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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Black-Bottom Pumpkin Pie, served lovingly

The way to my Hubby’s heart during the recent season for honoring our beloved ones wasn’t a dessert of strawberries (he’s allergic) or cherries (he doesn’t like) or anything red-themed. Just give him something pumpkin-y, thank you. He doesn’t mind that pumpkin is more often associated with that Other Holiday.

So his crown-jewel dessert was Black-Bottom Pumpkin Pie, which Hubby has proclaimed must be on the dessert table for all holidays from now on. How can you beat a crust of crushed graham crackers, gingersnaps, and pecans, with a layer of chocolate chips and toffee bars over that?

Then, the filling—a pumpkin cream layer, much like that of a banana cream or coconut cream pie. A whipped topping, with maple syrup stirred in, crowned the whole thing—chocolate shavings added.

Love at first sight, and then the second, and during multiple servings thereafter.

Black-Bottom Pumpkin Pie

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 (1.4-ounce) chocolate-covered toffee candy   
     bars, finely chopped (such as Heath bars)
3/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup canned pumpkin (I used 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree)
1 tablespoon vanilla-bean paste (vanilla extract may be substituted)
1/2 cup maple syrup
garnish: semisweet chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant; stir halfway through. Cool 10 minutes. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, next 2 ingredients, and toasted pecans until blended. Press crumb mixture on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 10-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Transfer pie plate to a wire rack and cool completely (about 30 minutes). Microwave 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels and 1/2 cup whipping cream in a small microwave-safe bowl at high 1 minutes or until melted. Stir at 30-second intervals. Spoon chocolate mixture over bottom of pie crust; sprinkle candy bars over chocolate mixture. Cover and chill 1 hour or until chocolate mixture is set. Meanwhile whisk together sugar and flour in a heavy 3-quart saucepan; add eggs, egg yolks, and milk. Whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a pudding-like thickness is achieved. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat; whisk in pumpkin and vanilla-bean paste. Transfer to a bowl. Place heavy-duty plastic wrap directly on warm filling (to prevent a film from forming); chill 30 minutes. Spoon pumpkin mixture over chocolate; cover and chill 8 to 24 hours or until filling is firm. Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups cream at high speed with an electric mixer until mixture is foamy; gradually add syrup. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe over pie. Garnish if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings. (Source: Southern Living, November 2012)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vegetable enchilada pies made a terrific dinner on a special occasion

Talk about a great meal! I’ve already mentioned how Hubby and I dined in for Valentine’s night and avoided the packed restaurants (and ideally, the flu bug). We decided to partner to prepare our own meal. This was the delightful main course.

We really enjoyed these pies with the accompanying homemade enchilada sauce (sauce made twice as much as we needed, so we froze the remainder for another use).

I’ll be quick to state that we did eliminate the dried hibiscus flowers, which the recipe listed as optional. Didn’t have them on hand, although the recipe says they can be quickly obtained at Hispanic markets. The black beans plus the chopped vegetables made the enchilada pies very substantial; the beans gave the enchiladas a meaty texture.

This was a terrific entrée that actually assembled into more than the four pies projected. We had leftovers for several days; the food item only got better as the time went by.

Vegetarian Enchilada Pies

1 (2-ounce) package dried hibiscus flowers, picked through (this ingredient is optional)
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 1/2 cups chopped bell pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup vegetable broth
12 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas
1 1/4 cups (5-ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
toppings: sour cream, chopped red onion, fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring flowers and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand 5 to 8 minutes or until flowers are plump. Drain flowers and coarsely chop. Sauté flowers, onion, and next 2 ingredients in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in beans and next 4 ingredients; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Pour broth into a shallow dish. Dip 4 tortillas, 1 at a time, in broth. Place tortillas 1-inch apart on a foil-lined 15-inch-by-10-inch jelly-roll pan. Divide half of hibiscus mixture among tortillas; top each with about 2 tablespoons Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup warm Enchilada Sauce. Repeat  layers once. Top each stack with a tortilla. Spoon 1/4 cup Enchilada Sauce over each stack. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with queso fresco and remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with Enchilada Sauce and toppings. 

Enchilada Sauce

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chili powder (yes, this is correct—1/4 cup)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce (I used salt-free)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Cook first 2 ingredients in hot oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir often, 2 minutes. Stir in onion; cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients and 3 cups water. Cook, stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened.

Recipe makes 4 servings. (Source: Southern Living, January 2013)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Simmering sweet potatoes spice up this beef stew

Sweet potatoes seem to be the current darlings of foodies, so no surprise that something so standard as beef stew gets a sweet-potato infusion. This spicy version was wonderful indeed.

Cubed butternut squash also was a new (to me, at least) stew ingredient. I even threw in a little leftover zucchini. We let Spicy Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes cook overnight in the slow-cooker. What an amazing aroma greeted us the next morning! Stew for breakfast? We were tempted but waited (barely) until later in the day.

The magazine source featured a recipe for Herbed Biscuits to accompany the stew. Partners in paradise, I’d say. This made a tough-to-beat combination that we just loved.

Spiced Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (32-ounce) container beef broth (I used lower-sodium variety)
1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 sweet onions, cut into eighths
2 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1 pound)
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (I used regular chili powder)
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Whisk together first 2 ingredients until mixture is smooth. Sprinkle beef with flour, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Cook beef, in batches, in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes or until browned. Place in a 6-square slow cooker. Add sweet potatoes, next 8 ingredients, and broth mixture. Cover and cook on high 6 to 7 hours or until tender. Makes 8 servings. 

Herbed Biscuits

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk

Use pastry blender or fork to cut butter into self-rising flour until mixture resembles small peas. Add chives, basil, and pepper. Add buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 3 or 4 times. Pat or roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness; cut into squares to form 15 biscuits. (I used a round biscuit-cutter.) Place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Makes 15 biscuits. (Source: Southern Living November 2012)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Potato Fruit Salad made a sweet menu item on Hearts and Flowers Day

Blame it on flu season. But several Valentine’s Days ago Hubby and I made a pact. After waiting for service for nearly an hour in a crowded restaurant lobby in which we were shoulder-to-shoulder with countless potential flu germs, we decided then and there: no more restaurant meals on Hearts and Flowers Day.

We’d either do take-out or cook and dine at home. Valentine’s Day falls smack-dab in the middle of a highly germ-rife time of year. I began collecting recipes for a dine-at-home Valentine meal for 2013.

As I searched for a salad, I couldn’t pass up this one: Sweet Potato Fruit Salad. I never had encountered the idea of adding cooked, cubed sweet potatoes to a standard fruit (ambrosia-type) salad. This recipe was featured on an old calendar that I recently had been given.

The tossed items are ensconced in a beautiful cinnamon/brown-sugar/sour cream dressing. This menu item was a true love gift for Hubby, who adores sweet potatoes and would be happy to have them added to most anything served.

Sweet Potato Fruit Salad

3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 bananas, sliced
2 apples, dced
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
1 1/2 pounds (2 cups) seedless grapes, cut in half
2 oranges, sectioned
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can coconut
1 (8-ounce) carton dairy sour cream (I used fat-free)
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine first 7 ingredients except reserved juice; toss gently. Set aside. Combine sour cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons reserved juice to reach desired serving consistency for dressing. Serve over salad. Chill until time to serve. Makes 10 servings. (Source: Texas Utilities Electric Company calendar, 1986)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pumpkin and Apple Waffles—yum, yum, triple yum!

Hubby says that truly, these were the best waffles he’s ever eaten. They were tall and puffy and gave the impression of eating a light cake loaded with a spicy pumpkin and apple mixture. We certainly give Pumpkin & Apple Waffles our enthusiastic votes.

Some apple bits sprinkled on top were the perfect garnish under the sugar-free syrup.

The batter stirs up thicker than do most waffle mixtures, but the high, cake-like product is the delightful result.

Pumpkin & Apple Waffles

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 medium apple, finely chopped and divided
1/4 cup milk

Preheat waffle iron. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mix eggs with sugar. Add to the dry mixture (note that at this stage, the mixture will be very dry). Fold in the pumpkin and half of the chopped apple. Add milk. Combine all into a thick, moist batter. Add batter to prepared waffle iron—about 1/4 cup batter per 4-inch waffle—and cook until waffles are done. Use remaining chopped apple to garnish cooked waffles. Top with maple syrup (we used sugar-free). Makes about six 4-inch waffles. (Source: Recipe appeared as “Coach Nicole’s Pumpkin & Apple Waffles” in recipes.sparkpeople.com)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can’t ask for better busy-night dinner idea than Black-Bean Mushroom Quesadillas

These Black-Bean Mushroom Quesadillas were quick to prepare, tasty, and healthy. Who could ask for a better dinner idea on a busy night? (What nights aren’t?)

A can of black beans (draining and rinsing them removes a great deal of the sodium content) mixed with chopped bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, and chopped spinach and then sautéed forms the innards of these browned, whole-wheat tortillas. I plopped on a goodly portion of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese before I folded the tortillas over to brown the back sides.

A little sliced avocado, salsa, and sour cream on the side, and Hubby and I were ready to sink ourselves into this delightful evening meal.

Black-Bean Mushroom Quesadillas

cooking spray
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups fresh chopped spinach
6 whole-wheat tortillas
3/4 cup shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese
salsa, optional
sliced avocado, optional
fat-free sour cream, optional

In a large skillet over medium heat spray pan with cooking spray. Add black beans, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan. Lay a tortilla in the pan; cover one half of the tortilla with 1 tablespoon cheese. Top with 1/6 of vegetable mixture. Cover with 1 tablespoon cheese; fold tortilla over. Flip after cooking 2 minutes. Repeat steps 4-5 with the remaining tortillas. Makes 6 servings. (Source: Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Veggie Gumbo—lucky? For sure, tasty

Who says dining for luck has to be reserved for celebrating the new year? How about for celebrating a new month? As February kicked off, we decided to try this Lucky Veggie Gumbo. Those reportedly lucky black-eyed peas were, of course, present—mingled with diced tomatoes, green chilies, brown rice, okra, and other veggies and seasonings.

This can be served as a main course, although we also enjoyed it as a side for meat loaf one day and baked chicken the next. In this dish, the okra addition was of the frozen variety, but yesterday’s springlike temps in our area remind us that gardening days (and the promise of our own okra growing outside) are just down the road.

Lucky Veggie Gumbo

1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, fat-free (I subbed lower-sodium chicken broth)
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 (4-ounce) can green chilies, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen okra
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoons cayenne
3/4 teaspoon cumin
 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, pepper, and celery until they are tender. Pour in the vegetable broth, rice, black-eyed peas, garlic, diced tomatoes, green chilies, and okra. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer until desired thickness is reached. Add spices and lemon juice. If mixture is too thick, gradually add water. Makes 6 1-cup servings. (Source: Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Instant replay called for on these Pumpkin-Cranberry Bars

This snack made our Super Bowl super. I had baked these bars on Saturday but advised Hubby we had to wait until the game kickoff on Sunday to dine on them so they could be official. That was not easy for Hubby, but he knows the drill and obliged.

I had some dried cranberries left over from Christmas baking. And of course I have my ready supply of pumpkin puree packed away from the pumpkins that grew in our garden way-late in the year. I have the puree stored in small, recipe-friendly portions in the freezer. 

These bars were just delicious. Love the marriage of pumpkin and cranberry in these squares. I confess I was a pre-game couch potato and took the easy route on the frosting: I opened a container of (Betty Crocker-brand) ready-made cream-cheese frosting and used it to spread on the bars. Very yummy. 

I believe we picked a winner; Hubby called for an instant replay. He suggested we not wait until next year’s Super Game to try them again.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bars

1 cup pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened 
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar (or sugar substitute)
fresh pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Place the pecans on a baking sheet; bake for about 8-10 minutes or until pecans are lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven; cool completely; then coarsely chop the pecans. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch-by-9-inch pan.

In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract; beat until incorporated. Beat in the pumpkin puree until incorporated (at this point the batter may look curdled). Gradually add the flour mixture; mix only until it is combined. Stir in the chopped toasted pecans and dried cranberries. Spread the batter into the prepared pan; bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bars emerges clean. Remove from oven; place pan on a wire rack to cool. When the baked item is cool, cut  into 16 (2-inch square) bars. For frosting, beat the whipping cream and cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add sugar to taste. Spoon a bit of cream cheese on top of each bar. Top with fresh pumpkin seeds (I used chopped pecans). (Source: joyofbaking.com)