Ricotta and Mozarella Stuffed Shells

For those that know me, they know that ricotta cheese is not my favorite cheese. Cooked this way, mixed with all sorts of goodness, I like it. This recipe is another one of my vegetarian dishes that the kids will eat. The original recipe was found in the 2012 issue of Food and Wine magazine. It has been modified by me.


  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion. thinly sliced
  • 12 oz jumbo shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (homemade recipe below, or used store bought for simplicity)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large, deep skillet, melt the butter and oil. Add onion until lightly browned, 15 minutes. Add water as needed to keep from scorching. Set aside and let cool.

Cook pasta shells to al dente, drain, cool under water, and pat dry.

Fold the ricotta, 1 cup of cheese, parsley, and onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir in eggs.

Mix marinara sauce with cream and pour 1 1/2 cups into a 9X13 baking dish. Stuff each shell and nestle close together in the sauce. Drizzle remaining marinara over and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Marinara Sauce


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves halved
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 / 35oz can of whole peeled Italian tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 fresh basil sprigs


Heat oil in large saucepan, add garlic and saute until golden, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and crush with a spoon. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, and basil. Simmer for 30 minute. Makes approx 3 cups.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies



Merry Christmas! Christmas would not be complete without making gingerbread people. This recipe was found on simplyrecipes.com and is easy with tasty results.


  • 1/2 cup un-sulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  large egg, beaten
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose four

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices, set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour on low speed. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set out 3 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick and place on parchment paper. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out cookies. Cut dough into shapes and transfer to baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until firm to touch.

Chocolate Mousse Dessert Cake


This is a classic recipe from Julia Child. A rich delicious chocolate cake that does not need frosting. I watched her make this one on her show and she made it look so simple, as she often does. However, there are many steps and it can be a little tricky with the water baths but worth the effort and a great treat for the holidays.


  • 6 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pound of chocolate (14 oz semi-sweet, 2 oz unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (chilled)
  • 1 TBS vanilla

Butter and flour a 10 cup cake pan, have a piece of wax paper buttered as well and place on bottom of cake pan.
Whip eggs and sugar.
Melt chocolate, rum, and coffee in water bath and add vanilla to chocolate mixture.
Whip heavy cream into soft whip cream.
Fold chocolate into beaten eggs and sugar then fold whip cream into mixture, pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees in water bath for 1 hour. Leave in pan of water, oven off for 30 minutes.
Remove carefully from pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Potatoes Au Gratin (Gratin Dauphinoise)

Breast of Chicken with Duxelles Stuffing

This is another recipe that I tried in my professional chef app; The Culinary Institute of America’s textbook.  Potatoes with cream, cheese, and butter; how could you go wrong? The recipe calls for a 10 serving dish but you can cut it all in half if you don’t want to make 3 pounds of potatoes.


  • 3 lb chef’s potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 quart (4 cups) milk
  • freshly grated nutmeg, as needed
  • salt, as needed
  • 12 fl oz (1 1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I added this, it is not in the original recipe in textbook)


Scrub, peel, and thinly slice the potatoes using a mandoline or electric slicer. If you have to use a knife like me it will work. Put the garlic in a medium saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil. Season the milk with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and add sliced potatoes. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook potatoes until halfway cooked, 8-10 minutes, taking care that the milk does not boil over. Discard the garlic.

Transfer  the potatoes and milk to a buttered pan, pour cream over the top, dot with butter and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown and milk has been absorbed, about 45 minutes.

Allow the potatoes to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.