Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last Night's Dinner #133: Caesar Salad

A different schedule and a different budget calls for a whole new way of eating/cooking! It's funny how one month you can be whipping up fresh seafood stews and the next you're having tuna sandwiches for dinner - but hey I wouldn't trade it for the world.

It will be interesting to see what sort of dinner menus I can come up with to work with our new food budget. I've budgeted $100 max for our weekly groceries, which is probably significantly less than what we were spending back in nyc. Going to the farmers market every two days was definitely burning a whole in my pocket. We have a Whole Foods near by, but we noticed that we were spending way over our budget so we've decided to shop at our local groceries instead. I've been struggling to come up with dinner ideas lately, it's a whole new world for me but I'm up for the challenge.

Soup and salad dinners have become one of our faves around here. It takes no time to make and it's pretty cost effective and sometimes not that bad for the hips.

Trader Joe's makes my favorite ready-made soups - I love their tomato roasted peppers one and the butternut squash one is yumm.

You'll need:
2 to 3 medium sized Chicken Breast (skinless/boneless)
Romaine lettuce (2-3 mini heads or 1 huge one)
Parmesan Cheese (it's best to get a block and shave it yourself)
4 slices of white bread or any bread you have laying around
oregano, parsley flakes, salt, pepper
olive oil
Your favorite Caesar dressing
butter is optional

Wash and season chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, parsley flakes (you can put whatever spices you want on the chicken) and drizzle in about 2tbs some olive oil. I find it easier to put the washed chicken in a big ziplock bag then I season, add oil then sort of mix it all in the bag.

Heat up your grill pan or if you're lucky enough to have a grill outside - go for it. Grill both sides of the chicken. Didn't take me too long to cook mine, they were fairly thin. If you get ones on the thicker side, just "butterfly" the breasts.

In the meantime, cut the bread into nice chunks for croutons. I didn't, but if you want you could spread some butter on them before cutting. You could also sprinkle some herbs if you'd like. Spread them out on a tray and bake until golden brown. I just put them in my convection oven 400F, turned them and just kept a close eye on them. Once done, allow them to cool and crisp up.

Cut the lettuce into small pieces and put it back in the fridge. The key to all salads is cold lettuce! Shave (cut thin slivers with a knife or peeler) parmesan, you can set these aside or just plop them on top of the lettuce.

Once your chicken is done, let it sit on top of a plate or a cutting board for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow the chicken to cool down + all the juices can redistribute themselves in the chicken and not in your salad (notice the liquid on the plate or board? you don't want that in your salad).

Cut up the chicken and toss everything together - lettuce, cheese, croutons, chicken.

Top with your favorite dressing and a dash of pepper! Serve with a nice cup of your favorite soup.

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