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slow cooker

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake

I couldn’t stop sneaking bites of this Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake while I was shooting the photos!

This lush and tasty recipe was created by my friend and colleague, Leigh Anne Wilkes, founder of Your Homebased Mom. She’s just published a brand new cookbook called Holiday Slow Cooker, 100 incredible and festive recipes for every celebration.

Leigh Anne kindly sent me a copy of her new book and I have to tell you I dog-eared at least 20 recipes in the first 10 minutes of browsing. This Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake was one of them.  I followed the recipe for the most part, except for the pecans, which I didn’t have stocked in my pantry (I know, I couldn’t believe it either).

Once the cake was done, I served it up with butterscotch chips and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. Holy Moly it was good! Decadent, gooey, creamy and the scent of spices lingering in the air as I shoveled big spoonfuls of this cake into my mouth.

Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake

The slow cooker is a handy piece of kitchen equipment, especially during a busy holiday season. Leigh Ann Wilkes cookbook, Holiday Slow Cooker, is filled with achievable and tasty recipes that are designed to make your holidays simple and satisfying.

Would you like to win a copy of Holiday Slow Cooker? Yep, in honor of the holiday season I’m giving away another cookbook. 

All you have to do is click HERE to enter. It’s that easy!  The contest begins on Tuesday, November 7th and ends on Tuesday, November 14th. Best of luck everyone!

I’ve included the recipe to the Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake below… but I know you’re going to want a copy of the entire book of recipes. If you can’t wait to own you’re very own copy, you can find the book to purchase HERE.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake

Serving Size: 6-8

Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water


  • Spray the inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, sour cream, oil, vanilla and hot water.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (it should be like thick cookie dough). Spread it evenly onto the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Mix 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon together with the pecans. Sprinkle it over the top of the batter. Gently pour the boiling water over the top.
  • Cook on high for 1 to 2 hours. Use a toothpick to check the cake; it should come out clean. The cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the slow cooker.
  • Spoon into individual bowls, add the sauce that formed on the bottom of the slow cooker and ice cream or whipped cream.
  • Notes

    I ran out of ground cloves so rather than use the individual spices called for, I used two heaping teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. I did use the cinnamon to mix with the brown sugar.

    As well, I didn't have pecans. So I mixed the brown sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkled it over the top and when the pudding cake was done and I scooped it into serving dishes, I sprinkled butterscotch chips over the top and served with a small scoop of salted caramel ice cream. Delicious!

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    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    Porcini and rosemary braised pot roast

    There is something exceptional about porcini mushrooms.  They aren’t your run of the mill button’s and much more interesting than cremini; although I do love a bowl of sautéed cremini’s.

    Still, much more flavorful than shitake‘s and almost as intriguing as chanterelles or oyster mushrooms.  I nearly swoon when I see the first of the fresh local chanterelles.  I will plan my menu around those little lovelies just to have the excuse to use them while fresh and seasonal.

    The porcini mushroom is often described as nutty, with a smooth texture and the distinctive aroma similar to sourdough.   Rarely do we find them fresh here in the states but once they’re re-constituted in  hot water, wine or broth, these flavorful mushrooms make the loveliest and quite delectable addition to many dishes.

    I don’t often use porcini in the spring and summer.  I always think to use them during Fall and Winter, when I typically braise more meats and poultry.  But it’s been a busy spring with cool evenings and a slow braised (or slow cooked) pot roast seemed perfectly suited to this time of year.   Honestly, there are days I just need pot roast for dinner.

    Comforting to the soul, fragrant to the senses, and most delicious to the taste buds.  It feels like a big hug on a plate. 🙂

    Loads of Love,


    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    This recipe can be slow braised in a Dutch Oven or slow cooked in a Slow Cooker.  Adjust the liquids as I’ve instructed below. 

    Serves 6 – 8


    4-5lbs beef chuck roast

    Salt and pepper

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

    1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1-2 ounces)

    Red wine (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    Beef broth (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    Serve over Creamy Polenta (recipe below)


    If using a Dutch oven, pre-heat the oven to 325F.  If using the slow cooker, pre-heat the slow cooker on high.

    Re-constitute the porcini mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering them with very hot water.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes, then drain and chop.  Set aside.

    Season the beef with salt and pepper.

    Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet with a little oil and brown the beef on all sides.  Transfer the beef to a platter or the slow cooker.

    In the same Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for a minute or two, adding the rosemary and porcini.  Stir in the red wine and beef broth and pour over the beef in the slow cooker.  Secure the slow cooker lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    Or, add the beef roast back to the Dutch Oven and cover with the lid. Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for about 2-3 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    When the beef is done, transfer to a platter and slice or lightly shred.

    To make the beef liquid thicker and saucier, pour the liquid in a sauce pan and reduce it until it thickens a bit. This will also concentrate the flavors of the sauce.  This sauce will be more of an Au Jus.

    For a thicker, more gravy like sauce, add a few spoonful’s of the hot liquid to a small bowl with a teaspoon of corn starch.  Whisk together to make a little paste.  Whisk this paste “slurry” into the simmering liquid.  The sauce will eventually thicken, adding additional beef broth if necessary.

    Adjust seasoning to taste.  Strain the liquid with a mesh strainer and ladle over the beef.

    Serve with Creamy Polenta and roasted Spring Asparagus for a beautiful and delicious meal.

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups milk

    ½ cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Italian slow braised roast beef with red wine and creamy polenta

    Italian Beef Stracotto with Creamy Polenta

    Years ago I met a lovely woman named Sianna.  An older woman, a wise woman and a woman whose every word I seemed to tuck away in the file drawers of my mind.  She was fascinating. Full of  adventurous life stories and snippets of wisdom that I’m sure she felt my ears needed to hear.

    Sianna, originally from Tuscany, sent me the most wonderful book; The Tuscan Year by Elizabeth Romer.   Written many years ago by the English Author who spent a year with a Tuscan family.  Elizabeth Romer documents each seasons harvest and the foods prepared in the region as well as the everyday life of the small Tuscan village.  If you love books about culture and food, this is a fun, and might I say delicious read.

    One of the recipes, a Stracotto, is a beef stew made with wine and herbs.  It’s braised until the meat falls apart and is almost overcooked, which is what “stracotto” means, overcooked.  But this is no dried out tasteless beef stew!  This Stracotto couldn’t be more decadent or simple.  It’s a rich, herby and full flavored Italian beef stew that is a perfect meal for a cold winter or spring night.

    Now in typical Karista’s Kitchen fashion, I’ve adapted this recipe to be easily recreated in American home kitchens.  It still needs to cook for quite a good length of time, but works well in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.  The Stracotto creates the most mouth watering scents in my house and anyone who walks in my front door can’t wait to eat!

    Enjoy this delicious taste of Tuscany!  Bon Appetito!

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Serves 6


    4 lbs Beef top rump or top side roast

    5 – 6 slices Pancetta (or 4 slices bacon), chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 ribs celery, chopped

    2 carrots, chopped

    6-8 cloves garlic, thin sliced

    2 cups dry red wine (This dish taste best with DaVinci Chianti wine) Note: if using a slow cooker reduce wine to 1 cup.

    1 18 oz. jar Organic whole tomatoes (I use Jovial Whole Tomatoes) crush them just a bit with your hands.

    1 teaspoon dried Rosemary, crushed (or 1 stalk fresh Rosemary)

    ½ teaspoon dried Oregano

    ½ teaspoon dried Thyme (or 1 stalk fresh Thyme)

    1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian Parsley

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt


    Season the roast with salt and pepper on all sides and preheat the oven to 350F.

    In an oven proof Dutch oven or heavy stock pot on medium high heat brown the roast on all sides.  Transfer the browned roast to a plate and set aside.

    Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped pancetta.  Brown the pancetta until crisp and then add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook the veggies until soft and translucent, and then add the garlic.  Cook for another few minutes.

    Sprinkle the veggies with the teaspoon of pepper and then add the wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Let the wine simmer for a minute or two and stir in the tomatoes.

    Add the dried herbs and chopped fresh Italian parsley and combine with the veggie mixture.  Let the mixture come to a slow boil and then place the beef back into the pot.

    Turn off the stove top, put the lid on the pot and place the pot in the preheated oven.  Cook for about 4-5 hours in the oven until the beef falls apart.  Check for seasoning, adding the teaspoon salt if needed.

    Serve the Stracotto over a Creamy Parmesan Polenta and serve immediately.

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand) Or prepare according to package directions.

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir.

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the Stracotto or any beef or pork stew or use in place of pasta with a delicious ragu.

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    slow cooked chicken thighs, ginger, soy and tomato sauce

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

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

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

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


    Urban Farm Chickens

    Rosemary, Cocoa and Pepper

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

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

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to you!


    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Slow Cooked Red Ginger Chicken


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


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

    Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

    Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Roast

    I wish I could tell you I just got back from a spectacular Hawaiian vacation.  But I didn’t. 🙁  It’s been a few years since visiting Maui, but I remember it like yesterday.

    Probably because when I vacation with Ranger Craig it’s not really a vacation.  It’s an adventure of epic proportions.  Seriously.

    Coconut Rice

    I remember vividly our first vacation twentysomething years ago.

    I thought we might lounge on the beach and sip cocktails.  Not a chance.

    Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Roast with Fresh PIneapple

    We were hiking long stretches of beach, exploring old ruins and caves, sunfish surfing, snorkeling, day tripping out to a remote island, only to hike its gigantic mountain.

    By the fifth day I put my foot down.  I suited up, grabbed my beach towel and told Ranger Craig we were hanging on the beach that day.  He relented.  But only in Ranger Craig style.

    A room with a view

    While I was lounging on my beach chair sipping a refreshing cocktail and reading a fabulous mystery, Ranger Craig went surfing, snorkeling and then surfing again.

    I saw him for lunch.  And then finally at dinner.  I knew then life with Ranger Craig would always be an adventure.

    Look! No Hands! My third dive all by myself 🙂

    So that leads me to our more recent Maui vacation.  You guessed it.  Not much lounging on the beach.  Instead Ranger Craig thought we should both get scuba diving certified.

    Hmmm… I thought that would be nice.

    The first dive I almost had a heart attack and died.  I’m not kidding.  Of course, Ranger Craig chose the one diving company in town that believes getting into the ocean for your first dive is the best way to learn.  Well, maybe for most people.

    Ranger Craig and a Maui Sea Turtle

    But I’m not most people.  Although adventurous at heart, athletic I’m not.

    Finally when I was brave enough to stick my head in the water and breathe properly, guess who I saw casually cruising the ocean floor.  Yep, my husband.  In my somewhat competitive nature,  I was not going to let Ranger Craig get scuba diving certified without me.

    Sunset on the beach

    So, I grabbed my instructors hand and the rest is history.  Although, my instructors hand may never be the same again.  I held a tight grip on his hand for the first two dives.  By the third dive we had to have a little chat.  I had to let go, my instructor said.

    Thankfully, the third dive I was so overwhelmed by swimming with sea turtles, I didn’t even notice the instructor had left my side.

    Ranger Craig wants to return to Hawaii for another vacation someday soon.  I’m sure he will come up with something new for us to try.  Probably paddle surfing.  That won’t be pretty.  🙁

    Ranger Craig and I were reminiscing about our Maui vacation recently and laughing (lots of hysterical laughing) about my arduous scuba diving training.  In honor of our fun and adventurous vacation I thought a Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast would be perfect.  Served with coconut rice just takes this dish over the top.

    Slow Cooked Hawaiian Pork Roast with Coconut Rice

    Serving Size: 6


    • 3-4lbs Pork Shoulder, bone in
    • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and halved
    • 1 sweet onion (Walla Walla or Vidalia) sliced
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    • 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple (if you can’t find a fresh ripe pineapple, organic canned is a good substitution)
    • ½ cup Tamari (or soy sauce)
    • Salt and pepper
    • Drizzle of oil
      For the Coconut Rice
    • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk (not the light or reduced fat)
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
    • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Warm up your slow cooker by turning it on to high.
  • Season the outside of the pork shoulder with salt and pepper.
  • In a large heavy bottom skillet, heat a drizzle of oil on medium high heat and brown all sides of the pork shoulder. Browning gives the meat a richer flavor while searing in the moisture.
  • Transfer the pork shoulder to the slow cooker and turn the temperature down to low.
  • Layer the sliced onion, garlic cloves, pineapple and grated fresh ginger on top of the pork shoulder and then add the Tamari. Cook for about 5 hours or until the internal temperature of the pork roast reaches 145F and is tender and falls apart.
  • Transfer the pork to a platter, slice or shred and ladle the pineapple and onions with a little sauce over the pork roast. Serve with coconut rice and stir fried greens.
  • To prepare the rice
  • Combine coconut milk, rice, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring a few times, then cover and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, cover, and keep warm.
  • Notes

    The rice recipe can easily be doubled.

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    Beef Kid Friendly

    Slow Braised Beef Daube

    Slow Braised Beef Daube

    I love my fresh organic fruits and veggies and of course I love dessert, especially chocolate dessert.  Actually anything chocolate is great with me.

    But what I really love is a good hearty beef dish.  Mmmmm (I can’t think of anything more brilliant than just Mmmmm).   Serve me a slow cooked beef dish of any kind during any season and I’m one happy gal.  Add some creamy polenta with that beef stew and I’ll be your best friend forever.

    Beef Daube is one of those wildly delicious French stew recipes that vary from recipe to recipe.  I’ve found Daube recipes to include orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, olives, herbs de Provence and juniper berries.  I think I’ve prepared them all and I have to say, the simpler the better.

    Juniper Berries

    This recipe is simple in ingredients but beautifully complex in flavors.  I’ve adapted this recipe from many recipes and filled the exquisitely delicious stew with fresh herbs, aromatics and a few juniper berries for a clean subtle citrus flavor to the stew.

    Here’s the best part… serve the stew over creamy polenta!  The rich stew sauce gets soaked up by the creamy polenta and it melts in your mouth like butter.

    A side of creamy polenta!

    A slurry of butter and flour to thicken the stew

    This dish begins with fresh aromatics and vegetables

    Beef Daube

    Serves 4-6


    3-4lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    All purpose flour

    2-3 tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil

    1 large onion, chopped

    6 medium carrots, thick sliced

    2 ribs celery, finely diced

    10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    2 tablespoons butter mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

    2 cups dry red wine (I like to use a Cabernet but any dry red will do) For a substitution: use 2 cups unsweetened red grape juice or unsweetened cranberry juice and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

    1 cup beef broth

    2 tablespoons tomato paste

    1 sprig fresh rosemary

    1 sprig fresh thyme

    2 sage leaves

    1 bay leaf

    6 Juniper berries


    This stew can be prepared in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.  I wrote the recipe directions for the Dutch oven, but feel free to prepare all the steps of the stew and then put everything in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

    Pre-heat the oven to 300F.

    Put the beef cubes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle about ¼ cup all-purpose flour over the beef cubes and toss to coat each piece of beef.

    Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add a little safflower or sunflower oil.  Brown the pieces of beef and then transfer to a dish.  You will need to do this in several batches.  Don’t overcrowd the pot or the meat won’t brown.

    Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, sauté until wilted.  Then add in the garlic and let it sauté for a minute longer.

    Mix in the butter/flour paste and let it cook for a minute.

    Stir in the red wine.

    Once the red wine, butter paste and veggies are nicely incorporated, stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, sprig of rosemary, sprig of thyme, sage leaves, bay leaves and juniper berries.

    Add the beef cubes and any liquid from the dish back into the Dutch oven.  Bring the liquid to a boil, cover with a lid and place the Dutch oven in a pre-heated oven.  (At this point you can transfer the stew to a slow cooker if using)

    Bake at 300F for about 2 hours.  After 2 hours, take the lid off the Dutch oven and continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes.  This will let some of the liquid evaporate and thicken the sauce. The meat should be fork tender when done.

    Discard the herbs and serve the stew over creamy polenta, egg noodles or brown rice.  Enjoy!

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans // Karista's Kitchen

    This Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans is what the Bennett crew calls “pork and beans”.  Most definitely not the traditional pork and beans I grew up on, you know, the kind that’s heavily laced with sweet barbeque sauce and lots of smoky bacon.

    Although the traditional pork and beans is a delicious dish, especially at a summer barbecue, this Italian slow roasted pork with rosemary white beans is a lovely and aromatic alternative for the Autumn and Winter months.  It’s a simple and humble dish that is herby and lush in flavor and hearty in texture.

    If I’m making this dish on a weeknight, and I forgot to soak the beans the night before, I use organic canned beans and it works just as well.  I also use these rosemary white beans on my Arugula and White Bean Salad. 

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans // Karista's Kitchen

    I have several pork recipes on Karista’s Kitchen, and I must say they’re all divine.  But this dish definitely highlights some of my favorite flavors… Italian herbs (which happen to grow abundantly almost year round in my herb garden).

    Rosemary, oregano, and Italian parsley are all exquisitely aromatic and beautifully flavor this pork recipe.  Combined with tomatoes, onions and garlic and set on a bed of rosemary white beans, this delicious Italian slow roasted pork makes a distinctive and enticing fall meal.  And of course it’s a slow cooker meal which is a super plus!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Slow Roasted Italian Pork Shoulder with Rosemary White Beans

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Slow Roasted Italian Pork Shoulder with Rosemary White Beans


    • 3-4 lb Pork shoulder, boneless, cut into 3 inch cubes
    • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    • Sunflower or Safflower oil, or any high heat oil is fine
    • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh oregano (can substitute with 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh rosemary (can substitute with 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed)
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh Italian parsley
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 28 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen organic)
    • 1 bay leaf
      For the beans
    • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans with liquid
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    • 2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (for garnish)


  • In a large skillet, or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown the pork in the hot skillet. Once the pork has browned transfer to a slow cooker, or a platter if using a Dutch oven.
  • Next add the onions to the skillet and saute until just wilted, then add the garlic and saute one minute longer. Add the fresh herbs, white wine, tomatoes and bay leaf. Stir the ingredients until blended. If using a slow cooker, pour the sauce over the pork and cover with the lid. Set on low for about 5-6 hours, or until the pork is fork tender.
  • If using a Dutch oven, place the pork back in the Dutch oven with the sauce. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in a pre-heated 300F oven for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. The pork will be done when it is fork tender. If using a bone in pork shoulder, braising time will be up to 2 1/2 hours.
  • While pork is braising, prepare the beans. Place beans in a medium pot and heat on low. Add the fresh rosemary and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pot and let the beans slowly simmer for about 15 -20 minutes. The rosemary white beans can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. Just reheat when ready to serve.
  • To serve, place warm rosemary white beans on a platter and top with the slow roasted Italian pork. Ladle a bit of sauce over the top and garnish with fresh Italian rosemary and fresh sage. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
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    Beef Kid Friendly

    Slow Cooked Flank Steak Tacos with Fresh Cilantro, Ranchero and Avocado

    It must be taco month because this is the second taco post in a week!  In my house, tacos are “fun food”.  I’ll prepare the main taco filling and serve with an assortment of my family’s favorite condiments.  During the summer months, tacos just seem to be the easiest and freshest way to get dinner on the table.  And with all the fabulous seasonal produce becoming available this time of year, tacos make a yummy way to use the savored summer bounty.

    Sometimes I like to mix it up and serve tacos with a variety of fillings.  Chorizo and potatoes, roasted poblanos and potatoes, carnitas, shrimp, fish and of course beef.  Although I use several different cuts of beef for tacos, one of my favorite is flank steak.  My preferred method of preparation for flank is to marinate it overnight for carne asada.

    However, last week I completely forgot to marinate my flank steak.  Yes, even I can forget those simple little tasks, usually due to other more pressing matters such as missing shoes that need to be found, or getting a much needed gym uniform washed and dried before the next day of school.

    When I found the flank steak sitting in my frig the next morning, I thought to myself what in the heck am I going to do with it now.  Well, let’s just pull out the handy dandy slow cooker and see what we come up with.  Slow cooked flank steak tacos were born.  Whoo Hoo!  Dinner wasn’t a bust after all and the Bennett Crew was thrilled because they were being served their favorite meal… tacos.

    Serves 4-6


    2 lbs Flank Steak

    Salt and pepper

    Veggie oil for browning

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon chili powder (or chipotle chili powder)

    1 teaspoon ground coriander

    1 teaspoon dried oregano

    2 whole cloves

    1 bay leaf

    1 white onion, halved and sliced

    6 cloves garlic smashed

    1 14oz can organic fire roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)


    1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about ½ cup)

    2 limes, 1 lime juiced, 1 lime sliced to serve with tacos

    Avocados, sliced

    Ranchero Cheese (a Mexican cheese found in most grocers)

    Corn Tortillas, fried, broiled or steamed


    Pre-heat your slow cooker.  Mix together the cumin, chili powder, coriander and oregano. Heat a skillet on medium high with a little high heat veggie oil such as sunflower or safflower oil.  Season the flank steak with salt and pepper and deeply brown on both sides.

    Transfer the browned steak to a plate and rub with the spice and herb mixture.  Place a few onions on the bottom of the slow cooker and then place the steak on top of the onions.  Scatter the rest of the onions, garlic cloves, bay leaf and tomatoes on top of the steak.  Cover and cook on low for about 5-6 hours or until the flank steak is tender and separates easily.

    Before serving, either pan fry or oven broil the corn tortillas.  You can also steam the tortillas in a rice cooker/steamer, or in a microwave steam bowl.

    To pan fry the tortillas, add corn oil to the bottom of a heavy fry pan, about 1 inch, and heat on medium.  Place the corn tortilla in the hot oil and lightly fry on each side until a little golden brown.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and blot, and then fold in half to make a taco shell.

    To oven broil, brush each tortilla with oil on both sides.  Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and broil on high for a minute or two on both sides.  Remove from the oven and fold into a taco shell.

    Stuff the taco shells with the flank steak and top with a squeeze of fresh lime and condiments.  Serve with Spanish rice and slices of fresh tropical frut.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork with Cilantro Slaw

    Slow Roasted Mexican Pork Tacos

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork Taco with Cilantro Slaw

    After culinary school I shunned my slow cooker.  Tsk, tsk!  I’d never use such an appliance again.  After all, real chef’s didn’t use a slow cooker.  Right?

    Then I started my business, had two small children, a husband, a dog and a very complete and busy life.  After a few attempts of Dutch oven cooking after a busy work day, which made dinner so late my kids were asleep by the time it was done,  I decided I should give the slow cooker another shot.

    I adored my Dutch oven and braised dishes were my favorite things to prepare in those days.  So why not apply the same browning technique when using the slow cooker?  Of course it worked beautifully and I finally resolved my love hate relationship with my slow cooker.

    Browning is certainly not a new technique and I’m sure some brilliant chef somewhere had discussed the browning technique prior to using a slow cooker.   However, fresh out of culinary classes,  I most likely had my head buried in the culinary sand and wasn’t listening.  Which of course made me “late to that party”.   When I finally arrived,  slow cooker meals made an appearance on my dinner table once again.  Which made my family so happy they could eat dinner prior to midnight.

    The key to a succulent and delicious slow cooked meal is browning your meat prior to cooking.  This technique applies to most methods of cooking meat, but, it is extremely important when slow cooking or braising.  Browning the meat creates flavor, richens the dish and gives the slow cooked meal more complexity and intensifies flavor.

    This is one of the Bennett Crew’s favorite slow cooker meals.  It’s great for the family and works just as well for casual dinner guests.  Serve with warmed corn tortillas, shredded pepper jack cheese or Cotija, sliced avocado or guacamole, your favorite salsa and a quick Mexican slaw.

    Slow Cooked Mexican Pork with Cilantro Slaw

    Serves 4-6


    1 3-4 lb boneless (optional bone in) Pork butt (shoulder) cut into 4 large pieces

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon smoked paprika (not sweet)

    1 teaspoon Coriander (either seeds crushed or ground)

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

    1 28oz can good quality diced tomatoes or 3 large summer tomatoes, chopped

    6 gloves garlic crushed and lightly chopped

    1 white onion sliced

    A small handful of fresh cilantro

    For Cucmber Cilantro Slaw:

    1 small head cabbage thin sliced ( I like using Napa cabbage but regular cabbage is fine)

    1/3 C chopped cilantro

    1/2 cup diced fresh cucumber (if you don’t like cucumber feel free to omit, but it does taste refreshing with the spicy pork)

    1 small lime juiced

    1/4 cup mayonaise

    1 tsp sugar

    Dash of Sriracha or hot sauce

    Salt to taste

    Mix together the mayo, lime juice, sugar, dash of hot sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Just before serving, toss the dressing with the cabbage, cilantro and cucumber and serve with the tacos.

    Serve with:


    Warm corn tortillas

    Mexican style fresh cheese, Cotija or Pepper Jack Cheese

    Lime wedges

    Avocado slices (this is great during the summer months)


    Mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet on medium high and brown your pieces of pork.  Once the pork is browned transfer to a slow cooker and rub with spice mixture.

    Next add the crushed garlic, sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, and fresh sprigs of cilantro.  Set your slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.

    Once the pork is done, warm your corn tortillas either in the oven or stove top.  Mix the slaw together just before serving.  Shred the pork and place on a platter and serve with the tortillas, slaw, and condiments for a delicious fiesta.