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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cashew Chicken with Sesame Garlic Sauce

I'm back...did you miss me? :) I missed you guys, but had a great time in Columbus, Ohio with my daughter and the other cheer parents. On our down time, we spent some time strolling the North Market; where I found some new spices I can't wait to experiment with and did a little shopping at Easton Town Center. The parent get togethers for lunch and dinner are always fun with a lots of laughs and thanks to a few recommendations, we had some great meals at Pasqualones, Barcelona, and Northstar Cafe.

And of course, we spent plenty of time soaking up the last time our senior girls would perform at a national competition. They did fantastic and after two days of competing, they took 2nd Place in their division!

Anyway, enough about my little break. For today's new recipe, I'm sharing Cashew Chicken with Sesame Garlic Sauce. Now, if you follow along here on the blog regularly, you know I don't usually purchase pre-made sauces because they're generally very high in sodium. However, when grocery shopping recently I came across a new line of sauces by Iron Chef and the Sesame Garlic version caught my eye. I don't make a lot of Asian food at home; nor do I eat it out that often. Occasionally when I am in the mood, I opt for some Eggdrop Wonton mixed soup or Moo Goo Gai Pan in a Brown Sauce (which is just some steamed chicken and vegetables).

So when I saw this sauce, I figured I'd make a quick stir fry with it one night for dinner. I mean after all, if you're going to use a soy or teriyaki sauce anyway, might as well use a pre-made one as they all contain a lot of salt. The sauce had a little bit of a kick, but it wasn't too overpowering for my palate (I don't like things that are too spicy) and I liked how quick it was to make this. Just put all of your ingredients in one pan and dinner is served! The family really liked my version of Cashew Chicken with Sesame Garlic Sauce and I served it over some brown rice and had enough for leftovers the next day too.  ~Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heading to Ohio

Hi Everyone! 

I just wanted to let you know that there will be no new posts here at Carrie's Experimental Kitchen for a few days. Our oldest daughter is competing in her last National Cheering Competition in Ohio this weekend. It's truly bittersweet and after 12 years of carting her from practices to football and basketball games and competitions, I can't believe it's over. It goes so quickly!

I'll be there cheering the girls on, so join me in wishing them luck. They've had so many ups and downs this season between taking last place to winning first place and grand champions throughout the season that any extra positive thoughts can't hurt. 

I'll be posting pics on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you want to follow along. Until then, I'll see you back here on Tuesday, February 25th with a brand new recipe to share! 

xo Carrie

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuscan-Style Beef Brisket

Growing up, beef brisket was not something we normally ate in our home. The first time I made this dish was about seven or eight years ago when I got tired of cooking the same standard roasts that we would always make for holidays or Sunday dinners.  Luckily for me, my family likes to try new things. In fact, every holiday or family gathering, my husband insists that there is at least one new item on the menu. 

I originally posted this recipe back in July 2011 along with a recipe for potato pancakes, but recently opened up my cookbook during one of our many recent homebound snowstorms and made this Tuscan-Style Beef Brisket again.  The recipe is simple with a paste of fresh garlic and rosemary and sits in a bath of red wine and beef broth; which make a flavorful au jus when served. I've made this recipe several times now over the years and it comes out perfectly every time. ~Enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Strawberry, Kiwi & Banana Smoothie

We are LOVING our new Vitamix and make some sort of smoothie every day. We each have our favorite way of making them too. Don and I prefer ours made with fresh fruit, spinach, water and some flaxseed meal. Rachael will try just about any combination I make and requested kale once, but I don't think she cared for it that much (like mother and daughter I guess!). And Gab prefers her smoothies made with fruit, milk and ice like this Strawberry, Kiwi and Banana Smoothie she made for herself recently. Smoothies are a great way to start your day, especially if you're like us and don't have time to sit down for a complete breakfast during the school week. She takes it with her to the bus stop and before the bus comes, she's had a healthy start to her day which helps her concentrate better at school. ~Enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Make Blackberry Vinegar

Sometimes I never know what my next experiment is going to be until I find something unexpectedly. For example, our cheerleading team was hosting a garage sale fundraiser several months ago and I found four, white porcelain ramekins for $1. Not each, but all four for one dollar..BONUS! As soon as I saw them I KNEW I was going to make some kind of macaroni and cheese dish and that's when I created the recipe for Rosemary & Goat Cheese Mac n' Cheese. Perfect right?

Well this is the exact same way this recipe for Blackberry Vinegar was created. I was walking through Target one day and I like to look through those few isles where they have everything for $1. These cruets caught my eye and I loved how they had a chalkboard front. Since Spring is just around the corner, I thought making some homemade vinegar would be a great idea to post about to get us all out of this winter doldrum.

Making your own vinegar is SUPER EASY, it's the waiting that's a killer! Two ingredients: vinegar and fruit of your choice are all you need. My local market has had an abundance of blackberries lately so I chose to use those, but feel free to experiment and substitute as you wish. Once you make the vinegar, you can use it as the base for a salad dressing; to marinate meat, poultry or fish; or toss it in with your favorite pasta salad recipe. Here are some other fun recipe combinations I can't wait to try:
  • Raspberries + Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pears + White Vinegar
  • Oranges + Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Strawberries + Red Wine Vinegar
  • Peaches + White Vinegar
  • Vanilla Bean + White Vinegar
Don't they sound good? I can't wait for salad season! ~Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chicken Costoletta (Cheesecake Factory Copycat)

We don't go often to the Cheesecake Factory, usually once or maybe twice a year. But whenever we do, my daughter and I always get the same thing: Chicken Costoletta; which is basically a chicken cutlet with a creamy lemon sauce. I think she's a lot like me in the sense that we don't like to have a lot of choices. Give me 3-5 things to choose from and I'll pick one. Give me 100, I go for the simplest thing I can find. If you have never been to their restaurant, their menu is huge with a lot of different varieties of food to choose from. Each time we go, we'll spend some time looking at the menu and then always wind up getting the same thing we normally do. We always say we'll split one entree, but like I said, we don't go often so we forget how big their portion sizes are and always wind up taking the majority of the meal home x 2.

So recently I decided to surprise her for dinner one night and make our favorite Cheesecake Factory dish at home. This recipe for Chicken Costoletta was definitely a close second to the original and had all of the same flavors we love. On the healthy scale? Not so much, but I'm a sucker for anything lemon. The recipe looks a little intimidating with a lot of ingredients, but it really isn't any more difficult than breading and frying chicken cutlets. Most of the ingredients I already had on hand in my pantry except for the heavy cream. I don't buy that unless I know specifically what I'm using it for. If you want to lighten this up a bit, I'm sure fat free half and half would work just as well.  ~Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Individual Chicken Pot Pie

Happy Valentine's Day and I hope all of my fellow East Coasters survived all the snow and ice! If you're not a planner, and haven't given any thought to what you want to make for tonights' dinner, (like me!) it's fine. There is still plenty of time to whip up a special dinner for two and your significant other will never know you haven't been planning this for weeks!

These individual Chicken Pot Pies are so comforting and are easy to make. In fact, this was one of the first recipes I shared on my blog almost 3 years ago and is also in my cookbook. Though the original recipe called for making an entire pot pie, the filling is the same with the addition of horseradish in this recipe just because I like a little extra kick. In 45 minutes you can have a home cooked meal waiting on the table. To make this recipe tonight, make a quick stop at your local grocery store and pick up the following items:
  • Pre-Made Roasted Chicken (those rotisserie chickens work wonderful for last minute dinners)
  • Refrigerated Pie Crust Dough (Can usually be found by the milk and eggs)
  • Frozen bag of Mixed Vegetables (I use the corn, carrot, pea and green bean mix)
  • Staples: You should have some chicken broth, Dijon mustard, horseradish and cornstarch, but if not...pick those up too! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tortellini with Brown Butter, Garlic & Basil

If you're looking for a really flavorful, quick side dish this Tortellini with Brown Butter, Garlic & Basil is it! Brown butter adds a wonderful nutty flavor to many dishes like pasta, vegetables and one of my favorites...home popped popcorn! If you've never tried making brown butter before, here is how you do it. The entire process only takes a few minutes. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dark Chocolate Nutter Butter Truffles

This past weekend I hosted Bunco at my house and wanted to come up with a new, bite sized dessert. After all, there are twelve of us and by the time dessert rolls around, we're generally full from picking on snacks and drinking our favorite beverages. I was already making a batch of the Oreo Truffles to give to my friends husband who helps plow my driveway when my hubby is away on business, but I've made those before and you know me....I have to make something new! So I used the same concept as the Oreo Truffles and made these Dark Chocolate Nutter Butter Truffles. 

If you LOVE peanut butter and chocolate, you will LOVE-LOVE-LOVE these! This recipe is so simple too. All you have to do is chop the cookies (I used my food processor, but if you don't have one put the cookies in a Ziploc bag and pound them with a meat mallet or the bottom of a glass. Hey...maybe I'll try that anyway next time I'm feeling a bit stressed! haha), blend in the cream cheese, freeze, dip them into the melted chocolate and top with the chopped honey roasted peanuts. 

I opted to use dark chocolate instead of milk or white chocolate as it's not only healthier for you, but that deep, rich color is certainly more appealing. The nuts just gave it an extra layer of peanut-y goodness. I have to say, these Dark Chocolate Nutter Butter Truffles were a HUGE hit and everyone enjoyed them. These would make a great dessert for your Valentine, but you can show the love any day of the week. I dare you to eat just one! ~Enjoy! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Spice Shortbread

When I was reading a recent article in Family Circle Magazine, I came across a recipe they shared for Earl Grey Shortbread. I never hear of putting tea leaves into cookies before and wanted to try it out for myself. I don't particularly care for Earl Grey tea so I didn't have that on hand, so I decided to give my shortbread a distinctive flavor and used Cinnamon Apple Spice tea instead.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

5 Sample Valentine's Day Menu Ideas

I've been asked over the years if I could put together a weekly meal plan to share here on the blog. I even tried doing it a few times. I'd sit down with a cup of tea early on a Sunday morning and start jotting down recipe ideas that I'd like to make for the week, but I was never able to follow through completely and share them with you. I found it difficult to stick to a plan every day because let's face it, we're all busy. Schedules change or things get moved to different times or days making it impossible to completely plan out an entire week. And contrary to what you might think, I don't cook a new recipe every day.  Most weeks' I'll cook 3-6 new recipes in one day because not only do I have to cook them, I have to photograph them as well so I can share them here with you. Yes, we do eat grilled cheese and soup for dinner. Yes, we order pizza out. Yes, we've even stopped through the drive through (though that doesn't happen very often, I'd rather pick up a sandwich at our local pizza shop).  GASP! See, I'm JUST LIKE YOU! :)

So since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought I'd put together a few sample menus to help give you a little inspiration in case you're planning on staying in for the evening and cooking a nice, home cooked meal for ones you love in your life. These are just examples of course. Feel free to mix and match between menus or if there is something in particular you're in the mood for (say spinach), go to the home page of the website and type "spinach" in the Search Box in the upper left hand side and you will get all of the spinach recipes I've made so far. You get the point.

If you haven't noticed already, I'm also posting this on a Sunday so you have some time to plan. If you like this type of format, I will continue to put together a weekly menu selection of recipes for you to choose from for your weeknight meal plan now that I have over 800 recipes on the blog under my belt. There has to be something here that you will like!

Without further ado, here are 5 Sample Valentine's Day Menu Ideas. ~Enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seafood Frenzy Friday #62

TGIF and Welcome Back to Seafood Frenzy Friday! If you're new to CEK let me explain exactly what SFF is. I don't like or eat any seafood so you will rarely find seafood dishes here at Carrie's Experimental Kitchen. My family will eat some varieties of seafood, but I generally don't cook any seafood dishes at home so they order it out when they're in the mood. 

I created Seafood Frenzy Friday several years ago and have brought it back here on the blog in different formats; however, none of them seemed to do well except my original concept of seeking them out on the web and sharing them here with each of you. I find most of the recipes on food sharing sites and try to find the most appetizing looking recipes; then link directly to the owners original post. If you are a blogger and would like your seafood dish featured here on Seafood Frenzy Friday in the future, please contact me at carrieexpktchn (at) optonline (dot) com. 

Without further ado, here are this week's fabulous seafood creations. You can also find all of today's recipes on my Seafood Pinterest Board.

 ~Enjoy and Have a great weekend! 

Grilled Rosemary & Garlic Salmon with Smoked Sea Salt from Fake Food Free

Grilled Shrimp, Tomato & Feta Kebabs from Real Simple

Stuffed Sole from Mom, What's for Dinner?

Crispy Shrimp Tacos in Tomato Broth from Food Luv

Scallop Bisque from Cooking with Books

Cajun Seafood Enchiladas from Girl Carnivore

Barbecued Blackened Rockfish from Food Jimoto

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo from Cooking & Beer

Black Cod with Tropical Fruit Salsa from Julia's Album

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms from Laurenda Marie

Which recipe are you going to try first? 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lemon Basil Popovers

My mother in law makes Yorkshire pudding whenever she prepares a roast beef for company and until I married into the family, I don't recall ever eating it before. It's a delicious batter type bread that she makes in a pie dish with eggs, flour, milk and LOTS of butter. I've never made Yorkshire pudding myself; however, I always wanted to try to make popovers instead; which are similar to Yorkshire pudding; however they're a little lighter, have a hollow center and are made in a dedicated popover pan.

Fate had it one day in December when I visited my local Chef Central to visit my friend Lauren (Lauren Kelly Nutrition), who was there signing her latest book, The Greek Yogurt Cookbook; which I had the honor of having a few of my own recipes published in there as well. (Check out the book, it's fantastic!) OK, so anyway, I was at Chef Central with my Mom who was in from Florida and we were perusing the isles when I saw this popover pan. Kismet! I still had not tried to make my own popovers until I was reading the February issue of Family Circle Magazine where they shared a recipe for Herb and Asiago Popovers. I didn't have Asiago cheese in the house at the time so I  used their recipe as a base and came up with this lemon and basil version.

These popovers were insanely good, light, flavorful, airy and without all of the added fat from the butter. Yup...definitely going to have to make these again real soon. When making popovers make sure you only fill the tins halfway because they will rise...a lot! Also, make sure you preheat the pan first before pouring in the batter and don't open the oven when cooking, you don't want the popovers to deflate. If you don't have a popover pan, you can use a muffin tin; however they will make more popovers.  ~Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Today is World Nutella Day so of course I had to find a new way to experiment with this chocolaty, hazelnut goodness. My kids just LOVE Nutella and a jar really doesn't last very long in our house. They love it on toast, combined with peanut butter on sandwiches or just eaten out of the jar with a spoon.

For today's recipe I mixed the Nutella in with the batter from my Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (which is in my cookbook) since my youngest was craving some banana muffins for breakfast. The Nutella really added another delicious layer of flavor to these muffins and there is nothing better than fresh baked muffins to start your day. ~Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Loaded Mashed Potato Gratin

If you're looking for a tasty side dish to make for a crowd, this Loaded Mashed Potato Gratin is PERFECT! With bacon, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, how can you go wrong!  You can prepare the mashed potatoes up to a day ahead of time; then bake when you're ready. Which means less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. Even when not entertaining, I like to make extra mashed potatoes so that there are some left over. Then I whip up some of these Corn and Cheddar Mashed Potato Fritters which the girls BEG me for every time I make mashed potatoes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tarragon & Lime Cornish Hens

I don't make cornish hens often, in fact the last time I made them was when I made the Lemon Roasted Cornish Hens back in May 2012. I don't know why I don't make them more often as my family, especially the girls, love them. In fact they used to call them "little chickens" when they were younger, but now that they've matured, they've penned them "pre-teens" and since the U.S. Agriculture describes them as "young immature chickens" I guess I'd have to agree with their terminology.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Carrie's Experimental Kitchen Feedback Survey

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