Archive of ‘Sandwich’ category

Ground Meat Gyro


I recently visited Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. The sights, sounds and tastes are wonderful! To take home, I picked up fresh whole wheat pitas, hummus and pita chips. What a treat! When I got home I found this recipe for Turkey Gyros by Regina Marie and adapted it for our tastes. 


You could also use ground lamb or chicken. I added avocado and replaced the lettuce with red cabbage.  I’d suggest making Echo’s or Melanie’s creamy cucumber salad for the yogurt sauce. Make it these gyros your own and savor!

Ground Meat Gyros
Serves 6

  1. Creamy Cucumber Sauce (Try Creamy Cucumber Salad on Taste of Zest.)
  2. 1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken or lamb
  3. 1 medium red onion, divided in half
  4. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons Greek or Italian seasoning
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  11. 3 fresh pitas cut in half
  12. 2 medium chopped tomatoes
  13. 2 cups chopped cabbage or lettuce
  1. Prepare cucumber salad/sauce and refrigerate.
  2. Chop 1/2 onion and slice other half. (Set aside sliced half.)
  3. Saute onion in olive oil.
  4. Add ground meat and seasonings.
  5. Cook until meat is no longer pink.
  6. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
  7. Assemble gyro by filling pita with gyro meat (1/6 of meat), creamy cucumber sauce (2 tablespoons), cabbage or lettuce, sliced onion, and tomato.
  8. Serve with additional cucumber sauce, avocado dressed with a splash of lemon juice and olive oil, and salt and pepper. Enjoy with a Greek salad and pita chips.
  1. Variation: Add diced sun-dried tomatoes to cucumber salad/sauce and marinate in refrigerator for 1/2 hour. This works well when tomatoes are out-of-season.
  2. Gyro meat and pitas freeze well so this recipe works well for one or two people.
  3. Nutrition Per Serving without cucumber sauce: 195 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 368 mg sodium.
Adapted from Regina Marie
Adapted from Regina Marie
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



Black Lentil Falafel

Falafel in pita

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!


 Copy of IMG_7129

Black Lentil Falafel
Serves 8

  1. ½ cup dried black lentils (soaked and then drained)
  2. 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or ¾ cup dried chickpeas soaked and then drained)
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 1 small onion, quartered
  5. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  6. ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon chili powder
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  9. 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  10. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  11. 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley
  12. Lemon juice from ½ lemon
  13. About 2 tablespoons flour or enough to hold patties together
  14. Canola oil for frying
  1. 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).
  2. Combine all ingredients except canola oil in large food processor and pulse until well mixed.
  3. Shape into 16 small patties or balls.
  4. Heat ½ inch oil in pan with high sides. Heat until drops of water sizzle in the pan.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve warm.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. Nutrition Per Serving: 251 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 8 g dietary fiber, 360 mg sodium.
  4. 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.
Taste of Zest