Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Shrimp Tacos

When I first met Ethan, his diet consisted of mostly burritos and quesadillas. Don't get me wrong, he makes one mean cheese queso - especially after a long night out and about. Needless to say, I did my best to shake up his routine and impress him with my cooking abilities. Almost four years later and he keeps coming back for more. And while he compliments me on my meals, I still try to cook his favorites. 

I kept telling him last week that I would make Shrimp Tacos. But then I got sick, and then we got invited out for dinner, and then it just didn't happen. So these tacos became a mission. I made us wait long enough and I had to do them right.

Tacos are not hard to make. I repeat, they are super easy. They get fancy by how you prepare them and what you put into them. So when I made these tacos, I knew I just had to kick them up a notch. It's not the shrimp that makes them spectacular - it's the red cabbage and mango slaw. I swear, if you don't make this slaw along with your shrimp you are going to be missing out on something fierce! 

Add some sour cream and guacamole and your mouth will be singing.


  • 1 pound shrimp (fresh or frozen, but must be deveined
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 package McCormick's shrimp taco seasoning (not sponsored! but worth it!)

Red Cabbage + Mango Slaw
  • One quarter shredded red cabbage 
  • One half of a cucumber sliced julienned 
  • 2 small carrots shredded (use a cheese grater!)
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder  


0. It's best if the slaw marinates for about an hour. If you have time make that first!
See steps 3 & 4

1. Make sure the shrimp is thawed, heat a skillet over medium high heat with the oil.

2. Combine the shrimp with the taco seasoning and put into the skillet. Flip and cook until pink. This will only take about 3-4 minutes - shrimp cooks fast!!

3. Let the shrimp cool and whisk together the dressing ingredients for the slaw.

4. Pour the dressing over the sliced cabbage, mango, cucumber, and carrots.

5. Heat the tortillas according to the package, combine everything together, add sour cream and guacamole, and eat until your hearts content.

Eat well! Be well! And stay tuned for upcoming recipes from my friends, family, and neighbors. Subscribe below by email :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Potsticker Salad. It exists.

To be really honest, if I could eat pop tarts and Asian food every day I would. Oh, and bread. But don't get me started on that again. The reality is our bodies (especially mine) can't handle that much delicious content. And I strive to be authentic to that reality, because things can get crazy! So this means, I try to punch in veggies (or at least fruits) at every meal. Every dish I make needs to have something that will work for my body - not against it. I want to earn those pop tarts. 

This is how salads have become a very common staple in our household. And in order to keep things fresh, I have to challenge what I think a salad really is on a regular basis. Enter the potsticker or gyoza as the case may be.

One week, Ethan could not stop talking about having a potsticker salad for dinner. We had two bags of them in the freezer and he really had a hankering for it. I had no idea what he was talking about. But it sounded good. So in true Karen fashion, I went to the internets and did some research. Turns out, it is sort of a thing. You stir fry some potstickers up with veggies and put it all on some lettuce or bok choy. It's really very easy, and I can't wait to make it again.

So I tricked the system. I got my Asian food with my veggies. Ha! Take that universe. 

Let me know what you think. And be sure to take a picture if you make it and send it to me! You can tag me on instagram @karenleannkirsch :)

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 package frozen potsickers or gyoza (you can get these almost anywhere, but I go to Uwajimaya
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (olive oil will work fine if that's all you have)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (you can find these frozen at any grocery store)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

For the dressing/sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce (or honey)
  • 2 teaspoons honey


1. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in pan over medium heat. Place potstickers flat side down. Cook 1-2 minutes until bottom has browned. Then, add 1/2 cup water and cover the pan with lid. Bring to simmer over medium high heat and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

2. While potstickers are cooking, shred lettuce, mince garlic, chop onion and peppers, and make the dressing (just whisk everything together listed under the header labeled "for the dressing...)

3. Once potstickers are done cooking, take them out of the pan. Cool the pan slightly and then add a new tablespoon of sesame oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for 1 minute, then add the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the peppers and edamame and stir fry until soft (this takes 5-7 minutes).

4. Put the potstickers back into the pan with the veggies and pour the dressing over everything. Simmer 1-2 minutes and then cool.

5. Put everything on top of the lettuce and enjoy! Add more flavors that you like. 

Eat well! Be well! And subscribe to Karen's Place to never miss a beat. Thanks for reading, now go cook!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresh & Flavorful Strawberry Muffins

In Seattle here, we have been blessed with a never-ending Indian Summer as some may say. Spring has sprung early, or never really left. A lot of the skiers in these parts are not so amused by this. But as for me, waking up to bright globes of light streaming through my window almost every morning has been a welcomed change of pace. 

And something else miraculous is happening. Berries are going on sale, everywhere! Strawberries are priced brilliantly at $1andsomethingcents/lb and I am taking full advantage. On this week's cooking adventure this summer fruit is the star of the show.

I find that muffin recipes tend to leave out a lot of great ingredients, and while fluffy and filling they lack flavor. So on this sweet Sunday, we're going to tackle that problem and conquer it. Ethan gave this recipe a 9/10 (which trust me folks, is a big deal).
Sunshine and strawberries + a lazy Sunday morning. Sounds like the perfect math equation to me.


      The dry:

  • 2.5 cups flour 
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • dash of nutmeg (and a dash of ground ginger if you have it)
     The wet: 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream + 1/2 banana mashed 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 stick of butter melted and cooled
  • 1.5 cups diced, fresh strawberries (frozen is okay too, I guess)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 


0. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a muffin tin 

1. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, the mashed banana, the vanilla, and the eggs. Fold this into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.

3. Make sure the butter is melted and cooled, then fold it in with everything else in the large bowl

4. Grab the diced strawberries and douse them in lemon juice. Fold them into the batter last.

5. Spoon out the batter into the muffin tin using a muffin scoop or a 1/3 cup. Try to make everything look even, because then each muffin will be cooked the same.

6. Bake 25 to 30 minutes and rotate the pan halfway through baking

Serve with honey, a glass of milk or coffee, and enjoy. 

Eat well! Be well, my friends! And subscribe below to always be in the know!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No Bread Bruschetta Chicken

I have to admit it, I have an addiction... an addiction to bread. I would eat bread (and chocolate) for every meal if I could. I mean, I could, but I would probably die of malnutrition or something. Theo's Chocolate bar, bread & chocolate, is probably the best invention ever in my book. What geniuses to combine my two favorite things of all time! I think I could write a sonnet about bread, if I had time. 

With that, I also really love meals that involve bread. Firstly being, bruschetta. This Italian appetizer is on the top of my list of things to secretly eat as a meal. Sorry mom! .......#notsorry

To make my mom, and my body proud, I came up with a no bread version of this amazing combination, so I could actually eat it for dinner without overloading on carbs. It was really simple honestly. Just switch out the bread for chicken!

Viola ... boom .... Bruschetta Chicken. It's healthy and filling, and makes great leftovers. I guarantee. You can even make it into a salad if you want to pack in the veggies. But it's great just on its own too....or with some bread to mop up the residual balsamic....


  • Four chicken breasts (salt & peppered)
  • Two cups diced tomatoes 
  • One cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Three tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Two cloves garlic, minced
  • Four fresh slices mozzarella
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, chopped 


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Prep chicken: pat dry, add salt & pepper to both sides, transfer to foil lined baking sheet
3. Bake chicken for 30-40 until middle is opaque (internal temp should be 165F, no pink!)
4. During the last 2-5 minutes of cooking, take the chicken out turn the oven from 400 to broil. Put the slices of mozzarella ontop and place the chicken back in the oven to melt the cheese and finish baking
5. While chicken is cooking and/or cooling combine the diced tomatoes, red onion, balsamic, oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon together
6. When the chicken is done top the tomato mixture ontop. 

Serve with a garden salad or on top of a salad!
As always, eat well! Be well! And subscribe below to always be in the know :)

Bruchetta Chicken Salad. Get your veggies in!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Aunt Winnie Lou's Bon Bon Chocolates

When I was really small, my great-great Aunt Winnie Lou was still alive. I have a very vague memory of her, but I do remember that she was my mom's very favorite Great-Aunt. Visiting her was always fun, because she was fun. She had a great, dark house that smelled like sugar, and a back yard with picnic tables where my cousin David got stung by a bee. Today, my mom has boxes chalk full of Winnie Lou's recipes, carefully handwritten in beautiful (hard to read) cursive, each one was signed in her initials, W.L.S. These recipes are very special in my family, and are a partly the reason for my life-long food obsession. 

For Valentine's Weekend, I went home to visit my parents and wash my car. How romantic! My mom surprised me after lunch with these wonderfully easy to make bon-bons for dessert. They're just candy, but the filling is supposed to imitate ice cream you would find in a more traditional bon-bon. "Aunt Winnie Lou has been inspiring me a lot lately," my Mom said, "I've never made these chocolates before, but I absolutely love them." 

Remaking old family recipes are a great way to connect with your roots and remember your loved ones, in my opinion. On this Valentine's Day weekend, I hope you can reach out to the special people in your life and make some new memories too. This recipe is sure to be a hit, its very versatile to suit your own cravings and super easy to make. From my family to yours, here's Aunt Winnie Lou's Bon Bon Chocolates!



  • 2 boxes powdered sugar
  • 1 can "eagle brand milk" (a.k.a sweet & condensed milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  

Any other flavorings that you'd like to add to this initial mixture (e.g. coconut, powdered chocolate, mint, espresso, nuts, peppermint, lemon) They're delicious either way

Chocolate dip:

  • 12-16 oz chocolate chips 


1. Mix all of the ingredients together
2. If making different flavors, separate the mixture into separate bowls. You can make any flavor you want! Mocha, lemon, coconut, praline, raspberry, you get the picture. 
3. Once you have created the flavors you want, roll the mixture(s) into balls, place on lined cookie sheet, and chill for at least 2 hours. However, chilling overnight is best. 
4. After chilling, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave
5. Now dip your chilled candies in chocolate and place back on the cookie sheet. Chill again until firm.

After I finished reading the recipe from Winnie Lou for these bon-bons I saw something extra written at the end. She wrote, "Sorry I didn't write this down on a recipe card." W.L.S

Don't forget to subscribe by email below! Eat well! Be well! Happy Valentine's Day <3

Friday, February 13, 2015

A call out for community food lovin' collaborations

A long time ago, I had a dream of being a community organizer. I was working as a residential advisor in a debilitated dorm in Bellingham, WA and loving every minute of it. We were siloed on campus, and often times our residents wanted nothing to do with each other, let alone me. Slowly but surely, this residential hall became a blooming and thriving community. My door was always open, residents were constantly in my room, and friends were being made. It took three years, and an awesome boss (shout out to Derek!), to make it all happen. I truly thought I could do this sort of thing as a career right out of college. 

Well, long story short, no such luck. At least not yet. 

The other night, after Ethan got home from work, he asked me what it was that made me love cooking? Without hesitation I said, "the story!"  Every recipe has an idea behind it and every cook in the kitchen has a reason for making it. There's a lot of love that goes into meal making.

When I was an RA in college, my friends thought it was so cool I could cook. I had no idea that could be something cool. So now, cooking has evolved into  a very special gift I share with the people around me. 
Me and my boys enjoying french toast on a Sunday morning in the dorms

This is where YOU come in. Do you find yourself anxiously waiting for the next grocery trip? Are you a collector of cookbooks, and read them cover to cover?  Would you like to share your story through food on this blog and get photographed while doing it? If so, reach out to me. Karen's Place is my community building project + creative outlet. I may not be building a community through my career, but I sure as hell can try doing through a serious hobby. 

I can go through the details later when you reach out, but this is YOUR opportunity to engage with your community, your internet time, your creative juices. Karen's Place is a blog focused on the art of sharing, not just food but stories. So please, share yours with me and I'll feature it here.

Leave a comment or fill out the contact sheet at the bottom if you'd like to be featured. Also, never miss a beat + subscribe to Karen's Place. There's so much more waiting to be shared.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Eggioa Scramble

It seems like when I get to the weekend my creative side totally goes out the window. But the weekends are the best because of one special meal that rarely occurs during the work week. And that my friends, is brunch. I find myself constantly whipping up a scramble on Sunday mornings, because I have no idea what else to make. Except pancakes...pancakes always sound good.

Ethan and I like to sleep in, a little too much. So most Sunday mornings spent at home are non-existent. Because, we are asleep until 11am. Don't worry folks, we are slowly getting out of this bad habit, but that means breakfast most weekends are long forgotten and brunch is a must. 

This last Sunday I awoke fiercely and with crazy inspiration. I broke the boring egg + cheese scramble slump with this wonderful concoction: the eggioa scramble.

It's beautiful.
It's simple.
It's amazingly delicious.

You'll want to eat it all.
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INGREDIENTS yields 2-3 servings  

  • 1 cup Quinoa   (you can cook it in the rice cooker!) 
  • 5 eggs whipped with a splash of milk 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper or chili powder 
  • 1 cup finely chopped spinach   (you can also add broccoli, I'm going to next time) 
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Siracha  

  1. Cook the quinoa: combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce meduim-low heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has been mostly absorbed. Fluff with fork and set aside.
  2. Whip eggs and milk together, add salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Chop spinach (and broccoli) finely and saute in pan with oil over medium-high heat until soft. This will make the spinach to reduce in size and takes about 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat slightly and add eggs. Continually whip the eggs with wooden spoon to combine spinach. Cook eggs while stirring occasionally for 6-7 minutes or until they start to firm up.
  5. Add quinoa to eggs and stir. Cook until the mixture no longer looks wet and the quinoa has browned. This takes 4-5 minutes.
  6. Dish out the mixture and top with freshly grated parmesan and siracha. 

Don't forget to subscribe to Karen's Place + never miss a beat. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'll eat pumpkin any day chocolate chip cookies

In college, I lived an two hours away from home in beautiful Bellingham, Washington. I worked as a resident advisor to put myself through school, and I fell in love with the people who lived with me and who I got to take care of (essentially). Eventually, I became notoriously known as "Mama K" --baking my residents cookies, inviting them over to dinner, and hosting movie nights.  I found myself constantly calling my mom asking her how to make my favorite foods and recreating them in my small dorm-room kitchen. One day I bought a notebook to write down recipes from home so I could keep track of everything for myself. I'd add in some of my own creations too. You could say, this notebook has been the foundation for starting this blog. 

Today, I'm going to share one of those recipes I have written in that old notebook, which I still constantly use when I want to make certain treats from growing up. I'm still not adult enough yet to have a recipe box....

One of my all time favorite desserts is pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. As a kid, my sisters and would go bonkers for these cookies. Mostly because we could eat the dough without my mom freaking out since there is no egg. Then, when I started making them for my friends in college, they went nuts for them too!!

It doesn't have to be fall to enjoy pumpkin. Indulge yourself in this gooey treat -- I dare you. You will be having pumpkin all year round after this. Look at the notes, you can make these cookies vegan too! 


1 cup white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (or you could puree your own)
1/2 cup butter  (use one whole, ripe, banana instead to make it vegan!) 
1 tablespoon vanilla 
2 cups flour (I like to use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon salt
A dash of nutmeg
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips 


0. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and get out a cookie sheet. Cover your sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up! And I swear, the paper makes the cookies rise better.

1. Cream together the wet ingredients: sugar, pumpkin, butter and vanilla using a mixer in large bowl. You should see small clumps of butter. 

2. Sift or stir together the dry ingredients: flour, powder, soda, spices and salt in medium bowl.

3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet using your mixer on a low setting. Once all combined, kick your mixer up a couple notches to make sure all the ingredients have melded together. Turn off, and lick your beaters if you like. Or just wash them... 

4. With a spatula, stir in your chocolate chips. Some people like to add walnuts too. 

5. With a spoon or cookie scoop, get your cookies on the pan! You can choose how big they are just know that the bigger the ball is the longer they need to cook. 

6. Cook for 8-10 minutes. They should look a little gooey. Trust me, they get firmer as they cool on the rack.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Haystack

This last Sunday was the 49th Superbowl, Patriots vs. Seahawks. In a last ditch effort, my boys lost the game, and I was left to take home a big pile of dip. Instead of wallowing in the loss, I'm joining my fellow fans and looking to the bright future! Hence my first foodie-blog post shall be that dip I just mentioned. THE HAYSTACK.

Layered with history (ha, you'll see that's funny), The Haystack is a classic bean-dip appetizer that has been a staple in my family forever. Some woman at my grandpa's company won some recipe contest and it was published in their monthly newsletter in some year starting with 19. So here's to you, lady! Your dip has served many thousands of my family members and will now be the subject of this post -- may it fill your family's stomachs with joy as it has mine for decades. 

My posts will always be classic recipes with my favorite twists. I build upon what I've learned and what I enjoy. This is how my dishes become uniquely mine. I want to encourage you to make your cooking your own too! If there are flavors you'd rather use because you like them more, then do it! The kitchen is your space. Just get to cookin'.



1 large can refried beans (I like to use black refried beans
1 package taco seasoning 
1/4 cup water
Marie Sharps Hot Sauce  (or your favorite kind
3 ripe avocados (How do you know your avocados are ripe? Click here, cool trick!)
3 tablespoons lemon juice 
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 can pitted black olives, roughly chopped 
1 small can chopped green chiles 
1 1/2 cup Monetrey Cheese
1 cup Cheddar Cheese 
1 cup diced tomatoes 
Shredded lettuce (enough to cover the top, without falling off!!


1. Combine beans, taco seasoning, hot sauce, 1/4 cup water in saucepan over medium-high heat on stove. Stir continuously until beans are creamy and bubbly. Cool slightly and spread on LARGE platter. Like Haystack Rock in Oregon, this dip is going to have a pyramid shape. (Ha, get it now?)

2. Blend avocados with lemon juice and sour cream. I like to use a potato masher for this process. Once creamy, mix in garlic salt and chili powder. This guacamole type concoction will now be spread on top of the beans, anxiously awaiting friends on the platter. 

3. Next, pop open the chiles from the can and spread them over the avocado layer. You'll then add the roughly chopped olives after that. 

4. Top all of this gloriousness with the 2 cheeses, diced tomatoes, and, if you're feeling crazy, shredded lettuce. It's good with or without the lettuce, I just like the crunch. Also, fun fact, the woman who originally wrote this recipe called for alfalfa sprouts for the final topping. So, if you're feeling crazy you can do that instead of the lettuce too. 


"be warned, this recipe will serve a lot of people and is not for the faint of heart. be prepared to take home leftovers as I have." 

That's all for today folks, thanks for stopping by to Karen's Place. Stay tuned for next week as we attempt to create a healthy twist on my favorite carbo-load treat: bruschetta chicken. Be well! Eat Well! Have Fun!