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.
Toddler approved: Stuffed shells
Get the water boiling and follow the directions on the box.
Our box said boil for 9 minutes if baking.
Shred the blocks of cheese. Mix together the cottage cheese and two eggs, then add the shredded cheese and mix.
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.
Pour about 1/3 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of your favorite baking dish.
Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.
Using a soup spoon (or your favorite spoon) stuff the shells and line the baking dish.
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.
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?
One of the hardest parts about giving up six main food groups and items for baby A (she has protein digestion issues so I’m not eating dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) is finding quick, easy weeknight meals. Through a lot of trial and error, J and I have learned that some meals that look easy aren’t and some that look time-consuming are actually simple. This is a simple one. We’d put off making Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas from Williams Sonoma because it looked complicated. We were throughly surprised to learn it was easy and perfect for a busy weeknight.
Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas
In a small fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a spice grinder, add the peppercorns, paprika, ginger and the 2 tsp. salt and grind until well combined. Set aside. If using ground, skip the grinding step and just combine in a small bowl. Mix with a fork.
In a tagine over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. If you don't have a tagine, we used our most favorite pasta pot.
Add the remaining oil and the onion to the tagine or pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and the spice mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized, about 2 more minutes.
Add the lamb, water, potatoes and the 1/4 cup cilantro and bring to a simmer.
Cover the tagine or pot and adjust the heat so the mixture gently simmers.
Cook for 45 minutes, then add the chickpeas and lemon juice.
Continue cooking until the lamb is tender, about 45 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. Accompany with couscous or rice.
I LOVE this dish. It’s flavorful and warming and just delicious. It’s as good cold as it is right from the stove.
Now that we’re getting more comfortable with the No Six Diet restrictions, we are also getting a little more adventurous with adapting recipes. J bought some leeks for another recipe we scrapped and we weren’t entirely sure what to do with them. Luckily, my mom was visiting and suggested a chicken and leeks dish that she’s made several times. It turned out perfectly!
Pan-Roasted Chicken With Leeks
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Put the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (we used out cast iron dutch oven) and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat renders about 5 minutes.
Push the bacon to the side of the pan.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and cook, turning once, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan.
Stir in the garlic and leeks, then arrange the chicken on top of the bacon-leek mixture.
Whisk in the cornstarch in the chicken stock.
Add the stock and wine to the pot.
Set the timer for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Check the chicken and if the broth has mostly evaporated, add more stock to keep everything moist.
Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
I couldn’t get enough of this dish! I wished there was more!
p.s. Summer 2016 update: Our toddler likes this dish! If we’re making it to eat with her, we use a little more chicken broth and a little less wine.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to find foods that fit the No Six diet (no: dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) I’m on for Baby A. Luckily, I have a forever patient husband who is willing to search things out. He found this wonderful French Lentil Soup recipe, originally from Bon Appetit and with a few tweaks, it was wonderful.
French Lentil Soup
Heat bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the olive oil.
Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.
Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
Add 4 cups stock, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Season with salt, pepper and the Balsamic vinegar.
Like any good soup, this isn’t much to look at, but it is delicious. It is hearty and filling and all around wonderful. I can’t wait to be able to eat warm pita with it!