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!

Continue reading

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 I have the bad habit of buying prepared cocktail sauce in a bottle and only using half of it, so the rest usually is out of date by the time I’m ready to use it again.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!

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

Kel’s Lemony-Garlic Angel Hair Pasta with Bacon, Butter and Olives

Lemony-garlic angel hairHere’s a refreshing pasta dish that I have been making for years. It stars fresh angel hair, lemon and garlic, and is quick and simple to make. The addition of bacon, black and Spanish olives, butter and Parmesan/Reggiano cheese makes it melt-in-your-mouth heavenly. Leave out the bacon for a vegetarian version that also is sure to please! If you don’t have fresh pasta, the boxed angel hair is good too, it just doesn’t absorb the sauce quite as well.

Continue reading

Product Review: Nasoya® Vegan Nayonaise and NayoWhipped Sandwich Spreads

Nasoya Products

I recently was asked to review Nasoya’s® Vegan Nayonaise and NayoWhipped products and was more than happy to do so since I spend several weeks (or more) on a vegan diet in the summer. (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the Nasoya® company in any way.) Nasoya®, which is known for its tofu products, recently reformulated its line of vegan sandwich spreads and dressings to make them “smoother, creamier and more delicious than ever before.”

Continue reading

Kel’s Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

SOS on toast

When’s the last time you had creamed chipped beef (affectionately referred to as SOS in the military)? It had been a while for me, which is a shame because I love this creamy and delicious comfort food and have been making my own since my college days. I have a husband that doesn’t care much for food with sauces or gravies (unbelievable, I know), so lately the only time I get to enjoy creamed chipped beef is in a restaurant, usually for breakfast/brunch.

Let's eat!

The other night I came home from water aerobics and Brad and the kids had already eaten. It had been dreary all week and much cooler than normal for a North Carolina spring. I knew I wanted something warm and satisfying that wouldn’t take long to make and was thrilled to run across a jar of dried beef. Perfect – SOS to the rescue.

Continue reading

Tip of the Month, April 2013: Salad in a Jar

These look great!

Several weeks ago, I opened the refrigerator at work and this cute little Mason jar filled with a salad. Curious, I asked around and found out it belonged to my friend and coworker Denise. She had seen this on Pinterest and was giving it a try. I did some research to find out what this Salad in Jar stuff was all about and learned that it’s a great way to keep salad fresh for several days, since the lettuce doesn’t get soggy. But the big thing for me is that by making several salads at once, you save lots of time. One of the reasons I haven’t (until now) taken salads to work very often is because I found it too time consuming to make them, especially when trying to get the kids ready for school, etc. So I was happy to give this a try to see if the salads would stay as fresh as people were claiming.

Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Guasaca Arepa & Salsa Grill, Raleigh, N.C.

Guasaca Courtyard entrance

If you live in Raleigh and want to try some fresh and wonderful food based on Venezuelan cuisine, head on over to Guasaca, which recently opened off of Lake Boone Trail, right down from Rex Hospital. Believe me; you’ll be glad you did!

According to Guasaca’s website, the restaurant was “born out of the belief that it is possible to offer food that is delicious, affordable, fresh and healthy, all at the same time.” Well guess what? Guasaca lives up to all of this, and more! Needless to say I am thrilled that this new restaurant is less than three miles from home. It is set up somewhat like a submarine sandwich store – you stand in line and once you get to the counter you choose your ingredients. The line has always moved quickly when I’ve been there and the service is some of the friendliest I’ve seen anywhere.

Guasaca order here

Continue reading

Creamy Corn, Cheese and Bacon Casserole

Kel's Creamy Corn Cheese and Bacon Casserole

There are few foods that I dislike and cream corn is near the top of that list. Until now. I guess that’s because the only kind of cream corn I’ve tried has been that out of a can, which is totally disgusting as far as I’m concerned. As a kid I don’t remember having to eat it whenever we had it for dinner, probably because I loved almost everything else so my parents let me slide.

I was looking for a recipe for a corn and cheese casserole that did not include any type of bread and ran across one from Saveur.com that looked great, mainly because it included a pièce de résistance: bacon. Fresh corn, cheese AND bacon — I knew I had to give it a try. We are all glad that I did – everyone loved it. I changed the recipe some by doubling the bacon (no surprise there) and adding some red bell pepper and sweet onion. What a rich, creamy, sweet yet slightly smoky casserole that melts in your mouth! The only thing I would do different next time is to triple the bacon.

Continue reading

Raleigh’s Five Best Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled pimento cheese

I love pimento cheese and chances are if you’re from the South, you do, too. There’s nothing more comforting than a warm and gooey grilled pimento cheese sandwich and a bowl of yummy soup or some homemade chips. I recently shared my recipe for Kel’s Reduced-fat Jalapeno Pimento Cheese, which is quick and easy to make and tastes great.

Kel's Grilled pimento cheese

However, sometimes I want to order a grilled pimento cheese sandwich when I’m on my lunch break, so lucky for me a number of area restaurants offer this classic on their menus. Here are my Top-5 favorite places in Raleigh to get a great pimento cheese sandwich, hot off the grill.

Continue reading