We are a busy family. With both my Girlies dancing with the ballet company this year, we spend a large part of dinner time driving back and forth to dance classes. Last year at this time I made the commitment to cooking at home as often as I can even with those crazy time constraints. Not only do I cook at home, but I try very hard to have well balanced meals that are both yummy and if not always perfectly healthy, at least not terribly unhealthy. I've noticed a huge change in my family from this year long commitment to eating better. Buster and I have lost weight and are feeling great. The Girlies have gained healthy muscle mass which they needed. Take a look.
Now I'm going to show you what kinds of things we eat. My kids have developed a love of all things sea food and Bug loves nothing more than going to the fresh fish counter at Central Market and asking for one of everything. Last week we had mediterranean tilapia with baked zucchini fries. This is pretty much Bug's favorite meal. It's not the prettiest dish I cook but it tastes really good and is so healthy. The tilapia is cooked on the stove and then the oven with onions, tomatoes, and capers. The zucchini batons are dredged in egg whites and breadcrumbs and then baked until crispy.
Last night we had stuffed shells. Bitty loves Italian food. Buster and I don't love all the carbs. This was a good way to go. Part-Skim Ricotta cheese from Central Market was dialed up with herbs, mascarpone, and my favorite sea salt.
Then Bug spooned it into a zip top bag for easing stuffing.
See, a little help from the kid and cooked shells are easy to turn into stuffed shells. We stuffed them really really full so we could use fewer shells and more yummy cheesyness.
I went easy last night and used premade meatballs from the butcher. They were fennely and delicious. I also used Rao's sauce. It was the best prepackaged marinara I have ever eaten. Sure, I could have made sauce from scratch, meatballs too. I may have mentioned back at the top how busy we are. This was a good compromise and the kids went back for more.
Cheesy Stuffed Shells
12 ounce box of jumbo shells
15 ounces of Ricotta cheese
4 ounces of Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian spice mix
1 jar marinara or red sauce of your choice
store bought or homemade meatballs
shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the shells according to the directions on the package and drain.
While the shells are cooking mix together the ricotta, mascarpone, egg, parmesan, spice mix, and salt and pepper to taste. Fill a large zip top bag with your cheese mixture. When your pasta is done drain it well and then cut the tip of your cheese bag and pipe cheese into pasta. As you fill the shells, place them in a lightly greased (I use olive oil spray) baking dish.
Brown your meatballs in a pan on the stove. Cook your meatballs at least ¾ of the way through before adding them to your pan with your stuffed shells. If you need your dinner faster then make sure your meat is cooked all the way through so that your pasta will not need to bake as long.
Cover pasta and meatballs with your sauce and then sprinkle with mozzerella.
Bake pasta in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked all the way through and the cheese on top is golden and delicious.