Working mother extols the value of quick meals Planning: With seven children and a job outside her home, Regina Bello has to be well-organized.

Kitchen Encounter

September 17, 1997|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

When you're a working mother cooking every night for a family that includes seven children ranging in age from 21 to 5, it pays to be prepared.

Regina Bello manages by "planning ahead, making things that can just go in the oven, or quick things on the grill, or stir-fries or pasta. Anything I can do quickly when I get home."

On one recent night, Bello, who's assistant manager at Crate & Barrel in Towson Town Center, said dinner would be a chicken potpie she had made the morning before. "I'm a real early morning person, I get up and do a lot of things." All she had to do that evening was to pop the pie in the oven.

She learned to cook by watching family members. "I'm Polish, and my husband is Irish-Italian. I learned from the mothers and the grandmothers." It was imperative, she said, that she learn to make Italian tomato sauce from her husband's mother "before the wedding." But her current style is adventuresome. "I definitely like to try new things all the time." Because her husband in is the hotel business, she said, "We've lived in different places all over the country. That's allowed me to try a lot of different things."

She admires household maven Martha Stewart, and for a dinner-party dessert, likes to serve a Stewart-inspired poundcake with chocolate ganache and ice cream on the side. Like a lot of people, she finds Stewart's projects encourage her to try new things. "The one thing I haven't done that I admire Martha for is cake and pastry decorating," she said. "I'd really like to do that."

Here is one of Bello's quick and easy recipes. The breasts can be made just before serving, made ahead and served cold, or made ahead and reheated.

Cajun chicken fillet sandwiches

Serves 4

1/4 cup teriyaki marinade

1/4 cup red wine

1 1/2 teaspoons dried whole thyme

1 1/4 teaspoons ground red pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons white pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder with parsley

1 pound of chicken breast fillets

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

8 1-inch-thick slices French bread

2 cups coarsely shredded lettuce

Combine first 7 ingredients in a shallow glass casserole. Place chicken breast fillets in marinade, turning once to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

Prepare grill to medium-hot. Remove chicken from marinade and grill approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until chicken is done.

Combine mayonnaise and horseradish in a small bowl.

Toast bread slices lightly on both sides on grill.

Spread one side of each toasted bread slice with the mayonnaise mixture. Place shredded lettuce on half the slices. Place a fillet on each bed of lettuce and cover with remaining slices of bread.

Pub Date: 9/17/97

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