Originally created 04/03/02

A quick birdie

I was watching a rerun of Leave it to Beaver the other night, and had to laugh. June Cleaver, the mother of two boys, was cooking breakfast in a perfectly pressed dress, hose and pumps - and the clincher: pearls.

My first thought was, "My, how things have changed." Then I wondered if it was ever like that.

If June Cleaver was the prototypical mother of her time, my friend Cheryl Steele could well be the typical mom of today. As mother of three, a full-time student and part-time art instructor, Cheryl wears a lot of hats.

With her busy life, Cheryl knows a thing or two about quick cooking. This week I'm sharing her recipe for quick Greek chicken, a perfect entree to feed your family, or visiting Masters guests.

Cheryl's chicken is a bit quicker than my version: She places boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in a baking pan, sprinkles them with crumbled feta cheese, pours bottled lemon juice over the top and bakes the dish for 40 minutes.

I'm a stickler about fresh lemon juice, so my version calls for the juice of two to three lemons ( 1/2 -cup). Before placing the breasts in the baking pan, I rub them with olive oil and chopped garlic, then sprinkle on some dried oregano before the feta.

Feta cheese is salty, so whether you season the chicken with salt before baking is up to you. You can find regular, reduced-fat or fat-free crumbled feta in 3.5-ounce packages in the supermarket dairy case or deli cheese shop.

This quick centerpiece for a mid-tournament meal pairs well with cooked orzo pasta. I like to treat orzo like rice, cooking it in twice as much liquid as pasta so you don't have to drain it.

Create a flavorful dish with snow peas by simmering a 1-pound box of orzo in two cans of chicken broth and cooking for 15 to 20 minutes. During the last five minutes of cooking, stir in some fresh snow peas (wash them first and remove the ends). When the orzo is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, stir in a cup of frozen snow peas and some chopped green onions, then season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Sliced tomatoes with a vinaigrette will add color to the plate.

For dessert, take advantage of the season's fresh strawberries by serving strawberry shortcakes or fresh strawberries over ice cream. You can purchase prepared shortcakes at the supermarket, or you can make your own with a package of Bisquick or Jiffy baking mix. Wash, core and slice the strawberries, then stir in a little sugar and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes. The strawberry juices and sugar will make a nice syrup, perfect for serving over the shortcakes or ice cream.

Cheryl's Greek Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 3.5-ounce package reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, the juice from approximately 2-3 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and drizzle over the chicken. Rub the oil mixture into each breast and place in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle the oregano evenly over each breast, then follow with the crumbled feta cheese. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and bake for 40 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, PO Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@home.com.

 Calories: 273
 Fat: 13 g
 Saturated Fat: 5.4 g
 Protein: 34 g
 Fiber: 0.2 g
 Carbohydrates: 3.3 g
 Sodium: 359 mg
 Cholesterol: 105 mg
 Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.


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