This recipe came to me in a ketogenic fever-dream. I haven't always been the biggest fan of ranch dressing, but have always loved dry ranch wings from any wing restaurant that makes them. So, I was wanting a dry ranch moment without dealing with the mess of making wings, and knew I had bacon and cheddar cheese and I thought - let's just combine 'em all. I will say - this isn't too ranch-heavy, so if you don't love ranch (or your husband doesn't, a la Ryan), then this won't be overwhelming, it will just add a little herby garlicky flavor.
What you'll need: chicken tenderloin pieces, dry ranch seasoning (either the packet or the big bottle that I recently discovered existed), bacon, and sliced cheddar cheese. Definitely experiment with a different flavor of cheese if cheddar isn't your style. I will say, don't use shredded cheese; it just makes a mess.
Lay the bacon on a foil-lined sheet tray and place in a cold oven. Start the preheat for 375, cook until pliable but not fully cooked. In my oven it takes 13 minutes to reach 375 degrees, and I cooked the bacon an additional 9 minutes. I used thick-cut bacon, so if you're using a thinner cut, cook for less time. Let cool until warm but not too hot to handle.
I typically make 9 chicken fingers when I make this recipe. 2 for me for dinner, 3 for Ryan for dinner, and 4 leftover for both of our lunches. You may see that I have 10 slices of bacon on this sheet tray and think, "...But Savannah, you just said you were making 9 chicken fingers? Why are there 10 slices of bacon?" Because I didn't want to deal with putting it back in the package neatly, and sometimes you just need a snack.
Sprinkle some ranch seasoning on a plate, lay the chicken on top, then cover with more ranch seasoning. Let sit while the bacon cooks. When you go to wrap the chicken in the bacon later, the chicken will be a little gummy from the ranch seasoning. Don't worry, that just means the flavor has really gotten in there. However, if you want to avoid that, dry the chicken really well before covering in ranch seasoning, and don't let it dry marinate as long - maybe only 3-5 minutes.
Wrap each piece of chicken in a slice of bacon and place on a rack* over the same sheet tray you cooked the bacon on. The rack will ensure the heat gets all the way around the chicken fingers, making sure the chicken cooks quickly and the bacon gets crispy. Also, one pan dinner!
*You don't have to use a rack over a sheet tray if you don't have a rack. Just make it straight on the hot sheet tray. The first time I made this, I baked the chicken fingers in a casserole dish and I didn't get the crispiness I desired. Also - I don't like to bake my bacon on the rack if I'm only par-cooking it initially, because it sticks. This is all personal preference of course - you do you.
Bake in the 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Take out, top each chicken finger with half a slice of cheese, return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
These come out so cheesy but also crispy and tender and juicy and are one of my most recent obsessions. I like to serve them with just a veggie on the side - grilled zucchini here - and some of Kyndra Holley's ranch dressing. I absolutely love her blog and her cookbook, Craveable Keto, is where I got the recipe for her ranch dressing.
I really hope you make these tonight and that they become a regular in your house. They're easy and extremely satisfying.
Ingredients (there's only FOUR!):
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Happy Valentine's Day! Today I'm sharing a dish that I love to eat and love to make. This was one of the first meals that I tried my hand at making and feel like I have perfected it over the years. I've tried a lot of chicken piccatas at a lot of different restaurants, and I still like mine best. Full disclosure: I made this the first time I met Ryan's parents, as it had become my "good first impression" dish, and he later told me his family normally doesn't love lemon, but they cleaned their plates! So I considered it a success. Anyway, let's get into the recipe.
You will need: thinly sliced chicken breasts, olive oil, butter, a lemon, a glass of dry white wine (I use/drink pinot grigio), capers, about 1 cup of flour, pasta, salt and pepper.
Your prep: Preheat the oven to 250, season flour in a shallow dish with salt and pepper, set a large pot of water to boil, and heat up olive oil over medium heat in a large shallow pan. You just need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, we're not frying, just sautee-ing.
While the oil is heating up, lightly dredge each chicken breast in the seasoned flour. Again, we're not frying. You don't have to use flour, by the way, if you don't want to. I like using it because it holds the moisture of the chicken in and also thickens the resulting sauce. But you do you.
Also, shout out to my dad on these photos! Check out more of his work here.
While the chicken is cooking on the first side and the water is heating up, assemble what you will need next: get a large dish ready for transferring the chicken to the oven, pour a glass of wine (it's okay to drink half of it), and cut your lemon in half.
After 3 minutes, flip your chicken over. It should be pretty and golden brown. Cook on the other side for an additional 3 minutes.
After that 3 minutes, transfer the chicken to the dish and pop them into the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and cook the pasta.
Squeeze in the juice of your lemon. This will start the de-glazing of the pan, and help get the yummy fond off the pan.
Use a flat-edged wooden spoon to start scraping up the bits and incorporate all of that chicken flavor into the lemon juice.
Next, pour in the glass of wine, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and add in 2 tablespoons of capers. I scoop the capers out of the jar with a fork, as to avoid getting any brine into the sauce. But if you want more of a salty bite, add in the brine and omit adding salt.
Yummm. And see how the sauce is opaque and looks rich? That's because of the flour. Now let's make this sauce silky...
Add 3/4 stick of butter. This will thicken the sauce a little more, give it a pretty sheen, and luxurious and velvety mouth-feel.
While the butter melts, cook the pasta. I used fresh pasta so it cooks in like, 3-4 minutes. If you're using dried pasta, I'd say throw it in the boiling water when you start making the sauce, as dried pasta cooks in about 8 minutes.
When the pasta is finished, place a pile on a plate, along with a piece of chicken.
And spoon on some sauce! Make this for your sweetie or yourself on this Valentine's Day. I guarantee you will love it. Plus, you probably already have all of these ingredients in your fridge or pantry, so even if you don't make it tonight, it makes for an easy weeknight dinner that still feels fancy. Enjoy my loves!
Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Labor Day weekend - I know I did! We went out for a fantastic birthday dinner and I had a divine cake made by a fellow Charleston small business owner, Cakes by Kait. Kait made our wedding cake and cupcakes almost three years ago and for my last birthday of my twenties, I knew I wanted something special. On top of the fun birthday festivities, we had gorgeous weather here in Charleston, just in time for Hurricane Irma* to potentially hit us.
In the spirit of celebrating the last weekend of summer *sob* and an impending tropical storm, I wanted to make something decidedly summer-y. You can thank Mr. Ryan Pekar for this dish, by the way. After having a back-to-school cold for two weeks I have been feeling under the weather and subsequently, unmotivated. Of course, it happens to the best of us, and now my taste buds are finally coming back! He and I were taking an evening walk through our neighborhood and he suggested making a bright and fresh recipe that would make you all think of summer all year long. So I came up with this citrus marinated chicken and I really hope y’all love it.
*Hurricane Harvey has devastated so much of Houston, and we are anxiously awaiting what happens with Irma here in SC. Please consider donating to local Houston charities such as food banks and animal shelters. We hope to fare better here in Charleston, and our hearts are with our Southern neighbors in Texas.
Flavor components: lemon and lime juice and zest bring that tang and brightness that is always needed when you make chicken, especially when you grill. I also included my fave ingredient, pineapple white balsamic vinegar, which I first told y’all about in my tostadas recipe here. I really think I could drink that by the spoonful. For a little smoky spiciness that also enhances the citrus flavors, I added a little cumin. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon catch on that cumin may be my favorite spice. If you haven’t tasted cumin before, it almost tastes like lemon zest that has been smoked but also has a slightly floral note to it. A pinch of red pepper flakes brought a dash of heat, garlic is a marinade staple for it's punch of flavor, and I emulsified it with a robust olive oil.
You may notice that the photos in this post look different than usual. For my birthday, my sweet husband bought me some lighting equipment to help my photography skills for my dear readers. Our kitchen doesn't always get the best lighting, so hopefully these will help, once I get the hang of them! Ryan was also the photog for this recipe, so I could use both hands and get dinner on the table faster. Enjoy his edgy angles!
For the marinade: zest two lemons and two limes.
Add the juice of both lemons and limes.
Add 3 tbsp of pineapple vinegar (see my note on how to make this in my tostadas recipe if you can’t find this vinegar).
Sprinkle in 1 tsp of cumin.
Add a pinch each of red pepper flakes and black pepper, and two pinches of salt.
Add 1 tsp of minced garlic.
Gradually whisk in 1 cup of olive oil.
Place all of the pieces of chicken into the marinade.
I used a large pack of thin sliced chicken breasts when I made this because I was feeding four people and also wanted leftovers for lunches. Because they were already cut thin and it was getting close to dinner time, I only marinated these for 1 hour and that was plenty of time to impart the perfect juicy tangy flavor.
After 1 hour**, grill over medium-high heat on a grill pan (like I did, because we’re out of propane) or on an outdoor grill for 5 minutes per side. If you’re making a large batch like I did, cook the chicken in batches, keeping the cooked pieces warm in a 275 degree oven until all pieces are finished.
**If you marinate for longer than 2 hours, the enzymes in the citrus will begin to tenderize the meat too much, which will result in mushy chicken.
This chicken was juicy and tender, tangy from the citrus, had a slight smoky sweetness from the cumin and vinegar, and just the right kick from the red pepper flakes. I am going to make this chicken well into the fall and winter - I would say “with the help of my grill pan” but it doesn’t get cold here, so once we replace that propane tank, I’ll get back to grilling these for real. Enjoy, friends!
Here’s the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.