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?
We had some leftover mozzarella from making pizza and decided to make these as an amuse bouche, since we didn’t have any bread for the original. I could have eaten only these for dinner!
Best summer garden snack or amuse bouche
We have found the best flavor comes from the broiler. Line your favorite baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice or wedge your tomatoes.
Drizzle with olive oil. If you want to add garlic, you can do that now.
Slice the mozzarella. If the cheese is slightly bigger or smaller than the tomatoes, that's ok! It will melt.
Add to the pan oven under the broiler. If using the broiler on high, don't walk away, the dish will burn faster than you might think it will!
When the cheese starts to slightly brown and bubble remove it the oven.
Drizzle with the balsamic and top with a basil leaf.
Allow to cool a bit before eating.
So delicious. The next time it’s too hot for a whole meal and we have left over mozzarella, I’ll make this as a stand alone dish. I didn’t even miss the bread (which is how this is traditionally made)!
We finally perfected our homemade pizza recipe! J has recreated his favorite Imos pizza. While the pizza Margherita I so loved from Florence is completely out of reach, this version is close enough I don’t mind. Buon appetito!
pizza dough (store brand thick or thin is up to you)
whole milk mozzarella, shredded (put it in the freezer for a few minutes before shredding, it helps.)
Roma tomato, sliced (or cherry sliced up if you’re in a pinch like we were)
fresh basil, Chiffonade
Preheat oven according to package directions. For us, this was 400 degrees. Roll out the dough on a pizza stone. Place in oven for four to six minutes or until the dough starts to brown. remove from oven. Brush with olive oil. About a quarter cup should be plenty. Sprinkle evenly with the minced garlic. Put the sliced tomatoes on top of the olive oil. Then sprinkle with the mozzarella, covering the entire pizza evenly. Add the Chiffonade basil. Bake for the remaining time on the package. Keep an eye on it. When you think it’s done, give it two to three more minutes. This will ensure the dough is all the way cooked through.
pizza dough (store brand thin)
pizza sauce of your choice (we prefer Mid’s Pizza Sauce)
shredded provel cheese
small can of mushrooms, drained
Preheat oven according to package directions. For us, this was 400 degrees. Roll out the dough on a pizza stone. Place in oven for four to six minutes or until the dough starts to brown. While waiting, microwave the pepperoni. Blot with paper towels (this keeps it from making your pizza too greasy.) Remove from oven. Brush with pizza sauce. About a quarter to half cup should be plenty. Sprinkle evenly with the provel and mozzarella. Put the pepperoni and the mushrooms on top. Bake for the remaining time on the package. Keep an eye on it. When you think it’s done, give it two to three more minutes. This will ensure the dough is all the way cooked through.
This has totally replaced delivery in our house. In fact, it takes less time than waiting for one to arrive at our door!