Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Collecting July 4th inspirations? We give thumbs-up to Fresh Peach Sherbet.

Peach homemade ice cream is a staple among my “peach-iana” recipes—could make it in my sleep—but I’d never tried peach sherbet. In my file of summer “must-prepares” was a peach sherbet recipe (Better Homes & Gardens) that had 2011 marked on it, so I clearly had set it aside as a goal for this year. No problem there; the peaches in our orchard are still pouring in. I grabbed my latest installment and set out to stir up this temptingly cool dish.

In fact if you don’t want to make the effort to hand-churn or electric-churn homemade ice cream for July 4th and your conscience will allow you to sub this sherbet for that all-American freezer treat, I’d highly suggest you consider this frozen peach dessert—Fresh Peach Sherbet. It will make you forget the soaring temps outside and will chill you to your tippy-toes. Very non-guilt-inducing as well, since it can be made with sugar substitute and low-fat evaporated milk.

Just another way to wallow in those garden-fresh peaches. Here’s the how-to:

Peach Sherbet

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
dash salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh peach puree (mash or blend 3 to 4 cups of fresh peeled and sliced peaches to obtain 2 cups puree)
1 (13-ounce) can low-fat evaporated milk (1 2/3 cups)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)

In large saucepan combine gelatin, 1/2 to 3/4 sugar, and salt. Over medium heat stir in water and heat and stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in desired fruit puree and evaporated milk. Turn mixture into a 9-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch square pan; cover and freeze until firm. In small mixer bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form (tips curl over); gradually add 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Break frozen mixture into chunks; turn into chilled mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Fold in egg whites. Return to pan; cover and freeze until firm. If necessary let sherbet pan stand on counter for a few minutes before you serve to allow sherbet to become soft enough to dip up. Makes about 1/2 quarts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Love ya, summer! Thanks for treats such as this Pan-Roasted Curry Corn

The corn in our garden now is as high as an elephant’s eye—well, maybe not as tall as the tomato plants, which this year soar like skyscrapers, but from our patio we can see the tops of the stalks. Time to bring in the mature ears and see what we can concoct.

A most unusual recipe awaited me under the corn category in my recipe album. I’ve never thought of mixing corn and spinach or corn and curry seasoning, for that matter. But, as I’ve blogged about before, whether the emphasis is what to wear (i.e. my favorite fashion blogger’s feature on the Color Brigade) or what to cook, the trend seems to be toward mixing the previously thought unmixable. This season orange tones are being worn with fuchsia and green hues with purple and brown: unthinkable not long ago. So “odd-couple” food pairings rule the day, too.

I loved this recipe (from the Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services) if for no other reason than it enabled me to use up a remaining half-bag of spinach in my fridge. I struggle with this: using a partial spinach bag for a salad and then having the remainder go bad on me before I append it to another dish. In Pan-Roasted Curry Corn, corn and spinach were a winning combo. The 1/2-cup tomatoes helped cut into my garden’s ubiquitous tomato supply; the curry was a terrific enhancement.

As the photo shows, I served the end result with tortilla chips, but I also could envision this as an accompaniment for grilled items such as fish or chicken.

The corn segment of our garden isn’t exactly thick enough to become the set for Field of Dreams, but we love the fresh kernels it can bring to our dinner table. Love ya, summer!

Pan-Roasted Curry Corn

1 tablespoon margarine
2 teaspoons curry
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 large ears of corn, with kernels removed from cob
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (1/2 bag) spinach
1/2 cup reduced fat, sharp cheddar cheese
tortilla or pita chips (optional)

In a large pan melt margarine over high heat. After it foams add the curry and reduce heat. When the curry is fragrant, add the onion and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Turn the heat to high; add the corn and tomatoes. Toss and stir until the corn begins to brown. Add water and spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted. Continue to cook until the corn is tender; then stir in the cheese. Serve alone or with chips. Makes about 5 servings of 1/2 cup each.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peaches and carrots and nuts, oh my! A great breakfast bread combo

For the last month I’ve been salivating all the way to the mailbox (who says people don’t get anything worth having through the U.S. Mail anymore?) The June 2011 issue of Southern Living magazine promised that the next month’s installment would be all about peaches. For a peaches gal like me that promised heaven. I’m forever scouring every source imaginable for new and inventive ways to cook with peaches. I knew the SL folks would hatch up some doozies.

O my! No disappointment there when my July installment finally appeared. I knew I’d find some treasures when I saw the magazine quote author Alice Walker (In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens), who wrote the following: “Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.” The theology in that quote may not be accurate, but the fresh-peach part of life truly helps fulfill on the psalmist’s belief that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps. 27:13). Peaches truly represent one of the crown-jewel aspects of life on earth.

What to try first among all of SL’s novel suggestions? I already possessed a half-bag of fresh carrots that I needed to use in a recipe and of course always have shelled pecans on hand, so Spiced Pecan Carrot Bread seemed as though it was a great way to get started on responding to SL’s call to honor the peach. The idea of blending peaches and carrots in a breakfast bread tantalized me; the recipe was touted as having won first place in South Carolina’s 2009 Annual Peach-Off Contest. Instead of making the recipe into one large 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf, I used a large pan that contained spaces for 8 mini loaves. I thought I’d enjoy having lots of little loaves to share with friends and family; I also knew we didn’t need a big ole chunk of tasty breakfast bread sitting around all week. With mini loaves I knew I could get rid of the temptation quickly.

These turned out wonderfully moist. I loved biting into the warm fresh peaches as the loaves were first out from the oven and cooled minimally; the combination with carrots was a big success. Of course Hubby couldn’t resist topping his bites of bread with some homemade peach preserves (from last summer’s canning). Best of all I have 11 little loaves left for some delicious little gifts (although some of them may remain as gifts to ourselves!)

Spiced Peach Carrot Bread

3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh, ripe peaches
3/4 cup freshly grated carrots
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup skim milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow pan bake pecans in a single layer for 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are toasted and fragrant. Halfway through stir nuts. Cool 15 minutes. In a large bowl stir together flour and next 6 ingredients; add peaches, next 4 ingredients, and toasted pecans. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a lightly greased and floured 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan (or in a pan containing spaces for 8 mini loaves). If baking large loaf bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center emerges clean. If baking mini-loaves bake 30 minutes or until pick emerges clean. Cool in pan(s) on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove bread from pan(s) to wire rack; cool completely (about 1 hour).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just like Mama used to make, no joke—Breaded Tomatoes

After carting in another basketful of what must be our best-ever tomato crop, I knew what would make Hubby happiest—a big bowl of Breaded Tomatoes, just like Mama used to make.

Breaded tomatoes represented a new dining experience for me after I became affiliated with my hubby’s family. Growing up I can’t remember ever dining on them, even though the ladies in my family were quintessential Southern cooks and this dish is a quintessential Southern icon.

After early-marriage visits to Hubby’s Mother’s home and enjoying Breaded Tomatoes with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this experience was seconded when Hubby and I used to dine at the Claudia Sanders Inn when we lived in Kentucky. This memorable restaurant, named for the wife of The Colonel, was said to be the precursor of the KFC. Alongside the chicken entree prepared with the mysterious 11 herbs and spices was served Breaded Tomatoes, the kiss of the South. In both cases—those of Grandmother Moore and Mrs. Colonel—the “dash” of sugar added was more like a handful. Grandmother was known for adding a surplus of sugar to most any recipe. (In using sugar substitute, as I mention in my recipe, the sugar doesn’t have to be harmful and sweetens without the accompanying guilt.)

When I ultimately obtained from her the recipe (featured in my cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden), I wasn’t surprised to see that the last four ingredients consisted of “a dash of this and a pinch of that”. A lot of guesswork was involved at first, but now I’m an old hand at them—almost like Mama’s, but a good attempt and a wonderful way to use tomatoes.

Breaded Tomatoes

4 whole tomatoes
1/2 cup water
3 slices whole-wheat day-old bread
salt (or salt substitute) to taste
dash sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 pinch baking soda

In saucepan add 4 diced tomatoes that have been mashed up so that the juice emerges in pan. Cover with 1/2 cup water. Allow this mixture to boil. Break up the bread slices into small pieces and stir into the tomato mixture. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and baking soda. Allow to boil until mixture is thick; simmer for 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A reward for enduring an annual physical—Fresh Peach Muffins

How glad I am that our peach supply didn’t poop out before we had enough of those reddish-golden orbs to give themselves up for this recipe! (No chance of that, as I mentioned two days ago. We still have three peach trees with fruit waiting to ripen.)

But what is produced here just may be the most decadent breakfast muffin ever—Fresh Peach Muffins with a Pecan-Crumb Topping. Inside are chunky peachy morsels. Outside on the top is a deep layer of pecan-dotted crumbs that you wade into for quite some time, actually, before you bite into the muffin’s interior.

The recipe, procured online from www.footnetwork.com, is an Emeril specialty. Need I say more? Into my search engine I entered the words “peach breakfast muffins”; the name of famous chef Emeril Lagasse appeared alongside these delights. Did I look any further? Of course not. If Emeril has furnished it, it must be divine. Plus it makes oodles—2 dozen muffins, enough left over to freeze some for my July 4 weekend dining.

Yesterday was my Hubby’s “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam. He had to fast, of course, so blood work could be done. As he emerged ravenous after all that hoopla at the doctor’s office, I had held out these Fresh Peach Muffins as his reward. As he dined on all that decadence, he certainly felt rewarded!

Fresh Peach Muffins with Pecan-Crumb Topping

2 cups finely chopped fresh peaches
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided (I use sugar substitute)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 1/2 cups milk (I use skim)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or 1/8 cup brown-sugar substitute)
1/4 cup ground pecans
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin cups. Place the peaches in a bowl and cover them with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Mix thoroughly. Allow the peaches to sit for 1 hour. Using an electric mixer cream the butter and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth and pale in color—about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. In a mixing bowl combine 3 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Remove the bowl from the mixer; alternately fold in the milk and flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix. Fold in the peaches. Spoon 1/4 cup filling into each prepared muffin cup. In a small bowl combine the remaining flour, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add the butter. Using your hands mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or use a pastry cutter). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture over each muffin cup. If you have some left over (I did), evenly disperse it among the muffin tops. Bake muffins for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 24 muffins.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Never had anything but cabbage slaw? Try this radish alternative.

Ever heard of Radish Slaw? I hadn’t either. But I possessed a bag of leftover radishes (I mean, who uses radishes for anything except to garnish an occasional tossed salad? How does one ever use up an entire bag?) and saw that my trusty “Celebrating a Healthy Harvest” cookbook told me I could make an entire dish of slaw out of them. Had to try. Didn’t expect much, but had to try.

With Radish Slaw, radishes become the primary ingredient (you use 2 cups of them) instead of the traditional cabbage. Cabbage still is included in the mix, but the recipe calls for only 1/4 head. Grated carrots and diced red onion round out the ingredient list. A light dressing of lemon juice, sugar substitute, oil, and chopped cilantro is stirred in. The slaw chills for one hour before you serve.

The cookbook included an alternate dressing recipe that is the more traditional variety. I’ll show it below, but I didn’t prepare it. The light, lemony one that was the first choice was plenty satisfactory for me.

Bottom line was: we loved the new twist on slaw. The radishes certainly made for a different taste—a little more tangy and certainly more colorful. This was a great side dish with burgers and with the tuna-salad sandwiches we had for lunch yesterday. The slaw lasts for several days and only gets better the longer it chills in the fridge.

Radishes, I didn’t know ya had it in ya. A great alternative slaw recipe was born!

Radish Slaw

2 cups radishes, trimmed and coarsely grated
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
2 carrots grated (about 1 cup)
1 small red onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In a large bowl combine all vegetables. (You may use a food processor to grate and shred the veggies rather than dicing them by hand.) Combine last four ingredients for lemony dressing and pour over vegetable mixture. Stir to coat all the vegetables. Allow salad to chill for 1 hour before you serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

Alternate recipe for dressing (use over slaw instead of the lemony dressing
listed above)
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl whisk all ingredients until creamy. Pour over vegetables. Allow to chill 1 hour or more before you serve.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You'll think you've really done something big when you bake these mini peach pies

One of the funnest things we ever do with our fresh peaches is to make Peach Mini Baked Pies. I love these tiny baked gems with their flaky pastry exterior and the delicious, juicy peach bites inside. A powdered-sugar glaze drizzled on top makes them truly seem as though they are tiny replicas of the larger version you’d get at a bakery. Best of all, they’re baked in the oven instead of fried in a pan. You can have them for dessert and jettison a lot of the guilt.

For this year's version I merged recipes from two different outlets—www.pickyourown.com and my Baylor alumni cookbook, Flavor Favorites!—as sources for this dish, almost an annual ritual when we bring in peaches from our garden (and we’re STILL bringing them in, with three peach trees left to ripen.)

The dough for the crust is formed from two cups of low-fat baking mix (I used Bisquick) with sugar, shortening, and milk blended in; then the dough is rolled out onto a floured pastry board and cut into 3-inch circles. (I used a cutter-crimper gadget that I once purchased at a Pampered Chef demonstration party.) The peach slices are laid onto half the circle; then the edges of the dough are folded over and sealed so that the pie semi-circles are formed. (My Pampered Chef crimper presses down to crimp the edges of the semi-circle together and seal them, or you can use your fingers to pinch them together and seal. Some people use the tines of a fork to further seal the edges and to make decorative indentations in the dough.)

Only one thing I’d do differently—lay more thinly sliced peaches onto the circle of dough before I sealed it up and crimped the edges. The recipe says to lay two fresh peach slices onto it; two seemed as though they would fill it up nicely, but when I baked it, the stuffing shrank and the exterior expanded. You had to search to find the peaches when you bit into the baked pie. I’d suggest doubling that amount and laying the equivalent of at least four thin slices down for the stuffing. In other words, get as many of the peach morsels as you possibly can in, even if you have to really STRETCH the edges to seal or even dice the peaches. Otherwise you may bite into nothingness and miss the whole point of the pies—to showcase those to-die-for peaches, the great treasures of summer.

Peach Mini Baked Pies

3-4 large fresh peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups fat-free baking mix (tested with low-fat Bisquick)
2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
3 tablespoons shortening
2/3 cup skim milk
sugar (or sugar substitute)
enough powdered sugar to fill a 1-cup measure
skim milk or fat-free evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together 2 cups baking mix and 2 tablespoons sugar. With pastry cutter cut in 3 tablespoons shortening. Add 2/3 cup milk. Mix dough with fork. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Roll dough until it is about a 1/2-inch thickness. Brush dough with melted butter. Using round 3-inch cutter, cut dough into circles. Lay the equivalent of about 4 thin peach slices on top of each circle. Sprinkle peach slices with cinnamon and sugar (or sugar substitute). Fold tops of circles over to form semi-circles. Press or crimp edges together. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Makes about 16 mini pies. In small bowl mix sifted powdered sugar with enough milk to make a glaze that will drizzle from a spoon. Drizzle onto cooled mini pies. Allow glaze to become firm before you serve mini pies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fried Green Tomato Po’boys a Father’s Day hit

No meat-and-potatoes, he-man dinner for my guy’s Father’s Day meal. No sir; he wanted the exotic, er, unusual—typical fare for us since we started eating the garden-fresh way some time ago. So unusual he got, in the form of Fried Green Tomato Po’boys.

In my June 12 blog I raved about learning to prepare Fried Green Tomatoes—really prepare them, the expert way, thanks to Southern Living magazine and its effort to turn its readers into truly Southern cooks. I promised myself I would cook several of the recipe suggestions the magazine made to accompany its basic Fried Green Tomatoes how-to.

Among them the recipe for Fried Green Tomato Po’boys was most intriguing. It promised a New Orleans twist employing the batter-fried tomato, the recipe for which I included in my June 12 blog. It took a fresh baguette roll from the bakery, added a bed of spinach, then the green tomatoes straight from our vines, then bacon (I used turkey bacon), then avocado slices, and then a special Rémoulade Sauce. The crunchy baguettes stuffed with the creamy avocado and Rémoulade and the crisp green tomatoes and bacon made a wonderful crunchy-creamy-crisp trifecta.

I apologized to Hubby that we were out of ketchup (no ketchup for the fried green tomatoes? pity), but he said no problem at all: the wonderful Rémoulade Sauce was ample accompaniment.

However, no being out of green tomatoes—our garden is packed with them still and lots of bright-red ripe ones, too. I expect to try a couple more recipes from the Southern Living page, among then Fried Green Tomato-and-Bacon Biscuits and Green Tomato Garden Party Salad, before the blazing hot sun makes the final green tomatoes all ripen.

Fried Green Tomato Po’boys

Cut French-bread baguettes into 6-inch lengths. Split each lengthwise; cut to but not through the other side; spread with Rémoulade Sauce. Layer with shredded spinach leaves, fried green tomatoes, cooked bacon, and avocado slices. Makes 4 servings.

Rémoulade Sauce

1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon horseradish

Blend all ingredients; cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kitchen stays cool with this oven-less summer meal: Super Chicken Salad Wraps

Previously I’ve mentioned about how Hubby is almost fanatical about not firing up the oven in the kitchen during the summer time. He’d almost rather go without some of his beloved desserts such as peach cobbler than to walk into the kitchen and get hit with an immediate heat wave emerging from the oven area. If he had his way, during the summer he’d tape up the oven door and put a ban on any oven-cooked meals.

So I eagerly cut the recipe for Super Chicken Salad Wraps from the pages of our community newspaper that arrived this week. There amid the announcements of swimming-pool hours and outdoor concerts were two easy-fix recipes suited for this season. One of them, these cool wraps that were stuffed with all things healthy, were a real attraction for me.

I’ll never get over the freshness of chopped, fresh-from-the-garden green onions and how much seasoning they add to a recipe. Out my back steps and into the garden I moseyed; I pulled two green onions and immediately whacked their heads off, chopped, and threw them into the mixing bowl. Don’t know that I’ve ever seen a chicken-salad recipe that called for grated carrots, but I happened to have in the fridge’s veggie compartment some carrots that quickly needed to be prepared. In with them; then chopped walnuts, the miracle health food these days, also were listed as ingredients. I can’t abide walnuts by themselves and only can bear them when they’re part of a recipe. Here was my chance.

Not only did this food prep not turn the kitchen into a walk-through sauna from oven use, this recipe also was assembled in a heartbeat (provided the chicken already is cooked and de-boned, of course). Containing fruit, veggies, and protein, these Super Chicken Salad Wraps represented a meal all wrapped up in one humble tortilla—one cool way to spend a summer dinnertime.

Super Chicken Salad Wraps

1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ginger
6 ounces skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup cup chopped celery
1/4 cup grated carrot
2 medium green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
2 large whole-wheat tortillas (or pita pockets)
1 cup spinach leaves

In a large bowl combine yogurt, mayonnaise, ginger, and cooked chicken until chicken is well-coated. Stir in grapes, celery, carrots, green onions, and chopped walnuts. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Cover tortillas (or stuff pita pockets) with spinach leaves. Add chicken salad mixture, roll tortillas, and cut in half (or thirds if you want smaller wraps). Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A yummy, fruity topping for waffles: Peach Waffle Syrup

Earlier I promised a separate blog entry about the yummy Peach Waffle Syrup we used to top our Peach Waffles of recent mention. You can believe me when I say that this chunky syrup was just about the best thing I’ve ever poured onto a waffle. On our Peach Waffles earlier, regular sugar-free maple syrup did them up proud, but when I made this smooth, fruity topping for the waffles the following day . . . pure bliss!

I found the Peach Waffle Syrup recipe on www.tasteofhome.com
Of course anything associated with Taste of Home magazine just has to be good. The cook who provided the recipe said it was a Saturday-morning favorite in her home because on weekend mornings she had extra time to put it together.

The recipe calls for 20 ounces of peach slices, so I peeled and sliced enough of our fresh peaches to fill 2 1/2 cups. Before I put the peaches into the saucepan for cooking, I let them sit for a few minutes in a food-strainer basket so they would be drained of extra juice. Then into the large saucepan went the peaches, water, sifted powdered sugar, and cinnamon. After all this boiled, I added a cornstarch/water mixture and stirred until the sauce became thick.

This made enough for 14 servings—way more than Hubby and I could pour over a week of waffles, so I plan to freeze a portion of it and save for some of the mornings of the July 4 weekend. On this June 16th day, if you’re thinking that the summer is slipping away from you too fast, get busy with this essence-of-summer dish so you can savor, savor, savor these delicious summer days.

Peach Waffle Syrup

20 ounces peach slices, drained of extra juice
2 cups water
powdered sugar that has been sifted to measure 2/3 cup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

In a large saucepan combine the peaches, water, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir often. In a separate bowl combine the cornstarch and cold water until mixture is smooth; gradually add it to the peach mixture in the saucepan. Bring entire mixture to a boil; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until thickened. Yield: about 3 1/2 cups or 14 servings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What could be more summery than this delicious Peach-Blueberry Pie?

Just doesn’t get any more delicious—Peach- Blueberry Pie, combining the best of the summer garden—fresh peaches and blueberries. Preparing this essence-of-summer recipe, from my cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, has become a summer ritual for me. Thank you, ladies of Northlake Baptist Church in my hometown of Garland, TX, for tossing your summer book club covered-dish event featuring my book and for giving me an excuse to prepare this wonder again.

About a month ago I had spoken at a women’s banquet at this church; members had scheduled one of their summer book reviews to feature my book. Attendees were to consider bringing a dish featured in the Country Garden pages. What a treat for me to arrive at host Cindy Jones’ home and find on the counter dishes of Cheese Grits Casserole, Chicken Spaghetti, Pecan Pie Muffins, Strawberry Pretzel Salad, Garden Slaw, and others that sprang straight from the cookbook’s pages.

After dinner participants discussed such questions as: What particular food reminds you of your childhood? What are special or unusual traditions shared by your family? What is one of your favorite memories of your grandparents or great-grandparents? What do you most hope to share with future generations in your family? This was a terrific idea for a party activity and brought tales that alternated between the side-splitting and the tear-prompting. Wonderful evening.

When considering what I personally would bring to the covered dish, I didn’t have to look any further than to our backyard garden and the peach trees still bringing forth their gorgeous yield. Many people wouldn’t imagine combining peaches with blueberries, but I remember that the original recipe suggested peach/blackberry and peach/raspberry combinations as alternatives to this one. The crust was my time-honored Easy Pie Crust featured in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country. It’s a never-fail recipe and easy enough for a young cook to make as his or her first pie crust (which is how it was first introduced in our house—as a summer learning activity when our daughter was young.)

Hubby almost wept when he saw this lattice-crust pie being toted out the door for the party. “Please try to bring home just one slice,” he sniffed piteously. Lucky him; a few slices were left. He was happy to see me return, but he looked past me to see that, thankfully, some pie indeed remained under the clear plastic pie-plate cover. He was grateful indeed!

Peach-Blueberry Pie

1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon butter
pastry for double-crust pie (9-inch pie pan)

In a bowl combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and allspice. Add the peaches and blueberries; toss gently. Line pie plate with bottom crust; add the filling. Dot with butter. Top with a lattice crust. Brush crust with milk; sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool completely. Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yummy grape tomatoes star with asparagus in this speedy summer side dish

If we have one of ’em, we have a million. From my back porch they look like miniature red balls decorating a tiny forest of Christmas trees. We can’t even remember planting grape tomatoes; they’re probably some relic of a planting effort of previous years, but they are everywhere in our garden.

When Hubby goes out with the gathering basket and brings in the most recent harvest, the two of us stand at the kitchen sink and eat them as though they were grapes—such a fresh, delicious little snack. But we can’t snack on all of them, so I’ve been hunting recipes to use them up.

When we were in their home recently, our daughter-in-law served Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes as an intriguing side with burgers our son had grilled. Remembering my grape tomato crop that would be awaiting me when I returned home, I asked for a copy of the recipe, which had appeared on cookinglight.com at its Side Dish of the Month in April 2011.

SuperFast it was, with asparagus steamed in a skillet and then drained and removed. Into the skillet go the tomatoes and garlic cooked in olive oil, with balsamic vinegar and salt added. With the steamed asparagus arrayed on a platter, the tomato mixture tops it, followed by crumbled goat cheese and pepper. With a whopping 69 calories a serving no side could hold a candle to this in terms of flavor and color.

No dent in the grape tomato crop to be sure, but we really, enjoyed this unusual side dish and hope to enjoy it a few more times this season as long as those miniature red Christmas balls hang within our view—if we don’t snack them all up first!

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups halved grape (or cherry) tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (I substituted feta cheese)
black pepper

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, June 13, 2011

No better way than these Peach Waffles to launch a busy weekend

If a better way is out there to kick off a summer weekend morning, I don’t know what it is. Peach Waffles encapsulate all that’s wonderful about the season. Fresh mini-chunks of peaches are folded into a fluffy waffle batter. The batter is cooked to a golden brown and then flipped onto a plate, where sugar-free maple syrup and (later) Peach Syrup (see a future blog) await.

Although I have some standby fave peach recipes, one of my goals for this peach season is to try some new peach delicacies. Peach Waffles was on that list. Fortunately in an Internet search I located one quickly—at mrbreakfast.com, by a blogger who perfects the art of preparing breakfasts and whose blog features nothing but absolutely terrific recipes for that first meal of the day.

We’re still hauling in by the bucketloads fresh peaches off our trees, so this weekend we staged a peach cook-a-thon. Did I even put a dent in the peach supply by preparing this and other recipes? Not hardly. In my future I see the packing of peaches to freeze as well as pulling down the canning jars and dusting off the peach jam recipe to put lots of these fresh-plucked jewels away for other days.

Whew! What a cook-a-thon weekend it was. Glad I had these waffles on Saturday morning to fortify me; they were good to the last peachy bite.

Peach Waffles

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 large eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 cup milk (we use skim)
1 1/2 cups sliced peaches, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large metal or glass bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and beat until everything is well-mixed. In a separate bowl sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture along with the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in the peach pieces. Bake in a well-greased waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with your favorite syrup and with fresh peach slices on top. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Love, love, love (did I say love?) these Fried Green Tomatoes

I feel sure I wasn’t the only reader whose heart leapt when recognizing that the new issue of Southern Living magazine featured a gazillion recipes for that Southern icon, fried green tomatoes.

Ever since the popular movie Fried Green Tomatoes debuted years ago, I believe the whole concept of frying green tomatoes—not waiting for their prime but picking them from the vine before they become bright red—and turning them into a major number of delicacies has captured the imaginations of many people.

My first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, features my cousin Yvonne’s recipe for a wonderful green-tomato relish that takes a bucketload of those green beauties and makes something worthwhile out of them.

Already being an appreciator, I was thrilled to see SL’s take on the definitive way to prepare Fried Green Tomatoes. (Kinda like finding the definitive recipe for Southern Fried Chicken—something that we all generally know how to do but appreciate expert coaching.) And since I have plenteous vines of green tomatoes right now, Hubby raced out to bring in a green handful so I could start to work.

Confession: I actually prepared these two nights in row but didn’t think the first batch was attractive enough to share with you. I’m not the best of beginners and typically do a much more commendable job of something the second-time around. Success! My remedial batch was golden to the core; the tomatoes cooked up much more tender.

Hubby and I could have eaten an entire skillet full; the healthy substitutions (instead of buttermilk, add 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar to a measuring cup and continue filling with skim milk until the mixture measures 1/2 cup) made doing so a little less guilt-inducing, but we restrained ourselves. Ditto the egg substitute and the salt substitute for a healthier prep. We threw some salt-free ketchup on top of these crisp goodies and had ourselves a feast. Thought we were in heaven!

Next to try, I hope: Sweet Green Tomato Cornmeal Muffins and Fried Green Tomato Po'Boys, all at SL’s prompting. As readers you can hold me accountable and make sure I get around to them.

Lengthwise, not Crosswise: Speaking of holding me accountable, one Dear Reader questioned yesterday’s Sausage and Peach Breakfast Casserole instructions, in which I mentioned that before placing the sausages onto the casserole batter you are to halve them crosswise. The sausages with which I tested the recipe are links, so you halve them LENGTHWISE! Thanks for keeping me accurate!

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 large egg, lightly beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar added to skim milk, as described above)
1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 medium-sized, firm green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
vegetable oil

Whisk together egg and buttermilk. In a shallow dish combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup flour. Dredge tomato slices in remaining 1/4 cup flour; then dip into egg mixture; and next dredge in cornmeal mixture. In a large skillet pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat oil to 375 degrees over medium-high heat. In batches drop coated tomatoes into hot oil and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sausage and Peach Breakfast Casserole—outstanding!

Breakfast for dinner—don’t you just love it? Occasionally serving up breakfast food at the time normally reserved for a “meat-and-potatoes” meal just mellows out the evening like nothing else can. A day can be rough-charging like gangbusters toward a climactic end; then, put a little pancake syrup (sugar-free, of course) on the table—all becomes right with the world.

Have I got your wheels spinning? Then follow with Sausage and Peach Breakfast Casserole. Still hunting for ways to use my bucketfuls of fresh peaches from our exuberant 2011 crop, I did an Internet search for breakfast casseroles using peaches and turned up this jewel of an idea. www.food.com sprang forth with this easy goodie that I stirred up for an evening meal.

Only one warning: as with many breakfast casseroles, it works best if prepared the night before, baked a smidgen, and refrigerated, with cooking completed just before you serve. The crowning glory of this dish is the quick homemade peach/maple syrup that tops it. You just can’t imagine anything better. The fresh peaches were all-stars in this stunning breakfast dish that made its debut in the p.m.—terrific anytime!

Sausage and Peach Breakfast Casserole

2 cups package baking mix (I tried with lowfat Bisquick)
1 cup fat-free milk
1 (16-ounce) package brown-and-serve sausages (I used turkey sausage)
2 cups peaches that have been peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar (I used sugar substitute)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl stir together baking mix and milk. Turn into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish. In a small bowl place peeled peaches that have been chopped. Use a potato masher to mash the chopped peaches until about 1/4 to 1/2 cup juice is released from them. Drain peaches; set juice aside. Halve the sausages crosswise. Arrange the sausages and peaches on top of batter in this fashion: a layer of sausages, a layer of peaches, a layer of sausages, a layer of peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool for 15 minutes or so; cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day, about 20 minutes before you plan to serve, heat oven to 350 degrees and cook casserole for 20 minutes. Prepare warm syrup as follows: In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Turn heat to medium high; add the reserved peach juice; cook mixture until thick and bubbly. Stir in maple syrup and butter. Serve warm over the casserole. Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fresh Peach Salsa atop grilled fish makes things cool, calm, and collected

An impressive entrée and a snap to make, especially with our this year’s peach abundance—that’s today’s featured recipe, Fresh Peach Salsa atop grilled tilapia. Peach pies, peach cobblers, peach jam . . . they’re down the road, for sure. But using those magnificent peaches to grace a main course—now that doesn’t happen every day.

This recipe can be put together in a flash—three small-to-medium peaches (peeled and cut into cubes), 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper, salt (or salt substitute), and pepper. I’m pleased to brag that the peaches, the green onions, and the jalapeno all were brought in from our garden. Next year I’d like to get some cilantro going, since I use it by the droves.

I have the website, www.fitwoman.com, to thank for this creation, which I served for dinner this past weekend. The recipe says the Fresh Peach Salsa also can be paired with grilled chicken or meat. I brushed the fish with a little olive oil and lime juice before I stretched it out on the grill.

This was pure delight—a light dinner that was perfect for the soaring temperatures. The Fresh Peach Salsa helped keep things, as Hubby likes to say, cool, calm, and collected.

Fresh Peach Salsa

3 peaches, peeled and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 green onions, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
salt (or salt substitute)

Mix all ingredients in a small bow. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings. (Recipe can easily be doubled to be sure you have ample amounts of salsa to go atop the fish.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Asparagus and sugar-snap peas combine for a great, green side dish

To insert a little diversion among the peach recipes (o, I've just begun), an Asparagus and Sugar-Snap Toss (recipe from Prevention magazine) fit the bill nicely. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed sugar-snap peas so much as with this dish, in which they were tossed with asparagus in a liquid of reduced-sodium soy sauce and honey.

Some people tend to shy away from asparagus because it can be tough, especially on the ends, but with this method of preparation—steaming the trimmed stalks in a covered skillet for 5 minutes and then adding the peas, green onions, and other liquid, the asparagus becomes fork-tender. Prevention featured this as a side dish for an Easter dinner (with ham as the entree), but we dined on it alongside grilled fish and a peach salsa (more about that tomorrow). The entire meal was delicious.

I think I'll put this recipe in my Easter file for 2012, but who says Asparagus and Sugar-Snap Toss can’t be an early summer dish as well?

Asparagus and Sugar-Snap Toss

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon water
1/2 pound sugar-snap peas, ends trimmed and strings removed
3 green onions, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey

Over medium heat, heat oil in large pan with lid. Add asparagus and water. Cover and steam 5 minutes. Add peas, green onions, soy sauce, and honey. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt (or salt substitute) and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6-8.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nobody’s a kook for trying this delicious peach kuchen, a queen of coffeecakes

I’ve never known how to pronounce that crazy word kuchen, but I’ve always loved recipes that made this little coffeecake. So I found a recipe for Peach Kuchen to kick off my Peachathon this weekend. This year we are blessed with peaches beyond belief! Two peach trees in our garden already have been harvested, with three to go. Our fridge is so full of peaches, we have trouble inserting anything else. This past weekend I had to get to cooking so we could clear out some bowls of peaches and make room for the next batch to be picked. Glory, glory! Because all of our peach trees were destroyed in the flooding in 2007 and the new trees only now are into full production, we’ve been waiting for this day of abundance for a long time.

This Peach Kuchen (I finally looked this German word up in a pronunciation guide. It’s KOO-khen, with the sound kook emphasized, except I’m certainly no kook for making it.) was our Saturday morning breakfast (and then dessert throughout the weekend). It was wonderful and so simple and of course very easy on the eating plan when made with the fat-free sour cream and sugar substitute.

I found the recipe online furnished by 1st Traveler’s Choice Internet Cookbook (www.virtualcities.com). The site featured Peach Kuchen as a signature recipe from Abigail’s Bed and Breakfast Inn in Camden, ME, a way-up-there city to which we’d actually traveled when we lived on the East Coast some years back. I could just imagine B&B guests sitting down to this breakfast delight. The ample crust of flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter made a terrific base for the peaches-and-cream topping.

Nope, no kooks in kuchen. I patted myself on the back for being one smart cook. Another peach recipe down and many, many to go.

Peach Kuchen

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter
5 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 egg yolks (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 cup sour cream (we used fat-free)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar together. Work in butter until mixture crumbles. Pile into an ungreased square pan and pat even layer over bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Place peach slices over pastry; sprinkle mixture of cinnamon and remaining sugar over top. Bake for 12 minutes. Mix egg yolks with sour cream; pour over top of partially cooked kuchen. Place back in oven for 30 to 40 more minutes until top is bubbly. Serve warm with no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream. Serves 6-8.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Peaches and blueberries on a burger? You better believe it. Delicious!

With freshly painted toenails I was seated in the pedicurist’s chair when I saw it—a recipe for Turkey Burger with Peaches and Blueberries. Thumbing through a Better Homes and Gardens magazine while I waited for my toes to dry, I got so excited I almost leaped off the chair—wet toes and all—and flew home to try it.

Peaches and blueberries on a turkey burger? In my refrigerator are five huge plastic containers of peeled and chopped peaches—waiting for my planned weekend cook-a-thon to fold them into pies, cobblers, preserves, and other delicacies. Peaches I have. But the delight of this recipe is that it combined peaches with blueberries, another of my favorite things, as a topping and called for creating the burger by mixing chopped peaches with ground turkey and serving with Monterey Jack cheese on top. Would this actually work? Do people actually do things such as this? I had to see.

The recipe called for adding 1/4 teaspoon chili powder to 1/2 cup blueberries and three chopped peaches to make a burger topping that cooks until the fruit is tender. What would chili powder do to this fruit mixture? Furthermore it called for Monterey Jack cheese to be placed as a layer between the grilled burger and the fruit—atop a slice of toasted garlic bread. Whoa! An oddball assortment if one ever existed.

But it worked. The Southwest flavors of the Monterey Jack cheese, chili powder, and garlic in the bread served as a perfect counter for the sweetness of the fruit. Hubby said the fruit atop the thick bread reminded him of his growing-up mornings when his mother sent the kids off to school with steaming fruit (peaches, strawberries, or applesauce) over hot biscuits in their bellies.

Best of all the recipe was what BH&G touted it to be—30 minutes prep time start to finish—a good thing since my late-afternoon nails appointment made me a tad late getting home to start dinner.

2011 peach crop—I’m onto you with this, the first of many great concoctions from this year’s orchard yield.

Turkey Burger with Peaches and Blueberries

4 small peaches
1 pound ground turkey
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese (I used shredded)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 thick slices roasted garlic country bread or garlic bread, toasted if desired
fresh mint

Finely chop one of the peaches; add ground turkey, salt (or salt substitute), and pepper. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. You may need to dampen your hands before you shape the burgers. Grill burgers directly over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until no pink remains (165-degrees F). Add cheese; cover and cook one minute more. Meanwhile coarsely chop remaining peaches; in a large skillet combine peaches with blueberries and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder. Cook fruit mixture, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through and the mixture begins to have juices form. Top each piece of garlic bread with one patty and some of the peach mixture. Add mint and additional chili powder. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Easy skillet side dish--Asparagus with Tomatoes--pairs color and flavor

This recipe was submitted by a faithful reader of this blog. At the time she emailed it to me, she didn’t know the month was being observed as Asparagus Month (Prevention magazine had selected the stalky green veggie to be featured during May); she did it because she and her hubby had just enjoyed this easy skillet side dish and wanted to share the idea with others.

Immediately I knew that Asparagus with Tomatoes, which she had received from eatbetteramerica.com, was a must-try, because the person submitting it wasn’t just any reader: she was the daughter of the Queen of Cooks—my cousin, Yvonne. This reader’s mother (praised in both my cookbooks—Way Back in the Country and Way Back in the Country Garden) could take any ordinary veggie and turn it into a culinary symphony. Ditto for everything else edible; she’s the maestro . . . always has been.

Her daughter, my cousin Lynda, follows in her mom’s footsteps. So I knew that anything she cooked and recommended was to go on my agenda, for sure.

Some chopped-up tomatoes and onion, cooked in oil for just minutes and then seasoned with lemon juice, honey, and salt, make a wonderful topping for some tender-cooked asparagus that were briefly boiled for 7 to 10 minutes in the same skillet. The tomato mixture was placed over that. The asparagus was so tender, it was unbelievable. Best of all, one serving of this veggie (high in vitamins A and C) contains only 70 calories.

The month of May may be behind us, but asparagus still rules, as far as I’m concerned. Just love this Asparagus with Tomatoes recipe my cousin sent along.

Asparagus with Tomatoes

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 plum (Roma) tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus

In 10-inch skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion in oil 2 to 3 minutes; stir occasionally until tender. Stir in tomatoes, lemon juice, honey, and salt substitute. Cook 1 minute; stir occasionally. Remove mixture from skillet; keep warm. Wipe out skillet. In skillet heat 1 inch of water to boiling. Break off tough ends of asparagus as far down as stalks snap easily. Add asparagus to boiling water. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until stalk ends are crisp-tender. Drain. Place asparagus in serving dish. Top with tomato mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodbye springtime, hello summer, but this fresh veggie toss makes a meal for all seasons

I had to prepare this recipe while the title still was appropriate. Summer has crept in all around us; spring is just about a memory. But I guarantee you: this meal is so impressive and colorful, it knows no seasonal constraints.

This recipe was the last untried one from Southern Living’s March 2011 issue featuring “God’s bookmark”—that Southern icon, bacon. Everything else on the page I had enjoyed enormously—starting with the BLT Benedict with Avocado-Tomato Relish that I made for Hubby’s birthday morning breakfast.

Springtime Pasta with Bacon, the dish featured here, was billed as being great served warm or chilled. I was skeptical about whether these ingredients would make for a good cold salad (suitable for a brown-bag lunch for the next day, the magazine touted it) and personally believed it fell only into the “warm” category, but oh my! dining on it for lunchtime leftovers (fresh from the fridge) yesterday was pure bliss.

Fresh snow peas and frozen sweet green peas go into the bow-tie pasta during the last minute the pasta cooks. A wonderful melange of veggies—radishes, carrots, green onions, and fresh parsley—are stirred into the drained pasta/green vegetable mixture. Then all is tossed with a lemon juice-olive oil dressing plus seasonings as desired. Crumbled bacon and feta cheese go on top.

The magazine suggests serving it with grilled shrimp kabobs, but Hubby and I needed nothing else but this.

Goodbye springtime, hello summer, but this dish is a keeper. I just filed it with my Christmas bring-a-dish potentials and made it a meal for all seasons.

Springtime Pasta with Bacon

1 (16-ounce) package whole-wheat bow-tie pasta
1 cup frozen sweet peas
1 1/2 cups fresh snow peas
8 radishes, sliced thin
2 large carrots, grated
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to taste
6 turkey bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last minute of cook time add sweet peas and snow peas. Drain. Toss pasta mixture with radishes and next 5 ingredients; season with salt substitute and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bacon and feta cheese. Serves 6-8.