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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Tangy chicken quick family fare

Thursday, March 23, 2000

Tested by Nancy Anderson

Today's Countdown To Dinner is the third entree from Mary Mannella of Penn Hills. Her previous recipes for Marmalade Chicken and Angel Hair Pasta received raves in this space.

Always on the lookout for ways to prepare fowl, she found the recipe for Honey Sweet Marinated Chicken Breasts in an "easy recipe" cookbook and it's become a family favorite.

The recipe isn't "sweet" per se, as the title suggests. The honey tempers the tartness of the vinegar, but the tender meat still has more of a tangy than a sweet taste.

"I make chicken all the time," she said. "It's good for you -- better than beef -- and my husband and son like it."

We'll agree about the healthful benefits of chicken, but admit we enjoy a bit of broiled cow once in a while.

Mannella says she "loves" being a stay-at-home mom. It gives her time to be active in the PTA (vice president and publicity chairperson) at Dible Elementary School, where son Christopher is a second-grader.

An avid gardener and cookbook collector, she recently took up making dolls at the Porcelain Doll Shop in Penn Hills. "This is something special I do for me," she said.

Because of husband Ed's new job as regional director of finance for DiCesare-Engler Productions, they go to all the concerts at the Civic Arena, which she says is "a lot of fun."

We served today's recipe over rice cooked in chicken broth (buttered noodles would be a second choice) with a simple spinach salad on the side.

Honey Sweet Marinated Chicken Breasts

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in casserole dish (don't crowd). Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover and bake for 25 minutes (ours was done in 20). Serve with a garden salad and Italian bread.

Tester's notes: To vary, add some thinly sliced green pepper strips that have been microwaved for 2 minutes, sliced mushrooms and/or a small can of drained pineapple chunks. This also can be made in a skillet. Lightly cook the chicken pieces in the olive oil. Mix other ingredients, pour over chicken, add a lid and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner. The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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