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Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad with Cheesy Croutons


Prep time: 25 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (2-3 breasts)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Lemon Pepper Ranch Chicken Marinade

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 packet (1 ounce/3 tablespoons) ranch seasoning dressing mix

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

Garden Salad**

1 5 oz. Earthbound Farm Baby Spinach Spring Mix

1/2 small head romaine lettuce, chopped

Fresh corn from 1 ear of corn

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 cup broccoli florets

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 small cucumber peeled and chopped

1-2 avocados, sliced or chopped

4-6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Easy Jalapeno Ranch

1 packet (1 ounce/3 tablespoons) ranch seasoning dressing mix

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, roughly chopped

Easy Cheddar Croutons

5 slices sourdough bread, cubed (roughly 5 cups)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Marinade: Whisk together all off the Chicken Marinade ingredients in a freezer size plastic bag. Marinate chicken 4 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Dressing: Meanwhile, add all of the Jalapeno Ranch ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Add additional milk if needed to reach desired consistency. Refrigerate. (Best chilled. Can be made 24 hours+ ahead of time). Dressing will thicken as it chills so you will probably need to stir in additional milk when ready to serve.

Chicken: Let chicken sit at room temperature for 20 minutes (meanwhile you can chop your veggies). Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Croutons: Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Cube bread into bite size pieces and add to foil lined baking sheet. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Toss until evenly coated then spread into an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Remove from oven and push all croutons close together in the center of the pan. Cover with 1 cup shredded cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let cool before breaking croutons apart with your hands. (Can be done 24 hours+ ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.)

Assemble: Add all of the Salad Ingredients to a large bowl except avocadoes and bacon and toss to combine. Garnish with bacon, avocadoes and croutons. Top with chicken and drizzle with Jalapeno Dressing. (If you are expecting leftovers, garnish individual servings with dressing, bacon, croutons and chicken).

Notes:

*Total time does not include marinating as that will vary between individuals. 

**You can add more of whatever ingredients you love (measurements are just guidelines).

Source: http://www.carlsbadcravings.com/bacon-ranch-chicken-salad-recipe/

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