Read about KDC through the eyes of the volunteers and staff

Food Rescue Recipes

How to be resourceful with what you have, to make something absolutely delicious. (Author: Jessica Garrett)

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

My husband and I enjoy watching cooking shows then looking up and experimenting with the new foods and techniques. With me having a cooking background and my husband being the willing guinea pig for whatever crazy thing I want to try next, this has become a fun past time. There have been some of these shows that have made me pause though. One show I saw recently was describing how to make the “perfect holiday party spread”, and it looked amazing, truly. But the host was so uppity about it. Here was a professional, knocking out high skill techniques and saying things like, “See, so simple.” When they said something along the line of “in order to truly honor your guest the lattice has to be perfect” or “ you never want to give them something store bought”, I flinched.

Don’t get me wrong, I am the type to show I care by making you something. I am also a perfectionist, so I understand the desire to want things to come out just right, look exquisite and taste devine. Actually, I flinched because it hit a sensitive area for me. In my mind I think I know what a “perfect holiday party spread” should look like, and I get so frustrated when it doesn't filter out of my mind and into reality the same way.  

In my mind, the Thanksgiving spread should look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting and have all the good feelings of a Christmas Carol. But, I am also that crazy busy person who has dishes always in the sink, laundry mounded up on the floor, five projects in progress simultaneously all over the table, and I don’t remember when the carpet was vacuumed last (?). I am a frustrated perfectionist. I often get in about an hour before people are coming over to do a mad sweep to clean the house and try to come up with something “simple yet sophisticated” to serve for dinner. And all too often lately that has been pizza or sandwiches served on the “fine china” aka, paper plates.

"Don't forget what is most important in life"

I have had to learn to let things go and give myself grace, to prioritize what is important. The lattice on my pie being crooked, or the fact that I am using store bought pie crusts and canned pumpkin (in the past I would have made everything from scratch), is not near as important as the memories that we make and the time that we get to spend with friends and family. I can not be so distracted on the little things, or the things I can not control, that I miss out on the important things.

The food is a small part to the bigger lesson I am learning. Drama will happen, it is a part of life, and the holidays bring it out since we put so much pressure on it being our versions of “perfect”. Like so many, I have dear family members feuding with other dear family members. I have people missing from my life and there are people far away from whose lives I am missing. There are people near and very dear to me struggling with so many things that I am utterly powerless to fix. I want to make everything better, make situations disappear and people get along. I wish I could bring people back closer to me.

"God's plan is better than mine"

Things will never be “perfect” and in reality, we have little control over situations. What we can control is how we react, how we roll with the punches, how we respond to the chaos we call life. I am learning to give up on my fantasy of perfect and give these situations back to God since it was His already anyways. I can only practice faith that He has a bigger plan, even if it doesn't look like my plan. What I can control is how I respond. I can choose not to take offense. I can choose to forgive and give grace. I have control over the words that I say and don’t say. I have control over my tongue and I can speak in love and encouragement. I have control over so much and should focus on what I have been given rather on what I have not. This is the meaning of giving thanks for me this Thanksgiving. God’s plan is better than mine, so I can not be so distracted on making my plan a reality that I miss out on His.

Turkey Taco Meat

Total Time: 15 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6

To make taco seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cumin

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

  • ½ teaspoon Paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder

  • ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder

  • ¼ teaspoon Oregano

  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

  • ¼ cup of Oil ( you may need more depending on the amount of seasoning you use)

  • 2 cups of cooked Turkey, shredded ( dark meat works best, but you can use either)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water

Mix all seasonings ahead of time. You can mix them in a sandwich bag then seal and shake the bag so that you get a thorough mix.

In a sauté pan, heat oil. Add in seasonings and stir to make a thin paste.

Add in Turkey and stir to coat the meat completely with the paste.

Stir in water and simmer till heated. (You may need to add more water depending on how dry the turkey is. White meat will need a little more water for sure).

This can be eaten on hard or soft tortillas or over corn chips as nachos. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Some suggestions are:

Lettuce   - Tomatoes -   Sour Cream   - Cheese -   Corn - Black Olives   - Jalapenos - Mango Avocados or Guacamole   - Lime Wedge or Cilantro for seasoning   - Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

For Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil

  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

  • ½ to 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

  • ½ to 1 tablespoon Honey


Mix the ingredients for the dressing together, whisking till the honey is dissolved.

For Slaw:

  • ¼ head of Red Cabbage, shredded (around 1 ½ to 2 cups)

  • 1 lg Carrot, shredded ( about ½ cup)


Toss in the shredded cabbage and carrots. You can do this by hand to help bruise the cabbage and massage the dressing into it.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour, stirring in the middle of the time to recoat the slaw in any dressing that has settled to the bottom.

Creamy Turkey & Rice Soup

Total Time: 45 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 4-6

  • ½ cup of butter ( you can also substitute with olive / vegetable oil)

  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped (two medium carrots)

  • 1 cup of celery, chopped (two sections)

  • ½ cup onion, diced (1 small onion)

  • ½ cup of mushrooms, chopped (optional)

  • ¼ cup of flour

  • 1 ½ cups of gravy (Without gravy, increase the flour to ½ cup and the broth to 4 cups)

  • 3 cups of broth (either vegetable, chicken, or turkey) *

  • 2 cups rice, cooked

  • 2 cups of turkey, chopped/shredded (white meat works best, but either will do)

  • 1 ½ cups of half and half cream

  • 1 tablespoon parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 - 2 cups of any leftover cooked vegetables that you want to add in (optional)

*  You can make your own turkey stock after you carve your turkey by combining chopped celery, onion, carrots and the bones from your roasted turkey (you can also add in your giblets if you didn’t use it to make gravy) in a large pot. Add about 4-5 cups of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 1 - 2 hours until the vegetables have lost their flavor. Strain out the liquid (stock) and discard the bones and vegetables.


In a large soup pot, melt / heat butter / oil then sauté carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms till the onions are translucent.

Add in flour and mix till smooth. Add in gravy and cook till bubbly, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Slowly add in broth a little at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding more.

Stir in the rice and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, add parsley, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add any cooked vegetables for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Jessica Garrett

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes

Serves: about 10

(all recipes are handed out to those we serve at Food Truck)

I first started volunteering here at the Dream Center 5 years ago this month. Over the years I have seen many changes happen to our Food Trucks as we grow in volume and learn how to better serve our community. One of the biggest shifts that I have seen over the years is that we have started to see more and more fresh fruits and veggies. I love this! Produce is expensive, yet such a vital part of our health and nutrition. We get a wide variety as well, many items that most people would have never tried otherwise. It was a need to provide ideas for this produce that led to our “Food Rescue Recipes” in the first place.

Most of the food that we send out on our Food Trucks is grocery store rescue food. We are grateful to the various stores that participate in this as well as Second Harvest Food Bank for allowing us to get this food into the hands of people that use it.  But in addition to this, we are also gaining various partnerships with community gardens around Knoxville. This started slowly last year, but has taken off this summer.

"Community gardens foster nutrition education, fresh air, and life skills."

By definition, a community garden is plot of land that is gardened collectively by a group of people. This is a simple definition, but in reality it is so much more than that. Community gardens don’t only allow access to fresh produce, but also brings a community of people together through working and achieving common goals. It fosters nutrition education, fresh air, and life skills. It helps conserve and bring awareness to different varieties of vegetables. It builds relationships and security. It can also bring beauty and pride to a neighborhood. A couple of the gardens that have partnered with us even garden within elementary schools, teaching and leading our children. Furthermore, they now provide food to even more people by sending their crops out on Food Trucks.

This month we want to make a shout-out to the community gardens that bring a fresh assortment of vegetables to our Food Trucks. Pond Gap Elementary Garden, Inskip Elementary Garden, and Park West Dutch Valley Church Garden. We appreciate the labor of love that you put into your local community as well as the greater community of Knoxville. Thank you for sharing your skills, knowledge, and delicious produce with all of us!


  • 2 ½ pounds waxy potatoes (like Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes)

  • ½ pound (about one bunch) of Kale, chopped into bite size pieces

  • ¼ cup Salt

For Dressing:

  • ¼ pound of raw bacon, diced (around 4-6 slices)

  • ½ cup of onion, diced (yellow, white or even red onions work in this recipe)

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar

  • ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar (you can measure out the red vinegar at ⅓ cup then pour the balsamic vinegar on top of it till the total measurement is ½ cup)

  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar


  • Place whole potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Stir in salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are just tender. (Do not cook quite as long as you would for mashed potatoes. A knife should be able to easily stab the potato without it falling apart.)

  • Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to remove potatoes from the water (do not drain water), put them aside to let cool slightly.

  • Add the kale to the pot/water you cooked the potatoes in and simmer until tender. This will not take long.

  • You are going to blanch the greens in an ice bath, so while they are cooking, place a bowl of ice water in your sink. When the greens are tender, drain, then place the stainer directly into the ice water and let sit till you need the kale. This will stop the cooking process quickly so that your greens stay tender without wilting.

  • While the potatoes are still warm, use the back of a spoon to peel then cut into bite size pieces (about ⅓ to ½ inch cubes). You do not want to cool the potatoes, ideally you want to toss hot dressing onto warm potatoes so that the flavors in the dressing can penetrate the potatoes.

  • To make the dressing, render bacon in a pan with onions. Once the bacon is crispy do not drain fat, add the olive oil, red and balsamic vinegars, and sugar.

  • Whisk over low heat to combine sugar, oils and vinegars, then pour over potatoes. Add kale and stir till potatoes and kale are completely coated.

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Note the potatoes and kale were both cooked in salt water and bacon also has sodium in it, so you might need to add little to no salt. Serve hot or refrigerate for a cold salad.

This recipe pairs the saltiness of bacon with a tangy vinaigrette that complements the bitterness of greens very well. Note: By blanching the greens it will also sweeten them slightly. The potatoes are really there to give these other competing flavors a canvas to work off. The result is a lighter version of potato salad for the summer. You can use other greens like chard, mustard or collard greens instead of kale.


Half-Sour Pickles

Total Time: 3 days

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Yield:  2 pounds

(all recipes are handed out to those we serve at Food Truck)


  • 2  pounds cucumbers (use pickling cucumbers, english cucumbers or small cucumbers since you do not want large seeds)

  • For the Brine

  • ¼ oz (about 7-8 sprigs) fresh dill sprigs

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed (or about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)

  • 2 small bay leaves

  • 4 cups of water

  • 1 Tablespoon of salt

  • ½ cup of white vinegar


  • Cut the cucumbers into spears (into quarters or sixths depending on the size). If you are using english cucumbers, which are longer, cut the spears in half or even thirds to get a manageable size.

  • Place the dill, garlic, and bay leafs in a non-corrosive (plastic or glass) container. Pack the cucumber spears on top.

  • Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a boil, then pour over cucumbers and allow to cool.

  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days to cure. They will keep up to 4 weeks. The pickles will change in texture from half-raw to fully cured the longer they sit in the refrigerator.

This recipe can also be used to pickle other vegetables like beets, pearl onions, squash, okra, baby carrots, and broccoli florets. The holding time will vary slightly depending on which vegetables you use. You can also lessen the amount of dill and use other seasonings for whichever vegetable you prefer.

Sweet Pickle Chips

Total Time: 3 days

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield:  2 pounds

(all recipes are handed out to those we serve at Food Truck)


  • 2  pounds cucumbers (pickling cucumbers, english cucumbers or small cucumbers work best)

  • 1 small/medium onion

  • 1 ½ cups of cider vinegar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt

  • ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds (or ¼ teaspoon of dry ground mustard)

  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar

  • 4 cups of water

  • For the Brine

  • 1 ¼ cup of white vinegar

  • 2 cups of sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon of celery seed

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of whole crushed (or ground) allspice

  • 1 teaspoon of ground tumeric


  • Wash the cucumbers and slice into about ¼ inch rounds. Slice the onion into ¼ inch slices as well.

  • Combine the cucumbers and onions with cider vinegar, salt, mustard seeds, 1 Tbsp sugar, and water in a saucepan.

  • Simmer for 10 minutes then drain. Discard liquid and put the cucumbers and onions into a non-corrosive (plastic or glass) container.

  • Bring the white vinegar, celery seed, allspice, tumeric and 2 cups of sugar to a boil stirring occasionally.

  • Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and onions and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 days to cure. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


Jessica Garrett

Total Time: about 65 min

Prep Time: about 5 minutes

Cook Time: Freeze for 1 hour

Serves: about 2

(all recipes are handed out to those we serve at Food Truck)

So far this has been one hot summer. I don’t know about you, but this summer seems to have started early with hot days and high humidity. When we were kids my father would make ice cream for hot days like this, and after spending the day outside running around, the cold treat was extremely refreshing. There is something about childhood that makes that ice cream at the end of the day taste like the best thing ever!

I was thinking back on those memories when putting together this month’s recipe. As we get older that feeling of being refreshed seems harder and harder to find. Maybe because we get worn down by so much more than just physical exhaustion. It is like our minds, hearts, and souls need a cold ice cream as well.

Refreshing is something we crave, but have trouble finding.

In the Bible Paul often mentions in his letters how the actions of other Christians refreshed him; (Romans 15:32, 1 Corinthians 16:18, 2 Timothy 1:16, and Philemon 1:7). In many cases this was due to the encouragement, generosity, hospitality, concern and friendship that was shown to him when he was facing troubles. Humans are social creatures, and we are meant to help each other. It is fascinating to me how refreshed I can become if I take some time to stop thinking about my problems and help someone else with theirs.

Just the ability to work through something with someone else gives the strength and perspective to tackle my own stuff. In the same way, facing a problem or hardship is not near as scary when there is someone beside you that is lifting you up. We should be generous with the gifts that God gave us and use them for the encouragement of others.

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25

This Father’s Day we went out of town to visit my family. Leaving church, we were running on a time crunch to get were we needed to be and I was rushing us a bit. So with me on a deadline, of course my husband was engaging in a lengthy talk with another gentleman at our church, and of course I was trying to push them along. That didn’t help and we were one of the last to leave, being a good 30-45 minutes behind my scheduled departure. Normally this wouldn’t bother me as much, but I had people waiting for me and was visually upset. As we left the parking lot I quickly put the car in drive and was trying to make up for lost time when my husband said, “I am sorry, he needed to talk. Are you angry?” Yes! I was obviously angry, but then God interrupted me.

What was more important, my rushed agenda or my husband speaking encouragement and friendship to someone else?

We would get to my family and spend the rest of the day with them, it was not really a big deal. I don’t know all the details of what they were discussing, but that was not the point. What is friendship, or church, if we are always in a hurry and miss people? How can we lift others burdens or refresh others if we don’t engage? I don’t have all these answers. As you can see, God is working on me. But I need refreshing, and I do need other people in my life to help encourage me, despite my introverted tendencies.

This month I am having to remind myself to take more time for those around me, to lift others up in my words and actions, to be available when needed, to serve and refresh others. If Proverbs is right, and whoever refreshes other will be refreshed, we might be close to finding the refreshing “homemade ice cream” for our souls.


  • 2 peeled then frozen Bananas

  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt


  1. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.

  2. Blend frozen bananas and yogurt until just smooth, don’t over blend or it will turn to liquid.


For soft serve “ice cream” serve immediately or freeze for about an hour for harder ice cream. This is a healthier and more cost efficient recipe for ice cream and the bananas give it a creamy texture. Since bananas mesh well with other flavors, you can customize this recipe to your preferences and pantry.

Customize your ice cream by adding:

  • You can sweeten the base recipe by adding honey or maple syrup. You can also add frozen fruit for a fruit sorbet or even chocolate sauce to make chocolate ice cream.

  • For a dairy-free option, you can use almond, coconut, or soy milk instead of the yogurt. Freeze these products ahead of time in an ice cube tray or a shallow plastic container. You can add a couple of ice cubes (or frozen fruit) if the mixture is to thin.

  • Peanut butter (or other nut butters) can be blended into the mix as well.

  • Add extracts like vanilla or mint.

  • Use flavored yogurts to enhance the flavors you are wanting.

  • You can stir in nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, marshmallows, crushed cookies, ect, into the mixture after it is blended (then freeze the mixture) for even more added flavor options.

  • Blend in spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder, you just don’t want to add to much, mabe ⅛ a teaspoon.

  • If you are adventurous, try adding avocados or even powdered green tea (matcha).

I hope you enjoy!

Jessica Garrett

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