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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ratatouille Panzanella Salad

Since I made my first Panzanella Salad with roasted fennel & Heirloom tomatoes back in May 2012, my youngest has been asking me to make it again. It was one of her favorite salads; however, I try not to eat too much bread (especially when it comes to eating salads!). Last week while I was grocery shopping, they had some day old bakery Multigrain bread for a fraction of what it would normally cost and I decided that I would experiment with another panzanella salad.

For this version, I used the base recipe for my Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille recipe; especially since all of these vegetables are in abundance right now. I roasted garden fresh eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes, mixed in the multigrain bread then gently tossed the salad with a light Lemon Chardonnay Vinaigrette. This salad was wonderful and encompassed all of the flavors of a typical ratatouille. My family really enjoyed it and for me it was a toss up which version I liked best.

Ratatouille Panzanella Salad
Prep Time:   20 minutes                 Yield: 6 cups
Cook Time:  25 minutes                  Serving: 1 cup
Total Time:  45 minutes

For the Ratatouille Panzanella Salad
  • 1 lb. Loaf Multigrain Bread
  • 2 c. Eggplant, skin on and diced
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, skin on and diced
  • 1 c. Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Red Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Prepared Lemon Chardonnay Vinaigrette
For the Lemon Chardonnay Vinaigrette
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp. Chardonnay Wine
  • 1/4 c. Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
For the Ratatouille Panzanella Salad
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Cut the bread into cubes, place on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray
  3. Bake for 5-10 minutes; turning once, until they are brown. Remove from oven and cool. 
  4. While the bread is in the oven, add your eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic and tomatoes to baking sheet; then drizzle the olive oil on top. Place in the oven with the bread and bake for approximately 15 minutes; turning once. Remove from the oven and cool. 
  5. Add the bread, vegetables and prepared Lemon Chardonnay Vinaigrette to a bowl. Toss to coat and serve. 
For the Lemon Chardonnay Vinaigrette
  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until well blended. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories 260, Carbs 23.9g, Fat 16.2g, Protein 7g, Fiber 5.5g, Sugar 4.4g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 


Ratatouille Panzanella Salad Shopping List

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gremolata Chicken Skewers

These chicken skewers make a fantastic, quick weeknight meal and the kids will LOVE them! They can be prepared the night before, then just grill them when you get home. The simple flavors of fresh parsley, lemon and garlic would also make these Gremolata Chicken Skewers a fun, healthy appetizer for your next get together with family and friends. 

Gremolata Chicken Skewers
Prep Time: 2 hours                         Yield: 12
Cook Time:  10-12 minutes            Servings: 4
Total Time: 2 hours 12 minutes

  • 12 Fresh Chicken Breast Tenders
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 12 Skewers
  1. In a small bowl combine the lemon zest and juice, garlic, chopped parsley and oil. Whisk together. 
  2. Add the chicken to a large resealable plastic bag and add the marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
  3. Heat grill and remove the chicken from the bag. Grill chicken until it is cooked through; approximately 5-6 minutes per side (grilling times may vary depending on type of grill and whether or not you close the lid. Cooked chicken should be 165 internal degrees). 

Nutrition Facts per Skewer
Calories 90, Carbs .8g, Fat 4.5g, Protein 11.4g, Fiber 0g, Sugar 0g

*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cucumber Yogurt Lime Dip

I mentioned when we were in Florida recently that we met up with my friend Jenn from My Daily Jenn-ism and her family for dinner one evening; who happened to be in Disney the same night we were there before heading out on their cruise. There were eight of us (4 adults, 3 kids and a teenager...because I  can't really call her a "kid" any longer when she towers over me!). Anyway, after several attempts to find a place to dine, we had no luck (or 2 hour wait times).

We were in the Downtown Disney area so we just started walking towards Pleasure Island and figured we'd just try places along the way, until we came upon this restaurant/pub called Paradiso 57, Taste of the Americas. None of us had ever dined there before, but after looking at the menu decided there was something for everyone AND they could seat the 8 of us immediately...bonus!

Jenn with her good friend Jose
We ordered some appetizers and drinks to start with (look at the size of their margaritas!) including their Chorizo and Beef Skewers (Spicy Chorizo Skewers, Marinated Beef Skewers, Chimichurri Pita Bread, Marinated Mushrooms with Citrus Yogurt Sauce). The Citrus Yogurt Sauce was delicious and really cut the heat from the spicy chorizo so I asked our waitress what was in it and she told me cucumbers, yogurt and lime. After we got home, I decided to experiment with this recipe for myself and it came out great. You can use this as a dip with tortilla chips or pita bread or use it as an accompaniment for grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Cucumber Yogurt Lime Dip
Prep Time: 10 minutes     Yield: 12 tablespoons       Servings: 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 c. Cucumber, peeled and small dice
  • 1 c. Plain Nonfat Yogurt (I used Chobani)
  • 1/2 Lime, zest and juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until creamy. Cover and refrigerate. Can be kept up to 3 days. 
Nutrition Facts
Calories 13, Carbs 1.2g, Fat 0g, Protein 2.1g, Fiber .1g, Sugar .9g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seafood Frenzy Friday #55

Seafood Frenzy Friday is BACK!

For those of you new to CEK let me explain. I don't eat seafood. Any of it! I don't like the smell, taste or texture. So I created Seafood Frenzy Friday's where I would scour the web searching for the newest seafood recipes from my amazing food blogging friends to share with all of you. It was great to see so much inspiration each week and it was a very popular feature here on the blog. Sadly, I had to stop doing it for a while as it would take me hours to search and gain permission from the bloggers to use their photos in order to compile all of the recipes for you. Time which I didn't really have to spare.

I wanted to bring Seafood Frenzy Friday back, and got some great input from some of my foodie friends Debi (Recipes from my Boys), Joan (Chocolate, Chocolate and More), Christie (Food Done Light) and Amee (Amee's Savory Dish) and decided to start up a link party. Thank you for all of your help and guidance!

What's a Link Party?

A link party or blog hop is where any blogger can upload their own recipe link and photo, in this case it will be any seafood recipe, every week. Then readers like YOU, can stop by every day and check out all of the fabulous seafood creations that have been posted. It helps bring exposure to the blogger and gives YOU many options to choose from.

Enjoy and I can't wait to see what you've all got in store for us this week!

Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen

Bunco: NJ Housewives Style

I have some crazy friends. Well ok, they're not technically crazy, but we do like to act silly, let loose once a month and have fun. And fun in NJ for a bunch of middle-aged women with school age children spells B-U-N-C-O. I mean really, where else can you go and spend $12 for the night, hang out with a bunch of fun women and LAUGH YOUR BUTT off for hours?

Each month the game is hosted by one of the twelve players. Over the years, we've had themes like St. Patrick's Day Bunco, Mardi Gras, Tailgating, Christmas, Easter (where we all had to wear bunny ears) to Wiggin' Out where we all donned wigs...

Yes, this is me in a black and red wig
This past Friday was another Bunco Night at our friend Aimee's house and the theme was NJ Housewives. Aimee is extremely talented and comes up with the best themes. Here are some pictures from the night to give you some ideas for your next get together! 
We all had to send her a picture prior to the event
with a caption that describes us. 
Gotta have Bling! 
Each table had a theme for Winner, Middle and Loser Tables.
The "Traveling" dice were replaced with a necklace, ring and wand.
New Bunco Scoresheets were created.  
SkinnyGirl Cocktails #DrinkLikeALady along with
"Botox Shots" a.k.a. Coconut Vodka in large syringes. 
A few brave souls...
Custom wine glasses for each of us to take home...Thanks again Aimee!
Here are a few pictures from the last time Aimee hosted with a 50 Shades of Grey theme. 

If you're interested in hosting a themed party for your next get together, contact Aimee. You won't be disappointed! Now I can't wait for our next one! 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pasta e Ceci (Ditalini with Chick Peas)

Pasta e Ceci or pasta with beans, was considered a "poor man's meal" in Italy as it combined simple, bountiful ingredients. To me, this dish was exquisite, filling and packed with aromatic flavors. I REALLY wish I had made a double batch of this recipe, it was THAT good!

Unfortunately, I only got to taste a few spoonfuls since the entire batch was made to be split between my hubby and daughter for their dinner since they would be working late this particular evening. I literally picked up my daughter from cheering practice, made this recipe and photographed it in the time it took her to shower and get ready for work.

Pasta e Ceci is such a simple, quick recipe to prepare and you can substitute vegetable broth if you follow a vegetarian diet. My daughter wound up eating this in the car on her way to the office instead of waiting to eat it for dinner because it smelled so good and she couldn't resist. Now they can't wait for me to make this recipe again!

Pasta e Ceci (Ditalini with Chick Peas)
Prep Time: 10 minutes                   Yield: 3
Cook Time: 20 minutes                  Servings: 1 cup
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. Celery, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce Can Chick Peas, rinsed
  • 1/4 c. Crushed Tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 2 c. Low Sodium/Fat Free Chicken Broth
  • 1 c. Ditalini Pasta, dry (I used Barilla)
  • 1/4 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add in the onion, celery, and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes allowing the vegetables to soften. 
  2. Pulse 1 cup of the chick peas in a mini food processor or blender; then add them to the saucepan along with the remaining whole chick peas, tomatoes, parsley, rosemary, chicken broth and pasta. 
  3. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, then add in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 399 , Carbs 64.1g, Fat 9.4g, Protein 15.6g, Fiber 7.5g, Sugar 4.2g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Italian Onions (Family Favorites)

The next recipe I wanted to revisit from my cookbook, Carrie's Experimental Kitchen, for the Family Favorites theme is this one for Italian Onions; especially since today is National Hot Dog Day. This Italian Onion recipe originated from my Great Uncle Artie Palladino and he graciously shared it with me a few years ago. He uses water instead of chicken broth so if you're looking for a vegetarian option, you can use that or vegetable broth instead. I really like how simple and quick these are to make and they have become a staple at all of our summer barbecues. Since I don't eat hot dogs, I personally like to add these Italian Onions to a nice juicy burger or grilled Italian sausage sandwich . 

Italian Onions
Prep Time:  5 minutes    Cook Time: 35 minutes   Total Time: 40 minutes    Servings: 4

  • 1 Vidalia Onion
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 1/2 c. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 3/4 c. Ketchup (I used Heinz)
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  1. Cut the top and bottom off of the onion and peel back the skin. Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then slice into thin strips. 
  2. Add the onions to a medium saucepan along with the butter and simmer over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. 
  3. Once the onions have started to soften, add the chicken broth and reduce heat to low. Simmer approximately 15 minutes until the onions become translucent; stirring every 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ketchup, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve hot. Can be prepared up to three days ahead of time and kept refrigerated. 
Nutrition Facts
Calories 70, Carbs 11.7g, Fat 2.9g, Protein .3g, Fiber .3g, Sugar 10.7g

*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 


You can find this recipe for Italian Onions, along with 180 other recipes in my cookbook available at many online retailers like and IndieBound. Signed copies or hardcover versions are available by emailing carrieexpktchn (at) optonline (dot) net. 

If you are a Goodreads member, I'm holding a Giveaway where you can enter for your chance to win a copy for yourself, but hurry, Friday, July 26, 2013 is the last day to enter!  

    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    Carrie's Experimental Kitchen by Carrie Palladino Farias

    Carrie's Experimental Kitchen

    by Carrie Palladino Farias

    Giveaway ends July 26, 2013.
    See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
    Enter to win

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Olive Garden Caprese Flatbread (Copycat)

    One of my family's favorite  places to dine out is Olive Garden. Mainly because there aren't many other mid-size, sit down restaurant choices around where we live, especially when it's usually a last minute decision. We love to try out new appetizers and this one for Caprese Flatbread is not only one of our favorites, but it has been on their menu for quite some time so it must be a popular choice.  I recently set out to find this recipe online so I could experiment with it at home and low and behold...I found it!

    I looked at the quantity of ingredients listed in their version and decided to cut back a little. I mean 1 1/2 cups of mayo and 4 cups of cheese were just a little too much in my opinion. Gab couldn't wait for me to try this recipe and had fun helping me make this version.  It was really easy and tasted just like Olive Garden's Caprese Flatbread. 

    Olive Garden Caprese Flatbread (Copycat)
    Adapted from Olive Garden
    Prep Time:  15 minutes                   Yield: 15 
    Cook Time: 15 minutes                   Servings: 1 each
    Total Time:  30 minutes

    • 11-ounce Container Refrigerated Pizza Crust Dough (I used Pillsbury)
    • 8 Plum Tomatoes, small dice
    • 4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
    • 1/2 c. Fresh Basil, chopped
    • 3/4 c. Mayonnaise (I used Hellmann's)
    • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
    • 2 c. Part Skim Mozzarella, shredded
    • 1/4 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approximately 2-3 tbsp.)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
    2. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet (mine was 11"x17") and flatten the pizza dough, making sure it reaches the edges. Drizzle a little more oil on top and brush it over the dough and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the oven and allow to cool. Then preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
    3. While the dough is in the oven, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and 1/4 cup of the basil to a bowl; mix well. 
    4. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise and garlic powder, then spread it evenly over the cooled dough, leaving a 1/2" border around the crust; then spread the mozzarella cheese evenly on top.
    5. Drain tomato mixture and spread evenly over the bread, then sprinkle the Pecorino Romano cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup of basil on top.
    6. Place the bread back in the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until golden and bubbly. Cut into thirds lengthwise, then into fifths giving you fifteen squares.

    Nutrition Facts
    Calories 207 , Carbs 12.8g, Fat 14.7g, Protein 5.8g, Fiber .6g, Sugar 2.7g
    *Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    1,000 Cooks for the Cure

    Susan G. Komen® and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) are partnering with KitchenAid to encourage anyone who enjoys cooking and entertaining to turn a summer gathering into a “party with a purpose” by hosting a Cook for the Cure party. The goal of this 1,000 Cooks for the Cure initiative is to enlist at least 1,000 cooks in the U.S. and Canada to host any type of get-together from July 19-28 and simply ask their guests to make a donation to Komen (United States residents) or the CBCF (Canada residents) in any amount to support the fight against breast cancer. 

     “Participating in this worthy cause is easy, and it’s a great reason to get together with family, friends or colleagues during peak summer entertaining season,” notes Beth Robinson, senior manager of brand experience for KitchenAid. “Whether hosting a casual office party, barbecue, dessert sampling or multicourse dinner, the idea is to ask guests to bring nothing to the party but a donation in any amount they choose.” 

    The 1,000 Cooks for the Cure initiative is part of the larger Cook for the Cure® program, an 11-year effort that has raised more than $11.3 million between the U.S. and Canada for the cause through the sale of pink products, celebrity chef auctions and grassroots fundraising events. Funds raised from the parties can be designated for either organizations’ national efforts or local breast cancer initiatives. 

    Those interested in hosting a party are encouraged to visit to register and obtain a unique host identification number. Registered hosts will be given access to an information kit that includes party ideas, recipes and donation gathering information. To help hosts connect with guests and others planning parties, KitchenAid will feature 1,000 Cooks for the Cure as an event on its U.S. Facebook page, Canada Facebook page and provide updates via its U.S. Twitter handle in the days leading up to the event. 

    In 2013, KitchenAid will donate $450,000 or more to Komen through the Cook for the Cure® program to support the fight against breast cancer. Product sales will not affect this donation. KitchenAid will also donate $100,000 or more this year to CBCF through its Cook for the Cure® sponsorship and pink product sales. Recent years the program has earned two Gold Halo awards from the Cause Marketing Forum, and has been favorably covered by NBC Nightly News and other major media. Largely through a series of celebrity chef auctions for autographed KitchenAid products, the program has garnered the support of dozens of celebrity chefs, including Mario Batali, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pépin, Martha Stewart and many others. 

    I'm so honored to be a part of this initiative to help raise awareness to breast cancer and am hosting my own online fundraiser through Carrie's Experimental Kitchen. Everyone knows at least one person affected by this disease; whether it be a friend or family member that is either a cancer survivor or lost their battle. As many of you are aware, when I renovated my kitchen last summer, my appliance line of choice was KitchenAid; including a double wall oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, five burner gas stove top and wine refrigerator. It's been almost a year now and I couldn't be happier with the KitchenAid line of products. So when they invited me to take part in this initiative it just gave me one more reason to be an advocate of this generous company. If you were considering getting a new stand mixer or blender in your choice of two fashionable pink colors, now is the time! 

    How Can I Help the Fight Against Breast Cancer?
    1. Host a party between July 19-28, 2013
    2. Purchase a KitchenAid Pink Product
    3. Make a meal and share it on Pass the Plate
    4. Donate through CEK's Cook for the Cure Page ID#12377

    Thank you for your support!

    About KitchenAid: 
    Since the introduction of its legendary stand mixer in 1919 and first dishwasher in 1949, KitchenAid has built on the legacy of these icons to create a complete line of products designed for cooks. Today, the KitchenAid brand offers virtually every essential for the well-equipped kitchen with a collection that includes everything from countertop appliances to cookware, ranges to refrigerators, and whisks to wine cellars. Cook for the Cure® has raised over $9 million to date for Susan G. Komen® and $2.3 million to date for CBCF to help find cures for breast cancer. To learn why chefs choose KitchenAid for their homes more than any other brand*, visit (USA) and (Canada). 

    About Susan G. Komen®:
    Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Suzy, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Today, Susan G. Komen® works to end breast cancer in the U.S. and throughout the world by investing more than $750 million in breast cancer research and $1.5 billion in community outreach programs over the past 30 years; providing funding to help low-income and uninsured women get screened and get treatment; advocating for cancer research and outreach programs; and working globally in more than 30 countries. Visit Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. 
    Cook for the Cure® is a registered trademark of Susan G. Komen. 

    About the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:
    The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is the leading community–driven organization in Canada dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer. Our investments in innovative and relevant research and education have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Since 1986, we have been at the forefront of a nationwide movement supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community. Join us at 
    Cook for the Cure® is a registered trademark of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 

    * Based on a 2012 survey, KitchenAid was found to be the home kitchen appliance brand chosen most often by members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. 

    *I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.