Save yourself the calories and still bring the family together for crunchy, irresistible "fried" chicken.
Credit: Photo: Justin Walker

When I was a kid, I loved the nights that my mom made good old-fashioned fried chicken—it's crunchy, it's juicy, and it's still one of my favorites. What I don't love, however, are the fat and the calories (not to mention the mess!) that come with frying. My light and easy solution is to bake (a.k.a. "faux fry") skinless chicken drumsticks instead. My kids love them—they come out moist and delicious on the inside, and the seasoned panko and Parmesan crust cooks up to a crispy golden coating on the outside. And trust me, no one will miss the skin.

One-dish dinners (often on a sheet pan) are by far my favorite way to cook on busy weeknights. Technically this dish uses two sheet pans, but lining the pans with foil makes cleanup a snap, so this is still a great weeknight meal. The key for making this work is timing. I start the chicken, which takes more time to bake, then I add the sweet potatoes (a healthier alternative to French fries), and when they're just about done, I add the broccoli. And then (voilà!) everything comes out at the same time. This entire veggie-packed meal is ready in an hour.

View Recipe: Sheet Pan Parmesan "Fried" Chicken with Broccoli and Sweet Potato Wedges

In addition to getting the food into the oven in stages, you should also prep the food in stages to make most efficient use of your time. As the oven preheats, skin and bread the chicken; when the chicken goes in, prepare the sweet potatoes. Once those go in, get the broccoli ready. To easily skin the drumsticks, use a paper towel to grab an edge of the skin on the fat end, then pull down. Keep in mind that drumsticks can vary in size, and the cook time is calculated for 31/2-ounce ones; we had good luck buying organic drumsticks, which tended to be smaller than conventional.

Gina Homolka is the founder of and @skinnytaste.