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Les Petits Chefs make Rose Reisman’s healthy jumbo pasta shells with three cheeses

(Image courtesy of Rose Reisman)

Yay! Les Petits Chefs are back!  I’m so excited to see a few “old timers” in the club as well as a bunch of Grade 4s who are thrilled to finally be old enough to join in the fun! We have a fun term planned with some very special guests coming in to work with the boys as well as a couple of field trips – yup, Les Petits Chefs are on the move!

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Rose Reisman who was interested in the boys testing out one of her “children’s favourites” dishes.  A health and wellness entrepreneur, Rose is  best known for her many popular cookbooks, and has also written extensively on topics, which include fitness, chronic disease prevention, weight management, career stress, nutrition trends, parenting and dealing with challenges of a rapidly changing world while living a healthy lifestyle.  As soon as I saw the Pasta shells with Three Cheeses, I knew that I wanted to make this the first dish of the year for the boys. I mean, who doesn’t love cheese and pasta?  Especially when – sssh – it’s pretty good for you!  It’s a super easy recipe which I wanted for the first session since we’re always a little discombobulated for the first couple of weeks :)

The boys got to work grating cheese – gouda, parmesan and mild cheddar…

Chopping the green onions (bravo to some of our new Petits Chefs for just going in with no fear on this one!)…

We even braved the hot water to cook the pasta shells…

And had quite a lot of fun working with the cottage cheese filling. Rose’s recipe calls for ricotta but I have found excellent results with low fat cottage cheese – you don’t notice the taste difference so you don’t even miss the fat…

And we got to use Mr Neil’s famous home-canned tomatoes in our sauce (made with evaporated milk)

Then came the fun part – getting our hands dirty to fill the shells.  Our hotplates conked out on us halfway through cooking the shells so they were definitely more al dente than I would normally use to fill but I just cranked the oven up a bit higher when they were baking and they came out perfectly…  The al dente-ness made them easier to handle and fill!

So. Much. Fun.

Then we got to work placing them carefully in the baking trays and covered them with some of the leftover cheese…


And after 25 minutes in the oven at 400˚F (just enough time to clean up, learn how to stack the dishwasher efficiently and organise our stuff), this is what we found:

I didn’t get to try any of this but I had glowing reports. In fact, so glowing that I think I might have to try this over the weekend. If 10 little boys can make this in a science lab in under an hour, so can I!

Jumbo pasta shells with three cheeses
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rose says: These pasta shells with three different cheeses are no question my family’s favourite. I’ll serve this as an appetizer, alongside a main dish, or just on its own with a nice green salad. This is a great recipe to get the kids involved, let them mix the ingredients allowing them to pick their favourite tasting cheeses.
Author:
Recipe type: main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 12 jumbo pasta shells (or 6 manicotti shells)
  • 1¼ cups light ricotta (5%)
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives (or green onions)
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought spaghetti sauce)
  • ¼ cup canned evaporated milk (2%)
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray
  2. Cook the shells in boiling water according to the package instructions or until firm to the bite. Drain, cover and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, ⅓ cup cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Add the chives, milk and egg and mix until well combined. Fill the pasta shells with approximately 2 Tbsp of the filling.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce and evaporated milk until smooth. Pour half of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a large baking dish. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish and pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the ⅓ cup cheddar cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until heated all the way through.

 

This is a super easy recipe to make with kids – almost too easy for my little guys!  If you are cooking with less than 10 kids in your kitchen, you’ll find it a breeze!

Rose has also been kind enough to donate a copy of Family Favourites: Healthy meals for those who matter most to one lucky (US or Canadian) reader!

To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me the first thing you remember cooking as a child.

For a bonus entry, tweet the following message: I entered to win a copy of @rosereisman’s Family Favourites at @eatlivtravwrite. You can too: http://bit.ly/o6viq2

then come back to leave me a comment telling me you did.

Contest closes Sunday, October 2nd at 6pm EST, winner chosen by Random.org and announced on Monday, October 3rd.

Good luck!

Contest is now closed and a winner has been chosen. Will be announced on Tuesday Oct 4th.

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33 Responses to Les Petits Chefs make Rose Reisman’s healthy jumbo pasta shells with three cheeses

  1. Alyssa September 29, 2011 at 06:17 #

    What fun (for both you and the boys!) I would have never guessed that a group of boys put together that yummy pasta. Oh, and the first thing I remember making as a child was mashed potatoes with my grandmother. Great post!

  2. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers September 29, 2011 at 06:36 #

    Thanks for sharing. Gouda is one of my favorite cheeses, but I’ve yet to cook with it.

  3. Lindsey September 29, 2011 at 07:51 #

    Ahhh this post is after my own heart! I grew up eating stuffed shells, still a favorite! Even though I’m in Paris, I will enter the competition for my mom who is stateside and could really use a new cookbook.

    My favorite cooking memory was helping my mother make tomato sauce from scratch for our Friday night pasta dishes. I can just smell the sauce!

  4. Sally - My Custard Pie September 29, 2011 at 07:59 #

    I love your posts with Les Petits Chefs and that pasta looks so tempting. My favourite let alone for children. Not eligible for giveaway but my earliest memory of cooking is stirring the paste to make Bird’s custard (from the powder)! That and playing with the leftover pastry until it turned grey.

  5. Mr. Neil September 29, 2011 at 08:06 #

    Welcome back for another season, Les Petits Chefs!

    How could you go wrong with this dish to kick off the year…I mean, it’s basically a tarted-up mac ‘n cheese, the boys would love it!

    In honour of the dish, I served “the thought” of it (since no samples arrived home) with a 2007 Colli Senesi Chianti. While I was missing the jumbo pasta shells, the wine was a beautful “pairing”. ;-)

  6. Mr. Neil September 29, 2011 at 08:08 #

    Oh, and to answer Mardi’s question…I think my earliest cooking memory would be baking my own bread – if you can believe it! From a recipe in OWL Magazine. (Of which I probably have the issue, in a box in the cellar.) Close second would be the world’s best chocolate chip cookies with my aunt.

  7. Renada September 29, 2011 at 08:09 #

    The earliest memory I have of cooking as a child was making spice cake at Christmas with my mom . The memory of the smell that went through the house as it was baking still makes my mouth water.
    Great Post.

  8. The Travelling Chopsticks September 29, 2011 at 09:31 #

    What a lovely post – I think its so important that children learn how to cook, it such a life skill and this looked like so much fun. :)

  9. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. September 29, 2011 at 11:00 #

    I love stuffed shells!! These look so tasty! I love that you got the kids involved in making these! I like the idea of using cottage cheese!

  10. Martha September 29, 2011 at 13:55 #

    I love Les Petits Chefs blog posts! The dish looks very tasty and fun to make.
    My earliest cooking experience was making chocolate cakes in my Easy-Bake Oven, of course! I still have the recipe card…2 tablespoons of flour and so on.

  11. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 29, 2011 at 14:25 #

    Les petits chefs have done it again! What a stunning dish! Suddenly I am craving some stuffed shells for dinner.

  12. Belinda @zomppa September 29, 2011 at 16:53 #

    Great job again, little chefs! Better than I could certainly do.

  13. Karriann Graf September 29, 2011 at 17:35 #

    What a fun and delicious looking meal. Happy Cooking!

  14. Jy September 29, 2011 at 17:49 #

    Scones

  15. Anne September 29, 2011 at 22:58 #

    I don’t remember when I first started cooking because I was so young. But I have a clear memory of doing my first roast chicken – for my brownies cooking badge. I had to do a booklet with the recipe in it and I remember being so proud of the illustrations!

    We won’t mention my bacon and egg pie (a New Zealand favourite) with the leather-like pastry crust!!!

  16. Amy's Cooking Adventures September 30, 2011 at 00:00 #

    Spaghetti!

  17. Geoff September 30, 2011 at 00:51 #

    Every time I read a “Les Petits Chefs” post, I’m reminded about how little attention was paid to the issue of food and preparing it many years ago. It was a “sissy” thing for boys to do, so we didn’t do it and we were not encouraged to do it. The result of this was plainly evident on Sydney radio when the announcer invited women to call up with tales of their incompetent (in the kitchen) menfolk…. the response was large and quick. Two examples that spring to mind: one woman was away on a trip and got a ‘phone call from hubby to ask how meat balls were stuck together. He’d cooked the meat but, try as he might, he couldn’t get the cooked meat to roll into a ball. Hmmm. Another wife called to say she was in hospital and her husband rang to check how much sugar he took in his tea.
    The point of this long story is that cooking is for everybody even if females generally take to it more smoothly. Knowledge of food and how to prepare it are great skills and your “Les Petits Chefs” team are lucky. Me? I know how to cook spaghetti – 60 grams in boiling water for 10 to 11 minutes… that’s about it.

  18. Frankly Entertaining September 30, 2011 at 08:49 #

    Totally random, but it’s chicken stir fry!

  19. K A B L O O E Y September 30, 2011 at 13:12 #

    The recipe looks delicious, it’s so great to read about the boys again, congrats to them for diving right in. But my favorite thing, I must admit, is the comment from Mr. Neil with his food pairing to the “thought of” the stuffed shells. I think I’m going to quaff a beverage with the thought of a pork chop. Yum. Now another pork chop…

  20. Joy September 30, 2011 at 13:47 #

    The pasta looks great.

  21. Candace Karu September 30, 2011 at 16:49 #

    So easy, so cheesy, so family friendly! I love this fun recipe.

  22. Paula September 30, 2011 at 17:42 #

    Hooray, Hooray! So happy that Les Petits Chefs are back and what a lovely dish to make their entrance with this year. Perfect for Fall and perfectly photographed. Great job Petits Chefs and great job Mardi!

  23. penny aka jeroxie October 1, 2011 at 08:05 #

    woohoo… one of my favourite series is back!

  24. Alaina October 1, 2011 at 14:33 #

    I remember in preschool we had to submit a recipe for our class cookbook. My mean was “grapes.” The directions were to buy grapes, wash them, have your mom pull off the gross brown sticks, then eat.

  25. Alaina October 1, 2011 at 14:34 #

    I tweeted :) My username is ughlaynuh, for verification.

  26. Melissa@EyesBigger October 1, 2011 at 17:14 #

    I missed this! I can’t believe I missed the first petit chefs of the season. This is one of my most favourite things on your blog (I was roaming around stealing badges from you this afternoon… mwaha). That looks so yummy too.

  27. Confessions of a Culinary Diva October 1, 2011 at 18:22 #

    So fun to see young chefs in the kitchen learning how to make great meals and skip the fast food!

    The first thing I can remember cooking in the kitchen was Mickey Mouse Pancakes – I think I was probably about 4 or 5. It was so fun to see the batter bubble and then flip them over and see the pretty golden color.

  28. Louise October 1, 2011 at 21:47 #

    I remember helping my mom make and bake pies from freshly picked apples from our trees (we lived in a subdivision that was previously an old orchard).

  29. Debbie October 2, 2011 at 08:51 #

    I remember making scrambled eggs – I had looked up the recipe in an old cookbook of my mother’s and I was so proud.

  30. Mindy October 2, 2011 at 09:30 #

    I already have the book so don’t pick me to win, but wanted to tell you how delicious they look and way to go, Petits Chefs!

  31. Suzanne Heeren October 2, 2011 at 15:54 #

    What a great recipe…thanks for sharing! The first thing I remember cooking was spaghetti with my Dad..and arguing that “that’s not the way Mom makes it”. Thanks for helping me remember!

  32. Ann October 3, 2011 at 00:52 #

    What a fun post! The first thing I remember cooking as a child was peanut butter cookies – my mother only made two things from scratch – peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies….and when I make them, I think of her…

  33. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 8, 2011 at 08:45 #

    Thanks so much everyone for your comments on this post. Les Petits Chefs appreciate the warm welcome and I certainly enjoyed reading everyone’s first cooking memories :)

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