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Passing down the joy of cooking

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS — Jessica Jimenez and her daughters Maddie and McKenna show off the cakes and food they have made. Jimenez believes in the importance of teaching children how to cook.

Jessica Jimenez has been teaching her children to cook since they were able to hold a spatula. As young children, they would sit on the counter while she prepared meals, watching Jimenez cook and bake.

Jimenez has always loved to cook.

“That was always my dream to be a TV cook,” she said.

As her daughters Madilyn and McKenna Hainline have grown, now 12 and 13, they have taken over the cooking duties. Jimenez’s three jobs keep her busy and her daughters cook dinner for her by themselves. They make the shopping lists and come up with recipes.

Jimenez said they do not just cook boxed macaroni and cheese or other easy meals. Maddie and McKenna love to find new recipes and cook complicated dishes.

Maddie Hainline makes her own sushi at home. Both she and McKenna learn how to cook many different foods by looking up recipes online.

“We like to eat,” McKenna said.

Maddie said she likes being able to experiment with a variety of foods.

“It’s fun because we get to try different things,” she said.

They find recipes on Google and put their own spin on them.

Maddie’s favorite foods to make are sushi, cheesecake, fried mac and cheese and anything with hot Cheetos. McKenna loves making homemade pasta, stir fry and cake.

McKenna Hainline poses with pasta she hand made. Homemade pasta is one of McKenna’s favorite things to create in the kitchen.

When it comes to kitchen disasters, Jimenez said her daughters have been able to avoid injuries or any big messes.

“They’ve never really had a disaster,” she said.

Maddie and McKenna said some recipes haven’t turned out how they hoped, but that is the extent of their problems in the kitchen.

Jiminez advises parents to let their children watch them cook, even if it can be a hassle to have to work around them. She said cooking is a lost art in today’s society, but it is as important as ever to be able to make food.

She said her daughters can pass down their skills to their children some day.

“They can go on and teach their kids,” Jiminez said.

Garlic butter pasta with garlic chicken

1 stick salted butter

6 garlic cloves

2 chicken breast – skinless & boneless

2 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounce long pasta

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Melt the stick of butter over alow heat in a small pan. Peel and chop the garlic finely. Add the garlic to the butter and cook it over a very low heat. Do not let the garlic color. Place the chicken on a chopping board and cover with a piece of baking paper or clingfilm.

Use the flat side of a meat mallet (or a heavy rolling pin) to flatten the chicken until it is 1/2 inches thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and the garlic powder. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based skillet. Once it is hot, sear the chicken over a high heat. Cook for two minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another two minutes or until it is just cooked through. Remove from the heat and tent with foil to keep warm. While the chicken is cooking bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until al-dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Return it to the pan. Pour half of the garlic butter into the pasta, add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and stir in the pasta. Cook over a medium heat until everything is well coated. Add more pasta cooking water if needed. Slice the chicken and serve along side the pasta. Drizzle the dish with the remaining butter and garnish with chopped parsley.

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Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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