Giving Props and Italian Stuffed Shells

Ya know, I have to give props to Mr. Fantabulous.  With my having surgery last week he has been taking unbelievable care of me.  Now for those that know me personally, I’ll fill you in on a little secret – I’m a tad stubborn.  Okay fine, I’m a lot stubborn when it comes to me being taken care of.  Which is ironic considering I’m a Princess *wink*  No seriously, I just am not one to let people wait on me or admit that I need help.  Well this past week I had to let go and let him help me.  I let him baby me and coddle me and just pamper me.  Wanna know another secret… I kinda liked it!  *SHHHHHHHHHHH!!!*  I know.. hard to believe, right!  LOL  So to my darling husband, thank you baby…  I puffy heart you 🙂

Therefore, with my being down and out for a week, Mr. Fantabulous had to fend for himself. Now trust me, even if I was held up for like a year the man would not starve due to the magnitude of food in this house.  We’re talking full-blown meals in the freezers (yes multiple) – stuffed cabbage, peppers, sausage & peppers, breads, meats, etc… Not to mention the 25+ quarts of Italian Gravy I must have on hand at all time.  And tuna.. cannot forget about tuna.  Now wouldn’t you think that with having all that variety in the house you’d be set?!  Apparently not… the man I swear lived on yogurt, peanut butter, tuna and protein bars.

Since I was feeling a tad better I decided to venture out to the kitchen and make him a real meal while he was working.  As you all know his favorite thing in the world is pasta.  The man eats it every day, though apparently not when I have surgery.  Knowing this, I knew he had to be going through withdrawal.  I was going to make lasagna but then I realized I was out (*mental note – add to shopping list*).  Fortunately I spied half a box of stuffed shells.  Awesome!  I haven’t made him those in eons.

Stuffed shells, like lasagna, are super simple. I honestly think the hardest part out of all of it is boiling the noodles.  Yeah I know they make those no-boil noodles but they are gross. They have an odd texture and flavor.  What I like about these 2 dishes most is that they feed a large group, or Mr. Fantabulous for a couple of nights, and they are hearty.  They are classically elegant but  edgy enough that you can add just about anything to them (i.e, zucchini lasagna).

This dish took me about eh… 20 minutes to prep and about 35 minutes to bake.  This could easily be done any night during the week or you can make this ahead of time and freeze.  Just assemble as usual but do not bake.  Simply wrap up in double plastic wrap and foil.  See below how to bake frozen…

When Mr. Fantabulous walked in the door from work I could hear that “sniff sniff sniff Mmmmm” sound and I instantly perked up.  As he was walking up the stairs he said “Wow, honey, I really miss your cooking!  I swear I could smell you cooking like something awesome when I opened up the door!  I can’t wait until you’re feeling better.”

As he rounded the corner I stood there with this…

Yeah… I got “Wife Of The Year” award…. again *giggle*  Seeing those big gorgeous eyes light up followed by that amazing smile.  That’s the best medicine any doctor could prescribe for my recuperation 🙂

 

 

Giving Props and Italian Stuffed Shells

Rating 

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Ingredients
  • 20-22 Jumbo Stuffed Shells (~1/2 a box)
  • 8 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded (reserved for end)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese plus an additional 2 Tbl reserved for end
  • 1 Tbl parsley Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups Italian Gravy or prepared marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Boil shells according to the directions on the package. Set aside to drain.
  3. While the shells are draining, mix the ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, parsley and pepper. Combine well.
  4. Ladle 1 1/2 - 2 cups of the Italian Gravy into the bottom of a baking dish. For this I used a 10” round ceramic tart pan (non-removable bottom – don’t want it to leak).
  5. Spread the sauce around. You want about a 1/2-3/4” thick layer.
  6. Gently cup a shell in your hand opening the shell up.
  7. Fill each shell with the cheese mixture. You can add as much as you like depending on your cheese obsession. For this recipe I added about 1 1/2 -2 rounded tablespoons .
  8. Nestle each stuffed shell side by side into the sauce. You don’t want it jammed in there but you want to ensure each one can stand up without falling over.
  9. Take the remaining sauce and drizzle over top of the shells.
  10. Cover with foil and set the pan on a cookie sheet before you put it into the oven. *note - see freezing instructions below
  11. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil.
  12. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  13. Put it back into the oven uncovered for 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese.
  14. Garnish with fresh oregano.
  15. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then serve.
Notes
*Note: At this point, you could freeze the pan. Double wrap in plastic wrap then foil. To reheat, remove the wrappings and place into a cold oven. Turn the temp to 350 and bake for about 40-45 minutes.

10 Responses to “Giving Props and Italian Stuffed Shells”

  • Jennifer says:

    OMG. I made this for dinner and it was sooo good. I am a pasta fanatic anyway, but my kids not so much. However, they took one bite and imediately asked for this to become a dinner staple, I doubled the recipe and used a whole box of shells and there were still no leftovers.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Jennifer,

      Yeah!!! That is awesome to hear! Now to know that it’s kid’s approved – you can’t buy that type of approval! Hugs to your kids for that! 🙂

      This is a mainstay in our home. I mean marrying into an Italian family I would be ‘offed’ if I couldn’t make “Italian-worthy” pasta shells 😉

      If you want, next time you make them try adding spinach into the ricotta cheese mixture. If you use frozen, make sure it’s defrosted and wrung super dry. If you use fresh, put it in a pan and wilt it first. Same as the frozen, make sure it’s really dry before you add it to the cheese mixture. If you’re kids aren’t a fan of spinach because “it’s green and icky cause it’s green”, just tell them it’s parsley or herbs 🙂 It’s added vitamins and they are none the wiser 🙂

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Tim says:

    This is so fantastic! Better than any Italian restaurant we’ve ever eaten at! This has been a staple in our house every week since you first posted this!

    You are a genius!

  • Maggie Smith says:

    I just made these for dinner tonight and got RAVE reviews! My family absolutely loved them! I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make. But more importantly how incredible they tasted!

    I can’t wait to make more stuff from your recipes!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      That’s awesome Maggie! And thank you for inviting TKW into you kitchen! Like I was saying above, people think lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti, etc are super hard when they really aren’t! Now the recipe I gave you above for the filling – you can use that for lasagna, manicotti, stuffed rigatoni or even baked pasta (you can use really any type of noodle to create a lasagna-type effect). Just layer some noodles, layer the cheeses, add some sauce and repeat.

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