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Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

Grilled Rib-Eye With Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette Karista's Kitchen

We’ve just launched the 4th fabulous issue of VRAI Magazine and I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting and new online magazine!  Filled with food, travel, DIY, Gardening and more.

VRAI Magazine is made up of real bloggers, with varying backgrounds, expertise and unique perspectives, who are passionate about sharing stories. In these stories, you’ll also find wonderful ideas, inspirations and information for everyday living, as well as topics of interest that are designed to spark genuine conversations. “Life is filled with stories both big and small. They can be found in big events and milestones throughout life or even in the most mundane acts of each day — there is always a story worth telling.  Through VRAI Magazine, we hope to capture and share some of them with you.”

In this issue of VRAI Magazine I talk GRILLING!  Here’s a sneak peek:

I get positively giddy this time of year.  With the longer days and warmer temperatures, grilling once again becomes my preferred method of cooking.  Gone are the cooler days and Pacific Northwest winter weather that requires rain gear while grilling. 

Although I enjoy most methods of cooking, there is something about grilling that feels just a bit festive, carefree and whimsical. Maybe it’s the feeling of warm summer months when life is slower and less scheduled.  Fresh produce arriving with color and intense ripened flavors just aching to be tossed into some delicious concoction to share.

Grilling steak couldn’t be easier, but there are a few simple steps that will make your steak taste like perfection. 

  1. Quality is key –  Purchasing a quality cut of beef is key to a delicious and flavorful steak.  I prefer purchasing local beef that has been grazing in a nice open pasture and preferably grass-fed only. (I know, I sound like the television show Portlandia) Truly, fresh is best for optimum flavor.  Not only does buying local mean your steak will be fresh, you will be supporting your local economy.  If  you don’t have access to a  local beef rancher, try to purchase beef from your region.  Most local markets purchase regionally,  or ask your local butcher.

For the Grilled Rib-eye with Tomato Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and a Grilled Romaine Recipe head on over to VRAI Magazine…  Click Here!

Stay Tuned – Coming up this week, I will be posting a most delicious and special pastry recipe from Italy.   Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!



Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Frittata Florentine

Frittata prepared with fresh spinach and pomodor sauce

Frittata Florentine

~By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed~

Every morning in Vinci, Italy  I was greeted with lush beauty for the eyes, tranquility for the soul and exquisite food for the taste buds.   Food lovingly prepared by our Chef Ana.

In the sweet quiet of the early morning,  I would hear Chef Ana arrive, softly making her way through the villa to the well stocked kitchen – to begin preparing our morning meal.

My eyes would snap open and I’d lounge in my cozy bed unable to sleep; thinking about all the deliciousness I’d find on the breakfast table.

After meandering around my 14th century room with modern amenities, peeking out the windows, snapping pictures of my breathtaking views, splattering my enthusiasm all over social media, I eventually found my way downstairs.  Following the heavenly scents to a delicious assortment of eggs prepared poached or over easy, frittatas laced with fresh baby zucchini and decadent pomodoro, pastry, cured meats and cheese.  And of course, perfectly brewed fresh coffee served with milk Chef Ana had taken the time to warm.

Casale Leonardo da Vinci in Vinci Italy

Chef Ana and Franco/Morning at the Villa

This lovely Frittata Florentine is an adaption of the delicious frittatas Chef Ana served each morning.  And although this is quite an enticing version, nothing can compare to a frittata Chef Ana creates.

Find this recipe as well as my other seven recipes inspired by this glorious adventure to Tuscany on the DaVinci Wine Facebook Page. You will be able to save and print a copy from their page.  Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Frittata Florentine

Serves 4-6


6-8 large eggs (for a 10-12 inch non-stick oven proof skillet)

1 tablespoon water

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Two or three handfuls of fresh baby spinach or chopped spinach from your garden

2-3 tablespoon tomato sauce (I used my leftover Vinci sauce)

½ cup shredded or thinly shaved Pecorino

Pinch or two of dried Oregano, crushed with fingers

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Optional add ins: torn prosciutto, pancetta or coppa, diced bacon and fresh basil leaves


Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Whisk together the eggs and water.  Heat a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the skillet over medium heat.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggs and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, crushed oregano and crushed red pepper.  Allow the eggs to slightly set.

Once you see a crust forming on the bottom of the eggs, top the eggs with as much baby spinach as you like.  Then dot with tomato sauce and top with the cheese.

Place the skillet in the pre-heated oven and let it finish cooking for another 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are just set and cooked through.  I like my eggs “wet” so I tend to pull the skillet out a little before the full 10 minutes.

Let the frittata cool slightly then slide it onto a platter, slice and serve.






Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

Roasted Grape Crostini

Roasted Grape Crostini

Roasted Grape Crostini

(Just one little question, I’m required by law to ask… By clicking on this link,  you affirm that you are of legal drinking age in the country where the site is being accessed.)

DaVinci wine is created in a magical place. Tuscany is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. The air smells of sweet sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs, muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil.

The beauty of the Tuscan region mirrors the beauty of its people and its food.  A culture rich with history and laced with passion. A passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table.


Cantine Leonardo da Vinci

A Villa with a View


Traveling to Tuscany this Autumn with DaVinci wine, I experienced the lovely Tuscan people who so graciously shared their love of food, wine, history and culture.

I couldn’t write fast enough.  Or snap enough pictures to capture the awe inspiring landscape on which my eyes were feasting.  I found myself quietly content, and somewhat absorbed, at my place at each table; savoring the flavor of every bite of mouthwatering food.

Fresh pastas that melted on the tongue like butter, complimented by fresh, local porcini mushrooms tasting earthy and woody and dreamy.  Rich slow cooked ragu’s of wild boar and rosemary, salt cured salumi and fresh ricotta on Crostini, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the traditional grilled Florentine Porterhouse steak that never wore out its welcome on my plate.  All the flavors so beautifully balanced, clean and never overpowering.

As I savored and contemplated each bite of moan inducing food, I sipped the most delicious DaVinci Chianti’s.  Wine rich and bold on the palate, yet subtle like soft velvet while I sipped.  And sip I did.  Yes, lots of sipping.

The DaVinci Chianti has long been a favorite of mine, however, among the lovely list of DaVinci wines, I have a new love.  The DaVinci Brunello. Our captivating and gracious DaVinci Brand Ambassador, Giacomo Alari, calls the Brunello “a very polite wine.  Once the Brunello is on your palate it is master of your palate. Not in power, but in elegance like cashmere.  A great wine doesn’t have to be powerful to be exquisite.”

I heard once that every bottle of wine has a story to tell.  That couldn’t be more true for the DaVinci Chianti.

To celebrate this glorious week in Tuscany I’ve created eight lovely little dishes.  They will be unveiled throughout the next few months, beginning with the Roasted Grape Crostini.  Check out the DaVinci Wine Facebook page to download a copy of the recipes.

Recipes inspired by a few enchanting people, stunning landscape and scrumptious moments.  Bewitching my heart as well as my palate.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

Buon Appetito,



Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

Pasta Cortona

linguine with napa cabbage and mixed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil

Pasta Cortona

How could I travel to Italy and not visit the mountain top village of Cortona?  I resisted.  Truly I did.  I didn’t want to be one of those blurry eyed, dreamy looking tourists on a quest to visit a place they’ve read about in a novel or seen on television in a movie.

With a clever grin and knowing eyes, my darling husband kindly dispelled my silly notion by telling me I’d already been walking around for days like a blurry eyed tourist with eyes the size of saucers.  Hmmm… and I thought I was being rather cool and collected.

Early one morning, my husband, who is a sport, no – he’s a super sport,  kindly obliged my longing to see Cortona. We hopped a train and arrived at the small, more modern town of Camucia Cortona which lies at the bottom of the mountain where Cortona is so beautifully is perched.

Camucia Cortona Train Station

Camucia Cortona Train Station

Once inside the walls of the medieval city I felt myself becoming the blurry eyed tourist, eyes wide with amazement of this ancient city.  The architecture so unique with steep narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.  Breathtaking.

Nonni's of Cortona

Nonni’s of Cortona walking home from mass.

Ranger Craig and I spent the day walking the steep and narrow streets, talking to the locals, snapping more pictures than I thought was possible, touring the churches and viewing art of the Renaissance.  A magical day that ended with food.  Actually, I think we ate our way through Cortona.  Pasta, soups, salumi, pastry, wine, more wine and then caffe.

Trattoria in Cortona

Trattoria in Cortona

One of the most delicious meals I dined on in Italy was in Cortona.  A dish of fresh handmade linguine tossed with savoy cabbage in a light wine and butter sauce, topped with shaved truffle and fresh pecorino.  A little heaven in a bowl.

dog in cortona,Italy

A furry friend in Cortona saying hello as we passed by

mountain garden in Cortona, Italy

Mountain garden in Cortona

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona, Italy

Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona

Now that I’m home, I wanted to create a lovely version of that dish.  Something fresh, simple but flavorful.  We don’t have an abundant of truffles here in the states so I decided to make this an easy dish to prepare with local mushrooms and my favorite Napa cabbage.  And of course, if you wish, a drizzle of black truffle oil over the top.  A tribute to the lovely day in Cortona.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Pasta Cortona

Serving Size: 3-4


  • 12 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I love porcini mushrooms so I use 2 oz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, white part only, root trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups sliced Napa cabbage (about ½ a medium cabbage)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Drizzle of black truffle oil (optional, but it’s really good!)
  • Shaved aged Pecorino for garnish


  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions. When draining the linguine, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a sauce pan and pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Give them a stir, cover and let them sit for about 20 minutes. When they are soft, drain the liquid, let them cool for a moment and then lightly chop the mushrooms.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil is hot, add the shallots and leeks and sauté until wilted and fragrant.  Add the garlic and saute one minute longer.
  • Stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and Italian parsley. Let them cook for about 1 minute and then add the white wine. Let the wine reduce by half and then stir in the heavy cream, grated parmesan and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Next toss in the sliced Napa cabbage, and gently toss with the mixture, adding the additional olive oil as needed.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Add the linguine and ½ cup of pasta water to the cabbage and mushrooms. The sauce will thicken as it cools. However, if the sauce seems a bit thin, place the skillet back over medium heat and let the sauce cook for a few minutes which will thicken the sauce.
  • Transfer the pasta to a platter or individual serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil if desired and shaved aged pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

    The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

    This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

    Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

    This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

    If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

    Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    Serves 4


    ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

    ½ cup finely chopped onion

    2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

    Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

    1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

    1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

    1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

    Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

    Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

    Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

    Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

    Salt and pepper to taste

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




    Karista's Kitchen Seafood vegetarian

    A Delicious New Year!

    One of my favorite things to do, is share the love of good food.  Being in the culinary business, I’m constantly surrounded by fabulous foodies, inspiring chef’s, passionate farmer’s, rancher’s and food artisans and in general, really great people.  I feel so blessed!

    This first post of 2013 is a sharing post, a thank you post, and a delicious food post.  A three for one.

    I am quite tardy in saying Thank You.  My apologies to these fabulous five bloggers who have so graciously and thoughtfully awarded me these special honors.  I am deeply honored to be recognized by my blogging peers.

    Danny at 1227 Foster is relatively new on the food scene but you’d think Danny has been present for years.  I’ve never seen a lifestyle blogger transform their blog so quickly, so beautifully and so deliciously as Danny.  Armed with a fierce passion for delicious food, eye-catching décor, exciting travel destinations and most definitely a talent for all things beautiful.  I adore Danny, admire his passion and definitely recommend subscribing to his blog.  Thank you Danny for awarding me your 2012 Blog of the Year, Reality Blog Award and the Sensual Blogging Award.  I love to think my food could be labeled as sensual. 🙂

    Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

    Cara at This Little Light is one of my most favorite writers.  She has a talent for beautiful words, thought-provoking subjects, and heartwarming stories.  I feel as if I’ve known her all my life.  If we lived closer we’d be best of friends I’m sure.  A lovely and captivating young woman who exudes passion for her craft and will no doubt be a bestselling author soon.  You must absolutely check out both her blogs: This Little Light and her newest project Awakening Foster Kelley ( a novel!) .  Thank you Cara for nominating me for 2012 Blog of the Year Award.  Hugs to you and I wish you huge success!!

    I completely adore Emma at Sweet Mabel.  A fun, crafty, delicious, beautiful blog that makes me stay and browse a while when I’m there.  Her warm and charming personality shines through every post.  Her love of vintage matches mine and I’m mesmerized by all her vintage finds.  Truly one of my favorite blogs to visit.  I just wish we were closer so we could sit and chat over a cup of tea. 🙂  Thank you Emma for the Inspiring Blog Award!

    Nancy Creative is a fun, creative, delicious and crafty blog.  I run short on crafty so I’m always looking to these lovely blogs for inspiration.  Nancy at Nancy Creative is a writer and designer and you can see these passions come through in her beautiful blog.  A lovely lady who shines with warmth and inspiration. Thank you Nancy for the One Lovely Blog Award!

    Chef Mimi and I are newly acquainted through blogging. She’s a lovely lady who has devoted her life to the love of food and cooking.  An impressive career, Chef Mimi’s passion for great food shines through each and every recipe.  Thank you so much Chef Mimi for the Sunshine Award!

    According to the rules for most of these awards I’m to tell you 7 things about myself that you don’t already know. Hmmm… that may be difficult, I feel like an open book most the time. 🙂

    1. When I was young I had three pigs named Josephine, Charlotte and Lester.  Lester was a little tyrant.  While I was climbing over the pig fence (age 7), Lester decided he didn’t like me and bit me smack dab in the butt.  Still sporting the scar. 🙁   I still love pigs.
    2. I once sang professionally.  No, you won’t find me on iTunes but you will find my fabulous cousins, The Univited and Fish Ranch Road. Love my guys!
    3. Mystery books and old cookbooks are my weakness.
    4. I much prefer savory over sweet.  Which is why my “sweets” recipe section is lacking.
    5. The one thing I can cook with my eyes closed.  Pan seared salmon.  My chef instructor once made me pan sear several pieces of salmon during a class because I kept cooking it all the way through (which is how I like it).  I practiced so many times at home, I can prepare it in my sleep.
    6. I am passionate about nutrition.   Food not genetically modified, food raised without pesticides and raising awareness about purchasing power.  Making better food choices will allow future generations greater health.  My little soapbox speech for the day.
    7. Autumn has always been my most favorite time of the year.

    Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

    I nominate the following WordPress blog 2012 Blog of the Year:  Just a Smidgen 

    Smidge (as I call her), is a poet, writer, artist and food blogger.  She encompasses all that is beautiful in this world.  Her writing has brought tears to my eyes, made me howl with laughter and given my heart peace.  Her food is always delicious and beautifully photographed.  And she’s crafty too! A beautiful and multi-talented lady who I adore and admire.

    Wishing you all a most delicious, successful and happy new year!

    Loads of Love,