(Becky, the Mama) Now that summertime is here in Colorado, it is hard for me to stay away from the perfect weather on our inviting back porch!
We nap, visit and eat outside as much as humanly possible. Yesterday, we hosted a group of young couples and little ones for an outdoor brunch. A friend dropped by last night and we enjoyed a plate of nachos and cool drinks as we rocked and swung and chatted in the evening breeze. Tonight we had some dear friends and their little girls over for an old-fashioned supper-on-the-porch that brought back memories of meals around my own grandmother’s table. I made garlic & lemon roast chicken, baked sweet potatoes, Asian peanut buttery green beans (recipe to come soon!), corn, and my simple rustic, pastry-style cherry-blueberry cobbler (a festive July 4 recipe, by the way, with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberrg sorbet).
But it was the refreshing side-dish that I prepared for tonight’s meal that made me wax nostalgic for potlucks and picnic tables of my childhood: sweet n’ sour refrigerator pickled cucumbers & onions. I updated this beloved Grandma dish by using the small Asian or Persian cucumbers that are often sold in little packages of six to twelve, and becoming increasingly popular in grocery stores everywhere. Sliced a little on the thick side they hold their crunch for days in this pickling liquid. I like to keep a container of these marinated cucumbers and onions hand in the fridge all summer long to add a crisp, cold delightful punch to almost any meal.
You can get creative and add some diced fresh tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts or any kind of cooked beans and a handful of fresh chopped herbs to this basic dish to create a quick, pretty, refreshing marinated salad for potlucks, picnics and summertime side-dishes. Crunch on and enjoy!
Crunchy, Easy, Refrigerator Pickled Cucumbers & Red Onions
6 to 8 small Asian or Persian cucumbers, sliced about 3/4 inch (leave peel on)
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thin, pulled apart in strands
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 T. sea salt
T. dried dill (or 2 T. fresh chopped dill)
1 T. celery seed
1 T. black sesame seeds (optional)
Directions: Mix all of the above together in a dish with a lid. Let the mixture sit on the counter , with lid on top, at room temperature for about an hour and then put in fridge to chill until ready to serve. (Let the veggies marinate at least 3 hours for the best flavor through-out.) Will keep in fridge up to a week, maintaining its crunch.
(Becky, the Mama)
I have literally been making this recipe for 30 years!
As a newlywed and college student, one of my best friends was Brenda Scott. We both married young (I was 17 and she was 18), so we swapped recipes and sometimes cooked together, too, trying to learn our way around the kitchen. One day we whipped up chocolate chip cookies in my small duplex kitchen. We each took a bite of a cookie at the same time, then both ran to spit it out in the sink, reaching for water to quench our sudden thirst.
“Becky, what did I do wrong?” Brenda asked, her Texas accent thick. “These taste like pure salt!”
I held up a clear canister that I’d filled with salt. (I never bothered with pesky things like “labels.”)
She looked at me, her eyes wide with confusion. “Who keeps salt in canister?”
All I could do, since I was laughing so hard, was to point to myself and shrug.
Eventually we both had children, and on a visit for lunch in her home, our kids everywhere around us, Brenda served this sweet-savory dish called Pineapple Chicken Stack-Ups. She thinks she may have found the recipe on the back of a Dole Pineapple can. Wherever she found it, for me, it was love at first bite. The toasted English muffin is smeared with a savory mayo dolled up with dill and chopped green onions, then layered with pineapple slices (fresh or canned), a piece of cooked boneless chicken (thighs or breasts or even tenders), a little more sauce and sprinkle of grated cheese… popped in the oven for about 10 minutes, and dinner is served. (All you need is a simple salad on the side.)
I went home from Brenda’s house and made this recipe that very evening and have been making them on a regular basis for 30 years now, as long as Brenda and I have been friends, as long as we’ve been laughing together about our own foibles . (I should mention she went on to become one of the finest nurses you can imagine. Since I still forget to label things, I decided not to inflict my personality on the medical world, and eventually turned to writing humor as a career.) I mentioned these Pineapple Chicken Stack Ups to Rachel the other day and she said, “I loved those! And see? There’s proof you DID actually cook for us when we were kids.” My youngest son, Gabe, chimed in as well. “I loved those things, too!”
You can make as many “stack ups” as you want (and can fit) on a cookie sheet by increasing the recipe, which is really easy to do. Because they spend very little time in the oven, they make a nice summer meal. Perfect for fancy ladies luncheons, too, as you can construct them ahead of time, and then pop them in the oven to heat and melt at the last minute. This recipe is also easily veganized by subbing Veganaise for the mayo; cooked vegan chik’n cutlets, and vegan cheese. I used fresh pineapple this time, but when the kids were young, and time short, I reached for a can of pineapple rings and the results were still yummy.
Brenda’s Pineapple Chicken Stack Ups
Makes 4 servings (If your gang is hungry, they might eat 2 of these each, making the yield just 2 servings)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 English muffins, split into 4 halves, and lightly toasted (I prefer multigrain)
4 boneless chicken thighs or smallish chicken breasts , seasoned with salt & pepper, and cooked on both sides, in a skillet, in a little olive oil until golden brown (or a vegan “chik’n” substitute)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (vegans use veganaise )
2 T. chopped green onions
1 T. dried dill or 2 T. fresh dill
4 fresh or canned pineapple slices
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (vegans use a dairy-less cheese)
Mix mayo, green onions and dill together in a small bowl. (Don’t skip the dill, it is truly what makes this dish special!) Spread the toasted muffin halves, cut side up, with a heaping Tablespoon of the may0-dlll-onion sauce. Place the muffins on a cookie sheet or large baking pan, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Next, place a slice of pineapple on each muffin. Then carefully lay one piece of boneless cooked chicken on top of the pineapple, followed by another scant tablespoon of mayo-dill-onion sauce and finally a heaping tablespoon of grated cheese on top of it all.
Carefully pop in the oven and let heat through until cheese is melted on top for about 10 minutes.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pineapple Chicken Stack Ups
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook