Summer Gourmet Dinner on a Budget

23 Jun

This summer I am on a super tight budget.  With a teenage son and his girlfriend always looking to me for dinner, I am forever in search of a simple recipe with ingredients I have on hand.  I got a great deal on chicken the other night at Food for Less for 5 bone in skin on half-breasts.  So I knew I was going to cook chicken, I also had some left over strawberries and a head of butter lettuce….hmmmm sounds like the makings of a yummy summer salad right?  I did a little research on the net and found a recipe for a marinade/dressing with strawberries and balsamic vinegar, so I whipped that up and got to marinating.  I bake from my home for extra money, so always have odds and ends of interesting ingredients.  I found some roasted walnut/pecans and some blue cheese crumbles in the fridge and the rest is history!  This was a great tasting salad which still fit into my needs of keeping it healthy and light.

Strawberry Vinaigrette Marinade


3/4 lb Strawberries
1 cup Olive Oil
2 squeezes of agave or 1 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & White Pepper to taste (2-3 dashes)


Wash the strawberries, cut off the stems and cut in half. Place them in a Food Processor with the sugar. Pulse till smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and lightly pulse. (I used the bullet)
NOTE: If you hit it hard once the oil is in (pulse a long time in the Food Processor), it will emulsify and become thick! That’s fine for a marinade, but not so great for a salad dressing. Keep that in mind.

Reserve half of the marinade for dressing for the salad.

Put your meat in a large zip-lock bag and cover in the mixture. Allow to marinate 4-6 hours in the fridge or Overnight.  I was pushed for time so let it marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Next I got out my Le Creuset grill pan and turned the heat up to high.  I sprayed with Pam olive oil spray and got to grilling.  It grilled for about 6-7 minutes each side until it was firm to the touch, but not hard.

I always let my chicken rest for a good minute before slicing on the bias.  Meanwhile I  threw the head of butter lettuce in the salad spinner and rinsed and spun it.  It’s always a good Idea to spin your greens so that the dressing can hold onto the leaf and the water does not saturate the taste.

I tossed the lettuce with the rest of the marinade/dressing that I reserved, put it in a bowl added some sliced strawberries, the chicken, blue cheese crumbles and toasted nuts and it was done!

Great flavor in the chicken and it made a perfect summer dinner.


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