Monday, September 22, 2014

French Onion Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach


These may look like any ol' stuffed shells - but these little gems have a secret ingredient that packs a whole lot of flavor. I'll blame it on my recent craving for Onion Dip and that solo packet of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix that has been staring me dead in the face every time I open the pantry. That little blue box has been begging me to put it in everything, but I've been patient and waiting for the perfect time. This was it folks, this was it.

I can totally admit that I was a touch weary of adding onion-y goodness to these stuffed shells. I mean, onion goes great with sausage and great with spinach - but tomato pasta sauce? This was one of those dishes that had me second guessing myself up until the point I was standing in the kitchen devouring my first Cheesy French Onion Stuffed Shell with Sausage and Spinach.


I mixed the Onion Soup in with all the other tasty ingredients I'd normally put in stuffed shells, but this time I let the mixture sit for a little to allow the flavors to marinade together.


Then I crammed the shells full of the onion-y, cheesy goodness. Crammed.


Poured some sauce on top and sprinkled some cheese, then baked them for about 35-40 minutes. Let me tell you, if you make these your kitchen is going to smell amazing. Don't open a window or the neighbors are going to come knocking and asking what it is your cooking.


On second thought, this recipe makes 30 shells - open the window and invite them over!!

Onion Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach
makes approximately 30 stuffed jumbo shells
(PRINTABLE RECIPE)
Ingredients
1¼ cup Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled into smaller pieces.
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
15oz. ricotta cheese
5oz. frozen chopped spinach, derosted and squeezed dry
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Lipton Onion soup mix
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
30 jumbo shells, cooked according to package
1 jar pasta sauce {I used Newman’s Own Mushroom Marinara}
Directions
1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Mix together first 8 ingredients. {italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, onion soup mix, italian seasoning and black pepper}
3. Spread 1 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
4. Stuff each shell with 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture. Place in baking dish. {I filled up my dish with as many as possible to try and help keep all the shells upright.}
5. Carefully pour more pasta sauce over the top of pasta shells (I didn't measure the amount I used, just eyeballed it.) and sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Devour and enjoy!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Butterfinger Granola Bars and Packing Lunches with Nestle

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #MyGoodLife

I can't believe that the time is here for me to start packing school lunches for my kiddos! Although we do homeschool and I don't necessarily need to pack them a lunch, it is something that they like me to do for them - so I do it. (I'm a sucker...) They absolutely love the thrill of opening up their lunch boxes and being surprised with what was packed for the day - and I love being able to watch the delight in their eyes when they do so. I don't get fancy with their lunches and I don't have a drawer-full of gadgets to make their lunches appear like something off of Pinterest. I am SO not that mom. (No offense, I just don't have time for it.) I am all about keeping it simple but still making it awesome.

My oldest (at 5 years old) son's #1 question to me when he eats food I've given him is, "Did you make this, Mom?" If I say no, he shrugs and says "HM" (disapproval much?? ha!) if I say yes he gets a huge smile and tells me I am such a good cook. (That's #MyGoodLife!!) Now if that isn't incentive for me to want to make EVERYTHING homemade, I don't know what would be! I think it really does make a difference to him, so I like to include something homemade in his lunches - one of our favorites (yeah, mine too...) is homemade granola bars. I recently made a batch of Butterfinger Granola Bars that turned out fabulous and did not disappoint in the lunch box department one bit!


Not only are these Butterfinger Granola Bars a Butterfinger-Lover's (Bart Simpson totally pops into mind!) dream, they are seriously a cinch to make.


Most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found in our pantry, the only ingredient I needed to put on the shopping list was Butterfinger bars. I ended up getting a small bag of Fun Size Butterfinger bars for this endeavor. The fun size candy bars also work great for a sweet surprise in your kiddo's lunch box if you don't have the time to make something homemade. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!!) This recipe only calls for 6 Fun Size Butterfinger bars - so you'll have plenty leftover to have on-hand for back-up. ;)


Oh, and just take a moment to think how cool your kids will think you are for making a Candy Bar Flavored Granola Bar. Coolest Mom on the block, handsdown.

Butterfinger Granola Bars
(PRINTABLE RECIPE)
Ingredients
⅔ cup light corn syrup
heaping ½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick-cook oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped Butterfinger candy bars, divided (about 6 fun size bars)
Directions
1. Add corn syrup, peanut butter and brown sugar to larger microwave-safe bowl. On high, microwave for 1 min and 30 seconds. Stir to combine.
2. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract and quick-cook oats to corn syrup mixture and mix well.
3. Add rice cereal in two batches, pop back in the microwave for 30 seconds if needed.
4. Stir in mini chocolate chips and ¼ cup Butterfinger pieces.
5. In 9x9 parchment-lined square pan, press down granola bar mixture. I put another piece of parchment paper on top of granola mixture then use my fingers to get mixture somewhat evenly spread, then I use a spatula to really flatten it out.
6. Sprinkle top with remaining Butterfinger pieces. Press down into mixture using same technique as in step 5.
7. Let bars set in fridge for at least 3 hours, I usually let mine sit overnight.
8. Cut and serve! I wrap any unused bars in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator in a resealable plastic container. Either freeze or enjoy within 7 days!
recipe adapted from Averie Cooks


To make these granola bars lunch box friendly I just wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Then we store these in the fridge in a sealable plastic container. I've never had any last more than 4-5 days (due to the animal-like eating behavior at my house), but I imagine you wouldn't want to keep them for longer than a week due to the chocolate starting to break down. Freeze any bars that you don't plan on consuming in 4-5 days just to be safe! 


Here is an example of what my kiddos' lunches look like on any given day. Veggies, Fruit, Nut (or trail mix), Protein, Whole Grains, 100% Fruit Juice (I am in LOVE with Juicy Juice for their goodness and my kid's think the boxes are SO cute!) and of course something that is sweet and made with love! ♥ (and a napkin too, always with the hope it will be used!! haha)


I must give a huge shout out to Nestle for making my lunch packing days a little sweeter and helping to serve up smiles. With Juicy Juice boxes (6.75 oz) my kiddos can drink in the goodness of 100% juice and with 8 different flavors of juice offered I can keep my kids being surprised at lunchtime. Also, I will be the first to admit that sometimes a lunch gets put together with all store-bought items because there just isn't the time to whip up something homemade. For those moments I turn to Fun Size Butterfinger and Crunch candy bars - both are family favorites and it shows my kids I was thinking (sweetly) about them. :)


As you may already I know, I practically live at Walmart... So, that's where I ended up purchasing ALL of these lunch products. With Halloween around the corner, you may need to check seasonal aisles for the candy bars!


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