Food is Love Made Edible
By High Hopes Development Director and
City of Franklin, Alderman At Large, Brandy Blanton
In the early days of raising my five children, it was basic survival – learning how to stretch a dollar and make almost every meal from scratch. There was really no choice but to carry on the traditions of my mother, aunts and grandmothers who began teaching me how to cook at a very young age.
In the beginning, they would just sit on the counter while I cooked, with an occasional pause to sing a favorite song that blared on our boombox. Yes, I said boombox – it was the early 90s! As they grew older, everyone pitched in whether that was cooking or cleaning as our family embraces an “all hands-on deck” mentality. That teamwork continues today as we all gather every Sunday for family dinner at my home, but now it’s with spouses and children in tow. It’s a tradition that has been going on as long as I can remember, a sacred and cherished time where we all come together and not only break bread but sit down and share what’s going on in our worlds. Throughout the years, everyone has found their niche, whether it’s baking, grilling, playing sous chef or dish washer.
Sometimes we deviate from the southern cuisine that remains our standard, because with sixteen people in our family, if we want Italian, Mexican or Asian food, a restaurant negates the intimacy we enjoy, so we’ve learned to expand our recipe book of tried-and-true favorites.
One Christmas I hand-wrote all our family classics and made a cookbook for each child. There has even been a second version because we keep finding dishes we love. I have the master cookbook in my kitchen – a three-ring binder called Gimme’s Family Recipes – that serves as our “Holy Grail.”
The recipe I chose to share is relatively simple to make, but definitely a crowd favorite – so much so, that it’s not written down anywhere. I hope our Blanton family “Crouton Chicken” becomes a staple for you and yours.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 five oz. packages of croutons, flavor of your choice
½ cup mayonnaise or sour cream (you may use low-fat if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse and trim the chicken breasts. If the chicken is thick, pound down to ¾ to 1-inch thickness for more even cooking. Pat the chicken dry. Set aside.
For the croutons, you may opt to use a food processor and pulse them to the consistency of breadcrumbs (some chunks are fine) or you can use a rolling pin to crush them while still in the bag. Place crushed croutons in a large bowl.
Take a dollop of mayonnaise or sour cream and rub the chicken generously with your hands, coating all sides. Place chicken in crushed croutons and bread both sides generously, patting down to make sure the chicken is coated well.*
Place chicken on parchment lined cookie sheet or 9x13 pan. Cook twenty-five to thirty minutes or until chicken is lightly browned and crispy. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!
If you have kitchen gloves, use them because this can get messy! If you are working alone, you will want to do this in steps – coating the chicken with mayo/sour cream all at once and then do the dry step next.