Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Best of Summer

Living in a year-round tropical climate can make you forget that in other parts of the world, there are actually different seasons. We've been enjoying warm sunny weather since we arrived here in February, but summertime is just beginning for our friends and family back home. One of my favorite summer memories is eating dinner with my family on our screened-in porch almost every evening. The grill was put to good use as often as possible, with Dad cooking everything from barbecued chicken and flavorful steaks to fresh vegetables and juicy hamburgers. Mom made sure we had plenty of potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, and iced tea. There is nothing better than enjoying delicious food and spending the evening talking with family.

This week, as I obviously have been thinking about summers at home, I decided to try some new recipes that would remind us of all the good times we've enjoyed. Tuesday night I found an easy but classic breaded chicken recipe. I'm sure everyone has their own version, but I love the fact that it is easily adapted to whatever spices or ingredients you have on hand. I crushed a few whole wheat Ritz crackers and added Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, ground pepper, basil, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After dipping the chicken breasts in an egg wash and then in the crumb mixture, I laid them in a disposable aluminum pan and put a few pieces of butter around them. They cooked perfectly in my little oven (which I am loving, by the way). Ryan loves glazed carrots, and I finally remembered to save some carrots to make them for him.

Tonight I had a lot of fun planning and preparing the meal. I found an easy, low-fat baked macaroni recipe and made one of Ryan's favorite meals - Skillet Meatloaf. I found this recipe before I had an oven, but we still love it. I add breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and a little bit of milk to ground beef and shape it into hamburger-sized patties. They cook in a skillet for about 8 minutes. We love to top them with a sauce of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Of course summer isn't the same without baked beans and deviled eggs, and I made corn muffins as well. Homemade sweet iced tea was the perfect complement to the meal. I think I'll make another pitcher to have on hand for these hot summer days.

Right now we're enjoying our own version of summer here in Grenada. But in just 4 weeks, you can find me on my parents' back porch, talking well into the evening with a tall glass of iced tea in my hand.

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