What is it about October that turns us all into country folk? It’s like we’re going on with our lives living our clean-lined, minimalist truth then October rolls around and we have a bale of hay on our front port and a farm roasted dinner in the oven. I must say the atmosphere does make it enticing. As the weather cools it just makes you want to light a fire and live by candlelight for the next 31 days and watch the world go by. A simple life.
Perhaps I’m noticing it more this year because my life is currently ANYTHING but watching the world go by. My life is unpacking boxes, home renovation projects, new tires, trash days, a full time job, and I need to start planning a wedding somewhere in here. 🙂
We are starting to get settled into our house and it feels so good! I’m getting used to the lay of our kitchen and adjusting to cooking with my things being in new cupboards and drawers. (side note: why is it always so hard to re-learn where you put your kitchen utensils). The rooms are all painted, the light fixtures have been updated and switched out, and things are really coming together (ps. See my mini-home tour on my Instagram page in the “Home” highlight).
Last night, I cooked our first full, real dinner in our new kitchen. Chicken Caesar Salads. I must be honest that Caesar dressing is something that I was little intimidated to make at home. It’s one of those things that’s oftentimes best left to the professionals – much like Chinese take-out or a 5 star tiramisu. But I gave it a try. The first round of Caesar dressing I made turned out HORRIBLE. I found a recipe online that called for a CUP of mayonnaise and it completely lacked the bite and depth of a traditional Caesar dressing. I couldn’t accept that mayonnaise-y mess so I Googled “Restaurant Caesar Dressing” and this little recipe from heaven popped up. I tweaked it, because I’m not one to follow the directions (which makes me a TERRIBLE baker), but makes me an adventurous cook. This recipe called for ZERO mayo, but for 1 egg yolk and olive oil – much more my speed.
For the chicken, I used a simple marinade of equal parts soy sauce and zesty Italian dressing. Then baked it all in a covered dish on 375 for 1 hour. I prefer to use a covered dish when cooking chicken, because it keeps the chicken moist and tender and it is more foolproof (aka less time worrying about if the chicken is done right, and more time preparing the rest of the meal). I always put the chicken in first, which gives me 1 hour to prepare everything else.
The homemade croutons are equally easy to make. Essentially you’re over toasting tiny pieces of bread, so no mistakes here either! I simply took two-pieces of Farm-to-Market Sourdough bread, cut them into small squares, drizzled EVOO in a hot skillet, tossed in the bread and seasoned with kosher salt, garlic powder, and parsley flakes. I continuously tossed the bread for approximately 5 minutes until the bread was completely dried / toasted, slightly golden and charred, and crunchy!
I was completely floored with how delicious and simple this meal was and how gourmet it tasted. I hope you try this recipe at home! Now run along, don’t you have a bale of hay to put on your front porch?! Yeehaw.
- 2 chicken breasts
- Equal parts soy sauce and zesty Italian dressing (about ½ cup each)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 (overflowing) tbsp anchovy paste – you can’t skip this. It’s what gives the Caesar its bite.
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- A few grinds of black pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 slices sourdough bread, cut into small “crouton-like” squares
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tsp)
- Salt, garlic powder and parsley to taste. About ¼ tsp of each.
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Chicken: Preheat oven to 375 F. In a covered baking dish, place two chicken breasts and cover with soy sauce and Italian dressing. Once oven reaches 375 F, cover with lid and bake for 1 hour, until completely cooked through.
- Caesar Dressing: Combine egg yolk, anchovy paste, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, minced garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and salt into a blender or food processor. Blend for 25 seconds or until dressing is completely mixed and cheese is blended into the dressing. Cover and set in refrigerator to let flavors combine.
- Croutons: Drizzle EVOO in a skillet on high heat, add in bread squares, season with salt, garlic powder, and parsley. Toss until completely toasted and crunch. Insides should be completely cooked and crunchy all the way through.
- Salad: Rinse and dry head of romaine lettuce. Chop off the hard end. Cut in half, then cut into quarters. Roughly chop each quarter for chopped salad leaves. Assemble salad with sliced chicken breast, drizzle with Caesar dressing, top with croutons, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a crack of fresh ground pepper.
Food Gal Al