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Monday, September 30, 2013

Cream of Spinach & Artichoke Soup

This recipe was created recently after dining out with my kids one evening after having ordered Spinach Artichoke Dip as an appetizer. They just love it! I've made Spinach & Artichoke French Bread Pizza before so I thought I'd experiment with the same flavors in a soup since I had some leftover spinach from dinner the previous night. 

I really liked the flavor of this Spinach & Artichoke Soup, but the kids weren't fond of it. I even sent it into my hubby's work so that other's can try it as well, but he left  it in his car that day and it never made it inside the office. So you will have to be the judge and let me know what you think when you make it! 

Cream of Spinach & Artichoke Soup
Total Time: 45-50 minutes    Yield: 7 cups   Serving Size: 1 cup
  • 1-10oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 4 Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 4 c. Vegetable Broth
  • 2 c. Water
  • 1 c. Milk, heated (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp. Cornstarch + 3 tbsp. Cold Water, if needed


  1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat then add the onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes; then add in the spinach and artichokes. 
  2. Add the vegetable broth and water. Mix well and bring to a boil. 
  3. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes; then mix in the milk and cheese. 
  4. Use your immersion blender* to blend all of the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth. 
  5. If the soup isn't thick enough for your liking, mix together the cornstarch and cold water; then add it to the mixture and simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 127, Carbs 7.2g, Fat 7.2g, Protein 5.5g, Fiber 1.3g, Sugar 3.6g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

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*If you do not have an immersion blender, simply pour the mixture into a regular blender and puree until smooth. Just be very careful not to fill it too much to the top as it will be extremely hot and you don't want to pop the lid off of your blender.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tomato Gratin

If you or someone you know has a garden, then I'm sure you have been or will about to be inundated with tomatoes. September is the "last hurrah" of tomato season here in NJ and every year, my in laws grow more tomatoes than they know what to do with. Lucky for me, I get them to experiment and cook with their overabundance. Some recipes I create are healthy. Others not so much. I guess I'm just having one of those "I don't care what I eat" weeks after yesterday's Beef Stroganoff. Anyway, this recipe for Tomato Gratin certainly falls into this category, but man is it worth it! 

Tomato Gratin
Prep Time: 10 minutes  Cook Time: 25 minutes  Total Time: 35 minutes    Serves: 6


  • 6 Large Roma Tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c. Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 c. Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp. Butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Layer tomatoes in an 8"x8" oven safe baking dish; then top with garlic and drizzle with oil. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cheese basil, breadcrumbs and butter. Mix until it is crumbly; then sprinkle on top of the tomatoes. 
  4. Place the dish back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories 340, Carbs 19.4g, Fat 23g, Protein 11.3g, Fiber 2.1g, Sugar 1.3g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

I can't believe that in the 2 1/2 years I've been blogging about my weekly food experiments, I've yet to make Beef Stroganoff! Chicken Stroganoff...yes, but Like I've said before, I try to make things healthier for my family when I can, but every now and then we like to splurge on the good stuff! I love meals like this when the weather is getting cooler. My preference is to cook this in a Dutch oven on top of the stove, but I haven't used my slow cooker in a while and was going to be out most of the day and needed dinner ready for when I got home. The beauty of this dish is that you can prepare the entire thing the night before, refrigerate it; then put it in the slow cooker in the morning before work. And...Voila! Dinner is ready when you get home.

I also wanted to point out that wine glass in the picture. Isn't it adorable! My friend Jenn, from My Daily Jenn-ism gave it to me last Christmas and had it custom made by A Beaded Whim. They're handcrafted beaded and wired wine glasses, flutes and goblets and no two are exactly like. She just moved and new orders are on a brief hiatus for the next month until she gets settled, but keep these in mind for the upcoming holiday season! 

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: 2-8 hours     Serves: 4
  • 2 lb. Top Round of Beef or Beef Cubes
  • 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Portobello Mushroom Caps, approximately 3 cups halved and sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 1/2 c. Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 c. White Wine
  • 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. Sour Cream 
  • Egg Noodles or Rice, as desired
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. 
  2. If using the top round of beef, cut the meat into 1"cubes; then dredge the cubes in flour so that they are coated on all sides. 
  3. Brown the meat in the oil for 5-7 minutes on all sides; then place in your slow cooker. 
  4. Add the butter to the pan; then add the mushrooms, garlic and scallions. Saute 2 minutes until the mushrooms start to sweat. Remove from the pan and place in your slow cooker. 
  5. Next, in the same pan, whisk in your flour to form a roux; then add your broth, mustard, parsley, thyme and wine. Bring to a boil until it's slightly thickened and add to your slow cooker
  6. Cook on warm 6-8 hours; low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours; depending on how long you will be away from your slow cooker. 
  7. After the meat has cooked and is tender, combine the 1/4 cup of flour and cold water together and mix well so that there are no lumps. Add the flour mixture to the beef mixture as needed depending on how thick you like your gravy (I like to make extra sauce for the noodles or rice); then stir in the sour cream. Serve over noodles or rice. 

*Nutrition Facts per Serving (without the noodles or rice)
Calories 751, Carbs 17g, Fat 36.8g, Protein 73.5g, Fiber .6g, Sugar 1.5g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 
These figures represent all of the ingredients listed above even though it may not all be consumed. There is no way for me to break out the meat portion only minus the gravy so please just use this as a guide.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Top 10 Mushroom Recipes

September is National Mushroom Month and since I just LOVE adding mushrooms to just about everything, I'm going to share with you the Top 10 Mushroom Recipes on the blog today. Now, I did leave some of the favorites off of the list since they did show up in the Top 10 Zucchini Recipes post, but these were all close in viewership. I hope you all like these Top 10 lists. I think it's a great way to introduce old recipes to new readers. Enjoy!

If you love mushrooms, then you don't want to miss this post as I also 
explain different mushroom varieties and how they're commonly used! 

And the #1 Favorite Mushroom Recipe was

Tell me which recipe you can't wait 
to try in the comments below! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chocolate Avocado Bread

Remember yesterday when I mentioned that I had a lot of avocado to use up? Well today I'm going to share with you what I created with the remainder of those avocados...Chocolate Avocado Bread. I have a go-to banana bread recipe that is so versatile, you can add the ingredients in just about any order and it comes out perfectly every time. I've also used this recipe over the years and adjusted the measurements or added other items and still...perfect every time. So I decided to use my base recipe and add some of the avocado to it. The only difference is that I didn't have any granulated sugar. You see, I don't use any sugar in my tea and don't bake very often. In fact, if the kids want cookies, they tend to just make it themselves. However being kids, they never tell me when they use the last of an ingredient and I have no idea I need it until well...I need it!

The Verdict: Rachael LOVED this bread. The rest of us, not so much. It just wasn't sweet enough for me; however, it was extremely moist. One note to make is that my loaf pan is approximately 9" x 5". If your pan is smaller/larger, adjust the cooking time and check the bread before the 50 minutes suggested. The bread will be done when the top springs back when touched or if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Chocolate Avocado Bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes                     Yield: 24 slices
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes               Serving: 1 slice
Total Time: 65-75 minutes
  • 2 c. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 c. Canola Oil
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 4 Avocados
  • 1 Lemon, juice only
  • 2 tbsp. Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 c. Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Cooking Spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil and egg whites until well blended. 
  3. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and place the fleshy green part in a food processor or blender. Add the lemon juice and pulse until the avocado is creamy; then add to the sugar mixture. 
  4. In a separate small bowl combine the vanilla pudding, flour, baking soda and cocoa powder. Mix well. 
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well until all combined, then fold in the chocolate chips. 
  6. Spray 2 loaf pans (approx. 9"x5") with cooking spray; then evenly distribute the batter between the pans. They should fill half- to three quarters- of the way to the top. 
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top springs back when touched. Let cool. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories 227, Carbs 34.6g, Fat 9.7g, Protein 2.9g, Fiber 2.6g, Sugar 19.7g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Penne with Avocado Pesto

What do you do when you have about eight ripe avocados sitting on your kitchen counter that were supposed to be used for guacamole to feed sixteen hungry teenage girls, but then the function gets cancelled? You have to find ways to use it up before they go bad! Hey..these things are expensive! So I pureed half of them and made this Avocado Pesto. It was deliciously creamy, though it always garners funny looks from the family when I serve them green food. Tune in tomorrow when I share what I made with some of the other avocados!

Penne with Avocado Pesto
Total Time:  30 minutes        Serves: 6

  • 1 lb. Penne Pasta (I used Barilla Plus)
  • 1/4 c. Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 4 Avocado
  • 1/4 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Lemon, juice only
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. Grape Tomatoes, cut in half
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat with a little salt; then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente; then drain. 
  2. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the fleshy, green part; then add it to a food processor.
  3. Next, add in the cheese, garlic, lemon juice and oil. Pulse until well blended and creamy. It should have a smooth consistency. 
  4. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl; then add the tomatoes and avocado pesto. Mix well. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories 505, Carbs 62.1g, Fat 23.1g, Protein 15.8g, Fiber 12.4g, Sugar 3.8g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

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Monday, September 16, 2013

eStore is now LIVE!

If you read the latest newsletter, I gave a hint as to what will be coming. But if you haven't, then let me fill you in...I've opened my own eStore! 

In the coming weeks and months, I will be creating a series of downloadable eCookbooks based on recipes created here at Carrie's Experimental Kitchen. If you're like me, it's easier to find inspiration when like items are grouped together. For example, Desserts, Under 400 Calories, Appetizers, Soup, Poultry, Beef, Salads, etc. 

To start, I've created my first eCookbook entitled, Desserts: 50+ recipes to satisfy every sweet tooth, which can be viewed and downloaded on the eStore Tab.  I chose this category first for two reasons. One, it was the most popular selection during a recent online poll. Two, the holidays will be here before you know it! 

Check the eStore often to see what's new and if you have any suggestions or other products you'd like to see in the store, please comment below. 

Turkey Orzo Soup

I love that the cooler weather is approaching. It means more soup like this Turkey Orzo Soup. I will purposely buy a whole turkey or just the breast and roast it on a Sunday afternoon, knowing that I will almost always have leftovers. The recipe below calls for chicken or vegetable broth; however, I've also used homemade turkey stock made from boiling the carcass with some onions, celery and carrots after all the meat has been carved from the bone. This soup is simple to make and really warms you from the inside out on a cool day.

Turkey Orzo Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes          Yield: 7 cups
Cook Time: 25 minutes         Serving: 1 cup
Total Time: 35 minutes
  • 1 c. Carrots, small dice
  • 1/4 c. Red Onion, small dice
  • 2 Stalks Celery, small dice
  • 1 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 c. Turkey, cooked and chopped
  • 4 c. Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. Orzo

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over low heat; then add in the carrots, onion and celery. Allow the vegetables to sweat and soften for approximately 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add the parsley, turkey, broth, water and orzo. Mix well. 
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. 

Nutrition Facts per Serving
Calories 91, Carbs 8.4g, Fat 3.2g, Protein 7.2g, Fiber 1.1g, Sugar 1.5g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seafood Frenzy Friday #59

TGIF and Welcome Back to Seafood Frenzy Friday! If you're new to CEK, I normally don't cook seafood dishes at home; which is why I created this feature so that all of you can get the latest and greatest. I did take a couple of weeks off from this segment so if you missed any of the entries from the last SFF you can catch them all here.

Don't forget to check back for new entries over the weekend as you can upload your recipes until Monday. You can also stop by my Seafood Frenzy Friday Pinterest Board where you can share and pin your own favorites.  Congratulations to Laurie Bakke's Kitchen for having the most viewed recipe on Week #58. 

Gab's Caprese Shrimp Stuffed Tomatoes (Guest Post)

Today I'm honored to have my youngest daughter back here on the blog to share her latest experiment with all of you. AND...she chose seafood since I don't prepare it very often myself. It looks great and the rest of the family really loved these tomatoes. Take it away Gab.... xo 


Hello everybody! It’s Gab again and I’m happy to be back on the blog. Ever since I was on the blog two summers ago with my Homemade Gnocchi with Sausage Bolognese Sauce, I could not wait to get back into the kitchen to share another original recipe with you. This summer I was busy learning kitchen basics with my mother and helping her on the blog. My favorite task was to pin fantastic looking food to all of her Pinterest food boards and I can't wait to try some of them in the coming months!
I knew what I wanted to make as soon as I tasted my mom's Spinach, Mushroom & Brie Stuffed Tomatoes. They were SO good and I wanted to make my own unique version. These Caprese Shrimp Stuffed Tomatoes were DELICIOUS and had such a rich flavor, but not too "shrimpy" tasting. It made me feel like I was back in Italy and eating such wonderful Italian foods. This recipe can also be made without shrimp if you dont like shrimp or seafood. I had so much fun making this recipe, but the fun part is eating it together as a family. I hope you like it as much as we did. Bon Appetit! 

Gab’s Caprese Shrimp Stuffed Tomatoes
Prep Time:  15 minutes           Yield: 4
Cook Time: 15 minutes            Serving: 1 each
Total Time:  30 minutes
  • 4 Large Tomatoes
  • 12 Extra Large Shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used part skim)
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. of Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Add the oil to a small saute pan, heat over medium heat; then add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is cooked through and pink for approximately 3-5 minutes(should not be clear or gray). Remove from pan, allow to cool slightly and cut in half. 
  3. Place your tomatoes on a flat surface, slicing a thin slice off of the bottom if necessary so it sits flat; then take a sharp knife and cut a circle in the top of the tomato. Remove the inside pulp and even out the inside of the tomato shell using a spoon. 
  4. Chop the tomato pulp and place in a bowl; then add the shrimp, garlic, basil, both cheeses and the breadcrumbs. Mix well. (You may need to adjust your breadcrumbs if the mixture is too dry/moist, it depends on how much tomato pulp/juice each tomato yields). 
  5. Stuff the tomato mixture into the tomato shells and place in an oven safe baking dish. 
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the breading is lightly brown. 

Nutrition Facts
Calories 228, Carbs 24.5g, Fat 7.8g, Protein 7.6g, Fiber 2.8g, Sugar 1.5g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into Calorie Count and may not be 100% accurate. 

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