Rush Hour

In honor of Seasoned Cooking's second anniversary, this column will be featuring a special series of articles on how appliances can help speed your weekday meals along without sacrificing flavor and nutrition. Over the next few months, we will begin our series with a note of appreciation about the microwave.

I remember what my mother said when we got her a microwave. She looked at it and said, "What am I supposed to do with this thing?" We finally convinced her that she might be able to manage to use it to warm her coffee late in the day. Now, years later, she's like millions of other people and turns to it for everything from warming that coffee to defrosting a roast to giving leftovers a new lease on life. It even manages to help out when things get hectic in the middle of the week.

It's that helping out part of the equation that I'm interested for the purposes of this column. Given the proper ingredients and cookware, flavorful meals can be prepared in minutes without a lot of mess. Everything from crumb-coated chicken to tasty enchiladas can be created using your microwave and a little ingenuity. With some practice and creativity, you'll be making meals that earn a "wow" from your family with less work than you realize.

This month, we begin our adventure with a crumb-coated chicken dish that's sure to please. It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and less than a half an hour to bake in the microwave. While the chicken is cooking, you can make some seasoned noodles or rice and a nice green salad to round out your meal. This meal is perfect if you find yourself in a time crunch between work and a basketball game or local concert. What a nice change of pace to get off to your evening activities without feeling like you've poured what little energy you had left into making dinner for your family. Go on, enjoy yourself and let your microwave do some of the work for you!

Microwave Parmesan Chicken

  • 1/4 c. margarine
  • 3/4 c. crushed butter-flavored crackers
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T. dried minced onion
  • 1 T. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 fryer chicken -- cut up and skinned

Melt the margarine in a 13x9x2-inch microwave-safe baking dish. In a shallow bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, onion, parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the margarine, then in the crumb mixture. Place the chicken in the baking dish, with thick edges toward the outside. Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture. Microwave on high 20-25 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken is no longer pink, rotating dish occasionally if your microwave is not equipped with a turn table.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes