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
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a large wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.
- Place flour in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish. Combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish.
- 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.
- Place the tenders on the prepared rack. Generously coat the top of each tender with cooking spray.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each tender over and coat with cooking spray.
- Continue baking until the outside is crisp and the tenders are cooked through, about 10 minutes more.
- 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.