Archive for April, 2008

Tagine of Kefta

My first experience with Moroccan food was a trip several years ago with my mother, sister, and sister-in-law to Walt Disney World. We were in Epcot that day and while my little sister and sister-in-law decided to hit up the attraction, Test Track,  my mother and I took a stroll around World Showcase. By the time we realized we were hungry we were standing in front of the Moroccan pavilion’s Tangierine Cafe. The menu looked good so we ended up eating some great food that day. A couple years later, on another trip, I tried out the sit-down place there, Marrakesh, and again was pleasantly surprised. I even bought the Moroccan cookbook, but alas, have never used it.

I have no idea what inspired me to want to make Kefta recently. Kefta is a Middle Eastern meatball with herbs and spices usually served in a tomato sauce. I suppose I wanted something different and new and there’s only so much you can do with ground beef before getting bored. As I started thumbing through my cookbooks, I remembered eating Kefta at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival last year and really enjoying it. I immediately grabbed that Moroccan cookbook I purchased years ago, but it wasn’t in there! A quick search on the web and there it was.

Now, the flavors are different…If you are expecting a typical Italian-style meatball in tomato sauce, that’s not what you’ll find. I would attribute it to the coriander and cumin. I love it though. It’s definitely a change from meatloaf and burgers. I added a can of diced tomatoes to this to create more of a sauce and served it with green beans and Israeli couscous. Granted, I’m sure this is a dumbed-down version of a real Moroccan Tagine with Kefta, but nonetheless, still yummy.

Overall rating – 4 stars

1 lb Ground beef
1   md Onion, finely chopped
½   bn Coriander, chopped
½   bn Parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon White pepper
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Paprika
½ cup Tomato paste
½ cup Chopped onion
1   md Tomato, diced
½ tablespoon Garlic
½ tablespoon Cumin
½ tablespoon Salt
½ tablespoon White pepper
½   bn Parsley, chopped
1   bn Coriander
2 ounces Olive oil

Combine beef, onion, corinader, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika.
Roll into meatballs. Brown and boil in shermula sauce until done. For
shermula sauce, combine remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce
sauce until it reaches desired thickness.
Posted to MC-Recipe Digest V1 #323

Recipe by: Morocco


Comments (12)

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe

So my cooking has really taken a back-seat lately…Between working my full-time “9 to 5” job and then working my part-time job 3 to 4 nights a week, I rarely have any time to cook anymore. And those nights I can cook? Well, I just want to get something on the table quick since I’m usually exhausted. This dish was perfect for just that – Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Caramelized Garlic from the April 2008 issue of Cooking Light. It was super-quick and pretty tasty. Not mouth-watering-I-want-to-lick-the-bowl-when-I’m-done, but it sufficed.

Of course, you’ll notice right away from the recipe it calls for gnocchi. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some gnocchi. I even learned how to make them when I was a wee child with my grandmother. But my JLo behind needs to stay away from them during the week. Hence, the usage of whole wheat pasta… Overall, a simple dish that will work when you are short on time.

My buddy over at Black Coffee & Bourbon made a similiar recipe recently. He added sausage. Now that would have made it a hell of a lot tastier!

Overall rating – 3 stars 

Gnocchi with Broccoli Rabe, Caramelized Garlic, and Parmesan

Keep an eye on the garlic to be sure it browns but doesn’t burn, which can make it unpleasantly bitter. Blanching the broccoli rabe helps tame its bitterness. Total time: 25 minutes.

3/4 pound broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed
1 (16-ounce) box vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese






2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add broccoli rabe, gnocchi, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Place 1 1/4 cups gnocchi mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.


Yield:  4 servings CALORIES 281 (28% from fat); FAT 8.7g (sat 2.2g,mono 5.6g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 9.9g; CHOLESTEROL 5mg; CALCIUM 134mg; SODIUM 806mg; FIBER 0.1g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.8g

1. Cook broccoli rabe in boiling water 4 minutes. Remove broccoli rabe with a slotted spoon, and place in a colander; drain. Add gnocchi to pan; cook 3 minutes or until done. Drain gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. 

Comments (6)

News Bites

Here’s some News Bites for all you foodies out there…..

First up, I have two great sites for you. Even if you aren’t New Jerseyans, you may find some useful info on the Garden State here. They’ve been listed in my ever-expanding blog roll for awhile now.

(*I encourage you to check out some of my blogroll links, you might find something you like! There’s something for everyone listed from food sites to Disney sites to Jane Austen sites (yes, NERD alert) and more.)

First up, for all you NJ foodies (or those who like to eat in NJ!) we have Jersey Biters at This is a social network site where you can discuss food, dining, cooking, and food events in the Garden State. From the creator of the food blog, Jersey Bites.

Another social network site dedicated to NJ is Bayshore Friends, Friends is dedicated to connecting those of us in the Bayshore area of NJ (which encompasses the Amboys down to Sandy Hook and all the towns in between like Keyport, Union Beach, Keansburg, Middletown ) or those interested in the Bayshore area of NJ!! We discuss all sorts of things there, including yes, FOOD!!

Another finally for our last bit of news…My favorite NJ restaurant, Trinity in Keyport, will be having a Latin Night! It will be held next Saturday, May 3rd and will feature Latin dance music all night. Starting at approximately 9pm or later, complimentary dance lessons from Shall We Dance Studios in Middletown, NJ,  will be given every hour on the hour for about 20 minutes or so. You can learn to cha-cha, salsa, samba, tango, maybe more! You can turn it into a great night with great food and drink and some free dance lessons! No cover at the door!

Link to restaurant:

Links to my reviews of Trinity:  December and March

Comments (2)

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Probably my last soup for awhile due to the lovely warm weather we’ve been having here in the Garden State. This recipe, Tuscan Vegetable Soup, came from Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook that I recently purchased. It’s been hit or miss with these recipes but some are very good like this one. I love a hearty vegetable soup full of fresh, flavorful veggies. I also added some whole wheat elbows to give it more substance. Not only did I enjoy the fresh veggie flavors of this soup but I felt good eating it because it was so good for you. And it’s very quick and simple to make. What more can I ask for?

Overall rating – 3.5 stars

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Copyright 2007, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional


In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.

Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional analysis per serving Calories 140
Total Fat 4 grams Saturated Fat 0.5 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 310 mg
Carbohydrates 19 grams Protein 8 grams
Fiber 4.5 grams


Comments (7)

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Carmelized Onions and Bitter Greens

I know, the picture doesn’t look too appetizing. But this was good eats. Seriously. I wouldn’t call this dish “light” though… I did make this on my cheat night. Way too many calories and fat and carbs for me to consider during the week. But damn this was good. I don’t make risotto often because of the carb factor but I do love a good risotto, even when I dine out.

Risotto is one of those dishes you can royally screw up if you don’t do it right. You could potentially end up with a big pot of sticky goo because of the high starch level. I’m no professional but I believe the trick is to not overcook it and constantly stir. I read some of the reviews on Cooking Light and some people ran into this problem.

But overall, a relatively simple dish to make. As usual, I had my own deviations from the recipe. I used escarole instead of arugula since I’ve a big fan of escarole. However, I picked a bad bunch of escarole so I got very little out of it and ending up tossing in some mushrooms to give it more substance. And I forgot to add the lemon rind to the end, but it still tasted great without it.

Overall rating – 4 stars

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Bitter Greens

Sweet onions and salty cheese temper the bitterness of arugula, which cuts the starchy richness of the rice. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
2 teaspoons sugar
8 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups arugula leaves
3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1. Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sugar to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until onion is golden. Place onion mixture in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Removing casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add chopped shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Arborio rice; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in white wine; cook 45 seconds or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup hot broth; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in reserved onion, arugula, and remaining ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 390 (24% from fat); FAT 10.3g (sat 3.6g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 21.1g; CHOLESTEROL 54mg; CALCIUM 104mg; SODIUM 900mg; FIBER 4.4g; IRON 2.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53.1g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2008

Comments (5)

Lucky Bones Backwater Grille, Cape May, NJ

Recently, I took a little road to a sleepy town otherwise known as Atlantic City. But since AC is so close to my favorite NJ destination, Cape May, I made a pit stop there first (although CM is 30 minutes South of AC). The idea was to visit my old haunt, do some shopping, and grab a bite at one of the many restaurants in the dining capital of NJ.

There have been quite a few new restaurants opening in Cape May over the last couple of years and I wanted to try one of the new ones I’ve read some good feedback on, Lucky Bones Backwater Grille. You can’t miss this new place as you drive into the island. As soon as you come over the bridge, it’s right there on your right (across from the giant Lobster House sign).

Now, April in Cape May is the slow season. When I mean slow, I mean the traffic lights aren’t even on, they just blink. While I love summer and Christmas in CM, this is a great season to visit too. You might find some of your favorite shops or restaurants closing early, but most are still open as there are always events going on. I made sure to find out if Lucky Bones would even be open for lunch as this meal time is a hard find in the off-season. Not only was it open, but it was pretty crowded!!!

The outside is an unassuming shingle building with a cozy, local charm to it. Once inside, you first see a very nice bar and the general seating area to the right. It’s got a great look and feel to it. Casual and comfortable, but still sharp-looking. Since they advertise their brick-oven pizzas on their signage, I felt obliged to try one. So me and the old man opted for Pizza Margherita ($8.50) for our appetizer. The size is perfect for an appetizer to share or for a main entree for one person. They offer several types of pizzas. The pizza was super-thin and full of flavor. The sauce was delicious and the fresh mozzarella was great. We both thought it was awesome.  The only bad thing I have to say was that it was so thin in the middle that the very center of the pizza was slightly soggy though, but that spot was only about a bite big. I would definitely go back here and get pizza again next time I’m in CM.

For my main entree I had the Lucky Bones burger ($10.50), grilled 10 oz. with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and covered in my choice of cheese. I went for Provolone, wish it had been cheddar but didn’t see that as an option (I’m a cheddar whore, see my mac and cheese post to understand). The burger was served with a pickle, coleslaw, and fries. Let’s start with the burger, it was one of the most juiciest burgers I’ve had in a long time. I could have done without all the extras on top, despite them being very tasty. It was too much for me. Next time, I’d ask for just cheese and onions or mushrooms. The bun was ok, not too memorable, ending up eating only half of the bun. The coleslaw was good, not great. It suffered from just a tad bit too much mayo and not enough vinegar. And the fries. Mmmmm…good! They were fabulous. Overall, a good dish that I wouldn’t mind having again.

The old man order the Filet Tip Steak Sandwich ($10.50) served on a fresh kaiser stuffed with roasted peppers, caramelized onions, mushrooms, provolone, roasted garlic jus (also served with fries, pickle, and coleslaw). This was a good-looking sandwich which was completely devoured and thoroughly enjoyed.

No room for dessert this time. Service was pretty good as well. Based on how crowded it was on a Sunday afternoon in April, I’d have to imagine this place getting packed over the summer. And they do not take reservations. Next time you’re in Cape May, give Lucky Bones a try. In a town heavy with fine dining restaurants with high price tags (don’t get me wrong, love those places too), Lucky Bones is a welcome addition for a family and budget friendly dining establishment.

Comments (6)

Baked Mac & Cheese


What’s more comforting than homemade mac and cheese? Only a handful of dishes I consider in the comfort food category for myself.  I am a big fan of mac and cheese, homemade that is. Sure, I’ll take a nibble of my husband’s Kraft mac and cheese when he makes it, but it just doesn’t do it for me.  I haven’t made it in awhile because after two attempts at two different recipes (one Kraft one and the other a Paula Deen), neither came out all that tasty and the husband didn’t like them at all. Thus begun my search for a classic mac and cheese dish. My criteria were for it to have a breadcrumb/butter topping, need to be baked, just use cheddar, and have no other random ingredients like Ritz crackers, potato chips, bacon (recipes I’ve seen out there). Do you know finding a basic baked mac and cheese recipe was one of the hardest things I had to do?

After exhausting every food website I could think of, I turned my attention to my own bookshelf. Surely, I could find a recipe there. And folks, we had a winner! Ding ding ding!! I went with the recipe from one of my go-to books, The Joy of Cooking. It had all the components I wanted.

Variations….I used only cheddar cheese and I did not include the onion. I also doubled the recipe as you can see from the picture. Overall, this was pretty good. I think the baking part dried it out a little bit. Especially, day two, after being refrigerated and reheated again. I’d actually consider making this again and NOT baking it and not including the breadcrumb topping. The cheese sauce made on the stovetop was so incredibly delicious, I could eat that mixed in with the macaroni just like that.

Overall rating – 3.5 stars

Recipe link:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

4 to 6 main-course servings; 8 to 10 side-dish servings

An especially good rendition of a timeless classic (opposite). The sauce can be made ahead and blended with just-cooked noodles before baking, or the entire casserole can be assembled a day ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1½-quart deep baking dish.

Bring to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan:

6 cups water

1½ teaspoons salt

Add and cook just until tender:

2 cups elbow macaroni (8 ounces)

Drain and remove to a large bowl. Have ready:

2¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar or Colby cheese

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:

2 tablespoons butter

Whisk in and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Gradually whisk in:

2 cups whole or skim milk

Stir in:

½ medium onion, minced

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

Simmer gently, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the cheese. Season with:

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Stir in the macaroni. Pour half of the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining macaroni and then the remaining cheese. Melt in a small skillet over medium heat:

1 tablespoon butter

Add and toss to coat:

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Prepare Baked Macaroni and Cheese, left, using skim milk instead of whole milk and substituting one 8-ounce package Neufchâtel cheese for the Cheddar cheese. Cut the Neufchâtel into 1-inch cubes and add it to the sauce all at once before seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Copyright © 2000 by Simon & Schuster Inc., The Joy of Cooking Trust and The MRB Revocable Trust

Comments (9)

Older Posts »