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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Marvelous veggie melange makes soup a great fall kick-off

Rain fell overnight. Highs today are to be only 85 (a miracle for our scorched neck-of-the-woods). Time to really celebrate fall. For many years my Easy Vegetable Soup has been a fall kick-off tradition at our house. Assembling it yesterday and dining on it last night got my fall groove on for sure.

This vegetable soup calls for a pound of ground beef (I use ground turkey) for its base. This makes it extra hearty. The recipe calls for adding a package of frozen vegetables at the end, but I keep a freezer container into which I dump leftover veggies from whatever I’ve been preparing. Instead of buying a package of frozen veggies I simply use these fresh ones from the deepfreeze. I had a little leftover squash from my earlier blog recipe for Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes, so I added it as well. Makes for a colorful, healthy combination.

I acquired this recipe when I was an officemate of the legendary foods editor Ann Criswell at the Houston Chronicle. She was forever recommending recipes she thought I’d like; my files are stuffed with her “bests”. I featured this recipe in my cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, as a dish that bespeaks of a fall day. That’s what we’ve got today; we plan to enjoy every minute of it and every bite of this glorious soup.

Easy Vegetable Soup

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup uncooked regular rice
2 (16-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (I used 2 cans of no-salt-added peeled tomatoes)
3 1/2 cups water
5 beef bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, unthawed (or leftover fresh veggies that have been frozen)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can low-sodium tomato soup

In large kettle brown ground beef or ground turkey; drain fat. Add all ingredients except frozen vegetables and tomato soup. Cook covered for 40 minutes. Add frozen vegetables and tomato soup. Cook additional 10 minutes. Serves 10-12.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just one last peach dish—Buttermilk Peach Pudding a good sayonara to summer

Pretty sneaky of Kroger to run a great grocery store ad on peaches. Pretty sneaky of Southern Living’s fall issue to feature a last-blast of a peach recipe. Here we are in apple season with all of our peach harvest finished long ago and turning out apple desserts, salads, entrees right and left. What pops back up to tempt us? Peaches, that summer delicacy that is so tough to leave behind.

So we hadn’t bidden sayonara to peaches after all. Buttermilk Peach Pudding was not to be resisted, even though it seemed slightly out of order in the midst of all the fall finery. I was very happy to have an excuse to prepare a dish with peaches on just one more occasion.

Buttermilk Peach Pudding cooks up with a texture like bread pudding. As the photo above shows, I also stirred in a few fresh blueberries along with the peaches to give it a little more color. The addition of buttermilk may sound off-putting calorie-wise, but I used my age-old substitute of 3 teaspoons vinegar poured into a one-cup measure plus whatever amount of skim milk is necessary to fill the cup up to the 1-cup line. Stir and let this sit on the counter for about five minutes; you’ll have your buttermilk substitute. Three tablespoons of vinegar into the 1-cup measure filled with milk has the same effect.

Sitting down the baking dish into a roasting pan filled with 1-inch of water while the pudding cooks helps keep the pudding moist for serving. We served it with sugar-free whipped topping, although sugar-free vanilla ice cream would work great as well.

Just one more peach recipe, my heart had pled as summer seeped out the door. My wish was realized; it was a lovely period to put at the end of summer’s sentence.

Peach Buttermilk Pudding

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 1/2 peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup buttermilk (can also be made by filling a 1-cup measure with 3 teaspoons white vinegar and then adding skim milk to reach the 1-cup line)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar(or sugar substitute)
3 large eggs (or 3/4 cup egg substitute)
2 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (about 1 pound)
vanilla ice cream or whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together first 7 ingredients; sift again. Process chopped peaches in a food processor or blender until they are smooth. (should make about 2 cups puree). Stir in buttermilk. Beat butter and sugar at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add peach mixture; beat until well-blened. Layer sliced peaches in a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. Fold flour mixture into butter mixture. Pour batter over sliced peaches in pan. Place pan in a large roasting pan and add boiling water to roasting pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until set. Pudding still will be moist. Serve warm or cold with ice cream. Makes 8-10 servings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Unusual black beans recipe celebrates our jalapeno plants’ surviving the summer

Black beans. Tabasco sauce. Jalapeno pepper. Italian seasoning. Orange juice. These are some of the elements that were called for in my new recipe for Spicy Black Beans. I wondered how this combination would work. (Orange juice in a bean recipe? Didn’t seem right.)

But out in our garden, our lone jalapeno plant is in its post-summer flourish. Ever since the temps have begun to diminish, all the pepper plants (Bell peppers as well) are showing off—as though they’re saying, “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, you can’t kill us, you ole nasty Summer Heat Wave.” Although a few short weeks ago they looked withered as a limp dish rag, they’ve returned with a fresh wind for fall. Good thing, since the fall pepper crop is where we get our green pepper supply for the next year as we chop and freeze what appears on the plants.

So I wandered out to the pepper rows, plucked a shiny new jalapeno, brought it in, and got to work on Spicy Black Beans, which are featured in the Chickasaw cookbook, “Celebrating a Healthy Harvest.” Besides being an excellent source of fiber, beans also provide iron, zinc, folate, and calcium.

The night before, Hubby had put a package of black beans on to soak, so early the next morning he brought out a ham hock from the freezer and let the beans cook on low for about three hours so he’d have three cups cooked beans ready for me when I started my recipe.

I’m not here to tell you that I now can explain how some of these disparate ingredients blended together for a hugely tasty bean dish; I just know that they did. I served the beans over cooked, whole-grain rice with cheese on top. The aroma of the beans cooking personified a fall day.

We looked on it as a great way to celebrate our pepper plants hanging in there by their toenails until the searing heat passed and a little hint of fall could infiltrate our remaining garden rows.

Spicy Black Beans

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red Bell pepper, chopped
1 green Bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or just oregano)
3 cups cooked black beans (drained)
1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco (or other hot sauce)

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, jalapeno, and Italian seasoning; sauté until vegetables are soft. Add beans and stir until some break apart and become pasty. Stir beans, tomatoes, orange juice, and Tabasco into the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes while you stir frequently until mixture becomes a thick sauce. Serve over rice or pasta. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yogurt addition makes fruit muffins wonderfully smooth

Saturday morning breakfast time . . . because I’d thought ahead and set most of my ingredients and cooking implements out the night before, everything was a breeze. I had been wanting to try this muffin recipe that called for a container of fruity yogurt as part of the muffin batter. The recipe specified blueberry low-fat yogurt and blueberries as key elements but noted that you could substitute your favorite fruit and flavor of yogurt (or use what you had on hand).

I was glad it also specified that at the end, the batter would be thick. The mixture was like churning butter, it was so thick and heavy. But it made a wonderfully smooth, solid muffin. The addition of the yogurt gave it a wonderful texture plus added to the muffin the health benefits of yogurt.

The recipe says the mixture makes 20, but I only got a dozen muffins. Perhaps that’s because I really like to fill the tins pretty full.

The weekend morning was cool with a light breeze—perfect for breakfast on the deck so we could utilize our new lawn furniture that has been the subject of Hubby’s mutterings: “We bought this new patio furniture and never sit out here to use it.” I had kept consoling him by saying, “We will. Just wait until cooler weather arrives.” Finally I got to be right—and made sure he observed that fact.

Everything made for a lovely Saturday morning with some lovely fruit-and-yogurty muffins.

Fruit and Yogurt Muffins

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup white sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (6-ounce) container low-fat blueberry yogurt
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons margarine, melted
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 20 muffin cups or line muffin pan with paper muffin liners. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine yogurt, egg, vanilla, margarine, and blueberries. Stir mixture together just until combined. Batter will be very thick. Scoop into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes. You can substitute your favorite fruit if you'd rather have something besides blueberries—strawberry yogurt and strawberries, blackberry yogurt and blackberries, etc. Makes 12-20 servings. (Recipe courtesy Chickasaw Nutrition Services.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Be thinking of your Thanksgiving sides: add Brussels Sprouts with Apples to the list

How unfair to Hubby was this? I returned home from the hairdresser and had a new perm; I then immediately began stirring up my new dish—Brussels Sprouts with Apples. As if the pungent aroma of the fresh perm solution wasn’t enough (Hubby’s super sniffer detected it the minute I walked in the door), the odiferous brussels sprouts almost sent him reeling while they were cooking. Double-trouble for him.

But that night, when he dined on Brussels Sprouts with Apples and thought the dish was amazing, he decided I hadn’t enacted such a harsh treatment after all. The recipe was from www.myrecipes.com (it originally appeared in November 2002 Southern Living) and continued my quest of finding wondrous ways with apples while we’re yet in apple season. This called for a large diced Red Delicious apple, sliced water chestnuts, golden raisins, and lemon rind. Three tablespoons fresh lemon juice stirred in with the fresh brussels sprouts pretty well banished the objectionable smell while the dish simmered.

The brussels sprouts (cut in in half to make more bite-sized pieces) cooked up to taste a lot like baby limas; the water chestnuts gave the veggie side dish an appealing crunch; the diced cooked apples and addition of sugar substitute made it all taste slightly sweet. A good candidate—and a very healthy one—for a Thanksgiving side dish, for sure. Hubby said for me to note that as with many other dishes, it tastes even better the next day.

And the odiferous perm solution? After 48 hours (even guys remember the take-away line from Legally Blonde) it washed out of my hair without a trace. Hubby was happy.

Brussels Sprouts with Apples

2 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt (or salt substitute), divided
1/4 cup butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup apple juice
1 large Red Delicious apple, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

In a saucepan bring to a boil the brussels sprouts, lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and water (just enough to cover). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 t0 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and keep warm. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt 2 tablespoons butter; add onion, and sauté 15 to 20 minutes or until the onion is caramel-colored. Add apple juice and cook 2 minutes; stir to loosen browned particles. Add apple, garlic, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 6 minutes or until apple is tender. Add water chestnuts, next 4 ingredients, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Gently toss in brussels sprouts. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes make a great “go-with”

The magazine billed it as a way to “rethink steak night”. The idea,
Southern Living’s August 2011 issue suggested,
was to consider some “today” sides that liven up steaks on the grill.

We’re not big steak grillers, but I did think the photo of Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes that accompanied the food feature was beautiful. As I mentioned earlier this week, I had some beautiful fresh squash, zucchini, and tomatoes that needed to find their ways into recipes. I wasn’t rethinking steak night, but the recipe helped me rethink veggie sides in general.

The SL recipe
called for
the bacon strips and then reserving the drippings to sautée other additions, but it didn’t say what to do with the reserved bacon strips. I simply crumbled them at the end and stirred them into the veggies. It added to the bacon-y flavor of the veggies.

I could envision serving this simple, colorful dish again and again alongside chicken, fish, or burgers. Or, as part of an all-veggie dinner, which was our fare for this particular evening, it was a star attraction.

Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes

3 thick hickory-smoked bacon slices (I subbed with turkey bacon)
1 cup chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
4 cups sliced zucchini
4 cups sliced yellow squash
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I subbed with 2 cups diced beefsteak tomatoes)
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper
garnish: bay leaf

In a large skillet over medium-high heat s
auté bacon
for 8 minutes or until bacon is crisp; remove bacon. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. (With my turkey bacon, I added a little olive oil to drippings to make 2 tablespoons, since turkey bacon fries up with little fat.) Sauté onion and next 4 ingredients in hot drippings for 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Add zucchini and yellow squash; cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with bay leaf, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pie! Pie! Tomato Pie! So fresh, it could walk off the table.

With my vegetable bin now filled with tomatoes the size of grapefruit (thanks to my previously mentioned, roadside-stand haul), I was into my pile of tomato recipes big-time. I had dogeared one for Tomato Pie, featured in Southern Living’s August 2011 issue featuring summer favorites. I thought it looked absolutely mouth-watering. I also was intrigued by the idea of the Sour Cream Pastry crust that underlay it.

The recipe called for four tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. I admit that in the interest of time, I didn’t peel mine. I don’t think I’ve peeled a tomato in years and wasn’t about to start now. (The most nutritious part of everything is the peel, right? At least that’s a mom-ism I remember from my childhood. Hubby says that a lot, too.)

Atop the tomato layer of the pie went a marvelous blend of mayo, green onions, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese. I was a little worried about the sour-cream pastry, made with a combination of shortening and sour cream, being a little flimsy, but after the dough chilled for an hour, it rolled out into a very substantial, workable crust that I baked for 10-12 minutes before I piled on the filling.

I can’t say that I ever before sampled a tomato pie, even though it was conceptualized as an iconic Southern item (and my great-grandmother was a Mississippi transplant to Texas. How Southern can you get?). But this one was an amazing way to start. Fresh tomatoes, a new take on a pie crust, and an herb-y, cheesy topping. Like, like, like!

Tomato Pie

4 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
Sour Cream Pastry (below)

Sour Cream Pastry

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Prepare Sour Cream Pastry. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with salt. Let tomatoes stand 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Stir together next 3 ingredients and 3/4 cup of cheese. Roll Sour Cream Pastry into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under and crimp. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven; sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over bottom of crust. Arrange tomato slices over cheese in crust; spread mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 34 to 37 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before you serve. If desired garnish with basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie a lightened-up version of a fall favorite

Sweet potatoes were among the other items we hauled back from the Chickasaw-vendor roadside markets. Hubby fretted that the size of the potatoes, which were on the medium-to-small side and said they wouldn’t be too terrific for baking. I said no problem; I had a recipe that called for mashed ones that were just this size.

A gooey sweet-potato casserole with the nuts-and-marshmallow topping is highly popular this time of year and is a standard Thanksgiving accompaniment; I could tell this recipe (Sweet Potato Pie without the pie crust) was a lightened version of that one. The bottom layer consisted of the mushed-up sweet potatoes, with spices, butter, milk, and brown sugar added. The top layer was like a pecan pie, with nuts sprinkled on and a corn-syrup topping poured around. So it was like digging through a pecan pie layer to get to the potato layer. Sweet! But not overly sweet. I used it as a veggie to go with my main course last night, but it would be just as great saved for dessert with maybe a little fat-free whipped topping dotted on.

And oh, the pleasure of being in the same dwelling while this recipe (from “Celebrating a Healthy Harvest”) is baking! Cinnamon and nutmeg-y smells, combined with slightly cooler temperatures yesterday and the arrival of some new pecan-colored boots I’d ordered through the mail, made fall seem as though it was just around the block. How we’re all ready for it!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Pour into a greased 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan. Spread mixture evenly. Spread chopped pecans over the sweet-potato mixture. Combine sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, corn syrup, and butter until completely mixed. Pour this mixture over pecans. Distribute evenly. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is puffed up and golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes; serve. Makes 8 servings.

Garden Breakfast Skillet a great suggestion for any meal (dinner, too!)

That trip across the Texas-Oklahoma border for Hubby’s regularly scheduled physical exam last week netted us more than just a stellar report on his lowered cholesterol level. Roadside veggie stands that are part of the Chickasaw Nation’s provision for its “elder” citizens always rate a stopover on our trips across the Red River.

The stand proprietors were wagging their heads with regret about their low supply this year because of the drought. They apologized for a reduced amount of offerings. But I saw tomatoes the size of grapefruit and giant piles of nice zucchini, yellow squash, and onions, among other items. I had no trouble finding produce to fill up my grocery bags to bring back to Texas.

I also brought home with me a few new recipe cards from the Chickasaw Nutrition Services, which has offices just across from the clinic where Hubby gets his physical. One I couldn’t wait to try was Garden Breakfast Skillet, an omelet-like dish that just happened to use my newly acquired tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion. Even though the recipe had breakfast in the title, I stirred this up for our meal last evening. Wonderful, quick, and healthy! Who could ask for three better adjectives (especially the quick part on a busy Monday) to describe a dinner?

Garden Breakfast Skillet

2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1 cup green Bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced (I subbed with white onion)
1 tablespoon margarine
1 medium tomato, diced
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese, shredded
dash paprika

In a large skillet over medium-high heat sauté garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, green pepper, and onions in margarine for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, water, mustard, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet; reduce to medium heat. Cover skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes or until eggs are set. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Love pecan pie? Love apple cobbler? Get them both with this sweet treat

After I had cooked almost everything apple-y in the September 2011 Southern Living issue featuring the fall’s favorite fruit, I saw it in tiny print: find 25 more irresistible apple recipes at southernliving.com/apples.

More apple recipes? Surely no stone was left unturned from this bounty that I had just cooked my way through.

Ha! Was I wrong! Dozens of to-die-for, rich apple recipes awaited me at this amazing website. The first to pique my curiosity was this one for Apple-Pecan Pie Cobbler. I loved that these could be cooked in individual custard cups so that each person could have his or her own individual pecan pie (or is it apple cobbler?)

The recipe also noted that the mixture for the Pecan-Pie topping of the cobbler could be used separately to make Mini Pecan Pie Muffins in miniature muffin cups. But for now I wanted to try this combination.

So I could prepare this for Hubby’s Saturday-morning breakfast, I assembled as many of the ingredients and mixed what I could on Friday night so that on Saturday morning, I basically had only to cook the skillet apples and then layer everything into the greased custard cups. That way he wouldn’t have such a huge wait, which was a tough one under any circumstances after the wonderful aroma of this sweet treat began pouring from the oven.

The recipe didn’t mention anything about topping this with fat-free whipped topping or sugar-free ice cream; wouldn’t hurt, although these little cobblers stood alone without any addition.

Apple-Pecan Pie Cobbler

6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup

In a large bowl toss together first 3 ingredients. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt butter; add apple mixture and corn syrup; stir often. Cook for 10 minutes. Divide hot apple mixture evenly between 6 lightly greased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins or custard cups. Spoon Pecan Pie Muffin Batter (recipe below) evenly over hot apple mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 servings.

Pecan Pie Muffin Batter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine first 5 ingredients. Make a well in center of mixture. Stir together butter, eggs, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. (You also can use this batter to make Pecan Pie Muffins. If making muffins spoon batter evenly into lightly greased miniature muffin pans. Fill three-fourths full. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beets and rice? Since when did they become a go-together? Truly a good pair in this dish.

I kept flipping past the recipe again and again. I just didn’t see how it would work. Beets and rice? With the stems and tops? Hubby kept telling me his mother always cooked the beet stems with her beets. OK, I can grBoldasp that. But the greens, too? Just didn’t have that experience in my frame of reference.

But if Celebrating a Healthy Harvest, my recipe source for so many good things, said (by its inclusion) that this recipe for Beet Risotto was good, who am I to argue? I took my little recipe book that I obtained from the Chickasaw Nutrition Services and got out my beets and my cutting board.

The beet stems actually got sauteed along with the chopped onion to make them tender. The beet pieces went in the mix to cook for 5 minutes so they could start softening up. Making sure the rice you add is whole-grain rather than minute rice is important. The greens, which went in after the rice, were cooked thoroughly and were much like adding fresh spinach to a warm dish—very flavorful when wilted. The Parmesan and horseradish added at the end gave the mixture just the right seasoning it needed.

Beets are especially loaded with antioxidants, which help the body fight heart disease and certain cancers, especially colon cancer, so the health benefits of this reddish-purple vegetable make it certainly worth the effort. Of course the whole-grain rice is rich in fiber.

Very excellent dish—I’m glad I tried it. This made oodles, so it will be a side dish for us throughout the weekend, I feel sure.

Beet Risotto

1 small onion, diced
3 medium-sized beets with greens
3 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon horseradish

Trim beet leaves. Wash thoroughly in cool water. Cut greens and stems into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Peel and dice beets. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat cook onion in butter until onion is softened. Add beets and stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup water and cook at a simmer until water is absorbed. Stir in beet greens. Continue cooking at a strong simmer; add 1/2 cup water at a time, stirring constantly, until all the water is absorbed. Test rice. Rice should be tender and creamy-looking but still al dente. (At this point, for about 5-7 minutes, I covered the skillet with its lid to be sure the rice was cooked thoroughly). When rice is done, remove pan from heat. Stir in Parmesan and horseradish. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wow!-factor definitely present in these Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs

Time for another “last supper”—not meaning to be irreverent, certainly, but this is the term we often apply to those meals on which we dine before a medically-prompted fast—usually a fast before a physical exam and blood work the next day. Hubby had another such session in his future. Yesterday we drove to Ardmore, OK, for him to have his six-month regular look-over by the medics at the Chickasaw Health Services. So our repast the night before—the last time he would dine before being deprived of breakfast the next day—needed to have some extra mileage.

I had seized this recipe for Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs with White Barbecue Sauce back in July and set it aside for a July 4th family cookout for next year, 2012. However, it seemed ideal for Hubby’s last dinner before he had to starve for a while—healthy, yet substantial, to tide him over until his blood work was over and he could dine again. Plus I saw that from the amount of food pictured alongside the magazine recipe (Southern Living July 2011) that we’ve have enough to last us for a second night when we arrived home right at dinner time from our Ardmore trip.

Bottom line was, these were dandy. The smoky rub was a terrific seasoning that separated this “wow” one from an ordinary cookout. The accompanying recipe for White Barbecue Sauce made a dynamic little extra that was a wonderful topping for these tasty kabobs. The slightly charred exterior of the chicken and veggies on a stick made everything taste like a grilled extravaganza.

Hubby’s appetite was appeased; the recipe was enough to “stick his bones” to last him until he could consume food again late yesterday morning. What’s best, he returned home having had an unexcelled physical, with his cholesterol reading LOWER THAN HE'D EVER SEEN IN HIS LIFE. (Major hooray!) And after a weary day on the road, we were thrilled to have these Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs to return to for our (now) celebration supper.

Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs

2 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts
1/2 large red onion, cut into fourths and separated into pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I subbed 4 cut-up Roma tomatoes)
8 (8-inch) metal skewers (I used wood ones)
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
White Barbecue Sauce (see below)

Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. Thread chicken , onion, and tomatoes alternately onto skewers. Leave a 1/4-inch space between pieces. Sprinkle kabobs with Smoky Barbecue Rub, which is comprised of the next 5 ingredients (brown sugar, garlic powder, chile powder, cumin, and oregano). Grill kabobs, covered with grill lid, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve with White Barbecue Sauce, below. Makes 8 servings.

White Barbecue Sauce

1 1/2 cups lite mayonnaise
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 pressed garlic clove (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)

Stir together ingredients. Serve with Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An apple layer added to traditional Hello Dolly Bars makes a memorable dessert

Who doesn’t love Hello Dolly Bars, those decadent delights with their layers of chocolate and butterscotch morsels, coconut, nuts, and graham-cracker crumbs, with sweetened condensed milk poured over all? And talk about ease of preparation—no batter to mix, little measuring—mainly layering ingredients in a rectangular baking pan, launching the pan into the oven, and then, after it bakes and cools, carving the cookies into bars. Simple and ver-r-r-ry sweet, putting things mildly.

But the September 2011 “apple-licious” issue of Southern Living, with its assortment of apple delights (the subject of several past blogs), went a step further and added chopped apple to one of those cookie layers. The magazine featured Apple Hello Dolly Bars as yet another way to dive into the season’s favorite fruit.

Wish I could say that the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and sweetened condensed milk were all on the health-conscious list. But the addition of the apples certainly added a redeeming element to the mix. It also provided an extra layer of sweetness. I loved the smooth/crunchy combination as the baked fruit melded with the nuts and coconut.

You just can’t imagine the wonderful aroma while everything cooked! It bolted Hubby out of the shower, way in the back of the house, to inquire what was abrew. Unfortunately for him, his regular physical exam is only days away, so he will have to restrain himself from indulging in Apple Hello Dolly Bars until that little necessity is history. But what a wonderful treat to anticipate!

Apple Hello Dolly Bars

2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 (12-ouce) package butterscotch morsels
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apples (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham-cracker crumbs and melted butter; press onto bottom of a lightly greased 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. Layer semisweet chocolate morsels and next 4 ingredients (in order of ingredient list) in prepared pan; drizzle with sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into bars. Makes about 2 dozen.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup restores healthy-eating pattern

Sitting around our house sniffling after our grandmunchkin departed his week from Camp G&G, we knew we had to do something vastly different than we had in our past seven days. Meals had pretty much revolved around his dining schedule; to a certain extent, our diet marched in step with his finger foods and whatever a 1-year-old would eat. Now the time had arrived to get back to our strategic healthy ways.

I had been saving a recipe for Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup from the recent “perfect pairings” feature of the September 2011 Prevention magazine. I was intrigued by this dish because I hadn’t exactly been able to see how a soup was going to materialize out of the simple ingredients of fresh mushrooms, leeks, and cauliflower. I should have trusted my source—Prevention, which around our house is a major resource for all things healthy. This soup was delicious and simple to make.

The key involves pureeing in a blender the combined cauliflower and leeks that for about 20 minutes have simmered in 5 cups water. After pureeing until the mixture is smooth and thick, you return the soup to its original kettle and stir in sauteed fresh mushrooms and grated Parmesan. I sprinkled a little extra Parmesan on top and also dotted the soup with some herb-seasoned croutons I had on hand.

This is not a soup you’d expect to find on the dinner table every day, but it was perfectly delightful and a good trailblazer to get us back on our Post-Camp G&G healthy-eating track.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
4 thin leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced
2 pound cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to taste

In pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pot and cook leeks, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and 5 cups water. Simmer 20 minutes. In blender puree mixture (in batches) until smooth. Return soup to pot; add mushrooms and Parmesan. Season to taste. Bring soup just to a simmer. Ladle soup into bowls. Among the bowls drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If you like, top soup with croutons. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Squash in tortilla soup a wonderful addition to a dime-a-dozen dish

Whoever heard of squash in tortilla soup? Yet that’s exactly the feature that drew me to this recipe. One-half pound yellow summer squash floating in chicken broth with grape tomatoes alongside it (and garnished with avocado, cilantro, and baked tortilla strips) sounded as though it would be a winner of a meal. It was.

Tortilla soup recipes are a dime a dozen; I usually love every one I try, but none ever has been a standout quite like this one (thanks, Prevention magazine, September 2011 issue).

While the squash appealed to my taste buds, Hubby called attention to the chipotle “kick” after the first few bites had settled in. “It’s a good kick, though,” he explained. I noted that anything labeled tortilla soup has to have that South of the Border jolt. We both also liked the toasted tortilla strips cut up to top the soup—good way to use up extra tortillas that (at our house, at least) seem to just lounge around in the fridge.

This recipe made enough to warm the insides of the two of us for a couple of days. With the pre-autumn temps lowering slightly this week, we didn’t mind the “inside-warming” a bit.

Tortilla Soup

1 medium white onion, quartered
1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound yellow summer squash, sliced
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
3 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas, sliced and toasted (I broiled mine briefly in the oven)

On foil-lined baking sheet broil onion and 1 pound of the tomatoes; broil 5 inches from heat. Turn until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop in food processor; add garlic and chop further. Into a kettle add tomato-garlic mixture, squash, broth, adobo sauce, and remaining tomatoes. Simmer 20 minutes. Serve in bowls topped with avocado, cilantro, and toasted tortilla strips. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Good for Your Botty" Dip, with spinach and artichokes, lives up to its nickname

A most unorthodox photo in "Newfangled" today, but the event was not one that happens along every day. Our grandmunchkin—the one who's visiting this week for Camp G&G—turned 1 over the weekend. All stops were pulled out to help him celebrate.

The author of this blog looks slightly daft because she's wearing a robot headdress and gears earrings to blend in with the party's robot theme. The little one’s daddy, in his spare time, is a dedicated high-school robotics coach, so robots are highly significant in this family. What better birthday party theme than having ’Bots galore decking the halls?

That’s why I called my dip, pictured here, “Good for Your Botty” dip. That wasn’t its official name. In the Kroger grocery circular in which the recipe was featured, it was called Spinach Artichoke Dip. But when you got through reading the ingredients, it indeed was “Good for Your Botty”, so that’s what I nicknamed it to contribute to the spirit of the party.

Fresh spinach (the recipe called for frozen, but I had a bag of fresh on hand) and canned artichoke hearts were the key elements of this dip, which can be used with crackers, tortilla chips, or bagel chips. Mayo (I used the Kraft olive-oil variety), fat-free sour cream, and Parmesan and pepper jack cheese rounded out the items on the ingredient list.

The dip was very good for the “botty”. The Kroger circular featured it as a tailgate/game day fave; it certainly was a star among our ’bot enthusiasts.

Spinach Artichoke (a.k.a. “Good for Your Botty”) Dip

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, or 10 ounces fresh spinach
2 (13-ounce) cans of artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the spinach in microwave for 5 minutes (4 minutes for fresh spinach); squeeze dry. Place artichoke hearts in food processor and chop. Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, mayo, sour cream, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of pepper jack cheese; stir well. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; transfer mixed ingredients to the baking dish. Cover the top with the remaining 1 cup pepper jack cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with bagel chips, tortilla chips, or crackers. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Waffles a delight for all ages and appetites

This is a repost of today's blog. A thoughtful reader noted that the cup-and-a-half of chopped apples, although mentioned in the first paragraph, didn't make it into the ingredient list. So here is the addition. You'll love this recipe!

* * * * * * * *
Never have a cup-and-a-half of chopped apples had such a special mission. They went into a batter for some Apple Cinnamon Waffles to be served during the first breakfast of Camp G&G, just after the enrolled camper arrived for his first day on site.

Camp G&G is the activity this week for our 1-year-old grandmunchkin, who’s camped out at our place while his parents are gone for a much-deserved getaway. Hubby and I have set aside the week for his entertainment. Naturally we wanted the inaugural breakfast to go well—and to get things off to a healthy start. Since I’m still hard-charging to help bring on fall by cooking as many apple dishes as possible, a breakfast item containing apples just had to be in order.

A tad of cinnamon added to the fairly traditional batter recipe with the apples folded in (recipe courtesy www.southernfood.about.com) gave these waffles on the griddle a wonderful aroma. When they were done, Munchkin dined on baby-sized bites, while Granddaddy’s bites were a bit more sizable. Both gents seemed perfectly pleased with their apple delectables. (A note about the recipe: I didn’t have egg whites from the separated eggs, since we use egg substitute, so I didn’t have the beaten egg whites to fold in but simply used 3/4 cup egg substitute, the equivalent to 3 whole eggs. I didn’t find that this substitution hurt the recipe one bit.)

I confess that I don’t think I’ve ever added apples to a waffle recipe before, but after trying these and enjoying them immensely, I don’t know why I waited so long. This made for a wonderful breakfast; if an apple a day truly keeps the doctor away, we’re destined for a healthy Camp G&G week.

Apple Cinnamon Waffles

2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
3 eggs, separated (or 3/4 cup egg substitute)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
5 tablespoons melted shortening
1 1/2 cups chopped apples (I used about 2 rather large Granny Smith apples)

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Combine beaten egg yolks, milk, and melted shortening. Beat until smooth. Stir in chopped apples. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour or spoon apple waffle batter into each section of a hot waffle iron. Cook waffles until they are crispy and browned. Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Roasted red bell pepper makes Pimiento Cheese Quesadillas a standout.

As already has been established in this blog, I’d walk a mile for a good pimiento-cheese sandwich. If any magazine contains a PC recipe, I’m drawn to it like a magnet. I blitz to add it to my collection of great ways to prepare this Southern concoction.

But I never had imagined pimiento cheese spread on tortillas to make quesadillas. Prevention magazine’s September 2011 edition took care of that with its recipe section on perfect pairings. It paired the quesadillas featured here with Tortilla Soup, which I’ll feature in the very near future (attractive to me since the soup recipe includes squash).

The appealing feature about these quesadillas is that instead of opening a jar of grocery-store-ready canned pimientos, you make your own by sautéeing a small amount of chopped red bell pepper in a small skillet coated with cooking spray. When the pepper begins to brown and starts to soften, take it off the burner and mix it into the grated cheese. The red pepper’s what unlocks the door in this recipe. It kicks what could be just another spread WAY up another notch.

Once the spread covered half the tortilla, I folded the top over it and cooked it on my countertop grill. Easy! Waiting to cut it into wedges until after the quesadilla cools is important so the little cheese sandwiches will harden a little and not cut jaggedy.

Don’t need to convince me that pimiento cheese is God’s ultimate gift to the palate; here’s just one more way that it shines.

Grilled Pimiento-Cheese Quesadillas

2 ounces yellow Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon 0% Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red bell pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Mix together the first 6 ingredients for pimiento cheese (makes 1/2 cup). Spread each of 4 tortillas evenly with 2 tablespoons of the pimiento cheese. Top with remaining tortillas; press to adhere. Heat grill pan coated with olive oil spray over medium-high heat (can also use countertop grill sprayed well). Grill quesadillas in batches; turn once until golden on both sides and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade applesauce—you’ll think you’re hearing the crunch of fall leaves

Bring-on-Fall Attempt #4—and boy, the aroma that filled every molecule of space in my home couldda convinced anyone that we were smack-dab in the middle of November. What’s more, you would have thought that what was brewing in the kettle was filled with spices.

Not so (on either account). November is still two months away (sigh); the thermometer still reads way up there (groan). And nothing spiced up the kettle except 12 chopped apples, sugar substitute, and lemon juice. Amazing that the air hung so heavy with what seemed like cinnamon-y goodness.

Hubby suggested this happened because I used several variety of apples in the applesauce. The merger of Gala, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious brought out the best in each one. (The recipe, a part of Southern Living’s applefest in its September 2011 issue, suggested using a mixture of apple types for the best taste and texture.)

Only tough thing about this whole endeavor was the peeling and chopping and coring of 12 apples. Hubby, who often takes on this assignment, was involved in other pursuits. Once this onorous task was done, in the kettle I brought the apples, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil (no water added), let them simmer about 25 minutes until tender, then poured into jars. This fresh concoction should last in the fridge about two weeks.

Nothing like it atop hot biscuits—a treat I learned from Hubby’s family. Biscuits with warm applesauce greeted me when I made my first “meet-the-fam” visit to his house before we were engaged. After we married, Hubby and I appended it to fare served in our own nuclear family. Even it had taste like dirt, Hubby probably would have liked this Fresh Applesauce over biscuits, because for him it was a walk down memory lane. However, I knew that his exultations as he dove into this dish were absolutely sincere. It indeed was terrific.

Fresh Applesauce

12 large apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (6 1/2 pounds)
1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 lemon, sliced

In a Dutch oven over medium heat bring all ingredients to a light boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer (stir often) for 25 to 30 minutes or until apples are tender and juices thicken. Remove and discard lemon slices. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature (about 2 hours). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Twenty-minute prep-time max for this Chopped Chicken Salad: that's for me

Any recipe that bills itself as requiring only 20 minutes of prep from start to finish catches my attention. When I saw Prevention mag’s Chopped Chicken Salad featured as a 20-minute meal (August 2011 issue) , I grabbed it and ran to my kitchen counter. Twenty minutes was absolutely ALL I could spare to ready that night’s repast; I had the ingredients on hand—at least with a few subs.

Chopped chicken, avocados, carrots, red onion, plus the makings of the vinaigrette dressing—everything went together swimmingly. Shredded chicken? Waiting in the wings in the freezer compartment of the fridge. Didn’t have the cucumber Prevention suggested, but a couple of nice, fresh avocados should sub—after all, like a cucumber, they’re green. Mixed greens? Didn’t have those, either, but did have almost a full bag of fresh spinach. Carrots weren’t in the recipe, but I had some freshly grated ones from the Lightened Squash Casserole the day before—couldn’t resist adding some bunny food. Same thing with radishes—why not toss in a couple?

Thinking about it, pretty much the entire recipe was a makeover, but so what? I did have the red onion from my garden. With most everything burned up by now, we’re glad to have a few home-grown success stories still to brag on despite this heat.

The meal absolutely got turned out in 20-minutes flat; I looked as though I had slaved all day, and dinner was terrific and healthy. Who could ask for more?

Chopped Chicken Salad

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups (about 8 ounces) spring mix with herbs
4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1 small cucumber, sliced
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken (about 8 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped red onion

In serving bowl whisk together, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss to combine. (Avocado, radishes, carrots, and spinach can be subbed.) Serve salad in bowls. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Squash is everywhere right now; grab some up for a healthy remake of an old recipe

Move over, my trusty and long-lived Squash Casserole recipe. I’ve made you at least several times a year since I can remember. You’re always sought-after on a buffet table. I could prepare you with my eyes closed.

But I’ve found a new best friend in the squash casserole department—Lightened Squash Casserole. Southern Living’s July 2011 issue did a healthy remake of an old fave. A topping of French-fried onions and crunchy cereal plus innards that mingle grated carrots amidst the squash slices make this recipe the one I’ll sub at bring-a-dish events from now on. (My initial oldie-but-goodie recipe, incidentally, can be found in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country.)
A can of reduced-fat cream of chicken soup (I actually used the reduced-sodium brand) and a container of light (or fat-free) sour cream help give Lightened Squash Casserole its name. The addition of 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives added to the lively flavor. Although the recipe called for crushed cornflakes, I had chex cereal (tried with Corn Chex) on hand and crushed that to use it instead. It worked just fine.

Hubby gave his seal of approval; I saw him snacking on a few tablespoons full of it during the day. That’s a pretty good sign of a winner recipe.

Lightened Squash Casserole

3 pounds yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided (I used salt substitute)
1 cup grated carrots
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
1 (8-ounce) container light sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes cereal
1/2 cup crushed French-fried onions
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place in a Dutch oven. Add onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 5 minutes; drain well. With paper towels pat squash dry. In a large bowl stir together grated carrots, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/2-teaspoon salt. Spoon into a lightly greased 2-quart oval baking dish. In a small bowl stir together cornflakes and next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle over squash mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and golden brown. After 20 to 25 minutes shield casserole with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.