Thursday, May 19, 2011

Man-Pleaser Premake Meal

I love all things premade. With that being said, I also love making and creating things on my own. The best thing of all is when I can create something to premake during naptime. My premake of choice has to be food, supper in particular. Around this house, when it comes time to start making supper my Little Man is suddenly hungry-but he’s not, he just snacked. Sometimes, though when it is the right meal, I can cook with him on my hip and he LOVES it and I do too because he’s learning his mama’s cookin’, it’s good “mommy&me” time, and he gets samples (when he samples it as it cooks-he’s more willing to eat it). Most meals however require both my hands and while my Ergo baby carrier (that I stole from five Elise!) helps sometimes, most of the time he stands barefoot on my barefeet begging for me to pick him up. I have to make supper at naptime! (Ok, I don't HAVE to but I'd much rather spend my Little Man's awake time playing, not slaving at the stove.)

This dish is a definite favorite-I have made and remade this and then switched things up a bit. Any noodle you can stuff or roll (lasagna) can be used.  It’s a favorite, it’s versatile, it’s a man-pleaser, it’s a naptime premake!
4 Meat Stuffed Shells
Get a large pot of water boiling for your noodles.

1 jar traditional pasta sauce+1 can stewed tomatoes
¼ lb browned hamburger
¼ C chopped pepperoni
1 lb link sausage (like Eckrich) chopped
10 slices thin bacon cooked and crumbled (save some for topping)
1 C  each onion & bell pepper (I used frozen chopped)
Minced garlic (whatever pleases your palate)
Mix everything but sauce together in skillet and cook about 10-15 min (add garlic the last 5 minutes so it won’t burn). Then add sauce and tomatoes. Simmer for 30 min while you prepare the rest. Remember to scrape as you stir in the sauce getting all the yummies off the bottom.
*You can so make this easier on yourself by just making or buying regular ole meat sauce, but I love creating things and this is my attempt at copying a restaurant’s meat sauce that my hub loved.
 **up your veggies by adding baby food carrots to sauce...makes it sweeter too!
The water should be boiling by now, salt your water and add your large shells. I always undercook these by a few minutes to where they are al dente (10-12 min). Keep an eye on these, they like to huddle in groups and snuggle up inside each other making the cooking uneven…yuck.

1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 8 oz. package of Italian blend cheeses (I get the preshredded Walmart brand)
½ C sour cream
Italian seasoning and garlic powder-I’ve never really measured I just give a few good shakes of each.
Red pepper flakes-optional and how much depends on your taste…I add maybe ½ t to give it a little flair.
Mix it all together. I usually will make this the night before so it’s ready for me…one less thing to do during nap (so maybe I can get one too;).
**up your veggies by finely chopping some spinach and adding it to the mix....adds color and no one will notice...the hubs sure didn't!

Drain noodles and spread some sauce in the bottom on a 9x13 pan. Place the noodles seam side up in the pan the best you can…careful…they are HOT. I never can get all my noodles to fit in the pan but then again, I never get a full box of perfect shells either. Use a cereal spoon full of the cheese filling for each shell and then kind of squeeze them so they’ll close well-this also makes more room in the pan. When they are all filled, top with meat sauce and more cheese if ya want.

Let it all cool, cover with foil, and pop it in the FRIDGE until you’re ready to “cook” supper.

Bake uncovered at 350 until bubbly.

This will easily feed 4 pasta loving people when served with bread and salad (you gotta balance the meat with veggies!). Upon serving, garnish with a bit of cheese and crumbled bacon…yes, bacon. Bacon is a very good thing when paired with pasta……………and onions, and lettuce, and tomatoes……………and chocolate ;)

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