Kel’s Classic Chana Masala, or Chickpeas With a Kick

Kel's chana masala up close

Chana = chickpeas. Masala = a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. Mix them together with a few other ingredients for a heavenly vegetarian/vegan side or main dish.

So here’s a tip. When you purchase the spices and some of the other ingredients for this recipe (such as the ghee, garam masala, fresh ginger and cilantro), go to a specialty Indian/Asian store for the best deals. Not only do you have a wider selection of regional-specific ingredients, but the prices are usually much, much better than those in a traditional grocery store.

I used organic ghee (clarified butter, read more about it at for this chana masala, but for a vegan version just substitute extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil instead.

When serving chana masala as a side dish, you likely will be cooking rice as well (jasmine rice is my preference), and I like to make extra because it’s perfect for leftovers. The rice and chana masala, which gets better overnight in the fridge, heat well in the microwave for a fast lunch or dinner.

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Kel’s Simple and Seriously Satisfying Sausage Gravy

Kel's Simple Sausage Gravy

My dear friend Martha has a friend who makes his own country sausage that is out of this world. She lets some of us know when she’s ready to place an order so we can add to it. This sausage is absolutely hands-down better than what you can buy in the grocery store, but if you don’t have access to homemade, I recommend using Neese’s hot country sausage instead.

My sausage gravy is so simple to make and comes together quickly. Make sure you use whole milk for better results. This is comfort breakfast food at its best, but just to be enjoyed every once in a while, because let’s face it, it’s not the healthiest choice for your morning meal.

I highly suggest serving this with homemade biscuits instead of the canned ones – if you’re going to splurge on the gravy just every now and then, you might as well pour it over great biscuits.

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Kel’s Quick and Easy Chicken Fried Rice

Let's eat Kel's chicken fried rice

This chicken fried rice is so easy to make, with incredibly tasty, go-back-for-seconds results. There is a bit of prep work involved the day before you make this, which basically involves cooking the rice according to package instructions (leaving out any butter or oil) to yield 3 cups. You want to refrigerate the rice overnight as this helps to dry out the grains enough to give your fried rice a good texture and not be soggy.  I use jasmine rice, but any medium-to-long grained rice will work.

You can also prep the chicken the day before by following the first three steps in the preparation section of this recipe. Do this while the rice is cooking – not only will the chicken be more tender and flavorful, but it also eliminates an extra step on cooking day!

Marinate chicken in teriyaki

Make sure you taste this before adding any salt – I usually do not have to add any when using regular instead of low-sodium soy sauce.

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Kel’s Classic Linguine with White Clam Sauce for Two

Kel's linguine with white clam sauce

Linguine with white clam sauce is one of Brad’s go-to pasta dishes, in restaurants and especially at home. I try to make this whenever he slacks up on not eating carbs, which is usually around the holidays at the end of the year.

This is so easy to make, especially if you use canned chopped clams. Don’t make the mistake of buying minced clams as they are way too small – trust me! I have used fresh clams in this recipe before, but doing so makes it too time consuming without adding much (if any) more flavor. So keep it simple and fast, use the canned clams, and get out of the kitchen and on to your table to enjoy this wonderful and comforting pasta dish. Continue reading

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Happy New Year!


Kel’s Café wishes everyone a healthy and happy new year, filled with family, friends, laughter and love, and of course great food and drink. I’m looking forward to posting new recipes and reviews in 2018, and truly appreciate all of my followers.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!


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Raleigh’s Latest Treasure, The StateView Hotel

What's going on, State View

Nestled deep in N.C. State’s Centennial campus, the new StateView Hotel brings a touch of class to the university with beautiful accomodations in a striking setting. Recently opened on October 11, 2017, the StateView is a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel that is part of Marriot’s Autograph Collection. With a silver LEED rating, StateView offers 164 guest rooms, many which overlook a spacious pool and scenic Lake Raleigh.

Lake Raleigh from State View deck

Adjacent to N.C. State’s Alumni Center and across from the Lonnie Poole Golf Course, the StateView is a cozy hideaway with an excellent restaurant, Flask and Beaker. Whether or not you’re a Wolfpack fan, you will be delighted with the hotel’s décor, which focuses on textiles, chemistry, engineering, etc. and truly makes the StateView unique. Learn more about The StateView Hotel at

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Kel’s Perfect Pork Enchiladas with Tangy Tomatillo Sauce

Kel's pork enchiladas with tomatillo sauce

I’ve been making these pork enchiladas for years, tweaking the recipe along the way until coming up what I think is one of my favorite comfort foods ever. My original inspiration was to make a great tomatillo sauce as a base for several recipes, after devouring some of the best chili verde I’d ever eaten after a long day on the ski slopes in Vail, Colorado, many moons ago. Enter these pork enchiladas and the rest is history!

If you are unfamiliar with tomatillos, I urge you to try them. They are tangy, tart and tasty and look like small green tomatoes in husks. A common staple of Mexican cuisine, they are the basis of many green sauces for enchiladas and salsas. Choose ones that are still firm to the touch — most grocers have these in their tomato/garlic/avocado section. Beware, tomatillos are often sticky, but that washes off easily!


I prefer to use white corn tortillas to wrap the shredded spicy pork for the enchiladas — just make sure to warm them first to make rolling easier. Since they are fairly small, I use a spoon to hold down the enchiladas as I add them to the casserole dish so they won’t accidentally open!

Roll up tortillas and place in casserole dish

I used my Instant Pot to shorten the cooking time of the pork, but feel free to brown the seasoned pork in a dutch oven on the stovetop. Either transfer the pork and the water to a slow cooker for at least 4 hours on high, or leave the meat in the dutch oven, add the water, and simmer for several hours until the pork is fork tender.

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