November 2014 archive

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