Stuffed Shells Two Ways

Saturday was family dinner night and to stick with my cookbook mission, I made a recipe inspired by, guess who, Ray Ray! The menu was stuffed shells two ways. Truly, I just wanted to do a butternut squash sauce, but I figured I could please the crowed with an easy italian sausage marinara sauce, too. Though these took for-ev-er to make for a group of ten, they were super delicious. It's like a neater lasagna. Which makes me think this butternut squash sauce would make a ridiculously good lasagna... Hmmm...

Thanks for inspiration Ray Ray! I also took a cue from Gourmet for the butternut squash sauce. But I changed that up, too. I'm not one for following instructions.

There are three components to this - the shells, the sausage marinara, and the butternut squash sauce.

One: The Shells


  • One box of shells
  • 2 cups fat free ricotta
  • 2/3 c. shredded parmesan
  • 1/3 c. grated romano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients.
  • Set in the fridge for about one hour before you start stuffing shells so that the spices have some time to soak in to the cheese
  • Cook shells according to box instructions -  you want them just short of al dente since you will be finishing them in the oven. Nobody likes mushy pasta.
  • When the pasta is done cooking, drain and dump on to a baking sheet to cool.
  • Once they are cool enough to handle, stuff each shell with 2 tbsp of ricotta mixture
  • Arrange in a 9x13 baking dish and wait patiently for sauce
  • Pour sauce over shells - be generous - and make sure to get the edges so pasta doesn't dry out
  • Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbly

nutmeg looks like brains!

Sausage Marinara

  • One package of your favorite italian sausage - I like hot turkey, but sweet or any other meat tastes great too
  • Two 28 oz. cans marinara sauce from trader joes. No corner cutting, people. :)
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 c. red wine - 3/4 c for drinking while cooking, 1/4 c. for actual cooking
  •  In a large, deep frying pan, brown sausage 
  • Dump in marinara sauce, reduce heat to simmer
  • Add in italian seasoning and red wine
  • Simmer and stir occasionally for 10 minutes
  • Great on pasta, lasagna, stuffed shells, with italian sandwiches, over eggs, over garlic bread, etc.
 I was too busy stuffing shells to take pics, but picture yumminess in your head.

Butternut Squash Sage Sauce

  • 1 lb butternut squash, roughly chopped and finely diced by food processor
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • pepper to taste
  • Heat oil over medium high heat
  • Saute onions until soft and starting to get brown
  • Dump in squash, and water, cover and reduce heat to medium
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until squash is fully cooked
  • Either using a blender or batches in a food processor, puree 3/4 of the squash onion mixture. If you don't want texture, puree it all. I like texture.
  • Reduce heat to low, stir in herbs, parm, and pepper to taste
  • SOOOOOOO good.

 I am going to go eat another round of these shells for leftovers now :)


Ethnic Burgers

I could call these Mexican Burgers, but I'm not sure they truly represent Mexico, so I'm going to be P.C. and call them Ethnic Burgers. I don't want this blog post to come back to me in ten years (when I'm rich and famous) and to be painted as culturally insensitive by the media that will definitely be obsessed with me.

Anywho! Tonight's meal is inspired by my favorite obnoxious, manic food network star, Ray Ray.
We're on a first name.

yup, that's my face on the right there!

Her recipe, in 365: No Repeats is called Fajita Burgers. Also ethnically safe. We have that in common.

 I read the recipe once, then decided to go my own way with it.  I used ground turkey, bulked it up with mushrooms for flavor and moisture, added lime, and topped my burger with guac and shredded light mexican blend cheese. Here's the deets!

Ethnic Burgers
Makes seven 4 oz. patties - 4 WW PP+ each

  • For Burgers
    • 1 package extra lean ground turkey
    • 1 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
    • 1 clove garlic
    • Zest and juice of 1 lime
    • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 package trader joe's crazy good taco seasoning, or the taco seasoning of your choice
    • a dash of salt
  • For Peppers and Onions
    • 2 large bell peppers - 2 different colors, sliced
    • 1 yellow onion, sliced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp EVOO
    • 1/2 c. salsa verde of your choice - I used Trader Joe's. Duh.
  • For Burgers
    • In a food processor, combine mushrooms and garlic and process until finely minced but not mush
    • Dump out mushrooms into giant mixing bowl
    • Use food processor to process cilantro until chopped(I heart food processors!)
    • In said giant mixing bowl, dump in taco seasoning, zest and juice of lime, ground turkey, and a dash of salt
    • Mix with your hands until completely incorporated
    • Separate into 7 patties or however many you like
    • Cook however you please. I cooked on the stove top. Since they are so lean you will need cooking spray.
  • Meanwhile in Pepper/Onion land....
    • In a large saute pan, heat oil over med-high heat
    • Toss in pepper and onions
    • Saute until softened and startin to caramelize on the edges
    • Toss in garlic and saute until softened
    • Pour over salsa verde
    • Reduce to low and let the mixture get all yummmyyy

Hot tip! I was using rectangular shaped rolls (oxymoron?) so I shaped my burgers as such. Nothing stupider than a burger that doesn't fit the bun . . .

I topped by burgers with cheese and guac. I think I said "so freaking good!" nine times. The mushrooms keep the meat super moist and the lime zest adds so much flavor. For such lean meat, these tasted incredible.

On the side, I cooked a bag of frozen sweet potatoes in the oven, then tossed them with a bit of cilantro and taco seasoning to add some ethnic flavor. I dipped them in a mixture of salsa and fat free greek yogurt. (50/50).  This dip could also work as a sauce for the burger... and is super low calorie!

Thanks for the inspiration, Ray Ray! But I win this round. Booyah.


Fast Break

Boring breakfast buster.... GO!

Lemon Raspberry Overnight Oats
prepare the night before you want to eat em!


  • 1/3 c regular oats (not steel cut, they don't work too well)
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (ch-ch-ch-chia!)
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed up
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Stir it up!
  • Stick it in the fridge overnight.
  • Chia seeds create a natural gel, so it will be super thick. You may not like the texture of chia seeds, so you can definitely omit them from the recipe and the oats would still be grrreat!
  • In the am, stir up the oats
  • Top with fresh berries and a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt
It's like raspberry lemon cheesecake for breakfast! The soy/almond milk and oats have protein, the oats, chia, and fruit have fiber, and the chia itself is a superfood!



Overnight oats can be flavored any way, just omit the lemon zest from the above recipe.

Other add-ins or toppings to try:
  • Apricot/Blueberry
  • Strawberries/Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • Almond Butter/Cacao Nibs
  • Apple/Cinnamon
  • Cherry/Almond
  • Pumpkin!

About that chia seed...
If you haven't heard of, or tried, chia seeds, here's the info from a gram for gram comparison off a chia company's website. I have no clue if this is credible, but I like it.

Source: http://bestchiaseeds.wegrc.com/

What I like about chia seeds is that they fill you up! Add a tablespoon to cereal or a smoothie and you will see, they fill you up like crazy. I went on a chia oat stint for a week once and I was so full I wasn't hungry at lunch. And if you know me, you know I rarely pass up a foodurtunity. 

Try some chia seeds! Eat your breakfast, kiddos!

Have a nice weekend!



It was such a perfect day for soup! Chilly and overcast. So, as I teased in my last post, I bring you soup. However, not just any soup! I made a vegetarian variation of french onion soup and to up the ante, I made it in the crock pot. Easy one pot wonders tend to keep the kitchen cleaners (cough, parents, cough) happy.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup
Makes 12 1.5 cup, 2 WW Point Servings


  • 3 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp whipped earth balance
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 6 oz. dry white wine
  • 64 oz. low sodium vegetable broth (salt it yourself)
  • 1 tbsp worcestercestercestershire sauce (i think that's phonetic)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • fresh cracked black pepper to your liking
  • sea salt to taste
  • Heat up your crock pot to high and melt earth balance and EVOO
  • Toss in onions and garlic
  • Let em sweat and soften up for about 30 minutes, or however long it takes with your crock pot size to onion volume ratio
  • Sprinkle flour over and stir well until all pieces are coated. You're not making a roux, but just suggesting a thickening agent to the soup
  • Add white wine, cook uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Dump in the broth, worcestercestercestershire sauce, thyme, and pepper. 
  • Stir and let it cook away on high for 4-6 hours. You could also do this step on low for 8-10 hours. 
  • Salt to taste and serve with cheese covered bread of your choice (I broiled reduced fat swiss slices and shaved parmesan over baguette slices)

No animals were harmed in the making of this soup. Except maybe the cheese animal. I destroyed him. 

There is so much left over soup that some will be going into the freezer to wait for another cold day! But the cheesey bread... not so much. That will last about 16 hours in this household. Tops.

In other news, Sprinkles has developed psychic powers. She can open doors with her mind.

open, sesame!
Oh wait, no she can't. Keep trying, kitty cat.


Noodles and Company

Dear Blogosphere,

Please excuse Lauren's absence for the past two weeks. She has been incredibly busy seeing her best friends all over the place. I owe you a recipe. Have some noodles.

Step one:
Make a big ass mess in the kitchen.

Step two:
Let the kitchen get back at you for said mess by dumping ginger all over your chicken marinade. Punk'd!

But seriously...

Garlic Peanut Noodles
Makes a crap ton
Makes ten 7 WW point 1 cup servings


  • For pasta
    • Half package of whole wheat pasta, cooked, drained, shocked in ice water, drained again
    • 3 cups shredded cabbage
    • 1/2 c. shredded carrots
    • 1 cup snap peas
    • 1/4 c. diced green onion
    • 1/4 c. lightly salted peanuts
  • For chicken
    • 2 large chicken breasts, diced into 1" pieces
    • 2 tsp dried ginger
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • cooking spray
  • For sauce
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
    • 1/4 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (or rice vinegar with a bit of sugar.... same thing)
    • 1/4 c. sweet chili sauce 
    • 1/4 c. creamy natural peanut butter
  • Sauce
    • In a microwave safe dish, combine all ingredients for sauce and nuke for about 30 seconds, or until peanut butter loosens up
    • Stir well until well mixed
    • You could also use a blender for this, but why make an even bigger mess at this point?

  • Chicken
    • Toss the chicken in the soy sauce and powdered ginger
    • Stir fry in a lightly sprayed pan until brown and crispy
    • Set aside and let cool

  • All together now!
    • In a giant bowl, dump cooled chicken, all veggies, cold noodles, and sauce
    • Toss carefully as to not continue making a bigger mess
    • Serve with a sprinkle of peanuts, a wedge of lime, and a dusting of sesame seeds!


I've been really into snow peas and snap peas recently. I think its because they are starchy and that tastes super carby, but they're veggies. I used to hate them but I can't get enough now!

This recipe reminds me of the noodles that you can get in the pre-made salad section at trader joe's, but more garlic-y. You can always reduce the amount of garlic, but where would the fun be in that?

Also, did you notice how I snuck in the whole wheat pasta there? Tricky, huh? And really, the vegetable to noodle ratio is pretty large here, so there's not too much to feel bad about. I'm sure someone more clever than myself could find a way to make a lower calorie version of the sauce, but I wanted the real deal here. Peanut buttterrrrrr......

Today was cold (and by cold I mean 63 hahaha... Sorry Colorado peeps), which means I am going to start thinking about soups... It was so cold I had to wear flats instead of sandals when I took the dog for a walk. hahah. Enough with my Spoiled Californian Problems.... Soup. Think about soup...



Peppers, that is.

Stuffed peppers are a tricky way of eating half of an entire vegetable while still accommodating the cheese food group. That, my dear friends, is tricky business.

And what's the cheese du jour? BLEU! That bleu cheese, he's a fun guy. Fungi. Get it? I need a vacation.

Stuffed Buffalo Bleu Peppers
6 WW Points Plus+ per peppers <---- new feature of this blog. You're welcome, Aunt Linda!!! :)
Makes 10 peppers


  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 6 green bell peppers, two halved and cleaned for stuffing, one diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 c tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot or your preferred buffalo hot sauce
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 20 oz. package of extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 c. bleu cheese crumbles
  • S&P to T (salt and peper to taste)
  • In a large saute pan, saute oil, onion, and diced pepper
  • Once softened, add ground turkey and cook til browned
  • Add S&P to T
  • Add tomato sauce and hot sauce
  • Remove from heat and stir in brown rice
  • Meanwhile, steam the halved peppers briefly by covering them and microwaving for 3.5 minutes
  • Preheat broiler to high
  • Put 1 tbsp bleu cheese at the bottom of each pepper
  • Pack in 1/2 c. of brown rice/turkey mixture
  • Top peppers evenly with remaining bleu cheese
  • Broil until golden and bubbly

Defective pepper. I had to play frankenstein and patch this buddy.  

Can you see this?

Why aren't you ALREADY making these? They are so cheesey and still nutritious! Whole grain, vegetables, lean protein, and the ever important cheese food group. Priorities, people. This is your health we are talking about.

Make some pita garlic bread to go with, too, k?


Asian Lettuce Tacos

Take asian food. Serve it like a taco. But make that taco shell a leaf of lettuce. Winner winner asian lettuce taco dinner.

I drank a lot of beer this weekend. I attended two Oktoberfests. So now I feel dehydrated, puffy, ill, and like a fat kid. I needed vegetables in mass quantity. Success. I should feel normal sauce anytime now.

Asian Lettuce Tacos
for four


Chicken (the protein)

  • Three chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 bottle your favorite stir fry sauce (I used Trader Joe's General Tsao)
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp EVOO
Onions + Mushroom (the salty)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced in 1/4" slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • Dash of salt
Veggies (the sweet)
  • 1/2 bag broccoli slaw (or bean sprouts)
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (Trader Joe's!)
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Sriracha, AKA my second favorite food after cheese
  • Marinate chicken in soy sauce and stir fry sauce for about 30 minutes
  • You only need 1 stir fry pan for this meal:
    • First prepare the onions and mushrooms by stir frying all ingredients until soft and golden
    • Then prepare the veggies in the same way, but shorter time. You want to retain a bit of crunch.
    • Wipe out the pan with a paper towel
    • Cook chicken, drained from marinated in the oil until cooked through completely
  • Meanwhile, cook rice
  • See below for my trick on coring a head of iceberg lettuce
  • Serve each item in bowls so people can make their own "Tacos"

Would you care for a great tip on coring a head of iceberg lettuce? So that it look perfectly like this  in two seconds without the use of one sharp object? :

Core side down, slam the head of iceberg on the countertop. I swear, this works perfectly. 
Here's a humorous example of what I mean :

Pretty sure that guy is using a head of cabbage. This is an outrage.

Anywho, what goes better with this meal than cucumber onion salad? A Roady family staple, I have added my own twist to this salad with sesame seeds and red chili flakes.

It's easy:

Cucumber Onion Salad


  • Hot house cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Small red onion, halved, then thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
  • Mix it up
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving so the onion mellows out and the cuc soaks up the flavors

Anywho, I'm going to go see how much water I can drink to get all these beer toxins out. Maybe I should just chug some sriracha instead?