Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I love Italian food. Just love it. Thanks to my mom! I add garlic to everything. Except breakfast items.

So I have been wanting to do some more bulk cooking. And I figured I'd give Stuffed Shells a try. They are time consuming so I wanted to do a bulk. Liam has been cooperating with his napping so I've been able to get more things done while he's napping.

I looked on pinterest for recipes and using some of the basics I found, here's mine.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Ingredients


Filling/Stuffing

  • 1 15-oz. container ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (OR, 2 ounces of fresh spinach leaves chopped, and sauteed with garlic.) 
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
You'll also need
  • A large box of jumbo pasta shells
  • Additional shredded mozzarella
  • Around 4 cups (20-26 ounces) of Pasta Sauce (I made my meat sauce, without the meat.) 
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells to al dente, you want them firm enough to handle. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, spinach, and S&P, garlic to taste.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. (You can do this first, but my oven preheats quickly and I'm slow at stuffing shells.)
  4. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese mixture and place in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
  5. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
I made these in bulk. I did the filling times four and slowly boiled shells and stuffed them. I used two full boxes of jumbo shells. It resulted in 86 shells. I made a set of 20 in a 9x13 which we ate for dinner. Then I made four foil pans full, a 20-count, two 15-counts, and a 16 count. 


 Spinach & garlic, mixed into the ricotta cheese mixture.
Stuffing shells & adding more pasta sauce


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chicken Huts

One our favorite recipes are chicken huts. They are simple to make and very delicious. We recently had them given to us during a "Potluck Exchange" and they included a can of Cream of Chicken Soup. Which made them EVEN BETTER!!! 

They freeze well so I decided to make them in bulk. 

Chicken Huts
Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • (2) 10 oz. cans of  cooked chicken (in the grocery store by  the canned tuna)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • (2) 8 oz. cans crescent rolls
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 2 T sesame seeds  (or bread crumbs)
  • green onions (optional)

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Open and drain canned chicken well. 
  4. Blend cream cheese, salt & pepper, chicken and green onions (optional) and mix well. 
  5. Separate each can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles (pat severed part together). Cut each rectangular in half. (Tip - Use a pizza cutter.)
  6. Put a large spoonful of chicken mixture into each or rectangle of dough. 
  7. Pull 4 corners of dough to top of center of chicken mixture. Press corners together. 
  8. Brush top with melted butter, sprinkle with sesame seeds (or bread crumbs). 
  9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brown and toasted on top.
  10. (Optional)  Heat up a can of cream of chicken soup (do not add milk/water.) Spoon over huts. 
Notes:
Mixing together the ingredients
The originally recipe did not call for cutting the crescent rectangular into two. The picture posted shows the difference in size. The larger ones are very filling, almost too big, which is weird since you can eat two of the smaller ones. 

You don't have to use the soup. It's optional. I like it. 

To make them in bulk, I used:
Sam's Club Canned Chicken - It is a 5-pack of 13-ounce cans. 
One Schnucks brand Canned Chicken - 10 ounces
4 - 8-ounce Cream Cheese
5 Cans of 8-count Crescent rolls
Small bunch of green onions. 

I made four large ones (for dinner and leftovers tonight) and 48 small ones. Then I ate four of them. Yea, I did. I am freezing in groups of 8.
The crescent roll - cut into two. Add the chicken mixture, then pinch together the corners. 
Add caption

Unbaked and Baked comparison. They really puff up.



Here's the four "large ones". I didn't cut the crescent rolls into two squares.
This is a 9x13 pan, so you can imagine how larger they are.
We had asparagus and salad as a side. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Schedule and meal planning

Liam is almost falling into a schedule! It's great. Bedtime is at 8pm, he's asleep by 8:30. He has been waking in the middle of the night - no big deal. And then he usually is up between 6:30-7:00am. He'll get changed, eat, sometimes play, and go back to bed until 9:30-10am. Then we start going down for nap at 12:15 and he'll sleep anywhere between an hour to three. It depends on how much I was able to stimulate him during the morning. (I've been doing better at this too.) 

His schedule means I can get a LOT more done around the house. Except vacuuming. Sorry husband. It means I have time to do laundry from wash-dry-fold-put away! And now with the warmer weather I'm excited to hang it up outside! 

It also means I have more time to meal plan. Meal planning is important. It helps keep our grocery budget on track and also helps me utilize what we have in the freezer. It also keeps us from eating out! That helps our restaurant budget. This week I made Stuffed Peppers and Crockpot Chicken Legs. I haven't been blogging about my food recipes as much because I've been making the same ole same ole. 

Next week I hope to make Chicken Huts and Stuffed Shells. I've never done stuffed shells before. Hopefully it goes well. I'm also going to need to make more spaghetti meat sauce

I'll also need to pick a new food for Liam next week. I think it'll be green beans.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just raising a baby

It's been a month since I last blogged! So much has happened! Liam is growing like a weed! Between his 5-month and 6-month checkup he shot up two inches. At his six month appointment on April 6, he weighed 17 pounds and 5 ounces and was 27.5 inches long! 

The past six months have been amazing. I've really enjoyed watching Liam grow and develop. He's rolling all the way over now, and sometimes will sleep on his stomach. He's learned who mom and dad are, he smiles when he sees Monday and Grandma. As much as I love being home, not worrying about the stress of a job and all, I do miss work. I miss adult interaction. I miss going outside the home. Sometimes I go a day or two without leaving the house. I've tried to increase my workouts to twice a week and am waiting for the warm weather so Liam and I can hit the walking trails. 

I've had a few job interviews, and most recently was the top five of 50 applicants. That made me feel good. I'm hoping the right job comes along like around September. That way I have the entire summer off. I spend a lot of time looking for jobs to apply to. Now that Liam is napping I have more quiet time to job search.

Jason and I have switched back to a cash budget, and I'm working harder at meal planning. We've been doing well with eating in and eating out of our deep freeze. I'm looking to make more freezer meals, but we have a lot of other things to go through first. 

I sometimes feel like I go go go. Even when Jason gets home from work and he can help with Liam, there's still stuff to do. Like making dinner, or folding laundry (we do around 6-7 loads a week now, instead of 2), cleaning up something, making a list for something else. Some evenings I get to just sit and do nothing, but I feel like those are few and far between. Since Jason is studying for the PE on the weekends, I'm on baby duty then too. I try to leave him be because passing is huge and I want him to pass. The easiest has been to just leave the house (with Liam.) If I go somewhere else then Jason won't hear him fussing or crying if he's protesting a nap. 

I have a new recipe to post. It's easy, I think you can figure it out by the picture and don't need instructions. But if you do, the steps are listed below. 

How to make a Baby Burrito
1) Get a baby
2) Place on blanket and start rolling
3) Roll all the way up!