Sometimes I feel like my kitchen is a lot like a soup kitchen. When it comes to meals I am always catering to each family members individual tastes. Usually this means I'm preparing different meals at the same time to appease everyone. Ahem... my children.
My 4 and 5 year-old are very particular about the food they are served. It can't be to too hot or too cold. It can't contain any spice. Wait... No... That was yesterday's request... Today the food they are served can have a little spice... Wait... No... Scratch that. You catch my drift. Their taste buds change as quickly as the oceans current. It keeps me on my toes.
The one food that they will always gladly devour is Alphagetti.
Would you believe I actually craved Alphagetti with crumbled Oreo's when I was pregnant with my first? Seriously! It was good. However, that is a whole other story.
The problem I have with Alphagetti is that the canned stuff is crap. It is full of preservatives and sodium. All the stuff I don't want my kids consuming. This is what drove me to come up with a Homemade version of this household favourite. It is made with real food, nutritious, and a great way to sneak vegetables into your children without them even knowing.
1 cup Alphabet Pasta (uncooked)
680ml can of original pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
1/4 tsp ground oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup shredded zucchini or carrots (optional)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt & pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook alphabet pasta until al dente. About 9 to 12 minutes.
In another pot, add broth, pasta sauce, milk, spices, garlic and shredded veggies. Bring sauce to slow simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and stir into sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Note: The Alphaghetti may seem a touch runny when initially removed from heat, but rest assured it will set and thicken as it stands.
You may also want to watch out for that retro monster, the Alphagetti Gobbler.
Adapted from Food & Whine.
Date nights are few and far between in my marriage. With young children and no family close by, we don't have the means to get out as often as we might like. That's okay; we find other ways to make it work.
Every Friday, we have a date night at home. After we tuck the kids into bed, my husband will pour us each generous glass of red wine and we get to work cooking up a scrumptious dinner together - a dinner always capped off with dessert, because what date night is ever complete without dessert.
When it comes down to the dessert, I opt for one that is quick and easy. Not one that is going to require a lot of time and effort to prepare. After all time is always of the essence in the land of parenthood, especially on a date night. You want to be able to enjoy yourself and make the most of it!
This is why I like to prepare mini trifles in advance. Trifles are rich, creamy, and oh-so-dreamy. Leaving a lot for the mouth to lust after with each and every bite. Heaven knows that there is just no stopping yourself after just one bite.
The trifle recipe I am sharing with you is actually inspired by a trifle that I had for dessert at a local restaurant the last time I managed to score a night out on the town. Yes, I actually got out of the house without the kids. This trifle is infused with brownie chunks, cherries, chocolate pudding and whipped cream. I dare you to try it and not get lost in the sweet, luxurious abyss!
Place a thin layer of brownies in the bottom of several small mason jars or glasses.
Top the brownie with a layer of chocolate pudding followed by a layer of cherry pie filling, and a layer of whipped cream.
Place another thin row of brownies on top of the whipped cream, and layer again with pudding, pie filling and whipped cream.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Baking is something you will not find me doing very often. I usually only bake around the holidays or whenever the mood strikes.
Yesterday the mood struck.
My 11 month old willingly went down for a nap, and this never happens, and I should have used her naptime to sneak in a little shut eye myself. After all I had only seen 12 hours of sleep in the period of 120 hours. Rather I flocked to the kitchen, pulled out my Nannie's heirloom binder full of handwritten recipes and got to work recreating a variety of family favourites, brownies being one of them.
I took my Nannie's Brownie recipe and added another flavourful element... Cheesecake. I ribboned cheesecake filling throughout the brownie batter creating a delectable dessert that leaves you saying "OM" over and over again. Seriously, this recipe is like sex in a pan. Although I'm sure sex out of the pan is still better.
4oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shortening
6 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place the cream cheese in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until softened. Add sour cream, sugar, flour and vanilla. Cream. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, blend shortening with cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Gradually add eggs and sugar. Cream well. Sift in remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Add 1/2 of the brownie batter to the bottom of the dish. Press brownie batter to fill out the bottom of the dish. Top with cheesecake filling and smooth over batter.Microwave remaining batter for 20 seconds and pour over cheesecake filling. Smooth out the batter and use a knife to swirl cheesecake filling into the brownie batter.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The brownies may appear a little wet when the dish initially comes out of the oven, but they'll set as they cool.
One can never have too much chocolate. Pair these brownies with a hot cup of peanut butter cup hot chocolate.