Recipe Box, Grilled Artichokes & Pasta Pillows

Here are the recipes from our “Snooty Waiters & Small Bites” dinner the other night.  Our small bites were actually leftovers that were elevated to a new  status by setting a fanciful table…I am a firm believer that setting the stage is important, even if it’s place mats, a cloth napkin or a candle.

All of a sudden the meal feels special and encourages you to relax, linger and enjoy…put your smart phone away and take a break from our all too busy lives…

grilled artichokes

These grilled artichokes are a new favorite around here, they aren’t hard to make at all…


Trim the tops of artichokes about 1″ and cut off the leaf tips.  Boil or steam until tender.

grilled artichokes

Carefully cut into 1/2 and remove fuzzy purple center choke~LIKE I DIDN’T, please do as I say not as I do~ and then cut each half again so you have 4 quarters from each artichoke.  Drizzle liberally with a quality olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt & pepper.  Tuck some freshly shaved Parmesan inbetween leaves if you’d like…YUM.  Grill artichoke quarters with lid down using some flavored wood chips.  Artichokes are ready when the edges start to blacken and they have been on the grill long enough to get hot and absorb some smoky flavor.

grilled artichokes 1

Pull off the leaves and eat the meaty bottom edge of leaves by scraping with your front teeth.  Underneath the purplish choke, WHICH I FORGOT TO REMOVE, so pretend you don’t see it,  is the soft, creamy heart which you can also eat.  I like these just as they are, full of grill flavor highlighted by the olive oil and salt.  Add a squeeze of lemon or a dipping sauce if you prefer.  You can see a recipe for an easy lemony sauce by clicking here.

pasta with veggies

We originally had these artichokes with Angel Hair pasta tossed with roasted yellow squash and zucchini, tossed with a lemon, olive oil and Parmesan sauce. Simple yet divine!   HH had a big hunk of steak too, but this was right up my alley.  We had a few leftover so I just reheated them for our Snooty Waiters & Small Bites dinner the next night.

stuffed shells

The stuffed shells were leftover from some casseroles HHjr made. He made one for DD & NG and one for us.  I’m sure you probably have your own favorite version of this dish but he used a recipe from the Food Network magazine March 2013 issue, and it was Wowza.  The difference in the Food Network recipe is that there is a white cheese sauce as well as  a Marinara…help me!

small bites

When he finished making the casseroles {sorry no photos} he had a batch of shells leftover.  He gave me the extra stuffed shells to freeze and make another casserole or do something with later.  I took a few of these lovely pasta pillows out,  warmed them with a drizzle of cream and some fresh Parmesan, and we had them naked.  WAIT, no we WEREN’T NAKED, I meant we ate the stuffed shells without the marinara sauce you know?  They made a nicely different little bite!

stuffed shells

Here are the recipes:



  • fresh artichokes plan on 2-3 artichoke quarters per person
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Sea or Kosher salt pepper
  • lemon {optional}
  • freshly shaved Parmesan {optional}


  • Trim top 1 ” from top of each artichoke with a large knife.  Trim individual leaf tips with scissors to remove point.
  • Boil or steam artichokes until tender. This can be done up to 2 days in advance.
  • When ready to grill cut artichokes into 1/2s and remove purplish fuzzy choke.  Cut 1/2s into quarters.
  • Tuck Parmesan in between leaves if desired.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil and season to taste.  Place on grill, and cook with the lid down so they can absorb the smokey flavor.


Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8


Stuffed Shells

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. 20-24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage casings removed {note: we used mild}
  • 1 10 oz package frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cheese Sauce

  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 T all purposed flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce


Stuffed Shells

  • Put pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Cook until just slightly softened but still firm, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  • Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the spinach, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste and stir until heated through, about 2 more minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
  • Combine the spinach mixture, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, the Parmesan, parsley and 1 tsp salt in bowl.  Stuff each shell with about 2 T of the filling and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350.

Cheese Sauce

  • Melt the butter with the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the flour and whisk constantly until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the milk and cream, bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, 2-3 min. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan, 1/4 tsp salt, and nutmeg to taste.


  • Brush a 9 x 13 ” baking dish with olive oil and pour in about 2/3 of the cheese sauce.  Add the stuffed shells and top with the remaining cheese sauce.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and top with the marinara sauce and the remaining 1 cup mozzarella: continue baking until the sauce is bubbly, 15-20 minutes.  Serves 8
Keyword baked pasta casserole, spinach and sausage stuffed shells, stuffed shells

This dinner was kind of like having a little picnic for 2 in our house and we didn’t feel like we were eating leftovers at all! Thanks for joining us!


I’m joining some of these great parties this week:

the Tablescaper for SEASONAL SUNDAY



A Stroll Thru life for INSPIRE ME TUESDAY

The Gunny Sack for TIME TO SPARKLE

Memories by the Mile for TUESDAY TRIVIA

Savvy Southern Style for WOW US WEDNESDAY

Cuisine Kathleen for LET’S DISH

Rattlebridge Farms for FOODIE FRIDAY

Alderberry Hill for MAKE THE SCENE MONDAY


No Minimalist Here for OPEN HOUSE THURSDAY

the Answer is Chocolate for BFF OPEN HOUSE

The Busy Bee’s for THURSDAY BLOG HOP

Crafts ala mode for WHAT TO DO WEEKENDS

check out these amazing blogs!

7 Responses to “Recipe Box, Grilled Artichokes & Pasta Pillows”
  1. Marigene says:

    Yummy, yummy, yummy! Thanks for sharing.

  2. memoriesbythemile says:

    Oh Yum! I can’t wait for you to share this next Tuesday. I love every ingredient. Never had anything like it, sounds divine.
    Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile

  3. Jocelyn says:

    Oh yum! My family loves Artichokes!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Ann Drake says:

    Oh my goodness this all looks fabulous. Thank you for sharing about the artichokes…I’ve never cooked them but will definitely try now!

  5. Rattlebridge Farm -- Foodie Friday says:

    We love artichokes! Thanks for including your recipe at foodie Friday. I’m pinning it right now.

  6. tyler says:

    Yes, we do love artichokes. This dish looks great.

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