Sunday, August 12, 2007

Summertime and the living is easy

Summer is a time for easy living and carefree fun. It's also hot as heck, here anyway. I love summer not only for the beautiful, yet sweltering weather but for the amazingly fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. In my family we're no longer blessed with the bounty of fresh homegrown vegetables: yellow crookneck squash, cucumbers, juicy red tomatoes, new potatoes, butterbeans and string beans as our greenthumb gardner, my beloved Pop, passed away several winters ago. Summers are still beautiful and my favorite season, but they just aren't the same anymore.

There is no more going to visit Nana and Pop, finding Pop hidden deep in his garden picking pans full of fresh veggies while Nana is inside canning tomatoes and beans or whipping up something fresh and delicious for dinner. I will always have the vivid memories of those summers to cherish for the rest of my life, along with a delicious recipe passed down by Nana for her Summer Chicken Bake. I remember it like it was yesterday, I think it was probably my eighth birthday dinner. We strayed from the norm of grilling burgers and she created this amazing dish for the first time. I've loved it ever since, and each summer look forward to making it myself. Preparing this recipe along with the others I've learned from Nana helps me feel like she's still here with us, and reminds me that a part of her will always live on, not just in my memories, but in the wonderful and beautiful parts of her that I see in myself.

Preparing the Summer Chicken Bake is super easy, with the hardest part being the wait for it to cook. Patience is a virtue that I do not have, I admit it. My measurements are a rough guess, and can be easily changed to suit your taste and the number of mouths you are feeding.

summer chicken bake


Summer Chicken Bake

1 lb skinless chicken breast
1 large yellow onion
1 lb yellow squash
2-3 medium size baking potatoes (or equivalent amount in weight of new/red potatoes)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice vegetables into equal thickness slices. Starting with potatoes, layer vegetables and chicken in casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Cube butter into small pieces and scatter over top of chicken and vegetables. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are cooked and tender. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

*Can also be cooked on the grill by layering vegetables and one piece of chicken on large piece of tinfoil. Then season with salt and pepper and top with small pat of butter. Wrap foil to form a pouch. Place in middle of grill, and cover. Unfortunately I am not the grill master of the family and have not prepared this recipe on the grill myself, so I have no idea what the cooking time on the grill is. Sorry!

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