I’ve been trying to organize my Pinterest boards lately, because I can’t find anything. I have vague recollections of pinning good stuff about chicken or pork or brownies, but when I look at my boards, all I see are 1,300 pins of potential failure and disappointment. I can’t remember which ones I’ve tried and failed. It’s easy to remember which ones I’ve replicated successfully because the answer is zero. One of my friends suggested that I create a board of attempted pins so I can clear out the epic failures.
The only reason I keep pinning is because my kids hate it when I attempt to cook, and making their lives miserable is one of the bonuses of parenting. Plus, I am sick and tired of cooking the same crap over and over and over again. Pinterest recipes come with pretty pictures of divine culinary delights. I yearn to break out of my cooking rut, at least until I try, and then remember that I hate cooking and I am spectacularly bad at it. I’m terrible at following instructions. I skim instead of read recipes and inevitably end up missing some crucial step in the process.
So it is with dread and fear that I walk into the heart of my nemesis…the kitchen. The first thing I notice is that the dishwasher is duct taped shut which means the dishwasher has been run and not emptied which means a sink full of dirty dishes, not exactly conducive to the whole cooking experience. The question is can I ignore the mess and fix dinner, or do I delay the nightmare by confronting the other nightmare that is my kitchen sink? My husband will tell you that I am a hoarder in training. This may or may not be true, but one thing I will admit freely…I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to filth and clutter.
Sorry for the blurriness but I thought to preserve the gag reflex of my reader by not publishing the gory details with vivid clarity. I’m pretty sure that was dried tomato soup, but maybe it’s vomit…I don’t know. Right now you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are never inviting me to a potluck. It’s okay. I hate potlucks.
I’ve decided to make Stuffed Shells for dinner. The pinner of this recipe swears it’s easy peasy and yummylicious. We shall see. If anyone can screw it up, it will be me. When it comes to cooking, nothing is dummy proof.
We start with 1 lb of ground beef. I really hate touching raw meat. I tried to be a vegetarian (even a vegan) for a while, but apparently, I don’t hate touching meat bad enough. I missed my meat. Just not touching it.
Of course, I spend a few moments making fun of the packaging promises. Not only is this meat “natural” but it’s been vegetarian fed. I mean, I’m happy my cow has been fed no additional hormones and no preservatives have been added to my beef, the last thing I want is for man-child to get man boobs. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t cows herbivores? So claiming my cow was vegetarian fed is redundant, right? These questions are rhetorical, please don’t corrupt my carnivorous nature with horror stories of animal cruelty and vile feeding practices. I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s book “Eating Animals”, as I mentioned above, I was a vegan for about 6 months. I’m also a quitter, and I grew up with those “Where’s the Beef?” commercials. Once I’m done reading the packaging and wishing I had gone into Marketing, I dump it into a pan.
My dog smells bloody red meat, and throws herself at my feet in what I can only interpret to mean she is literally starving and will die if I don’t feed her this raw and delicious beef. I know some people believe in feeding dogs these raw, natural diets, but my dog gets kibble. It’s expensive kibble, but kibble nonetheless. Our dog likes to let us know, frequently, what complete failures we are as doggy parents, little does she know, We’ve plenty of experience with human children, so we are immune to her cries and pleas.
Still…I have to admit this is pretty pitiful, so I get her a treat. Well played dog…well played.
So, I push the meat around with a spatula and eventually it looks like this:
Are you looking at my dirty stove top burners and silently judging me? Well, don’t expect an invite to dinner anytime soon then!
I drain the meat, and place it back in the skillet/pan or whatever you call it and put it on the back-burner for now. Now, I fill up the BIG pot with water, which I never measure, just fill up about half-way and hope for the best, and set to boil.
Yes, that is two cans of Pam you see back there. We like to open new stuff before the old stuff is completely finished. It’s how we roll. The other stuff is just there so it looks like I’m a master chef. Pretty sure most of it has crystallized at this point. Actually, I really shouldn’t have those bottles near an open flame…probably. Anyway, back to my riveting cooking tale…
The water is boiled and it’s time to add the Jumbo Shells.
Target brand. Oh yeah. And look! There are stuffed shells on the front of the packaging. Mine won’t look like that though, so don’t get excited. I boiled the shells for about 5 minutes, so they’d still be kinda hard. The pinner suggested it was easier to stuff them that way, boil them any longer and they might be too malleable.
While the shells were boiling, I combined a container of ricotta cheese and a package of mozzarella cheese.
I usually buy the Philadelphia infused shredded cheese by Kraft, but I sent my husband to the store, and he came back with the regular, boring kind. If this recipe is a fail, I’m blaming the sub-standard cheese product.
Oh and I almost forgot to pour the sauce in with the beef! No, I don’t make my own sauce. How cute that you would think so. We use Newman’s Own, it’s the only kind my kids will eat, and believe me I’ve tried every kind. It’s not too chunky or tomatoey.
The directions called to place the meat mixture on the bottom of my baking dish, but I put half on the bottom and then the saved the other half for the tops of the shells. I worried if it was on the bottom only, then you wouldn’t get a meat filled bite every time. Of course, because it was meaty sauce, it didn’t really spread over the top that well. I sort of felt like my shells were getting meat bombed, and some of them did kinda break, so maybe next time I’ll remember not to improvise and just follow the frickin’ instructions.
Anyway, now it’s time to stuff my shells.
I had to dig around and find the opened ones. It was hard to pry some of those suckers apart without breaking them. By the time I was done, I felt like I’d violated my food, and maybe I should have a cigarette or a stiff drink. Poor shells. Is cooking always this sexual? Or has my pining for Adam colored my every thought and deed? My husband chooses that moment to walk in the kitchen, takes one look at me, and immediately gets defensive…”What?” he says.
I shake my head, and go back to stuffing my shells…muttering under my breath. Husband decided to come around the kitchen island and hump my leg. And you wonder about my Adam fixation? I’m thinking of making hubs watch Magic Mike as punishment. If you’re going to hump me, at least look like Channing Tatum while doing it.
But I digress…where was I? Oh right, stuffing my shells.
Not bad right? I’m thinking about patting myself on the back. Maybe this dinner won’t completely suck. Then I lob on my meat torpedoes and some more cheese, because you can’t have too much cheese right?
I bake it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I put the leftover shells back into boiling water, and serve those with plain sauce for those kids of mine that won’t eat food that’s been “mixed.” Freaks.
Here is my finished Pinterest “Stuffed Shells” recipe:
I served with Garlic Bread and Salad.
Hubs said it was “good, so good.” He gushed and made ridiculous mmmmm mmmm noises, so much that I was forced to doubt his sincerity. Bastard. Why can’t he just give me honest criticism or feedback! I’ll just fix it again if I think he likes it, so it serves no purpose to pretend. There is enough leftover to feed him all week, so if it’s still in the fridge by Friday, I’ll have my answer, and then he’ll pay. Oh, he will pay.
I liked it, but it’s that time of month, so if it’s not moving, I’m eating it lately. Run, kids, run.
Happy Funday Sunday!