Nancy’s Famous Pasta Salad

Whenever my family has a large gathering, we always share food duties. The host usually covers the main entrée and a few accompaniments, while the rest bring side dishes. By far, the most requested side is my sister’s pasta salad, which pairs up well with almost anything the rest of us are making.

Make sure your bacon is extra crispy to hold up in this creamy pasta salad, or else omit it completely if you want to go meatless.

This dish shines in the summer when tomatoes and cucumbers are in full season, but is truly wonderful any time of the year. It’s so easy to make and is great as a meal on its own.

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Easy-Peasy Peach and Blueberry Cobbler


Kel's Peach and Blueberry cobbler

Fresh peaches! Fresh blueberries! If you live in the South, a visit to your local farmer’s market would not be complete without bring home some of these delicious fruits, which are now in the heights of their seasons.

This recipe is so easy to make – the hard part is waiting for it to cook as your kitchen starts to smell like heaven. Serve warm or at room temperature, and if you want to be extra decadent, add some fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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Best Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

Kel's Cafe Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

These buffalo chicken zucchini boats are so easy to make and taste marvelous! The mozzarella cheese helps to balance the tanginess of the buffalo chicken sauce and the celery adds a nice crunch. If you’re not a bleu cheese fan, you can use mozzarella or even cheddar instead.

I like to broil these on high for 1 to 2 minutes at the end of the cooking time, but that is optional. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I only have 5 boats pictured, I clumsily dropped one and couldn’t save it. Mega sigh, I just hate wasting something this good!

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Shrimp Creole, Kel’s Style

Kel's Cafe Shrimp Creole Up Close

Shrimp creole hails from southern Louisiana and has a Spanish and French heritage. Most shrimp creole recipes don’t include okra but mine does. It’s a wonderful way to use fresh okra while it’s abundant in the summer. Plus, I just love the combination of okra and tomatoes. Yum! But if you’re not a fan of okra, just leave it out. No worries.

You can substitute chicken stock for the shrimp stock, but why not take advantage of the shrimp shells and make your own, where you control the salt and make it tastier than what you’d find in a box or can. It’s as easy as throwing some veggies and the shells in a pot and letting them simmer for about 20 minutes. This delicious stock will add extra depth to the creole. The recipe is at the end of this post.

Serve this tasty and spicy shrimp creole over rice or creamy grits, unless you’re watching your carbs and then it’s great on it’s own. And if you’re not watching carbs, add some crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine and you are good to go!  Continue reading

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Citrusy White Wine Sangria, Great Year Round

Citrusy White Wine Sangria, Great Year Round

Kel's Summertime Citrusy Sangria


This light, refreshing and delicious white wine sangria is the perfect adult beverage on a warm sunny day. OK, it’s good on rainy days as well. In addition to the citrus fruits in my recipe, next time I would add some fresh pineapple chunks and use jarred grapefruit as it holds together better.

Don’t add ice to the pitcher unless you’ll be drinking it in one sitting. You don’t want to water down the sangria when the ice starts to melt, heaven forbid. This sangria will keep a few days in the fridge – actually, I doubt that because it’s so mouthwatering good that you won’t have much leftover. Just saying.

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Elk and Turkey Sausage Meatloaf

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After Brad had his heart attack a couple of years ago, his doctor and dietician told him to eliminate red meat from his diet. The doctor did say he could have game meat occasionally, so when I saw ground elk on sale the other day, I thought I’d try it and some hot Italian turkey sausage in a meatloaf for a change from using ground turkey.

What a great flavor combination! Naturally lean, elk tastes much like ground beef and slightly sweet. The hot Italian turkey sausage adds a nice kick to the meatloaf, but you can use mild if you don’t like the heat. Next time I will add some red or green bell pepper to the mix.

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Kel’s Perfect Little Pretzel Bites

Kel's Cafe Pretzel Bites

In my last post I featured yummy beer and cheese dip to celebrate American Cheese Month and promised to publish my recipe for homemade pretzel bites. You are going to love these soft and buttery morsels. They are really easy to make and impossible to resist, especially right out of the oven.

If I’m not making these for a crowd, I usually wind up freezing part of them. When ready to reheat them, I just place them in a 250°F oven until they are warm.

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Kel’s Best Beer and Cheese Dip

dip pretzel bit in beer cheese dip

To celebrate American Cheese Month, I present to you my delicious beer and cheese dip. In 2019, the American Cheese Education Foundation moved this month from October to May to better support the needs of cheesemakers and retailers. Personally, I think we officially should celebrate cheese every month.

You can enjoy this decadent dip with chips or veggies, use it as part of a loaded nachos platter, incorporate it into homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, pour it over steamed veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower, or pair it with my homemade pretzel bites.  This dip has such a depth of flavor not found in the jarred stuff at the grocery store. It is so easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

I like using a dark beer with this, but just stick to your favorite brew and you’ll be fine, although a lager or lighter beer won’t offer as much of a complex flavor. Measure your beer (3/4 cup cup) and bring it to room temperature before starting this recipe. Drink whatever you don’t use for the dip so you don’t waste anything!  Continue reading

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Kel’s Strawberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Kel's Straberry lemon bundt cake

Hello, friends! I’m finally back after recovering from my shoulder surgery. Healing is a slow process, but my arm is much better than before the surgery. I have suspended going to physical therapy due to COVID-19, so I’m not really where I hoped I be by now, but at least I’m back in the kitchen!

It’s strawberry time in North Carolina, so I’d celebrate being back at my blog by making this delicious strawberry lemon Bundt cake. Picking fresh strawberries at the various farms around here is still allowed, especially since social distancing is so easy to do.

I like to use cake flour in this recipe because it’s finer and softer than all-purpose flour, resulting in a moist and lighter cake. But if you don’t have any cake flour on hand, go ahead and use all-purpose flour instead.

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Kel’s Café on Hiatus (plus eating and drinking our way through Europe)

Hello Dear Readers,

I just wanted to let you know that Kel’s Café will be on hiatus until early 2020. I recently had shoulder surgery and need to take off a couple of months to fully heal before getting back into the kitchen. I look forward to when I can start creating, cooking and photographing new dishes again!

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Right before my surgery, Brad and I had a whirlwind vacation to parts of northwestern Europe and made it a point to try some of the dishes famous from most of the countries we visited. So please enjoy these photos of us eating and drinking our way through Europe and I’ll see you early next year.

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