Last Thursday, I started hating myself a full hour before my morning coffee. If you must know, I started hating myself at precisely 8:04, which was the first time I yelled at my kids who were in danger of missing the 8:09 bus. Yelling Where are your shoes and yelling Where are your gloves and Did you brush your teeth and — haven’t we gone through this, like, 720* times already? Wouldn’t you think that by now a second and third grader would pick up on the catch-the-bus urgency vibe? Wouldn’t you think that by now I’d have figured out a way to make them move a little faster without turning into Miss Hannigan? Sadly, I haven’t, and I gotta say, starting the day with screaming followed by self-loathing is no way to start a day at all. And mediating a tearful fight between siblings who both laid claim to a light-up sticker album — triggering more screaming as well as the thought “How am I going to deal with this when they are 13” — is no way to spend an afternoon either.
No, Thursday wasn’t my best day ever.
The good news was: we had planned for “Chicken Pizza” (aka Chicken Parm) that night for dinner. The dredging thing can be kind of a drag on a weeknight, but I didn’t care. Because it’s everybody’s favorite and sometimes you just need a meal you can count on not to incite a riot.
*4 years of school x 180 school days
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute 1/2 onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (minced), salt, pepper, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes in a good amount of olive oil. Cook about 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, a generous amount of dried oregano, fresh basil (chopped up) if you have it and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. While sauce is simmering, prepare 8-10 breaded chicken cutlets. Place them in a baking dish as soon as they are finished. Top each cutlet with chunky tomato sauce, a slice or two of fresh mozzarella, and some torn basil. Broil for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.
Two secrets to perfect cutlets, as you know: Pounding them like crazy and Kellogg’s corn flake crumbs.
I prefer a chunkier tomato sauce to a more soupy one — gives the meal a little structure and doesn’t turn the crispy cutlets soggy.