Kel’s Puff Pastry Reuben Roll

Up close slices of Reuben roll

Got leftover corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day? Here’s a fun twist on the traditional Reuben sandwich, where rye bread is replaced with puff pastry and, instead being grilled, it is baked in the oven.

I make my own Thousand Island dressing (with mayo, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, a bit of vinegar and paprika), but use store bought if you have a favorite brand. If you’d rather have something more savory, replace the sweeter 1000 island dressing with a nice Dijon or spicy mustard.

This reheats nicely in the microwave – just place your slices on a microwavable plate, zap for a minute or so, and you’re good to go.


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Kel’s Easy Cheesy Cheddar-Garlic Drop Biscuits

Kels' cheddar garlic drop biscuits

These cheddar-garlic drop biscuits are so easy to make – just a handful of ingredients, minimal prep time, about 10 minutes in the oven, and Viola! you have warm, delicious homemade biscuits that go great as a side to a variety of soups, stews, chilis, and other main dishes.

I prefer smaller biscuits and usually make a dozen at a time. If you want larger biscuits, just divide the dough into larger spoonfuls. I also like to cook these on a baking stone, which keeps the bottoms of the biscuits from turning too brown.

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Kel’s Manhattan Clam Chowder, Version One


Garnish with parsley

When most people think of clam chowder, the creamy and popular Boston clam chowder usually comes to mind and rightfully so, because it’s so darn good. But to lighten it up a bit, especially if you love anything tomato based, definitely give this delicious version of clam chowder a try!

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Not Your Average Avocado Toast


kel's avocado toast

I came up with this recipe for avocado toast when I was wanting a delicious and filling breakfast/brunch that was Weight Watchers® friendly (7 points!), and it has become one of my favorite go-to meals. While I love fresh guacamole (check out Kel’s Cafe’s recipe), I usually cheat and use a spicy Wholly Guacamole®   mini serving, which is convenient and keeps things easy in the morning. If you haven’t tried Wholly Guacamole, it really is a decent replacement for the fresh stuff.

I recommend that you when you fry your eggs to leave the yolks runny so you can sop them up with the toast. I use Sara Lee 45-calories multigrain bread for my toast, but you can substitute that with your favorite brand, especially if you’re not counting calories.

Pair with some fresh fruit, and your day is off to an awesome and tasty start!

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Kel’s Honey Bourbon and Apple Cider Punch, Party On!

Kel's Cafe honey bourbon apple cider punch

Love apple cider? Love bourbon? If so, you must try this adult beverage at your next gathering. I like to make pitchers of drinks for my guests whenever we celebrate any occasion — usually mimosas, bloody Marys and/or sangria. It’s just so easy to let people serve themselves without making individual cocktails, allowing more mingle time for all.

This festive punch is inspired by a recipe I saw on the New York Times cooking website and is perfect for winter gatherings, such as New Year’s or Super Bowl parties. It combines bourbon, pressed apple cider, fresh citrus juices and a hint of cinnamon for an easy-to-make and yummy seasonal drink.

I altered the ingredients a bit (of course I did) and substituted a honey bourbon for the regular variety because I thought the hint of honey in the booze would go great with the apple cider (it does). I used diet tonic water instead of club soda due to personal preferences and swapped the dark brown sugar with a lower calorie brown sugar blend (in this case Truvia.) This is party in a punch bowl that will have your guests coming back for more!

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Kel’s Chicken and Black Bean Empanadas and/or Puff Pastries – You Choose


Kel's chicken and black bean empanadas

Puff pastry is my new best friend of late — I just love how it’s light, buttery, flaky and so, so tasty when making both sweet and savory dishes, from appetizers to entrees to desserts.

The chicken and black bean filling for these empanadas/puff pastries is based on a recipe I’ve been tweaking for years for my delicious quesadillas. You can make it as spicy or mild as you want by adjusting the amount of hot sauce and cayenne pepper.

So here’s the deal — this recipe is great as an appetizer with the empanadas, or as an entrée with the puff pastry. The empanadas naturally take more time to make since they are smaller, but the results are stellar, especially if you have the preparation time.  The puff pastry version of this is simply divine and easier to prepare, and is more like a meal instead of an appetizer.  Serve with salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream.

Kel's Cafe up close empanadas

Chicken puff pastries out of the oven

Can’t choose? Make both like I did, which yielded 12 empanadas and 4 puff pastries – yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!  Continue reading

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Easy Ethiopian Chickpea Wat


Kel's chickpea wat

My meetup group, Raleigh Cooks, recently had a gathering featuring Ethiopian food. I was on a waiting list and got in to the event the day before, finding myself scrambling on what to make since most of the few Ethiopian that I’m familiar with were already taken. After searching the Internet for a while, I settled on this chickpea wat as I loved that it was vegetarian and something that would work great for Brad’s cardio-metabolic diet.

Chickpea wat at Raleigh Cooks!

What is a wat, you may ask (I know I did). It is simply a thick stew, often made with chicken or beef and lentils or beans, or without meat like this version. Don’t let the long list of ingredients turn you away — this wat is so easy to make and not only will you love its aroma as it cooks, but also how savory and filling it is as you devour it.

I was so pleased with the results of this recipe and so were many members of my meetup group – several said it was their favorite dish of the night! Traditionally this is served hot 
with injera, pita, naan or rice, but it can stand on its own if you are avoiding extra carbs.

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Kel’s Amazing Apple and Cranberry Pies, Baked in Apples

Drizzle caramel over apple and cranberry pies

Yaaaaay! Fall means apples and I’ve been craving apple pie, which I haven’t made in ages. I wanted to recreate my traditional recipe in order to cut calories and carbs but still taste great.  So I came up with these individual apple and cranberry pies baked in the actual apples, thereby eliminating most of the carb-y crust. I replaced the sugar with a low-calorie brown sugar blend and some diet cranberry juice. And to be really decadent, I used a sugar-free caramel sauce to top each pie. Wow, these apple cranberry pies are incredibly awesome and all of my substitutions worked perfectly.

Green and red apple cranberry pie

I used one granny smith and one gala since both are supposed to be good baking apples, plus I just liked the color combination. The gala apple held up much better than the granny smith, which was a bit soggy but still tasted great. Next time I will use my favorite honey crisps, another good baking apple suitable for this recipe.

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Kel’s Café Chicken Cacciatore



Add chicken thighs to the sauce

When I ran across chicken thighs on sale the other day,  I bought a big pack, knowing I could freeze what I didn’t use for my delicious chicken cacciatore. You can make this with a variety of chicken pieces, but what I love about just using thighs is that they have great flavor and are usually uniform in shape and size, making them cook more evenly.

Brad loved this, but did add some heat to his serving with one of his favorite hot sauces. He gave this dish a solid A and put it on our favorite comfort food list, great year-round!

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Kel’s Best Barley Salad, Greek Style


Kel's barley salad

This refreshing and easy-to-make barley salad is great anytime during the year, but especially in the summer when there is an abundance of ripe tomatoes. In the winter, I just substitute romas or cherry tomatoes instead.

You can serve this at room temperature or chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours, depending on your preference. It works well as a side dish to your favorite protein or as a stand alone meal. Eliminate the feta for a vegan version of this tasty salad.

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