I recently made Spaghetti Cake for my almost-3-year-old grandson. The dinner was memorable because this picky little eater gobbled everything up with no problem and the adults at the table seemed to enjoy it, too.

When you’re cooking for a discerning young diner, sometimes you have to be silly. Making a big deal of the spaghetti cake worked like a charm.

The “cake” is very versatile as you can use cottage cheese instead of ricotta; add browned ground beef or sausage or left-over chicken; or include cooked veggies such as broccoli, spinach, or zucchini. The main thing is that you want the cake to hold together well when you cut it into wedges. This makes for a beautiful presentation and is just different enough to be interesting and fun. Think of it as mixed-up round lasagna.

When I made it for my family the other day, I served Italian sausages with peppers and onions on the side.
This recipe makes a substantial main dish that can be made ahead and refrigerated. Just adjust the cooking time if you are placing it into the oven cold.

Rainbow Chard with Confetti is inspired by Sicilian cooks who added nuts and raisins to their greens. This recipe works well with kale and spinach, too! A good helping of this vitamin-loaded side will justify the fact that for dessert, there are brownies. With ice cream. And potato chips.

I have been eating ice cream with potato chips ever since I was a little girl. I love the salty with the sweet! These brownies are the best and easiest ever and always turn out perfectly. Lining the pan with parchment paper makes them a snap to cut and serve; all the more conducive to eating immediately.

Of course, use whatever flavor ice cream you like best. I have to tell you, though, that you can’t go wrong with caramel swirl. Salted caramel gelato, or plain vanilla or fudge ripple are all good choices, too. And yes, I’ve tried them all!

Enjoy this fun supper. May it bring out the three-year-old in you!

Spaghetti Cake
1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in skillet and cook the onion until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Stir in Italian seasoning and parsley. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sauce, ricotta cheese, and eggs. Add onions and seasonings, including salt and pepper.

Toss spaghetti with sauce mixture to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Transfer spaghetti mixture into a well-greased 8-inch spring form pan. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil to ensure that you don’t have any leakage around the pan’s seam.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the pie. Place the whole business on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted and the cake is bubbling, approximately 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Yield: 8-10 servings

Rainbow Chard with Confetti

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup raisins, Craisins, cut-up dried fruit or goji berries
1/2 cup nuts (I like cashews or pistachios)
Dash balsamic vinegar

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add chard and cook until wilted, for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook uncovered until tender, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add fruit, nuts, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine. Yield: 4 servings

Caramel Brownie Sundae with Potato Chip Brownies

4 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top of brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and butter together in the top of a double-boiler or in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, stirring until smooth and melted. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour and spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Yield: 1 dozen 2-by-2-inch brownies

Caramel Swirl ice cream
Caramel sauce
Chocolate syrup
Potato chips, crunched up or whole-whatever suits your fancy

Build your sundae, using as much of the above ingredients as you see fit. Go for it!

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