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Hello again, faithful readers!  Thank you to all my guest bloggers who kept this ship sailing while I was busy overcoming sleep deprivation delivering and soaking up my new baby girl!  I’m happy to be back and have slowly been reintroducing myself to my kitchen.  Between the frozen meals I prepared in advance and the generosity of family and local friends, we have been fed without me having to cook since Natalie Rose was born.  I did make a fantastic, simple pasta dish recently which I would love to share, but I thought for my first post back I would share my birth story and the recipe that goes along with it:

It was my 38 week check up and the doctor said I was “measuring small.”  I wasn’t too sure what that meant or what the implications would be but I headed down have an ultrasound for the first time since 27 weeks.  It was so great to see my baby again and everything looked good- except that she was measuring closer to 33 weeks.  Since the doc couldn’t be sure whether or not this was due to problems with my placenta, he said it was best that we go ahead and have me induced.  

Now, many people had informed me that “first babies almost always come late.”  I was two weeks away from my due date with many things to take care of before baby arrived, such as cleaning the house, getting my nails done and, of course, installing the car seat.  Needless to say I was in a state of shock, excitement and serious anxiety. I had also purchased all the ingredients to make and freeze several trays of stuffed shells to add to my collection of frozen dinners.  I was in shock when the doctor said I needed to be induced either THAT DAY or the next and my first response was, “I have 64 oz of ricotta cheese in my fridge so it’ll have to be tomorrow.”  

Of course, there were many reasons why I wanted to wait – Dr. Matthews was at work that day, my parents needed to drive down from Ohio, and I was far from mentally prepared.  However, one can not deny the importance of not letting good ricotta go to waste! I spent the day cleaning and cooking like a mad woman and even squeezed in a relaxing mani pedi with my friend, Nicole. A more productive day has not been had since!

Just as I was told that I may have to wait longer than my due date for the baby to arrive, I was also told that an induction can take up to several days.  Again, I was suprised by the speed at which everything went down.  I think this baby was just ready to make her debut!  And I assure you this mama was ready to NOT be pregnant anymore 🙂  I checked in at 8am and Natalie Rose Matthews was born at 6:01pm the same day- June 13.  5lbs, 6oz and 19in of sweetness:

   
  

Newborn pic taken in the hospital

  

Bringing Natalie home from the hospital for the first time

 

She has been heathy, strong and growing like a weed ever since!

As for the shells, we enjoyed the last of them for dinner just last night.  This was a recipe my cousin, Jamie, introduced me to when we were making freezer meals for her (her daughter, Evie, was born March 9).

 

Evie and Natalie wearing the aprons Jamie made for them- Natalie Bean was not having it!

 
Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

12 oz Mueller’s Jumbo Shells

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 containers (15 oz) each Ricotta cheese (I quadrupled the recipe, hence the 64oz)

2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mozzarella cheese

1-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

½ cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbsp dried parsley

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

3 cups spaghetti sauce (Jamie introduced me to basil pesto sauce for this recipe, which I used for the majority of the trays I made, but you can obviously use whatever sauce you like best)

Cooking Instructions

Cook Jumbo Shells for 9 minutes (I added a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking).

Drain, cover and set aside.

In medium bowl beat eggs lightly; stir in Ricotta, Mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, basil, and salt.

Spoon about one tablespoon of cheese mixture into each shell.

Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan. 

Arrange filled shells, seam down, in 13×9-inch baking dish; top with spaghetti sauce.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

Bake in 350˚ oven 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

(When making to freeze, skip the last step.  When ready to serve, bake at 350 for approximately 90 minutes.)

I didn’t take a picture at the time of making this since I didn’t realize I was going to blog it.  Instead, I will leave you with a picture of Natalie wearing the awesome bib her Auntie Julie made for her:

  

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