For your viewing pleasure today is what we had for dinner last night. For starters, I created a salad of cucumbers, grape tomatoes, queso fresco and balsamic vinaigrette. Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese, commonly found crumbled atop salads, or used to stuff chiles and quesadillas. It's mild flavor makes it possibly the most common cheese used across Mexico.
The main course was my mom's famous stuffed shells. I cheat a little on the sauce, and start with a large can of Prego flavored with meat. To that, I add 2 lbs of cooked ground beef, a can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of tomato paste. Allow that to simmer for at least an hour. While simmering, you can start on the filling.
For the filling, combine 16 oz of Ricotta cheese, 16 oz of cottage cheese, 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, and two eggs. Season to taste and refrigerate for at least an hour. During this time, you can boil and cool the jumbo shells.
You are now ready to combine everything. Fill each of the cooled shells with a large scoop of the filling. Place in a large casserole dish without crowding, seams up. Cover with plenty of sauce. Cover with foil and bake for an hour. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. They'll be HOT!
Finally, for dessert we had one of my favorites - Sopapilla Cheesecake! Another southern favorite, it's super easy to make and makes a great impression.
Begin by lining the bottom of a baking pan with one (8 oz) tube of crescent rolls. Next, you'll want to add the filling. Combine 16 oz of cream cheese with one cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Place over the bottom layer of crescent rolls. Next, take a second tube of rolls and line atop the filling layer. Finally, melt 1 cup of butter and spread over the top. Combine a cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Spread on top of the butter layer and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.