Classic CuK: Grandpa B’s Extravaganza Eggplant Parm

9 Aug

Everyone is missing PurpleHeartKef on what would be his 93rd birthday. In his honor, let’s throw it back to the Grandpa’stravaganza of 2013, when he told us all about his tried and true method for awesome gluten-free eggplant parm:

Head over here for the whole scoop.

Ricotta Ice Cream with Balsamic Strawberries

8 Jul


The theme of this week seems to be  “food Chef Kefi, RN made but didn’t eat.” A meaty, full-of-flour pizza yesterday, and today some super-easy, 4-ingredient ice cream that’s chock full of sugar (and oh so good!). Not sold yet? Serve up that ice cream with some strawberries marinated in a balsamic glaze and just let the drool dribble on down your chin. An ice cream maker will help keep this ice cream light and smooth, but isn’t required.

Ricotta Cheese Ice Cream With Balsamic Strawberries 


  • 2 c ricotta
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 TBS Marsala wine (or 1.5 TBS sherry vinegar)
  • 2 c strawberries, sliced
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


1. Whisk together the egg yolks and confectioner’s sugar in a standing mixer until the mixture is thick and lemony in color. Add the Marsala wine, then the ricotta and whisk together until just combined.

2. If you have an ice cream maker, pour mixture into machine and churn to desired texture, then freeze. If you don’t have a machine, pour mixture into freezer-safe container and freeze until ready to serve.

3. Combine balsamic, sugar, strawberries, and lemon juice and refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Move ice cream from freezer to fridge about 30 minutes before serving to soften. Serve with strawberries.

Sriracha Meatball Pizza

7 Jul

photo (1)If you follow me on Instagram (and you should! @chefkefiRN), you saw this pizza a few days ago.I was feeling like cooking and MrKef was feeling like eating–truly, we are a match made in heaven–so I ransacked the pre-planned meals from a few different Hello, Fresh! bags to make this guy. It’s covered in meat, so your pescatarian chef didn’t try it, but it got rave reviews from MrKef, so we will go ahead and call this one a success.

Sriracha Meatball Pizza


–For the Dough

  • any pre-made dough, warmed to room temperature
  • 1 TBS olive oil

–For the Toppings

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar, you do you.)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • sriracha, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 425F. Warm 1 TBS olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, until soft, fragrant, and starting to brown. Add diced tomato, balsamic, and sugar, and combine well. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until tomatoes have broken down and mixture starts to resemble jam. Remove from pan and set aside. Do not clean out pan.

2. In the same pan, sprinkle the meat with cumin, salt, and pepper and cook until browned.

3. Assemble the pizza. Spread 1 TBS olive oil over a metal baking sheet, then knead your dough out to your desired shape. Spread the onion and tomato relish over the pizza. Throw as much sriracha as you’d like all over the pizza, sprinkle your cheese on, and top with meat.

4. Cook for 14 minutes, or until you reach desired crispiness.

4th of July and a Gluten-Free Key Lime Pretzel Pie

6 Jul

photo 5How does the Familia Kef celebrate America’s birthday? We are pile into MamaKef’s kitchen, cut up lots of watermelon, and let the good times roll. (Editor’s Note: Hop down to the end if you’re only here for the pie.)

SummitKef joined in on the fun this year, and we introduced her to the very best treat- cupcake cones!

photo 4Things were a little less exciting for MrKef, who was befuddled by MamaKef’s final step for husking corn: the pastry brush.

photo 3(Apparently, it gets the fine hairs off.)

As usual, the food started coming and it didn’t stop coming. Please note the BEAUTIFUL cheese plate arranged by CafeKef:

photo 2

not to mention our rendition of the stars and stripes (idea by yours truly, amazingly-improved execution by BabyKef):photo 1On a side note, is there a single city-dweller who is not SHOCKED by this price for Talenti gelato? SummitKef and I were trying to figure out an import-export scheme from Walden to DC, but sadly found that freezing options were profit prohibitive.

photo 5Okay, just ONE more thing until we get to the recipe–CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF CAFEKEF! Although the official day is not until tomorrow, we’ve already celebrated twice. When you’re as wise, measured, and hilarious as CafeKef, you get to have a lot of celebrations. In addition to MamaKef’s cupcake cones and honey mustard chicken (a story for another day), I whipped up an easy and fun key lime cheesecake/pie (none of us could quite decide which it was) with a gluten-free pretzel crust. I finished it off with a little lime whipped cream, which I fashioned into some plate art (after fashioning lots of plate mess… genius takes time).

photo 1

Note that the candles on that cake are topped with hearts, not flames. Also note that CafeKef blew out a QVC-issued flameless candle:

photo 3

Okay, and now finally– the RECIPE! I got the original here.

Gluten-Free Key Lime Pretzel Pie


–For the Crust

  • 2½ c gluten-free (or not) pretzel twists, finely ground
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ½ c unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 24 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1¼ c sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ c fresh key lime juice
  • zest of 1 lime

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1½ c heavy cream
  • 2 TBS powdered sugar
  • lime zest to taste– I used about a TBS.


1. Combine ground pretzels, sugar, and butter. Shape into the bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined between each egg. Beat in lime juice and zest. Pour batter into prepared crust.

3. Bake for 70-80 minutes (mine took 80), or until middle is set. For an evenly-set pie, put a Pyrex 3/4 full of water on the rack below the one on which you set the pie.  4. For the whipped cream: whip cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in zest.

5. Garnish pie with whipped cream. Pie is served best cold, per MamaKef.

photo 2photo 4

A List of Things to Worry About

16 Jun

In case I never mentioned it, I really love F. Scott Fitzgerald. In another life, before nursing and after journalism, I wanted to be an F. Scott scholar. This excerpt from a letter to his daughter when she was 11 pretty much sums up why:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage

Worry about cleanliness

Worry about efficiency

Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion

Don’t worry about dolls

Don’t worry about the past

Don’t worry about the future

Don’t worry about growing up

Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you

Don’t worry about triumph

Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault

Don’t worry about mosquitoes

Don’t worry about flies

Don’t worry about insects in general

Don’t worry about parents

Don’t worry about boys

Don’t worry about disappointments

Don’t worry about pleasures

Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?

How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:(a) Scholarship(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,Daddy

Easy Kale Cabbage Salad

4 Jun

As promised- a recipe today! I’m typing this on my phone, so this is officially the first iKefi. 


Kale Cabbage Salad


  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bag shredded kale
  • 1 bag shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 bag shredded carrots
  • As much mustard-maple dressing as you’d like


1. Hear olive oil in a pan. Throw in cabbage and carrots and cook until desired texture. I like min soft with just a little remaining crunch, which takes 5-6 minutes.

2. Add kale and cook until just wilted, about 2 min.

3. Let cook, toss with dressing.

May is Over, and Here’s a Super-Long Post to Prove It Was Awesome

2 Jun

Last year I took May off because all the Greek Easters were so exhausting that MrKef and I ate peas for a month— this year, I was too busy to blog (or cook, for that matter) because I was sharing amazing moments with some of my favorites. Here’s a not-so-quick recap of the last 6 weeks or so. Tomorrow we are easing back into the cooking world with a super easy kale-cabbage salad!

May was so awesome that it actually started in April, when we all got together to celebrate KMBGKef’s bachelorette party. This is when I learned that I really love painting

photo 2

and that, if you provide a tiara and big ol’ pink cup, even the least bridey person can become a BRIDE (adding some margaritas in there doesn’t hurt, either).photo 1

Next up: BabyKef’s Bridal Shower! MamaKef completely outdid herself (which is to say: she did what she always does) and threw the shower to end all showers. We all wore hats to go with the Tea Party theme (which really get in the way of selfies, as CafeKef and I came to find out),

photo 3

and enjoyed only the finest company

photo 4

and then totally rocked out to the Back Street Boys, as one does.


Once that fun was over, it was onto the next shower, which GodmotherKef graciously and successfully hosted in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am not really into showers, so I begged her to keep it small and gender neutral–not sure how MrKef felt about being included in the shower shenanigans:

photo 3MamaKef gave GingerKef and FlailKef the BUSINESS about VCHS attendance drama

photo 4

and FlailKef took full advantage of the BIRCHBEER

photo 2

before everyone ate their bodyweight in cute little finger desserts. Is that a beautiful get together or what?

photo 1Still not sure how awesome May was? KMBGKef became KMBGSKef!

The whole bridal party took the role VERY seriously. Leah did her best to eat the monstrous breakfast that appeared in our suite while we got ready:

photo 1

while RealBFFEKef spent every waking second on a beautiful, heartfelt, funny speech :photo 2and I just tried to keep it together from weeping all day long, an endeavor I was absolutely not successful at when I saw KMBGKef all dolled up:

photo 3and when CuseKef saw his mom for the first time

photo 4and then again pretty much everytime I realized that I get to spend my life with this woman as my best 5 Lordy lou, I’m getting a little misty eyed just posting these pics again! Best wedding ever–on to fun photos:

YourHonorKef did a (warm) tequila shot with the SO Crew (+me)… my eyes may have watered after this for a completely different reason:

photo 2and CuseKef and MrKef affirmed their love for one another (yet again)

photo 3Everything was just pretty perfect, if I do say so myself.

photo 1


I am totally obsessed with themes, puns, and flair (foundation for my lifelong obsession with QueijoKef). BabyKef’s wedding is on a boat (IN THREE WEEKS!), so I went with a nautical theme:

photo 1

photo 4 photo 5

Big thanks to SunStache, Chariots for Hire, Etsy, and Wegmans for making sure this lady had an awesome time at the beautiful Boordy Vineyards!

photo 2

Looks like good, clean fun right? Well it all went downhill pretty quickly once it turned into #BalzBachBashAfterDark at Howl at the Moon (which is apparently the #1 destination for bachelorette parties in Baltimore)photo 4In addition to basically being an all-night slumber party, they serve drinks in three sizes and I made the big mistake of asking for the “medium,” which was about the size of my femur. Who knew you could make the same mistake three times in one night? 3But, the hangover was worth it because I got to watch BabyKef absolutely rock the house DOWN with her tambourine solo to “Twist and Shout.”
photo 5And that, my friends, was May.


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