At the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen cooking dinner.

Because I can’t afford to eat out all the time — and really wouldn’t want to even if I could — I’ve become a big fan of 30-minute meals.

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray made the concept famous with her Food Network show; and with a little planning, it’s easy to do at home.

I start by making a list on Sundays of the meals I want to prepare during the week. Then I go to the store and buy everything I need. When I get back, I spend part of the evening doing prep work for meals, things like chopping onions, so work goes even faster on weeknights.

One of my favorite 30-minute meals includes Parmesan-crusted chicken tenders served with a salad, mandarin oranges and green beans. While the chicken bakes, I have time to get everything else on the table to serve a tasty, protein-packed dinner.

Parmesan-crusted chicken tenders

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see note)
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup marinara sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a large wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish. Combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish.
  3. Toss tenders with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt in a medium bowl. Coat each tender in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then roll in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Place the tenders on the prepared rack. Generously coat the top of each tender with cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each tender over and coat with cooking spray.
  6. Continue baking until the outside is crisp and the tenders are cooked through, about 10 minutes more.
  7. Serve the tenders with marinara sauce for dipping.

Note: To make your own breadcrumbs, trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.

Serves: 4

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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