Author Archives: kelscafe

Jazz, Jambalaya and a Jolly Good Parade: Fun in the French Quarter

French Quarter Fest Jackson Square 2013

Brad and I recently went to New Orleans to catch the 30th Annual French Quarter Music Festival. This was Brad’s first visit to NOLA. I attended a conference here last year while the festival was going on and thought Brad would enjoy it much more than Mardi Gras (plus I’ve been there, done that, got the beads, etc.) The weather was beautiful and Brad even got to enjoy a parade!

Parade time!

Love a parade!

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Kel’s Tangy Cocktail Sauce

Tangy cocktail sauce

I found some large, cooked shrimp on sale at the grocery store the other day and decided to make some shrimp cocktails as appetizers. I have the bad habit of buying prepared cocktail sauce in a bottle and only using half of it, so the rest usually is out of date by the time I’m ready to use it again. To keep from wasting any cocktail sauce, I decided to make my own, since all of the ingredients needed are staples in my kitchen, except for fresh horseradish.

Fresh horseradish

The great thing about this sauce, in addition to it being so fresh, is that you control the spiciness and tanginess with the amount of horseradish and lemon juice you use. Plus, you make only what you need. It’s so simple, but oh so good!

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Kel’s Terrific Tomatoes Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

fill tomatoes with spinach and cheese mistureTomato season will be upon us soon and I can’t wait — a freshly picked homegrown tomato is one of my top-five favorite foods, and maybe in my top three. I still like tomatoes when I can’t get them straight out of the garden, but am more likely to cook them since the quality isn’t quite the same.

The other day I found some decent-looking tomatoes on sale and decided to stuff them with cheese and breadcrumbs. Spinach also was on sale, so I figured I would add that to the mix as well as Parmesan/Reggiano cheese and some Gruyere that I already had at home. My last decision was between Italian breadcrumbs or panko. Time to experiment!

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Kel’s Crispy Oven-Baked Tilapia

Lovely piece of fish @kelscafe

For years I’ve been buying what Brad and I refer to as “oven fish” from Whole Foods or Fresh Market. “Oven fish” is simply fish filets such as tilapia, trout or flounder, encrusted in some sort of bread crumb mixture that may include Parmesan cheese and/or nuts such as pecans, pistachios or almonds. Simply bake for 20 minutes or so, and voilà, you have an easy and delicious main dish to serve for dinner. But the breaded fish usually comes at a price, as most prepared “fresh” foods do – the other day it was $10.99/lb.

So I decided to save some money and make my own encrusted fish. I found some great tilapia filets for $6.99/lb. Sliced almonds were also on sale and became my nut of choice.

Tilapia on sale!

I’m not 100% sure what the stores use to make the crust stick on the fish, but decided to give mine a bit of a kick with Dijon mustard. Excellent choice! It gave the filets a nice depth of flavor that the store-bought fish does not have. It takes a little bit longer to prepare this fish instead of buying the store-bought, but not by much and what you save makes it all worthwhile!

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Kel’s Homemade Italian Pizza with Turkey Meatballs

 

Kel's homemade Italian Pizza

I recently made some turkey meatballs (see Kel’s Tasty Turkey Meatballs for Pasta, Pizza and Pitas) and promised I would share my recipe for homemade Italian pizza. These meatballs have the right balance of seasonings and the addition of the paprika gives them a nice, smoky kick.

Turkey meatballs

The savory meatballs, sweet onions, slight bitterness of the green peppers and the mild black olives are a perfect combination on my homemade herb and garlic crust. Continue reading

Irish Beers You Can Enjoy at Home

Irish Beers

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, so if you don’t want to go out and celebrate the night before the work week begins, or are like me and just want to avoid the crowds, there are some good Irish beers readily available in the Triangle, either in grocery stores or places like Peace Street Market, Bottle Mixx, Bottle Revolution, Total Wine, etc. You can choose among lagers, red ales, cream ales and stouts. Pick up some Irish cheese (such as yummy Kerrygold cheddar) and crackers and drink to Ireland’s most famous patron saint in the comfort of your home, no driving required! Sláinte agus táinte!

Kerrygold Cheese

For the record, I am no beer expert by any means – I just know what I like and what I don’t. So please keep that in mind as you read my short descriptions of these Irish beers, and check out Beeradvocate’s website if you’d like to see how the experts rate them. Just know I had a lot of fun researching this post!

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Restaurant Review: Community Deli, Raleigh, N.C.

Community Deli Raleigh

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”  ~  old English idiom

I probably drove by the Community Deli (901 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh, N.C.) a thousand times before finally stopping in a couple of weeks ago. The building itself is fairly nondescript – nothing really special to entice me to try it. Community Deli is close to Cameron Village Shopping Center, so if I’m hungry, I usually go to one of the many good restaurants there. But I kept noticing the daily special sign, with sandwiches, burgers or hot dogs at great prices. So I finally decided to give it a try and have been back several times in the past couple of weeks for the good deli food and the friendly, friendly service.

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Kel’s Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Yum!

Ever since Sally gave me cute little red ramekins for Christmas, I’ve been thinking of meals to make in them. The first thing I made was some delicious breakfast casseroles, so I knew I was ready to move on to a dinner recipe. Luckily, the March issue of “Every Day with Rachel Ray” arrived, with a mini pot pie on the cover. Perfect! I opted to use my own recipe instead of Rachel’s (sorry, Rach) because I already know how tasty it is and thought it would be easy to go from a full-sized pot pie to mini ones.

I only made 4 mini pot pies, so I had some of the filling left. I didn’t want to throw it away, so I saved it for chicken pot pie soup. Yum! I just added a little bit of water and some pepper, for a tasty mug of homemade soup.

Chicken pot pie soup

The recipe below will easily make 6 mini pot pies, and probably eight of them. I use fresh chicken breasts, but you can easily substitute one of those roasted chickens you get at the store. You will need about 2 cups of cooked meat. Also, feel free to add some cooked potatoes to the mix, as I sometimes do.  With or without potatoes, this is comfort food at some of its finest!

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Easy, Cheesy Smoked Paprika Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan cheese crisps

My tip of the month for February 2013 was to buy Food Network Magazine’s Cheese issue. The first thing that I made? These addictive smoked paprika Parmesan crisps (see p. 63 of the issue.) They were incredibly easy to make and impossible to keep around – absolutely fantastic! But then I knew they would be, with cheese as the main ingredient and hot paprika providing just the right amount of smoky spice.

Food Network Magazine 2013

I did modify Food Network’s recipe a bit. Since I bought Parmesan that was already shredded, I added a little bit of water to help hold the cheese mixture together. I’m not sure if you would need to do that if you grate your own cheese, but imagine that it would be moister so you would not need to add the water. I also mixed in some garlic  salt, but next time will switch to garlic powder or minced garlic – the cheese is salty enough. as is.

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Easy, Cheesy Smoked Paprika Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan cheese crisps

My tip of the month for February 2013 was to buy Food Network Magazine’s Cheese issue. The first thing that I made? These addictive smoked paprika Parmesan crisps (see p. 63 of the issue.) They were incredibly easy to make and impossible to keep around – absolutely fantastic! But then I knew they would be, with cheese as the main ingredient and hot paprika providing just the right amount of smoky spice.

Food Network Magazine 2013

I did modify Food Network’s recipe a bit. Since I bought Parmesan that was already shredded, I added a little bit of water to help hold the cheese mixture together. I’m not sure if you would need to do that if you grate your own cheese, but imagine that it would be moister so you would not need to add the water. I also mixed in some garlic  salt, but next time will switch to garlic powder or minced garlic – the cheese is salty enough. as is.

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