So, this is life now. The kids are home and asking for snacks every five seconds. You’re trying to answer work emails but Netflix and/or Baby Shark are blaring the background. And, you’re on your third cup of coffee, and it isn’t even noon.
Whether you’re sick at home or simply sick of reading the bad news about the coronavirus, we have your stomach, kids and your caffeinated self covered.
For the kiddos
As area schools are closed for at least two weeks, parents may be unsure of how to keep children occupied. Apex mom Erin Camp home-schools one of her three children while the other two normally attend public school and preschool. Now that all three are home, Camp offers some advice for those parents who have children trying to learn online.
“Do not try to re-create school. You will all end up frustrated,” she said.
“Read to them, listen to audio books. Have them tell it back to you. If there’s an area your kids struggle with, then try to find a way to have extra practice on that, but don’t overwhelm them or you with expectations.”
For children, the Wake County Library has an extensive online list of helpful websites and activities to keep brains from turning to mush in front of the television screen. And even though the physical libraries are closed, there are plenty of online books and audio books to check out.
Virtual field trips are another way parents and educators can keep children entertained and learning from the comfort and safety of home. Check out this public Google list with links to tours of zoos, farms, museums and even Mars!
“Someone is always sharing free or inexpensive resources that might appeal to your kids,” Camp said.
Always remember that playing outside is always an option. Dust off the walkie-talkies, pull out the bikes and enjoy the fresh air.
Hot & fresh out the kitchen
For those who stocked up on groceries and want to get cooking in the kitchen, we have a couple suggestions for things to make – with ingredients you likely already have in the pantry.
These two versions of chicken soup will feel good on your throat whether it’s sore or not. And don’t forget dessert! Get your kids off the couch and into the kitchen to get their hands messy. These sugar cookies will have your kiddos – and, most likely your husband – reaching for the cookie jar again and again.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Courtesy of Los Tres Magueyes
Yield: 6 servings
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes with liquid
4 teaspoons chili powder
10 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 avocado, thinly sliced
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Lime wedges, for serving
In a large pot, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes, including liquid, and chili powder. Cook until virtually all liquid evaporates. Add broth and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet, mix tortilla strips with 2 teaspoons oil. Bake for about 8 minutes until crisp and golden, flipping halfway through.
Distribute chicken, avocado, cilantro, cheese and scallion into six bowls. Top with broth and tortilla strips. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy.
Italian Chicken Noodle Soup
Yield: 10 servings
4 skinless chicken breasts, bone-in
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
4 cloves garlic
2 15-ounce cans chicken broth
4 cups water
2 tablespoons organic, no-salt seasoning
2 tablespoons black pepper
5 peeled carrots, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
Place chicken breasts in large soup pot and add minced garlic, onion, spices, water and chicken broth. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cover pot. Cook for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pot, and set aside to cool slightly.
Add carrots and celery to hot broth. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, remove cooked chicken from the bone and chop into bite-sized pieces. When carrots are tender, add cooked chicken back to broth and heat thoroughly.
Serve with egg noodles, rice or quinoa.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
If made ahead of time and chilled, allow dough to come to room temperature before rolling and cutting.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla and egg.
In a separate bowl sift baking powder and salt with flour; add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff, so you may need to mix in the last of the flour by hand.
Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with a floured cutter. Transfer cookies to the baking sheets.
Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies aren’t shiny and the edges start to crisp up. These cookies won’t brown very much, and if they do brown, they will likely be over baked. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
Note: For lemon sugar cookies, omit the almond extract and add ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon peel and ½ teaspoon lemon extract.