Archive of ‘Appetizer’ category

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! 

Almonds and Manicotti 006

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

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



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