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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Glad recipe for Roasted Veggie Tacos with Avocado Cream caught my eye

If I weren’t writing a regular blog on cooking the country-fresh way, I totally wouldn’t have found myself trying this recipe for Roasted Veggie Tacos with Avocado Cream. I would have passed right by it. But I’m sure glad it caught my eye as a possible something to blog about. Hubby and I dined on these for dinner last night; they were superb.

A Kroger grocery flyer introduced this recipe to me. (More and more often I find these flyers to be great recipe sources.) Diced zucchini, mushrooms, red onions, corn, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and black beans—all tossed in seasoned oil—are roasted in a pan in the oven until the items are tender. This mixture, with feta cheese and fresh cilantro, is spread on a warmed flour tortilla. A delightful avocado cream sauce is the garnish.

When I say that the stuffing makes an abundant amount, I’ll borrow a term from my husband’s mother—“It makes thousands”, Grandmother used to say when she stirred up a goodly amount of something. The recipe on the flyer said the entrée served 6, but that would be six people having four or five tacos each. We had “thousands” of the stuffing left over for several more meals. I’m looking forward to it.

Roasted Veggie Tacos with Avocado Cream

3 small zucchini, diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 medium red onions, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (I used 2 ears fresh corn)
3 medium red peppers, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
feta or goat cheese and freshly chopped cilantro, for topping
12-18 small corn or flour tortillas

Avocado cream:
2 large, ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and flesh removed
1 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine veggies, tomatoes, and black beans in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, salt, and cumin. Toss with veggie mixture to coat. Spread evenly in a large roasting pan (or two). Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through and browned (about 20 minutes total). Meanwhile in a serving bowl mash avocado, sour cream, and lime juice until smooth. Stir in salt and cilantro to taste. To serve, warm tortillas and fill with veggies and avocado cream; top with cheese and cilantro. Refrigerate any leftovers. Serves 6. (Source: Kroger My Magazine flyer)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Peach Dumplings dessert a delicious reminder of upcoming garden season

The peach season is so near at hand, I couldn’t resist jumping the gun. Besides our “faithful four”—the four trees that are the regular peach producers in our garden—we have two new peach trees this year. They popped up from random seeds in the oddest places: one in a gravel walkway near our greenhouse and another near our back fence, far from our orchard area. Can’t wait to see what they do.

We have a few weeks to go before those green knobs that are showing up among the bushy leaves begin to yield yummy, cook-worthy fruit. But I saw a peach recipe I had to try, so I used a package of frozen ones and imagined what life will be like a few weeks hence when fresh peaches are piled high in our garden baskets.

Peach Dumplings was an easy recipe because it relied on packaged refrigerated piecrusts, rolled out and cut into 4-inch circles. Into each “bundle” went peach slices; the bundle edges were gathered around the peaches and pinched to seal. With the peach packets lined up in a 11-inch-by-7-inch glass baking dish, a syrup of sugar, melted butter, ground cinnamon, and water was poured over.

The recipe says you can substitute canned or fresh biscuits for the piecrust rounds. This was a great little dessert that assembled quickly and held a terrific promise of one of my favorite times of year—peach season.

Peach Dumplings

1 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 (20-ounce) package frozen sliced peaches, thawed and divided, or 4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll piecrusts on a lightly floured surface. Roll each into a 10-inch circle. Cut 5 (4-inch) circles from each crust. Roll each circle into an approximately 5 1/2-inch circle. Coarsely chop 2 cups peach slices. Divide chopped peaches among dough. Place fruit in center of each circle (about 1/4 cup per circle). Pull dough edges over peaches and gather in center. Pinch to seal and form a bundle. Place in a lightly greased 11-inch-by-7-inch baking dish. Arrange remaining peaches around bundles. Stir together sugar, next 2 ingredients, an 1/2 cup water until blended. Pour over bundles and peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown; cool 10 minutes. Makes 10 servings. Can be served with sugar-free whipped topping. (Source: Southern Living, February 2013)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fresh tomato and corn "Pico" and grits make delicious nest for poached-egg topping

I told Hubby he would laugh, laugh, laugh when he sat down to last night’s meal.

After all, when was the last time his dinner plate contained “porched” (as my mother called them) eggs? He decided I might have poached some eggs in early marriage. I was actually thinking I hadn’t dined on one since I was in kindergarten.

Anyway, the meal was a a Tex-Mex melange of some favorite things: cheese grits (who can beat it?), Pico de Gallo, poached eggs, and fried tortillas. The grits formed a birds’ nest for the remaining items.

Hubby looked at me as though I had made up the whole thing in a desperation dinner-time act, but I waggled in front of him the torn-out magazine page on which the combo was featured. “Just dig in,” I adjured. “You’ll be happy.”

The only part that took some assembly was the Pico de Gallo, which also was the element that added the most pizzazz. Fresh chopped tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, sweet corn kernels, onion, and avocados came together quickly and were refrigerated for a couple of hours for the items to get acquainted with each other. A simple cheese grits recipe (everyone’s recommending stone-ground grits these days) cooked and thickened on the stove. A poached egg cooked to the desired degree of doneness (I like mine pretty non-runny) is the top layer.

This was cute as could be and made a wonderful entrée. Hubby wasn’t laughing when he asked whether we’d have leftovers the next night. But he sure was smiling real big when I said yes.

Cheese Grits with Poached Eggs

2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoon table salt (I used salt substitute)
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) freshly shredded pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
6 large eggs
Pico de Gallo (below)
tortilla strips

Bring milk, salt, and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits; return mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and butter. Cover and keep warm. Pour water to depth of 2 inches into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and maintain at a light simmer. Add vinegar. Break eggs and slip into water, 1 at a time, as close as possible to surface of water. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Remove with a slotted spoon. Trim edges if desired. Spoon grits into 6 bowls; top with Pico de Gallo, eggs, and tortilla strips.

Pico de Gallo

1 medium tomato, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon table salt (or salt substitute)
2 avocados, coarsely chopped 

Stir together first eight ingredients. Just before you serve, stir in chopped avocados. Makes 1 1/2 cups. (Source: Southern Living, March 2013)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole a terrific make-ahead side dish

This was one of the greatest veggie casseroles we can remember having. The title says Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole, but I fudged a little and also added green peas and carrots into this veggie mélange. Honestly, you could toss any just about any fresh or frozen veggie; it would turn out just great.

A delicious cream sauce prepared with low-fat cream cheese and a flavorful, crisp topping help make this recipe a wonderful side dish. Hubby and I enjoyed our favorite meat loaf as an entrée; this veggie casserole just made the meal.

Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole can be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated, and then baked just before dinner.

Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole

1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 (16-ounce) package frozen cauliflower florets, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt (I used garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
4 ounces (1/2 packages) cream cheese, cubed (I used low-fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Set aside; cut into bite-sized pieces any large broccoli or cauliflower florets. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in flour, remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper. Add milk; cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; cook and stir until cream cheese is melted. Add vegetables; toss gently to coat. Spoon into 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with crumb mixture. Bake 40 minutes or until casserole is heated through and top is browned. Makes 10 servings. (Source: www.mccormick.com)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fresh parsley: greeting spring, now ready to accent Lemon Parsley Chicken

I’m so tickled about my parsley; I really am. This year marked the first winter I’ve braved leaving it in the ground to see if it actually would return in the spring. I didn’t dig it up and put it in a cozy pot to overwinter but just kept it in its regular habitat up near the back porch step and let it freeze back.

As the ground began to warm, I saw the first green fuzzy tops of the parsley sprigs barely inching their heads up over the dirt. They survived! Now, several weeks into spring, they’re multiplying and attempting to regain their pre-winter bushiness.

I wanted a dish that would showcase this fresh product that I could simply walk out my back steps and trim. Through an Internet search I turned up this simple entrée that made a terrific weeknight meal. It was light and low-cal. The fresh parsley and juice and zest from a fresh lemon gave it the most terrific flavor. I added a sack of frozen hash-brown potatoes from the freezer and mixed some parsley snippings within as I cooked the potatoes on the stovetop.

The chicken (a low-fat dish, of course) was unbelievably moist and tender. Sometimes the most simple recipes, prepared with fresh products, are the very best.

Lemon Parsley Chicken 

4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
zest of 1 medium lemon
juice of 1 medium lemon
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Lay chicken breasts in baking tray (I pounded mine with a meat mallet to flatten them a little before I baked them.) Squeeze lemon juice over chicken. Sprinkle parsley and freshly ground black pepper on top. Roast for 20 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Makes 4 servings. (Source: http://lowfatcooking.about.com)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fresh Veggie Pizza a healthy alternative for Pizza Night

Friday night usually lends itself to being pizza night, since that’s frequently the time a little pizza-adoring munchkin visits our house on a routine basis. But how to make that pizza a healthy one is a constant challenge.

I loved running across a recipe for Fresh Veggie Pizza. Whole-wheat crust and some favorite veggies as a topping made it a wonderful choice.

Yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, and green peppers first were sautéed in olive oil before I piled them on the prepared pizza dough that had baked in the oven for several  minutes to set it. 

Mozzarella and grated Parmesan went on as the top layer before the whole thing returned to the oven for about 15 minutes. The finished product was a pizza success story!

Fresh Veggie Pizza

1 pound frozen whole wheat or white bread dough, thawed (I used refrigerated pizza crust)
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, sliced
1 medium yellow, red, or green sweet pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 green onions, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 (8-ounce) can pizza sauce 
1/2 cup pitted, coarsely chopped green or black olives
1 cup shredded mozzarella, provolone, or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. For dough: Place thawed bread dough on lightly floured surface; let it rest 10 minutes. Roll into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Build up edges slightly. Transfer pizza circle to a greased baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork, prick dough over entire surface. Bake about 8 minutes or until crust is set but not browned. Meanwhile, for veggies: in a large skillet cook and stir zucchini or squash and sweet pepper in hot oil for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook and stir 2 minutes more or until just tender. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes. Spread pizza sauce on hot crust to within 1 inch of edge. Using a slotted spoon, spoon zucchini mixture over sauce. Top with olives. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake about 15 minutes or until crust is brown and cheese is melted. Makes about 6 servings. (Source: www.recipe.com)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pasta-Chicken-Broccoli Bake a jewel among new casserole recipes

Sometimes the ole casserole recipe file just needs a little inspiration. I was happy to find this new idea, which used 4 cups of healthy chopped broccoli and turned out just delicious. 

The addition of chopped red bell pepper, plus the spinach tortellini, made this dish oh-so-colorful. Chopped pecans in the topping, along with crushed crackers, gave some additional crunch.

This was designed to be baked in a long oblong baking dish, but I divided it into two smaller ones, so we had one to eat and one to freeze for later. 

The recipe billed it as kid-friendly—an added plus. We look forward to pulling the next round from the freezer. This dish was truly yummy.

Pasta-Chicken-Broccoli Bake

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth (I used the lower-sodium variety)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (I used skim milk)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated cheese-and-spinach tortellini
4 cups chopped broccoli
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
15 round buttery crackers, crushed (I used Ritz hint-of-salt)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onion and next 2 ingredients. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in broth, half-and-half, and white wine. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; add 1 cup cheese and next 2 ingredients. Stir until cheese melts. Stir in tortellini and next 2 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish. Stir together 1/2 cup grated cheese and next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 6 to 8 servings. (Source: Southern Living, December 2012)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy for also-rans to be used in colorful, healthy salad

Asparagus had been on the Easter dinner list, but another menu plan rose to the surface. The asparagus was left over. So was a bunch of broccoli crowns that didn’t get used. A few tomatoes that wouldn’t be fresh much longer also filled the fruit-and-veggie bin. Enter the power of the Internet search. What would happen if I hunted for a recipe that used asparagus, tomatoes, and broccoli—all leftovers?

I found a home for them in Cold Pasta Primavera, which took these healthy offerings and suggested that I also add some black olives plus some chopped red and yellow peppers. This tossed salad mixed around some whole-grain linguine (I subbed this for the called-for primavera twists) and a light dressing was excellent. It wiped away my guilt for not getting the expensive asparagus bunch onto the Easter table. A great main-dish dinner meal for Hubby and me.

It made a monster amount, which means we get to enjoy another serving. So glad the asparagus became an also-ran and we got to enjoy it this way.

Cold Pasta Primavera

1 (10-ounce) package primavera twists (I used whole-grain linguine)
1 can asparagus (I used 1 bunch fresh asparagus)
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I used 3 Roma tomatoes, diced)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1 small bunch broccoli flowerets

1 cup vegetable oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
1/3 cup salad vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain olives and asparagus and set aside. In 3 tablespoons water microwave broccoli flowerets on high for 2-3 minutes (until flowerets are bright green) and drain. If you are using fresh asparagus, do this same preparation for asparagus. In serving bowl combine pasta, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, olives, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 4-6. (Source: cooks.com)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fruit and white chocolate combine for a yummy cobbler

I can tell you that this cobbler was just about the best Easter dessert ever. The base of the cobbler was mixed berries; its topping was white chocolate chips combined with a cake-mix layer. I never had seen a fruit cobbler that featured white chocolate and thought this sounded plenty Easter-y. It was!

The fruit that went into it was mostly fresh peaches (frozen from our yield this past year. How excited we are to see the fruit trees in our garden start to bud with the promise of a wonderful crop this summer!) I added to the peaches some frozen mixed fruit from a bag I had in the deepfreeze. (My recipe said you can use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you want as long as it measures 2 cups.)

With the slow-cooker sprayed with nonstick spray, first went in the fruit layer, with vanilla and brown sugar on top. A box of yellow cake mix, melted butter, and white chocolate chips were stirred together and crumbled on top of the fruit layer. The mixture cooked on high for three hours—totally a fix-it, forget-it operation that yielded a moist, delicious delight.

So glad to have the reminder of a promising peach season contained in this gem of a dish.

White Chocolate/Mixed Berry Cobbler

1 package yellow (or white) cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar
non-stick cooking spray
whipped topping, optional (I used sugar-free)

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Into the bottom of the slow cooker pour the mixed berries (or whatever fruit you use). Pour the vanilla and brown sugar on top of the berries. Add water. In a bowl mix the cake mix and butter until mixture looks crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chips. Pour the cake mixture over the mixed berries layer in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours. Makes 8 servings. (Source: www.slowcookeradventures.com)