Ranch Chicken with Butter-Cream Sauce

The other night, after a stressful day at work, I came home and began to make my Super Moist Breaded Ranch Chicken. These yummy, moist breasts cook up in no time at all. Served with a quick rice dish, with steamed green beans or a toss salad and it’s a delicious supper in a flash after a long day. My guys really enjoy this dish just as it is.

While preparing the original recipe, it struck me that for a variation, all I need do was create some sort of sauce for the breasts – something to complement the chicken while elevating the presentation just a little – creating something between “comfort” and “fancy”. I was feeling both particularly lazy and creative at the same time.

Wow! It was delicious. Not quite a scampi, but close. Not quite a Piccata, but close.

Breaded Ranch Chicken
1/2 Cup Ranch Dressing
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 boneless chicken breasts

Filet chicken breast lengthwise to create 2 thin breasts from each larger breast. (Or use thin sliced breasts from the market).

Pat breasts dry with paper towels.

Brush breast with Ranch Dressing, then roll in bread crumbs.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once melted, lower heat to medium, place breaded chicken into pan.

Cook for about 5-8  minutes or until golden brown. Turn and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Transfer breasts to an oven proof platter, tent and place in a warm oven to “hold”. Make Butter-Cream Sauce

Butter-Cream Sauce
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
White Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Capers (Optional) 

Pour white to the now empty skillet, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. Add lemon juice, cream and butter. Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to reduce and thicken. Taste and season with a little white pepper.

Return chicken to pan. Sprinkle with capers (if desired), cover and cook until everything is heated through.

Transfer chicken to serving platter or individual plates. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.


Note: To reheat any left over breasts, simply make more sauce, place breast in sauce, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, turning mid-way through. Just as delicious as the first time around!

Italian Lemon Chicken Saute

It’s been one of those weeks, when meal planning hasn’t worked out.  So what started out to be a weekday meal ended up on the table on a Saturday night.  This little gem came from ayearatthetable.com.  It is remarkably simple, yet so delicious.  This was easy to prepare, making it perfect for busy cooks.  The flavor is of the dish wonderful, with a beautiful presentation.  This is a recipe I would not hesitate to make for company.

Just a couple of quick notes.  First off, the original recipe is one of those that has you place the boneless skinless chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it thin.  That’s all fine and well, but so often the meat tears or is bruised.  I simply slice the breast in half, as though you are butterflying the breast, except you cut all the way through creating two thin uninjured breasts.  It’s entirely up to you.  This works well if you have a VERY sharp, thin filet knife and if the meat isn’t completely thawed.  If you are using fresh breast, just pop them in the freezer long enough to firm up a bit.  It makes them much easier to handle.

Also, the original recipe did not call for a splash of white wine.  I love wine in foods, especially in a dish such as this one.  It’s very similar to a Piccata, so the introduction of wine seemed natural to me.  Finally, the original recipe called for chicken broth.  I used organic chicken stock.  The flavor is deeper.

Those are the only deviations from the original recipe.  Otherwise, it’s the recipe developed by  Linda Burner Augustine.  Linda suggests switching limes or oranges for the lemons, using cilantro or basil instead of the parsley.  As you can see, this is a wonderful recipe to have on hand as a spring-board to whatever suits your fancy.

Italian Lemon Chicken Saute
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup flour
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Splash of white wine
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound to ½-inch thickness. Or split breast as you would to butterfly, creating two thin-cut breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper; dredge in flour and shake off excess.

In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil. When butter starts to sizzle, add chicken and cook for 3 minutes.  DO NOT move chicken – allow it to sit and brown. This will impart a deeper flavor to the sauce and result in a superior finished meal. Turn chicken and cook until browned on other side, about 3 minutes. Remove chicken to plate and keep warm (if you have butterflied the breasts, creating 8 thin breasts, cook chicken in two batches, dividing butter and olive oil in half for each batch).

In the same pan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice, wine and lemon zest; bring to simmer, scraping up bits on bottom of pan for flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Cut remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Return chicken to pan, sprinkle with butter and simmer over low heat until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove chicken to serving platter or plates. Add parsley to the sauce, stir to blend. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

If desired, garnish with whole parsley leaves and thin slices of lemon.

This chicken goes well with pan-grilled asparagus and herb-tomato salad.

Chicken Santa Fe

Hope everyone who observed it had a wonderful President’s Day today.  Since it was “business as usual” around here, we had our President’s Day feast yesterday, allowing for time to relax and enjoy the day.  That said, today I made an awesome chicken dish.  This particular meal takes a bit longer to prepare than I like for a week day dinner, but it’s fairly easy to make, so I don’t mind that the dinner hour is pushed back a bit.  Whenever I make this chicken dish, I serve it with the usual sides – warm flour tortillas and refried beans.  For that added “color” a nice salad is always welcomed.

rosaritaEvery now and then, I’ll make my refried beans from scratch, just to change things up. However, work-days don’t afford me that luxury.  Besides Rosarita does a pretty darn good job of whipping up her refried beans – with lots of varieties to choose from.  Whenever I make “canned” beans, I like to add a few “homemade” touches – like actually “frying” the beans in a little bacon grease.  One thing I learned from my Dad is to ALWAYS save the bacon drippings.  It doesn’t take much – maybe a tablespoon – to add a little extra flavor to your beans.

Although this recipe calls for chili powder, it’s really on the mild side.  If you like it hot, I highly recommend that you add more.

Chicken Santa Fe



For Garnish

2 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon Mexican Chili powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can chicken gravy
½ Cup Milk or as needed to thin gravy
½ Cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Peperoncini Peppers for garnish
Cherry tomatoes for garnish

On waxed paper, combine flour and chili powder. Coat chicken with flour mixture.

In a large skillet over medium heat, in hot oil, cook chicken 10 minutes or until browned on both sides. Remove chicken, set aside in warming dish. Drain off fat from skillet.

In same skillet, heat gravy to boiling. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning breasts mid-way through. Spoon gravy over tops of breasts to coat after turning.

Once chicken is cooked, sprinkle breasts with cheese and cover. Continue to cook another few minutes, just until the cheese has melted.

Place chicken on a rimmed serving platter. Spoon/pour gravy over and around breasts. Garnish with Peperoncini Peppers and cherry tomatoes as desired.

Serve with warm tortillas and beans or rice.

Disfrute! (Enjoy!)


Side Suggestion: Authentic Spicy Spanish Rice

Dessert Suggestion: Maria Luisa’s Leche Flan

Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Rice & Broccoli in a Cheese Sauce

Way back in 1977, I held my first ever dinner party.  Okay, so it wasn’t a huge party – there were only three of us dining that evening.  Sue, my best friend at the time, her then boyfriend Allen and me.  Still, I felt so “adult”, entertaining friends in my tiny walk-up apartment.  I will never forget that night for many reasons.  Although Sue and I met in Elementary School, we didn’t really forge our deep friendship until years later, when we were in our early twenties.  (And boy, have I dated myself or what!)

Sue and Allen married a few years later.  They had three beautiful children and built a wonderful life together.  Sue dies of breast cancer almost ten years ago.  Hard to believe it’s been that long – I still miss her and think of her often.

campbell_cookbookThe chicken I had served that night was a recipe I had found on the label of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Way back then, most of my culinary inspiration (and abilities) came from Campbell’s Soup.  It was my go-to base for just about everything.  Although I have evolved in the kitchen, I still keep a few cans of Campbell Soup on hand for a quick, satisfying dinner.  (Most Campbell Soup recipes take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, and we all know how priceless time is these days with our busy, complicated lives). I’ve had my Campbell’s Quick and Easy Recipes Cookbook for over twenty years.  While I don’t refer to it very often, there’s an odd sense of comfort knowing it’s there.

My first dinner party was a learning experience in so many ways.  First and foremost, when planning your menu, make sure what you plan to serve is something your guests would like to eat.  As it turned out, Sue didn’t like cheese and Allen didn’t like chicken.  So to say my first dinner party was a whopping success would be a lie.  Regardless, the company was good even if my guests didn’t devour the meal.  So while I might not recommend this particular dinner for company, it’s a great family-time meal.

Years later I remembered how much I liked this simple meal.  I was sad to discover that the recipe no longer appears on the label of Cream Of Mushroom Soup, nor was it in my twenty-year-old cookbook.  I even searched on line, but the original recipe was no where to be found.  So I created my own.  While the essences of the original recipe is intact, I like this version even better.

Ingredients – Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Rice
4 bone-in chicken breast halves, skin removed
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 soup whole milk
6 Brown Mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 envelope dry onion soup mix, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Rinse chicken breasts with a little lemon juice; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

In a large bowl, combine soup with milk. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture for later. Mix remaining soup mixture with rice, garlic cloves, thyme and half of the dry onion soup mix. Mix well and pour into a baking dish.

Place chicken breasts on rice mixture. Pour reserved soup mix over breasts. Sprinkle with remaining dry onion soup mix and sliced mushrooms.

Cover tightly with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until rice is tender and breasts are almost cooked through. Remove foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes longer or until chicken is done and toppings have begun to brown.

Ingredient – Broccoli & Cheese
16 oz Fresh Broccoli
2 Tablespoons Butter
¼ Cup Finely Chopped Onions
1/2 Cup Milk
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup Processed Cheese Loaf such as Velveeta

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheeses. Return to heat, season with salt and pepper. Cook until mixture thickens and beginning to bubble. Stir in milk slowly, blend well. Simmer, stirring often, until ready to use.

Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, or place broccoli in a re-sealable plastic bag. Poke several vent holes in bag, microwave on high 1-2 minutes or until tender-crisp. Place broccoli on a serving platter, drizzle with cheese. Additional cheese sauce, if desired, can be served table side.