As you can see, here at Cafe Allegro, we’re serious about our food and our coffee and when it comes to delivering a great dining experience we make sure we leave no stone unturned.

Recently, we ran a huge rundown of the leading single-serve espresso makers and shortlisted the top 3 coffee makers that we personally use to brew the perfect cup of joe for all our customers.

Here, we share our results with you to help you find the right coffee maker for you.

Black and Decker CM 620B – Thermal single serve programmable coffee maker

This is quite the beauty of simplicity. This automated coffee maker comes with a quick touch technology which helps you get the best cup of coffee every time.

A few of the key features which are both necessary and unique of this coffee maker include:

  1. LED display with a complete programmable control panel.
  2. The machine can brew both grounded coffee and Pods.
  • This one comes with its own thermal travel mug which is indispensable as far as 21st-century coffee drinkers are concerned.

Black & Decker SDC850 Space Maker 8-Cup – Under counter Programmable coffee maker

More than coffee, this 8 cup coffee maker reminds you of a good sci-fi movie with a lot of space action. It has its own thermal carafe and has a removable water tank and brew basket. The brew basket comes with a freshness indicator to help you estimate the freshness of the coffee brewed.

More than the tech-specs, this UFO-style coffee maker makes space in your kitchen. It fits inside your kitchen cabinet saving a lot of space for other equipments. If you are tired of struggling for space inside your own kitchen, the Black & Decker SDC850 Space Maker 8-Cup coffee maker is the one for u!

Cuisinart EM-200 Programmable 15-Bar Espresso Maker

According to the North American electrical standard this one is THE perfect automated, programmable espresso maker for a coffee lover’s house. This has the power to brew single as well as double espresso shots with its 15 bar pressure nozzle. It also has its own steel frother nozzle for making cappuccinos and mochas for the occasional guilty pleasures.  Even this one can brew using both pods and coffee grounds.

Key features:

  • It comes with a 64 ounce, removable water reservoir with 2 options for refilling.
  • A cup-warming place and a portafilter are two crucial additions to the Cuisinart EM-200 Programmable 15-Bar Espresso Maker.
  • The frother definitely helps you to sample a number of fancy brews inside the comfort of your home.

As far as functions and features are concerned, these coffee makers are the best in the market. They offer both functionality and variety along with amazing coffee every day, the moment you wake up.

Cheesy Beef-Stuffed Peppers

  • 3 large green peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup creamed cottage cheese
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 TB Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

-> Place peppers in 2-quart [12×7] glass baking dish; set aside

-> Combine remaining ingredients, except shredded cheese, in medium mixing bowl; mix well.

-> Spoon mixture into green pepper halves. Cover with wax paper.

-> Microwave for 25 to 30 minutes on Medium High (Roast), or untill meat is well done (about 140 degrees F).

-> Top with shredded cheese and continue cooking on Med. High until cheese is melted.

Note: Cooking time is for microwave ovens manufactured in the early 1980s. Adjust accordingly.

Serves 3 – 6

Sesame Noodles with Prosciutto

I shamelessly stole this from Food and Wine magazine. It is absolutely packed with flavor. My kids liked it with just a touch of red pepper flakes, Mr RT threw on a few shakes more, so adjust it to your own preference. Do not try to substitute ingredients if at all possible; the combination of sesame, peanut, garlic, balsamic vinegar and fresh ginger is what makes this dish.

  • 12 oz Chinese noodles or dry spaghetti
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 2 TB peanut oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 – 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth salt
  • 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, sliced thick (1/8 inch) and cut into matchsticks.
  • 1 scallion (green onion) sliced thin
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 3/4 cup)

-> In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until al dente, about 8 or 9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the noodles to the pot and toss with the sesame oil.

-> In a medium skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add garlic, stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and crushed red pepper, stir to form a paste. Add chicken stock and stir until smooth. Taste, add salt if desired. Add the reserved cooking water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until the sauce is creamy.

-> Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles. Add the prosciutto and scallion, and toss until the noodles are coated.

-> Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, garnish with the cucumber and serve.

Cold Lobster and Vanilla Bean Salad 

  • 2 vanilla beans, split in half and pulp removed
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 pound cooked fresh lobster meat, diced 1/2″ thick
  • 1/2 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled, diced 1/2″ thick, cooked until tender and cooled
  • 1/4 cup small diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup small diced celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 pound fresh maiche ( aka “corn salad” ) greens, cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley leaves
  • 12 toasted French bread rounds ( 2″ by 1/4″ thick )

1.) In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the vanilla bean, pulp and oil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool completely and strain.

2.) In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, combine the egg, mustard, tarragon and lemon. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, add 1 cup of the vanilla oil slowly, in a steady stream. Process until the mixture is thick and creamy. Remove and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Can be made a day ahead of time.

3.) In a mixing bowl, combine the lobster, potatoes, onions, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Fold in the vanilla bean emulsion. Mix well. In another mixing bowl, toss the maiche with the remaining vanilla oil. Season with salt and pepper.

4.) To serve, place the greens in the center of each serving plate. Mound the lobster salad in the center of each plate of greens. Garnish with parsley. Serve the croutons with the salad.

Cream of Squash and Garlic Soup

  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 4 TB maple syrup (or maple-flavored)
  • 4 tsp butter
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 cups chicken broth (vegetarians can substitute vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup whipping cream (I just use milk unless I’m feeding company)
  • snipped fresh basil or Italian parsley (optional)

-> Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place each squash half, cut side up, in a shallow roasting pan.

-> Place 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon butter in each squash half. Arrange the garlic, carrot, and onion around the squash in the pan.

-> Pour 2 cups of the chicken broth into the pan (not into the squash halves) and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

-> Bake at 350F for 2 hours until all of the vegetables are very tender. (Sometimes I need to add a little more chicken broth and bake another half hour so the onion and carrot are soft enough.)

-> Cool slightly and scoop squash pulp from the shells and stir into the vegetable mixture. Discard shells.

-> Place half of the squash mixture into a blender and blend until smooth (make sure to cover blender first…heehee). Repeat with the other half of the squash mixture.

-> Put all of the blended squash mixture into a large saucepan and stir in the remaining chicken broth.

-> Bring just to a boil and then drop the heat and stir in the cream or milk. (don’t let it boil again)

-> Season to taste with S & P and cool for later or garnish and serve. It thickens as it cools, so add more broth or cream/milk to taste if needed.

A loaf of crusty bread is good with this.

Blackened Shrimp with Sunshine Salad

Sidenote: feel very privileged that I am sharing my infamous super-secret salad recipe with you! Seriously though, I’ve only given it to one other person, my sis-in-law, and only because my 6’2″ 300 lb bro-in-law threatened my life for it!

The Salad

  • 1 package Spring Mix salad
  • 1/2 package (more or less to taste) Athenos brand Crumbled Feta Cheese with Basil and Tomato
  • 1 8oz. can Mandarin Oranges, save the juice (well, actually a bit less than a can. I help myself to some of the slices and that makes a perfect amount left over!)
  • A generous sprinkling of Praline Pecans (Nut House sells big jars of them)
  • A generous sprinkling of dried cranberries

The Dressing

  • 1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (note: use Extra Virgin, not Extra Light! Extra Virgin has a more robust flavor.)
  • approx. 1-2 T. Worcestorshire Sauce
  • approx. 1/4 -1/3 c. Dijon-Spicey Mustard (I like Emeril’s “with Horseradish”)
  • approx. 1/4 c. sugar or sugar substitute
  • Honestly, I just mix all the above to taste. Sorry for inexact measurements. If it comes out too thick, syrupy-like, I enjoy adding the mandarin orange juice to it. You can also just add water.
  • Dressing will last for 2-3 salads, depending on coverage.

Blackened Shrimp

Coat the shrimp lightly with Extra Light Olive Oil. Sprinkle (as generously as you dare!) Chef Paul’s Seafood Magic Seasoning, covering all sides of the shrimp.

Get a cast-iron skillet white-hot. If you don’t have good ventilation use the grill outside on HIGH heat. Scoop some margarine and when it hits the skillet it should “dance” and sizzle.

Immediately add the shrimp and keep flipping/stirring. They don’t need to cook long, only a few minutes, before they’re done.

Top off the salad with the shrimp, serve some rolls along side it, and yummy!!! That’s what I will be enjoying this evening!

As an entrée will serve 2, as a side will serve 4.

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