A Grandmother's Menu for Mother's Day

My wonderful grandmother lived with my family for many years while I was a young girl. It was my Nana, in fact, who introduced me to cooking and imparted to me a love for food. She was a wonderful cook and teacher. For Mother's day, I could think of nothing better than to prepare one of the many dishes she invented and shared with me. I knew that doing that would provide her -- and the rest of my family -- with great joy, as she truly is one of the best cooks I know.

Nana's Beer Chicken Garlic Rice Lima Bean Salad Orange Pineapple Custard

Nana's Beer Chicken
Serves 4-6


  • 12 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 can beer (see note)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced

In a casserole, heat oil and saute onions until transparent. Add chicken and saute until it is light brown on both sides. Add tomatoes, ketchup, carrots and beer. Season with dashes of salt and pepper and cook covered for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and add mushrooms, thyme and cornstarch. Stir and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add peppers and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve on a decorative platter.
Note: This dish may be served to children and all those who don't drink, since the cooking process removes the alcohol.

Garlic Rice
Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water or chicken broth

Over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil until translucent but not brown. Add rice and stir until the garlic olive oil is well mixed into the rice. Add water or broth and raise heat to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking until water or broth is absorbed. Serve in a decorative bowl, or surrounding the chicken on a large platter.

Lima Bean Salad
This was the only way my Nana was able to get me to eat lima beans.
Serves 4

  • 1 large package frozen lima beans
  • 1 medium red onion, cut through center and then finely sliced
  • olive oil
  • red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • salt/pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, cover lima beans with water and cook over high heat until cooked through. Drain water and place lima beans in a bowl. Add red onion and toss with olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Keep chilled and serve as is or else on a bed of lettuce, sliced red cabbage or watercress.

Orange Pineapple Custard
Although this recipe is not Nana's, it is similar to the flan which she would frequently make.
Serves 4-6


  • 1 cup orange-pineapple juice
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons orange rind
  • 1/3 cup light brown granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. While oven is warming, mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Pour the mixture into individual custard cups and place in a shallow pan of hot water. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. The custard is completely cooked when a knife or fork comes out clean when you insert it in the center. Serve either at room temperature or chilled.

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