Stuffed Shells

I had to laugh when I was waiting for the train yesterday to go to work.  It’s the middle of October, leaves are starting to change yet the weather was around 76 degrees.  I saw some women in sundresses and flip flops, while others had already made the fashion fall turn and were wearing UGG boots, sweaters and scarves.

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I ate a banana on my train ride into the city, figuring I’d pick up something on my way in since I was a bit early.  I walked by this place called Halsted Deli and it had a sign “best breakfast sandwich in Chicago!”  Sold!

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For the record, that’s not the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever seen.  It was cheap in a way though – any size coffee (I got a 24 ounce coffee!) with the sandwich and tax was just over $5. 

I was happy that I was working a private party because that meant I was able to demo some of the recipes yesterday, and I’ve already worked with Chef Tara on this same exact menu.  The only thing I’d never made before were the three appetizers, but a quick talk with the Chef and I was good to go.  Sadly no pictures (I was in the zone!) but I made wonton wrapped shrimp with a Thai chili dipping sauce, chicken satay with a peanut sauce and fried cheese curds with a buttermilk ranch dressing.  It was a small group of only 9 people so I had four people in my group.  We made a roasted potato and fennel salad and an arugula, orange and avocado salad with a pistachio vinaigrette.

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I promise to post this focaccia bread recipe next week.  I am going to go over to my friend Courtney’s house next week so I can show her how to make this show stopper bread.  Once it comes out of the oven and is still hot, we drizzle it with lots of goat cheese, chopped marinated artichoke hearts and basil.  It makes my mouth water every time I look at it.  And surprisingly, even though there were leftovers, I didn’t eat any.

We actually finished cleaning up the room early and I was already headed home at 4:30.  For some reason when I was loosely meal planning for the week, I didn’t write anything down for dinner last night because I normally work nights.  I was picturing in my head what I had on hand:  pasta shells, ricotta cheese, Hunt’s pasta sauce (I know I could make my own, but in a pinch it works, and my Dollar Tree sells it for .50 a can), mozzarella cheese – well, the obvious choice was stuffed shells.  As luck would have it, I found two lone hot Italian sausage links in my freezer so Jacob and I split those – well, I had 2 ounces of one and he had the rest. 

I wrote this recipe for one because at first I thought it was only going to be me for dinner since the kadults were out and about, but Hannah called and asked if I was making dinner or should they stop somewhere on their way home.  It was a quick fix to make enough for all of us, but here is the recipe for one serving.

Stuffed Shells
Serves 1
A super simple, easy comfort dinner that's ready in about 30 minutes.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
1525 calories
226 g
109 g
40 g
62 g
18 g
1749 g
990 g
14 g
0 g
17 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1525
Calories from Fat 352
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g
Saturated Fat 18g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Cholesterol 109mg
Sodium 990mg
Total Carbohydrates 226g
Dietary Fiber 11g
Sugars 14g
Protein 62g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 5 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and rinsed in cold water
  2. 1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  4. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1/2 cup Hunt’s Four Cheese pasta sauce
  7. 1 ounce part skim mozzarella cheese
  8. 2 ounces cooked Italian sausage
  1. Heat oven to 400.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a medium sized bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and mix well.   In a casserole dish, put the 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Divide the ricotta mixture evenly between the pasta shells, top with the mozzarella cheese and bake covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.  Top with the sliced Italian sausage, and if I had basil, I would have topped it with that, but I only had cilantro, and it actually was pretty good!
My Bizzy Kitchen
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While this whole plate comes in at 13 smart points, all I had was the banana and breakfast sammie before dinner, so it’s all good.  Although I did treat myself to an ounce of these peanuts my Aunt Martha sent me:

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Um, maple AND bacon!  Swoon.  I may need Hannah to hide these from me because it’s the type of snack that you could just mindlessly eat until the whole can is gone.  I may portion out 11 more servings and put it back in the container to grab and go for some self control.  So good – thanks Aunt Martha!

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Almost 20k steps for the day!   I’ll take it.   It’s another gorgeous day today – right now it’s party sunny and 68 degrees.  I don’t have to be to work until 5:00 so I’ll be getting my walking shoes on shortly.

Hope your week is going well so far – make it a great day!

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