Growing up, I remember a few times when I was quarantined. I had terrible cases of the mumps, measles and chickenpox while my sister barely showed signs of being infected.

All those times, I felt so lousy that I didn't really get bored. Of course, at that time, getting bored was easier than nowadays. No cellphones (we had a party line), no video games and only three television stations. Still, I don't remember ever telling Mom that I was bored during my childhood.

With more of us staying home as a family recently, this is the perfect time to teach some cooking to the kids. Depending on what you have in your freezer and pantry, a cooking lesson can be geared toward any age of youngster you are trying to entertain. You may want them to fix one dish or an entire meal, depending on their age and your patience.

Younger students may be able to master the basics by making something from a mix while older ones could make something from scratch. Put some fractions into action by making half a recipe.

What a good time to talk nutrition. Reading labels is something that needs to be explained then used in meal planning. Maybe look for foods that have less salt or calories than others. It is not now, or ever, the best time to eat all the chips in the cabinet, but their labels are good for studying.

If you are adept at bread making, I can see lots of eager hands kneading the dough and taking pride in the finished product.

Kitchen safety is a good lesson to impart. Certain kitchen tools require caution, as do the stove and oven. Even mixers and vegetable peelers require some demonstration. Being taught to respect these utensils and appliances are lessons carried through life.

Let's not forget kitchen cleanup. Not the favorite of anyone but made easier with all hands on deck and part of meal preparation. Being responsible for your own messes just might make for neater cooks.

I hope all is well with you and your family. This is a great time to make kitchen memories.

For our first recipe, maybe you don't have chicken tenders but have some chicken breasts available that you can slice into tenders. Maybe you think you don't have soy sauce, but if you are like us, you save the extra packets from your Chinese takeout and can maybe come up with a couple of tablespoons.

Barbecue meatloaf is a little out of the box but a nice change. No Italian bread crumbs? Use cracker crumbs and Italian seasoning. I've been known to crush seasoned croutons to use as a bread crumb substitute. For extra fun, bake them in muffin tins. They bake faster and make individual servings.

For dessert, omit the pecans if you don't have them or just don't like them. If you use them, be sure they are toasted for maximum flavor. All of today's recipes are from "Mr. Food's Quick Cookin.'"

Stay safe, and happy eating.


Orange glazed chicken tenders

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound chicken tenders

2 tablespoons flour

2 green onions, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat oil over high heat in large skillet until hot. Dredge chicken in flour. Cook chicken 4 minutes or until browned, turning once.

Remove chicken from skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add orange juice and soy sauce; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until thickened.

Return chicken to skillet and cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Yields 4 servings.


Barbecue meatloaf

1 pound ground chuck

1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine meat, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and remaining ingredients stir well. Shape into loaf in 5 by 7 inches on lightly greased roasting pan rack; top with remaining barbecue sauce. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. Yields 3 to 4 servings.


Double chocolate chewies

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add next 4 ingredients; beat until blended. Stir in chips and nuts.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes (tops will be soft). Cool on baking sheets 1 minute then cool completely on wire racks. Yields about 5 1/2 dozen.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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