Baked Ziti from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb



I was recently invited to participate in a virtual blog book tour for bestselling author, Robyn Webb’s new cookbook, The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection: 9 Essential Recipes You Need to Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals (American Diabetes Association, October, 2016). I was thrilled to be asked to review this book and try out a recipe since many of my family members are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and it’s always great to have another cookbook dedicated to diabetes in my collection.

In The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection, Chef Robyn concentrates on nine favorite comfort foods: lasagna, meatloaf, burgers, stir-frys, tacos, main-dish stews and soups, entree salads, chicken, and pasta. She then offers 10 variations of each of the favorites for new, healthy twists on meals your family craves.

In addition to the recipes, this book also give pointers on stocking the perfect pantry and choosing the perfect equipment. It features a meal-planning section that helps complement a favorite comfort food dish with simple sides to create hundreds of complete, nutritionally balanced meals designed to help control blood glucose levels and promote heart health. I am excited to add this cookbook to my collection and look forward to mastering the nine essential recipes as a base to many comfort meals to come!

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Kel’s Quick and Easy Shrimp Stir Fry


Here’s a quick and easy stir fry recipe that will please the shrimp lovers in your home. Use large shrimp and, to save even more time, buy them already peeled and deveined.

For this version, I used Ponzu sauce, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is tart, with a thin, watery consistency and a dark brown color.” I like it for its tangy, citrusy flavor, but regular soy sauce will also work.

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Kel’s Best Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Bell Peppers


Each year I try to create at least one new stuffed pepper recipe, as I truly love how quick and easy they are to assemble and how wonderful they taste. They also reheat well, which is another big plus. This recipe is truly for the carnivores out there and, as an extra bonus, I’ve included hash browns in the mix for a hearty meat and potatoes meal. Not a meat eater? I’ve got you covered with some tasty vegetarian stuffed pepper recipes, with links  at the bottom of this post.

For this batch, I used red bell peppers since they are riper than green bell peppers, making them sweeter. Plus, they were the nicest looking peppers at the Farmer’s Market. Next time I would add some hot sauce to the mix, because Brad and I both like the extra spice. Also, I had enough of the “stuffing” to fill three large peppers or four medium-sized ones, so plan accordingly, although you can always freeze any of the leftover beef mixture to use later.

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Kel’s Fresh Tomato Soup in Cheddar-Lined Bread Bowls

Kel's homemade tomato soup in cheddar-lined bread bowl

Hello, All! I’m finally back and feeling refreshed after taking a much needed break, the first one in more than five years since I started this blog. I’m really looking forward to fall and cooler weather, and want to share a great basic recipe for fresh tomato soup to make now (while you still can get fresh tomatoes) and enjoy later. And, as an added bonus, I’ll show you a great serving suggestion that not only tastes delicious but makes you look like a gourmet cook as well – a rustic, cheddar-lined bread bowl to fill with your homemade soup. Talk about classic comfort food – it’s tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich all in one!

Bruised but tasty

I recently went to the farmer’s market and bought a box of canning tomatoes. These tomatoes were a bit banged up or bruised, but perfectly fine to use in soups and homemade sauces. I purchased ¾ of a big box for a whopping $7.00 – what a deal! First, I made a large pot of fresh tomato soup, freezing most of it for later. Since I still had lots of tomatoes left, I whipped up some of my famous Marinara sauce, which I also froze for later use. I just love a great bargain, especially one that I’ll be able to appreciate several times this fall and winter!

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Celebrate Can-It-Forward Day with Pickled Dill Beans and a Giveaway!

Place seals and rings on jars

Calling all canners! The Ball® brand will host this year’s sixth annual Can-It-Forward Day on Friday, July 22. This year, Ball is “hosting Can-It-Forward Day entirely online via Facebook Live. Throughout the day, the Ball brand and our expert ambassadors will be demoing a variety of canning recipes and in the true spirit of “canning it forward,” for every engagement received on the videos, whether it be a comment, like or share, the brand donates $1 to a local charity.”

This year’s celebration also includes a link to the Freshly Preserved Ideas Tumblr page, a place for consumers to take the pledge to Can-It-Forward this year. You may ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM ET on July 22nd. Consumers can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand on Pinterest and Instagram.

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My Fat Dad’s Cheese Fondue, Book Blog Tour, and Giveaway!


When asked to participate in the My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes blog tour, I jumped at the chance. This book received fantastic reviews, and it also gave me the chance to recreate one of its many tasty recipes for this post. Plus I get to give away a copy of this wonderful book to one of my lucky readers! But more about that later.

My Fat Dad is a poignant, heartwarming memoir about how food shaped Dawn Lerman’s “connection to her family, her Jewish heritage, and herself.” Dawn’s Dad, an iconic adman who created slogans such as “Fly the Friendly Skies of United,” “Coke Is It,” “This Bud’s for You,” and “Leggo My Eggo,” battled with his weight all of his life, topping the scales at a whopping 450 pounds at his heaviest. Dad tried every diet on the planet and made his family do the same (they were not thrilled, to say the least.) From Atkins to Pritikin to the Rice Diet at Duke to Weight Watchers, etc., he had limited successes, and most were short-lived. Dieting was truly a rollercoaster ride for him, as it is for many.

Dawn’s mother was the exact opposite, limiting herself to one small meal a day, “usually a can of StarKist light tuna right out of the can with a plastic fork — while standing up and chatting on the phone.” There were rarely any meals together as a family and Dawn felt lonely and disconnected. Luckily, she had her grandmother, Beauty, to turn to for love. friendship and inspiration in the kitchen. Beauty doted on Dawn and taught her how to make, appreciate, and savor fresh, delicious food. When the family moved from Chicago to New York, Beauty sent Dawn $20, a recipe and shopping list each week, to keep Dawn’s culinary interests and their close bond intact.

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Kel’s Old-School Moscow Mule, Perfect for Summer

Kel's refreshing Moscow Mule

During our last time in Manhattan, we went to the Russian Tea Room and I was intrigued by what was served in the beautiful, shiny copper mugs. Let’s be honest, even though I bartended for several years, I had never heard of a Moscow Mule – it just isn’t on most cocktail menus in Raleigh. After researching Moscow Mule recipes, I learned the copper mugs helped brand the drink (like martini and margarita glasses do for their respective liquors), plus they helped keep it icy cold.

Something attracts me to copper and I’m not exactly sure what. Maybe it’s the warm, reddish-orange color, or perhaps its brilliant shine when highly polished. Regardless, I’ve been eyeing copper mugs since my visit to New York, but couldn’t reconcile the price of most of them until I found these two on clearance at a home goods store. Yaaay!

Moscow Mule Mugs



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