the shredded carrots, chopped cilantro, hard boiled eggs and green onion to the cooked macaroni.
  • Then gently fold in the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and pickle relish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Let the macaroni salad sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will help the macaroni absorb all the delicious flavors.
  • To serve, place the macaroni salad in a large serving bowl and garnish with avocado slices.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Italian Chopped Salad

    Italian Chopped Salad // the perfect spring and summer salad // Karista's Kitchen

    It feels so good to write today.  It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve missed writing and posting recipes and all the deliciousness that comes with blogging.  I miss reading the comments and responding – and feeling like I have my very own secret food club of sorts. 😉

    So, today I’m back on the blog sharing one of the many salads I make for my family.  The Italian Chopped Salad.

    I first developed this Italian Chopped Salad for the lovely professionals at Home By Design Magazine.  It was published last year and although I’ve always meant to post it here, I think I forgot about it.  Until I made it just last week for the Bennett Crew.

    This salad is everything a salad wants to be.  Crunchy, crispy, spicy and flavorful, loaded with fresh romaine and radicchio for a lovely blend of greens and tossed with Italian salami, pepperocini’s, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and mozzarella or  smoked provolone.  If I’ve got a few extra ingredients hanging around in the fridge just waiting to be used, I’ll toss those in too.

    Italian Chopped Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    A chopped salad is a salad in which all ingredients are fairly uniformly chopped.  Which makes the salad easy to dress and easy to eat.  There’s no need to use a knife to cut smaller bite sized pieces of lettuce greens or other veggies.  Just a lovely dish of evenly chopped vegetables dressed and ready to eat.  Chopped salads were über trendy a few years ago.  However, in my salad book, chopped salads have been in style for a very long time and I don’t see them trending down anytime soon.

    This Italian Chopped Salad is the perfect spring or summer entrée and it makes a festive side dish to homemade pizza or an Italian pork roast.  It’s one of those salads that is so completely lovely on a warm evening when dinner is served al fresco and the wine flows freely.   Can you tell I’m in summer mode? Even though the temps are back down to the high 60’s here, my summer heart (and palate) moves on.

    Cheers to the approaching warm weather, dinners on the patio, sunsets, chilled wine and Italian Chopped Salad!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Italian Chopped Salad

    Serving Size: 4-6 as an entree

    Italian Chopped Salad


    • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
    • 1 head radicchio, chopped
    • 6-8 ounces Italian dry salami, chopped or sliced
    • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, diced or the small bite sized Mozzarella balls called Ciliegine (you can also use 8 ounces smoked provolone, diced)
    • ½ cup pepperoncini peppers, stemmed and chopped
    • ½ - ¾ cup seedless kalamata olives, halved
    • ½ - 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    • ½ cup diced or thinly sliced red onion
    • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced chiffonade
    • ½ cup diced cucumber (optional)
    • ½ cup diced marinated artichokes (optional)


  • Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl gently toss together all the remaining ingredients. Just before serving, dress the salad with half of the vinaigrette, using more if needed. Lastly, season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad

    Apple Jicama Slaw

    Apple Jicama Slaw with a creamy apple cider vinegar dressing // Karista's Kitchen

    Crunchy, sweet, crisp and tangy, this Apple Jicama Slaw seems the perfect combination of flavors and textures.

    We eat a lot of salad and slaw at my house which sometimes challenges my salad making creativity, especially when I make a salad for almost every dinner meal.

    I adore using all sorts of fun and fresh ingredients for our salads and often they’re simply composed of whatever is left in the fridge and whatever is fresh on the counter.   And of course, whatever might be in season.

    This is definitely apple season and I have quite a few sitting on my counter.  I also keep jicama in the fridge for when my snack craving gets the best of me.  This oval-shaped root vegetable has a beautifully crisp and slightly sweet texture which makes it a great snack to reach for when you’re hungry.  If you’ve never tried jicama, it’s definitely worth the effort.  Slice away the rough brown exterior and you’ll find a creamy white flesh that is perfect for slicing and snacking, julienne or grated for salads, and in Mexico, you’ll find it served sliced, chilled, seasoned with salt, chili powder and lime juice.

    Apple and Jicama Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    I created a mayonnaise based dressing for this Apple Jicama Slaw recipe, however, a yogurt base would be just as delicious.  For a non-dairy version, a lime vinaigrette with a hint of Dijon would also be tasty.

    I serve this salad a la carte for lunch or a light dinner and on occasion I’ll serve it with heartier fare, such as Cajun spiced shrimp or grilled or roasted chicken.  I also serve this Apple Jicama Slaw with my Slow Roasted Mexican Pork Tacos –  for taco perfection!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Apple and Jicama Slaw

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Apple and Jicama Slaw


    • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, halved and sliced into shreds
    • 2 cups grated or julienned jicama
    • 2 cups thinly sliced apples
    • 1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
    • ¾ cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons of sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place the cabbage and jicama in a large bowl and lightly toss with some of the dressing.
  • Pour the dressed cabbage and jicama onto a platter or in a serving bowl and then top with the thinly sliced apples and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

    Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad 2
    The month of June has been filled with a plethora of emotions.  Professional angst led the way with big decisions looming and changes on the horizon.  I had exciting but tough decisions to consider that made my focus narrow and kept my head buried.  That’s when life came to a screeching halt.

    We lost a beloved family member unexpectedly. And although this lovely lady led an adventurous and fulfilled life, it was heartbreaking to lose her.  We spent a week in my old stomping ground, sitting around the old wood table rehashing memories, sorting, giving things away and just when I thought there wasn’t a bright light to be seen, I stumbled upon an old friend that I haven’t seen since the age of 13.  We cried. We sat on sofas and visited, reminisced, laughed, shared stories of our children and remembered why we had been good friends.

    Before leaving the old stomping ground, Ranger Craig and I found the sweetest cafe that serves traditional food of the region.  Cuisine I know well, food from my childhood and adolescence, meals that hold memories.  Ranger Craig and I indulged in Fried Catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, chicken fried steak with white gravy, fried okra and sweet tea.  It was a feast!  We left with smiles on our faces and memories swirling in our thoughts.

    I returned home, washed clothes, took Tank to his favorite kennel and then headed to the airport for the second time in two weeks.  A family reunion was happening and I couldn’t miss it.  Exhausted but energized because I would see family that I haven’t seen in two years.  More tears, hugs and loads of chatter and conversation.  Nieces, nephew, brother, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and people I had no idea I was related to… all merging at my parents home for a celebration.

    The noise levels raised as the house and backyard filled with familiar faces, children’s laughter and larger than life characters with a penchant for comical relief.  Once again food was central around this celebration table.  We served my Mom’s favorite eggplant parmesan, a penne with a tomato cream sauce, lasagna Bolognese, caprese salad, Caesar salad and of course cake for dessert.  I don’t think we have a speck of Italian heritage but it seems to be one of my family’s favorite types of cuisine.  It feels comforting.  It feels like home.

    I’ve always identified with the familiar phrase “home is where the heart is”.  It seems a bit cliché sometimes, but it couldn’t ring more true this month.  I’ve left a piece of my heart in many places and with many people who I share memories and special moments.

    Once again, I find food to be a common denominator.  Much of life is lived around the table (or, at least mine is).  Sharing a meal and sharing time; creating memories.  Cementing emotions and eventually leaving a piece of my heart with the moment.

    We’re home now and I find myself missing my loved ones.  My twin sister and my brother who I feel so connected it would be hard to breathe without them.  My beautiful and loving sister-in-law who is the best sister-in-law in the world.  So much that I call her simply, my sister.   My precious kids. All of them. My own daughters, my nieces, my nephew – giving me so much joy in my life that my heart just might burst.  As my Auntie Ellen would say… they are completely delicious. 🙂

    I’ve gotten terribly mushy with this post. I try to keep these posts mostly about food but I couldn’t help myself today.  Although I don’t know each of you individually, I want to thank you for following Karista’s Kitchen.  Thank you for loving the recipes, for your kind comments and for using them to create your “life around the table”.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Marinated Mozzarella // Karista's Kitchen

    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad 

    Serves 4-6


    1-2 pints cherry tomatoes or Heirloom cherry tomatoes

    1 container or 2 cups marinated mozzarella balls, cherry tomato size (ciliegine)

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1-2 tablespoons aged, good quality balsamic vinegar

    1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (Julienne) or hand torn (save a little for garnish)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Transfer the tomatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until they are wilted.  You only want to bring the sugars (sweetness) out of the tomatoes so don’t leave them in too long or they will be too mushy.

    In a large bowl toss the marinated mozzarella with the fresh basil.  Then gently fold in the tomatoes and then pour onto a platter.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil on the salad and then the 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Season with another pinch of salt and pepper and then garnish with remaining fresh basil.

    Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

    *This recipe was originally created for Home By Design Magazine


    Appetizers Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian VRAI Magazine

    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

    Avocado Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers // Karista's Kitchen

    There is nothing quite like a beautiful salad. The color, the scent of fresh greens and produce, all collectively creating edible art on a plate.

     Not only is this Avocado and Watercress Salad impressive in presentation, but it’s mouth-watering delicious in taste.  

    Fresh avocado and watercress tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette, gently stacked and then topped with brilliantly colored edible flowers.


    Spring Vegetable Strata // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    The Avocado and Watercress Salad is simple to prepare – either with round food rings or you can layer the salad on a platter or on individual plates.   This salad is so delicious served with either a quiche or this lovely Spring Vegetable Strata I created for VRAI Magazine.  The fresh flavors of the avocado and peppery watercress pair beautifully with eggs dishes or even a spring lamb chop or roasted rack of lamb would be lovely.

    A gorgeous table of food for Mother’s Day brunch or any casual weekend entertaining.  I often serve the strata for Sunday breakfast and fancy it up with the salad if I’m serving it for brunch.  However you decide to serve these dishes, your guests will be completely delighted. Especially if there is a Mimosa sitting next to the plate!

    Wishing you all a beautiful and delicious week!

    Loads of Love,


    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

    Serving Size: 4

    Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers


    • 1 large bunch watercress, thin stems and leaves only
    • 2-3 large firm but ripe avocados, diced
    • ½ to 1 cup edible flowers (usually purchased in the fresh herb section of a market)
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 3-4 inch round food molds, if desired (optional). If you don’t have food molds, a washed and dried tuna with both ends removed will also work.


  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl, gently toss the diced avocados with a splash of the lemon vinaigrette. In a seperate bowl, gently toss the watercress with a splash of lemon vinaigrette. The watercress will wilt quickly once it’s dressed with vinaigrette so don’t dress the watercress until right before serving. The avocado should be dressed with vinaigrette as soon as it’s been diced.
  • If using food molds (or tuna cans), brush the inside with a little olive oil. Set each mold on a plate. Divide the avocado among the plates. Press the avocado firmly into the mold. Next, press the watercress into each mold. Gently remove the molds. It’s ok if the watercress falls, it will still look beautiful. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over each salad if desired and once last pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Garnish each salad with edible flowers and serve.
  • If you’d like to make the salad without molds, layer the avocado on plates, top with watercress and then the edible flowers.
  • Notes

    If you can't find edible flowers, not to worry. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and some grated fresh carrot and beet or spiralized carrot and beet for some color.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts

    Mixed Greens with Mandarin Oranges, Candied Nuts and Parsley Vinaigrette // Karista's Kitchen

    Every new year I choose a “word” for the year.  It’s a word to reflect on and possibly keep me on track or aspire to.

    Last year I chose two words. I couldn’t decide.  My husband would tell you the word “Decisive” should have been thrown into the collection.  (I’d like to believe “indecisive” just means that I think creatively.  My husband loved that explanation.)

    However, I felt in some way, both words I chose reflected my thankfulness for friends and family and reminded me how much I value the people in my life.  Connect and Listen.  That last one is a toughie.  And I bet you’re asking yourself “how’d that workout for you Karista?”  Let’s just say I felt fairly successful at staying connected.   “Listen” is a forever word.  For me, a word that will be a continuous work in progress.  I hope to master it someday.  Not just listening to others, but listening to myself.  Sometimes we know best, we just don’t listen.


    Mixed Greens with Mandarin Oranges, Candied Nuts and Parsley Vinaigrette// Karista's Kitchen

    This year I chose the word “Nourish”.  It’s the very foundation of this blog. It’s why I made the decision to go to culinary school 15 years ago; it’s why I decided to change career paths; it’s why I decided I wanted to teach home chefs the secrets to cooking well at home. It’s why I decided to share with you my most loved recipes. Recipes that are creative, sometimes playful, achievable and always delicious. Recipes that bring me joy – putting a smile on my face and on my taste buds.

    Nourish is also the word that reminds me to support and encourage, to cherish and strengthen – Not only my family and friends but myself as well.

    The new year is about nourishing my mind with new ideas, creativity, new books to read and new techniques to master.

    The new year is about nourishing my body with whole foods, supporting local agriculture and yes, more exercise with more time spent outdoors.

    The new year is also about nourishing my soul – with more quiet time, more time with friends and family, more time spent listening.  Ah… we’re back to that word again.

    In this busy world of ours it’s so easy to forget to nourish ourselves.  Despite what our busy minds tell us, it’s not a selfish act; it’s an act of love for those around us. If we’re nourished and feeling happy and healthy, we’re better able to care for those we cherish.

    I realize it’s easy to say that now while I’m sitting here at my computer – first day back from a refreshing winter break.  I know it will be much harder to achieve when the work deadlines are looming and the family is pacing in front of my office door because they’re hungry and in need of dinner.  But I vow to nourish myself so that I can support and cherish others.  Including you!

    This is going to be one DELICIOUS year.  I’m excited about all the new recipes, classic recipes revised and revisited, recipes to make your dinner hour easier and recipes that will nourish, enlighten and delight!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    This is a refreshing salad with the most delicious combination of flavors.  Don’t let the simplicity fool you! For a quick meal, I pair this salad with grilled or pan seared shrimp, scallops, salmon or chicken.

    A dear friend made this salad for me years ago.  She’s no longer with us in person, but she will always be with me in spirit.  Thanks C!

    Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts

    Serving Size: 2-3

    Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts


    • 4-5 cups of your favorite washed greens. I like a mix of seasonal greens.
    • 1/3 cup assorted chopped nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, whatever you like)
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • one sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil
    • 1 cup mandarin orange slices, or more to taste
    • 1/4 cup sliced scallions/green onions (I like about 1/3 cup. I love green onions and they are excellent for gut health)
      For the vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste


  • Place the greens in a bowl. Reserve.
  • If you don't have wax paper, grease aluminum foil or parchment paper with oil. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the sugar to the skillet. Just when the sugar begins to turn into liquid, add the nuts and quickly stir. Take the pan off the heat and pour the candied nuts in a single layer onto the greased foil or parchment or the wax paper. Let them cool and then break into small pieces.
  • Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and Italian parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Toss the greens with the vinaigrette and then transfer to a salad bowl or platter, or individual plates. Top the greens with the sliced scallions/green onions, mandarin oranges and garnish with candied nuts. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian VRAI Magazine

    Blueberry and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

    Blueberry Spinach Salad with Goats Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

    There are loads of fun and exciting things happening at VRAI Magazine, besides this delish recipe of course.

    VRAI Magazine is designing our first ever digital issue for the holiday season.  We are so excited about all the fabulous stories, recipes, travel, DIY, Fashion and lifestyle articles all surrounding the holiday season.  We’ve launched a Kickstarter video and we’d love your support!  Click  HERE and check out the video.  You’ll get to see and hear from all of us.  Including a snippet from Moi. 🙂

    VRAI Magazine is also where you’ll find this lovely and seasonal salad recipe.  Click HERE for the recipe.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Salad Seafood VRAI Magazine

    Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones

    Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones // Karista's Kitchen Perfect for a summer evening!

    The vibrant and colorful foods of South America beg to be tasted, savored and celebrated.  South America provides a garden of gorgeous and unique regional produce, oceans of seafood, tropical fruits that remind us of sunshine and summer; and spicy flavors that feel festive and indulgent.

    Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m so excited about the newest issue of VRAI Magazine!  Head on over to snag this fantastic summer recipe, Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones; and while you’re there, stay a while and browse.  VRAI Magazine is evolving and I’m so proud to be working with the most amazing and talented team.

    Check out the “Getting to Know” page to find out more about all the amazing and talented people behind this fabulous magazine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Karista's Kitchen Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Cucumber Greek Salad

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I can’t eat enough salad these days.  Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s all the beautiful produce at the Farmer’s Market and my Co-op – quietly taunting me with brilliant shades of summer color and fresh earthy scents as I slowly meander by.

    Salad is a lovely way to enjoy the warmer months.  No need to turn on a stove top or oven, fresh ingredients that are easily prepped and assembled and can be as fun and festive or as traditional as you desire.

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I keep an assortment of vinegar and olive oil in my pantry for a quick dressing.  Don’t worry about getting to fancy or spending a lot of time making the dressing.  Just a dash of your best olive oil and favorite vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper will do.  Get a little wild and purchase a champagne, pinot noir or sherry vinegar or high quality flavored vinegar to keep on hand for all your summer salad creations.

    This enticing Cucumber Greek Salad was inspired by the traditional Greek salad that we all know and love.  I makes a lovely light lunch or paired with grilled salmon for the loveliest of summer al fresco dining.  Divine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cucumber Greek Salad

    All the ingredients are approximate.  Feel free to adjust to your taste preference.  Sometimes I load the salad with olives and sometimes I keep it simple with just a few.  Let your taste buds be your guide.

    Serves 4


    2 large cucumbers, peeled or partially peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch slices.

    1/2 cup pitted assorted olives (I like using stuffed green and pitted kalamata olives)

    1/2 cup small diced or crumbled herbed or marinated feta cheese

    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

    1/4 cup coarsely chopped or torn fresh mint leaves

    Optional: Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

    Salt and pepper

    Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

    Drizzle of sherry, champagne, red wine, pinot noir or balsamic vinegar


    Layer the cucumber on a platter or in a large serving bowl.  Next layer the olives, then the feta cheese, next the red onion and then last, top with the fresh mint.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil.

    I love this served on a large platter but if you prefer, put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and vinegar.  Garnish with extra chopped mint.