Childhood favorite is a pantry standby

Remember those Shake and Bake commercials* from the ’70s?  Crispy chicken, baked not fried. Smiling mom in the kitchen, turning out dinner with little more than a bag of crumbs and a casserole dish.  I learned to cook as a Girl Scout in the early ’70s so I loved it when the little girl my age piped up, in a Southern drawl, “and I helped.”  Shake and Bake was something I could manage on my own.

Time for confession: Shake and Bake is all I can manage on some nights. I keep a box in the pantry “just in case.” Like tonight.  The meal plan called for yet another Real Simple “easy weeknight recipe.” But after a day of work and hassling with insurance companies to sort out health claims, I was in no mood. I decided to keep the side dish of roasted root veggies and resort to my old standby for pork chops. Tuesday night’s dinner, dashed together before running out to a PTSA board meeting:

Shake and Bake boneless loin pork chops (with a dash of ground fennel), roasted parsnips, carrots and red onion wedges, and applesauce.  I’ll save the original idea — Fennel-crusted Pork with Roasted Root Vegetables — for another night. (Do I get any points for attempting to integrate the fennel into Shake and Bake?)

*I couldn’t find the original “And I He-l-l-l-ped” commercial but here’s one from the same era:



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