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Merciful Meals

The Corporal Works of Mercy include feeding the hungry. Sometimes the hungry are those who are too poor to buy food, and then there are times when the hungry are too preoccupied with life’s challenges to prepare food. The Food section of today’s Washington Post offered a couple of suggestions for food to keep in the freezer for those times you need to take a meal to a friend. I have been on the receiving end of these meals. There is something so comforting about receiving a home cooked meal during times of stress. I also have my own favorite meals to give.

It is a good idea to take a meal that can be put in the freezer if it is not convenient to eat it on the night it is delivered. Don’t forget to provide cooking instructions. If you wrap the dish in plastic wrap before covering with foil, don’t forget to include removal of the plastic wrap in your cooking instructions.

I have a recipe for stuffed pasta shells that makes enough for two meals. I often serve half of it to my family and freeze the other half to be a meal for a friend or a future meal on a busy family evening. It came from the Cooking Light magazine several years ago:

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara Sauce:

1 lb jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
1 (12 oz) carton low fat cottage cheese
1 (15 oz) carton ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Asiago cheese
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach—thawed and drained
*6 cup Smoky Marinara Sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven 375-degrees
Coat 2 (13x9) baking dishes; set aside
Combine cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Asiago cheese, Parmesan cheese, chives, parsley, salt, pepper, and spinach. Mix well.
Spoon 1 Tbsp cheese mixture into each shell. Pour 3 cups smoky marinara over shells in each dish. Sprinkle each with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375-degrees x 30minutes.

To freeze: Cover with plastic wrap then wrap with foil. To prepare frozen casserole, remove foil and plastic wrap. Replace foil. Bake 375-degrees for 1 ½ hours or until thoroughly heated.

*Smoky Marinara Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28-oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (I have had trouble finding crushed fire roasted tomatoes. I have used Hunts fire roasted diced tomatoes and this works fine)

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano. Saute 1 minute. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Do you have a favorite recipes you take as a merciful meal?


Michelle said…
I'm glad you posted this recipe. It was yummy and my kids liked it!

I like to make ziti which is hearty and freezable. But yesterday I took a taco dinner to a family with little kids with a newborn sibling. The kids were tired of "foreign" food, so I tried to make the tacos just like mom.

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