Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

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Well, today the baby got himself from lying on his tummy up into sitting position for the first time. I love each new skill he develops but this one has mama in a panic! Crawling is just around the corner which means I’ll be spending this week baby proofing!! And…it also means there will be a DIY baby gate post coming your way in the near future. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stay tuned!

This recipe is tasty! Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate vegetarian dishes into our diet here and there. I grew up on a VERY hearty diet, meat, potatoes and a glass of milk at every dinner and I always want flavor, flavor, flavor so sometimes the veggie dishes fall a bit short for me. This one does not! There are tons of veggies, chickpeas for protein and the sauce is full of flavor. In total, it took 40 minutes, which is totally doable for a weeknight meal. If you wanted to make it even quicker, you could easily prep the veggies and sauce ahead of time and then just cook the pasta, fill the shells and pop it in the oven at dinnertime.

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells
16 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups diced eggplant
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced zucchini
3/4 cup chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups low sodium marinara sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp torn fresh basil, divided
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray
4 oz shredded Italian blend cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add eggplant and bell pepper, cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, tomato and chickpeas; cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in 1 cup marinara, 1/2 cup basil, black pepper and salt.
4. Coat a 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread remaining 3/4 cup marinara over bottom of dish. Spoon about 2 Tbsp vegetable mixture into each pasta shell. Arrange filled shells in dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 minutes. Top with remaining 2 Tbsp basil.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light

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Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo

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Ok mamas…I now have a baby who is suddenly sleeping 10-11 hours at night only waking up once, maybe twice AND taking 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps!!!! I have made a couple changes recently, most notably to his feedings. But I’m wondering, is this normal that there is a shift around 5 months and babies just start napping well? Or is it possible that the feeding changes I made actually made the difference? Just want to know before I go tooting my own horn about sleep training in a blog post 🙂 Haha! That sounds way more “I’m-so-amazing” than I wanted it to.

Anyway…this dinner! I’ve made it twice now, and the second time was just as good as I remembered. It was really simple too, only 1 pot and about 30 minutes (minus putting the chicken in a marinade a couple hours prior), great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Italian herb mix
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the orzo:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
14 oz can crushed tomato
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Italian herb mix
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup basil leaves

1. Combine all marinade ingredients and marinade for 1 hour – overnight.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet, increase heat to medium high. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, cook additional 1 minute.
4. Add orzo, tomatoes, broth, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix, bring to a simmer, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Pasta should be just cooked and still quite saucy. Take it off stove immediately.
5. Stir through parmesan and basil, adjust salt to taste. Spoon into bowls, top with chicken, garnish with more parmesan and basil.

*Original recipe from Recipe Tin Eats

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta

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Any stay at home mom’s have trouble keeping track of what day it is? Everyday, literally, everyday, I have to double check what day of the week it is! I guess it doesn’t help that the little man and I don’t have a set agenda, like classes or school, to keep me on track. And, my husband started a new job so his regular schedule has changed as well.

None of this really bothers me, just makes me feel a bit crazy 🙂 I might start looking into Mommy & Me type classes. Is that a thing for babies this age? 3 months…it seems a little young to be in classes? I guess I need to do some research, any mamas with advice, comment away please!

So, I’m not a huge spaghetti fan. At least, not traditional spaghetti, basic noodles with some ground beef and a jar of red sauce. But this…this is not traditional spaghetti…this is INCREDIBLE spaghetti. Slow cooked beef brisket, a rich homemade red sauce made from the juices of the slow simmering beef and noodles soaked in sauce before serving. This is the ultimate comfort food, with hands on time of only 20 minutes, put it on the stove on a Sunday for an amazing Sunday supper and have plenty of leftovers for later in the week. And, by the way, this recipe is from a food blog that I have become OBSESSED with over the last few weeks, Recipe Tin Eats. I have made a few of her recipes and they have all been so delicious.

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta
For the Ragu:
2.5 lb beef brisket cut into 4 equal pieces
1 Tbsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
28 oz crushed canned tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 beef bouillon cubes
3 cups water
3 dried bay leaves
Extra salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
1 lb dried spaghetti
Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1. Pat beef dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat in heavy based pot (I used my Calphalon Stock Pot). Add beef and sear each piece on all sides until browned (around 3 minutes total), then remove onto a plate.
3. Turn stove down to medium low and add remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
4. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and sauté slowly for 5 minutes.
5. Add remaining Ragu ingredients (except extra salt and pepper) and return the beef to the pot (add the juices too). Turn the stove up and bring it to a simmer, then turn it down to low. Cover the pot and let it cook for 1 hour 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for a further 30 minutes until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with forks and the liquid has reduced to be a thick sauce.
6. Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of sugar (1/2 tsp at a time) if it is a bit sour for your taste.
7. Turn the stove off and remove the beef from the sauce into a large bowl. Shred it coarsely with 2 forks. Then return it to the sauce.
8. Cook pasta to package directions but cook for 2 minutes less than package directions and save 1 cup pasta water. While pasta is cooking, place 5 cups of Ragu in a very large fry pan (I used a Wok) and heat over high heat.
9. When the pasta is ready, transfer is directly from the pot into the fry pan using tongs. Add 1  cup pasta water to fry pan.
10. Gently toss the pasta for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce water evaporates and leaves you with a thick Ragu sauce that coats the pasta. Add pasta to the remaining Ragu, toss to combine and serve. Top each serving with parmesan and parsley and stuff your face!

 

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Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Puree

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I’m on day 4 of being sick in bed…I am NOT good at being sick like this. I am bored out of my mind and want so badly to get up and leave the house but am such a mess and exhausted that all I can do is lie in bed. So ready for this sickness to be done!

Normally, when I get a cold, I just power through, continue working and kick it in about a day and a half. I have been going going going for the last few months, so when I started feeling sick, I decided to spend the day relaxing and resting. If possible, this made things worse? Either this is the worst cold I’ve ever had or stopping to rest just allows the cold to settle in and get comfortable for the long haul!

Lucky for me, I had some of these stuffed shells leftover in the fridge! This recipe does take a little time, however, the look and the flavors will make you feel like you should open your own restaurant! When I think of puréed squash, I can’t help but think of baby food. Not this time. I was eating it by the spoonful!

Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Butternut Squash Purée
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 onion, sliced
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 pound sausage
2 cups spinach (could also substitute kale)
3 cloves garlic
1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente
15 ozs ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded, plus more for topping
Olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes.
    2. While vegetables roast, cook sausage in a frying pan over medium heat. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic.Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.
    3. Cook pasta to package directions. To keep shells from sticking together, add the to boiling salted water one at a time. After draining pasta, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    4. When vegetables are finished roasting, place them in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth purée forms. Allow to cool, then stir in milk and vegetable broth. Pour butternut squash sauce into the base of a 9×13 baking dish.
    5. In a large mixing bowl, stir together, ricotta, Parmesan and egg. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta mixture and stir until well mixed. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, covered with foil, followed by 15 minutes uncovered.
    6. When dish is finished baking, carefully spoon shells along with butternut squash sauce into bowls and top with additional Parmesan.

* Original recipe from Completely Delicious