Friday, January 27, 2012

Dinner from scratch, anyone?

Have you ever had a day when your coworkers didn't nap and there's too much whining going on and all you wanna do is hide in the corner office with a box of donuts and a Cherry Coke?  I say coworkers because, well, I want everyone to feel included in today's post.  Really, I'm talking about my children, my lovely precocious children, but I think "coworker"  or "boss" or "employee" could be an appropriate substitute for "child".  You know what I mean, even if you don't want to admit it.  Don't worry, your boss isn't here to read your thoughts.  I won't tell him/her before your next review unless you seriously cross me.  And by cross, I mean that you steal my donuts or poop in my yard without cleaning it up (I've got my eye on you!!).

Anywho, today was one of those days.  It's very difficult for me to hide anywhere with three constant observers, so I moved to the kitchen.  The kids know that they must follow orders in the kitchen because things might be hot or otherwise danjawus, so it provided some respite.  I knew that cooking would make all that is wrong with the world much much better.

I had two wins.  The first is a spaghetti squash casserole. The recipe was developed by a chef at The Brick here in Kansas City.  You might have seen the joint on a cable network some time. Apparently the food is very good.  I wanted to go on New Year's Day because they had a hangover special ($1 Bloody Mary!), but taking the three kids somehow seemed wrong.  Of course, it wouldn't have been wrong if we had been in New Orleans, where you're only wrong if you're not, in fact, drinking around small children.

So here's the recipe:

4lb spaghetti squash (I did not measure to see if ours was 4lb)
2 cups ricotta
1 egg
4 cups chopped fresh spinach (4 large handfuls)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb cooked ground Italian sausage
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups grated mozzarella

Chop the squash in half lengthwise, drizzle flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put cut side down on a pan and roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  When it's done, scrape out the flesh with a fork.  Put the squash in a large bowl with the next seven ingredients and mix it all up.  Put in a 9x13 pan, top with tomatoes and then cheese.  Bake at 350 20-25 minutes.

I used one of those large cans of tomatoes and used it all.  More was better I think.  I also used some country sausage because I couldn't find the right sausage.  I think the Italian would've been better, but this was still quite good.

Verdict: tasty.  All three children ate their portions.

Then my friend Starr (yes, I have a friend here in Roeland Park named Starr) sent me a link to an article about how it's chocolate cake day!  So I had to make a chocolate cake.  Because I cannot look at food without needing to make it NOW.

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Mix up all dry ingredients. Then add the wet ones except for the boiling water.  Mix it all up for a couple of minutes (with or without an electric mixer). Then add boiling water. Stir until it's all together. It will be very very runny.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

It could take longer because our oven is blazing hot and we've cut off 30% of cooking time before and still burned things.

Let it cool. Make the frosting.

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
4.5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Cream the butter. Add everything else. You might need more or less milk.

Now, if you're a crazy perfectionist (AKA normal baker), you'll wait until the cake is cool before frosting and then wait for all the flavors to combine, maybe until the next day. If you're surrounded by whiny coworkers or little kids, you'll frost the cake piping hot and eat it immediately.

Notice the runny icing.  Totally worth it.

So there you have it. How to calm the masses.  Cook from scratch, baby!

I shared this post at Type A Decorating, A Bowl Full of Lemons.


  1. So, I'm having a shitty day, too and was looking for a dessert to make to ease my pain *whhhinnne whhinne, biiiiitcch, biiittch!* I wasn't prepared so I'd have to use what was in the pantry.. I'm totally prepared for this chocolate cake. Totally. It better be worth it or I'll kick your ass, cause that's the type of mood I'm in. Love! ;)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Whhhhy do mine always show up twice?!?!

  4. Ha, I tried to delete it but it still kind of shows up. Ha!

  5. Yeah, that makes it look like I was bad, haha..

  6. Is there a difference between unsweetened cocoa powder and baking cocoa??

  7. So you used the same thing for your cake and your icing?

  8. You probably could even switch out the oil for applesauce, for that healthy touch. You just had to put a picture on. I wonder if I could make a little one.

    1. Never! For me, cake is not healthy, no matter how you make it. What'll they think of next? Adding rice cakes? Eeeek!

  9. I 'll try to half the recipe and use applesauce.

  10. Holy crap...that casserole may be the ticket for me to eat and LIKE spaghetti squash. No, really. If little kids will eat it, then I'm sure to like it.

    Of course, my liking the chocolate cake is a given. Derp.


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