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Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-up!

8 Cinco de Mayo recipes from Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing more delicious than a blog post filled with Mexican and South American inspired recipes.  The rich, bold and spicy flavors remind me summer is on the horizon and it makes this chef delirious with anticipation.  Outdoor grilling, fresh local summer produce, casual dining, flip flops or barefoot; it positively makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Cinco de Mayo is Monday, May 5th and to celebrate,  I’ve got a fabulous line up of festive recipes.   So sit back, relax, fire up that grill, shake up a tasty cocktail and enjoy the deliciousness of the season.


Spicy Cabbage Salad

The Dreamiest Chocoflan

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema and Avocado

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

Enchiladas Poblano with Spanish Rice Cakes

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Smoked Salmon Wonton Tacos


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,






Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sides vegetarian

5 Sassy Sides

sweet potatoes

Coconut Sweet Potato Mashers

“A side dish, is a side dish, is a side dish”, said one of my sassy gals.  Until, of course, she tasted one of my sassy sides.

brussel sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

A sassy side can rev up dinner and make it take off to new heights.  Especially when fresh, lovely produce is abundant and time is of the essence.  A sassy side is the most perfect complement to a simple but tasty meal.


Cauliflower Mashers

I love to pan sear chicken thigh and leg quarters, and then finish them off in the oven. (I’ll post that method soon)  All that’s needed is a little oil, salt and pepper.  They turn out divine!  But what takes this dinner over the top is the side dish.

green beans with shallots

Green Beans with Brown Butter and Shallots

These are five of the Bennett Crew faves.  And yes… my two sassy gals love these five sassy sides. :)

Roasted Delicata Squash

Five Spice Powder Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Coconut Sweet Potato Mashers

Serves 4-6


1 – 1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 medium to large)

1 cup coconut milk (Thai Kitchen canned organic is what I use)

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and set on a baking sheet.

Roast the sweet potatoes until soft to the touch.  About 45 minutes.

When the sweet potatoes are cool, remove the skins and lightly mash.

Place them in a food processor or blender and add the coconut milk ½ cup at a time. Pulse until the coconut sweet potato mashers are at a desired consistency.  I like mine smooth but thick.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and if desired a pinch of cinnamon.

These can be prepared one day prior to serving. :)

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves 4


1-1 1/2 lbs Brussel Sprouts

2 tablespoons high heat oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  If using a convection oven I only heat to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Slice the brussel sprouts in half, trimming the ends.  Place them in a bowl and toss with the oil.

Pour them onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for about 10-15 minutes until toasty and soft.  I like my brussel sprouts very toasty :)

Pull them out of the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Mashers

Serves 4-6


1-2 heads cauliflower (or one really large head cauliflower)

salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons of really good extra virgin olive oil ( I use California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh) or 1 tablespoon melted butter

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)


Cut the cauliflower into florets.

Steam the cauliflower in a stove top steamer or for a more toasty flavor you can roast the cauliflower florets by tossing in a little oil and roasting on a baking sheet lined with parchment in a preheated 375F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.  Phew! That was a long sentence. :)  If you’d like to serve these florets as a side, just season with salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  To make mashers proceed with the recipe below.

Once the cauliflower is soft, set the cooked florets in a colander and let them drain any excess water.

Place the florets in a blender, food processor or vita mix and pulse just until nicely smooth.  Season with salt, pepper and olive oil or butter.  Serve immediately.

Green Beans with Brown Butter and Shallots

Serves 4


1 lb fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed

1-2 shallots, sliced

1 stick unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper to taste


You can either steam the green beans in a stove top or microwave steamer or you can roast them.

To roast, I preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Toss the beans in a little oil and then place them in a single layer on the baking sheet.  (Just like we did for the Brussel Sprouts) Roast just until nicely tender.

While the beans are cooking, in a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Lightly swirl or stir the butter in the pan.  Just as it starts to develop those lovely little golden brown flecks, add the shallots and let the shallots crisp in the butter.  This should only take a minute longer.  The shallots should be slightly crisp and the butter brown.  Pull it off the heat and add the green beans to coat, seasoning with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Pour into a serving platter and serve immediately.  For a little variation you can add fresh chopped herbs with the shallots, or a squeeze of lemon before serving.

Five Spice Roasted Delicata Squash


1 ½ – 2 lbs Delicata Squash

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½  teaspoons Five Spice Powder

2 tablespoons high heat oil

Salt and Pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Mix together the brown sugar, five spice powder and oil until the brown sugar is mostly dissolved.

Wash the squash and then slice about ½ inch of each end.  Slice down the center vertically and clean out the seeds in the squash with a spoon or small ice cream scoop.

Then slice the squash to make little half moons.

Put the slices in a bowl and toss with the Five Spice Powder, brown sugar and oil.

Layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper.

Roast on 400F for about 20-30 minutes or until nice and fork tender.

This little dish can be served piping hot or at room temp.  Leftovers store easily in the frig for about 3 days.  Great for midnight snacking!

Contact Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

Louisiana is where I learned to love seafood. With dishes like fish crusted in chopped pecans and smothered in fresh crab and a lightly spiced white wine beurre blanc, dark and richly flavored seafood gumbo that’s been simmering for hours, and finger licking good crab and crawfish boils.

Once I got a taste of Cajun cuisine, there was no turning back. My love of all things Cajun was born.

My twin sis (Kristin) and me at Mardi Gras 1990. It was a blast!

So when I found this recipe, I was over the moon excited. Cajun Barbecue Shrimp over Sweet Potato Grits.  I was hooked.  On everything except the grits.

I like grits, but I like grits sweet with sugar and butter.  And that’s about it.  But… my food lovin’ mind got creative and decided a sweet potato polenta would be an excellent substitution.

A tangy but spicy sauce, smothering fresh Gulf shrimp and then all that goodness ladled over sweet potato polenta.  Someone pinch me!

Beautiful Gulf Shrimp

The recipe did not disappoint. Even my little “I don’t eat fish” gal (Suzie Q) loved it.  And Tink raved about the sauce.  It’s a snappy little sauce that would taste just as good over chicken.

I was hoping for leftovers. The shrimp flew right off the platter, with only a little sweet potato polenta for breakfast tomorrow.  I’m hiding it!

Unfortunately there aren’t too many sneaky spots to hide food in the frig.  Too bad it couldn’t be stashed in my secret hiding spot for chocolate.

Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta


Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled)

2 lbs Gulf Shrimp (16-20 count), peeled with tail on and deveined

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian Hot Sauce)

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Sweet potato polenta (recipe follows)


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl whisk together the butter, chili sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Sriracha and smoked paprika. Toss in the shrimp in the sauce and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Lightly oil a large baking dish and pour the shrimp with sauce into the baking dish.  Spread out the shrimp into a single layer.

Bake the shrimp for about 8-10 minutes and just before the shrimp are done turn on the broil and slightly brown the shrimp.  Watch the shrimp carefully or they’ll burn.  (yes, I did this)

Spoon the sweet potato polenta onto a platter or large bowl and pour the shrimp over the polenta.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and serve hot.

Sweet Potato Polenta

Serves 4

1 cup quick cook polenta

2 cups water

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

¼ cup shredded Gouda, Monterey jack or Swiss

1 – 1 ½ cups mashed, baked sweet potato

Salt and pepper to taste


On medium heat, bring the liquid to a slight boil. Add the polenta and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.  Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the cheese and mashed sweet potato.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick cooking a sweet potato – slice a sweet potato in half and place cut sides down on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until soft to the touch.

Recipe adapted from Louisiana Cookin’ (A fabulous resource for all foods Cajun and Creole!)

Contact Kid Friendly Sides 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.

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Soup vegetarian

Curried Sweet Potato and Chicken Stew

I have a sweet potato fascination.  You’d think this time of year I’d be talking pumpkin, butternut squash, maple syrup and apples.  I’m getting to those.  But right now I’m stuck at sweet potato.

Organic Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes for so many reasons.  They’re a superfood, über versatile (I put them in everything) and they really are a tad sweet.  Especially with a little pat of butter (I did say little), a sprinkle of brown sugar (yes, just a sprinkle) and then I lay it on thick with the cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of cloves.


Only a pinch of cloves. Otherwise your mouth will be numb for days.  As my little brother knows oh so well; ever since the pumpkin pie full of cloves incident. That’s another
funny story for another day.

My favorite brand of spices, Simply Organic

This season, I believe I’ve used sweet potatoes in everything.  Muffins, biscuits, pie, as a side with mixed roasted winter veggies and red onions, coconut mashed, and now they’ve found their way into a stew.  With chicken.

I’m sure I’m wearing out the sweet potato welcome in the Bennett house.  I should probably scoot on over to pumpkin soon.

Curried Sweet Potato and Chicken Stew

Serves 6


1 tablespoon veggie or grapeseed Oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

¾ teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon Garam Masala

2 medium organic carrots, diced

1 large organic sweet potato, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces

3 cups chicken or veggie broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon (or more) Thai Kitchen Roasted Chili Paste (or a pinch of cayenne)

2 cups diced cooked chicken (a great way to use leftover roasted chicken)

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.

Sauté the onions until wilted and then add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.

Add the carrots, sweet potato, chili paste and spices to the onions and garlic.

Stir in the broth and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft.

Optional:  With a wooden spoon or spatula, press some of the carrots and sweet potatoes into the sides of the pot, smashing them to create a creamy stew without adding dairy.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add additional chili paste, cayenne or red pepper flakes if desired. (Ranger Craig likes this stew spicy!)

Stir in the diced chicken and cook another 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.

Stir in the fresh cilantro and serve.

** Omit the chicken and use veggie broth and this will make a fabulous vegetarian/vegan dish!

Recipe adapted from multiple sources and my love of all things sweet potato.