Last night, I again didn’t know what to make and I had a crisper full of vegetables that were starting to look very sad indeed. In the past, when I had that, I would generally throw my hands up in defeat. This time, I decided to make stuffed shells. I poked around for a few recipes and realized I had no ricotta on hand, but I did have a bar of cream cheese.

The result was creamy and I actually liked it better than the normal ricotta-Parmesan mixture. This might also be because I generally hate ricotta and only tolerated its addition to stuffed shells for its binding cheesiness. Now that I know cream cheese can also work, I will be using this method from now on. Mashed potatoes, stuffed shells … cream cheese, you can randomly turn up into anything and taste yummy. You are awesome!

In an attempt to add a color besides orange to our meal (though it WAS Halloween!), I briefly blanched some green beans and sprinkled them with pepper and garlic powder. They added a nice crunch to the smooth and creamy pasta.

So here is the recipe. Original recipes called for nothing but beef + cream cheese + shells + sauce. I had no thawed beef but I had plenty of vegetables and so …. Vegetarian Stuffed Shells was born! I commented during dinner that I would have liked more spice, such as pepper, which I’d forgotten to do during the sauteing process) but Martin commented that he thought it was great as is. Take that how you will.

For the record, my chopped vegetables were Italian bell peppers, fresh mushrooms, spinach and onion. I should have seasoned the vegetables with pepper before adding it to the cheese. The next time I make this, I am definitely going to try ground beef, like the original recipes suggested. That is all.

Stuffed Shells

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 box stuffed shells
2 cloves garlic, minced
Shredded cheese
Filling of choice (ground beef, chopped vegetables, etc.)
1 jar vodka spaghetti sauce

1/ Preheat oven to 350-degrees and lightly grease baking dish.

2/ Arrange shells in baking dish to determine how many shells need to be boiled. Add to pot and boil shells until al dente.

3/ Heat oil in large skillet until hot. Add minced garlic and cook until golden brown.

4/ Add vegetables or ground beef and sauté until completely cooked.

5/ In a bowl, combine cream cheese, filling and 1 cup of spaghetti sauce. Mix well, until combined.

6/ Stuff into shells and arrange so that the opening is facing down.

7/ Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and keep baking until cheese is bubbly.

Servings: 4

Fresh out of the oven

Served nicely on a plate