For kids only: how to beat back-to-school stress

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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Returning to school after a long, warm summer is stressful for both kids and parents, so today is a diversion for the former and maybe a break for the latter.

Parental units, please hand this one over to the youngsters and provide some support in the way of supplies and maybe a little kitchen backup.

For experienced cooks out there, these are delicious dishes and if you’ll forgive the extra detail in today’s recipes, you will enjoy them, too.

Blushing chicken and noodles

Here’s an easy sauce that doesn’t take all day, but tastes like it might have. Everyone will enjoy this recipe, which allows you to pick the vegetable — if any — that you would like to add.

This will serve 6 people.

1 large onion

1 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper

1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 tsp. sugar

1 bag (1 lb.) broad egg noodles

1 tbsp. butter or margarine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup coffee cream

1 cup of cooked peas, broccoli, carrot wheels, or any vegetable you like (optional)

Make the chicken and sauce first because the noodles only take a few minutes.

Cut up the onion in small pieces. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion. Stir over medium-high heat until the edges start to change colour and the pieces begin to look like you will be able to see through them soon.

Cut the chicken into strips or chunks — your choice — and sprinkle the salt and pepper all over. Add to the onions in the pot and cook, stirring, until the chicken is starting to brown a little. If the pot gets dry and the chicken starts to stick, you can add a little more oil. You don’t have to worry about any bits of meat that might still be raw because they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the sugar and heat it over high until the mixture is boiling. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes. You are boiling away some of the liquid from the tomatoes, cooking the chicken through, and creating a juicy sauce.

Don’t leave the kitchen while it is cooking and stir often or it may stick to the bottom and maybe even scorch a little.

While the chicken and sauce are bubbling, read the instructions on the egg noodle package. There are really only two tricks to good noodles — lots of water and not overcooking them. Fill up a big pot with cold water and bring it to a boil. Add a handful of salt then add the egg noodles. Cook only as long as the instructions say, not a second longer, and if you can shave a minute off the cooking time, even better — the last thing you want is mushy noodles.

Drain the noodles and add them to the cooked chicken and sauce. Turn off the heat and add the butter, stirring until it is melted. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, cream and vegetables (if you are adding any). Serve right away in big bowls.

Garlic toast or crispy buttered rolls are especially nice on the side.

Brownie pudding

This is an easy but really, really delicious dessert. The recipe is magical because it starts out looking pretty weird in the beginning then separates into cake and pudding while it bakes.

If you don’t like the taste of coffee then leave it out, but it doesn’t really taste so much like coffee as it boosts the chocolate flavour.

Bottom:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp. vanilla

Toppings:

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1-3/4 cups boiling water

1 tbsp. instant coffee (optional)

You can make this right in the baking dish, but it’s kind of messy so I like to start with a big mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven (or ask one of your parents to do it) to 350 F.

Put the flour, cocoa, white sugar, baking powder and salt in the mixing bowl and stir it up with a whisk or fork until it all looks the same — no big streaks of dark cocoa or light sugar and flour.

In a second bowl or in a glass measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, just until it is liquid — you don’t want it bubbling fiercely.

Stir in the milk and vanilla then add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the first bowl. Stir with a big spoon until there are no dry streaks, then pour it into a medium baking dish — about eight inches across, either round or square. You don’t even have to grease the pan for this one!

For the toppings, stir the brown sugar and cocoa together and sprinkle over the batter in the baking dish. Now boil the kettle and measure 1 3/4 cups of the boiling water — maybe you should get help with that part — and add the coffee if you decide to use it.

Now take a big spoon and pour the hot liquid over the bowl of the spoon so it rains gently on the batter in the baking dish — don’t stir now and be very gentle with the boiling liquid so it stays mostly on top of the batter. We don’t want the mixing to happen until it gets into the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, then let it sit on a cooling rack for 10 minutes longer before serving just as it is or with scoops of ice cream on top.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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