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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Cranberry cookies with “everything in them” go into the win-column

“I believe your cookies were a whole lot better than last year’s. What were those that had everything in them?” Our well-meaning neighbor truly did pay me a compliment in the aftermath of our cookie delivery to his home. He was referencing these Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, which I believe represented my crown-jewel food item to prepare during the recent holidays.

“Everything in them” was right. Besides chopped fresh cranberries they also contained white-chocolate chips, white raisins, grated orange peel, and quick-cooking oats. Only the addition of the proverbial kitchen sink would have made them more chock-full.

They were healthy, flavorful, and stayed fresh for days—made a bunch (6 dozen) and held together well during baking. Plus, they just looked like Christmas, right? I usually like to try out new recipes from year to year and each Christmas start anew in my holiday baking, but I already know I plan to file this recipe away for a repeat in 2013.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 package (12 ounces) vanilla chips (I used white chocolate chips)

In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in oats, raisins, cranberries, and orange peel. Stir in vanilla chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes 6 dozen. (Source: Taste of Home 2010)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A delight of a sandwich filling—Red-Pepper Chicken Salad

The magazine featured it as an appetizer, but for a chicken-salad fan as I am, it looked like a bona-fide sandwich filling. I quickly made a batch of this Red-Pepper Chicken Salad mixture and served it for a meal.

Another December dining solution taken care of! The recipe called for chopped cooked chicken, toasted pecans, green onions, and cilantro. Red-pepper jelly gave it a delightful kick.

The recipe was called “Chicken Salad Pitas”, but I served it on some wheat sandwich slims and sliced an avocado as garnish. Best to follow what the recipe says and let it chill for 4 hours, but in my haste I skipped the “chill” step and spread it on the sandwich buns immediately. Excellent!

Red-Pepper Chicken Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup red-pepper jelly
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
salt (or salt substitute) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
24 mini pita pockets, halved (I used sandwich slims bread)
1 bunch fresh watercress

In a large bowl whisk together the first 6 ingredients; stir in chicken and next 2 ingredients until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 4 hours. Fill pitas with watercress and chicken salad. Serve immediately. Makes 4 dozen mini pitas. (Source: Southern Living December 2012; featured as Chicken Salad Pitas)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lentil Soup—what December night doesn’t seem ideal for a soup meal?

Seemed like sort of an old-fashioned thing to do—Lentil Soup. But Hubby was of a mind to devote some time in the kitchen, we had a package of lentils, and it seemed like a good ole soup night (what evening in December doesn’t qualify for being a soup night?)

He had to look no further than the lentils wrapper for a good recipe—one that called for carrots and celery as well as 1 pound of dry lentils. Toss in a ham bone for flavoring and let the mixture simmer on the stove for 1 1/2 hours.

Turned out to be a marvelous meal—warm, filling, and best of all—made by Hubby. What cook of the female variety doesn’t appreciate an offer such as that when the Christmas to-do list seems overpowering? Loved us some Lentil Soup.

Lentil Soup

1 pound dry lentils (washed)
8 cups water
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1 smoked ham bone
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
3 onions, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 bay leaf

In a 6-8 quart pot combine all ingredients; simmer soup, lid tilted, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf and remove meat from ham bone. Chop meat and stir into soup. Makes 6 to 8 servings. (Source: package of Jack Rabbit-brand Lentils)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Butter box underside reveals how-to's for spicy fish tacos

These fish tacos were just the best. Sweet-and-spicy tilapia was nestled on a bed of coleslaw with a sour cream/lime/cilantro sauce drizzled over it. Corn tortillas, of course, formed the packaging.

Something about fish tacos provides a nice break in the pre-Christmas fare. The meal was easy to drum up on a busy December night. Hubby was all agog and was very remorseful when the supply ran out. A carved-up avocado was just the right garnish.

The recipe hailed from another most unlikely place—the underside of my Land O Lakes unsalted butter box. I was just about to toss out my box when I noted that the underbelly of it had writing on it. On the perpetual hunt for new recipes, I thought just maybe . . . yes! The recipe said “Sweet & Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos”. I had tilapia on hand and decided to sub it for the shrimp. Great substitution but would love to try it with shrimp sometime.

Sweet and Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos

Spice mixture:
1/3 cup sugar (I used sugar substitute)
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (tested with Land O Lakes brand)
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked thawed medium shrimp (I used 1 pound fresh tilapia)

1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

16 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
2 cups coleslaw mix

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. Combine all-spice mixture ingredients in a small bowl. Dip shrimp in butter and then in spice mixture. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until shrimp are pink and coating is bubbly. Meanwhile combine all sauce ingredients in small bowl. To assemble tacos, stack 2 warmed tortillas onto each individual serving plate. Top with 1/8 of the baked shrimp and 1/4 cup coleslaw mix. Drizzle with sauce. Makes 8 tacos. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tex-Mex Cornbread Salad celebrates 500th blog entry

How does one celebrate a 500th blog post? I remember when I noted that a blog I was entering that day was #365 and that I had completed a year’s worth of entries in The Newfangled Country Gardener. Seems like just the blink of an eye ago.

But pressing on down the road, today I’m marking number 500; that’s half of 1,000! Lots of good recipes tried out and nourishing food consumed. (Hubby would say, “And lots of trips to the grocery store for me!” True. Lots of encouraging “attagirl”s on his part, as well.)

Today’s entry, Tex-Mex Cornbread Salad, truly is one of the best items I’ve featured here. A hearty, healthy bowl full of goodness—a bit of it straight from our current garden. In almost mid-December, tomatoes still grow on their vines (we covered them in last night’s cold snap.) Happy to be able to haul a few in and toss them into this salad, which has a tangy vinaigrette dressing and cornbread made with taco seasoning.

Wouldn’t this be a colorful item on a Christmas bring-a-dish table? You’d snare compliments galore. Pleased also that my #500 blog features a recipe from the Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services. These great cooks and recipe innovators have been the source for so many great entries in this feature. A big thank-you to them for all their healthy, fresh ideas.

Tex-Mex Cornbread Salad

1 egg white (I used 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon no-salt taco seasoning
cooking spray

Vinaigrette dressing:
1/4 cup cilantro, minred
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups romaine, roughly chopped (I used spinach)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 avocados, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can corn, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped red bell peppers

Cornbread: preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix egg white, milk, and oil. Mix dry ingredients together and then combine with liquid. Spray an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with cooking spray. Pour cornbread mixture into pan; bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Whisk together all ingredients for the vinaigrette dressing; refrigerate. In a glass bowl or trifle dish layer the salad ingredients. Start with romaine and continue with black beans, tomatoes, onion, avocado, corn, and bell pepper. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad. Toss. Top with cornbread cubes. Makes 13 1-cup servings. (Source: Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Plenty to love about Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Spaghetti squash has always fascinated me—the concept of a veggie that can be cooked and scraped to resemble spaghetti. I love the idea that you can eliminate the carb-prone pasta element by subbing spaghetti squash as the base of this meatball dish.

Plus this recipe, which I found as a make-ahead feature, is great for just that: some weeks ago I froze an extra batch to thaw and serve for those  “December meals”, when no one can find a spare moment to cook.

The mock spaghetti created by the strands of squash was light and had far more flavor than boiling up some pasta would. We really loved this dinner—and will again in a few crazed days when we unfreeze and warm that second serving.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

2 (2 1/4-pound) spaghetti squash
2 pounds ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt (or salt substitute)
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons hot olive oil
1 (24-ounce) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Bake squash, cut sides down, on a lightly greased baking sheet at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes. Combine ground chicken or turkey, green onions, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Shape into 24 (2-inch) balls. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Scrape inside of squash to remove spaghetti-like strands (about 6 cups). Cover and chill squash and meatballs for up to 24 hours. Cook garlic cloves in hot olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; stir occasionally, for 1 minute. Add sauce, tomatoes, and meatballs; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes. Microwave squash, covered with plastic wrap, at high for 3 minutes. Stir fresh basil into sauce; serve over squash. Top with Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 servings. (Source: Southern Living, September 2012)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Slow-cooker Chicken-and-Squash Casserole helps slow down at least part of life

“Slow things down!” That cry seems to emerge again and again as the holiday steamroller begins its annual procession toward us. All we really want for Christmas is more time—and more time to savor our experiences.

I liked a recent magazine feature that rounded up some good slow-cooker recipes. While activity elsewhere is at a fever-pitch, preparing the family meal doesn’t have to be. Throw some healthy items into a slow-cooker and let that kitchen appliance put at least part of your life on a crawl.

We enjoyed Chicken-and-Squash Casserole that featured slices of yellow squash and zucchini and cooked chicken with a sauce layered around it. It can be left simmering all day. At mealtime you’ll thank yourself for getting this little jewel assembled hours beforehand. (In a pinch, the meal also can be layered into a casserole dish and baked in the oven on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.)

Chicken-and-Squash Casserole

2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 pound zucchini, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (I used fat-free)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese

Place first 3 ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; fold back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at high 8 minutes or until squash is tender; drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain tomatoes well. Press between paper towels. Stir together tomatoes, chicken, and next 4 ingredients. Layer one-third each soup mixture, squash mixture, breadcrumbs, and Cheddar cheese in a lightly greased 6-quart slow cooker. Repeat layers twice. Top with Parmesan cheese. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or until bubbly and edges are golden. Uncover and cook on high 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before you serve. Makes 6 servings. (Source: Southern Living, November 2012)