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

Skillet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots

Skillet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots // Karista's Kitchen

Vegetables are one of my favorite foods to eat. I know, that might sound weird but I’d rather eat veggies than a big slice of meat. Not that I don’t love a good ole piece of pork belly, but I just feel better when I eat veggies. And there are so many different ways to prepare them that make them ridiculously delicious.

This Skillet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots recipe has won over even the pickiest of vegetable eaters.

The green beans are blanched, cooled, dried and then pan fried in extra virgin olive oil. If that’s not enough to get me to eat a green bean, then they’re smothered with crispy fried shallots and a pinch of salt. Tender yet crisp and slightly charred and topped with fried onions. I think I could eat an entire four servings.

Although I’ve been making this recipe for my clients and family for years, I’ve never posted it until now. It’s the perfect fall and winter side dish and compliments hearty pork or beef roasts, roast chicken and even a gorgeous piece of salmon.

Or, if you’re like me, sitting down to a big plate of skillet green beans with crispy shallots as the entree makes me completely happy. With a glass of crisp but slightly fruity Sauvignon Blanc of course. 🙂

It’s shaping up to be a busy Fall here at Karista’s Kitchen. I have a mountain of recipes I want to post here and although I have good intentions, sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow it. But I’ll try my best! Follow along on my Instagram and Facebook for all the latest food fun and maybe a few photos of what I’ve been up to. As well as some snaps of our newest little family member, Gus. He’s gotten so big!

Delicious Fall Wishes and Loads of Love,


Skillet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots

Serving Size: 4-6

Skillet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots


  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or ghee, divided
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • ½ lemon, squeezed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating to a boil, prepare a large bowl of ice water. This will help stop the green beans from cooking after they’ve been blanched in the hot water.
  • Once the water is boiling, gently add the green beans and then let them cook for about 2 minutes. Then gently transfer them to the ice water with a slotted spoon or mesh spoon. Once the beans have cooled, transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the shallots and sauté until brown and slightly crispy. Season with little salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
  • In the same pan, add two more tablespoons of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the blanched green beans and let the beans cook for another 2-3 minutes until the beans are slightly browned or seared.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Top the beans with the crispy shallots and serve warm.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes

    Easy Coconut Rice Video

    Easy Coconut Rice from Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve been making this easy coconut rice for years. It goes with just about everything.

    I pair it with my Hawaiian Slow Roasted Pork, marinated pork tenderloin that I throw on the grill with some pineapple, grilled or roasted chicken breast, stir fry’s, miso sake roasted fish, grilled or roasted veggies and sometimes I make it just to eat with my nori.

    This is the ultimate and easiest side dish for a busy weeknight, weekend barbecues or slow cooked roasts.

    Because this easy coconut rice is one of my most pinned recipes on Pinterest, I thought I should post a video of how easy it is. So I had one made! Here’s the video and I’ll post it on my Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

    Enjoy this Easy Coconut Rice and let me know how you like it.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Easy Coconut Rice

    Serving Size: 4

    Easy Coconut Rice


    • ¾ cup canned coconut milk (not light or low-fat)
    • ¾ cup water
    • 1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
    • Pinch of salt


  • Prepare the coconut rice by combining the coconut milk, rice, water and pinch of salt in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Then turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  • Fluff with a fork and keep it covered until ready to serve.
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    Thanksgiving Side Dishes

    Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes // Karista's Kitchen

    It seems I anguish over Thanksgiving side dishes every year.  

    The question being, should I prepare the same sides as last year and make everyone completely happy or should I venture out of our “safe” side dish zone and create a few new dishes that will hopefully catch on and become new favorites? Ah the side dish dilemma.

    I always try to set a selection of colorful and appetizing sides on the Thanksgiving table as well as sides that complement our roasted or grilled turkey.  One of my daughters insists on some sort of potato dish, preferably a mashed potato, and my other daughter would never let me hear the end of it if we didn’t serve apple and sausage stuffing.  Ranger Craig is big on veggies, so there is always a hearty vegetable dish of some sort along with my favorite roasted cranberry and mandarin salad.  Dare I forget the gravy and on occasion I’ll throw in a sweet potato spoon bread for good measure.

    As my youngest daughter once said, “I come to the Thanksgiving table excited for all the side dishes”. 🙂

    So in honor of the well-loved and obligatory side dish, I thought I’d share a collection of side dishes that just might tickle your taste buds and inspire a few new Thanksgiving side dish traditions in your home.

    Maple Roasted Carrots and Parsnips from Alaska From Scratch

    Maple Roasted Parsnips and Carrots from Alaska From Scratch

    I think what I love most about these Maple Roasted Carrots and Parsnips from Alaska From Scratch and Perfect Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Luci’s Morsels is that they make a colorful and delectable addition to the Thanksgiving table as well as they are relatively fuss-free – which is a good thing during the holidays.

    Perfectly Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Luci’s Morsels

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Luci's Morsels

    These stuffed acorn squash make a lovely alternative to Thanksgiving side dishes and can serve as a vegetarian entrée option for your guests.

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash // Karista's Kitchen

    Oh who can resist the lush elegance of Gorgonzola mashed potatoes?!  This is always the first of the side dishes to be passed around my table.

    Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes 

    Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes // Karista's Kitchen

    Add a little light, fresh and sweet to the meal with this gorgeous mixed greens salad with mandarin oranges. A tasteful compliment to the heavier Thanksgiving side dishes.


    Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts 

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

    I’ve finished this round-up with one of my favorite sweet potato dishes, Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Gingersnap Crumbles – you’ll find the recipe below.  This captivating dish often serves as my dessert!

    Wishing you all the most delicious of holiday seasons.  If you have any questions, comments or need a different recipe for your Thanksgiving table, please leave a comment below or feel free to email me.

    Loads of Love!


    Thanksgiving Side Dishes

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Thanksgiving Side Dishes

    Sweet potatoes are delicious on their own, but add maple syrup, spices and ginger snaps and this bright orange side dish tastes like a celebration


    • 3 large sweet potatoes or yams (I prefer yams due to the rich color and smooth texture)
    • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground all-spice
    • ½ cup real maple syrup, divided
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/3 cup crumbled ginger snaps


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Wrap each sweet potato or yam loosely in foil. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. When they are cool, take them out of the foil and remove the skins. The skins should easily peel away. Discard the skin and place the sweet potato in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • With the whip attachment, begin to whip the potatoes on medium speed. Add the melted butter, cinnamon, all-spice and ¼ cup of the maple syrup and whip until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and top with the remaining ¼ cup of maple syrup and sprinkle with crumbled ginger snaps. Serve warm.
  • Notes

    Created for Home By Design Magazine Retro Buffett Issue 2016

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    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs

    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

    What do I serve as a side dish in a pinch?  These gorgeous Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce.  Seasonal mushrooms that are gently sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs and then finished with a light white wine cream sauce. 

    These sautéed mushrooms couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re fortunate to have a climate perfect for growing mushrooms.  It’s not difficult to find locally grown or wild mushrooms here in the Pacific Northwest; often finding them at the Farmer’s Market as well as local markets.

    Another option is to take a wild mushroom foraging tour.  Ok, I have to admit, I’ve never been on a wild mushroom foraging tour but it’s on my bucket list.  I know, it doesn’t sound exciting enough to be on a bucket list but because I’m such a food nerd it’s super exciting to me.  Not to mention, I’m smack in the middle of mushroom heaven. It’s just something we do up her in the far left hand corner of the U.S.

    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

    Most markets carry a fair assortment of mushrooms.  Crimini’s, buttons, shiitake, seasonal chanterelle, seasonal oyster, seasonal truffle, and seasonal morels as well as a selection of dried mushrooms that I often incorporate into my sautéed mushrooms.  

    Because I adore porcini mushrooms, and it’s rare to find them fresh unless you’re in Italy, I reconstitute them in warm white wine and add them to these sautéed mushrooms.  Porcini mushrooms have a distinct, woody and nutty flavor that lends depth to this sautéed mushroom recipe.  I’ve also used dried morels, oyster and chanterelle in a pinch.  Truly any dried mushroom you like, mixed with fresh mushrooms will make a delicious and tantalizing side dish.

    I serve these sautéed mushrooms with beef, pork, poultry, salmon and sometimes over mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, or rice.  They’re also divine when topped with a fried egg. 

    They’re a lovely and complimentary side dish and I love them served with leftover turkey and gravy.  On the rare occasion you have leftover sautéed mushrooms, add them to a soup or stew for a little extra texture and flavor.

    Once you make these sautéed mushrooms you’ll love them so much, you’ll want to make them a regular rotation on your side dish menu.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

    Serving Size: 4

    Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce


    • 1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster, morels), sliced
    • 1 ounce dried porcini or morels (reconstituted in warm water or wine), chopped
    • 2 large portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (Italian parsley, chive, thyme, oregano, marjoram or rosemary)
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh grated Parmesan for garnish


  • In a medium sauté pan heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir in all the sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up the butter, but will release the oils once the mushrooms have wilted.
  • Continue tossing the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms until wilted or slightly browned. Stir in the fresh herbs and garlic and sauté for a minute longer.
  • Add the white wine and stir. Then add the heavy cream and stir. Allow the cream to thicken and then take the pan off the heat, toss with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan and serve.
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    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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    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving at my house without some sort of cranberry salad like this gorgeous Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad.  

    When chatting with my Mom about what she’d like me to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, I threw out all kinds of ideas.  From sweet potato soufflé to stuffing muffins and how about a prime rib for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey?  I was greeted with intense silence on the other end of the phone.  My Mother is very traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  I was hoping she might entertain the thought of new versions of old favorites.  I think it’s a no.

    Although, she seemed intrigued by this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad tossed with toasted coconut and topped with chopped pistachios.  All of which she loves.  Especially the cranberries.  Every year she likes to make my great Aunt’s cranberry salad.  Not that my great Aunt’s cranberry salad isn’t tasty, it’s that I’m ready for something new. With a little less marshmallows.  After all, my sweet potato soufflé was struck down like a lightening bolt so we’re having the traditional sweet potato casserole; which my Mom reminded me was topped with marshmallows.

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad

    What I love about this Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad is you can create your favorite version, or versions your family members prefer.

    With or without the toasted coconut, substitute toasted walnuts for the pistachios, and add a few mini marshmallows if you must. If you’re serving for adults, I think a splash of French Brandy is divine and just a little bit decadent.

    However you prepare this Cranberry and Mandarin Salad, I know your guest will feel loved and thankful.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    This salad is best when freshly prepared and served immediately.  Mandarins tend to fall apart once tossed with other ingredients. So to keep your salad gorgeous, toss everything together right before serving.  I list options and prep below.

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Roasted Cranberry and Mandarin Salad with Pistachios


    • 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    • 1/2 cup of sugar or more (just enough to coat all the cranberries)
    • pinch of sea salt
    • 3 cups mandarin orange slices (either fresh or canned. If canned, drain before using)
    • 1/2 flaked coconut (not sweetened) toasted
    • 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
    • Splash of balsamic vinegar
    • Splash of extra virgin olive oil (I adore California Olive Ranch Arbosana extra virgin olive oil on this salad)
    • Options: omit coconut and add a handful mini marshmallows; substitute toasted walnuts for pistachios; omit balsamic vinegar and add a splash of French brandy instead


  • Heat the oven to 350F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment and then toss the cranberries with the olive oil and the sugar - just enough sugar to coat all the cranberries.
  • Pour the cranberries onto the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the cranberries are wilted.
  • Let the cranberries cool. Pour them into a large mixing bowl and toss gently with the mandarin oranges and toasted coconut. Pour them onto a platter or serving bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and top with toasted pistachios. Serve immediately.
  • ANOTHER OPTION: Spread the roasted cranberries on a platter, then layer with the mandarins, then coconut and then pistachios. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with just a pinch of sea salt.
  • If you would like to prep the salad a few hours before serving, roast the cranberries and let them cool. Place them in a large bowl and hold until ready to serve the salad. Then gently toss together the remaining ingredients and dress with vinegar and oil just before serving.
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    Brussels Sprouts Gratin

    brussels sprouts gratin

    Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn, lots of animals, a vegetable garden, fruit trees and lush green raspberry bushes.

    brussel sprouts gratin

    Brussels Sprouts Gratin

    Her little farm was filled with chickens, ducks, a few turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, a large white goose named Charlie, a naughty and stubborn Shetland pony named Sugar (not at all a sweet animal), a steer named Rex, and a fluffy white sheep named Fearless.

    Often, the little girl would spend hours with her farm animals, naming each one, even though her Father said most of them were being raised for food.  You’d think she would have become a vegetarian.  Instead, she fell in love with life on a farm.  A constant circle of life, helping feed a community with beautiful, healthy and naturally raised food.

    Valley View Farm, Zillah, WA

    Photos by April Smith. Taken at Valley View Farm, Zillah, WA

    I still remember the scent of the molasses in the mixture that helped feed and nourish the baby cow.  Mom’s hearty leftovers that were treats for the three little pigs.  Yes, there were three little pigs.

    There was much love and care that went into creating healthy and happy farm animals. I wanted to be part of that care;  so I decided to call myself the farm animals supervisor.

    Until the day one of the pigs, Lester was his name, decided to take a little nip out of my backside as I crawled over the pig fence.  My Father had given me warning, but I was the farm animal supervisor and I knew my pigs.  They would never bite me.

    I believe Lester may have had enough of my plucking through his pig yard.  He told me, very clearly, stay out!

    After that exciting event I admired my pigs from afar and took up management of our pet sheep, Fearless.

    brussel sprouts

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts

    I’m no longer the little girl who lived on a little farm with a little red barn.  Those memories however, remain close to my heart.  I’m certain those memories are one of the many reasons I adore and appreciate our local farmers.  The hard work, the love, the care, the belief that raising fresh food is good for the body and the soul.

    Supporting our local farm communities is the best ways to keep fresh, healthy, local food on our tables.  This is why I support a new online marketplace called . was founded by my good friend and colleague, Janelle Maiocco.   Janelle is an entrepreneur with an MBA, as well as a trained Chef.  An amazing woman who has dedicated her time and energy finding a way to help farmer’s bring their local goods to local consumers.

    Farmstr is passionate about supporting farmers, and enabling their success by bringing them new customers and better margins. Farmstr is excited about making it possible for anyone, people like you and me, to easily find and access nearby farms, choose farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to support and to be able to buy farm fresh food for less than you would pay at the store. ~Janelle Maiocco

    If you live in Western Washington, is up and running in your area.  Sign up for the weekly hot sheet to keep informed about current produce, meat and poultry for sale.  If you live in a different state, not to worry. has plans to expand to most states in the near future.  Personally, I can’t wait until they reach Oregon. 🙂

    Another great way to stay informed about local produce, meat and poultry for sale, as well a when is coming to your area, check out and “like” the Farmstr Facebook page.

    In honor of Brussels Sprouts season, the holidays, and our local farmers, I’ve listed my favorite Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe, adapted from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, The Silver Spoon.

    For additional Brussels Sprouts recipes check out these fabulous farm loving food bloggers:

    Our Lady of Second Helpings – Farm Fresh Gorgonzola Brussels Sprouts Hash

    Seattle Seedling – Cilantro Lime Brussels Sprouts Slaw

    Comfy Belly – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

    Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,


    Brussels Sprouts Gratin

    One of my favorite Brussels Sprouts recipes is found in a traditional Italian Cookbook, The Silver Spoon.  I’ve adapted this recipe slightly, only using half the Béchamel sauce and using Gruyere mixed with traditional Swiss. If using 3lbs of Brussels Sprouts, the full quantity of Béchamel sauce can be used.  Buon Appetito!

    Serves 4 (can be doubled)


    1 ½ lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved

    1 tablespoon Butter

    1-2 tablespoons Olive oil

    3 ½ – 4 ounces pancetta, diced (or substitute with thick cut bacon)

    1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere (or ½ cup of each)

    1 quantity Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)

    Salt and pepper


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Prepare Béchamel sauce (recipe below) and set aside.

    Butter an ovenproof dish.  I used a smaller baking dish for the 4 servings and used a 9×13 for a double serving.

    Cook the Brussels Sprouts in salted, lightly boiling water for about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

    Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the diced pancetta or bacon, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.  Add the Brussels Sprouts and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

    Stir half the shredded cheese into the prepared Béchamel Sauce and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

    Place the Brussels Sprouts in the prepared dish and ladle sauce over the top.  I use only half the Béchamel for 4 servings.  Reserve the remaining Béchamel for a delicious tossed pasta.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce and place the baking dish in the oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

    Let the Brussels Sprouts Gratin cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

    Bechamel Sauce


    ¼ cup butter

    ¼ cup all purpose flour

    2 ¼ cups warm whole milk

    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

    Salt and pepper.


    Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the flour.  Put the pan back on the heat and continue whisking until the flour and butter is smooth.

    Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.

    Stir in the pinch of nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.  The sauce should be the consistency of a white gravy, not too thin, but not too thick.  Add additional milk if the sauce is too thick and continue to cook a little longer if sauce is too thin.

    This sauce is also great over your favorite pasta with peas and diced bacon.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Chive Blossom Popovers from Pink Patisserie

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    I love seasonal, I love fresh, especially fresh from the garden or local farm, and I love my friend Maria.

    Maria is the author of the baking blog Pink Patisserie.  I’ve known Maria for over 10 years.  A gracious, beautiful and talented gal who hails from deep Norwegian roots.  Immersed in her family’s heritage, Maria has been baking along side her Mother and Grandmother since childhood.  She has an artistic eye for the naturally beautiful art of food and baking, and embraces the flavors of the sweet and the seasons.

    Thank you Maria for your most delicious spring recipe of Chive Blossom Popovers!

    CHIVE BLOSSOM POPOVERS from Pink Patisserie

    Hello!  My name is Maria of Pink Patisserie, and I want to extend a huge thank you to my lovely friend Karista for allowing me to guest write here today on her beautiful blog.

    One of the things I love about Karista is her wholehearted devotion to cooking seasonally. In light of that I thought it appropriate to share with you a recipe that had at least one seasonal ingredient.  Here in the Pacific Northwest as in most of the country, rhubarb is currently in season.  As a result, I have been raiding my vegetable patch almost weekly to pull the latest of the ripening stalks for the many recipes I love to make this time of year.  Last week while in the garden surveying the rhubarb, I happened to glance in the oft-neglected corner of my garden where my chive plants grow.  To my great surprise I noticed that the chive flowers were almost fully in bloom. In all my rhubarb furor I’d completely overlooked them.

    chive blossom popovers

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Chives are so simple to grow really, one of the most low maintenance plants, and if you don’t have one I encourage you to head to the nursery now to pick one up.  They grow beautifully in pots too if you are space challenged.  And in the summer, I love nothing more than to run out and snip some for salads and baked or boiled potatoes.  This recipe for chive blossom popovers is lovely with the blossoms, but really if you don’t have a plant, don’t worry; they taste just as fantastic without them.

    Our favorite way to eat these is at dinner, with steaks or a lovely roast on a Sunday afternoon. Fresh, light spring onion flavors in a buttery, crispy bun.  Simply seasonal, simply spring, simply heaven.

    Chive Blossom Popovers

    Serves 12

    Prep time 10 minutes

    Bake time 30


    2 T. unsalted butter, melted

    1 ½ C. all purpose flour

    ¾ tsp.  Kosher salt

    3 large eggs

    1 ½ C. milk

    4 T. chopped chives with blossoms, reserve additional blossoms for garnish


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Grease popover pans or large muffin tins with butter, about ½ tsp per muffin well.  Place the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes to preheat.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, eggs, milk and melted butter until no lumps remain.  Batter will be thin. Fill each well in the popover or muffin tin halfway with batter. Bake for 30 minutes.  Avoid opening the oven door while baking.   Serve with chive butter.

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Sweet potatoes always grace our Thanksgiving table.  It’s tradition.  And you don’t mess with tradition in the Bennett house.  No sirree Bob.  My two sassy gals will let me know in a New York minute if I’ve left out, or mistakenly altered, time-honored traditions.  It’s almost amusing.  Almost.

    Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    So, when I mentioned I’d be testing this new sweet potato spoon bread recipe, I had everyone’s attention.  That rarely happens.  It was nice.  All eyes and ears on me.  I could see it on their faces.  Is Mom really changing the menu for Thanksgiving?

    Light, airy and souffle like texture... delicious!

    I went out on a limb and thankfully it didn’t break! The spoon bread won the approval of my sometimes tough food critics.  The finished dish is light, airy, with a souffle like texture, that’s slightly sweet with a hint of fresh thyme.  A lovely addition to our Thanksgiving menu.

    I Wish you all a most beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving holiday.

    Loads of love, Karista

    Sara Foster’s Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Serves 8

    I found this recipe while browsing through a magazine waiting for my Suzie Q at her orthodontist appointment.  Score! That was a great afternoon. And to top it off, I adore Sara Foster recipes.  Check out her website at


    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
    2 1/2 cups milk
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
    4 eggs, separated
    2 teaspoons baking powder


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish with about 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside

    Wrap potatoes in foil. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft to the touch. Remove from oven; discard foil. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard peels. In a large bowl, mash potatoes.

    Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan, bring milk, thyme, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to a low boil over medium heat. In a slow, steady stream, whisk cornmeal into milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, until mixture is thick and pulls away from bottom of pan. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add potatoes, egg yolks, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and baking powder to cornmeal mixture; stir to thoroughly combine.

    In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Leaving obvious swirls of egg white, gently fold egg whites into the potato-cornmeal mixture.

    Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Edges will be firm and the center a bit soft. Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Carotte a l’Etuvee (Waterless Cooked Carrots)

    I realize carrots aren’t quite as exciting as Sole Veronique or Tournedos Rossini, however, carrots can make a fabulous entree, such as the post of Carrot Ginger Soup, or it can make a delicious side dish.

    I adore roasted carrots with a mix of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips.  But this time of year I like to keep my carrots simple and fresh, just like the season.  The perfect method of cooking carrots simply is the classic French version, Carottes a’ l’Etuvee, waterless cooked carrots.  This method uses the carrots own moisture to gently cook them.  What you end up with are vibrant orange carrots that are intensely sweet and ever so crisp tender.

    There are also a few simple variations for this carrot recipe.  Add a little fresh chopped ginger to the carrots while cooking, or at the end of cooking, toss the carrots with a splash of brandy.  The Bennett Crew’s favorite… simply a good dose of our favorite dairy product… butter.

    Bon Appetit!


    2 lbs carrots, sliced

    2 tablespoons butter

    1 sprig fresh thyme

    Salt and Pepper to taste


    In a saucepan over low heat, add the carrots and then top with the butter.  Cover with a tight fitting lid.

    The carrots will begin to steam in their own moisture.  After about 10 minutes check the carrots to be sure they are steaming.  If not increase the heat to medium low.  If you have several layers of carrots in your saucepan it should take about 20 minutes to cook to crisp tender.  If you have a larger pan, your cooking time will be decreased.  Cook the carrots longer if you like them more tender.

    Once the carrots are done, remove the lid and let the steam and water evaporate, leaving only the butter at the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and toss in the butter.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped thyme or parsley and serve immediately.

    I like to serve these carrots with Roasted Whole Chicken (under chicken in this blog), or a smoked ham.  And of course we love these carrots with our Thanksgiving turkey dinner.