Toddler approved: Stuffed shells

Toddler Approved Meals

Miss A has an affinity for all things Italian, like last week’s chicken “parm.” When I was little, my mom used to make these stuffed shells. My sister and I remember them fondly* and I thought Miss A would like them as well. We were right. She loved the stuffed shells. They’re easy enough for a weeknight dinner and perfect for a Friday during Lent.

Print Recipe
Toddler approved: Stuffed shells
  1. Get the water boiling and follow the directions on the box.
  2. Our box said boil for 9 minutes if baking.
  3. Shred the blocks of cheese. Mix together the cottage cheese and two eggs, then add the shredded cheese and mix.
  4. You can add seasoning like salt and pepper or this delicious Penzy's frozen pizza blend we received as a gift. When we made this for Miss A the first time, we left out the spices and just sprinkled them on before we ate.
  5. Pour about 1/3 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of your favorite baking dish.
  6. Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.
  7. Drain again.
  8. Using a soup spoon (or your favorite spoon) stuff the shells and line the baking dish.
  9. Pour remaining sauce (you might need another half a jar to get all of the pasta covered). Bake at 350 degrees for at least a half an hour or until all the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Toddler Approved: Stuffed SHellsMy Opinion:
For at least the last 10 years, I’ve been making this dish wrong. I *remembered (incorrectly it seems) my mom using cheddar cheese and I couldn’t figure out why it never tasted exactly right. When shopping for the ingredients for this dish with my sister, she said she remembered our mom using colby cheese. Upon my first taste with J and Miss A I remarked that my sister had been right and the missing ingredient was colby cheese! That’s when we Facetimed my mom from the dinner table with the intention of showing her how excited Miss A was to eat one of her recipes. That’s when my mom asked about the ingredients. Turns out she sprinkled Parmesan cheese* on top! I feel like the kid in Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (one of Miss A’s current favorites) when Alexander exclaims, “I HATE Limas” after having to eat lima beans for dinner because I very much dislike Parmesan cheese and absolutely do not remember that being part of this recipe. Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a childhood dish can be interpreted so differently?



J’s Lasagna

Homemade Lasagna with meat sauce by Dispatches from the Castle

I’ll be truthful, I prefer simple, clean flavors. I don’t like meat in pasta sauce and I’m not in love with Ricotta cheese. After years of eating my family’s version of lasagna, J couldn’t take it anymore. He had to make his own.

Homemade Lasagna with meat sauce by Dispatches from the Castle

J’s Lasagna

Homemade Lasagna with meat sauce by Dispatches from the Castle


  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 14 1/2 ounce cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 24 ounces cottage cheese or 24 ounces ricotta cheese we used half and half to appease me
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese divided
  • 12 -15 lasagna noodles


  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Add salt and next 5 ingredients; stirring until well mixed. Simmer 1 hour. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside. Combine cottage cheese, eggs, pepper, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 of mozzarella cheese; In a lasagna pan, layer noodles, meat sauce, and cheese mixture; repeat. Top off with layer of noodles; sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cheese mixture is thoroughly melted.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My Opinion:
I’m not 100 percent sure J followed this recipe exactly, but if he didn’t he followed it pretty close. He modified it from this recipe. All in all, it was pretty good. I would let him make it again. It was a bit light on the cheese, which is the part of the lasagna I like most. We’ll fix that. I’m sure over time, we can find a good blend of my version of lasagna and his version.

Don’t forget! #cookchat this Thursday, January 20 at noon! Hope to see you there!