Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stuffed Shells With Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto Cream Sauce

The last time I was at the grocery store, I bought big pasta shells on an impulse.  I know, for some people it's cookies and candy bars.  For me, it's noodles, cheese, and bread.  I get giddy at the day old bread rack.  Seriously.

Anyhoo, I didn't really have a plan, but I bought a tub of ricotta and figured I'd make it up as I went.  I had the oven-roasted tomatoes in the freezer from the summer.  I froze them flat, in a ziplock bag, so all I have to do is break off as much as I need. The pesto cream sauce was born when I made this recipe and I've been a super fan ever since, although this time, I left the cheese out of the sauce.  I figured there was enough in the filling to get my cheesy fix.  I also had the pesto in the freezer, but store-bought works.

Here's what I used:

Stuffed Shells With Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto Cream Sauce
Printable Recipe

1 box large pasta shells (manicotti would be just as delicious)
1 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook shells according to directions on box.  Drain and lay out on wax paper to prevent them from sticking.


32-ounce container of ricotta
2 C shredded mozzarella
1 egg
3 cloves minced garlic
1 C oven-roasted tomatoes, chopped (you could substitute fresh tomatoes or even canned tomatoes)
Salt and pepper

Combine everything together in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  You could also add in some fresh chopped parsley or basil, I just didn't have any.


1/4 butter
1/4 C flour
3 cloves minced garlic
4 C milk
1/2 C pesto
Salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium heat.  Saute garlic until fragrant. Stir in flour and cook five minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and cook until bubbles start to form.  Cook, stirring, another minute.  Stir in pesto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add enough sauce to cover bottom of large baking dish.

Set up shop.  I got out my handy dandy scooper again. I told you I love that thing.

Fill noodles with ricotta mix and arrange in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish.  

Spoon some sauce over the first layer of noodles. 

Continue filling remaining shells and place on top of first layer.  

I ran out of filling before noodles, so I just tucked the empty ones down in.

Cover everyone with the remaining sauce and sprinkle on the grated Parmesan cheese. 

Bake, covered, at 350 for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.  

We had salad and bread to go with.
Here's dinner on my plate:

This dinner did not suck even a little bit.
So dang good.
It was like a hint of summer.
And bonus, it made enough for two nights.
Gotta love it when that happens.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Miners' Mini Muffins + The Latest Meal Plan

The first thing the kids say when they walk in the door after school is, "Can you make us a snack?"  Every.  Single.  Day.  I'm runnin' out of original ideas.  They get a lot of cheese and crackers with fruit.  Or a bowl of cereal.  Today, I cut 'em off at the pass and had muffins and smoothies ready to go.

The Girl got a Disney princess cookbook for Christmas from my sister and she's all about making things out of it.  
This was the first recipe we tried and we've made it twice since.
The miner reference refers to the Seven Dwarfs, if you hadn't picked up on that yet.

I don't know what makes these so good.  
It's just a basic muffin recipe.
Maybe it's the fact that they're so small and you can eat six of them without blinking.

Baby was my helper today.

Dear Lord, that poor girl's hair.
I'm not a total lazy-ass.  I do fix it.
But she rips the barrettes and rubber bands out before I even turn my back.

Back to the muffins.
This is a super quick recipe to mix up.
You'll  be poppin' 'em in your mouth in less than 30 minutes.

Here's the recipe with my notes:

Miner's Mini Muffins
Makes 2 dozen mini muffins

1 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I use a whole teaspoon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 C milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 C blueberries (I use a whole cup)

Heat the oven to 375.  Lightly grease the bottom of a 24-cup mini muffin pan.  

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a bigger bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and melted butter.

Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until all the ingredients are wet.  Use a rubber spatula to gently mix in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until the muffin cups are about 2/3 full.
Speaking of which, do you own one of these spring-loaded scoops?
Best thing ever.
Second favorite kitchen gadget.
I use it for EVERYTHING.

Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  
Let cool in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes before removing.

Attempt to take pictures of finished muffins with a very impatient Baby.

"Please keep your fingers off so Mommy can take pictures, then you can have one."

"Laney, fingers off."

"Mommy's almost done."

"Fine, just take one."

Yeah, they're good.
There's only three left.

On with the latest meal plan.
It felt good to sit down and map out some dinners.
I feel like I've been flyin' by the seat of my pants in the dinner department lately.
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do like to have a plan.
Here's what I came up with:

BLTs With Fried Egg & Chips
Balsamic Marinated Grilled Sirloin, Twice-Baked Horseradish Potatoes, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Blood Oranges
Chili-Lime Chicken Thighs, Baked Chili-Cheese Hominy, & Cucumber-Jicama Salad
Gumbo & Geen Salad
Tortellini With Lemon and Brussels Sprouts & Bread
Turkey Stuffing Bites, Mashed Potatoes, & Broccoli
Lime and Coconut Chicken Breasts, Coconut Curry Cauliflower, & Steamed Rice

And on the snack/baking/sweet treat list:

Almond-Apricot Granola Bars
Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes
Coconut Raspberry Banana Bread

That oughta keep me busy for a minute or two.

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