Browsing Tag


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

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!

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin


    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


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

    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad 

    Serves 4-6


    1-2 pints cherry tomatoes or Heirloom cherry tomatoes

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

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1-2 tablespoons aged, good quality balsamic vinegar

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

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

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

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

    Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

    *This recipe was originally created for Home By Design Magazine


    Halibut Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa with Pan Seared Scallops

    Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa

    It’s been a busy summer.  And we’re not done yet!  Although school starts soon (doin’ a happy dance right now) it still feels like summer in these parts and I’ve got a few more summer recipes to post.  Here in the Northwest, we hang on to summer as long as we can. 

    Pan Seared Scallops over Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa

    For me summer is all about gardens, farms, farmer’s markets, pea patches, and anything that’ll give me fresh ingredients to create a great meal.  But alas (big sigh), I do not have a green thumb.  I hear you all gasping for air.  I wish I had a green thumb.  My peppers pooped out, my lettuce greens and strawberries were eaten by the bunnies and I think I probably planted my squash in the wrong location. 

    Pineapple Mint

    But I can grow a bumper crop of herbs.  That’s my specialty.  Yesiree I grow the prettiest mint, the prettiest oregano and the prettiest thyme, rosemary, chives and parsley.  I’m so proud of my herb garden.  It’s beautiful and I feel like Farmer Karista when I look out my window at my beautiful box of herbs. 

    The lettuce thief!

    To celebrate my bumper crop of herbs I created this tasty little salsa.   Sweet, tangy and full of fresh herbs and capers, the salsa made a beautiful and delicious plate for my pan seared scallops.   I love it when enticing and mouth-watering flavors come together to make a surprisingly decadent dish.  Ah… it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. 

    Cherry Tomato, Green Olive and Fresh Herb Salsa with Pan Seared Scallops

    Serves 4


    2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quarterd

    1 cup green olives, coarsely chopped

    1/4 cup capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped

    1/4 cup chopped fresh Oregano and Italian parsley

    Drizzle of Olive oil (this is the perfect time to pull out the good stuff!)

    Squeeze of lemon

    Sea salt and Fresh ground black pepper


    Gently toss together the tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, capers, squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

    Serve with pan seared scallops, grilled halibut or chicken.  Yum!

    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.

    Beef Kid Friendly

    Skillet Tamale Pie

    Skillet Tamale Pie

    I have a chalkboard hanging in my kitchen that says “Menu”.  Most of the time it displays Suzie Q’s artistic expressions and maybe a quote or two.  I hung it in the kitchen with the intention of posting our weekly menu, but most of the time I don’t have the heart to erase the creative artwork. 

    I think Suzie Q loves summer.

    On the occasion my menu board is undecorated, I post my own artistry, what were having for dinner.  And if I’m on task, I’ll post the dinner menu for the next two or three days.  I always feel so efficient when I plan more than two days at a time. 

    Tonight it’s Skillet Tamale Pie.  Tamale pie recipes have been around as long as I can remember.  It’s delicious comfort food with beefy filling and cornbread topping, usually with lots of cheese.  Mmmm.  

    I found this new recipe in Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters Cook Book.  Ok, I don’t usually get too serious on this blog because frankly, life is serious enough.  But… I strongly encourage watching these eye-opening food documentaries.  Food Matters, Food Inc and Food Fight.  Food does matter.  It’s what either keeps us strong and healthy, or sick and obese.  

    Tamale Pie baked in a ramekin... adorable

    Ok, so I could go on and on about buying local, buying organic and clearing all the pantry shelves of processed food, but I won’t.  Today anyway.  Today it’s all about Skillet Tamale Pie.  And my two gals love this Tamale Pie. (me too!).  Sometimes I just make the filling, let it cool and then serve it on top of a big bowl of crispy romaine with a little salsa and plain yogurt.

    Although I changed a few things in this recipe, to suit the Bennett Crew’s taste buds, the original recipe is just as fabulous.  The goal of this recipe is super tasty, simple, fresh and lots of smiles.  I definitely saw lots of Bennett smiles.

    Skillet Tamale Pie

    Adapted from the Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman

    Serves 4


    1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind, I like Bob’s Red Mill brand and I mix 1/2 corn masa with 1/2 medium grind)

    ½ – 1 cup hot water, or more as needed


    2 tablespoons olive oil or Grapeseed oil, or more as needed

    1 lb ground beef or pork or chicken or a mixture

    Black pepper

    1 onion, chopped

    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1  15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

    3 cups corn, fresh or frozen (I like Cascadian Organic)

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    ¼ chopped fresh cilantro or green onions (or both) for garnish

    Dollop of sour cream (optional)


    Heat the oven to 400F.

    Combine the cornmeal, hot water and a large pinch of salt; stir with a fork until smooth.  Let it sit while you prepare the filling.

    Put the oil in a deep oven proof skillet.  If you are going to bake the tamale pie in a baking dish or individual single serving bowls, no need for the oven proof skillet, just use any large skillet. 

    Heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the meat.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.

    Brown the meat for 5-10 minutes and then lower the heat and add the garlic and onion.  Cook until the vegetables soften, adding more oil if needed.

    Stir in the chili powder, tomatoes and corn and turn off the heat.

    Stir the baking powder into the cornmeal mixture until it’s completely incorporated.  The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not add a little more water.

    If using the oven proof skillet, spoon the batter into the skillet on top of the filling and spread it around a bit.  If using a small baking dish or individual bowls, pour the filling into the dish or dishes and then spoon the cornbread mixture over the top of the meat filling. 

    Bake until the cornbread has cracked and turned golden and is cooked all the way through, about 20 to 25 minutes for a large skillet or baking dish, a little less time for individual bowls. 

    Garnish with cilantro, green onion, pepper jack cheese and sour cream.

    Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs served over Toasted Baguette Slices

    It was a busy first day of the work week and once again I arrived home late with all my grocery bags in hand, only to realize it was 5pm.  Great.  I knew I had something in mind for dinner but I couldn’t remember what it was.

    I checked my frig and thanked myself for thinking ahead (by one day!) and purchasing a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut the day before.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s what I was thinking.  What am I going to do with that beautiful piece of Halibut?  Ha!  The million dollar question, right?  

    Well, I’m feeling oh so very smug right about now.  No, actually I feel a little bit brilliant.  Because not only did I use my beautiful piece of halibut, I also used my sad-looking eggplant (that didn’t get used for eggplant parmesan), 4 bright green organic zucchini that have been waiting to be used in my whole grain zucchini muffins (that obviously is not going to happen now),  and one brilliant shade of yellow pepper that I bought because frankly, it was so beautiful.  Add in my Walla Walla sweet onion, organic garlic, fresh rosemary and sage, 5 or 6 juicy red tomatoes and I had a sweet and distinctly rich ratatouille to serve with my halibut. 

    My secret surprise?  A toasted garlicky baguette slice under the flavorful ratatouille!  Ahhh… life is good. (for tonight anyway 🙂 )

    Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Herbs

    This little dish does have quite a few “steps”, however, if you prep all your veggies first and then follow the steps the dish will come together beautifully.  Once you’ve prepared this dish a few times (hopefully you’ll like it that much!) it will become easier to pull all the steps together more quickly.  This is such a great way to use all that spring, summer and fall produce. Feel free to substitute with different types of squash, but always add the eggplant… it gives this dish its signature sweet flavor. 


    1 large eggplant, thick sliced (or 2 smallish eggplant)

    4 small zucchini (or 2 very large zucchini), thick sliced

    1 sweet onion, halved and sliced

    4 cloves garlic, chopped

    1 yellow or orange bell pepper, roasted and diced

    4 large summer tomatoes, or use 5-6 canned organic whole tomatoes, chopped

    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

    1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (or more if you like sage)

    2 tablespoons butter

    Olive oil

    salt and pepper

    1 baguette, sliced (either multi grain or French)


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  I use my convection oven option when roasting veggies.  If you don’t have convection oven options, roast the veggies at 425F.  Layer the sliced eggplant on a cooling rack or platter and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes or so to eliminate excess liquid. 

    While the eggplant are resting, place the sliced zucchini on a parchment lined cookie sheet and drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper.  Roast the zucchini until they look toasty but not too soft, about 8-10 minutes. (I’ve tried roasting the eggplant and zucchini together to save time, however, the two veggies don’t cook evenly for the same amount of time)

    While the zucchini are in the oven, heat a large skillet on medium and add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil.  Once the butter is frothy, add the sliced onions and saute until nicely wilted and a little golden about 5-8 minutes.  Next add the garlic and saute for an additional minute or two. 

    When the zucchini are done, add them to the onions and garlic.  Fold in the diced roasted yellow pepper and the chopped tomatoes and any juices that accumulated.  Let this sit over low heat while you put the eggplant in the oven. 

    Next, rinse the eggplant and quarter the slices.  Season the eggplant once again with salt and little black pepper and drizzle with a bit of oil.  Place in the oven and roast for about 8-10 minutes or until a little toasty and soft to the touch. 

    When the eggplant is done, add them to the veggies in the skillet.  If using canned tomatoes I like to add about 1/4 cup of the tomato juice to the skillet. 

    Toss in the rosemary and sage and then taste for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and let the veggies sit so the flavors can meld together while you prepare the baguette slices.

    Place the baguette slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with a little olive oil.  Toast in the 400F oven until lightly golden brown.  When they are done remove them from the oven.  Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the garlic on each of the baguette slices.  The bread will be hot so be careful.

    To serve, place a baguette slice in the bottom of a bowl or on a plate and top with the ratatouille.  Serve with grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef or all by itself as a hearty lunch or light dinner.

    Chicken Grilling Pasta Pork Shrimp vegetarian

    Spicy Tomato And Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

    Years ago when I lived in Arizona, there was a delightful little Mexican cantina that we loved to frequent.  The food was simply divine.  The atmosphere transported you to another time, another place, and made sipping their signature Blueberry margarita a little piece of heaven.

    I don’t think I could tell you what dish on that menu I liked best.  It was all delicious.  Fresh flavors prepared with fresh ingredients and blended together in unique Mexican and Spanish inspired dishes.

    One of the recipes I often ordered was a Romesco like red sauce gently ladled over Mexican shrimp.  It was a little spicy, a little smoky, and rich with ripe tomatoes and roasted red peppers.

    I’ve strived to achieve that red sauce at home and I think I’ve come pretty darn close.  Like a Spanish Romesco sauce, this sauce is made of toasted almonds, fresh herbs, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and the secret ingredient that I love so much but my family begs me to stop using… chipotle chili powder!  I love the way the chipotle chili powder creates a smoky spicy flavor to the sauce.

    And to make this sauce even more exciting, it’s simply prepared in a blender or food processor!  Whoo Hoo!

    It pairs beautifully with grilled, roasted or pan seared meats, shellfish, herbed white beans and your favorite pasta.

    Beautiful in color and fresh in flavor, it’s a perfect spring and summer sauce.  Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life!

    Serves 4


    1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (I prefer Muir Glen)

    2 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded

    2-3 cloves garlic, smashed

    ¼ cup toasted almonds (can substitute with pecans or hazelnuts)

    2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar

    1 tablespoon sugar

    2 tablespoons assorted coarsely chopped fresh herbs (oregano, Italian parsley,

    Rosemary, basil)

    ¼ – ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (can substitute with regular chili powder)

    ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    In a blender or food processor, add the tomatoes, roasted pepper, garlic, almonds, vinegar, sugar, fresh herbs and chile powder. Pulse until the ingredients are nicely blended.

    Add the olive oil and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Refrigerate unused portions for up to a week. When re-heating, bring to room temperature and if needed, gently warm on the stove top. Over-heating the sauce could cause it to separate.

    Serve over grilled meats, shellfish, herbed white beans, or your favorite pasta.

    Halibut Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood Swordfish

    Roasted Fresh Seasonal Fish with Herb Butter, Tomatoes and Garlic

    Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to dinner in the Bennett house.  This doesn’t mean we like to sacrifice quality or flavor, it just means some days we need dinner in a jiffy.  

    Fresh fish is fast.  It’s easily paired with fresh herbs and aromatics and it cooks quickly.  When my little gal isn’t in the mood for fish (which is often) I substitute with a thin chicken cutlet.  It can be prepared with the fish and be done just as quickly.  But make sure the chicken is a cutlet, or a chicken breast that has been pounded very thin.

    As you’ll notice I’ve used fresh cherry tomatoes in this recipe.  No, they are not really in season.  However, I did spot these little beauties while browsing the produce section of my market and because they were organic and from our neighbors in Canada, I decided a little summer treat in winter would be refreshing.  You could substitute fresh cherry tomatoes for a high quality canned organic tomato.  I love Muir Glen organic whole tomatoes and they would be just as delicious in this recipe.

    Bring a little sunshine to your table with fresh herbs, tomatoes, garlic and seasonal fresh fish.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4


    1 ½ lbs seasonal fresh white fish or salmon (Sole, Flounder, Cod or Halibut are delicious in this recipe)

    1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh basil, coarsely chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

    Dash of white wine or a squeeze of lemon

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Extra virgin olive oil

    For the Herb butter

    ½ cup butter, softened

    1 tablespoon assorted chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme or marjoram

    Mix together and set aside


    To roast the fish, season fish with a pinch salt and pepper, and a small dollop of the herb butter on each fillet.  Place the fish in a baking dish and into a 350F pre-heated oven. 

    Let the fish cook for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until you see the firm white juices bubbling in or on the fish.  Thinner fillets will cook quickly so check after about 5 minutes. 

    In a sauté pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the garlic and tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes until the tomatoes are ever so slightly wilted.  Add the fresh chopped basil and Italian parsley and season with a splash of white wine or squeeze of lemon.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    To serve, plate the fish fillets and dollop with additional herb butter if desired.  Top with the tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs.  Serve immediately.

    This dish is delicious with a butter lettuce salad with mandarin oranges and Italian parsley vinaigrette.  You can find this recipe under salads in this blog.  Enjoy!

    Beef Kid Friendly

    Steak with Tomato and Garlic Sauce (Bistecca alla Pizzaiola)

    Steak and potatoes, steak and fries, steak and salad, why not steak with tomatoes and garlic?  This is a delicious old world Italian recipe that is truly fresh and simply divine.  Originating in Naples, this fabulous dish is easily prepared but tastes like you cooked for hours.

    A mouth watering recipe often found prepared with round steak, sirloin steak, boneless rib eyes, and on occasion a gorgeous piece of tenderloin.  Because I have a freezer full of delicious grass-fed beef I decided to pull out some of my sirloin stash and give it a try. 

    Like many old world recipes, there are several versions roaming the globe.  You know how I love fresh and simple, so this particular Pizzaiola recipe is my very favorite.  And what’s better, it’s Bennett crew tested!  A huge hit in my house and requested weekly. 

    Prepare this divine dish with your favorite cut of steak.  Be sure to pound the steak thin so it will pan sear quickly.  This will also help tenderize the tougher cuts of beef such as a sirloin.  I also tested this recipe with cube steak (not pounded thin as it’s already tenderized) and my Suzie Q loved it! 

    Enjoy a steak dinner tonight with little fuss and a lot of flavor!

    Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4-6


    4-6 steaks, round steaks, sirloin steaks, rib eye or tenderloin (pounded thin)

    Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    High heat safflower or sunflower oil

    Extra virgin olive oil

    1 28 oz can whole tomatoes (I like Muir Glen) coarsely chopped

    3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or Italian parsley

    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

    ½ cup dry red wine or beef broth


    Season the steaks with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat a few tablespoons of oil on medium high.  When the oil is hot, add the steaks and sear until browned on each side.  Transfer steaks to a warm plate and hold.

    In the same pan, turn the heat down to medium and add a dash of olive oil, the garlic and then add the tomatoes. Stir the sauce until combined and then add the fresh basil and oregano, and pinch of red pepper flakes.

    Traditionally you won’t find a half cup of liquid in the sauce, however, I like to make this sauce a little saucier.  At this point, add ½ cup dry red wine or beef broth.  Then place the steaks back in the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes until some of the moisture has evaporated and the steaks are warmed through.

    Place each steak on a plate and ladle a little sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley or a bit of fresh grated parmesan.

    Bon Appetito!

    Grilling Halibut Seafood Swordfish

    Fresh Seasonal Fish Topped With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Shallots, Lemon and Fresh Herbs

    It’s that time of year when I suddenly realize all the beautiful fresh local tomatoes will soon be a distant memory until they arrive once again next summer.   I’m now in a full-fledged panic to use as many of those juicy tomatoes as I possibly can.  I may have a small revolt on my hands as tomatoes are showing up daily in all three meals at the Bennett house.

    Fluffy whipped French omelets with the distinctive Gruyère cheese and fresh chopped heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella en carrozza (Tuscan cheese sandwiches) with fresh sliced tomatoes piled high and grilled fish and chicken with roasted cherry tomatoes, smashed garlic cloves, diced shallots, a squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs.  And I have more recipes yet to prepare!  I think the Bennett crew will be “oh so happy” when tomato season is over. 

    I do love a good tomato.  The smell of a ripe tomato takes me back to my childhood when I would pick the sun warmed fruits off the vines in our little garden and sit in the grass to eat them.  No salt, pepper, herbs or mayo, just a juicy fresh picked off the vine tomato.  Tomatoes make delicious additions to most recipes; adds fresh flavor, a little zing, and one would have to admit, the color of a tomato is hard to duplicate. 

    Sometimes the simplest of preparations are the best.  Simply roasting tomatoes with garlic and shallots, fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon makes for a tasty side dish or exquisite topping for most entrees of fish or chicken.  Serve with a fresh arugula salad drizzled with rice wine vinegar and olive oil. 

    Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life!

    Serves 4


    1 1/2 lbs seasonal fresh white fish (halibut, cod, rockfish, snapper, swordfish, mahi mahi) If the fish is fresh, it will taste delicious and hold up to roasting in the oven. 

    2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

    4 cloves garlic, smashed and lightly chopped

    2 tablespoons diced shallots

    1 lemon, zested and juiced

    3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (Oregano, Italian parsley, basil, rosemary or thyme)

    Olive oil

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Mix together tomatoes, garlic, shallots, 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Toss with a drizzle of olive oil until lightly coated and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Pour the tomato mixture into a baking dish or foil lined cookie sheet and roast for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are wilted and slightly toasty.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  

    Drizzle the fish with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil, and then sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Roast the fish until opaque in the center and flaky.  Fish roasting times vary according to thickness.  Start with 5-8 minutes and then check for doneness.  If it isn’t done, let it continue roasting, checking every 5 minutes. 

    Once the fish is done, transfer to a platter.  Mix the tomatoes with lemon zest and remaining fresh herbs.  Top the fish with the tomatoes and herbs and serve immediately.

    Halibut Salad Seafood

    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche made into tacos from Karista's Kitchen
    Simple Halibut Ceviche is one of the easiest seafood recipes to prepare.  I know you’re probably thinking I’ve had way too much sun this summer, but truly, ceviche can be simple, flavorful and delicious and a perfect seasonal starter.

    There are many different types of ceviche recipes and each South American country has their own version of ceviche. Many ceviche recipes can include ingredients from sweet potatoes and corn to squid and octopus. Although you can certainly add whatever you like to this particular ceviche recipe, I’ve kept it simple for sake of time, and flavor.

    For this Simple Halibut Ceviche, I’ve combined the halibut with lime juice and white onion. Once it’s been cold poached in the lime juice, I drain the liquid and then toss it with diced fresh summer tomatoes, diced jalapeno and chopped fresh cilantro. Then I season to taste with salt and pepper and dash of hot sauce. This gorgeous dish is a delicious starter for dinner guests or fun street style tacos for a light meal.

    I love to serve this Simple Halibut Ceviche with organic blue corn chips.  It makes a lovely presentation and the sweet flavor of the blue corn compliments the spicy and citrus flavors of the ceviche. 

    For something fun and festive, I often prepare patacones to serve with the ceviche.  Patacones are plantains that have been sliced, fried, flattened and fried again and then lightly seasoned with sea salt.   I’ve included a recipe with the ceviche. If you’d like to see a quick tutorial on how I make patacones, you can find it HERE.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Simple Halibut Ceviche

    Simple Halibut Ceviche


      For the Ceviche
    • 1lb fresh pacific halibut, diced into small bite sized pieces
    • 1 small white onion, diced
    • Fresh lime juice, enough to cover the diced halibut (about 1/2 cup)
    • 5-6 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
    • 1-2 jalapeno, finely diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (add additional cilantro if desired)
    • sea salt and pepper
      For the Patacones
    • Patacones (Plantain Chips)
    • 2-3 green plantains
    • High heat or refined veggie oil (a sunflower or safflower oil works well)
    • Sea salt


    For the Ceviche
  • Place the diced halibut, lime juice and all but 1/4 of the diced onion in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt and stir. Let the halibut marinate refrigerated for about an hour or two until the small halibut pieces have been cooked through. I often let this marinate overnight.
  • Once the halibut is done, drain the all the liquid and then place the halibut onion mixture back in the glass bowl.
  • Add the remaining diced onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, and cilantro. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
  • Serve with blue or yellow corn chips. You can also serve with Patacones.
  • Optional Add ins: Diced fresh Avocado, diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thin sliced radishes, diced poblano peppers, chili pepper flakes, red pepper flakes, cooked bay shrimp, fresh chopped oregano.
  • For the Patacones (Plantain Chips)
  • Cut off the ends of the plantains and then carefully cut a slit down the length of the skin without cutting into the plantain itself. Using a wooden or small spoon, pry up the edges of the peel and pull off the skin. Once the peel is removed cut the plantain crosswise into slices about 2 inches long.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until it shimmers, about 3 minutes. Add the plantains and fry them until they turn golden on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Flatten the plantains by pressing down on them with a heavy-bottomed pan pressing them into round discs. Return 1/2 of the flattened plantains to the oil and re-fry until deep golden on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer back to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with the remaining flattened plantains. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
  • Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin



    Jacque Pepin’s Poached Snapper with Fresh Tomatoes and Cucumber Tournes

    Simplicity is bliss, especially when preparing dinner.  Often simplicity can translate to boring or tasteless, but when a recipe utilizes the fresh flavors of herbs, aromatics and summer produce, the recipe becomes simple to prepare and complex in flavor.  Which is what I’m sure Jacque Pepin had in mind when he created this decadent snapper dish.  

    I’ve tasted many poached fish dishes and I have to say poaching fish hasn’t always been my favorite method of preparation.  However, this recipe includes the perfect mix of fresh ingredients, poached in a delicious dry white wine creating a fish recipe that is full of fresh clean flavors and truly enjoyable to the palate. 

    It can be served simply with the sauce of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers or served with roasted little red potatoes.  You can find a basil lemon roasted red potato recipe under the “sides” category in this blog. 

    Keep dinner simple… and enjoy the flavors of life.   Happy Cooking!

    2 servings


    1 pat of unsalted butter

    ¼ cup finely chopped shallots

    12 oz. Red snapper filets (have your fishmonger remove the bones)

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    1-2 cups dry white wine

    1 teaspoon fresh chopped English thyme (or lemon thyme)

    4 Roma (or fresh summer) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, squeezed and coarsely chopped

    Chopped fresh Italian parsley

    For the sauce

    2 teaspoons unsalted butter

    2 teaspoons flour

    ¼ cup heavy cream

    Squeeze of fresh lemon

    Serve with Cucumbers Tournes (recipe below) and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley


    Rub the bottom of a large skillet with a pat of butter.  Scatter the shallots in the bottom of the pan and lay the fillets on top.

    Pour the wine over the fish and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Scatter the tomato pieces and thyme over the fillets. (If you wish, fit a paper cover into the pan, buttered side down.)

    Cover the pan, and bring the liquid to a steady, very gentle simmer, almost a boil; poach 3
    to 4 minutes for thin fillets, or more for thicker fillets.

    Pierce the center of the fillet with a sharp knife to make sure that the flesh is opaque, or
    cooked throughout.

    Making the sauce

    Transfer the fillets with a slotted spoon or spatula to a gratin or baking dish, and spoon the tomato pieces over them. Place the dish in a warm spot on the stove or in a very low oven, with the paper cover on top if you have one.

    Mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl to make a smooth paste (beurre manié).

    Bring the liquid in the poaching pan to a boil, then scoop up the paste with the tip of the whisk and rapidly stir it into the liquid until completely incorporated.

    Pour in the cream, whisk to blend, and boil for a minute  or two to thicken. Add any fish juices that have accumulated around the fillets and cook a few moments more, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.

    Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Squeeze fresh lemon into the sauce, about a teaspoon or two.

    Place the fish and tomatoes on a platter and ladle the sauce over the top.  Garnish with the cucumbers and chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.

    Cucumber Tournes


    1 large cucumber, about 8 inches

    Sea salt

    1 tablespoon butter


    Remove the rounded ends of the cucumber, and then slice it crosswise into 3 equal sections, each about 2 inches long.

    Cut each of the sections lengthwise into quarters, so you have 12 wedge-shaped pieces.

    With a sharp paring knife, “turn” each wedge: first cut away the seeds on one side, then remove the skin in smooth curving peels. Make sure not to remove too much of the flesh; if you do not feel proficient enough with a knife, use a vegetable peeler.

    Now shape each piece, so that it has slightly rounded sides and tapered ends. This can be daunting the first time you try it, so just hang in there and carve the cucumber as best you can.  It’ll still taste fabulous no matter how it looks!

    In a saucepan just large enough to hold the cucumber pieces in one layer, bring to the boil 1/4 cup of water with 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

    Add all the cucumbers, cover the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Pour off any water remaining in the pan, add the butter and a large pinch of salt and cover again, and melt the butter over very low heat. Shake the pan so the cucumbers are very well coated with butter and turn off the heat. Leave them in the covered pan until needed, and briefly reheat before serving if necessary.