"The chicken stuff is good. I’m OK with that."
I had gone home for one recent weekend to visit my father. We were standing in the Piggly Wiggly (aka The Pig) near the produce after our traditional Cracker Barrel vegetable plate lunch. We were trying to decide what to fix for Sunday lunch.
Well, we were just reading the script. We already knew what Sunday lunch would be. I had taught my father how to make this dish several years ago but he still liked for me to do it. Routine can be comforting.
My mother had always been the general in the kitchen. Don't touch the equipment, don't try to throw something new into the pantry. Don't even try it. She had her plan of grocery store attack, and you'd better not waver from it.
When my father found himself having to prepare his own meals, he was therefore at a loss. I had to give him a crash course on cooking. Because he has to watch his sodium intake, most convenience foods were off-limits, yet I wanted cooking to be as easy for him as possible.
So I took him to the frozen vegetables and told him with the bags of veggies, he could just empty out as much as he wanted and heat up in the microwave. A few sprinkles of vinegar can tenderize baked chicken and give it a salt-free zing.
A while back I had found a recipe on a soup can label, and it looked like something he could easily do. It became a favorite.
Here's what has evolved over the years. We don't measure any ingredients, which helps simplify things.
CHARLES' CHICKEN BAKE
1 pound fresh chicken tenders
1 can condensed reduced-sodium cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
Whole wheat pasta or brown rice
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and place chicken tenders in one layer in the dish. Sprinkle dried thyme and ground pepper lightly over the chicken. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the soup with about 1/4 cup of water to a thick gravy consistency. After the chicken has baked for 30 minutes, pour the soup over the chicken and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes. Serve with cooked pasta or rice.