Monday, July 30, 2012

Buttermilk Ranch Marinated Chicken Breasts

My sister-in-law Carolyn and her husband Billy are great cooks.  They used to have a restaurant, The Hayner House, in Ballston Spa.  Carolyn comes from a long line of great Italian cooks, and Billy cooked professionally for a while before becoming part-owner of the family business, Quality Hardware in Saratoga and Hudson Falls.  He's since retired and turned the reigns of the business over to my super-capable and energetic niece Louise.  Their family is all about good food, and they often host their kids and grandchildren for the traditional Sunday dinner, much like the one my family enjoyed when my children were little, at "Grammy Eddy's" house.  For years, we'd all show up Sunday afternoons, the kids eager to play with their cousins, and stay long past a wonderful dinner, give all the kids a bath and get them in their p.j.s before heading home.  I looked forward to it every week.  The kids loved it, and still speak very fondly of all the fun they had together growing up with Sunday dinners at Grammy's....  She went through every towel she owned on those Sundays, first as make-shift capes for their super-hero adventures, and later to dry off more than a dozen grandchildren (three in the tub at a time!).  Lovely memories.

Anyway, off on a tangent I go, so back to the chicken.  Carolyn marinated boneless chicken breasts in Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  I think it's for a few hours but not much longer than that.  Then Billy grills it on their gas grill and it comes out moist, tender, and full of flavor.  I decided to try it myself the other night.  Russ was here Saturday night for dinner.  Typically, we go out, but we didn't want to leave Jette, his little black dog, who's been having a hard time lately with diabetes and just declining health.

Jette, Russ's little 'ol lady dog... (xox)

She's twelve now and I told Russ that last year, she wasn't an old dog, and this year, she is.  She's still so cute, but she looks like a little old lady dog now, can't get up and down stairs without  help, you know...  Makes me sad.  I can't imagine his life without his little dog.  Don't want to think about it.

Chicken marinating in buttermilk ranch dressing

I decided to make a nice dinner at home.  I marinated chicken breast cutlets (a Purdue 5-pack of individually wrapped pieces) in a zippered bag with enough buttermilk ranch dressing to coat them nicely.  I let them marinate for about four hours and then cooked them over a fairly hot grill for about 6 minutes a side, give or take depending on their thickness.  Two were thinner than the others so I moved them to the other side of the grill and turned off that burner while the rest of the cutlets continued cooking.   I did that poke test to make sure they were cooked through, where you poke to see how firm they are, and it seemed to be an accurate measure because they were really just right.

Nothing like grilled chicken!

To go with the grilled chicken, we had a large tossed salad -- kind of an everything goes in tossed salad -- with everything in my fridge that could possibly contribute.  I added olives, celery, tomatoes, shaved cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, sprinkles of tomato-basil feta, and I don't even know what else!  It was great!  I also made a small portion of ziti (with lines) and a light tomato-basil marinara with a little bit of grated parmesan.  We didn't eat out, but we enjoyed a lovely meal.

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad!

The chicken recipe is really in the little story above, since it's so simple.  Just marinate your chicken in a nice coating of buttermilk ranch for a couple of hours, and grill till it's done.  Pretty easy and very delicious!

I had two left over pieces of chicken, so tonight Katie and I had loaded chicken salad sandwiches for dinner.  I chopped up the left over chicken and tossed it with celery, walnut pieces, and dried cranberries.  I gave a couple of twists of fresh ground pepper, a few grains of sea salt, and a couple tablespoons of light mayo.  Stirred it all up and it made really great sandwiches served on 12-grain bread.  Photos follow, of course!

Chicken salad sandwiches make a fine dinner!


  1. Enjoyed the blog. My kids still talk about jumping down the steps from the dining room to kitchen with towels flapping in the breeze! Some of the best family times were had during those Sunday dinners. Oh and the chicken recipe wasn't bad either! Lynn

  2. sharron Eddy CataldoJuly 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    love all of these Ideas the loaded salad soungs yummy !

  3. Great idea to make chicken salad- that sounds yummy! I'll have to try marinating in Ranch dressing- I usually marinate in Italien dressing.

  4. Another simple fantastic way to enjoy chicken ..thanks for the idea!!
    Jette is so cute, love the grey face....C June

  5. That chicken looks amazing…LOVE grilled chicken, but have never tried it with ranch dressing - another must try! I make my chicken salad the same way, Jeannie…something about those cranberries and walnuts in it - heavenly! :)

  6. As you well know Jeannie, living right across the street from "Grammy Eddy" at that time was problematic for us on Sundays. Our kids would sit and stare out the picture window and see all of their best friends running around with their super hero towels pinned in place, begging to go to Grammy's. We never let them, because that was 'Eddy family time'. As I sit here now, 30 years later...I think that we made a mistake. Grammy would have welcomed them, pinned towels onto their shoulders and enjoyed watching them join in the fun. If I had it to do over, I would have let them be Eddy least once!

  7. Thanks for sharing again, Jeanne! I will have to try this for sure! My favorite things about this post was the picture of Jette..precious.

  8. I have to try your chicken recipe. It's so easy and sounds so good. I especially loved reading about your wonderful family Sunday dinners. What wonderful memories for you and your kids!

  9. me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

  10. Jeannie, I have to say I love the blog and it's stories like this that even tangentially bring me back to the days of dinner at your house and just being a kid; Not to mention the fact that the food sounds delicious. I'm going to try that chicken this weekend. :)

  11. David - those were such fun times! So glad you enjoy the blog and the memories it evokes for you!

  12. Catherine GoldenJuly 31, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Jet will always be a young dog to me. I remember meeting her as a puppy, and she still has that twinkle in her eye.