The No-Fight Zone

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

Chicken Pizza

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.

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I am with you, Jenny. Don’t be so hard on yourself! You might scream, but at least you feed your children well. : )


Does this make up a whole meal, or do you put out some kind of carbs with it? I think folks would still be hungry at my house…


In a somewhat bizarre effort to avoid the morning crazies I have been known to sneakily wake everyone up a whole hour early. Husband is not so pleased with this, but getting everyone out the door- including myself- is a little easier. Plus, I can usually fit in some sort of dinner prep. I’m not a big sleeper so giving up an extra hour is not so bad for me- plus that means the kids are way easier to get in bed by official bedtime.


Jenny- 8-10 chicken cutlets smothered in cheese with a cucumber salad On the side is more than enough for my family of four. But you know your family better than me. You can increase everything by 50% if you need to or add crusty bread!
Mary- nothing seems bizarre to me when it comes to the morning crazies!


Thanks for posting. I thought it was just my kids who somehow need to be reminded EVERY day of almost EVERY step in the morning routine (except of course for breakfast — they are good at asking for food!) : ) This meal looks like a real winner for my crew, too, so thanks for posting it as well.


I’m still trying to wrap my mind around getting the kids ready for school without a cup of coffee to fortify me for the morning rush. How do you do that?

Rachel L.

Once when I was in the middle of my morning tirade to try to get the kids out of the house, my then 3 yr old looked at me in my crazed state and calmly requested, “Don’t yell at me, mommy.” It really puts it all in perspective when a preschooler tells you to chill out. I would like to say that was the last time I yelled at my kids to get moving in the morning, but that would be a big fat lie.

I make a similar chicken parm dinner, but I don’t bother with the breading and serve it with some kind of noodle. Also a crowd-pleaser in my house.


I can totally relate to your morning and the bad feelings that followed; mornings are hard, at least around here! And last night, I made a dinner that goes down similarly easily in our house–oven fried chicken, baked fries, and broccoli–because with two kids feverish and one just home from her first slumber party, it’s just really not a good time for something like quinoa.


Now I’m self-loathing AND hungry for chicken pizza! ; ) As someone who shares some of that easy-to-boil blood with you, cousin, I say add some chocolate to that morning coffee and it will serve you all well! And consider the chicken-pounding part of dinner prep as a good stress-reliever!


We all have mornings like this! I do have a question about the cutlets…are the corn flakes essential? Better than bread crumbs? And rather than pound, have you ever thought of buying the cut labeled “chicken fingers” (thinner cuts of chix breast).



Thanks for describing a majority of our school-day mornings…right to the self loathing! Wow!! I really did think it was just me… and so DO my kids! This dish is a winner!!


This post made me shout with laughter. You sooooo live my life. If we miss that train, it ruins the whole morning, and honestly, no one wears your shoes but you, how could they possibly be lost every day? Fight the good fight, friend, and know that we’re all screaming along with you. I’m excited for your chicken parm meatballs tonight. I hope it’s a no-fight zone for our house. And no dredging! xox