This might be a record for me but I can officially say that I’ve got Thanksgiving dinner planned. Can I get a woohoo?!! It was no easy task but I also managed to get 14 additional meals organized for 7 people for next week. I'm so proud of myself that I displayed my menu on my refrigerator for all to admire.
Before you get too jealous or start to think that I’m just uber organized, I should tell you that the truth is that I can’t go to sleep at night without knowing what I’m going to feed my house guests. It’s more a matter of my type A personality taking over and my need to feel in control of the situation than the fact that I’ve just got nothing else to do but plan holiday meals.
I’ve got a running list of groceries that I'm continually adding to and mark things off of as Thanksgiving approaches. More importantly, I also made a list of foods that I can make ahead of time and put in my freezer or refrigerator to save precious time on the big day. Things like homemade applesauce, sweet potatoes, cakes and pies are all foods that I prepare in advance and put in my freezer. Crossing things off of that list in the week leading up to Thanksgiving makes me feel accomplished and better prepared.
The afore mentioned “house guests” just so happen to be my children and my parents. Every one of them are super willing to pitch in to help with meals but without a good plan in place, we all just end up aimlessly wandering around the kitchen at dinner time, running into each other in a hangry state. In an attempt to eliminate the chaos, I’ve assigned each person a specific food to take charge over on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone pitches in with meals at the Davis house. That’s just how we roll.
Coming up with make ahead meals is my secret weapon to maintaining any sense of sanity over the holidays. Meals that I can put together now and freeze and then pull out when I’ve got a houseful of guests in a couple of weeks. This recipe for Cheesy Shells is a perfect make ahead holiday meal.
Cheesy Stuffed Shells
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
28 ounce can tomato puree
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup pecorino romano cheese
3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 jumbo pasta shells
2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Remove foil from pan. Sprinkle fontina over shells. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
Let shells cool 25 minutes. Sprinkle with basil prior to serving.
Of course, you don’t have to store this amazing meal before you enjoy it. If you’re like me and you can’t wait to dive it - make two. One for dinner and one to put in the freezer to save for another day.
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