If Kiwi and I have one more argument about bathroom fixtures or kitchen countertops, it might be the end of us. Seriously who would have thought that our views on solid surface building materials could be so darn divisive? Our last conversation ended abruptly with my plea to “stop talking about this or I’m going to cry”. Truthfully I was already on the verge—tears welling up in my eyes as I pictured our marriage falling apart over a tile tiff.
Renovation-induced divorce is a thing, apparently. Forget kids and financial distress; it’s home-improvement that pushes us all to the marital brink.
You’d think that transforming one’s homestead would bring a couple closer together: “oh honey I can’t wait to raise our kids in this classic contemporary kitchen and cook you Christmas dinner in our fabulous new steam oven!” But no, this is stressful stuff. I lie awake at night worrying about window measurements and structural supports. And toilets! Why must there be so many to choose from?
And to pile on to our first world problems, we find ourselves in temporary accommodations that leave a few things to be desired. Like closets. Not a Single. Freakin’. Closet. Except the kitchen, which is just about the size of a closet. A closet with an electric stove. Imagine! How am I supposed to live like this?!
I’m having to simplify things on the culinary front, which in truth is probably a good exercise for me. Meals are being pared down to the basics (protein, veg, carb) and I’ve rediscovered jars of tomato sauce (good ones, of course) and the beauty of a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast.
This Cheater Chicken Parm has made an appearance twice already, because I just can’t get over how simple it is to prepare and satisfying it is to eat. It might just be the *perfect* specimen of a weekday meal, and you will be glad to have it in your arsenal, especially as the back-to-school routines creep back in.
I call it the cheater’s version of chicken parm because it does away with all of the complicated and time-consuming parts of traditional chicken parmesan—the chicken pounding, dredging and breading, notably—and calls for only three basic ingredients. If you keep chicken breast in your freezer, cheddar in your fridge, and a jar of good quality marinara in your pantry, you can have this on the table in 30 minutes or less.
- 2 large chicken breast halves
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 cup homemade or good quality jarred tomato sauce
- 100 grams / 3.5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
- Handful fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)
- Prepare the chicken breasts by pulling off the tenders and then slicing each breast horizontally down the centre (so that you are left with two tenders and four thin pieces of chicken breast).
- Heat the butter or olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken pieces and let them cook until they start to brown. Then flip them over and let them brown on the other side.
- When the chicken is almost cooked through, spoon some tomato sauce over each piece, and top with the sliced or shredded cheese.
- Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until the chicken is no longer pink and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Sprinkle the fresh basil over top, and serve immediately.