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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fresh green onions give Crunchy Salmon Cakes their appeal

Yesterday I mentioned the Crunchy Salmon Cakes that made such a great pairing with the Squash Salad featured in Tuesday’s blog. As far as I’m concerned, these fresh patties were put on the map with the fresh green onions that went inside them. In my lifetime I’ve made every version imaginable of salmon patties. I grew up on them—at least once a week they were a mainstay in my home. So I’ve been around the block a few times where this dish is concerned. But I can truthfully say that this recipe was my all-time favorite; the green onions represent the reason why.

I found this recipe in the June 2011 issue of Southern Living magazine after a reader posed the question, “How can I bring beach flavor to the dinner table?” With school back in full swing in most places and most everyone having bid farewell to summertime (all but the heat, which lingers–ugh!), the desire lives on to keep those beach memories alive through seafood suppers at home; hence, some seafood recipes were furnished. Though the original recipe, as it appeared in the magazine, was for crab cakes, I had in the fridge some fresh salmon and decided to sub it for the crab. Worked just fine.

Besides the chopped green onions, two more new ingredients to my typical salmon-pattie prep were diced pimento and Dijon mustard. SL called for panko breadcrumbs; I subbed some whole-grain breadcrumbs made from some day-old whole-grain bread I had on hand.

The magazine was right; the recipe absolutely brought reminders of a day at the beach. Hubby and I already had Galveston on our minds since yesterday was our wedding anniversary and we spent the first night of our honeymoon at the USS Flagship Hotel over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Sweet memories!

Crunchy Salmon Cakes

16 ounces fresh salmon filet, flaked
4 large lemons, divided
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, well-drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten (can use 1/4 cup egg substitute)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup breadcrumbs, divided
1/4 cup canola oil

Flake salmon until it is ready to mix with other ingredients. (I cooked mine on high heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave to soften and make it more pliable.) Grate zest from 2 lemons to equal 2 teaspoons; cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into a measuring cup to equal 1/4 cup. Stir together lemon zest and juice, pimiento, and next 5 ingredients until all are well-bended. Gently fold in salmon and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Shape mixture into 8 patties. Dredge patties in remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Cook half of patties in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until patties are golden brown; drain on a wire rack (or paper towel). Repeat procedure with remaining oil and patties. Cut remaining lemons into wedges. Serve salmon cakes with lemon wedges. Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“Simple salad” is an understatement for this healthy summer delight

How could a five-ingredient salad be such a scene-stealer? I pondered this after church this past Sunday when I needed to throw together a little something to accompany some Crunchy Salmon Cakes (more on this tomorrow) we had enjoyed the previous evening and had some left over for Sunday lunch.

I had bought some squash to make the recipes in Southern Living’s July 2011 issue featuring three different “lightened” ways with squash. After I prepared this Yellow Squash Salad, I was “enlightened” as well by this recipe. We can’t remember when we enjoyed a simple salad more.

All you do is thinly slice up three medium-sized yellow squash, add frozen peas (which we always have on hand because our grandmunchkin loves them), chopped fresh basil (I can’t emphasize enough using the fresh variety), and feta cheese. (I also added a dash of pepper.) The recipe suggests using your favorite vinaigrette; I chose Maple Grove Farms of Vermont’s Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing.

Letting this marinate in the fridge for a few hours, of course, made it even more scrumptious, but for our first batch to go along with the Salmon Cakes, we brought it to the table immediately on preparation. Delicious even fresh from the chopping block! And I can’t emphasize enough what a perfect side it was with tomorrow’s recipe, so stay tuned.

Yellow Squash Salad

Three medium-sized yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, blanched
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
your favorite vinaigrette dressing

Combine all ingredients, toss, and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicy aromas in every corner while these apple muffins bake

Bring-on-Fall Recipe #3—Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins. Saturday seemed like another baking-with-apples kind of day. I was ready for that autumnal aroma to fill every corner of the house again; Hubby was ready for a special, Saturday-morning breakfast.

Allrecipes.com helped me out with these quick muffins that spiced up our weekend—and, as we just observed, were the prelude for a few actual rain sprinkles this morning (at least our loved ones in East Texas are getting a good bit of moisture).

Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins are filled with delicious apple chunks and topped with streusel. The prep on this was quick—even more speedy because Hubby helped with the apple chopping. Nothing like a little cheerful teamwork in the kitchen!

The topping helped hold the baked muffins together well after they were removed from their tins. Best yet, although the recipe said it yielded 6 servings, I somehow managed to get 10 muffins out of the mixture—even with filling the pan to the top of the muffin cups as the recipe called for. Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins may not have brought on fall’s full effects just yet, but they brought on a joyful day and weekend and more hope for fall's arrival.

Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose four
3/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/3 cup skim milk
2 apples—peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Granny Smith)

1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened and cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease six muffin cups or line them with paper muffin liners. Stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix in oil, egg, and milk. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; fill to the top of the cup. In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix together with fork; sprinkle over unbaked muffins. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin emerges clean. Serves 6-10.

Friday, August 26, 2011

If this autumnal Apple Brown Betty can’t bring on fall, what can?

Since I prepared the first apple dish (Apple-Butterscotch Brownies featured in Monday’s blog), we’ve twice seen smidgens of rain. No big deluge, to be sure, but enough to cause a little dancing in the streets. Does the grass seem a tiny bit greener? The rain filled some of the dry crevices of our hearts, at least, because it represented hope that fall someday may arrive and along with it more rain!

The dish that (in my mind) heralded the second brief rainfall here was Apple Brown Betty, another of the wonderful apple desserts featured in this month’s Southern Living. I had questioned whether if I went on a bake-a-thon and cooked up every recipe in the magazine’s featured apple section, would a new season hurry on in?

Rain or no, the emergence of this terrific dish from our oven brought some rejoicing around here. Hubby kept asking, “What smells so good?” Nothing like something apple-y to fill every room in the house with a fall-like aroma. Just makes you feel good all over.

This Apple Brown Betty featured 4 cups of soft, fresh breadcrumbs; I used multigrain bread to add to the health factor. Four large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into wedges, layered with a breadcrumb-butter layer and a brown sugar-cinnamon layer, with a cup of no sugar-added apple cider poured over all.

Most people like to top a dessert such as this with ice cream or whipped topping, but honestly, that thought didn’t even cross my mind when I dug into my inaugural dish of this Apple Brown Better. The topping was a little crisp and the insides juicy with the healthy baked fruit. Other than the time required to peel the apples, this dessert made up in no time.

A great addition to the bring-on-fall collection!

Apple Brown Betty

4 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (or 1/2 cup brown-sugar substitute)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Place half of apple wedges in a lightly greased 11-inch-by-7-inch baking dish; sprinkle apples with half of brown sugar mixture and half of breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining apples, brown sugar mixture, and then breadcrumb mixture. Pour apple cider over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until dessert is browned and bubbly. Let baked dessert stand 10 minutes before you serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Does “weeknight-easy” have an appeal? That and terrific flavor both accompany this pot-pie recipe.

This week I passed the 300-mark in term of blog entries in “The Newfangled Country Gardener”. If I were to ask my hubby to reflect on these featured items and to name his absolute fave, he’d quickly reply that it was any recipe that pertained to making chicken-pot pie, his always-first-choice for a meal. It has been ever since I first met him when he was 21 (just yesterday!). He’s traveled all over the world (45-plus foreign countries and the 48 continental states) and sampled some of the finest cuisine anywhere, yet his “heart dish” never wavers. I knew he would adore this upcoming selection.

Southern Living’s “Mama’s Way or Your Way?” feature pairs classic, usually from-scratch recipes with updated, often simpler and quicker versions of that same dish. I always enjoy these selections and usually end up cooking both versions. I had torn out a page from the February 2011 issue which featured “Stovetop Chicken Pie”. Since these days we’re all high on the hunt for stovetop recipes so we can avoid overloading the heat grid in our broiling-temp afternoons, I was glad I had saved this suggestion. Plus I knew Hubby would be beyond pleased to have this meal set in front of him.

Cooked chicken bits, fresh mushrooms, and frozen green peas are cooked in a simple sauce of cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, white cooking wine, less-fat cream cheese, and part of an envelope of Italian dressing mix. The whole process from start to finish is 35 minutes. Dinner in no time.

This mixture can be topped with frozen buttermilk biscuits that have been baked or can be served over cornbread or cornbread waffles, hot cooked pasta, baked potatoes, or pecan wild rice. We had cornbread on hand and some leftover whole-wheat dinner rolls, so I used these instead of breaking out a can of buttermilk biscuits.

This recipe makes just oodles and oodles of this delicious chicken topping, so we’ve already enjoyed it for two nights now and are onto a third. (This is one dish of leftovers Hubby would never mind seeing ad infinitum.) It is flavorful and well-seasoned. As SL describes it, Stovetop Chicken Pie is “weeknight easy”. Who wouldn’t like that?

Stovetop Chicken Pie

8 frozen buttermilk biscuits
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken both
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less fat cream cheese, cubed (I used Neufchatel)
1/2 (.7-ounce) envelope Italian dressing mix (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

Bake biscuits according to package directions. Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium-high heat sauté onion in hot oil. Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated. Stir in peas and cook 2 minutes. Spoon chicken mixture over hot, split biscuits (or over cornbread, waffles, cooked paste, baked potatoes, or wild rice). Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So little summer to go and so few burgers consumed? Here's a fix for that.

Burgers, burgers. Sometimes the yen is so great, I just have to figure out a way to work the greasy little critters into a menu—just as long as I keep them from being greasy (and unhealthy).

My Kroger grocery circular recently helped me out with a page full of new twists on burger ideas. It featured a whole sheet of simple add-ins that help you “take the classic burger to the next level”. I was ready for that one! Summertime was evaporating; I hadn’t had my burger quota yet.

The combination for Fiesta Burgers caught my eye, since I had a bundle of cilantro left over from my corn salad featured in yesterday’s blog. Same thing with green onion—an excuse to use some leftovers would be nice. The recipe combined these two ingredients along with chili powder and ground cumin. To this I threw in some salt substitute and black pepper.

I grilled them (on my counter top) and topped each cooked patty with Pepper Jack cheese, salsa, avocado, tomato, red onion, and lettuce, according to the recipe. Wow, what satisfaction—a terrific burger without the guilt, without the drive-through and added expense, and cooked in my own little kitchen without having to step outside in the broiling heat. Just can’t beat a good burger for a simple, terrific dinner meal!

Fiesta Burgers

1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
sliced avocado
tomato slices
red onion slices

Mix ground turkey, green onion, cilantro, chili powder, and cumin. With hands that have been moistened with water form meat into four patties of equal size. Heat countertop grill; spray grill throughly with cooking spray. Place burgers on grill. Spray burger tops lightly with cooking spray to help prevent sticking. Grill until burgers are done. Top with cheese (about 1/4 cup per burger), salsa, avocado, tomato, red onion, and lettuce. Serve on a heated hamburger bun. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mexican corn salad great by itself or as a perk-up for chicken, other entrees

This is just a wonderful, summer, healthy side that’s great by itself or accompanying grilled chicken, steak, or fish. It’s colorful and full of flavor and tastes great served immediately or several days later after the flavors merge while in the fridge.

I received the recipe in my Kroger grocery circular and was pleased to have something so easy that tasted so good. I’ve gone from being a strict, to-the-last-jot-and-tittle recipe follower to becoming quite brave about deriving my own add-ins. I had some radishes left over from an earlier meal, so I finely chopped one of those to stir in as well. Personally I think that was the best addition of all. Plus, as you probably can see from the photo, I didn’t have any red onion on hand and thus subbed green onion tops and bottoms for the red. That worked well, too, in creating a great veggie melange.

The recipe appears to call for cutting the corn immediately from the cob and stirring it into the salad. I’m sure that would work just fine, but I whisked mine into the microwave and quickly steamed it for about two minutes just to get it a bit more tender. No problems there, either.

The first night I served it by itself; the second night it was a side for Fiesta Burgers (more on them tomorrow)—great both ways. In fact, you simply can’t go wrong however you choose to offer this simple, tasty salad.

Mexican Corn Salad

2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1 large radish, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients. Serve immediately (or chill until ready to serve). Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Apple-Butterscotch Brownies--will they hasten fall? Worth a try!

Will preparing desserts that exude fall bring on the autumn season? Certainly can’t hurt to try, especially in heat-furnace-weary Texas. My September 2011 issue of Southern Living which arrived Friday contained page after glorious page of tempting apple recipes (the headline proclaims “No repentance required” because the recipes are light on the calories and high on health). I have made a pact with myself to bake every single dish featured—and quickly, too. Perhaps the aroma of baked apples will usher in cooler climes.

My first to try was Apple-Butterscotch Brownies—worthy choice! These cakelike critters were absolutely to die for. Fat chunks of apple and toasted pecans make this bar cookie a flavorful yet light treat. Baked in a 13-by-9-inch pan, the recipe makes oodles. I squired some brownies away in an airtight container and froze them for a day when outside actually feels like fall and I can savor these with some hot cinnamon tea as I sit on my outdoor patio and breathe in a crisp, fall morning.

“Good to the core”—Southern Living extols about its apple recipe finds this month. I couldn’t agree more. Now, onto the Apple Brown Betty! Hurry, fall!

Apple-Butterscotch Brownies

1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar (if using brown-sugar substitute, use 1 cup substitute)
1 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpoes flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
3 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow pan bake pecans in a single layer for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are toasted and fragrant. Stir halfway through. Stir together brown sugar and next 3 ingredients. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients; add to brown-sugar mixture. Stir until blended. Stir in apples and pecans. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13-inch-by-9-inch pan; spread batter in an seven layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center emerges clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cut into bars. Makes about 2 dozen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Red cabbage recipe brings to our table souvenir of "relax-acation”

We’d been home barely 24 hours and already were missing it big time. Hubby and I had ventured down to Fredericksburg to celebrate #42 wedding anniversary. We probably were among the last people in Texas to schedule a getaway to this charming little jewel of the Lone Star—the favorite travel destination of many a Texan. But better late than never—we spent three-and-a-half days immersed there on a relax-acation and adored every minute of it and adored every bite of food downed.

Which brings me to the point of today’s blog—the German cuisine scored big with us. After all, why make a trip to this delightful “burg” of German origins and not drown in German food? Made sense to us. We loved every bite of wienerschnitzel and hot German potato salad and potato pancakes. I wanted to replicate some of this food so we still could have a morsel of Fredericksburg with us.

In my “Celebrating a Healthy Harvest” cookbook I had an untried recipe for Simmered Red Cabbage. Hubby and I both had agreed that the red cabbage served with our wienerschnitzel (at the Auslander restaurant) was the best we’d ever sampled. So I pulled up my as-yet-unexplored recipe and set out to transport a little of Fredericksburg to our dinner table.

I don’t know how the little German ladies prepare this traditional dish, but I thought the recipe I had in my cookbook was pretty inventive. It called for cooking a cut-up onion in olive oil and then stirring in shredded red cabbage, brown sugar, beef broth, orange juice, cinnamon, and a peeled and chopped apple. This entire mixture simmers for 1-2 hours for maximum flavor. The apple and brown sugar gave the concoction a hint of sweetness.

Hubby, being the always-diplomatic and effusive mate that he is, ventured to say that our dish was better than what he sampled on our memory-maker trip. I wouldn’t go that far; the German ladies who daily turn out this dish for tourists have a zillion-more decades of history preparing it than I do. But my copycatting turned out pretty good, if I do say so.

Ah, Fredericksburg! With the red cabbage, the essence of this precious “honeymoon” spot can still hang around.

Simmered Red Cabbage

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced in thin wedges
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
10 cups shredded red cabbage (1 medium head)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large apple, cored, peeled and chopped

Over medium heat place oil, onions, and salt in large pan; cook until onions are soft but not browned. Add cabbage to pan. Mix the brown sugar, broth, orange juice, and cinnamon together and pour over the cabbage. Add the chopped apple; stir, and simmer. When cabbage has wilted, stir completely and re-cover. For best flavor simmer on low for 1-2 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who says lasagna has to be beefy with tomato sauce? Try this white, creamy, healthy new take.

This was a totally different twist on lasagna and one that we enjoyed thoroughly. All the traditional red sauce was replaced by a white, creamy one; chicken was subbed for beef, and the whole process was health-ified by the addition of spinach. It was wonderful. Thank you, Chickasaw Nation, for this unusual recipe which made a huge 13-by-9-inch casserole full (12 servings, according to the recipe) and has lasted us for numerous days.

I have had the recipe in my wish folder throughout the spring and summer, but lasagna always seems to represent a huge amount of work for me, so I ended up bypassing it again and again. Once I hunkered down and decided to prepare it, however, the process seemed to go fairly quickly. I tried to clean up as I cooked; this eliminated the huge amount of dirty dishes that always takes the joy out of the assemblage. Quite a few pots and utensils are involved in this multi-step dish, but sponging them out and shifting them to the dishwasher after each level of prep made things tidier all along

A combination of mozzarella and parmesan forms the base of the white sauce; the chicken and spinach are stirred into low-fat cottage cheese and more mozzarella and parmesan. We used whole grain lasagna noodles to add to the health-conscious aspect of the recipe. A great dish—I was just sorry I kept bypassing it and earlier didn’t take advantage of this yummy concoction.

White Chicken Lasagna

cooking spray
9 whole-grain lasagna noodles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
1 teaspoon basil, dried
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
16 ounces frozen spinach, chopped, thawed, and drained (or 16 ounces fresh spinach, washed and cooked in microwave for 4 minutes on high)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles as directed but omit salt and fat. In a large saucepan saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Mix in cornstarch, broth, and milk. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and black pepper. Stir and then remove from heat. In a separate bowl combine cottage cheese, chicken, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Mix well. Spray with cooking spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the dish. Place three of the noodles on top; then top with 1/3 of the chicken/spinach mixture. Repeat two more times. At the end top the lasagna with the remaining 3/4 cup of sauce and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 12 servings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Veggie Potato Salad is true summer indulgence

Since the 4th of July I’ve been eyeballing that potato salad recipe. What says the 4th more than does potato salad? But the fireworks holiday passed without the longed-for dish being incorporated into a meal. It looked like it would turn out to be just about the best potato salad I’d ever tasted. In fact, that’s exactly how Hubby described this dish when I finally got around to making it.

Veggie Potato Salad was another of the items I hatched up in honor of my friend’s visit to observe the 50th anniversary of our knowing each other (yesterday’s blog featured the corn soup I served). I prepared a ladies’ lunch for my friend, Mary Ann, but let her know she’d have to be the guinea pig for a couple of my blog-auditionings. Even before I prepared it, however, I already could tell this incredible combination likely would be a winner.

The recipe, from the June 2011 issue of Southern Living, calls for basic cooked potato cubes with a creamy dressing of buttermilk, sour cream, mayo, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and apple-cider vinegar. But into all that is tossed steamed green beans, fresh parsley, grated carrots, and celery—not traditional potato-salad go-togethers. Southern Living touted all the health benefits of this combination: vitamins A, K, and potassium from the carrots; fiber from the celery and radishes, and vitamin C from the green beans. Leaving the skin on the red potatoes keeps the nutrients from being peeled away. So the riot of color in the final product wasn’t the only advantage of this of this beautiful dish.

Potato salad without the guilt was the ultimate outcome of this indulgence. I feel sure this will be a favorite not just for summer holidays and family reunions but for a passel of other events the year through.

Veggie Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup whole buttermilk (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar placed in the bottom of a 1-cup measure; continue filling with skim milk until the mixture reaches the 1/2 cup mark)
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise with olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/2 cup steamed, cut fresh green beans
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
salt (or salt substitute) and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan bring potatoes and salted water to cover to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; sprinkle with vinegar and oil and toss gently. Cool completely about an hour. Whisk together buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Stir in carrots and next 6 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon buttermilk mixture over potato mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours before you serve. Makes 7 1/2 cups.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sweet summer corn and potatoes join forces for a celebratory soup

An increasingly fewer 50th anniversaries of anything are observed any more, since so much is transitory. Recently a friend from my early teens and I gathered to celebrate the fact that 50 years ago this fall we first became acquainted (how can that be since we’re both only 29 right now?) We mused about the fact that when we first met during junior high, the hot topics of our discussions centered around the next new shade of lipstick we’d purchase. Now we compare notes on grandkids when we and our spouses plan retirements. What a life!

At our ladies’ lunch that I prepared for our observance, we began with a first course of Summer Corn Soup, with the recipe springing from the latest (September 2011) issue of Prevention magazine. One often doesn’t think soup in the middle of the tormenting summer heat, but my friend, Mary Ann, and I agreed that we’re up for soup most any time of the year. This recipe was special because it used some of that great sweet corn that’s overflowing in our supermarkets’ produce areas right now.

The prep time on the stove is brief, to avoid heating up the kitchen with an overly warm stovetop—only 20 minutes to simmer in the first stage (note: the recipe calls for leaving the corn cobs in the boiling broth to make the stock more flavorful) and 15 minutes after the potatoes and corn kernels are added. One seeded and chopped jalapeno added just the right amount of sizzle to the recipe.

The corn was sweet and tender and the potatoes mellow for this dish that also could be a main course—Hubby and I certainly enjoyed it as a stand-alone when we consumed leftovers that evening after the lunch.

My friend and I don’t look or feel as though we’ve (or our friendship has) been around a half-century, but the Summer Corn Soup to kick off our celebration helped frame the half-century part in a cheerful perspective!

Summer Corn Soup

6 ears fresh corn
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup half-and-half (could use skim milk)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Cut corn kernels from cobs. Reserve cobs. In large pot melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add broth, 3 cups water, jalapeno, and reserved corn cobs. Simmer 20 minutes. Remove cobs and discard. Add potatoes and corn kernels. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in half-and-half; season to taste. Ladle soup into bowls; top with green onions. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't let summer slip away without filling your burger quota; try these!

I’ve already blathered on and on about my lifelong affection for burgers, which I believe I acquired from my mom, the queen of burger lovers. I’m always on the hunt for inventive ways to serve them up. Southern Living’s July 2011 issue warmed the heart with zillions of new twists on burgers; what wasn’t included in the magazine (13 more ways to prepare burgers) was available on the website, southernliving.com/grilling. I was in hamburger heaven!

After offering the recipe for Basic Turkey Burgers, the article then featured a variety of burger dress-ups. Since I love pimiento cheese almost as much as I do burgers themselves, I was drawn to Pimiento Cheese Bacon Burgers as a way to add some special pizzazz.

I absolutely adored the fact that the Best Turkey Burgers recipe featured both chopped fresh parsley and fresh mint. I almost always have some fresh parsley in the veggie bin of my fridge; seems as though I buy some for a recipe and then have a ton left over. And the mint—well, it grows, indestructable, right outside my door. We grab it to go in iced tea and look for recipes that give us an excuse to trim some off.

Pimiento Cheese-Bacon Burgers calls for topping the Best Turkey Burgers with your favorite Pimiento Cheese mixture (storebought or mixed up with your own shredded cheese or cheese blend.) I ran my fave in the very first blog entry I ever wrote for this column—May 16, 2010. But for grins I’ll repeat it here today—295 blog entries later!

Pimiento Cheese-Bacon Burgers

2 pounds lean ground turkey breast
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (or use countertop grill). Combine above ingredients gently. Shape mixture into 6 (5-inch) patties. Grill, covered with grill lid, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until beef no longer is pink in the center. Top each burger with your favorite pimiento cheese recipe (mine appears below), cooked bacon slices, lettuce, and tomato slices. Makes 6 servings.

Old South Pimiento Cheese
1 cup chopped/broken pecans
1 (8-ounce) block extra sharp cheese (grate on small side of cheese grater)
1 (8-ounce) block sharp cheese (grate on large side of cheese grater)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimiento, drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Set oven to 350 degrees. Toast the 1 cup pecans for 8-10 minutes. Stir halfway through the toasting. Mix the grated cheese, mayonnaise, pimiento, worcestershire sauce, onion, and red pepper. Add pecans. Spread on bread.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A fresh idea for this green wonder veggie: Zucchini and Salmon Planks

“At least our garden had zucchini this year.” This is not a claim I can make for myself, but I’ve heard several people brag on their zucchini crop this summer even while bemoaning that most everything else—even okra!—didn’t make. Now that’s a bad year, when someone’s (indomitable) okra doesn’t perform. But those who had okra crop failure still seemed to have zucchini. Go figure. We’ve planted zucchini for several summers and haven’t seen, as my mother would have said, “hide nor hair of it”.

Never fear, however. Farmers’ markets and grocery stores seem to have plentiful supplies of this summer veggie. Zucchini, which contains lutein, is worth the effort to get on the table. Lutein is good for the eyes and is known to help ward off cataracts and macular degeneration. Having seen my mom’s vision decline drastically because of macular degeneration, I want to keep that depriving condition at bay in my own life, for sure. I’d be willing to eat zucchini every day if that would happen.

Prevention magazine’s August 2011 installment featured zucchini as its pet veggie for the month and offered seven “fast and fresh ideas”, as Prevention described them, for cooking it. The recipe I tried was called “Zucchini-Wrapped Salmon”, but my zucchini must have not been sliced thinly enough to do the wrap number, so I made it into “Zucchini and Salmon Planks”—same great flavor and same pairing of zucchini with salmon, the wonder fish. The health properties of cholesterol-lowering salmon know no bounds. Everywhere one reads, some new benefit of salmon is being touted.

A simple sprinkle of thyme and a spraying with cooking oil gives this tender, light summer meal all the seasoning it needs to be delicious.

Will we try with zucchini again next season? Probably. Congrats to all gardeners who had a positive outcome in this challenging summer.

Zucchini and Salmon Planks

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 large zucchini cut into thin lengthwise slices
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray cooking oil onto baking sheet. Cut fillets into plank-like portions (basically strips that are about 4-inches long and 2-inches wide). Lay one or two zucchini strips atop salmon planks (or wrap the zucchini around the salmon fillets, if your zucchini strips are thin and malleable enough). Spray fish and zucchini combinations very lightly with cooking spray. Bake until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer and Southern blend in this okra-cheese grits recipe

When I saw the recipe, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two of my favorite food items in all the world—cheese grits and okra—pulled together in one combo casserole. This must be my week for perfect pairings. Yesterday’s blog was about the dynamite combination of pears and apples in the most delectable pie ever. Now today I’m extolling okra with cheese grits. With all these dynamic duos, you’d think we were celebrating Valentine’s Day.

The only problem for baking this wonderful dish that I found described on www.myrecipes.com was my okra supply. Baby okra abound—we’ll have a bumper crop in a few days—but we’re waiting for the next wave. I did manage to scrape together enough mature okra for 6 small fresh okra pods called for in this casserole, but I could have added twice that amount and felt even more indulged.

The original recipe on myrecipes.com (originally from Southern Living October 1999) was called Baked Polenta with Cheese and Okra—polenta being just another name for something made from boiled cornmeal. We speak grits around here, so I subbed a name that described the casserole’s ingredients.

I can’t describe what a big hit this made around my house. Grown daughter happened in for a visit. When I suggest she sample something I’ve just made for a blog, I always can see trepidation in her eyes. Another weird veggie combination? I can read in her thoughts. But when the words cheese grits and okra emerge from my mouth, she’s a willing volunteer.

This basically involves cooking quick grits on the stovetop, stirring in okra, cheese, butter, and egg, and then baking in a casserole for 55 to 60 minutes. Adding the okra keeps the casserole from being boring and works a very Southern veggie into a very Southern dish.

Baked Cheese Grits and Okra Casserole

4 cups water, divided
6 small fresh okra pods
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese (or 1 8-ounce block sharp Cheddar, cubed)

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring 2 cups water to a boil; add okra and cook 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove okra. Reserve liquid in pan. Cool okra slightly and coarsely chop. Add remaining 2 cups water to reserved liquid; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in grits and salt; return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 7 minutes. Gradually whisk about one-fourth of the grits into eggs; add this to remaining hot mixture. Whisk constantly. Whisk in butter. Stir in okra and cheese. Spoon into slightly greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until set. Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pears and apples PAIR up for a terrific, spicy fruit pie

I had blogged that I was saving the last of the last of our pears for something special. This is the something special—Spiced Apple-Pear Pie. Our brand-new apple tree this year also managed to produce a few apples. So I merged the remaining pears and these apples into this marvelous dessert after I found a recipe on www.foodnetwork.com. What a great fruit-pie featuring this combo!

The pears and apples paired up (pun absolutely intended!) to become indistinguishable in a compote that was cooked on the stovetop until the fruit softened before it was poured into the pie crust. Peeled and diced pears and apples were combined with lemon juice, flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger cooked in a saucepan until the fruit was ready. The top crust was brushed with egg to aid in browning and then dusted with sugar so it was oven-ready.

Even without sugar-free Blue Bell Ice Cream to top it (I forgot to get some at the grocery), this was an unimaginably good dessert.

Goodbye pears and apples until next season! We can hardly wait—and I’ll be saving recipes all winter long to accommodate the likes of you.

Spiced Apple-Pear Pie

1/2 lemon
3 pounds baking apples, such as Golden Delicious (about 6 apples)
1 1/2 pounds baking pears, such as firm Bartletts (about 3 pears)
2/3 cup sugar (or sugar substitute) plus more for sprinkling on the pie
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
your favorite two-crust pie crust recipe

Finely grate the lemon zest and set aside. Peel, core, and slice both the apples and pears into 1/2-inch slices. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit, then toss fruit with the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter. Add fruit and cook; stir until the sugar dissolves and juices simmer, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the fruit softens and the juices evaporate some, about 10 minutes. Evenly mix the flour into the fruit; then cook about a minute more to thicken the juices slightly. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest and remove from heat. The filling should resemble a tight compote. Cool completely. When cool pour filling into the bottom crust of the pie. Place top crust over the filling. Cut 6 to 8 steam vents into the top of the top crust. Brush pie with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes to 425 degrees. Then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the crust both top and bottom are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes more. If the edges begin to brown too quickly, cut a pie shield out of a piece of aluminum foil and cover the edges.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Awesome veggie dish worth a sweaty, sticky garden trip to procure okra

I never thought I’d see the day: me—Kay—racing outdoors, snippers in hand, to stand in the punishing sun and prowl around among the sticky-leaved okra plants—hoping against hope that enough baby okra had matured overnight so I could clip a few morsels for a dinner entrée. Normally the bane of any gardener’s existence this time of year (too much okra—more than anyone knows what to do with), I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum: too many good okra recipes and okra not surfacing quickly enough to get them all prepared.

The enticing recipe this time was a recipe called Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux. That one sent me scurrying to do a little research. The dish sounded divine, but what was a Maque Choux? Had I spelled it wrong? Good ole Wikipedia told me it was a traditional southern Louisiana dish—the name pronounced to sound like the words “mock shoe”. Actually it’s a combination of cajun and American Indian cultural influence (I suspected some Native American might be lurking in there somewhere, since it bore such an unusual mixture of veggies).

Wikipedia states that besides the ingredients in this recipe, some Maque Choux combos include celery; others add a bit of sugar and a dash of hot sauce (I actually added a few hot sauce dots myself); others, instead of sausage, will contain bite-sized portions of chicken or crawfish or even will have shrimp dumped in at the final stage. Interesting ways to try it another time, but for this first adventure I stuck with the Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux recipe I found on www.myrecipes.com.

All I can say is, this divine ole Mock Shoe was worth sweating in the okra patch with its resultant stickiness to bring in enough baby okra for this delicious recipe. The turkey sausage gave it just that added touch. We wolfed it down quickly and were wanting more. From the looks of the baby okra still to be harvested outdoors, we should have plenty of opportunity.

Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux

1/4 pound turkey sausage, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups fresh corn kernels, removed from cob
1 cup sliced fresh okra
1 cup peeled, seeded, and dice tomato
salt (or salt substitute) and black pepper to taste

Sauté sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add corn, okra, and tomato; cook, stirring often, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Keep things cool (and appliance-free) during dinner prep with Tuna Avocado Sandwiches

Every afternoon we, like many others, receive the automated warning call: please restrict use of appliances, lights, electronic devices, etc., during the peak hours from 3 to 7 p.m. to conserve energy during the heat crisis. That means we look for alternative ways to prepare dinner—no oven usage.

Into the recipe file to see what can be stirred up on the kitchen counter. Countertop grills don’t count: they’re appliances. Same with microwaveables. Nix that idea.

A canned tuna advertisement in Southern Living sprang to mind: Tuna Avocado Sandwich Spread. I reviewed the ingredients; I had all on hand, including three that were from my very own garden. I got to work—and used no energy source the entire time! The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which enacts the heat-wave warnings, would be proud of me.

Tuna Avocado sandwich spread utilizes two mashed, ripe avocados, fresh parsley, chopped red pepper, a 5-ounce can of tuna, a small red onion, and seasonings of lime juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The mixture is lavishly spread on whole-grain bread slices with sliced fresh tomatoes (the last from our garden before we set out fall tomatoes later) layered on.

Hubby and I sat down to dinner with just the light from the kitchen window streaming in. Amazing how much cooler our rooms feel with the window shades drawn during the day (the guideline the granny ladies practiced long ago) and the lights off. Our Tuna Avocado sandwiches were the perfect counter to the heat wave outdoors. Hubby remarked, “All these years I’ve been an apples/celery man for my tuna sandwiches. I didn’t dream they could be fixed another way.” The smooth filling was just the right blend and was seasoned to perfection with the seasoning combination. Having fresh parsley on hand was the icing on the cake.

We finished dinner several degrees cooler on the inside as well as on the outside. Not one kilowatt of anything perished during our dinner prep; we found a new take on the old tuna sandwich stuffing as well.

Tuna Avocado Sandwich Stuffing

2 medium-sized ripe avocados, peeled and mashed, seed removed
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 (5-ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
whole-grain bread slices

Mash avocados until smooth, add red onions, parsley, tuna, red pepper, lime juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. With a fork blend until mixture is smooth. Chill until ready to serve. Spread on slices of whole-grain bread. Top with thinly sliced tomatoes. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sweet, tender, honey-roasted carrots make delicious side dish for burgers, other entrées

Don’t yawn yet! What may look like an ordinary dish of carrots actually is a life-saving side. Ever need just a little something (healthy) to accompany burgers or meat loaf or a casserole or any main dish? An easy side that actually might involve ingredients you already have on hand? Look no further than Honey Roasted Carrots.

Once again a Kroger grocery circular provided me with a dynamite recipe. Sweet, tender carrots from a 16-ounce bag you already have in the refrigerator are coated with oil, salt, pepper, and honey. These are baked for about 35 minutes (or until tender) and are to be turned once during the baking process so they are coated throughout.

Lining a cookie sheet with coated aluminum foil eliminates a big, messy cleanup. In the summer especially, no one should have to struggle to get dinner on the table. This honey-flavored healthy option takes care of business in a hurry.

Honey Roasted Carrots

1 (16-ounce) bag carrot nuggets
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons honey
cooking spray

Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl toss carrots with oil, salt, and pepper until all are well coated. On the prepared baking tray spread carrots in a single layer and drizzle with honey. Bake uncovered, turning once, until just tender or cooked to your desired level of doneness, about 25 to 35 minutes. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The end of the pears, but boy, did this Pear Streusel Pie serve as a grand finale!

Like most everything else in our garden (except the stalwart okra plants—bloomin’ their crazy heads off in this punishing heat), our pears have had their last gasp. But boy, did they go out with a flourish! Pear Streusel Pie was the final resting place for the last batch, with just a few left over for maybe one more mini-dish of something. Pear Streusel Pie was possibly our favorite thing to make from our garden the entire summer. We just adored it.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler—that is, after you get all the pears peeled and thinly sliced. The recipe hailed from an old, old standby—my Flavor Favorites! cookbook (circa 1979) from Baylor alumni. When I mentioned this fact to Hubby, he replied, “Well! I haven’t heard that one cited in a long time.” It’s true; I can get in a rut where recipe sources are concerned. My Flavor Favorites! once was like a cooking bible for me. Rarely did I once look anywhere else. So after I found the Pear Streusel Pie recipe, this prompted me to prowl through it again and remember how much I loved some of those old favorites—many of which can be modified with today’s healthier-eating options.

Anyway, the pie was garden-variety fruit-pie assemblage—sugar (substitute), lemon juice, and melted butter tossed with the pear slices and then poured into an unbaked pie shell. Topping consisted of flour, cinnamon, butter, and sugar (substitute), blended until at the coarse-crumb stage and then set atop the pie.

We had a feast when that pie emerged from the oven. We patted ourselves on the back with each bite. Our own pears—thank you, garden; thank You, God. We’ll look forward to some good times next season.

Pear Streusel Pie

1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
5 large pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1 unbaked (9-inch) pie shell
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/4 cup butter, softened

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, juice, and butter; toss with pears. Place in pie crust. To make topping combine flour, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Add butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over pears. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not your same old enchilada—try this fun, funky peach breakfast recipe

My cousin, Lynda, reported to me that they were the subject of lots of chatter in her circles—Peach Enchiladas, featured in Southern Living’s bonanza of peach recipes last month. This recipe with the funky title piqued my curiosity. Peach and Enchiladas aren’t two words that one often sees together. But concerning peaches, ’tis the season. I had to try it.

Turns out, a Peach Enchilada was more like, as one proponent described them, “one big fried pie”. Refrigerated crescent rolls, with each triangle rolled out, were stuffed with peach slices (note: the more slices you can stuff in, the better, even if a few initially pop out of their stuffing.) A big challenge is that while baking, the refrigerated crescent-roll dough puffs up big-time and totally dominates the peach stuffing. If you don’t have enough peaches encased in the dough, you’ll end up having all “enchilada” (pastry) and no filling. So be undaunted where wrapping up those peaches is involved and stre-e-e-e-tch that dough to cover many.

Once these roll-ups are positioned on a baking sheet, then you brush a melted butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture over their tops. This is followed by dipping your pastry brush into a diet citrus-flavored soft drink (tested with diet Mountain Dew), basting the rolls in the liquid, and then baking.

SL reported that this quick and easy recipe won first place at the 2004 South Carolina State Cook-Off. It was quick and easy, all right; the inventive number made us some breakfast treats as well as dessert for several days. Not the same old enchilada, for sure!

Peach Enchiladas

2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 pounds fresh, firm ripe peaches, peeled and chopped (4 large peaches)
1 1/2 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 cup butter melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) can citrus-flavored soft drink

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls; separate into triangles. Place as many peach bits as you can possibly fit on the wide end of each triangle; roll up triangles around peaches. (Don’t skimp on the peaches here.) Start at wide end. Place point-sides down onto a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch pan or baking sheet. Stir together sugar, butter, and cinnamon; drizzle over rolls; pour soft drink over rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 miutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Makes 16 servings.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We went nuts over this Nutty Okra recipe

When almost everything else in the garden has bid us adieu, the okra rises to perform another day. Texas temps of 108 degrees don’t faze the proud okra plant. It thumbs its nose at the mega-hot weather and sings on.

Southern Living magazine again paid homage to Southerners’ devotion to okra and gave us one more okra idea that, to me, was a “must-try”. Nutty Okra intrigued because it involves adding 1/2 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts. Never thought about this combination, but the magazine’s recipe punned that it was “anything but medi-okra!” What a hoot! It also recommends tossing the cut okra with salt (I used salt substitute) and letting it stand for 20 minutes. I didn’t have the prescribed peanut oil on hand and cooked the okra in canola oil; this didn’t seem to hurt the flavor, but I imagine using peanut oil for frying would make this taste even better.

The small bits of peanut pressed into the breading mixture represented a terrific, crunchy addition—yet another way to creatively present the summer’s luxuriant and thankfully drought-resistant okra, which never lets an abundance of heat stand in its way.

Nutty Okra

1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 egg white, lightly beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 cup all-purpose baking mix
1/2 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon pepper
peanut oil

Toss okra with salt and let stand 20 minutes. Add egg white; stir to coat. In a large bowl stir together baking mix and next two ingredients. Add okra and toss to coat; gently press peanut mixture onto okra. Shake off excess. In a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet pour oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 375 degrees. Fry okra in batches 2 to 4 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.