Friday, September 1, 2017

Baked Spaghetti Alfredo

Do you remember that video that went viral of the BBC correspondent in South Korea whose toddler daughter and infant son interrupted his live interview from his home office? Well, Paul had a similar scenario unfold during a very important video conference he was holding one evening at home.

The conference was scheduled ahead of time and the plan was that I would keep the children corralled upstairs and get them to bed while Paul worked in his office downstairs. I got their pajamas on and teeth brushed then read them some stories and tucked the eldest two into their beds. Then, I headed into Lucy's room where I usually spend about 10 minutes rocking her to calm her down before placing her in her crib. So, there I was, chained to the rocking chair because Lucy was precariously hovering between wakeful restlessness and dreamy sleep, when Emma's door slowly creaked open. Soon, her mischievous face appeared between the crack of the door and the frame.

"Go to bed Emma!" I hissed as quietly yet firmly as I could, trying not to wake Lucy.

Emma, being the manipulative child she is, told me she just needed a drink of water. I gave her the okay and she headed downstairs in search of drink. At least that was what she told me.

Instead of helping herself to a glass of water, Emma instead walked down the hallway and burst into Paul's office, completely disrupting the conference call. "Daddy, what are you doing?" she asked.
"Daddy's working right now, Emma, go upstairs."
"Daddy, I want some candy. Or marshmallows."
"You're not having any candy. Go to bed."
"Why? We bought some marshmallows at the store!"
"But Daddy, can I sit on your lap?"

Just wanting her to be quiet so he could continue the conversation, Paul had a temporary moment of insanity and agreed to let Emma sit on his lap as long as she promised to be quiet. I almost laugh just thinking about how he actually thought that promise meant anything to her. As soon as she was on his lap, Emma kept trying to shove her face into the webcam and running a commentary on what was being said. The last straw came when she interrupted Paul's thought process by asking, "Daddy, can you read me a story?"

Not wanting to be caught on camera angrily chastising his child but needing a way to get rid of her completely, he told his coworkers to wait a moment and then took Emma into the kitchen where he threw a bag of candy and a bag of marshmallows into the middle of the kitchen island with the blessing, "Have at it, Emma, but DO NOT COME BACK INTO MY OFFICE!"

He then went back to finish his call.

And that's when I came on the scene.

I walked into the kitchen in search of the naughty girl who was out of bed only to find her climbing onto the kitchen island and trying to undo the bag of marshmallows. "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN BED! I TOLD YOU TO GET A DRINK OF WATER AND THAT'S IT! NOW I FIND YOU STEALING CANDY?!?! GET UP TO BED YOUNG LADY!!"

"BUT MOM!" Emma protested, "Daddy said I could have these!"


Unbeknownst to me, the entire racket was heard by Paul and his coworkers and they were cracking up the whole time because Paul had indeed bribed her with candy to keep her out of the office.

Ironically, the next day, Emma "wrote" a short story called "The Cat Who Always Interrupts." It's about a cat that nobody wants to talk to because she keeps interrupting. Funny that the moral of her own story has not quite sunk in with Emma.

The recipe I'm sharing today is a great one for busy school nights where you need something filling, hearty, and relatively quick. Additional plus if it's a meal that the children will not whine and complain about. Who doesn't like Alfredo Sauce? This baked version utilizes an easy and quick homemade sauce to coat your favorite noodles. The noodles are then sprinkled with cheese and baked for a short period of time at a high temperature to produce a gooey, crispy, melty top. Infinitely adaptable, you can definitely amp up this bare-bones recipe by adding cookied chicken, sausage, shrimp, or roasted vegetables to the pasta mixture before baking. We liked it meatless with a side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

Baked Spaghetti Alfredo
Adapted from Let's Dish

16 ounces spaghetti
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking dish. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Return the pot you cooked the pasta in to the stove and set over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about another minute. Whisk in the flour until smooth and golden in color. This may take 3-4 minutes. Never stop whisking!

Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and milk, stirring until smooth. Cook and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat and add half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Season with herbs de Provence, nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste. I added about a teaspoon of salt, but taste and match your preference!
Add the cooked spaghetti to the pot with the sauce and toss to coat well. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with roasted vegetables and a side salad.

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