I am still trying to find that weeknight balance. It pains me to say it, but I think it is somewhere between semi-homemade and ordering take-out. Not to say there aren’t wonderful meals that can be made between your commute and bedtime stories. For me it isn’t the cooking, over the years I have learned how to make great, from-scratch food quickly (hint: practice). No, for me it is the clean-up. Take this delicious, from scratch Caesar salad. It took a skillet, a baking sheet, the blender, and a salad bowl. That’s just too many dishes to wash after dinner. Fortunately, every meal is still a learning opportunity. I don’t think you need the scratch dressing (good-bye, blender). If you are willing to toss your own lettuce in bottled dressing then you can also forgo the salad bowl. The homemade croutons are a must but luckily can be made ahead and kept in the freezer (¡adios! baking sheet). You are left with a quickly seared chicken breast and one skillet to wash out-not too bad! Below are recipes for amazing homemade croutons and perfectly seared chicken breasts.
Homemade Croutonsmakes approx 6 cups, prep 5 min, cook 20 min
- 1 loaf good bread (any bread will do depending on the variety of crouton you want)
- 1/4 oil, infused is best-such as garlic, pepper, etc..
- seasoning to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cube bread into bite sized pieces.
- In a large bowl, add bread cubes and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat.
- Add desired seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried herbs, etc… to taste.
- Bake cubes for approximately 8 minutes.
- Flip, toss, and turn cubes. Bake another 8 minutes. Check cubes for even browning, toss again and continue baking until golden.
- Cool croutons and store in a freezer bag in the freezer. Remove individual croutons before serving, thaw for a few minutes at room temp.
Sauteing a chicken breast is hardly a new idea to most. However there is a fine line between a nicely seared, moist breast and a dried out, over-cooked one. The trick is to combine searing and poaching.
Perfect Sauteed Chicken Breastsserves 4, prep 5 min, cook 15 min
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- 2 tbsp oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- Heat a 12 inch skillet with a lid over medium heat.
- Pat chicken breast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- Add oil to the pan and let warm until shimmering.
- Add breasts in one layer and cook without disturbing until nicely seared on the bottom, about 8 minutes.
- Flip breasts and add water to the pan. Cover and simmer until water is evaporated, about 8 minutes.
- Remove breasts and cool, slice at an angle for fancy.