Thursday, January 13, 2011


Sometimes the funniest occurrences can become defining moments.

It might surprise you to learn that I only discovered my love for cooking after I was married.  I was not always food-savvy.  This is even more surprising when you factor in that my mom is a fantastic cook and we enjoyed family dinners every night.  I guess I just took it for granted.

When I was in college and chasing dating Rob, I started cooking as a way to impress him.  I think at that point, my awareness of food was in it's beginning stages.  My full-fledged obsession didn't begin until I was pregnant with Josh and gorged myself completely, [in the process gaining 53 pounds].  But it was then I started my love for food.

Anyway, back to the awareness stage.  We attended a small Wesleyan college, and while the location had charm, the food service left a lot to be desired.  A home-cooked meal was something that we would have killed for.  My friend, Kristen, and her equally adorable mom cooked us a home-cooked meal sometime in our sophomore (?) year.  I still remember it - stuffed shells and garlic bread.  There may have been a vegetable, but all I remember was how impressed I was by the stuffed shells.

Now, I previously mentioned my mom's meals - she made stuffed shells all the time.  But, I never paid attention.  This time, I remember being shocked at how easy it was to prepare something so tasty.  I called my mom immediately and told her my discovery - stuffed shells had a small number of ingredients, they were easy, and so good.  Her response betrayed the fact that she was waiting for the punch line.

Ever since that day - a defining moment in my journey - I have realized that cooking is not difficult, but it brings so much joy.  I can't tell you how much I appreciated Mrs. Cook bringing that meal for us.  It was love, pure and simple.  I really should have written her a thank-you note.  Kristen, if you're reading this, tell your mom, "thanks". 

Stuffed Shells

1.  Prepare "jumbo shells" according to directions (to reach an al dente consistency).

2.  Mix 1 egg, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 2/3 cup shredded parmesan, and 2 cups ricotta with desired spices (I used pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, dried oregano, and dried basil).

3.  Fill each shell with 3 Tbsp of egg and cheese mixture.

4.  Brown ground beef or sausage and mix with marinara sauce.  Pour mixture over filled shells.

5.  Sprinkle with additional mozzarella and parmesan.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is browned and melted. 

7.  Serve to someone you love - they'll appreciate it!


  1. YUM!!! These look delicious!! I didn't realize they were that easy! Definitely trying them SOON!! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. oh, they are - and they're good! So much easier than lasagna, but just as tasty! Hope Jer and Buddy love them :)

  3. trav just said last week that he'd like stuffed shells again so have on our menu for next week..will try adding sausage this time for something different. thanks again for sharing :) i love all of your ideas!

  4. This looks so much easier than stuffing canelloni! Why hadnt I thought of something like this before?

    Another recipe for the "Try This" list!