“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.
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!
Add reserved meat mixture to cheese mixture and combine.
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.
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.
Top with remaining sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes or until bubbly.
Remove foil and top with reserved shredded cheese and bake until cheese is melted–about 10 minutes.
Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 ½ ounces shredded mozzarella and reduce-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Your choice of toppings
Thaw dinner roll dough for several hours.
Roll dough with a dusting of flour into a 6 inch round.
Let rounds rise slightly in a warm place.*
Prepare toppings such as sliced sweet pepper, diced or caramelized onions, cooked sausage or chicken breast, pepperoni, green or black olives, mushrooms, etc.
Slide dough rounds onto the grill and brown one side.
Remove from grill and top the cooked side of pizza crust with 2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce, toppings of your choice and cheese.
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.
Enjoy hot off the grill alone or with a side salad!
*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.
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.
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.
Nutrition Per Serving (no meat): 286 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 640 mg sodium.
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?
Pre-made dough for four pie crusts or one recipe of Grandma Hilma’s No-fail Pie Crust
8-12 ounces extra lean ground beef or pre-cooked roast beef, shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups ¼ inch diced potatoes (fresh or frozen)
½ cup rutabaga, shredded (optional)
¼ cup fresh parsley chopped or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 whisked egg
Prepare pastry if it’s from scratch.
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.
Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions–¾ to1 cup each.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Divide prepared pastry into 6 or 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 8-9 inch circle.
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.
Brush the pasty with the egg wash.
Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can also spray the baking sheet with cooking spray.
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.
Serve hot with with ketchup or beef gravy.
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.
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.
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.
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!
2 cups in-season vegetables, chopped into bite-size pieces, such as sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, celery and broccoli.
1 tablespoons soy sauce
Cook brown rice as directed on the package. Set aside.
Coat pan with vegetable oil and saute garlic, onions, carrots.
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.
Add rice and crack an egg over the rice. Mix and flip until egg is cooked.
Add soy sauce. Mix. Enjoy!
Cook extra rice to put in the freezer for super-fast prep next time around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 ounce slice Swiss cheese, regular or low fat cheese of your choice
Coat small frying or omelet pan with a small amount of canola oil or cooking spray.
Beat eggs and add milk, salt and pepper and set aside.
Chop cauliflower, potato and onion into small pieces.
Heat pan and saute cauliflower, potato, onion and Worcestershire Sauce until soft and remove from pan.
Put beaten eggs mixture to hot pan. When egg mixture starts to set, add the cauliflower mixture to one half side of the omelet.
Place slice of cheese over cauliflower mixture.
When eggs are firm enough to flip, flip one half of omelet over other half.
Cover and continue cooking until just cooked through and serve piping hot!
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.
Nutrition Per Serving (low fat cheese): 361 calories, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 3 g dietary fiber, 492 mg sodium.
Nutrition Per Serving (regular cheese): 417 calories, 22 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 3 g dietary fiber, 492 mg sodium.
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!
½ cup dried black lentils (soaked and then drained)
15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or ¾ cup dried chickpeas soaked and then drained)
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, quartered
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley
Lemon juice from ½ lemon
About 2 tablespoons flour or enough to hold patties together
Canola oil for frying
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).
Combine all ingredients except canola oil in large food processor and pulse until well mixed.
Shape into 16 small patties or balls.
Heat ½ inch oil in pan with high sides. Heat until drops of water sizzle in the pan.
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.
Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
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.
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!
Nutrition Per Serving: 251 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 8 g dietary fiber, 360 mg sodium.
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.
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.
Wild-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!
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.
Put half of meat mixture in each of the mini loaf pans.
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.
Serve hot with pasta sauce.
Freeze in mini loaf pans or plastic wrap and zipper bag. They are safe stored in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Defrost in refrigerator or in microwave.
Reheat in microwave on low for a short time or in the oven covered with tin foil to keep the moisture in.
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.
This can be baked in 4-6 ramekins or an 8 or 9 inch square or round pan as well.
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).