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
- 1 Mozzarella block shredded
- 1 Colby block shredded
- 1 small container cottage cheese /Ricotta cheese large or small curd doesn't matter, I prefer the cottage cheese but to each their own!
- 2 eggs
- 1 Box Jumbo shells
- 1 jar Your favorite marinara sauce you might need a jar and a half, we usually use Bertolli Marinara and Burgundy wine or Lucky’s Market Roasted Garlic
- Parmesan cheese*
- 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.
- Drain again.
- 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?