My sister and I are four years apart– well, three years and 364 days to be exact. Thankfully, she’s a very patient and loving older sister, so having a new baby born the day before her birthday didn’t faze her. It did mean growing up having to share birthday parties, cakes and dinners. As we got older, our birthdays became separate events, but we’ve always just had one family dinner. Usually, I get to choose the dessert, and she gets to choose dinner, assuming I don’t choose a cake that has any cooked fruit in it. So unfortunately, birthday pie was out of the question.

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Apparently, we aren’t very creative as we seem to have the same meal every single year: chicken Parmesan with mashed potatoes, and either a classic chocolate cake, or Mom’s legendary carrot cake. (Sometimes we get both if we’re really getting really spoiled!) Chicken Parmesan is a total comfort food in our family, especially when celebrating January birthdays. However, having recently made Cauliflower-lentil Bolognese sauce, I wanted to eat something other than pasta. So, I opted to make my own version of the classic chicken Parmesan.

The chicken breasts I bought must have been from gigantic chickens. According to the butcher shop, they’re came from a fancy farm and were treated quite well. To make the meal last longer and more portion size appropriate, I cut the chicken breasts in half. For three breasts, I used just 1 egg to coat the meat before covering in breadcrumbs. With a light pan-fry, and a 20-minute bake, my quick and easy version of chicken Parmesan worked like a charm.

Quick & easy Chicken Parmesan

– 3 cups marinara sauce (or whatever leftover pasta sauce is in the fridge!)
– 3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, halved 
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1 cup breadcrumbs or Panko
– 1-2 tbsp of oil (depending on how many batches you have to pan-fry the chicken in)
– ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
– ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
– salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Trim any excess fats or unwanted pieces from the chicken breasts, and cut each one in half to have 6 pieces.
3. Beat the egg in one bowl, and add the breadcrumbs to another bowl. These will be your dipping bowls.
4. In a pie plate, or casserole dish, pour the pasta sauce to create a thick layer of sauce at the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
5. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
6. Taking one piece of chicken at a time, dip it in the egg and ensure it’s completely coated. Then cover it entirely with breadcrumbs, the egg helps to create an event coating.
7. Place each piece into the heated pan. Pan fry the chicken so it’s crisp on each side, about two minutes, and then place in the casserole dish. The meat doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through as it will bake in the oven.
8. Repeat this until all the pieces of chicken are crisp and sealed.
9. Sprinkle each piece of chicken evenly with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, then season with salt and pepper.
10. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. Be sure to check the chicken has cooked all the way through, there should be absolutely no pink inside.
11. Serve with mashed potatoes or pasta.

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