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Last updated: Wed. Feb. 13, 2013 - 01:06 pm EDT

Quick, healthy family meals her mission

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Name of class: “Express Meals … for the Busy Family”

Time and date: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 11 and 18

Location: North Side High School, 475 E. State Blvd.

Cost: $43

To register for class:

Fort Wayne — Kizmet Byrd is eagerly looking forward to teaching her first class for Fort Wayne Community Schools Neighborhood Connection. During the class, “Express Meals … for the Busy Family,” she plans to share the many things she’s learned over the years.

Byrd, 39, a business analyst at Lincoln Financial Group, is also the owner of an event planning company called KN Innovations.

“I’ve always had fun teaching my friends. I had a friend that told me she couldn’t make toast, and now she’s making meals herself,” the Fort Wayne woman says.

During the class, Byrd will show how to make a grocery list, how to budget and how to stock a pantry. Attendees will also learn the best time to buy produce.

Her goal? “To have everybody walk away with a better understanding that they can get healthy meals on the table for their family,” she says.

Byrd says the name of the class came to her after discussions she had with friends.

“Talking with friends in conversation, they hit the 99-cent menu. I tell them, ‘you can make healthier meals.’ (I want) to get people to try new things or how to prepare – just getting people to get certain staples to make meals,” she says.

“I tell people that you can have a lot of fun in the kitchen.”

Byrd knows something about importance of healthy eating. At one point, she weighed 387 pounds. After having bariatric surgery in 2009, she lost 157 pounds. She knows she has more to lose.

“I’m excited about this class because I’m living through trying to have a better lifestyle,” she says.

Byrd also wants people to know that family meals can mean more than casseroles.

“Each day I wanted to do four actual recipes. I have one day for what I like to call ‘the Sunday dinner.’ We’re going to make Asian wraps,” she says.

Q. What’s your go-to meal?

A. My favorite meal is a salmon steak. I like to put that on a plate of spinach leaves. Being a bariatric patient, it’s important to have enough protein.

Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?

A. It used to be asparagus – then I came to have kidney stones – but my go-to vegetable now is butternut squash.

Q. Who’s your cooking idol?

A. I really love the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond). Something about her – her personality and meals are very simple. Sometimes you just want to jump through the TV and go, ‘8 ounces, please.’

Family Style Calzones

1 (13.08-ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust

1 pound ground turkey sausage (or meat of your choice)

2 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella

1 cup frozen diced onions

1 tablespoon yellow corn meal

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

1 teaspoon dried basil or Italian seasoning

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions. On an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking sheet, sprinkle the corn meal evenly. Open pizza crust dough and roll out onto baking sheet to cover whole sheet and set aside.

In a large skillet, add ground turkey sausage to pan and start breaking up to cook over medium heat. Half way through cooking ground turkey sausage, add onions, stir and continue to cook until the ground turkey sausage is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain and set aside.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce on top of half of the pizza crust, leaving 1 inch from the edge and sides; the bottom half should have nothing on it as you will be folding it to make the calzone shape. Evenly sprinkle turkey sausage over marinara sauce. Sprinkle cheese over the meat mixture.

Take bottom half of dough and fold over the top half. With a fork, pinch the sides and edges together to seal. Do not worry if sauce spills out. Take a knife and make a 1-inch slit in the middle of the top of dough. Brush the olive oil evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle top of dough with the parmesan cheese and basil.

Bake calzone according to the pizza crust directions. Take a peek midway through cooking time to make sure the crust is browning well; since all ovens cook differently. In a small saucepan, slowly heat up the reserved 1 cup of marinara sauce to be used for dipping calzone.

Once the dough is a golden brown, remove from oven, slice in individual pieces and serve with a side of marinara sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Ham-Cream Cheese Rolls

1 (8-ounce) package plain cream cheese

1 (12-ounce) container onion and chive cream cheese

2 tablespoons milk

1 (12-count) package large flour tortillas

10 slices very thinly sliced ham

10 slices very thinly sliced Swiss cheese

Plastic wrap, as needed

Add plain cream cheese, onion and chive cream cheese and milk to a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Place flour tortilla on a cutting board. Gently spread cream cheese mixture on one tortilla. Go for a light layer. Evenly cover mixture with thin sliced Swiss cheese. Evenly cover Swiss cheese with thin sliced ham.

Gently roll tortillas up into a tight roll. Tightly wrap rolled tortillas in plastic wrap. And twist ends to create seals. Set aside. Repeat steps above for all until you have used all tortillas, usually about 5-6. Refrigerate tortilla rolls for at least 4 hours; overnight is even better. Slice rolls into 2-inch rolls and serve cold. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Luscious Lemon Sugar Cookies

1 (17.5-ounce) package sugar cookie mix

1 stick butter

1 egg

1/2 cup plain cream cheese

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 medium-size lemon (to zest whole lemon and produce 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring butter, cream cheese and egg to room temperature. Zest the lemon and add to a small bowl. Slice lemon in half and juice 2 tablespoons; set aside in small bowl with zest of lemon.

Add butter, cream cheese, egg and water to stand mixer. On low speed, mix above ingredients for 1 minute. Add in lemon zest, fresh lemon juice and vanilla and mix on high speed for 3 minutes, until smooth. On low speed, slowly add in dry sugar cookie mix to mixer, and mix all ingredients together for about 2 minutes. Add in 1 cup of white chocolate chips and mix for just 1 minute more. Transfer mixture, using spatula to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cookie mixture from refrigerator, set aside. Add parchment paper to fit three (9-by-13-inch) cookie sheets. Using a small scooper or small teaspoon, drop cookies onto pan. Place 12 dropped cookie mixture per pan. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, just until edges are golden brown. Transfer cookies to cooling rack and let cool.

Repeat baking process until all cookies are baked. Store cookies in an airtight container with layers of parchment paper in between. Makes 2 dozen.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

4 large rustic potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, basil and salt; stir well. Stir in potatoes and mix until evenly coated. Toss in parmesan cheese and stir all ingredients until coated.

Place the potatoes evenly on a 13-by-9-inch ungreased baking sheet. Roast potatoes for 30 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Savvy Spoonful Apple Crisp

8 green apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups rolled old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; set aside. Layer the apple slices in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and old-fashioned oats. Cut in the butter. Sprinkle mixture evenly over sliced apples.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the topping appears crunchy and the apples are bubbling tender. Makes 8 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email

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