Wednesday, December 22, 2010


STUFFED PASTA SHELLS - a holiday recipe for kids.

Happy holidays from The Chef's Emporium! With the coming of the new year, amends have been made for the past years frailties. Gratitude has been spread to those who brighten and inspire. Resolutions have been written for encouraging development and enrichment. And a hope, a wish for the new year has found home in our hearts. Inspired by our customers, you Chefs who feed, who nourish, who comfort, who pleasure, who sustain through food. We say, let us join forces, let us feed the world!

We invite you to support the efforts of the World Food Program in their quest to alleviate chronic world hunger. We like their focus on children, we love their School Meals program. "The School meals programs involve just what the name implies – providing meals in schools. The idea is simple; the impact is significant. Serving food at school not only helps alleviate hunger among the world’s poorest children, it also helps get them into school, providing them with an important key to a better future – an education."

On our own home front, the focus and attention that Chef Jamie Oliver has brought to School Lunches here across our nation is remarkable, commendable - and long overdue. Chef Jamie is on a mission to protect the health of our youth and stop the obesity epidemic. You can show your support for The Food Revolution by signing the petition and by keeping fresh, home prepared meals in your child's lunch box and on your child's plate.

In keeping with the fresh, home-cooked, nutritious mindset I venture to feed my children spinach. Spinach & Ricotta stuffed Pasta Shells, a simple, yet simply elegant dish my little chefs are creating for a New Years Eve party.

1 (8 ounce) package Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup finely diced Onion
2 cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
1 minced Garlic Clove
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese (divided)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg
1 jar of your favorite Pasta Sauce

Our young chef begins the dish by adding her Jumbo Pasta Shells to the basket/strainer of a Pasta Pot. An adult adds the filled pasta basket to a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water. The pasta is cooked according to the package directions. Ours boiled for 15 minutes and was then strained and set aside.

To a medium sized mixing bowl, our chef adds 1 (15 ounce) container of Ricotta Cheese.

As our young chef's knife skills are yet nil, he adds the pre-diced 1/4 cup onion to the bowl.

The 2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves are cut into a chiffonade (again, by an adult or older child with experienced and tested knife skills) and added by our chef to the mixture.

Working in tandem, our chefs mince one Garlic Clove into the bowl.

Approximately 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper is added.

Our young chefs measure and add 1 cup shredded Mozzarella and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese to their mixing bowl.

As our young chefs always like to sample their creations, the ingredients are now thoroughly combined, and the chefs allowed to taste their efforts. *Before the raw egg is added.

An egg is now incorporated into the mixture.

Our chef stuffs each cooked pasta shell with ~ 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Ricotta mixture. The stuffed shells are placed in a lightly oiled baking dish and covered with aluminum foil. The dish is baked in a 350ยบ F oven for 30 minutes.

The foil is removed and the remaining 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella is sprinkled over the top of the shells. The dish is returned to the oven for ~15 minutes until the top cheese layer is melted and nicely browned. The shells are served atop a warmed bed of Pasta Sauce.

Best wishes to you and your little chefs. We hope your New Year is full of many tempting dishes and many delicious memories. As always, if you have a recipe or cooking project that was a winner with your child, please email it to me at:, and we hope to see you again soon at The Chef's Emporium.