Pesto Ricotta Stuffed Shells

This has been the fastest year of my life.

(If you don’t want to hear about it and just skip to the recipe, scroll all the way down.)

If you told me last December that in 2016 I would be moving from Keene to Boston and working at a prestigious publishing company, I would have laughed in your face. If you told me I would be routinely practicing yoga, I would have keeled over. There are other aspects of this year, things that are more personal, that I also would not have believed, but as challenging and transformational as this year was, there were some highlights. Let’s start from the beginning:

Valentine’s Day. How could I forget such a fun weekend with my best single gal? (who isn’t single anymore, I should add), but still my best gal. Rielly and I had a total girl’s weekend filled with laughs, love, lots of wine, and chocolate: we dressed up and went out for dinner at the finest Italian restaurant in New Hampshire, Luca’s, and saw a performance of The Nutcracker at The Colonial Theatre. I’ll always cherish this weekend, because it was during a really tough time, and it meant a lot to spend it with one of the strongest, coolest, most creative and beautiful queens AND best friends of this Earth that I have.

The Keene Sentinel’s Business Monadnock Trendsetter’s Event: How could I forget this? I was the editor of Business Monadnock, a monthly publication of the Keene Sentinel. Every year, we put on an event celebrating the 20 or so Trendsetters in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire; young professionals who are making a difference. This year, we had the founders of Surfset to speak at the event. Shay did an amazing job designing the magazine and making sure everything matched the colors and overall vibe of the event. Love that girl, too. I knew this would be my last event, so I made sure to soak it all in. It’s an event that truly makes you proud of how such a small community can make a huge difference.

Traveling to Iceland. I still dream about this country, as if I only tasted that which makes my desires stronger. After only a few days it felt like a kind of home to me, driving comfortably along the roads, familiarizing myself with the streets, the shops, and learning words; more of a home than Italy where I lived for months, maybe because I had done so much research and planned every detail. And I couldn’t have asked for a better travel partner, either. A friend who is up for anything, whom I feel safe with, and have the best laughs.

Moving to Boston. It has been hard. But in moving to Boston, I’ve discovered some amazing places where I can find my favorite soft pretzels, the best brunches, and an amazing Moscow Mule. More importantly, I met Jenna, an amazing coworker who has become one of my dearest friends. She introduced me to yoga, and inspires me to be confident, and calmer (v important). We’ve had a lot of fun together in and outside of work; going to a Red Sox game, birthday celebrations, lunches everyday, and going out on the town together. In moving to Boston, I’ve also gotten closer with Laura, my friend from Keene, who happens to work right next door in the New Balance building. I’m excited for more adventures with her, Taco Tuesdays,  and hopefully moving in together in 2017! EEEeek! She’s always up for a good time, and we often are thinking the same thing.

Going to Cali with HBP. In August, after only being with HBP for a few months, I was asked to attend the Academy of Management Conference in Anaheim, California to manage our book booth, talk to customers first hand, and meet some of our authors. This event provided me the opportunity to see our products in action, test my understanding of our products and content, and feel like a part of the business publishing community. While in California, I was able to spend time with Johno in LA! He picked me up from the airport on the first day, where we drank bottomless mimosas in Beverly Hills, then drove to Laguna Beach to swim in the ocean and take pictures. On another night, I visited him again to go out with him and his (wonderful and hilarious) friends. It was so fun and I can’t wait to visit again, hopefully soon.

Also, in Anaheim, I ate so many tacos, and they were to die for. I could probably eat them for the rest of my life if I had to.

Westport. A highlight of every year, a time that is lived simply: sleeping in the cottage, watching fireworks across the river under a blanket of stars, spending time with my family and the Buchanans; letting our feet hang off the dock, laying out at the beach all day; tuna in hot dog buns wrapped in foil; grilling and playing corn-hole; going to the winery for tastings and picnics, and watching the sunset to live music; getting donuts early in the morning from the store down the street. Kait, Rielly, and Beans came to visit this summer.

Visiting Beans in Rhode Island. One of my favorite weekend trips was visiting Beans. The town she lives in is absolutely adorable. She brought me to a restaurant by the water where we drank wine and I ate the best shrimp scampi of my life. We also went to a bar where I had the best martini of my life (it was peanut butter cup). We met her friends out for drinks; went wine tasting at this gorgeous winery; visited a sunflower field, a landscape of yellow hills; and went boating at her aunt and uncle’s house on a lake.

Camping. I went camping twice this year, once visiting my Auntie Karla and cousins, and staying in their camper; another time for 4th of July weekend just a campsite beside my aunt and uncle but with my sister, her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s friend, and Greg. We watched the fireworks from my uncle’s pontoon, ate lots of cheeseburgers, drank a lot of beer, and went go-carting around the campsite.

Country Fest. Because how can I not mention a full sunny day of tailgating, drinking, grilling burgers, and dancing and screaming to Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert, and Kenney Chesney with some of my best friends?

Kaitlyn getting engaged! This is a big one. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Kait’s boyfriend, Kara, and I planned the engagement all summer. On September 24th, it all happened at the Westport Winery, with family watching from the grapevines. On October 8th, Kait asked Kara and I to be her maids of honor. It was a complete surprise and made my heart feel so full. We drank pink champagne all day that Saturday, and went on a  boat cruise around Boston harbor that night.

There are plenty more little moments (Harpoon Fest with Shay and Tom, going to Orlando with Beans, walking around Boston with Greg, being with my family on Christmas), and I’m so thankful for every one in my life. Despite diseases, losses, and other troubles we’ve all gone through this year, we are here, and we are together.

In the new year, I hope my family and friends are healthy and happy. I hope to travel to another country, freak out less, and cook and write more.

For the shells you’ll need:

  • 1 box of jumbo pasta shells
  • 16 oz. tub of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp pesto (replace kale with basil; and walnuts with pine nuts)
  • 1/2 tube of mozzarella cheese, sliced into individual rounds, other 1/2 grated
  • A pinch of sea salt & cracked peppercorns
  • 1 jar of tomato and basil marinara or homemade sauce  (If you want some meat, use Trader Joe’s frozen “Just Sauce” turkey bolognese for a quick and tasty alternative. I recently used this mixed with a jar of marinara for lasagna and it it was so delicious I ate it from the soup throughout prep.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil the shells just before al dente. You don’t want them to cook all the way, or they will be too droopy for the filling, and will overcook when baking. While shells are cooking, mix ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, and pesto.  Refrigerate until shells are ready. Drain shells. Pour a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a pan. Start filling the shells with ricotta mixture, and place in pan. Once all shells are filled and placed, spoon sauce over them, shredded mozzarella, and rounds of mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake until cheese is bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s