Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lemon and Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I've been really bored by the stuff that we "usually"eat lately, so I've been trying some new variations of old favorites. My husband LOVES stuffed shells, but my kids tend to resist marinara sauce. (I know, weird kids!) I saw a recipe for lemon and ricotta stuffed shells on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try using my own favorite recipes. My husband and kids really liked it. We thought it was a nice, fresh switch for summer! This is how I made it,

Ingredients for Filling -

1 big tub of cottage cheese (I used cottage cheese for affordability purposes!)
1 8 oz bag Italian blend cheese
About a half cup of Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
Zest of one lemon
Fresh basil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce Ingredients -

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%.)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Zest of one lemon (Plus juice if desired. We thought it was a little too lemony with the juice!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions -

Mix all of your filling ingredients together in a big bowl. (Reserve a little Italian and/or Parmesan for the top!) Set filling aside while shell noodles boil to "al dente" as directed. While your noodles boil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour to a sauce pan. Stir together as the butter melts. Then, stir in milk and warm through. Next, melt in cream cheese and Parmesan. (If your sauce is not think enough, you can stir a little sauce and flour together in a separate cup and add back to the sauce pan for thickening.) Once the sauce is smooth, stir in garlic powder, zest and lemon juice (if desired) and stir. Then, ladle a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Now that the noodles have cooled slightly, gentle spoon in the filling and place each shell in the pan so they are touching. Once the pan is full, ladle the remaining sauce over the noodles. Top with additional grated Parmesan and/or shredded Italian cheese and bake covered at 350 for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until browned on top. Cool for 15 minutes and sprinkle with fresh basil. Voila!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oven Baked Tacos

I've seen this baked taco thing several times on Pinterest. The thing that I like about tacos is that they are fast and easy. The thing I DON'T like about tacos is frantically stuffing them while little people eat them faster than I can get them on the table. For both reasons, I thought I should give the baked tacos a shot!

Overall, we really liked them! My oldest daughter and I stuffed and baked them together. While the tacos were in the oven, we got the veggies ready and cleaned up the kitchen. Then, we took them out of the oven to let them cool while we waited for Daddy to get home from work. No more frantic taco making! Instead, we were all about to sit together at the table, and the big girls were able to stuff their tacos on their own. I also really enjoyed the semi-crunchy shell, and the leftovers held up well! Hurray!

Here is how we made them!

Ingredients -

14 fajita sized tortillas
1 lb of ground beef
1 can of refried beans
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese

Directions -

Brown and strain grease off of ground beef. Then, add refried beans and enchilada sauce. Stir until combined and warmed through. Next, carefully place the tacos in a 9x13 pan, so they are pressed against each other but still slightly open. Sprinkle with cheese (generously if you live at our house!) and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Perfection!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Skinny Cake Batter Dip

Variations of this recipe have definitely made the Pinterest rounds! We really like it, and it is worth sharing, for sure!

I made cake batter dip for the first time quite awhile ago. My kids REALLY like Cool Whip and whipped cream, so I knew it would be a hit with them. Last time I made it, I made it with regular vanilla yogurt, and it was definitely not as impressive. This time, I made it with plain Greek yogurt, and it was awesome. The Greek yogurt gives it more of a cheesecake/cream cheese type flavor and texture. I definitely recommend sticking with the plain Greek yogurt. It is still plenty sweet!

For the 4th, I had planned on making it with red, white and blue funfetti mix, but I had a hard time finding it! I ended up finding it at Aldi at the last minute. I'm definitely going to try to remember that for the future! I know they always have red and green for Christmas too and probably other variations for other holidays too! Wouldn't they be fun for a Halloween or Valentine's Day cake batter dip for a school party???

Here is how I made it...

1 box funfetti cake mix
2 cups fat free, plain Greek yogurt
1 cup Cool Whip
Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)


First, with a whisk, whip Cool Whip and Greek yogurt together until smooth. Then, gently stir in cake mix.


I served mine with animal crackers, but it is awesome with grahams, Nilla wafers, a spoon...you get it!