Browsing Tag

summer recipes

Appetizers Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Seafood Shrimp

Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

Hugo's Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing quite like Hugo’s barbecue shrimp with bleu cheese slaw. This is an impressive and simple barbecue shrimp recipe that’ll absolutely become a family favorite. 

The first time I made this recipe I swear I could have sipped the barbecue sauce. It’s that delicious!

I first heard about this now famous recipe many years ago when I was working as a private chef and culinary instructor.  I was scheduled to cook for a holiday party for my good friend, Michele, and her husband Ron. When we discussed the menu, they asked me to include their favorite barbecue shrimp recipe, Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw.

The sauce is much simpler than I would have guessed but it works. Although, I backed off on the lemon juice because I felt the amount listed was a bit too intense for my palate. Otherwise, I followed the recipe for the sauce as written.

I also deviated from the recipe a bit by seasoning the shrimp with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. It happened to be a cold and rainy December during that time so I decided to pan sear the shrimp in ghee which gave them a deep, creamy flavor along with a hint of smokey flavor from the smoked paprika.

Hugos Texas Barbecue Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

As if that isn’t enough, I plated them along with the bleu cheese slaw and I promise I heard angels singing the hallelujah chorus. 🙂

The sauce holds for at least three days so when I serve it for dinner guests I’ll prepare the sauce a day in advance.  Then all I need to do is grill, pan cook or bake the shrimp and assemble the slaw.

I also like to serve this with warm garlic crostini or a crusty baguette for dipping into the extra sauce.

If you make this recipe let me know what you think. You’re going to love it!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Hugo’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bleu Cheese Slaw

Serving Size: 6


    For the barbecue sauce
  • 5 ounces Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 ounces soy sauce
  • Strained juice from half a lemon (I used 1/2-1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 5 ounces tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
    For the slaw
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) Maytag blue cheese (I used Rogue Creamery's Smokey Bleu Cheese)
  • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste
    For the shrimp
  • 36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tail on for easy eating)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (I use olive oil or coconut oil for grilling and ghee for pan cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1 to 2 scallions sliced, to garnish
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, to garnish


  • To make the barbecue sauce base, combine all the ingredients except the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer until the cream has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Gradually stir the barbecue base into the heavy cream, stopping when you like the flavor. Bring the combined mixture back to a boil, then simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. The shrimp cook quickly, so have your sauce ready before you begin to cook them.
  • To make the slaw, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice, to taste. Right before cooking the shrimp, toss the cabbage with just enough mayonnaise to coat. Add the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  • Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil or ghee until smoking. Add the shrimp, being careful not to crowd. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • To serve, place a mound of the slaw in the middle of each plate and lean six shrimp against it. Drizzle the shrimp with the barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with scallion slices and blue cheese.
  • Notes

    When the shrimp are done I usually take half the sauce and add it to the shrimp, allowing the shrimp to soak up all the flavor. Then when I plate, the shrimp are already sauced and I serve extra sauce with the platter.

    This is fun set up on a platter for an appetizer or even shared entree.

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    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes on an egg and biscuit // Karista's Kitchen

    These days, my kitchen counter looks more like a market produce bin.  Which is why I’ve got these lush jammy roasted tomatoes incorporated into almost every meal this season.  I honestly thought I was a bit modest in planning my summer garden this year – it appears I may have over estimated yet again.

    I’m sure my exuberance was due to the long winter and my yearning for fresh tomatoes and zucchini.  I certainly got my wish.

    Every morning Tank and I walk out to the garden boxes and pick produce, pull weeds, water the plants and then stand around and lovingly admire all the work. I never fail to walk back into the house with a smile on my face and usually a small cherry tomato in Tank’s mouth.

    Tank the Terrier and the tomato bowl // Karista's Kitchen

    This summer, I’ve prepared every fresh tomato recipe my family likes to eat as well as every zucchini and poblano recipe I can think of making.  One of my favorite ways to use the fresh zucchini and tomatoes is to small dice the zucchini and combine them with diced tomatoes, summer corn, torn basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  This is one of my family’s favorite summer salads… it’s a bit like this salad, only with the addition of diced zucchini.

    These jammy roasted tomatoes are my attempt to do something different with all the summer tomatoes other than make a salad, sandwiches or tomato pie.  I adore the sweetness of roasted tomatoes and I love to toss them into pastas, wilted greens, smear onto sandwiches or breakfast biscuits.  I like to add them to summer soups and stews, homemade pizza and of course spread them over goat cheese crostini.  I’ve canned these jammy roasted tomatoes but I also like to freeze small packages for use this winter in my sauces and stews.

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes // Karista's Kitchen

    I also adore these jammy roasted tomatoes dolloped into the center of cheesy polenta or served as a sort of sauce for grilled or pan seared fish, chicken or pork.  They’re so good,  sometimes I snag a spoonful out of the jar for a snack.

    Besides thinking of new ways to prepare my plethora of produce, I’ve been busy working on a fun project that I know you’re going to love!  A View to Delicious is the autumn food issue that is written by me and published by VRAI Magazine.  It’ll include new seasonal recipes, stories and photos of the Pacific Northwest, reader questions, cooking tips and techniques and more.  I’ve put my heart into this issue and I hope you’ll read it and love it as much as I do.  It’ll launch September 26th! So stay tuned.

    In between work and gardening, family vacation and getting my sassy gal ready for college, I also took a little time to visit the parents. My youngest gal and I went to the local farmers market with pop, had a lovely crepe prepared by Chef Tarek for breakfast and shopped for the weekly produce under the warm summer sun.

    Chef Tarek making crepes at the Temecula farmers market // Karista's Kitchen

    It was a quick visit but it was fun for the grandparents to visit with their granddaughter and see her witty but somewhat eccentric style.  Yep, as you can see, this one always thought she was a mermaid.  While touring an art museum she found a mermaid chair and claimed it as her throne.

    Amelia and her Mermaid Chair // Karista's Kitchen
    Today I’m back in the office (kitchen) working on new, exciting and of course, delicious, recipes for the fall and winter seasons.  The kiddos are back to school and soon the weather will carry a chill in the air and it’ll be time to put a simmering pot of soup on the stove again.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

    Jammy Roasted Tomatoes


    • About 5-6 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes, drained as much as possible (enough to spread in a single layer on a lined baking sheet)
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and then toss the chopped tomatoes with the brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian herbs and olive oil.
  • Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before using, canning or freezing.
  • Notes

    I make two or three batches of these jammy roasted tomatoes. One batch stays in the fridge, one goes in the freezer and the other one is used for dinner. Delicious!

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    Summer Zucchini Cakes with Cilantro Lime Crema

    Summer Zucchini Cakes with Cilantro Lime Crema // karista's kitchen

    It’s zucchini week in my kitchen.  This delectable Summer Zucchini Cake recipe is just one of many zucchini recipes I’ve been preparing lately.

    You could say I’m extremely well stocked with zucchini this summer.  I have to admit, it wasn’t my intention to plant four zucchini plants.  My plan was to plant two zucchini this summer.  Because you know how zucchini plants grow in the warm weather and last year they took over my garden.

    So this year I decided to plant two zucchini and four cucumber plants – because I wanted to put up pickles this summer.

    Instead, I unknowingly purchased four zucchini and two cucumber plants.  Obviously my pickling plans are on hold. 🙁

    When zucchini and cucumber plants are starts, they look similar.  At least they look similar to me.  I’m also guessing one of the high school garden area workers at my local garden store thought the same and mis-labeled the zucchini as cucumber.

    Summer Zucchini Cakes with Cilantro Lime Crema // Karista's Kitchen

    I suppose I could say “lucky you!” because I’ve got a few more zucchini recipes to post before the summer is over.  Despite my little rant, I do adore zucchini.  It’s my go to veggie in the summer because it pairs deliciously with just about anything.  It’s also fabulous diced raw and tossed into a summer corn and tomato salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  It’s delicious in stir fry’s and just simply roasted, which is what I do with it most the time.

    These summer zucchini cakes are simple to make and can be served as a starter, snack or even light entrée.  Enjoy!

    Summer Zucchini Cakes

    8-10 large cakes 10-15 small cakes

    Summer Zucchini Cakes


    • 3 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed
    • 1/2 cup almond flour (or sub with bread crumbs)
    • 1/2 cup or handful of sliced green onion
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
    • 1 egg, lightly whisked
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • Ghee or oil for pan frying
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
    • Juice of one lime
    • Splash of Sriracha or hot sauce
    • 1 tablespoon honey


  • In a medium bowl mix together the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce and honey until thoroughly combined. Hold in the fridge.
  • In a large bowl mix together the grated zucchini, almond flour, green onions, Dijon mustard, pepper jack cheese and egg. Just before making the cakes, stir in the salt and pepper.
  • Heat over medium heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy bottom skillet. Once the oil is hot and almost smoking, for tablespoon sized zucchini balls and then drop onto the skillet pressing the top to make a little cake. You can also use muffin scoops to portion out the zucchini cake mix.
  • Brown the cake on both sides about 3-5 minutes each side depending on the thickness. Transfer the cakes to a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet. Sprinkle with just a bit more salt or parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish with additional green onion and serve warm with the Cilantro Lime Crema
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    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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    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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    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

    I’m in salad mode these days and this gorgeous Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad is my obsession as of late.

    I’m harvesting a plethora of produce from my garden and what I didn’t grow or can’t grow, I’m finding at our local farmer’s market and farms around the valley.  I feel like a kid in a candy store!

    My arugula grew beyond my expectations and my Swiss Chard is still going strong, which makes me super happy.  Swiss Chard is my favorite leafy green; I adore it for it’s peppery bite and it’s a bit more hearty when sautéed.  It makes the loveliest fillings for morning omelets or frittatas and works well in my simple weeknight one dish meal of white rice, sliced green onions, sliced fresh mushrooms, diced roasted poblanos (optional) and ground Italian sausage for the Bennett Crew and a poached egg for me. 🙂

    Due to my exploding arugula, I’ve created more recipes to include arugula this year than ever before.  However, with the heat recently, I try not to turn on the oven, so this Roasted Fig and Arugula salad plus a grilled entrée is often served for dinner.  Actually, I can eat this salad without anything else, that’s how much I love it.

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

    I roast the figs early in the day and then refrigerate them.  Or I’ll grill the figs if I get busy and forget to roast them.

    I dress the arugula with a honey balsamic vinaigrette, a pinch of salt and pepper and then layer with the roasted figs and crumbled goat cheese for the yummiest and most indulgent Roasted Fig and Arugula salad.

    Although it’s been a hot summer, it’s been a lovely summer.  Quick day trips to the coast and dining at my absolute favorite coastal seafood restaurant, Local Ocean Seafood in Newport, hikes in the mountains with Tank and a visit with my sweet family.  The best part of this summer?  No moves! I’ve moved the last two summers and it feels so nice to be settled and enjoying the season.  Even if it’s been brutally hot.

    I hope you’re enjoying your summer, staying cool and spending lots of time gathered around the table with family and friends.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese


    • 4-6 cups of baby arugula leaves
    • 1-2 pints fresh figs
    • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (or more to taste)
    • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons
    • 2-3 tablespoons honey
    • salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Slice the figs in half and then toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Place the figs in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they are soft and a little caramelized.
  • Remove the figs from the oven and let them cool.
  • Whisk together the 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over the arugula and toss. Plate the arugula and then layer with the roasted figs, drizzling a bit more vinaigrette over the figs if desired, and then sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce

    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    The brilliant orange and red summer peaches are certainly delicious all on their own. Ranger Craig and I can certainly testify to how juicy, fragrant and sweet a flat of summer peaches can be.

    Still heavily imprinted on my brain is our drive home from a farm market stand in Central Washington one summer; trying so hard to wait until we got home before digging into the peaches.  Our will-power did not stand up to the test.  I think we might have consumed 1/3 of that flat before pulling into our driveway.

    Summer peaches feel like the crown jewel of summer… other than those backyard tomatoes that I am so patiently waiting to turn a perfect shade of red-orange.

    I love using peaches in sweet and savory dishes, simply pairing them with grilled fish and pork or just tossing them on the grill and serving with a big scoop of ice cream and a butter rum sauce.  Which is a lovely way to serve dessert since it’s been so hot here in the Pacific Northwest.   And who doesn’t love a buttery rum sauce?

    The summer is passing quickly and my days seem busier than spring; so this post is short and sweet. Literally. 😉

    Wishing you all a most delicious weekend!

    Loads of Love,


    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce

    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce


    • 4-6 ripe yellow or white peaches, halved and pitted
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup butter
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • ¼ cup rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
    • Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
    • Fresh mint for garnish


  • Pre-heat the grill to 350F.
  • In a sauce pan whisk together over medium heat the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and rum or rum extract. Bring to a boil and then while whisking, simmer for a minute or two until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and reserve.
  • Brush the peach halves with olive oil and then set them cut side down on the grill. Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes each side until soft and tender. If the peaches are very ripe you may only want to grill cut side down. Moving the extra ripe peaches too much may result in a broken peach.
  • Once the peaches are done, transfer them to a platter or plates and top with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle with Butter Rum Sauce. Garnish with a mint leaf if desired.
  • Notes

    Most summer peaches are perfect for grilling, but I especially like white peaches. Sweeter in flavor and perfect for grilling.

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015 grilling issue.

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    Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers

    Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with drizzle of honey and fresh mint // Karista's Kitchen

    Many of my childhood summers were spent at my Grandparents home.  It was usually hot and dry and the afternoons were begging for either a run through the sprinkler or playing tag with the water hose.

    To beat the heat, and most likely for some afternoon entertainment, my grandfather would bring home giant watermelons.  He’d head to his back porch and slice them up and then he’d bring out the juicy pink slices to the back yard and share with all of his grandkids (he had quite a few!).  We’d stand around the yard enjoying our watermelon treat and then inevitably, someone would start a watermelon spitting contest.  I’m not sure who would start it but it was usually one of the boys.  Whoever won the contest got the last piece of watermelon.  I have a feeling that Grandpa might have had the most fun with the seed spitting contest.  😉

    I can’t imagine summer without watermelon.  I buy a watermelon at our farm market every week and in only a few days it’ll be gone.  I cube half the watermelon for salads and snacking and the other half I slice and grill or add to fruit smoothies or granita’s.  I especially love to grill watermelon on skewers.  Once the watermelon has a few nice grill marks, I let it cool and then thread cubes of feta in between the watermelon.  A drizzle of honey and a few mint leaves finish the dish beautifully… sort of like a grilled fruit and cheese platter only it’s on a skewer.

    There are so many creative and delicious recipes for watermelon, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite watermelon recipes from a few of my favorite food websites:

    Chile Lime Watermelon Wedges from Alaska from Scratch

    Watermelon Jicama Salad from Taste Love and Nourish

    Watermelon Tequila Granita from Pink Patisserie

    Wishing you a fun and festive weekend… and let there be loads of watermelon seed spitting contests!


    Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers with Fresh Mint

    Serves 4-6


    21-25 1-inch cubes of watermelon

    12-15 1-inch cubes of feta cheese

    Fresh mint leaves

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup honey

    8-15 small skewers or 8 large skewers


    If you are using wood skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using.

    Pre-heat the grill to 350F.

    Thread the watermelon on 2-4 large skewers. Brush the watermelon with olive oil and when the grill is hot, place the watermelon skewers on the grill for about 3-4 minutes, turning the skewers every few minute or so. You only want the watermelon on the grill long enough to sear the outside of the watermelon and heat the sweet juices.

    Transfer the grilled watermelon skewers to a baking sheet or platter. Let them cool. When the watermelon has cooled, gently remove them from the long skewers. Using fresh skewers, small or large, thread watermelon and feta on the skewers; alternating until the skewer is filled. End with a sprig of mint.

    Place the watermelon and feta skewers on a serving platter and drizzle with honey and serve.

    *created for Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015 




    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

    Summer Garden Panzanella

    Summer Garden Panzanella with Herb and Garlic  Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

    The scent of summer is laced in the warm evening breeze that’s floating through my open kitchen window.  A familiar seasonal scent that conjures visions of lush salads, grilled stone fruit, cherry pie and fresh made sangria.   Weekend evenings are spent shuffling between the garden and the kitchen, washing my fresh produce in preparation for dinner, while Spotify is playing softly in the background some of our new favorite summer music mixes.  Oh how I love these barefoot, slightly warm and breezy evenings.

    For pre-dinner festivities, I set out a little tray of Bruno’s Crostini and Chianti wine for sipping while Ranger Craig and I are mingling in the kitchen chatting, laughing, and making dinner.

    This evenings meal is simple and fresh.  A Summer Garden Panzanella Salad.  I call it a Summer Garden Panzanella because it’s not quite traditional in that it includes whatever is in season in my garden, along with the usual suspects of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.

    On occasion I’ll slow roast the tomatoes and peppers for a richer, sweeter flavor and sometimes I simply slice it up fresh and toss it all together; using any additional fresh herbs I might have on hand.  I think Panzanella is best when served fresh, however, I always toast my bread cubes so the leftovers hold well one more day in the fridge (If by chance we have leftovers).

    I’ve listed my basic recipe but you can certainly customize to your tastes.  Panzanella recipes can be found with all sorts of vinaigrettes, but I like it best with the traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a splash of lemon.

    Cheers to walking around barefoot, chilled sangria, warm breezes, summer sunshine and all things delicious from the garden!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Summer Garden Panzanella

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Summer Garden Panzanella


    • 1 loaf ciabatta, focaccia, or your favorite loaf, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1-2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cup sliced fresh red, yellow or orange peppers (optional)
    • 1 cup baby asparagus tips (optional)
    • 1 cup sliced cucumber (optional)
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red or sweet onion (optional, for a little zing)
    • 1 container of small mozzarella balls (Bocconcini)
    • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Squeeze of fresh lemon
    • Good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Grated parmesan for garnish


  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a small saucepan gently heat the olive oil. When the oil is warm but not too hot, add the garlic and salute for one minute.
  • Toss the garlic oil over the bread cubes and then spread the bread cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for just about 5-10 minutes, until toasty but not too hard.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and sprinkle the cubes with a bit of salt. Your kitchen will smell so good by now!
  • While you are letting the bread cubes cool, assemble the salad.
  • Gently toss the fresh veggies with the basil and mozzarella and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and splash of lemon. Then toss in the bread cubes and drizzle the salad with vinegar and oil, tossing to combine. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.
  • You can serve the salad immediately or let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Because the bread is toasted, this salad holds well.
  • Notes

    Serve this salad as a lunch or light dinner or pair it with your favorite grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas // Karista's Kitchen

    I was playing around with tostada recipes the other day and I decided I needed ceviche to top my tostada shells.  I was hungry at that moment and it just sounded delicious.  This is often how my recipes happen.  I’m hungry and something sounds delicious so it’s created and posted.

    I was set on my traditional halibut ceviche because I haven’t made it since the fall and the family keeps asking for it; but there was no halibut at the fish market.  So I grabbed the fresh smallish dry packed scallops, which are best in a recipe like this anyway, and some bay shrimp.  The small dry packed scallops, not to be confused with bay scallops, dwindle to nothing when they’re cooked.  It almost feels like a waste of time to pan sear the small ones, so I either poach them or use them in a ceviche.  I’m all about getting the most out of my ingredients.

    Well this turned out to be a grand idea.  I diced the small scallops and cold poached them in fresh lime juice overnight.   Then I drained them and combined them with the bay shrimp, along with lots of additional lush ingredients.  I think what I love about this ceviche is it’s easily adapted to suit everyone’s favorite flavors.  I love traditional ceviche with tomatoes, white onions and cilantro but instead of diced jalapeño I like a dash of hot sauce and diced cucumber pairs so beautifully with the bay shrimp.  Of course it’s all laced with additional fresh lime juice and a salt to taste.

    I smeared the tostadas with guacamole because it holds the ceviche onto the tostada.   Little pieces still roll off but at least most of it stays planted firmly on the guacamole.  Garnishing with crumbled goat cheese or salty Cotija cheese completed my tostadas and I couldn’t eat just one.

    While I was photographing for this post, one of the tostadas broke – and darn it, I had to eat that one too.

    These little lovelies were a hit with the family and perfect for a mid-week casual meal.  I have to admit however, these will be so much fun to serve on a warm summer day with Sangria and a locally brewed beer.

    Wishing you all a very happy end of the week and weekend!

    Loads of Love,


    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

    Serving Size: Serves about 4 as an entree or 6 as an appetizer

    Scallop and Bay Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas


      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb small dry packed scallops, diced
    • 1/2 lb cooked bay shrimp (sometimes called shrimp meat)
    • Fresh squeezed lime juice (enough to cover the diced scallops and a little extra)
    • Handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 - 3/4 cup diced white onion
    • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
    • Dash of hot sauce, or to taste
    • 1-2 cups Guacamole (recipe follows)
    • Tostada shells (usually found in the market or you can fry small corn tortillas)
    • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled or crumbled Goat cheese
    • Salt to taste
    • Fresh cilantro for garnish
    • Serve with lime wedges
      For the Guacamole
    • 2-3 ripe avocados
    • 1-2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • Lime juice and salt to taste


  • Place the diced scallops in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Cover with fresh lime juice and refrigerate overnight.
  • Drain the scallops and discard the lime juice. Place the scallops in a large bowl with the bay shrimp, diced tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro, cucumber, dash of hot sauce and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice and pinch of salt. Toss gently until the ingredients are nicely blended. Taste for salt and lime juice, adding more to your tastes. I usually end up adding more to suit my tastes.
  • Let the ceviche sit while you prepare the guacamole.
  • With a fork, mash the avocado and then gently blend it with the tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt to taste.
  • Spread the guacamole onto the tostadas and then top with the ceviche. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and crumbled Cotija or Goat cheese. Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Appetizers Grilling Salmon Sassy Side dishes Seafood vegetarian

    Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salsa with Fresh Basil

    I’ve got a big yellow bowl sitting on my kitchen counter.  I love that bowl.  It looks like sunshine.  And it’s overflowing with all my beautifully delicious fruits and veggies.   I also love my big yellow bowl because one of my dear friends gave it to me for my birthday, and because it’s so big it holds my prized summer produce.
    And right now my prized summer produce are avocados, tomatoes and cucumbers.  During the spring and summer I find myself consuming major amounts of these lovely pieces of yumminess.  It seems the tasty trio can always be found on my plate.  I should be various shades of green and red by now.

    Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salsa with Fresh Basil over Grilled Alaskan Salmon

    I got a little excited last week and purchased a few too many avocados and tomatoes.  Yes, I was grocery shopping while hungry.  Not a good idea.  By the time I reached the checkout counter my grocery cart was overflowing.  I’d definitely need to come up with some nifty new recipes for my embarrassingly large purchase.  I think I need to add the word “restraint” to my vocabulary.

    Home with my unrestrained purchase, I whipped up this quick little salsa to top our dinner of grilled Alaskan salmon.  My nifty new salsa almost didn’t make it to dinner.  The Bennett crew kept sweeping though the kitchen, subtly scooping little bites of the salsa with blue corn chips.

    It’s another two for one recipe!  Serve the salsa as a starter or a dinner.  Or in the case of the Bennett crew, it was a starter dinner.

    Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salsa with Fresh Basil


    2 Avocados, diced

    2 Fresh Summer tomatoes, seeded and diced

    1/2 cup fresh diced cucumbers

    1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

    Squeeze of lemon

    Drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)


    Toss together the avocado, tomato, cucumber and basil.  Drizzle with fresh lemon and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.

    Options:  Instead of fresh chopped basil, substitute with fresh oregano and Italian parsley, or add in a little fresh mint.  Fresh chopped cilantro is also a fabulous compliment to this salsa.

    Serve over grilled chicken or fish.  Or serve as an appetizer with a basket of blue corn chips.

    Sassy Side dishes Seafood

    My Favorite Steamers

    Spring, summer, fall or winter, these are my favorite steamers!

    On July 4th the sun finally arrived.   It was a glorious day.  We have a joke around these parts, summer begins day after 4th of July because that’s usually when our sunny weather arrives.  This year we got summer one day early.  A happy day. 
    I love spending as much time as possible (without doing yard work) outside in this beautiful weather.  So dinner ends up being served outside on the deck most summer nights.  Sounds nice doesn’t it?  Well… it’s also because with the sunshine comes warm weather, and it usually gets to warm to eat in the house.  My little mountain cottage did not come with central AC.  Not that we’d need it.
    Yesterday, I spotted fresh littleneck clams at Gemini Fish Market. That was it, my mind was made up.  We were having steamers for dinner.  What a simple and simply delicious dinner to serve outside on the deck.  I paired the yummy steamers with warm rosemary artisan bread for dunking and then grilled some romaine halves for a little greens with our dinner.  

    Grilled Romaine Salad

    Yep, got to have those greens with dinner or I’ll be sure to hear Ranger Craig say… do we have any greens with dinner?   And you all thought he only asked for sauce. 🙂
    My Favorite Steamers

    Serves 2 (can be doubled)

    Substitution: Wine can be substituted with seafood stock, fish stock or clam juice.


    2-3 lbs Fresh littleneck or manilla clams, washed, scrubbed and rinsed in cool water

    2 tablespoons butter

    1 small onion, small diced or 2 medium leeks chopped

    8-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1-2 sprigs fresh thyme

    1 sprig fresh oregano

    1 sprig fresh parsley

    1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)

    Pinch of red pepper flakes

    1 cup dry white wine

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Squeeze of fresh lemon


    In a large stock pot heat the butter over medium high heat until melted and frothy.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent and then add the garlic and sauté a minute longer. 

    Toss in the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, sprinkle in a little salt and pepper and then add the clams.  Coat the clams with the herb mixture and then add the white wine.  Let the wine come to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. 

    Let the clams steam in the broth for about 5 minutes then lift the lid to check the clams.  When all the clams have opened they are done.  It can take 5-10 minutes to cook all the clams, depending on the size of the stock pot.  Toss them around in the broth and check for seasoning.  Pour them into a large serving bowl and top with a squeeze of fresh lemon. 

    Serve with crusty fresh bread for dipping. 

    Options:  Add in 1/2 lb of chorizo with the onions and garlic.  It’ll really kick up the spicy flavors so you won’t need to add the red pepper flakes.

    Add in whatever fresh herbs you like.  Lemongrass would be nice, and maybe rosemary.  But be careful with rosemary as it can be overpowering to the broth. 

    Recipe Idea: Another idea is to serve these clams over a spaghetti or linguini pasta.  My daughter likes to take a few tablespoons of melted butter and pan sear about 1/4 cup bread crumbs in the butter until toasty.  Then she mixes in her cooked spaghetti and pours the clams and broth over the buttered spaghetti!  Divine!!!  Top with grated parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.