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, April 27, 2012

"Never-thought-I'd-like-it" Hubby surprised by delicious onion pie

"I never thought I’d be able to say I liked onion pie,” Hubby murmured approvingly as he scraped the casserole bowl for the last crisp of the dish we’d just polished off. For the past two nights we had been dining on Spring Onion Pie and marveling at how a concoction so simple could make such a dandy meal.

For several weeks the green tops from our ample onion crop have been standing in our garden as though they were bristles on a brush. From my office desk, looking out past our patio and into the garden expanse, I’ve been gazing on their little salutes as they soaked up the sun and got ready for the picking.

When the May 2012 issue of Southern Living featured Spring Onion Pie as a famous North Carolina chef’s pet recipe, I saw that it called for 10 thin spring onions and loved the idea of toting some straight from the garden and onto the chopping board in my kitchen. I can’t tell you how that fresh-straight-from the-garden-rows flavor lit up my world when I took my first bite of this pie, which was nothing more than a stirring-up of egg, milk flour, salt, baking powder, pepper, butter, and cheese.

The recipe called for cubed Gruyere cheese, which I didn’t have, but I did an Internet search to see what was the best kind of cheese to sub; it said to use Swiss. Hubby had a little tough time locating 10 garden onions that met the recipe’s “thin” qualification, as ours now are plumping up healthily, but once he did, they were the magic touch.

Yep, Hubby was able to say he liked onion pie. Adored it, in fact.

Spring Onion Pie

10 thin spring onions
4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 cup egg substitute)
1 cup milk (I used skim)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I used salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, cubed (I used Swiss)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in oven. (I used a casserole dish instead.) Trim roots from onions; discard roots. Chop half of onions. Whisk together eggs and milk. Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture. Whisk rapidly for 20 to 30 seconds or just until blended and smooth. (No lumps should appear.) Stir in chopped onions. Let stand 5 minutes. Carefully remove hot skillet from oven. Add butter; let stand until butter is melted. Place skillet over medium-high heat; pour batter into skillet. Arrange cheese and remaining whole onions over top of batter; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until edges begin to set. Transfer skillet to top oven rack; bake at 400 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. (Outside edges should be crispy; inside texture should resemble a custard popover. Pie will deflate quickly. Serve immediately.) Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New comfort-food dish is a quick skillet supper

This recipe was just so fun. For long years we’ve loved chicken-dressing casserole as the ultimate in comfort food. Then I found this derivation: Chicken-and-Cornbread Dressing, featured in Southern Living’s One-Dish Dinner segment—the same group of recipes from which that marvelous Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (a few blogs ago) sprang.

Chicken-and-Cornbread Dressing was intended to be an all-in-one skillet (cast-iron or otherwise) supper. The self-rising white cornbread mix sped things along a bit. Morsels of chicken are stirred into the dressing mixture that has lots of chopped onion, celery, and sage.

Served with a little sliced avocado on the side, this legendary Southern side dish moved up into main-course billing.

Chicken-and-Cornbread Dressing

1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix
2 cups buttermilk (see low-fat substitution below)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Saute first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet; wipe skillet clean. Stir together cornmeal mix, buttermilk, and next 4 ingredients just until moistened. (For low-fat substitution, pour 6 teaspoons vinegar into a 2-cup measuring cup; then pour in skim milk up to the 2-cup line. Stir; allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.) Stir in onion mixture and chicken just until blended. Pour batter into hot 12-inch skillet. (This also can be baked in a standard casserole dish that has been sprayed.) Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 to 10 servings. (Source: Southern Living January 2012)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love this veggie mac-and-cheese served in muffin cups

It was billed as a kiddie dish, but boy, did the big kids give it five stars! Mac and Cheese "Muffins" were baked in muffin cups and formed tidy individual servings that no doubt would be appealing to the younger set.

I prepared it, however, because I liked the idea of this Prevention magazine recipe having fresh carrots, squash, frozen peas, and onions baked alongside whole-wheat macaroni and cheese—with a bread-crumb and cheese topping. Very one-dish, very healthy.

Don't expect these muffins to emerge looking as though they belong in the pastry category just because they're baked in muffin tins. The recipe doesn’t contain flour, baking powder, baking soda, or the typical ingredients that would yield a bread-like texture. Baking the mixture in muffin cups merely creates interest for kiddos. (The recipe also suggests ways kids can help, such as dusting on the crumb topping and filling the muffin cups.) It also could be baked in a lightly greased casserole dish with the crumb/cheese topping—a yummy option.

Forgot to mention that the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce gave this mix just the right degree of perkiness. Hubby and I were pretty happy with this Mac and Cheese keeper.

Mac and Cheese “Muffins”

8-ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 package (16 ounces) frozen peas
1 box (12 ounces) frozen cooked winter squash, thawed (I used cooked, sliced, fresh squash)
1 1/4 cup whole or 2 percent milk (I used skim)
1 3/4 cup shredded 2-percent Cheddar and Monterrey Jack blend
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat 12 muffin cups (1/2-cup capacity) or a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with olive-oil spray. Prepare macaroni al dente according to package directions. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat while macaroni cooks. Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas, squash, and milk. Bring just to a simmer. Add shredded cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Drain macaroni; immediately add to squash mixture. Toss until well-combined. Mound in prepared muffin cups. Toss together bread crumbs and Parmesan; sprinkle mixture evenly over top of macaroni. Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before you serve. Makes 12 servings. (Source: March 2012 Prevention)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chunky applesauce muffins jump-start a morning

These were billed as fix-and-freeze muffins, which I’m all for, but they’re also divine served ready-warm from the oven. They can make the mornings of a weekend very special, as they did ours recently.

Chunky applesauce from the grocery counter (or homemade, if you are of a mind to do so) provides the sweetening for this easy-to-stir-up muffin (all-purpose baking mix helps).

The Cinnamon-Streusel Topping is crumbly and toothsome as you savor it to dive in to the muffin itself. I can envision preparing these ahead for holiday breakfasts or for road trips when you need something quick to get you launched on your travels but want to avoid the drive-throughs.

Applesauce Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel Topping

4 cups all-purpose baking mix (I used Bisquick reduced-fat mix)
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chunky applesauce
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
Cinnamon Streusel Topping (see below)

Cinnamon Streusel Topping

1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used sugar substitute)
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose baking mix
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

For topping whisk together first 4 ingredients until blended. Stir melted butter into sugar mixture until well blended and crumbly.

* * * * * * * *

For muffins preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together baking mix, sugar, and cinnamon; make a well in center of mixture. In a small bowl whisk together applesauce and next three ingredients; add to sugar mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 12-cup muffin pan. Fill almost completely full. Sprinkle Cinnamon Streusel Topping over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and tops are golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack. (Recipe courtesy Southern Living January 2012).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grilled Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette a wonderful dinner delight

This lovely salad was a Sunday-night delight for me and Hubby. It helped clean out the fridge and was healthy as everything.

The recipe for Grilled Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette hailed from www.food.com. Start about 4 hours ahead by marinating some chicken tenders and then grilling them and slicing them into bite-sized pieces. The salad topping consisted of orange segments, red onion, avocado, and sprinkles of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (the latter my addition).

I used a bottled raspberry vinaigrette dressing, although you may have a favorite homemade one you want to try. I even served it in a pretty raspberry speckled bowl to keep that little theme going. Hubby and I thought we would have some leftovers for the next day, but we pretty well demolished the bowlful, it was so tasty.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

boneless, skinless chicken tenders (I used 1 1/2-2 pounds)
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 7-ounce package spring mix greens
1-2 large oranges, cut into sections
1/2 red onion, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
bottled raspberry vinaigrette dressing (or your favorite homemade recipe)

In a small bowl whisk together white wine, cayenne, and salt. In an airtight container pour marinade over chicken tenders. Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill tenders until done; cut into bite-sized bits or small strips. Toss greens with orange sections and diced red onion and avocado. Toss with dressing; top with grilled chicken and cheese crumbles. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Plum-salsa topping makes these chicken cutlets unusual

This memorable chicken dress-up recipe featured a remarkable plum-salsa topping that was quick and unusual.

The recipe was included in a “get-dinner-on-the-table-in-half-an-hour” segment in Southern Living magazine. Now who wouldn’t go for that kind of promo? Quick and healthy combined has great appeal.

The salsa was created from chopped ripe plums, jalapeno pepper, fresh basil, chopped red onion, and lime juice. It was sweet, spicy, and tangy as it topped the chicken cutlet.

To make the chicken cutlet the magazine recommended slicing a boneless, skinless chicken breast lengthwise into two thin pieces. The cutlet, rubbed with a brown-sugar mixture, was grilled in a nonstick skillet for 3 minutes on each side and then was served with the plum mixture.

I can’t tell you how delighted Hubby and I were with this main-dish dinner meal. The salsa was so exotic atop the cutlet that the presentation gave the appearance that I’d been working on it for hours. I always appreciate one of those types of foils.

Pan-Grilled Chicken with Fresh Plum Salsa

1 cup chopped ripe plums (about 2 plums)
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided (I used salt substitute)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (4-ounce) chicken breast cutlets
2 teaspoons olive oil

In a medium bowl stir together plums, next 4 ingredients, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Rub chicken with brown-sugar mixture. Cook chicken in hot oil in a grill pan or nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with plum mixture. Makes 4 servings. (Source: February 2012 Southern Living)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lovely Spring Greens with Strawberries salad—a looker and a luncheon pleaser

What a beautiful salad this was on the Easter dining table! And I didn’t let the fact that Hubby has to avoid strawberries stop me from serving this as a new holiday favorite. Sub a few raspberries where strawberries are called for; I was in business.

Spring Greens with Strawberries was recommended as a recipe in a lovely brunch collection. The minute I spotted it, I remarked to myself, “Easter!” I was right.

Greens, avocado, fresh dill, and sliced fresh strawberries are tossed in a light dressing of olive oil, red-wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and chopped shallot. (I also sprinkled in a few roasted sunflower seeds.)

I held out a portion of the salad mixture and put in fresh raspberries instead of strawberries; this was Hubby’s serving. He was pleased.

How beautiful this looked on the plate! Leftovers were great, as well. Yesterday Hubby and I were bopping out and about; we packed our lunch in a cooler. Instead of hitting the drive-throughs when lunchtime arrived, we stopped, pulled down the tailgate, and opened our plastic-sealed salad containers. We had a great lunch with leftover Spring Greens with Strawberries (or raspberries) salad!

Spring Greens with Strawberries

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (5-ounce) package arugula
1 (4-ounce) package watercress
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces

Whisk together first 7 ingredients in a small bowl until mixture is blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve. In a large bowl toss together arugula and next 3 ingredients. Top with avocado; just before you serve drizzle with half of vinaigrette. Serve with remaining vinaigrette. Makes 8 servings. (Source: Southern Living February 2012).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Glorious muffins have carrots, apples, walnut—every bite delicious

They did help usher in a glorious morning—several of them, in fact. I made these Morning Glory Muffins for Easter weekend. Hubby and I enjoyed them both Saturday and Sunday.

They are packed with goodness—shredded carrots, chopped walnuts, grated apple, and chopped dried apricots. The recipe, which hailed from a recent Kroger grocery flyer, called for dried chopped cherries, but I had a small package of apricots that I needed to use. The substitute worked great. We loved the addition of a little coconut to this nutty muffin that is jammed with healthy things.

Having these delicious gems awaiting us over the weekend was a great addition to our holiday. The muffins also freeze well, so I stored away several for a future Saturday when I want a breakfast muffin but don’t have time to stir up one.

Morning Glory Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 teaspoons baking oda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup dried cherries roughly chopped (I used dried apricots)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 apple, cored and shredded with a cheese grater
3 eggs (I used 3/4 cup egg substitute)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line muffins pan with paper muffin liners. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in carrots, dried cherries, nuts, coconut, and apple. In a separate bowl beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into the flour/carrot mixture just until the latter is moistened. Pour batter into each prepared muffin cup; fill about two-thirds full. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin emerges clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Loved this caramel-y twist on a banana classic

Just when you think you’ve tried every version of banana pudding imaginable, a new experience happens along.

Caramelized Banana Pudding is a memorable new wrinkle of an old classic. A layer of caramel—stirred up from melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar— encases the sliced bananas that go amidst the traditional layers of creamy pudding and vanilla wafers. Fluffy meringue, baked to the golden stage, tops it all, of course.

Southern Living included this in the same cooking feature with Tangerine Chess Pie and Apple-Cherry Cobbler with Pinwheel Biscuits, all of which in bygone days have been items in this blog. The magazine’s goal was to show ways to spiff up tried-and-true recipes and give them new appeal.

Success was achieved with this item! Hubby and I thought the caramelized banana mixture really made this dish sing. The recipe called for baking the pudding in individual ramekins. I divided mine into two small casserole dishes.

Caramelized Banana Pudding

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup granulated sugar, divided (I used sugar substitute)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs (I used 1/2 cup egg substitute)
2 cups milk (I used skim)
4 large eggs, separated (can use egg substitute and egg-white substitute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
48 vanilla wafers (I used the reduced-fat variety)

Cook the first three ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat; stir constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly. Add bananas; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. In a heavy saucepan whisk together 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, next 3 ingredients, and 4 egg yolks (from the separated eggs). Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes, or until it reaches a pudding-like thickness. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Divide half of banana mixture, pudding, and wafers among 8 (1-cup) ramekins or ovenproof glass dishes. Layer with remaining banana mixture, pudding, and vanilla wafers. Beat 4 egg whites until foamy (use electric mixer at high speed). Add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until meringue is golden. Let cook on a wire rack 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings. (Source: Southern Living February 2012).