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Family Food

Stuffed Shells

May 11, 2016

I’m a fan of Italian food, but it’s a little heavy to eat more than once or twice a week in my opinion. I tend to cook a little lighter. Sorry, Giada. I do get in the mood for the cheesy goodness that many pasta dishes offer and this recipe for Stuffed Shells never disappoints.  My 21-month-old loves it, and so does my 416-month-old, making this recipe a family-friendly winner. 🙂

I really have been just trying to survive lately, prepping more food on the weekends to avoid making choices I know I’ll regret on weeknights. Or,   I often make super simple non-recipe meals on weeknights  –  i.e. salmon, sweet potato + salad – since I get home after work and I want to spend as much time with the kiddo versus getting stuck in the kitchen. That’s why recipes like this that can carry over for more than one weeknight meal are perfect for me. I usually pair it with a salad or another veggie I already have in my fridge. And, this since they are individual shells, it’s built-in portion control.


Before going into the oven

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

I think pasta often gets a bad wrap for the carbs, but when you eat it in moderation and you serve with something green, it can be a healthy meal. My motto is to live a little or you’ll end up binge eating later. I eat pretty healthy 80% of the time, but sometimes I just need something a little more hearty like this!

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

Serves 6 to 8 (This is a perfect meal to give to friends, a new mom or for a potluck. You can freeze it, too!)

1 (12 ounce) box jumbo pasta shells

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 pound ground turkey ( I used 93 % lean)

1 ( 8- to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes (I used a whole 12-ounce package I found at Kroger)

1 (15-ounce) whole milk ricotta cheese ( I used part-skim ricotta)

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used 1 tbsp dried)

2 jars marinara sauce ( I used approx. 1.5 jars of organic marinara I had in my pantry. I opted for this since I wanted to make it toddler-friendly. The original recipe calls for Arriabiata and although it’s delish, it can be a little spicy.)

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 5 ounces; I just eyeball this and probably use less)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion is soft and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is lightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.

Cover the bottom of the a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish (I used 3 different baking dishes so I could give one to a friend) with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Hold a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full; you should have about 36 shells. Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the shells and top with the grated mozzarella. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.




TIPS: I have adapted this recipe to make it easier on me, using some store bought items like jarred marinara, which I always have handy. I’ve made notes in the ingredient list. Do NOT use canned artichokes. I personally don’t like the taste of them, and I once used and it did not taste right. Lots of places sell frozen artichokes such as Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Kroger. I think I have used hot Italian turkey sausage before. You can  swap out the protein for others like sirloin, ground chicken, etc. and I’m sure it’ll turn out just as well.

IF FREEZING: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Original recipe by Giada De Laurentis can be found here.


Family Home Design + Decor

Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s

March 28, 2016

We had a fun-filled weekend  with brunch, egg hunting, Easter Sunday church service and dinner with friends.  It was the perfect weekend, especially since I had Friday off, which was soooooo needed.

easter egg hunt

We stopped by the house on Saturday since I hadn’t been there in a week or so. Ben went earlier in the week/he stops by there every other day or so to see the progress.  This week the underground plumbing was installed. Honestly, I didn’t really know what this meant, but my hubby, being the engineer he is cross-checked measurements with the plan — meaning he went out there and measured EVERYTHING and noticed that we were missing the plumbing for the bar sink. This would have been caught by the builder who was planning on walking the site the next day, but of course, Ben caught it first. Our builder always laughs at us and says he’s never worked with anyone like us (aka Ben) before because we’re very detail-oriented, and we like to know how and why things are happening a certain way. When Ben emailed him and said he found an error, he said that he would get it corrected and that he appreciates our attitude about things. We’re pretty easy-going people and we understand mistakes will be made. I’m glad we’re working with someone we trust, and I’m thankful my husband is a person who likes to get in the weeds about things!

More soon,




Family Fashion + Style Working Mom

Work to Weekend Style

March 21, 2016

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I love button-up shirts. Paired with the right denim or a pencil skirt, this classic top can be perfect for the office. Just throw on a blazer or cardigan to dress it up even more and make it work for multiple seasons. Styled with skinny jeans, it’s a go-to weekend outfit. Silk button-up shirts are easy to dress up for dinner out or for work, too. I have a few fun, printed silk shirts and colored silk buttons-ups that I’ve had for years.

Work to Weekend Style

Saturday afternoon walk in the neighborhood with B. He loves sunglasses now and I may have an obsession with all things from Baby Zara and Toms shoes for toddlers.

I’ve been finding quite a bit at Banana that I like lately. This linen shirt is casual and light, and I could see myself wearing it with shorts once that Houston heat hits. Who am I kidding – we are having some sort of fluke spring weather, but I’m sure it will be short-lived and we’ll be back to humidity soon.  I wore this shirt 2 weeks ago with yellow shorts when running errands in fact. The weather was amazing this weekend, and we took advantage by walking  around our neighborhood Saturday afternoon, hitting up our favorite toy store, Big Blue Whale, and getting some frozen yogurt. This outfit was perfect for this fun afternoon with my favorite toddler.


Big Blue Whale in the Heights is the most magical toy store! If you live in Houston, definitely check it out. We frequent it weekly. 🙂

Sometimes long-sleeve shirts like this can be hard to find the right fit. I’ve curated quite the collection, so I know what brands work for me and my long limbs. I buy tall long- sleeve shirts and blazers when they’re available from Banana, in particular. Banana Republic, J. Crew and Ann Taylor are 3 stores that sell tall sizes, which means a little more length in the arms and width in the shoulders, which makes this 5’10 gal a happy camper.



Family Loving Lately...

Loving lately: How do I have a 19 month old?

March 20, 2016

Life has been kicking us in the butt lately. Between a terrible stomach bug for Braden, which I then was lucky enough to get too,  and a few episodes of night terrors in the past week (whhhhyy?) coupled with my busy work season,  I’m pretty exhausted.  I know it’s the season of life we’re in though and it soon will pass.

I know I’m kind of slow to the Snapchat bandwagon. I got it when it first came out, but never cared for it. But, what we soon realized is that Braden thinks it’s pretty hilarious. Thus, it’s turned into something I’m loving lately since we’re getting some infectious giggles out of it. My husband has especially taken it to some new levels, as you can see here with his obsession with face swap.

My name is laureenlucas9 on Snapchat, so follow along if you want some of our stories filling your feed. 🙂


Makeup Mr Potato head

My little mini recently turned 19 months. It’s shocking how quickly it flies by. He’s surprising us daily with his ever-increasing vocabulary. New words include: crackers and cartoons (dang it). And, “mine!” is also starting to creep up pretty often. :/ He tests our patience, makes us laugh uncontrollably and makes me realize that I love him more than I could have ever imagined.

More soon,