August 2014 archive

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