Archive of ‘Dessert’ category

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





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! 

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

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


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

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



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



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.
Taste of Zest


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.
Taste of Zest