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To avoid the seven-month pregnancy look I have going (pregnant with pasta, cookies, stuffing, ham, and everything else that isn’t a baby), I’ve been cooking several easily frozen meals on Sunday. This allows me to stick to a meal plan during the work week without having to cook like a fiend in the two hours I have between getting home from work
and going to bed.
So far, it has been glorious.
We have eaten like kings without much effort.
This week I made cheese stuffed shells! They are more complicated than spaghetti, but they hold up nicely in the freezer and you get a little more bang for your buck. The original recipe is from Cooking Light, but I tweaked it a bit.
You will need:
8 oz fat free cottage cheese
14 oz fat free ricotta
4 oz goat cheese (I like the hereby garlic kind)
4 oz fresh Parmesan (shredded)
8 oz fresh mozzarella (shredded)
1 box jumbo pasta shells
10 oz frozen greens
About 4 cloves of chopped garlic
6 cups pasta sauce (To keep this dish healthy, go easy on the sauce and check calorie counts. There tends to be a lot of sugar in the store-bought stuff, so homemade is a good option too.)
Boil the pasta and set aside.
Mix all of the cheeses (except for the mozzarella) together.
Thaw and drain the mixed greens. Feel free to use a paper towel to
soak up all of the juices.
Mix garlic and greens into the cheese mixture, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff each shell with a spoonful of cheese mixture and set in a greased casserole dish.
Pour pasta sauce over noodles and then top with shredded mozzarella.
At this point you can either freeze the shells or bake them. If you freeze them, you don’t need to thaw before you decide to bake it. Isn’t that wonderful??
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
If you are feeling inspired, add meat. Add more vegetables. The world is your oyster people!!
What do you do to make sure dinner isn’t insane during the work week? Any tricks you can share?
Soups are always good ideas for quick, nutritious suppers after a long work day. Most of them freeze very well. And, as you have blogged about before, kick-ass chili is a good ready-in-the-freezer supper.
Here is one soup, from our fav – the Barefoot Contessa, that I love at this time of the year since lentils are eaten for good luck at the beginning of the New Year. It makes a ton, so don’t hesitate to cut it in half.
Lentil Vegetable Soup – The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999
1 pound French green lentils
4 c. chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
2 c. leeks, white part only (I cut this down from 4 c. in orig. recipe)
1 Tbs. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp. ground cumin (I sometimes leave this out)
3 c. medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
3 c. medium-diced carrots (4-6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock (make sure its low-sodium or the salt will get ya!)
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 Tbs. red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated parmesan
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. (Takes about 3 c. of water.) Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, unitl vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots, saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonngs. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
Lots of chopping up front but oh so worth it. Lots of veggies, lots of flavor and lentils for protein. This big patch is enough to feed 8-10 people as a meal. I also saute Italian sausages and then cut up in chunks and add like a garnish on the soup. So very good.
Thanks for the recipe! I have never actually cooked with lentils, but this looks very doable. Num
Latuff’s – combination pizza.
hahaha werd. Latuff’s is delicious
Great photos! Stuffed shells make all right with the world. I cook a lot over the weekend, including pre-chopping veggies for the week, and write a menu on Sundays so that I don’t have to think about it M-F.
Oooo pre-chopping veggies. GREAT idea! The menu writing is also a good one. Planning makes the week go so much smoother.
Your shells look awesome. I haven’t made stuffed shells in ages, but I’m thinking I need to put yours on my menu this week. My tip is that I plan out my menu for the week in advance. I plan meals in a specific order so I can used leftovers in multiple ways. For example, I’ll make chicken noodle soup on Monday with a rotisserie chicken from the deli. I only use 1/2 the meat off the chicken, so on Wednesday I’ll use that leftover chicken to make chicken salad sandwhiches or chicken enchiladas, etc. Or I’ll smoke pork ribs or a pork tenderloin and plan other meals like posole or pork fried rice and recycle the leftovers. It means I spend more time on the first meal, but less on all the rest. And I also freeze leftover sauces and ingredients (like cooked rice, leftover meatballs, spaghetti sauce, etc.) so I can pull elements out and reuse them. Saves time and money.
Ahhh clever. I like the mass meat angle you’ve got going on. Does rice freeze well?
I’ve been freezing my homemade pesto and that’s a big hit. I never thought about more individual components though. Thanks.