Hawaiian Stuffed Shells


July 26, 2013 By

Well, I’m back in Florida. Ah, finally, I have been reunited with Pubilx, my Nutribullet, my crockpot, and my food processor!

Matt will come home in a few weeks, so I have a few weeks to have a little bit of glutenous freedom with my dishes! Desserts to come, but for now,  let’s talk about the stuffed shells.

First off, let me say that it’s insane that I haven’t found any gluten-free versions of jumbo shells! If any of you have found this gem, please let me know.

After creating my Ricotta Cheese recipe, there were several items I had in mind to use with the invention, and stuffed shells was one of them.

I don’t know if it was the Florida vibe or the fact that summer will be wrapping up soon, but I’ve been craving something tropical. You know, like a Hawaiian pizza, wrapped up in a fancy presentation. Thus, the Hawaiian Stuffed Shell was born!

Your customary stuffed shell might be traditionally Italian, but I liked how unique this tasted! If you like coconut and pineapple, then you’ll love these shells. They were sweet, tangy, and fun. If you’re feeling up for a bit of an tropical adventure, give ’em a shot!


Hawaiian Stuffed Shells

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings



  • 1 box of jumbo shell pasta
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 ball of ricotta cheese (see recipe here)
  • 4oz tempeh, diced (half the package, but if you want a “meatier” stuffed shell, add more)
  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup spinach, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup pineapples, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 tbs chia seed
  • 3 tbs warm water
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • salt/pepper to taste


STEP 1: Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you haven’t made your ricotta cheese yet, I suggest making that first. See the recipe here on how it’s done.



Start a pot of boiling water for your jumbo shells. You won’t need all of them, but it’s up to you whether you boil the whole box or not. Make sure you take a few minutes off of the cook time on the shells, since they will continue to cook in the oven. The box on my shells said to boil for 14-15 minutes, so I cooked mine for 12 minutes.


When the shells are done and strained, you might want to run them under cold water for a few seconds to cool them down. You’re going to stuff them a few minutes later, and I’m sure you don’t feel like burning your hands off today.



STEP 2: Start a small skillet on medium for your tempeh. Use the 2 tablespoons of oil to start. Once you have placed the tempeh on the hot skillet, drizzle the tamari sauce and lemon juice onto the tempeh. Keep the tempeh on until about golden brown on both sides, which should take 5-7 minutes total.



STEP 3: Prepare your oven pan by spraying cooking spray onto a 13 x 9 pan. Place the sliced mushrooms on the bottom of the pan.

I don’t like placing the mushrooms into the shells, as they tend to get a bit juicy when they cook, which might make the ricotta cheese do some funny, undesirable things. However, when it’s placed on the bottom of the pan, it gets the perfect amount of cook time to where it’s plump, juicy, and perfect!



STEP 4: Place the cooked tempeh, pineapple, ricotta cheese, shredded coconut, and salt/pepper into a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of chia seed with the 3 tablespoons of water, let it sit and magically form into its sticky goo, and combine it into the mixture. Stir it up!




STEP 4: Let’s stuff some shells, baby. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of mixture and stuff it in a shell. Stuff at your own discretion, but remember, it might change your serving size. This is the amount I stuffed mine with:



STEP 5: Pour the whole jar of your favorite pasta sauce on top of your shells. Then, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.



STEP 6: After baking, uncover and enjoy! Unless you would like to burn the ish out of your tongue, I suggest that you patiently wait just 5 minutes longer to let them cool down. Or, do what I do and impatiently dive right in, blowing the crap out of every bite prior to putting it in my mouth.



Happy cooking!




Easy Ricotta Pizza


June 20, 2013 By

Tonight, I was entertaining some new guests. I am in the process of switching gears from a 1st grade teacher to a 3rd grade teacher. *gasp from an entire audience* …it’s almost that dramatic. You non-educators out there may be thinking, “… uh, so?” It doesn’t sound like a big change, but trust me, it’s a big deal for us teachers.

So, in order for my new 3rd grade team to plan a bit and bond, we decided to meet up a few times this summer. I offered to host our first get-together.

My night of entertaining was a bit of a challenge: All of my guests are non-vegan and I don’t know them well-enough to know their likes and dislikes. After some thought, I decided to go with something that everyone on planet Earth loves: pizza. Pizza is like, well, you know; when it’s bad, it’s still good. (Trying to keep this blog somewhat clean. Ugh, it’s not easy.)

Anyway, we had a great time. The pizza takes less than an hour from start to finish, and it’s delicious! Plus, people will be curious about the vegan ricotta cheese, and you know it’s fun to talk vegan to people. 😉


Giant Easy Ricotta Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes



  • 2 dough balls (from your local bakery)
  • 1 jar of Classico bruschetta
  • 1 ball of ricotta cheese (see recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste



Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Start working with your dough.You’ll get the best results from your dough if you let it defrost in the fridge for a day, but honestly, I was in a time crunch and started rolling it out within the hour I bought it, and it was just fine. I bought my dough balls from Publix.

The products in this meal that gives this recipe it's "easy" name.

The products in this meal that gives this recipe its “easy” name.



Step 2: Begin by kneading the dough to flatten it out, followed by alternating between rolling out the dough with a rolling pin and stretching it out with your hands. I like to place the dough on top of my fists and stretch it out that way, rotating the dough in a circle.

Place the dough on a greased pizza pan or tray. Spread it out on your pan to desired shape and crust formation.


Step 3: Open your jar of bruschetta and spread it around your dough with the back of a spoon.



The bruschetta makes a great base. It’s garlicky, chunky, full of flavor, and eliminates me having to cut up some tomatoes!



Step 4: Begin to wilt the spinach by heating up a skillet with olive oil to medium heat. Throw the spinach and garlic on the skillet and let it heat up between 1-2 minutes.


From start…



… to finish.




Step 5: Add spinach, ricotta, salt, and pepper to your pizza. To give my crust a crunchy outside and a fluffy inside, I spray/rub the crust with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt on top of it… mmmmm.




Step 6: Put it in the oven and whatta ya got?



Twenty minutes (or so) later, you have delicious, easy ricotta pizza! Garnish with green onions.


Now you’ve got a vegan pizza that all mouths can enjoy.


Happy cooking!



Homemade Ricotta Cheese


June 15, 2013 By

As a vegan in the kitchen, my mentality is that if there’s something awesome to eat, there’s a way to veganize it.

I was watching Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel the other day, and on it, they made homemade ricotta cheese. I was fascinated by the little amount of ingredients required, the chemistry of the ingredients, and how simple it was to execute.

Now, I’ve seen those posts on Pinterest on making vegan cheeses, and some of them are lengthy, failure-laden processes. I once tried to make cashew cream cheese that ended up a goopy mess instead of a spreadable, edible delight. (I’ll get it down eventually.) Until then, let me assure you that this ricotta cheese is almost dummy-proof.

Oh, and by the way, you’re about to find out that Little Miss Muffet was a sick freak for indulging in curds and whey at the same time, especially when it comes to this recipe.

Anyway, here’s my vegan adaptation of Extra Virgin‘s ricotta cheese!


Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup



4 cups of soy milk with a 4.5 grams of fat (sadly, almond, coconut, and hemp milk do not work)

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt



Step 1: Place a pot on the stove and place the ingredients in. You want your mixture to reach a temperature of 175° F. If you have a gauge to help you monitor this, GREAT! If you don’t (like me), turn the burner temperature on medium high and wait for the mixture to bubble and steam.




At this time, you’ll see the curd start to separate itself from the whey. The curd is your future cheese! Resist the urge to stir it up, as this might make your cheese stiff.

Once it reaches 175° F (or bubbling/steaming status), let it sit for 5 minutes.


It might look like puke now, but it’s actually creamy goodness on its way.




Step 2: While your curds are… curdling… prepare your cheese cloth by placing 2-3 layers over a colander. After your curds have sat for 5 minutes, transfer the pot over to your cheese cloth. Carefully spoon out the curds and place them on top of your cheese cloth.






Step 3: Once you have gathered all of your curds, wrap your curds into a ball, tie it with a rubber band (or butcher’s twine if you’re really fancy), and tie it above your kitchen sink to let it strain for 5 minutes.



A strainer is ideal, but This Vegan Girl did not have a strainer to use at this time. Clearly not a gourmet chef here.


Step 4: Once your cheese ball as hung for 5 minutes (take your minds out of the gutter, people), untie the cheese cloth from around the sink head, place the ball in a bowl, and open it up your present to reveal a ball of ricotta cheese!


Cool, huh? I had some fresh oregano on-hand, so I chopped it up finely and mixed that in my ricotta for some added flavor. It opens up a world of possibilities for your cheese and your intended flavor, but you may also leave it as is.
You may refrigerate your cheese for up to 5 days.


I have used this recipe as a staple in my Easy Ricotta Pizza, where you DON’T have to settle for vegetables on dough anymore!



Happy cooking!