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, March 30, 2012

Parsley (forget the sage, rosemary, and thyme) livens up these red potatoes

Using up fresh parsley is one of the toughest “leftover” struggles of my fridge. After I chop a few springs of parsley for an initial recipe, I tend to forget about the remaining bunch. Then it gets wilted and shoved under something else in the vegetable bin. Then it’s bound for the compost. Pity. Fresh parsley adds so much flavor to food.

I also had a terrific supply of baby red potatoes. I made one dish with them, but it didn’t begin to exhaust my amount.

I can’t remember how it popped onto my screen (perhaps an ad accompanying Facebook), but one afternoon there it was—a recipe for Potatoes with Yogurt Sauce (from a food website called bellamiento). It called for two tablespoons fresh parsley as part of a yogurt-based dressing for cooked red potatoes. I was in business.

We really enjoyed this dish—a different way to serve red potatoes. They went with everything. The topping made with the yogurt was great. And yes, the parsley supply was put to good use.

Potatoes with Yogurt Sauce

1 quart baby red potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
salt (or salt substitute)/pepper
6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
1 small lime, juiced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 10-inch-by-7-inch oven-proof dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Using a small paring knife, cut a small slit across the top of each potato. Transfer potatoes to baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Dot butter randomly across top of potatoes. Loosely cover dish with foil; bake for about 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Into a small bowl add yogurt, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together until well-combined. Drizzle sauce over potatoes. Garnish with remaining tablespoon of parsley. Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This mango/raspberry/shrimp-on-spinach salad was devoured in a hurry

I’m still working my way through telling you about that quartet of marvelous spinach salads that I’ve been mentioning. Today’s tub-thump is about Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad. With a recipe containing shrimp, mangoes, and raspberries along with the spinach, how can a person go wrong?

This recipe is part of that recent extravaganza in which Southern Living attempted to give an alternative to the traditional spinach-salad topper of hot-bacon dressing. These “newfangled” selections featured fruit, cheese, or nuts or a combo of all three.

This one involved grilling some fresh shrimp that had been marinated in Basil Vinaigrette. The grilled shrimp, tossed into a spinach, mango, and red onion mixture, had more Basil Vinaigrette added to it. Crumbled goat cheese (I subbed feta) and raspberries went on top.

This divine concoction didn’t last long around our house. Shrimp became my object of craving when I was expecting one of our children decades ago. I’ve never lost my attraction for it and thus, post-haste, gobbled down servings of this salad.

Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad

8 (12-inch) wooden skewers
2 pounds peeled, large raw shrimp (31/40 count)
Basil Vinaigrette, divided (see recipe below)
2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
2 mangos, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled (I used feta cheese)
1 cup fresh raspberries

Soak wooden skewers in water to cover (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high heat). Devein shrimp, if desired. Combine shrimp and 3/4 cup Basil Vinaigrette in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal and chill 15 minutes. Turn occasionally. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill shrimp, covered with grill lid, for 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp from skewers. In a large bowl toss spinach, mangoes, and onion with 1/4 cup Basil Vinaigrette; arrange on a serving platter. Top with grilled shrimp. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and raspberries. Serve with remaining Basil Vinaigrette. Makes 8 servings.

Basil Vinaigrette

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 cup olive oil

Whisk together the first seven ingredients. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Whisk constantly until mixture is smooth. (Recipe source: February 2012 Southern Living.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mango Chicken Salad served in brioche molds a highlight of afternoon

I was planning a fun afternoon, so I wanted to serve something memorable. My mentor in quilting instruction was stopping by for a Ladies' Lunch and an afternoon of stitching in my garret—my sewing and crafts room out back. I wanted a dish that made use of our embryonic spring garden, which we had to walk past on the way to our retreat locale.

I found the cutest recipe for servings of chicken salad stuffed into brioche crusts. The chicken salad contained mango, slivered almonds, water chestnuts, and most importantly, fresh green onions. We have yet to plant the first tomato (unseasonably warm weather aside, Hubby still sticks to the "wait-till-after-Easter" rule), but our onions are everywhere in that promising soil. Pull up one and chop up the tops; you have an ingredient that totally enlivens any recipe.

Southern Living introduced this recipe in its recent "Easiest, Pretties Brunch" feature. The food item was to be made with mango chutney, but our local Kroger informed Hubby, on his hunt for it, that the store no longer carried mango chutney because the chutney turned brown too quickly. Wal-Mart carried it in its relish section but priced at more than $4 for a small jar.

Never mind. I chopped up part of a fresh mango as a substitute and left the remainder of the mango for Hubby’s smoothies.

The magazine shows the salad stuffed into little crusts (I made mine in individual ramekins) but suggests that it would be just as good atop fresh spring greens. Using half a package of refrigerated pie crusts made quick work of making the brioches, which easily pop out of the ramekin dishes when you lightly spray the molds beforehand.

A lovely Ladies' Lunch paved the way for a beautiful afternoon to sit 'n sew. My Sunbonnet Sue quilt is progressing.

Mango Chicken Salad
(appeared as Chutney Chicken Salad, February 2012 Southern Living)

1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 cup mayonnaise (I used the lite variety)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mango chutney (I used 1/3 cup chopped fresh mango)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 cups diced cooked chicken
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
garnish: thinly sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Stir halfway through. Cool for 20 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients. Add chicken, next 2 ingredients, and toasted almonds. Toss until well-blended. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut piecrust into 8 (4 1/2-inch) rounds. Press each dough round into a lightly greased 3 1/2-inch brioche mold. Press dough up sides. Fold dough over edge of molds and pinch to secure. Arrange molds on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned Cool pastry shells in molds on a wire rack 1 minute. Loosen shells from molds (use a small knife); remove shells from molds to a wire rack and cool completely, about 20 minutes. Just before you serve, fill cooled pastry shells with chicken salad. Makes 8 servings.

Friday, March 23, 2012

If the pinwheel topping doesn't draw you in, the bubbly fruit underpinning will

Talk about a breakfast dish that can launch your weekend right. This will get your heart singin’ on a Saturday morning--or any time.

Apple-Cherry Cobbler with Pinwheel Biscuits was outasight good—and not nearly as complex as it looks, either. Biscuit dough (which was very easy to manage) was rolled with almonds and brown sugar to form the pinwheels. Apples and cherries (in our case, I subbed frozen blackberries—dreaming of the day when our garden’s vines will produce our own fruit) make up the filling that bakes under the biscuits.

This makes a pretty, company-special breakfast or brunch dish, but the two of us (sans company) had a terrific time with it as well.

Apple-Cherry Cobbler with Pinwheel Biscuits

Apple-Cherry Filling:
8 large Braeburn apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 4 1/2 pounds)
2 cups sugar (I used sugar substitute)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1 (12-ounce) package frozen cherries, thawed and well-drained (I used frozen blackberries)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinwheel Biscuits:
2 1/4 cups all-purpoe flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used sugar substitute)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup milk (I used skim)
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted unsalted almonds

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss together first 3 ingredients. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture. Cook; stir often, for 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are tender and syrup thickens. Remove from heat; stir in cherries and next three ingredients. Spoon apple mixture into a lightly greased 3-quart baking dish. Bake apple mixture for 12 minutes. To catch any drips place a baking sheet on oven rack directly below baking dish.

Prepare biscuits: In a large bowl stir together 2 1/4 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Use pastry blender or fork to cut cold butter pieces into flour mixture until crumbly; stir in milk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 4 to 5 times. Roll dough into a 12-inch square. Combine brown sugar and 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle over dough; pat gently. Sprinkle with almonds. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seams and ends to seal. Cut roll into 12 (1-inch) slices. Place slices in a single layer on top of apple mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Serve with whipped cream if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings. (Recipe source: Southern Living February 2012).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Even diehard cabbage haters will appreciate this rich flavor combination

Two disparate ingredients—a head of cabbage and a partial container of cream cheese. I needed to find uses for both of them. Good ole Google. It led me to Creamy Fried Cabbage—and a whole new fave use of that leafy food item.

The recipe (from homecooking.about.com) calls for shredded green cabbage, red bell pepper, and sweet onion to be fried and seasoned, with melted, low-fat cream cheese swirled around it. It made a delicious dish. I didn’t have red bell pepper but possessed some red cabbage in the need-to-use-up category. Red bell pepper would have been great, but the red cabbage worked just as fine.

The assemblage in the photo actually represents my second prep of the dish. My first try was so successful that Hubby and I consumed it and then remembered I needed to photograph it for the blog. Too late! So a few days later I just put together some more.

The narrative with the on-line recipe states, “This recipe may well convert the staunchest cabbage-hater.” Agreed. We are so ready for another round of this dish.

Creamy Fried Cabbage

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups (about 1 medium head) shredded green cabbage
1 red bell pepper, sliced very thin
1/2 sweet onion, sliced very thin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (we use Neufchatel)

In a heavy, deep skillet or Dutch oven melt butter over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, red bell pepper, onion, garlic powder, water, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat with the melted butter. Cover; reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until cabbage and other vegetables are tender. Add cream cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This spinach salad sure was grape!

My quartet of amazing spinach salads continues with Spinach-Grape Chopped Salad. As I’ve already mentioned, these were inspired by Southern Living’s feature on new ways with spinach. This derivation contained walnuts, red grapes, reduced-fat feta cheese, and baby spinach, with bottled light raspberry vinaigrette surrounding it.

Instead of the spinach leaves remaining as whole pieces, these were chopped, according to the recipe. Hubby and I made a evening meal of this delicious dish, with some crusty bread on the side.

With each succeeding version featured in the spinach spiff-up article (I’ve already blogged about Blueberry Fields Spinach Salad and Waldorf Spinach Salad) Hubby always says, “This is the best one.” Don’t want to compare, but this salad certainly was over the top!

Spinach-Grape Chopped Salad

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 cup seedless red grapes
1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup bottled light raspberry-walnut vinaigrette

Heat chopped walnuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Stir constantly, 5 minutes or until walnuts are toasted and fragrant. Coarsely chop spinach and grapes; toss with feta cheese and vinaigrette. Sprinkle with walnuts. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. (Source: Southern Living February 2011).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cauliflower’s the star of this surf & turf

We couldn’t have been more surprised with how this turned out. A surf-and-turf dish using the humble cauliflower as its underpinning? Prevention magazine’s new issue thought this was a good idea. It suggested that cauliflower can be a low-cal “turf” because its meaty texture contrasts well with the seafood.

Prevention (April 2011) used sea scallops in its version, but I had a couple-dozen shrimp in the fridge and subbed them (original recipe was called Sea Scallop Surf & Turf). Create flat disks by slicing the cauliflower crosswise. Roast the veggie slices in the oven while you get everything else ready.

The addition of capers, shallots, fresh parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes season this up nicely. Some toasted, crunchy pine nuts as topping are really great.

We loved the roasted cauliflower (I tossed in some leftover broccoli for roasting, too. Why not?) This all became a tasty, quick meal-in-one. Hubby, who sometimes queries, “Are we having something else with this?”, was content with this all-encompassing combo.

Shrimp Surf & Turf

1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), stem removed
24 medium shrimp, rinsed and tails removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or sherry wine vinegar)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line sheet pan with nonstick foil; coat lightly with olive oil spray. Slice head of cauliflower crosswise to create flat disks (1/2-inch thick); arrange on prepared pan. Coat tops with olive-oil spray; season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt (or salt substitute) and pepper. Roast in upper third of oven; turn veggies once with spatula until cauliflower is golden brown on both sides and is tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off heat and leave pan in oven to keep warm. Pat shrimp dry and season with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add shrimp and cook, turning once until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add shallots, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes to skillet and cook. Stir over medium heat until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes Stir in vinegar. Return shrimp to pan, sprinkle with parsley, and heat through, about 2 minutes. Arrange cauliflower on plates; top with shrimp. Spoon juices from skillet over scallops; sprinkle with pine nuts. (Originally featured as Sea Scallop Surf and Turf). Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Servin' of the green gets done crisply with this veggie dip combo

Hubby and I couldn’t get over how great these veggies tasted: crisp-tender asparagus and green beans served as appetizers with a refreshing herbed dip.

The dish, Herbed Dip with Baby Vegetables, was part of Southern Living’s recent feature (February 2011) pulling together recipes for an early spring brunch. I’ve already blogged about one of these suggestions—the terrific Sunshine Citrus Platter.

I was amazed at how these two veggies—asparagus and green beans—worked with a dip; normally one thinks of chilled cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli as dip go-togethers. The recipe told how to boil them briefly and then plunge immediately into ice water. Not only were they exactly the right cooked crunchiness, they also greened up in this process. Sounds like a St. Paddy’s Day idea to me.

The dip is a sour cream/mayo stir-up with some fresh parsley, dill, and onion plus seasonings added. Hubby had a grocery store adventure tracking down Beau Monde seasoning that I put on his list but finally found it nesting comfortably in the spices aisle (we used Spice Island brand).

Here goes the recipe for this great must-try:

Herbed Dip with Baby Vegetables

1 cup mayonnaise (we used the lite variety)
1/2 cup sour cream (we used fat-free)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon Beau Monde seasoning
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 pound thin asparagus
1/2 pound haricots verts (tiny green beans), trimmed (I used the regular variety)

In a small bowl stir together first 8 ingredients until well-blended. Cover and chill this dip mixture 4 to 24 hours. Meanwhile snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus into 6-inch pieces. Reserve any remaining end portions for another use. In a large saucepan cook asparagus in boiling water to cover. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Repeat procedure with green beans. Place vegetables in zip-top plastic bags; seal and chill until ready to serve. Serve dip with chilled vegetables. Makes 8-10 appetizer servings.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blueberry Fields forever—or at least for a few days, with this salad on our plates

Talk about spiffing up a salad! I can’t imagine anything more enjoyable than tossing some crunchy, fresh spinach with blueberries AND a blueberry balsamic dressing.

This was another of those spinach salad derivations featured in the February 2012 issue of Southern Living. Earlier I mentioned that I tried all four of the suggestions. Not sure which was my favorite, but this one—named Blueberry Fields Salad—was Hubby’s.

I’ve also previously noted that walnuts, by themselves, don’t appeal to me, but coating them with a good dressing and hiding them among some other salad toss-ins assures that I get my walnut quota. (That’s pretty important since I have one of those necessary evils—the annual physical exam—on the horizon. I’m hoping for a better-than-ever cholesterol score; walnuts and other nuts work toward that end.)

Spinach, blueberries, red onion, walnuts, and blue cheese, plus a dressing of balsamic vinegar, blueberry preserves, and olive oil are the only items needed to bring this delicious salad to the table. Pictured alongside the salad, above, are Pimiento Cheese Rolls, also depicted in the same February 2011 magazine. With this combination Hubby and I dined in style.

Blueberry Fields Salad

1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup blueberry preserves (I used sugar-free)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 (5.5-ounce) packages spring greens and baby spinach mix (I used
just one large bag of spinach rather than the greens mix)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat walnuts. Stir constantly, 5 minutes, or until walnuts are toasted and fragrant. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, next 2 ingredients, and salt (or salt substitute) and freshly ground pepper to taste. In a large bowl combine walnuts, spinach mix, and the next 3 ingredients. Drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette; toss to combine. Serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette. Makes 8 servings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Inspired by a Southern classic, Tangerine Chess Pie rates a double-wow!

I’m an inveterate chess-pie lover. As with carrot salad and baked fish, chess pie takes me back to my growing-up days and dining at Wyatt’s Cafeteria in the Casa Linda Plaza in Dallas. As a wee sprout I didn’t realize that creamy, sweet custardy pie was a Southern icon; I just knew that on the dessert row, the choice between chess pie and chocolate layer cake was exceptionally difficult. Despite it being in a contest with chocolate, the pie usually won out.

Southern Living’s February 2012 issue (how can one magazine issue contain so many treasures under one cover? I’ll still be testing them until Christmas.) featured an article giving a new twist to some Southern classics. Chess pie was one of the classics it doctored up. The recipe featured was for Tangerine Chess Pie. The magazine stated that even anti-chess pie diehards (whatever misguided persons that might be) would give this new concoction thumbs-up! I had to see what this recipe was like.

Tangerine Chess Pie is baked in the same way as the traditional version except it contains 1/3 cup of fresh-squeezed tangerine (or orange juice) and 2 teaspoons tangerine (or orange zest). The top of the pie, once baked, is garnished with extra-thin tangerine (or orange) slices.

I loved the slight hint of citrus amidst the traditional custard filling. Hubby’s response: “Looks like a breakfast pie to me!” I reminded him that this wasn’t the day after Thanksgiving, when he annually consumes his legendary pumpkin-pie slice for his day-after morning meal. That didn’t hold him back as he dove into a Tangerine Chess Pie slice and consumed it. Double-wow! was his rating of this wonderful dish.

Tangerine Chess Pie

1 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 1/2 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plain yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons tangerine or orange zest
1/3 cup fresh tangerine juice or orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 cup egg substitute)
garnishes: sweetened whipped cream (or sugar-free whipped topping),
tangerine (or orange) slices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll pie crusts; stack on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp edges. Use a fork to prick bottom and sides of crust. Bake 8 minutes; cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Whisk together sugar and next 8 ingredients until all are blended. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until center of pie is set. Shield edges with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spiffing up that spinach salad with this sweet take on an old favorite

This recipe combined two of my most favorite salads ever—Waldorf salad and spinach salad. My grandmother used to make the most wonderful classic Waldorf salad, with its crunchy apples, raisins, and celery, so this was reminiscent of those days long ago.

Southern Living’s February 2012 issue featured four different, new takes on spinach salad—I made up my mind to try every one of them; they all looked so fabulous. This—Waldorf Spinch Salad—was the first.

Other than the requisite time to chop the apples and celery and then the separate step of blending and whisking the dressing, nothing to this easy dish, which was a terrific side with lots of healthy ingredients. The apple and raisins gave a touch of sweetness to the leafy greens; the cinnamon and honey in the dressing enhanced that sweet flavor.

Crunch, crunch, crunch—what a goody!

Waldorf Spinach Salad

1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/8 teaspoon salt (I used salt substitute)
1 (9-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
2 large Gala apples, thinly sliced
4 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, shaved
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup honey-roasted cashews (I used plain, unsalted cashews)
1/2 cup golden raisins

In a large serving bowl whisk together first seven ingredients until well-blended. Add spinach and remaining ingredients. Toss gently to coat. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some cookie! Pimiento-cheese with raspberry centers is a P.C.-lover’s dream

For a pimiento-cheese fiend such as I am, it was second-heaven. I’ve already spoken of how delirious I was to see Southern Living February 2011’s spread (pun definitely intended) on all the best ways with pimiento cheese. I’m working down the list to try every one of the five P.C. varieties shown there.

But two pages over is a feature that really goes above and beyond. Pimiento Cheese Cookies appeared in the middle of the page. Now that’s taking things to ludicrously enjoyable limits. A few days ago I pulled out my pastry board, rolling pin, and round cookie-cutter and got some of these going.

I would have baked them regardless, but I saw they would qualify for this column because they contained chopped pecans—that sore subject in these parts since our trees have produced so few the past two years. Ah, springtime is supposed to be the season of hope, so we are viewing our towering pecans with all the hope we can muster. Maybe this is THE year.

The Pimiento Cheese Cookies recipe actually lets you use store-bought, refrigerated pimiento cheese—the kind in containers in the dairy case. Mix a cup of it with flour and softened butter and stir in the chopped pecans. The dough needs to chill in the fridge for two hours before you attempt to roll it out, but once you do, it’s easy to manage and doesn’t stick to a floured board.

When the cookie rounds are cut, they are arranged on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper. Put one round in place, spoon on some sugar-free strawberry preserves (I subbed sugar-free raspberry because of Hubby’s strawberry intolerance), and top each with another round. Press the edges to seal the two cookie rounds together to hold in the preserves.
On baking, even while using the parchment, my cookies got a little too brown on the bottom, but I’ve since ditched my old, dark cookie sheets for some new fancy ones, which I believe will give them lighter bottoms next time.

Hubby and I went berserk-o over these darling cookies—imaginative and yummy. They were a cross between a cookie and a biscuit and were especially delightful when served with a little extra raspberry preserves on top. They made me glad to be a P.C. Gal!

Pimiento Cheese Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup refrigerated pimiento cheese
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter, softened
Parchment paper
4 tablespoons strawberry preserves (I used sugar-free raspberry)

Beat together flour and pimiento cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer for 1 minute. Add pecans and butter; beat until blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dough on a well-floured surface; roll to 1/8-inch thickness. With a 2-inch round cutter cut dough into 48 rounds. Re-roll scraps once. Arrange half of rounds 2-inches apart on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets; spoon 1/2 teaspoon preserves onto center of each round; top with remaining rounds. Press edges to seal. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely, about 30 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.