Out of my Comfort Zone?

Tonight I was in the mood to prepare an Italian-inspired comfort classic.  A meal that I’ve had many times but never pulled together on my own.

Is it strange that I can spend days cooking with unfamiliar chiles and baking bread but get intimidated by a recipe such as this?


But it’s the truth.  Even I get nervous in the kitchen sometimes! 😀

What’s funny is that it’s normally when more traditional recipes are involved.  Maybe I feel “bound in” by a classic recipe or something, who knows.

But regardless, I was on a mission to make stuffed shells tonight so that’s what I did!  And of course I refused to follow a recipe, but hey, what’s new.  So here’s my version of the classic comforting stuffed shells, enjoy!

Fanatic’s Stuffed Shells

  • 1/2 box jumbo shells
  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 box chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 block mozzarella, shredded
  • few tablespoons shredded Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • dried basil (about 1 tblsp)
  • dried oregano (about 1 tblp)
  • nutmeg (about 1 tsp)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

First step:  cook the onion, garlic & ground beef in olive oil.  Season w/ salt, pepper, oregano and basil.

Next step:  add the chopped tomatoes to the ground beef mixture.  I would have used strained tomatoes (or tomato sauce) however I am cursed to always buy the wrong type of tomatoes at the store apparently.  Just sayin’ 😛

Let the sauce simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes so all the flavors can develop.  Trust me, this step is worth it.

Next to final step:  boil the large pasta shells for about 11 minutes until they are almost done.  Remove & drain.

Prepare the “stuffing” (which I did while the pasta cooked) by combining the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg and nutmeg.

Stir it up and get ready for a stuffed shell assembly line!

Final step:  assembly line.

Layer of meat sauce.  Check.

Layer of pasta shells, stuffed with ricotta cheese mixture.  Check.

Fill up that bad boy!

Layer of remaining meat sauce to cover.  Check.

Then into a 350F oven for 30 minutes to cook, covered with foil.  Once the 30 is up, uncover and crank up the temp to 375F for another 5-8 minutes until sauce is bubblin’!

Now it’s time to serve (my favorite part, obviously 😉 )

Let’s just say there were some happy campers in this house tonight 😉 

The Man grew up eating comforting Italian-inspired classics like this, so it was definitely a hit!  If I had my way I would’ve added some spinach into the mix, but I decided to play nice and eat my veggies on the side tonight 😛

This meal would be great to make for a crowd too.  A lil’ bit of prep work and then into the oven to forget about, love meals like that.  Plus the portion I cooked up tonight was easily enough for 5 individual servings.  Score!

Time for some Grey’s Anatomy & getting myself excited about tomorrow being Friday (did anyone else have today off work and feel all out-of-wack about what day it is too???)…

We have a special visitor coming in town!!! 😛


3 responses to “Out of my Comfort Zone?

  1. I’m totally feeling off after having today off! It started out feeling like a Friday/Saturday, but now feels like a Sunday night. What the hey!

  2. Stuffed Shells! Totally one of my favorite dinners. I always make this for the man when I’m going out of town too- feeds him for days and days. Great job 😉 Special visitor??

  3. Stuffed shells are always one of my favorites. I like adding a special twist sometime and making them Mexican! Yours turned out great!

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