Ground Meat Gyro


I recently visited Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. The sights, sounds and tastes are wonderful! To take home, I picked up fresh whole wheat pitas, hummus and pita chips. What a treat! When I got home I found this recipe for Turkey Gyros by Regina Marie and adapted it for our tastes. 


You could also use ground lamb or chicken. I added avocado and replaced the lettuce with red cabbage.  I’d suggest making Echo’s or Melanie’s creamy cucumber salad for the yogurt sauce. Make it these gyros your own and savor!

Ground Meat Gyros
Serves 6

  1. Creamy Cucumber Sauce (Try Creamy Cucumber Salad on Taste of Zest.)
  2. 1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken or lamb
  3. 1 medium red onion, divided in half
  4. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons Greek or Italian seasoning
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  11. 3 fresh pitas cut in half
  12. 2 medium chopped tomatoes
  13. 2 cups chopped cabbage or lettuce
  1. Prepare cucumber salad/sauce and refrigerate.
  2. Chop 1/2 onion and slice other half. (Set aside sliced half.)
  3. Saute onion in olive oil.
  4. Add ground meat and seasonings.
  5. Cook until meat is no longer pink.
  6. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
  7. Assemble gyro by filling pita with gyro meat (1/6 of meat), creamy cucumber sauce (2 tablespoons), cabbage or lettuce, sliced onion, and tomato.
  8. Serve with additional cucumber sauce, avocado dressed with a splash of lemon juice and olive oil, and salt and pepper. Enjoy with a Greek salad and pita chips.
  1. Variation: Add diced sun-dried tomatoes to cucumber salad/sauce and marinate in refrigerator for 1/2 hour. This works well when tomatoes are out-of-season.
  2. Gyro meat and pitas freeze well so this recipe works well for one or two people.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving without cucumber sauce: 195 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 368 mg sodium.
Adapted from Regina Marie
Adapted from Regina Marie
Taste of Zest

Creamy Cucumber Salad

If you would like a refreshing cucumber salad or topping for gyros, here you go!

Melanie’s Creamy Cucumber Dill Salad


If you’d like something even simpler, try Echo Martin’s family recipe.

“Hey! I finally thought of a recipe that I could give you guys. It’s a really simple one, but not one I’ve really seen much of and it’s one of my favorites. It’s a creamy cucumber salad, and it’s my favorite way to eat cucumbers since i’m not a big fan of vinegar-based salads. It’s one that’s really easy to just make a little or a lot, and it’s a staple at family gatherings on my dad’s side. The amount of sugar added varies depending on your taste, but I believe that the ratio of cucumber to dressing that I’ve got here adds a nice bit of sweetness while not being overpowering.” Echo Martin


Creamy Cucumber Salad
Serves 2

  1. 1 large cucumber
  2. 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip Light
  3. 2 teaspoons sugar
  1. Just cut the cucumber in half and then slice it up.
  2. In a small bowl, mix Miracle Whip and sugar then mix into the cucumbers.
  3. Can eat immediately, but it benefits from sitting for at least 15 minutes.
  1. Nutrition per serving: 80 calories, 4 g fat, trace saturated fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 99 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest



Fish Tacos

Fish Taco

“You and me go fishing in the dark …” In October Brian and I went to Nashville, Tennessee for vacation and the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. We enjoyed toe-tapping, knee-slapping country music. We also enjoyed great food, including fish tacos. Here is a recipe for Crispy Tilapia Tacos that we tried from the Nov/Dec 2015 Cooking Light magazine article  called, “The Healthy Cooks Guide to Fat.” We added a few different toppings (corn and black beans) and pan-fried, rather than deep fried, the tilapia. Cooking Light staff tested cooking methods and found that dredging in flour absorbed less fat then panko crumbs. They also added flavor to the fish by adding a generous amount of garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Salt was added after frying so the fish was flavorful when only a small amount of salt was added.


 Here are links to Crispy Tilapia Tacos and other Fish Taco recipes on the Cooking LIght website.

Crepes with Poached Pears


 Mary Anne and I spent a Friday afternoon cooking together. The menu included Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, Seafood alla Puttanesca, and Crepes with Poached Pears. Mary Anne choose a delicious white wine to serve with it. It was fun to try several new recipes. Dave and Brian came after work and we enjoyed a wonderful meal, lively conversation and playing the game Forbidden Desert.

Here are  the recipes we tried and would recommend: Seafood alla Puttanesca and Crepes with Poached Pears. We used the crepe recipe we served at Laura’s high school graduation party which is included here.



Crepes with Poached Pears
Serves 8

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 3/4 cup skim milk
  3. 3/4 cup flour
  4. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 1 tablespoons canola oil for basting the pan
  1. Place all ingredients except oil into blender and blend until well mixed.
  2. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Using pastry brush, coat crepe pan or maker with oil.
  4. Heat pan and add crepe batter swirling the pan so batter spreads out quite thin.
  5. Cook until slightly brown and almost cooked through.
  6. Flip and cook other side.
  7. Serve the crepe hot or transfer it to a cooling rack.
  1. Serve with maple syrup, fruit, whipped cream or other favorite toppings.
  2. Freeze leftovers between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.
  3. Freeze well for about a month.
  4. Nutrition Per Serving: 84 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 60 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest





Kicked-It-Up Manicotti or Lasagna

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 My lasagna was just so-so until I adapted this recipe from an old The Best of America’s Test Kitchen magazine. This recipe easy and convenient. The sauce and cheese filling can be made the day before and easily assembled the next day.  It freezes well either ready-to-bake or already baked. I have served it for birthday dinners and other special events. It even worked to slip it in the oven before Mass and come home to piping hot manicotti on Christmas day. It was a nice change from cheesy hash browns and ham!

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Kick-It-Up Manicotti or Lasagna
Serves 16

  1. 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (8 ounce package)
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 6 ounces turkey pepperoni
  4. 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  5. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  6. 2 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  7. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  8. ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  9. ¼ teaspoon pepper
  10. 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  11. 24 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
  12. 16 ounces shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese
  13. 1 egg, slightly beaten
  14. ½ teaspoon pepper
  15. 1 tablespoon dried basil or parsley flakes or ¼ cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped
  1. Using a food processor, chop onion .
  2. Add pepperoni and chop until coarsely ground.
  3. Then add ground beef and pulse until combined.
  4. Cook meat mixture in a saucepan over medium heat until no longer pink.
  5. Drain grease . Reserve 1 cup cooked meat mixture.
  6. Add tomato paste, garlic, and seasonings. Cook for about one minute.
  7. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  9. Combine ricotta, 3 cups cheese (reserve 1 cup), egg and seasonings.
  10. Add reserved meat mixture to cheese mixture and combine.
  11. Fill 9”x13” baking pan with boiling water and soak noodles three at a time until pliable (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside in single layer on a kitchen towel. Do not stack or they will stick together. Dry baking pan and coat with cooking spray.
  12. Spread ½ sauce on bottom of pan. Cut noodles in half, spread filling across the bottom of each noodle and roll into a tube. Set roll cut-side down in pan. Do the same for all 32 manicotti rolls.
  13. Top with remaining sauce.
  14. Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes or until bubbly.
  15. Remove foil and top with reserved shredded cheese and bake until cheese is melted–about 10 minutes.
  16. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
For lasagna
  1. Spread ¼ sauce on bottom of pan. Layer ⅓ noodles, ⅓ cheese mixture and ¼ sauce for a total of 3 layers of each ending with sauce.
  1. If you freeze it to cook later, you will need to thaw it in the refrigerator and make sure it’s fully thawed before baking. If you take it out of the refrigerator rather than baking it right after assembly, it will take longer to cook so allow extra time.
  2. Nutrition per serving: 319 calories, 15 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 472 mg sodium, 374 mg calcium, 3 mg iron, 1126 IU vitamin A.
Taste of Zest

Grandma Anne’s Pumpkin Bread with White Chocolate Chips


The white chocolate chips are a delicious addition to the pumpkin bread Brian’s grandmother made! She used canned pumpkin but we like to grow or buy pie pumpkins in the fall for this recipe.


 Very versatile! For breakfast, you can make pumpkin muffins by omitting the chocolate chips and baking the batter in muffin tins. Switch it up and make cupcakes by frosting the muffins with your favorite cream cheese frosting. It’s even birthday party worthy! This bread freezes well so make an extra loaf for later. You’ll be happy you did!


Grandma Anne’s Pumpkin Bread with White Chocolate Chips
Serves 12

  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. ½ cup canola oil
  3. 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  4. 1 cup cooked pumpkin
  5. 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  6. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  11. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  12. 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. Cream sugar and oil together in large bowl. Mix in egg and pumpkin.
  4. Combine the remaining dry ingredients.
  5. Add dry to wet ingredients and mix only until combined. Do not over mix.
  6. Spread batter into a greased loaf pan.
  7. Top with white chocolate chips and stir gently into top half of the batter.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  1. Double the recipe to make two loaves of bread and use up the whole can of pumpkin. Use 3 eggs for double batch. This freezes well so make one for later.
  2. To increase the whole grains, I use an Ultragrain all-purpose flour (white and Ultragrain whole wheat flour) that contains 2 g fiber per ¼ cup.
  3. Nutrition per serving: 250 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 34 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 224 mg sodium, 4551 IU vitamin A.
Taste of Zest

Cocoa Almonds


I was looking for a healthy way to make chocolate-covered almonds and this is what I came up with. It’s simple to make and healthy to eat.  A little sweet and a little salty. Just the right combination. Most importantly they’re delicious! 

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Cocoa Almonds
Serves 8

  1. 2 cups oven-roasted almonds, lightly salted
  2. 2 tablespoons honey
  3. 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  1. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Put almonds in a bowl.
  3. Heat honey for 10 seconds in the microwave.
  4. Pour honey over almonds and stir until almonds are coated.
  5. Spread almonds evenly onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 ºF for 15 minutes.
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Pour almonds into a bowl and toss with cocoa to coat.
  9. Let cool and enjoy.
  1. I used high quality cocoa, like Ghirardelli.
  2. Nutrition per serving: 177 calories, 14 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, 135 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Rhubarb or Blueberry Cupcakes


 These cupcakes can be made with frozen rhubarb or blueberries. Today is the first snowstorm of the season so my rhubarb patch is covered but I can make these year-around because frozen blueberries work well too. I also have rhubarb in the freezer to use.

 I’ve been trying to grow rhubarb for  many years with little luck. Fortunately my mom has a nice big patch of rhubarb which she transplanted from my brother’s place in East Peoria, Illinois. It has long, thin, rosy red stalks which are tender throughout most of the summer. Laura and I picked rhubarb twice this year from my mom’s place, washed and chopped into small quarter-inch cubes, and froze it. It will be such a treat to have the taste of summer rhubarb now that the snow is flying.


Here is some information about rhubarb that I learned from the University of Minnesota Extension.

Only the long, thick leaf petioles, the “stalks,” are edible. Rhubarb leaves are toxic and must never be eaten. The stalks do contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can tie up calcium and make it unavailable in the body. Eating an occasional dish containing rhubarb does not pose a serious nutritional threat; indeed, spinach, widely considered a health-promoting food, also contains high levels of oxalic acid. However, people with gout, kidney disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis may want to avoid foods high in oxalic acid and should consult with their physicians about consuming these foods.


Rhubarb or Blueberry Cupcakes
Serves 12

  1. 1 ¼ cups flour
  2. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  3. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
  5. ½ teaspoon cinnamon or ground cardamom (optional)
  6. ½ cup brown sugar
  7. ¼ cup canola oil
  8. 1 egg
  9. ½ cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  10. ½-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. ¾ cup diced rhubarb or blueberries (**frozen or fresh)
  12. ¼ cup toasted walnuts or slivered almonds (optional)
  13. Cream cheese frosting (1 tablespoon per cupcake)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. *If you are using sour milk, prepare it by putting ½ tablespoon lemon juice in liquid measuring cup and fill with milk up to the ½ cup line.
  3. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with cooking spray or lining with paper muffin cups.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon or cardamom in bowl and set aside.
  5. Combine sugar, oil, egg, milk, vanilla and mix with well.
  6. Add flour mixture to liquid ingredients. Mix by hand until just blended. Gently fold in blueberries or rhubarb. Do not over mix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins until ¾ full.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Let cupcakes cool in tin on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  10. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
  1. **If you are using frozen fruit, add it without thawing so it doesn’t bleed into the batter. You can also toss it in a couple tablespoons of flour just before gently mixing it in. Stop stirring if it starts to bleed.
  2. I like to use a flour that is a blend of all purpose white flour with 30-50% whole wheat flour or UltragrainR whole wheat flour. This increases the whole grains and doubles the fiber.
  3. These freeze well either before frosting or after. Take out just enough for one or two people at a time.
  4. Nutrition Per Serving: 193-196 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 178 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest


Turkey Black and White Bean Chili



Happy Fall! It’s chili season again! This post highlights a homemade chili seasoning mix you can make ahead and have on hand. It’s a low cost alternative to buying a seasoning packet. It also gives you control of the salt content. The chili recipe is a variation of the Three-bean and Corn Chili we made last year. It’s fun to be creative and change things up when making chili. Change the ingredients and you have a new chili each time you make it. Let us know the variations you’ve made and enjoyed! It’s a long winter so we need lots of ideas!


Chili Seasoning Mix
Serves 4

  1. 1/2 cup chili powder
  2. 4 teaspoons cumin powder
  3. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  4. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  5. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Measure spices into a 1 cup container such as a jelly jar.
  2. Cover with airtight lid
  3. Shake to mix
  4. Label and date
  1. This will make enough chili seasoning mix (about 2 1/2 tablespoons per recipe) to make 4 batches of chili.
Taste of Zest

Turkey Black and White Bean Chili
Serves 8

  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 2 medium carrots, chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  5. 1 pound lean ground turkey
  6. 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon meat season with no salt (optional)
  9. 15 ounce can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  10. 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  11. 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  12. 4 ounces canned green chilies
  13. 4 cups tomato juice (regular or low sodium)
  14. 21/2 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
  15. Salt (optional, season to taste)
  1. Saute finely chopped onion, carrot and minced garlic in olive oil for few minutes in a soup kettle.
  2. Add ground turkey, onion powder, garlic powder and meat seasoning. Stir to crumble meat and brown until meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add the beans to the ground turkey mixture along with tomatoes and green chilies.
  4. Then add tomato juice. Adjust the amount based on your preference for thickness.
  5. Add the chili seasoning mix. Adjust spices and salt to your taste.
  6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until flavors are blended.
  7. Serve chili with crackers or hearty bread. You can add your favorite toppings such as chopped green onion, sour cream or shredded cheese.
  1. Divide leftovers into individual portions, label and freeze for a quick and easy meal at the end of a busy day. If you remember to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator in the morning, it will take less time to thaw and cook in the microwave at the end of the day.
  2. Nutrition Per Serving: 255 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 g fiber, 660 mg sodium (without added salt), 799 mg potassium, 32 gm carbohydrate, 3 mg iron (18%), 60 mg vitamin C (100%), 6141 IU vitamin A (123%)
Taste of Zest

Teresa’s Eggplant Parmesan


Teresa made this wonderful dish from the eggplant and tomatoes she got from her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. She often makes a dish like this on the weekend and then packages individual servings to take for lunch to her new job as an English teacher. The Land Stewardship Project has a CSA Farm directory that gives information on how to get involved in local food movement.

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

According to the Land Stewardship Project: At their most fundamental level, CSA farms provide a weekly delivery of sustainably grown produce to consumers during the growing season (approximately June to October). Those consumers, in turn, pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don’t so much “buy” food from particular farms as become “members” of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm.

We encourage you to purchase locally grown food! If you already do, let us know what you are doing.


Teresa’s Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 6

  1. 1 large eggplant (about 1 lb)
  2. ⅓ cup flour
  3. 1 cup bread crumbs (about 3 slices of whole wheat bread)
  4. 2 eggs, whisked
  5. 24 ounce jar pasta sauce
  6. 3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  7. ¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  8. 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese or your favorite reduced-fat cheese
  9. ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Slice eggplant into ¼ in slices, sprinkle with salt and place them in colander to drain for 30 minutes. After eggplant slices have finished draining, rinse off salt.
  2. Put bread slices in food processor to make crumbs. This is a good place to use bread crusts.
  3. Dredge eggplant slices through flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake slices at 425ºF for 10 minutes on one side, then flip. Cook other side for 5 minutes or until they are brown and crispy.
  5. In a baking dish, layer pasta sauce, tomato slices, basil or Italian seasoning, breaded eggplant slices, more pasta sauce, and cheeses.
  6. Bake at 400ºF for 20-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is slightly browned and bubbly. Do not cook too long so eggplant slices stay crisp, not soggy.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 221 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 314 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest





Mini Pizza on the Grill


This is a quick and easy way to make pizza without heating the oven on a hot summer day. The variations are endless so you can make exactly to your own taste. The crust is made from whole wheat frozen roll dough. The frozen dough can be set on the counter covered with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray to thaw until you are ready to roll them into pizza rounds. Thawing can take 3-4 hours. To save time we usually cook extra pizza crusts and then freeze them to use later. This makes for a quick meal another time. This recipe so easy to make for one or two people but it’s also great for a group because everyone can get involved. We often prepare the crusts by cooking them on one side and then letting everyone make their own pizza using their choice of toppings. Then they are put back on the grill again to heat the ingredients and melt the cheese. It’s fun to invite each guest to bring a topping to share and then you’ll have great variety with  something for everyone.


Mini Pizza on the Grill
Serves 1

  1. Frozen whole wheat dinner roll dough
  2. 2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce
  3. 1 ½ ounces shredded mozzarella and reduce-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  4. Your choice of toppings
  1. Thaw dinner roll dough for several hours.
  2. Roll dough with a dusting of flour into a 6 inch round.
  3. Let rounds rise slightly in a warm place.*
  4. Prepare toppings such as sliced sweet pepper, diced or caramelized onions, cooked sausage or chicken breast, pepperoni, green or black olives, mushrooms, etc.
  5. Slide dough rounds onto the grill and brown one side.
  6. Remove from grill and top the cooked side of pizza crust with 2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce, toppings of your choice and cheese.
  7. Slide back onto grill to cook the other side of the pizza crust and melt the cheese. You will need to lower the grill temperature or move pizza away from the burner; otherwise the crust will get too brown before the cheese melts.
  8. Enjoy hot off the grill alone or with a side salad!
  1. *Warm the oven or grill to 250ºF, turn it off and insert dough rounds on a greased cookie sheet and let rise until you get all the toppings ready.
  2. I am always looking for a low fat meat to top pizza. My latest find was seasoned turkey burgers. They can be grilled while the crust and toppings are being prepared and then diced and used like sausage on pizza.
  3. Variations: Use light alfredo sauce for a white pizza and be creative with the toppings-fresh tomato slices, taco meat and salsa, garlic olive oil for sauce, etc.
  4. Nutrition Per Serving (no meat): 286 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 640 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Pat’s Baked Apple Pancake

Baked apple pancake

I received this recipe, which has become a family favorite, several years ago in a recipe swap from Pat, a good friend of mine. When I asked her if I could use her recipe for our blog she said: “Certainly you may use.  It is still a family favorite.  I initially got it from a parenting magazine in about 1995, and then adjusted it over the years to what we like.  I’m guessing “Parents” magazine but I don’t know for sure.  I use any and all kinds of apples, and I always use a ton more cinnamon than the recipe because we love cinnamon. … Although I make it occasionally year-round, it’s a signal of fall in my family.  We would go the apple farm and buy multiple bushels of apples which meant fresh apples and baked apple pancake!  The kids would ask for it.“



Pat’s Baked Apple Pancake
Serves 8

  1. 3 large Granny Smith or other tart apple
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 5 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
  5. 1 egg, slightly beaten
  6. ¾ cup skim milk
  7. 2 tablespoon canola oil
  8. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  9. 1 cup flour
  10. ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  11. ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Core and slice apple into thin wedges.
  2. Melt butter in 10 inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat pan.
  3. Add apple slices and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Cook the apples on medium heat, stirring often.
  5. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  6. While apples are cooking, beat egg, milk, oil and vanilla until well blended.
  7. Mix together flour, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, baking powder and salt.
  8. Add dry ingredients to milk and egg mixture and mix until just blended. Set batter aside.
  9. By now the apple slices should be browned but still hold their shape. Arrange the apple slices into an even layer in the skillet.
  10. Pour batter evenly over hot apple slices.
  11. Place skillet in oven and bake for 13-15 minutes or until batter is cooked through and puffs up around the edges of the pan.
  12. Using a pancake turner, immediately loosen edges from the sides and a bit of the pancake from the bottom of the pan.
  13. Place serving platter over the skillet and, using hot pads, invert skillet and platter to flip pancake onto serving platter so that the apples are on the top. A few apples may stick to pan but they can be easily scooped out and put back on the pancake.
  14. Cut into wedges, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately while piping hot!
Pat’s notes
  1. The original recipe was for 3 apples, but I make a double batch. It’s too delicious to only make a small one with 3 apples 🙂
  2. Joy’s notes: I made two modifications to the original recipe from Pat.
  3. 1. I use one tablespoon butter to cook the apple slices. I cook them rather slowly and the butter and moisture from the apples seem to keep them from sticking to the pan.
  4. 2. I slice the apples very thin and leave the skins on because it’s quicker. Plus, this increases the amount of fiber.
  5. I like to cook up the apples a day ahead or use pre-made chunky apple sauce so it’s quick and easy to prepare in the morning after church. I’ve even made the batter before church and put it in the refrigerator. I spray the pan with cooking spray and heat the apples before adding the batter and then we have apple pancakes in about 20 minutes.
  6. If you are cooking for one or two, you can refrigerate and warm the slices of pancake in the microwave the next day. It also freezes well.
  7. Nutrition Per Serving: 159 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 24 g carbohydrate, 1 g dietary fiber, 147 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

North Country Pasty


We recently visited Upper Michigan on a family vacation and enjoyed a Yooper pasty. First we stopped at a small restaurant that advertised pasty and fruit pie. They were both delicious! Later Teresa and one of the hotel staff struck up a conversation and she said she made the best pasty in the area. She went on to say that we could find the second-best pasty at small grocery store in the next small town. So we made a road trip and tried their pasty. They are wonderful as well! Later in the summer we were in northern Minnesota and tried a pasty in Menahga, a small Finnish community. They were also very tasty! So my mom and I decided to make Grandma Hilma’s No-fail Pie Crust with butter and make our version of Finnish pasty. The crust is flaky and the filling is very flavorful!  Try these with either ketchup and beef gravy. Our family is split on which topping we like best. Give this recipe a try and let us know how they turn out! Place your vote–either ketchup or gravy?



North Country Pasty
Serves 8

  1. Pre-made dough for four pie crusts or one recipe of Grandma Hilma’s No-fail Pie Crust
  2. 8-12 ounces extra lean ground beef or pre-cooked roast beef, shredded
  3. 2 medium carrots, shredded
  4. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  5. 2 cups ¼ inch diced potatoes (fresh or frozen)
  6. ½ cup rutabaga, shredded (optional)
  7. ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  8. 1 teaspoons minced garlic
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon pepper
  11. ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1 whisked egg
  1. Prepare pastry if it’s from scratch.
  2. Make filling by combining beef, carrots, onion, rutabaga, parsley, garlic and seasonings until well mixed. You want to have at least 6 cups of this mixture. If you are short, just add a few more potatoes.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions–¾ to1 cup each.
  4. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  5. Divide prepared pastry into 6 or 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 8-9 inch circle.
  6. Put a portion of meat filling onto one half of the pastry circle. Fold the other ½ of pastry over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal the pastry. It will be the shape of a half circle.
  7. Brush the pasty with the egg wash.
  8. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can also spray the baking sheet with cooking spray.
  9. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. If they get brown too quickly, cover lightly with tinfoil to stop browning.
  10. Serve hot with with ketchup or beef gravy.
  1. Pasty can be baked and then frozen, which makes it perfect if you are cooking for only one or two people.To reheat, place in a 300ºF oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
  2. Since we are not miners taking these hand meat pies down for quick energy during their strenuous shift, I’d suggest serving these with something light like a vegetable salad.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 564 calories, 32 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 43 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 304 mg sodium, 472 mg potassium, 5219 IU vitamin A.
Taste of Zest

Grandma Hilma’s No-Fail Pie Crust

Pie Crust

From the kitchen of Grandma Hilma Tisdell (mother, grandmother and great grandmother). Grandma said,”this recipe came from my Aunt Lempie Kumpsula and it has never failed me.” Along with pie, this pastry can also be used for making pasty, quiche, tarts or shepherd’s pie.

Grandma Hilma’s No-Fail Pie Crust
Yields 4

  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 1 rounded cup vegetable shortening or 1 cup butter
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 egg, slightly beaten
  5. 2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  6. ⅓ cup water
  1. Mix flour, salt and shortening. Work shortening into flour and salt with fingers or pastry blender until mixture looks like coarse meal.
  2. Mix egg, vinegar and water. Beat mixture with a fork until well blended.
  3. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture with a fork or pastry blender until well mixed. The dough should form a ball. Since flour differs, the dough may be sticky. Let dough chill for 5 minutes and it will be easier to work with.
  4. Divide dough into balls. (4 pie crusts or 8 pasty).
  5. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll between two sheets of waxed paper to the desired size.
  6. Transfer to pie pan or assemble pasties.
  1. This pastry freezes very well so you can prepare it in advance and refrigerate it for a couple of days or freeze it for a month or two.
Taste of Zest



Nutella Cookies


Currently I have a job assisting with a research project growing dry beans. So today I was weeding a field just north of the Twin Cities and I heard chimes about 10 am coming from the house on this family farm. Before I knew it the farmer invited me in for one of the most magical meals of the day, which previously I didn’t even know existed–the meal called “second breakfast.” What is second breakfast you ask? Second breakfast is the meal after first breakfast, silly! No, I’m serious! And guess what was included in second breakfast along with other foods? A cookie! My grandmother calls it morning “lunch.” When she grew up on the farm, her family ate five meals a day–breakfast very early, morning lunch, dinner at noon, afternoon lunch and then supper after the last milking. The second breakfast or morning lunch often includes a sandwich, fruit, beverage and cookie.

The cookies in this recipe use one of my favorite combinations of ingredients–chocolate and nuts. If you have never had Nutella before, go to the store right now and try it because it will be a day that you will always remember. I had my first spoonful of Nutella when we hosted Mercedes, our foreign exchange student from Spain, and she was given some to make her feel more at home. Nutella is the perfect food except for one small glitch. It can be a mess to eat. But what if you made a peanut butter cookie and placed Nutella in the center, and magic–no more mess! Next time I go out to the farm I am going to bring some of these for second breakfast! Yum!

This is a quick way to make a small batch of cookies for one or two people. I got this idea and adapted the recipe from Handle the Heat. 

Nutella Cookies

Nutella Cookies
Serves 30

  1. 17.5 ounce peanut butter cookie mix or your favorite homemade cookie dough
  2. ⅝ cup Nutella or chocolate peanut butter
  1. Scoop out 30 1-teaspoon sized scoops of Nutella onto a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid, about 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, make cookie dough as directed. Using a heaping tablespoon, make 30 dough balls and chill.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Take out a third of the frozen Nutella balls. Working quickly, use your hands to form the cookie dough around the Nutella ball, making sure the edges are sealed. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Using a large fork, slightly flatten the dough and make a criss-cross pattern with the tines.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until slightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. While one third of the cookies bake, do the same with the other batches of cookies. If the Nutella balls become hard to work with, return them to the freezer.
  8. Serve warm, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 196 calories, 9 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, <1 g dietary fiber, 186 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest



Foolproof Fried Rice


Carrots, Peppers, and Onions OH My! I am constantly running into the problem of bits-and-pieces. I really dislike throwing away even the smallest amount of food and I am not the type to overeat just to finish something. So I am a collector of bit-and-pieces. Now a collection of this type would be a huge moldy problem if it wasn’t for this recipe. Fried rice turns bits-and-pieces into gold. Each of my leftover vegetables turn into beautiful gems when added to the pan.


Fried rice also solves another problem. Being a solo cook and consumer, I often hesitate cooking large amounts of one kind vegetables just for myself. I know that if I heat up a can of corn I will be eating corn, corn, corn for the next three nights. This idea is discomforting not only to my taste buds but to my body as well. I find it much more appetizing and just plain fun to eat a couple trees of broccoli, a few leaves of kale, some rings of onion and a couple branches of asparagus. Goodness it sounds like I have a whole tiny town on my dinner plate tonight:) See, I told you this would be fun!


The another plus about this recipe is that it takes no time at all to make even if you start with raw vegetables. If I’ve used up my bits-and-pieces, I can head out to the garden, pick the veggies that I am craving that day, throw them in a pan and have a hot meal in less than 30 minutes. What could be more fun than a tiny town in my tummy? Let me know if you experiment with any fun vegetables in your rice!


Foolproof Fried Rice
Serves 2

  1. 2 cloves minced garlic
  2. 1/2 cup onion slices
  3. 1/2 cup carrots slices
  4. 1 tablespoons canola oil
  5. 1 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 cups in-season vegetables, chopped into bite-size pieces, such as sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, celery and broccoli.
  8. 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. Cook brown rice as directed on the package. Set aside.
  2. Coat pan with vegetable oil and saute garlic, onions, carrots.
  3. Cut up vegetables (peppers, sugar snap peas, asparagus, and broccoli) and place them in pan with onions until heated. Vegetables in fried rice should not wilt.
  4. Add rice and crack an egg over the rice. Mix and flip until egg is cooked.
  5. Add soy sauce. Mix. Enjoy!
  1. Cook extra rice to put in the freezer for super-fast prep next time around.
  2. Add any veggies you want. Be brave when you go to the farmers market or grocery store and try some new veggies. Try ingredients like kale, kohlrabi, or Swiss chard.
  3. Lower the sodium content by using salt-free spices like red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder or a little ground ginger. You can also add flavor by adding fresh ginger, chili paste and a little sesame oil when sautéing.
  4. Nutrition Per Serving: 407 calories, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 67 g carbohydrate, 11 g dietary fiber, 427 mg sodium, excellent source of vitamin A.
Taste of Zest


Paul’s Caesar Dressing

It’s the time of year when the lettuce keeps coming from the garden. So this recipe is perfect now and all year long. It’s delicious! The Parmesan cheese adds just the right amount of salty flavor. Thanks Paul for sharing this recipe with us!

Caesar Salad

From Paul’s email: I love the blog! The way you and the girls participate in activities together is awesome! That (Caesar) salad looks great, but where’s the recipe? I have a good one I make in bulk and just pour over Romaine and toss with Parmesan as desired. It easily stays fresh for a couple weeks but is generally gone long before that. Honestly, I’ve never had a batch go bad. 

 Caesar Salad

Paul’s Caesar Dressing
Serves 12

  1. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  6. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  7. ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  8. Parmesan cheese
  1. Whirl all ingredients in a food processor or blender until garlic is minced and mixing is complete ( about 30 seconds).
  2. Toss dressing with the leaves from 2 heads of romaine lettuce, or less if you wish. Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese and re-toss. Enjoy!
Paul’s notes
  1. Generally, I make the entire dressing recipe, but only a fraction of the salad. The rest of the dressing goes into the fridge for later.
  2. I often alter the recipe for however I’m feeling when I make it. Generally more garlic, although anything over 4 cloves doesn’t offer a pronounced change in flavor. Sometimes a little more pepper sauce to give it a little more kick.
  3. We keep romaine lettuce around all the time. It takes moments to rip a few leaves off, rinse, tear and toss them for a heart healthy, satisfying and tasty side.
  4. Less hearty varieties of lettuce (like red leaf, bibb, butter, green leaf, etc.) don’t hold up so well to the acid in the dressing.
  5. Nutrition Per Serving: 82 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, trace dietary fiber, 12 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Carol’s Favorite Omelet


Our family has had the privilege of eating at Carol’s (Brian’s mom) house once a week. This tradition started when Teresa and Laura were small and I worked evenings. Carol took care of them until Brian got home and then they’d have dinner together. The tradition still continues and recently Carol made omelets and shared this recipe with me. Omelets are great because they easy, make just one serving and there are so many possible variations. Just change up the vegetables and cheese, add a new seasoning or fresh herb and you have a new taste every time! Please share your favorite omelet with us.


Carol’s Favorite Omelet
Serves 1

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 2 tablespoon milk
  3. Dash of salt and pepper
  4. 1/4 cup cauliflower
  5. 1 small potato
  6. 1/4 cup onion
  7. 1 teaspoon cooking oil or cooking spray
  8. 2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  9. 1 ounce slice Swiss cheese, regular or low fat cheese of your choice
  1. Coat small frying or omelet pan with a small amount of canola oil or cooking spray.
  2. Beat eggs and add milk, salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Chop cauliflower, potato and onion into small pieces.
  4. Heat pan and saute cauliflower, potato, onion and Worcestershire Sauce until soft and remove from pan.
  5. Put beaten eggs mixture to hot pan. When egg mixture starts to set, add the cauliflower mixture to one half side of the omelet.
  6. Place slice of cheese over cauliflower mixture.
  7. When eggs are firm enough to flip, flip one half of omelet over other half.
  8. Cover and continue cooking until just cooked through and serve piping hot!
  1. Low or reduced fat cheeses made with 2% milk are a healthy choice since you get the same amount of protein and calcium with ⅓ less fat and half the saturated fat. If you use low or reduced fat Swiss, sharp or pepper cheese, you will find you can use less cheese without sacrificing flavor.
  2. Nutrition Per Serving (low fat cheese): 361 calories, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 3 g dietary fiber, 492 mg sodium.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving (regular cheese): 417 calories, 22 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 3 g dietary fiber, 492 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Black Lentil Falafel

Falafel in pita

Perfecting this recipe came as a VICTORY for me amidst frustration. I was recently told, along with 20 percent of all women, that I was deficient in iron. I was advised to eat more meat, especially beef. This recommendation did not sit well with me. I do eat meat, but I do not believe it NEEDS to be essential in everyone’s diet. I mean there are many countries in the world that do not eat meat. I have many friends that choose, for various reasons, to follow a vegetarian diet. I believed there had to be a high iron food that was plant based!

Shortly after I was diagnosed with a iron deficiency my sister Teresa headed to the grocery store and checked nearly every label in the store for iron content. She came bearing a grocery bag with meatballs, spinach pasta, orange juice (vitamin C helps uptake iron), and an item that really sparked my interest–black lentils. We learned that black lentils are high in iron and protein.

Now at that point I was not a fan of beans due to their texture. A couple weeks later I was cooking with a friend and she suggest we whip up some falafel. I helped her add the spices and mix it up and to my surprise they were incredible. I was also fascinated on how she made the patties and put the non-fried leftovers in the freezer just like a hamburger or sausage patty.


Chickpeas which are normally used to make falafel are high in protein similar to meat. They are missing some nutrients that are in beef, particularly iron. On the bus ride home from my friend’s house, it came to me. Using the high iron black lentils in the falafel alleviated my frustration. Women CAN get enough iron without consuming large amounts of meat. This is especially helpful on a college student’s budget.

I prefer to eat my Black Lentil Falafel in a pita with cucumber sauce, tomatoes fresh from my garden and lettuce. For an added iron absorption, drink vitamin C rich juice with the falafel. Enjoy and keep experimenting with this recipe. Let me know what you come up with!


 Copy of IMG_7129

Black Lentil Falafel
Serves 8

  1. ½ cup dried black lentils (soaked and then drained)
  2. 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or ¾ cup dried chickpeas soaked and then drained)
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 1 small onion, quartered
  5. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  6. ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon chili powder
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  9. 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  10. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  11. 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley
  12. Lemon juice from ½ lemon
  13. About 2 tablespoons flour or enough to hold patties together
  14. Canola oil for frying
  1. Advanced prep at least 7-8 hours in advance: Pour 1 cup boiling water over ½ cup dried black lentils and let sit for 7-8 hours or overnight. You can also soak chickpeas overnight or use canned chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans).
  2. Combine all ingredients except canola oil in large food processor and pulse until well mixed.
  3. Shape into 16 small patties or balls.
  4. Heat ½ inch oil in pan with high sides. Heat until drops of water sizzle in the pan.
  5. Brown falafel patties on both sides until golden brown. This should be done in several batches so the patties are not crowded, brown well and can be easily turned.
  6. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve warm.
  1. We enjoyed the falafel in whole wheat pita with tomato, cucumber, mild onion and tzatziki (cucumber sauce). Soaking onion rings in cold water for short time will take away some of the harsh flavor.
  2. Variation: Roll falafel balls in cooked brown rice. We use quick-cook brown rice for the convenience. This give a wonderfully nutty taste to the falafel!
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 251 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 8 g dietary fiber, 360 mg sodium.
  4. 3 ounces of cooked ground beef contains 9% iron (heme) and the black beans in this recipe provide 13% iron (non-heme). Heme iron is absorbed 2-3 times efficiently than non-heme iron. Vitamin C rich foods, like citrus and sweet peppers, enhance non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal.
Taste of Zest


Grilled Asparagus with Bacon


Let’s grill! It’s a great way to keep the house cool in the summer. Here is one of our favorite recipes for the spring and summer grilling season. Fresh asparagus tastes wonderful since it’s the first vegetable to come up in the spring. When the first spears appear I become very excited and hopeful after the long winter. These are quick, easy and can be made for one, two or a whole crowd. I like to use center-cut bacon or turkey bacon because it’s very flavorful while lower in fat. You can switch it up and use pancetta or a wide variety of seasoned bacons. Even veggie bacon strips work if you want to go meatless. It also works well to roast these in the oven. Then you can enjoy them anytime of the year!


Grilled Asparagus with Bacon
Serves 1

  1. 6 asparagus spears
  2. 1 slice bacon
  3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  5. Black pepper to taste
  6. Red pepper flakes or other seasonings of your choice
  1. Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends of the asparagus. If you bend the stalk it will naturally break at the tender spot.
  2. Wrap three spears with ½ strip of bacon.
  3. Drizzle each bunch with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
  5. Grill on medium heat. Turn once. It does not take long– about 5 minutes on each side. Cook until bacon is done and asparagus is tender.
  1. It also works well to roast these in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350ºF, turning once. Use a low sided baking dish or baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  2. You can also substitute broccoli for the asparagus when asparagus is no longer in season. Cut the florets apart and down the stalk. Use a vegetable peeler to pare down some of the stalk that is not as tender.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 161 calories, 14 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 5 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 196 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Honey-Orange Vinaigrette


Homemade salad dressing is very easy to make with basic ingredients. Cooking Light has a three step process for making a basic vinaigrette on their website at

1. Build a flavor base. (Add an emulsifier such as Dijon mustard or honey.)

2. Add an acid. (Using flavored vinegar or fruit juice is a fool-proof place to start.)

3. Whisk in oil. (Drizzle oil in very slowly while whisking.)

It’s as simple as that. Use your imagination and combine a wide-variety of ingredients. Fresh dressings will last a short time in the refrigerator but really depends on the ingredients you use.



Honey-Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 6

  1. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  2. 1 teaspoon brown mustard
  3. 1 teaspoon honey
  4. 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  7. 1/4 cup orange juice
  8. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except for olive oil in a high-sided container or quart jar.
  2. Whisk in olive oil.
  3. Whisk or shake vigorously just before serving.
  1. An immersion blender or regular blender works well to whisk ingredients together.
  2. Store in the refrigerator in a bottle that seals well so you can shake it before serving. This will last a week or so in the refrigerator.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving (~2 tablespoons): 117 calories, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, trace fiber, 100 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest


Chicken Soup with Homestyle Noodles

Chicken Noodle Soup

Make this easy chicken soup recipe, that tastes like Grandma made it, without all the work of cooking the chicken and rolling out the noodles. Just buy a rotisserie chicken, eat once and then use the leftover chicken to whip-up this savory soup that hits the spot. Frozen egg noodles make it hearty and give it that delicious homemade taste.Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Soup with Homestyle Noodles
Serves 8

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  4. 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  5. 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  6. 4 cups water
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. ½ teaspoon onion powder
  9. ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  10. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  12. 2 cups cooked chicken (or turkey)
  13. 12 ounce package of frozen egg noodles, like Reames®
  1. Saute onion, carrots and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add seasonings and cooked chicken and bring to boil.
  4. Simmer noodles as directed on package: cook noodles uncovered for 20 minutes or until desired tenderness. Stir occasionally. Noodles will be tender but still slightly firm.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 278 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 572 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Three-bean and Corn Chili

Along with being a three-bean chili, this is also a three-season dish. It is great for those cool spring and fall days as well as the cold days of winter. It’s a hearty, one-pot meal that’s very satisfying. The variety of beans and the corn make it a colorful dish that is fun to serve to one or a group.Chili

This recipe can be easily adapted for the slow cooker. Just complete the first two steps on top of the stove and then put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours, depending on your slow cooker. It’s always a good idea to try slow cooker recipes while you are home so you can adjust the temperature as needed. Then you will know the accurate cooking time the next time you make it and there will be no surprises, neither undone or overdone.


Three-bean and Corn Chili
Serves 8

  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  4. 1 pound lean ground turkey or extra lean ground beef
  5. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. 1/2 can (~7 1/2 ounces) canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  9. 1/2 can (~7 1/2 ounces) canned white beans, drained and rinsed
  10. 1/2 can (~7 1/2 ounces) canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  11. 1 can (~15 ounces) canned diced tomatoes
  12. 1 can (~11 ounces) canned Mexican corn (with red and green peppers )
  13. 3-4 cups low sodium V-8 juice
  14. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  15. 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  16. 1/4 teaspoon paprika, smoked
  17. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  18. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  19. Salt, season to taste (optional)
  1. Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil for few minutes in a soup kettle.
  2. Add ground meat, along with garlic, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to crumble meat and brown until meat is no longer pink.
  3. In the meantime, mix all three cans of beans in colander, rinse and drain. Divide beans into two batches. Label and freeze one batch for use later.
  4. Add the other half of the beans to the ground beef along with tomatoes and corn.
  5. Then add 3 or 4 cups V-8 juice. Adjust the amount based on your preference for thickness.
  6. Add the spices. Adjust spices to your taste.
  7. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until flavors are blended.
  8. Serve chili with crackers or hearty bread. You can add your favorite toppings such as chopped green onion, sour cream or shredded cheese.
  1. Divide leftovers into individual portions, label and freeze for a quick and easy meal at the end of a busy day. If you remember to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator in the morning, it will take less time to thaw and cook in the microwave later on.
Made with ground turkey
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 238 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 383 mg sodium (without added salt).
Made with lean ground beef
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 278 calories, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 367 mg sodium (without added salt).
Taste of Zest

Brown-sugar Broiled Grapefruit

This is a super-simple recipe that adds a bit of elegance to breakfast or any meal! If you’re not a big fan of grapefruit, this may be just the recipe to try because it takes the bitterness away and is oh-so sweet, almost like candy.Grapefruit from side

My husband and I have been to a couple of bed and breakfasts over the years where we’ve been served broiled grapefruit. It was a special treat each time but recently we found it hard to eat because the grapefruit half was not pre-cut. So, to make eating experience enjoyable, cutting around the edge of grapefruit half is crucial. Having a serrated grapefruit spoon to eat it with is ideal. If you don’t have grapefruit spoons, I’d suggest cutting between the grapefruit sections so that the flesh can be easily scooped out. This takes the struggle out of eating it and prevents the embarrassing moment when you squirt the person next to you with grapefruit juice.Grapefruit

Brown-sugar Broiled Grapefruit
Serves 1

  1. ½ grapefruit
  2. 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  1. Cut grapefruit in ½ and using a serrated knife cut between the flesh and skin all the way around the grapefruit half.
  2. Put in a small baking dish and spread the brown sugar over the top of the cut grapefruit.
  3. Broil for about 5 minutes or until grapefruit is just starting to brown and the sugar caramelizes.
  4. Serve warm. You can serving it plain or with a sprinkle of granola.
  1. My daughter Laura prefers white grapefruit because she feels it’s less bitter, so try either white or red grapefruit to see which you prefer.
  2. On the Internet there are many versions of this simple recipe, such as adding cinnamon and ginger, using honey rather than sugar and garnishing with whipped topping.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 89 calories, trace fat, trace saturated fat, 1 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest



Easy Wild Rice Soup

Wild Rice Soup with SpoonHere is a Minnesota favorite! It is a make-in-20-minutes dish that is quick, easy and delicious.  It uses pre-cooked ingredients that you can have on hand. You can use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or purchase a rotisserie chicken and eat half and use the rest for this soup. Wild rice takes awhile to cook from scratch but can be cooked ahead and frozen in 1 ½ cup packages which makes it very convenient for use later. Wild rice can also be purchased cooked in a can. If you’d prefer, you can use instant brown rice which cooks directly in the broth. This makes it very convenient and quick. Serve it with crackers or crusty bread. Enjoy!Wild rice soup with spoon and bread

Easy Wild Rice Soup
Serves 8

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  4. 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  5. 1/4 cup flour
  6. 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  7. 1 teaspoon thyme
  8. 1 teaspoon parsley
  9. 1/2 teaspoon sage
  10. 1 dash red pepper flakes
  11. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  12. 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  13. 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken
  14. 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (Rinse and drain canned wild rice.)
  15. 1 cup 2% evaporated milk
  16. 2 cups packed spinach leaves (optional)
  1. Saute onion, carrots and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle flour over onion and oil mixture and stir to make roux.
  3. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add seasonings and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add chicken and rice and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add evaporated milk and heat through. Do not boil.
  8. Ladle soup over a handful of spinach leaves. Enjoy!
  1. ¾ cup instant brown rice makes 1 ½ cups cooked rice which can be substituted for the wild rice.
  2. This recipe is healthier than most wild rice soups because it’s made with low sodium chicken broth and lower fat milk.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 182 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 596 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Fruit and Nut Granola

Getting tired of the same-old breakfast or just don’t have time for it? This Fruit and Nut Granola may be the answer. I scaled down my recipe from 16 servings (which was way too much for us now that we are empty-nesters) to 8 servings. My husband and I can eat it every other day and it lasts a little over a week. If 8 serving still seems like too much, this granola freezes well for about a month. It’s delicious with low fat milk or yogurt.Small and large bowls of granola

It also works wonderfully to make a simple apple crisp for one or two. Just cut an apple or two into slices and arrange in a ramekin sprayed with cooking oil, sprinkle with a little brown sugar and cinnamon and top with this granola. Then bake at 350 degrees F for about ½ hour or until apples are cooked and it’s bubbly.  Other times, change it up and use peaches, pears or blueberries.   Fruit crisp for breakfast is a great way to get out of a breakfast rut!

Large bowl of granolaIf you don’t have time to fuss, try filling a snack bag with granola and grabbing a yogurt to go. Eat it on the bus, train or when you get to work. This can also be a great pick-me-up later in the day.Closeup of large and small bowl of granola

I also like to mix it up and make it with pecans, almonds or even mixed nuts. In the winter, I like to substitute pumpkin or apple pie spice for the cinnamon to make it more festive for the holidays. It is good with other dried fruits such as apricots, papaya, pineapple or bananas.  Next time I’m going substitute pure maple syrup for the honey.  Yum! What other ideas do you have?

Fruit and Nut Granola
Serves 8

  1. 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  2. 1/4 cup coconut flakes, optional
  3. 1/3 cup walnut, or sunflower seeds
  4. 1/8 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 1/8 cup molasses
  8. 1/4 cup water
  9. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  10. 1/4 cup dried cranberries, or cherries
  11. 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, and stir mixture well.
  2. Combine honey, molasses, water, and oil in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
  3. Pour over dry mixture and stir until well coated.
  4. Spread onto a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray, spread evenly.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven. Stir in cranberries and raisins.
  7. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container in cool dry place or in the freezer.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 232 calories, 7 g fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 4 g dietary fiber, 16 mg sodium.
Taste of Zest

Mini Taco Meatloaves

Mexican meatloaf plate

Do you have a taste for something Tex-Mex? These taco-flavored meatloaves are a fun twist on regular meat loaf. Bake in ramekins or individual baking dishes (with tight-fitting covers) for easy freezing. Try Mini Taco Meatloaves with Mexican Corn Casserole and green salad topped with tomatoes, black beans and tortilla chips and a side of salsa. Both dishes freeze and reheat well later.

Meatloaf in baking dish


Mini Taco Meatloaves
Serves 6

  1. 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  2. 1 small finely chopped onion
  3. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  4. 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
  7. 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  8. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  9. ½ teaspoon salt, optional
  10. 1/2 cup skim milk
  1. Spray ramekins or muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Put ⅙ of meat mixture in each ramekin or muffin cup.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 350ºF until inner temperature reaches 160ºF (no longer pink inside). Check the doneness early so they don’t become overcooked and dry.
  5. Serve hot with salsa.
  6. Freeze in plastic wrap and sealed in a zipper bag or individual baking dishes with lids. They are safe stored in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
  7. Defrost in refrigerator or in microwave.
  8. Reheat in microwave on low for a short time or covered in the oven.
  1. Use whole wheat bread crusts to make whole wheat bread crumbs which store well in the freezer in a zipper bag.
  2. This can be baked in two mini loaf pans or an 8 or 9 inch square or round pan as well.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 182 calories, 8 g Fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 1 g dietary fiber, 276 mg sodium (with salt: 475 mg per serving).
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Mexican Corn Casserole

Corn in dish

This versatile casserole is a crowd-pleaser at potlucks and the leftovers freeze great! It is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. It can also be baked in individual baking dishes, frozen and then used as a quick go-to dish anytime. It goes well with taco mini meatloaf (coming soon!) or as a side for any Mexican meal. If you like it with a little more kick, use hot green chilies.


Corn Casserole on Plate

Mexican Corn Casserole
Serves 10

  1. 1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix (8.5 ounce)
  2. 1 can low sodium corn (15 ounce), drained
  3. 1 can creamed corn (15 ounce)
  4. 1 cup light sour cream
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  8. 1/2 cup 2% milk low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  9. 4 ounces canned mild green chili peppers, diced
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well by hand. Make sure all muffin mix is combined but don’t over mix.
  2. Spray 8 or 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray and pour in mixture.
  3. Bake uncovered at 350ºF for 60 minutes or until until set.
  1. Nutrition per serving: 195 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 296 mg sodium.
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Fish Fillet in Parchment

Salmon in ParchmentWild-caught salmon from Alaska, walleye from northern Minnesota, and frozen tilapia or cod can be a healthy addition to your weekly menu. Here is a recipe for one that is healthy, adaptable, and very flavorful. Be creative and top the fish with a wide variety of toppings and seasonings. It can be a new dish each time you make it with either a Mediterranean, Asian or north-woods flair.

The American Heart Association recommends that we eat two servings (3.5 oz. cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish) of fish weekly. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and lake trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Fatty fish may also reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis, prevent oral and skin cancers, protect vision and possibly improve memory. More importantly it can be quick, easy and delicious!

Salmon in Parchment

Parchment Salmon on Plate


Fish Fillet in Parchment
Serves 1

  1. 4 ounce fish fillet of your choice (salmon, walleye, tilapia, cod, etc.), thawed
  2. 1 teaspoon garlic
  3. Tomato (fresh or sun-dried), onion, or chopped vegetable of your choice.
  4. Dash black pepper and salt to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fresh or dried chives oregano, basil or seasoning of your choice
  6. 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice or Italian dressing
  8. 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  1. Fold a large piece of parchment in half. Cut a half heart shape. Open the parchment. The paper should be heart-shaped.
  2. Place the fish fillet on one side of the heart. Lay the vegetables over the meat. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, oregano or basil. Drizzle on the lime or lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Fold the parchment paper into a heart half again, and roll the edges to seal. Place the packet on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 ºF. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes, or until it is cooked through.
  1. Nutrition per serving: 178 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, trace fiber, 119 mg sodium.
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Slow-cooked Steel Cut Oats


Wake up to a hot breakfast that is comforting, heart-healthy and sticks with you during the morning! Depending on the serving size, this makes enough so one person can eat it almost daily (2/3 cup) or every other day (1 cup) for a week. For variety, top with any dried or fresh fruit and nuts of your choice.  Store in individual microwavable dishes in the refrigerator for up to a week. This do-it-ahead breakfast is quick, easy and so satisfying!


Slow-cooked Steel Cut Oats
Serves 4

  1. 1 cup steel-cut oats
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 1/4 cup honey
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Spray a small slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, mix well and cover.
  3. Cook on low or medium low for 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Serve with low fat milk. Calcium-fortified almond or rice milk also works well.
  5. Top with chopped dried fruit (apricots, cherries, craisins or raisins) or fresh fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or banana slices).
  6. Also top with nuts (toasted walnuts, slivered almonds, or sunflower seeds).
  1. I put my slow-cooker (with 5 temperature settings) on low overnight and it did not cook at all. Then I put it on high and it cooked in an hour. Cooking time varies depending on your slow cooker, so you may want to test this recipe and check on it since it may be done much sooner or later than you expect.
  2. You can also cook this on the top of the stove or in the microwave using the instructions on the steel cut oats container.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving (2/3 cup without milk or toppings): 149 calories, 2 g fat, trace saturated fat, 3 g dietary fiber, 95 mg sodium.
  4. Nutrition Per Serving (1 cup without milk or toppings): 223 calories, 3 g fat, trace saturated fat, 4 g dietary fiber, 143 mg sodium.
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Griddlecakes from Homemade Mix

Griddlecakes with Strawberries

My mom had the idea for making a homemade pancake mix that can be kept in the freezer and used to make small batches of hot, fresh pancakes. These pancakes, or griddlecakes, were adapted from The Greater American Cook Book (copyright 1942). My mom says the way to make them very tender is to use buttermilk. She’s right! They are melt-in-your-mouth good!

Griddlecakes with Syrup

Please read this recipe carefully because you use only 1 cup of homemade mix for a batch and save the rest to make another batch later.

Griddlecakes from Homemade Mix
Serves 2

  1. 3 cup flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon sugar
  6. 1 egg, slightly beaten
  7. 1 ¼ cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  8. 1 tablespoon canola oil
  1. Sift dry ingredients together and mix well.
  2. Measure out 1 cup mix.
  3. Store the rest in an airtight container or freezer zipper bag in freezer for several months.
  4. Combine egg, buttermilk/sour milk and oil and mix well in 4 cup liquid measuring cup with spout.
  5. Add 1 cup mix gradually, beating to obtain a smooth batter.
  6. Pour small amount of batter onto a hot greased griddle or frying pan.
  7. Keep the heat rather low, so the cakes do not brown too fast. When the top is full of tiny bubbles and edge is slightly dry, check the underside to see that it’s golden brown. Then flip the cake and brown on the other side.
  8. Serve hot with your favorite toppings-real maple syrup, berries and whipped topping, brown sugar and butter, or cinnamon apple chunks.
  1. *To make 1 ¼ cup sour milk, use 1 tablespoon lemon juice and enough milk to equal 1 ¼ cup. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes before using.
  2. This makes approximately 3 batches of 8-9 small pancakes per batch.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 87 calories, 2 g Fat, trace saturated fat, trace dietary fiber, 186 mg sodium.
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Pumpkin Pudding with Pie Crust Chips

Pumpkin pudding from above

We have a hot debate when it comes to making pumpkin pie in our family. Brian’s mom Carol is very passionate about using only Festal brand canned pumpkin. One fall she was very frustrated that she couldn’t find Festal Pumpkin at her local grocery store.  Going online, she found a phone number for the Owatonna Canning Company and called that number.  A very nice gentleman answered the phone.  She told him of her plight and he seemed very concerned!  It turned out that Owatonna Canning Company had sold out to Seneca Foods. Part of the agreement of that sale was that Seneca retained the Festal name on their canned pumpkin.  The gentleman she was talking to turned out to be the retired president of the Owatonna Canning Company.  He told her he would talk to the president of Seneca and take care of the problem.  He then suggested she e-mail Seneca and tell them of her concerns.  To her surprise, she was sent a case of Festal Pumpkin!!!!  Pumpkin, anyone?

Pumpkin pudding

On the other hand, my daughter Laura likes to use fresh pumpkins to make pumpkin pie. We’ve tried growing pumpkins but have not had much luck. Now, each fall we collect pumpkins (and squash) from a variety of places–local farmers markets, roadside produce stands, garden centers, farms near my hometown of New York Mills, apple orchards and the student organic farm at the U of MN.

This morning I was laying in bed half awake and dreaming about making pumpkin pie from the cooked pumpkin in our freezer. I realized that the snow was melting and soon we’d be past the pumpkin pie season. I started thinking about an easy single-serving pumpkin pie. How about baked pumpkin pudding and pie crust cookies like my grandma made from leftover pie dough?

I thought it would be fun to use the pumpkin pie filling recipe on the Festal canned pumpkin label but since I was using our own cooked pumpkin, I needed to find the  recipe. So, I searched for it online and the closest thing I found was a recipe on the Minnesota Public Radio website from 2003 by Marian Biersdorf. She, like Carol, has a unique story about her experience with Festal Pumpkin which you can find at .

Pumpkin Pudding with Pie Crust Chips
Serves 6

  1. Your favorite pumpkin pie filling using canned or cooked from fresh pumpkin
  2. Package of prepared pie dough
  1. Spray ramekins with cooking spray.
  2. Make pumpkin pie filling.
  3. Pour equally into 6 or 8 ramekins.
  4. Bake at 350 ºF oven for 30-35 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.
  5. Roll out pie dough like you would for a pie crust and transfer to a cookie sheet or pizza pan.
  6. Cut into 16 pie-shaped triangles separating so triangles don’t touch each other.
  7. Sprinkle pie dough triangles with cinnamon and sugar.
  8. Bake at 350 ºF for 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are just turning slightly brown. Watch carefully!
  1. Pumpkin is easily prepared from fresh pumpkin by cutting a pumpkin in half and removing the seeds. Place halves face down baking pan. Add 1 inch water and bake at 350 ºF for 45-60 minutes or until pumpkin is fork-tender. Let cool until you can scoop the flesh out of skin. Place pumpkin in fine sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth. Let drain for 15 minutes. Then package 2 cup portions (enough for 1 pie) into sealed zipper bags. Label bags with date and contents. Freeze for up to 6-8 months.
  2. Nutrition Per Serving: Refer to your pumpkin filling recipe and the Nutrition Facts on the pie dough label.
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Now and Later Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

One of my daughter’s favorite foods is mashed potatoes but now that she’s in college and cooking for herself she rarely takes the time to make “real” mashed potatoes. Here is a cook once and eat-many-times or share-with-a-friend recipe. These potatoes can be quickly heated in the microwave or oven-baked so they are twice baked. They are extra tasty topped with a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese. They go great with mini meat loaves since both are freeze and reheat recipes.  So this is for you Laura! Enjoy everyone!

Mashed Potato Meal

Now and Later Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8

  1. 2 1/2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes (half 5 lb bag)
  2. 1/2 cup light sour cream
  3. 2 ounces Neufchatel cheese/low fat cream cheese
  4. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  5. ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder
  1. Peel half of potatoes and leave half unpeeled. Cut into small cubes.
  2. Add water and boil for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. Drain well.
  3. Mash potatoes with electric mixer or masher.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mash until fluffy.
  5. Eat now while they are hot and freeze some for later.
  6. Use large scoop and place mashed potato balls on cookie sheet or 1/2 cup measuring cup as a mold.
  7. Freeze several hours and then put potato balls in a zipper freezer bag and store in freezer for 2 to 3 months.
  8. Reheat in microwave or bake in ramekin for twice-baked potatoes.
  1. Leaving the peelings on increases the flavor and fiber.
  2. Nutrition Per Serving: 137 calories, 2 g fat; 1 gm saturated fat, 2+ g dietary fiber, 174-307 mg sodium.
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Italian Mini Meat Loaves

Meatloaf in pan

Jazz up traditional meatloaf by simply adding Italian seasonings! These mini loaves are especially tasty served with fun-shaped pasta, your favorite store-bought or homemade pasta sauce and roasted Italian green beans or side salad. Italian meatloaf also goes well with Now and Later Mashed Potatoes. (Recipe coming soon!) After a long day, just take out a frozen meat loaf and some already cooked mashed potatoes. They both can be warmed up in the microwave or oven.  This recipe makes two mini loaves so one loaf can be frozen and eaten later. Mini loaf pans are great to use when cooking for one or two.

Meatloaf meal

Italian Mini Meatloaves
Serves 4

  1. 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  4. 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  7. 1 teaspoon dried salt-free Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary etc.)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  9. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  10. 1/2 cup skim milk
  1. Spray two mini loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Put half of meat mixture in each of the mini loaf pans.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350ºF until inner temperature reaches 165ºF (no longer pink inside). Check for doneness early so they don’t become overcooked and dry.
  5. Serve hot with pasta sauce.
  6. Freeze in mini loaf pans or plastic wrap and zipper bag. They are safe stored in the freezer for 2-3 months.
  7. Defrost in refrigerator or in microwave.
  8. Reheat in microwave on low for a short time or in the oven covered with tin foil to keep the moisture in.
  1. Tip: I save the ends of whole wheat bread in the freezer. When I have a small bag full, I put them in the food processor and make bread crumbs. I freeze the bread crumbs in a zipper bag for use later in recipes like this one.
  2. This can be baked in 4-6 ramekins or an 8 or 9 inch square or round pan as well.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 266 calories, 13 g Fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 2 g dietary fiber, 304 mg sodium (with salt: 575 mg per serving).
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Grandma Anne’s Pannekoeken

 Grandma Anne’s Pannekoeken Place Setting

Grandma Anne’s Pannekoeken with Berries

Our Grandma Anne enjoyed going to the Pannekoeken Huis  for their triple berry Pannekoeken. We would go there after we picked her up from bowling. It’s a mystery how she got the recipe, but we soon enjoyed a hot-out- of-the-oven Pannekoeken at her house. It was such a treat! We still enjoy making them even though Grandma Anne and the bowling alley are gone and the Pannekoeken Huis is now a bank. The happy memories still last. Make your own memories by preparing this Pannekoeken recipe that magically puffs up and is always a surprise when it comes out of the oven!

Grandma Anne’s Pannekoeken with Butter

Grandma Anne’s Pannekoeken
Serves 4

  1. 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  2. ½ cup low fat (skim or 1%) milk
  3. ½ cup flour
  4. ½ teaspoon vanilla or butter flavoring (optional)
  5. 1 teaspoon butter
  1. Melt butter in bottom of pie pan
  2. Mix ingredients until smooth with a wire whisk or by shaking in a pint jar.
  3. Add mixture to pan.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Top hot Pannekoeken with your favorite toppings: blueberry, strawberry or currant syrup, fresh fruit, whipped topping, bacon or sausage with maple syrup, ice cream and chocolate or caramel syrup.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving: 110 calories, 3 g fat,1 g saturated fat, trace dietary fiber, 54 mg sodium.
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Hearty Ham and Bean Soup


This super-simple recipe is great for a winter or spring party with friends. It can also be put together Sunday night, refrigerated overnight, plugged in the morning so that you’ll have dinner when you get home from work on Monday night. What’s better then hot soup after a long commute in slushy spring storm? After the first meal, this soup will be ready to eat throughout the week. Make this along with Easy Wild Rice Soup (coming soon!) on the weekend and then you will have a variety to eat that week. To change it up you could add corn (frozen or canned) one night. It also freezes well so it’s ready later in the month when you’re not in the mood for cooking.

Soup in bowl

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup
Serves 10

  1. 1 pound navy beans (3 cups dried), soaked overnight
  2. 8 cups water
  3. 1 pound cubed ham or 1 ham bone
  4. 1 large onion, chopped fine
  5. 4 whole carrots, chopped fine
  6. 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  7. 1 bay leaf, whole
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Prepare ingredients as directed above.
  2. Place all ingredients in slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or until beans are soft.
  4. Eat hot or freeze in 1 1/2 cup servings for 2 to 3 months.
  1. Nutrition Per Serving (1 ½ cups): 254 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 12 g dietary fiber, 621 mg sodium.
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Tea and Scones


Picture of scones with tea cup

Taking time for tea is a ritual I enjoy daily and most often alone. The five minutes it takes to brew a cup gives me a chance to pause and enjoy a quiet moment in my day. It gives me time to take some deep breaths, clear my mind and, as the British government put on a motivational poster before the Second World War, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” When I do this for myself, I feel nourished in mind, spirit and body. When I have time, I like to make a batch of scones and enjoy one hot from the oven with a cup of tea. Then I have extras to freeze and enjoy throughout the week for breakfast, afternoon tea with a friend, or before-bed as a snack with herbal tea.

Picture of scones on plate

Here is a recipe for baking powder biscuit-like scones that I developed. The dry ingredients and butter can be mixed ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Tea and scones are wonderful to enjoy as a special treat alone or with a friend. They are also a great gift either baked or as a mix. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Picture of scones with jam

Joy’s White Chocolate Scones
Serves 8

  1. 2 cup flour
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 2 tablespoon sugar
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 2 tablespoon dry buttermilk or non-fat dry milk
  6. ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter/margarine blend
  7. 1/3 cup white chocolate chips or dried fruit or combination
  8. ½ cup 1% or skim milk
  1. Mix dry ingredients (except chips and dried fruit). Cut in butter with pastry blender or knife. Mix in chips and fruit. (Keep in airtight container for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)
  2. Add milk. Mix and form into a ball. Add 1-2 tablespoon more liquid if it is too dry. Pat into a one inch high round (about 8 in. diameter). Cut round into 8 wedges with pizza cutter or knife. Place wedges on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350ºF for 15-20 min. – until edges start to lightly brown. Serve warm with jam or lemon curd.
  1. They can easily be reheated on low in the microwave or oven so they taste just-baked.
  2. Nutrition Per Serving: 232 calories, 8 g fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 1 g dietary fiber, 408 mg sodium.
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