I’ve decided to occasionally write a post that offers a menu. Sometimes you just don’t feel like being creative and thinking about how to put a meal together…well just relax. I’ve got you taken care of.

Todays menu:

Grilled chicken
Garlic green beans
Squash casserole

This weekend we had family in town, including a couple of very picky eaters. I decided to play it safe with some grilled chicken and fresh veggies from the farmer’s market. I got the go-ahead on a few vegetables and went to the farmer’s market to see what I could find. I came home with yellow squash and green beans. Green beans aren’t my favorite, but if it’s a fresh vegetable I’ll eat it.

The star of the show as far as I’m concerned was the squash casserole. It’s my mom’s recipe. She’s an excellent cook, and I’m ashamed to say a bit under-appreciated by her children. Probably because she lived in the shadows of her mother, who was one of those women who just looked like she knew her way around the kitchen (and she did). This squash casserole was adapted from the squash casserole that they used to serve at a restaurant called “Aunt Fannie’s Cabin” in Atlanta. It’s delicious with fresh squash and to me it tastes like the South.

Lisa’s Squash Casserole

3 lb. yellow squash, sliced and steamed
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 tbs. butter, melted
1/2 c. Ritz cracker crumbs
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp. sugar

Mash cooked squash and drain well. Combine 1 tbsp. butter with cracker crumbs. Mix half the crumbs and remaining ingredients and pour into a greased casserole. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top and bake for 1 hour in a 375 degree oven.

Garlic Green Beans
Recipe from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock

1 lb. green beans, washed and stemmed
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lg. clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. finely snipped parsley (I didn’t have this for my dish)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Fill a big pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add 1 tbsp. of salt and the stemmed green beans, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until tender but resistant to the bite. Drain the beans, and immediately plunge into a bowl of salted ice water to stop the cooking. As soon as the green beans are chilled, drain them.
Heat the butter in a wide skillet until hot and foaming. Add the green beans, and cook, tossing constantly, until heated through. Add the garlic, parsley, and a generous sprinkling of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and continue cooking 1 minute longer. Serve immediately.

Grilled chicken

I buy a whole chicken and cut it up. It’s SO much cheaper this way, especially if you are feeding a bunch of people. I like to buy the “all natural, no hormones, no antibiotic” chicken. The Joy of Cooking has a good section on how to cut up a chicken; when I get better at it maybe I’ll blog about it.

My Daddy taught me to cook meat on the grill by first sprinkling it with vinegar (any kind) and then sprinkling with a dry rub or other seasoning. I’ve never read this anywhere else; most people use oil. If you can tell me a reason not to do this please do; it produces wonderful results. This time I used Tony Chachere’s.

Set your grill up for indirect heat. If you are using charcoal sprinkle some hickory chunks or soaked wood chips on the coals. Once the coals are good and hot put your chicken down to get it good and browned (this step is for flavor, not to “seal in the juices” — that’s a myth). Then, once it’s browned on both sides move it to the other side of the grill. Put your vents over the meat so the smoke will be directed over the meat. I leave a small opening in both top and bottom vents, but you do what works best for you and your grill. Just watch it to make sure it doesn’t die or get too hot. Check the meat with a thermometer (close to 170 degrees – remember it will cook a bit after you take it off the grill) or just cut a thick breast to see if the juices run clear (this is what I do, I don’t like my meat thermometer).

I served all of the above with some leftover cornbread I had in the freezer. Use white corn meal if you can find it and just follow the recipe on the bag. Hopefully it won’t have any sugar in it.

Sit down with some friends and/or family and enjoy!