Category Archives: Italian

Shrimp Cannelloni with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce


A friend recently wanted to make dinner for her boyfriend (eek, now fiance!) and asked for my help.  We got together, test-drove the recipe and she re-created it for him a few weeks later. While brainstorming what she wanted to make for him, she told me he liked spicy, peppers and seafood.  This isn’t exactly the easiest list of ingredients, but this recipe came out so well.  A spicy roasted red pepper sauce with shrimp stuffed into cannelloni, absolutely delicious.  It was a hit with everyone who got to enjoy it (CH was taste tester #1) and then when my friend made it for her boyfriend, he was very pleased.

Definitely a fun twist on a pasta dish – the roasted red pepper sauce is a must make again; it would be delicious on chicken or over pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

Ps – photo credits go to CH on this post – I was out and he couldn’t wait to eat the leftovers, so I told him he had to take pictures before he ate it (also explains the slightly crispier top!!!)



Shrimp Cannelloni with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Yield: 6 servings (2 cannelloni each)Prep Time:  25 minuts
Cook Time:  35 minutes



  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large red peppers, whole
  • 2 heaping TBSP sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • S&P


  • 15-20 raw shrimp (tails removed and diced into 1/2 inch sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 10-12 “ready to bake” cannelloni noodles  (be sure when you get the pasta you buy the ones that don’t require pre-boiling.  They will say “oven ready” or “no-boil” or “ready-to-bake”)
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese



Preheat your broiler to high.  Wash and dry the red peppers and place directly under the broiler. Broil the peppers, rotating frequently, until all sides are black and blistered.  Remove from oven and place in a glass bowl and cover immediately with saran wrap.  Allow peppers to sit for at least 10 minutes. When cool enough to touch, remove peppers and peel off the blistered skin and remove the seeds from the inside.

While the peppers are sitting, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions to the pan and sauté until translucent.  Add in garlic and sauté with the onions for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

At this point, split the onion mixture into two even portions (don’t measure, just eyeball it).  Place half of the onion mixture in a glass bowl, place the other half in a blender.

Add the peeled and de-seeded roasted red peppers to the blender, along with the onion mixture.  To the blender, also add 2 heaping TBSP hot sauce (sriracha), 2 TBSP tomato paste, 1/2 tsp chili powder), 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup of water and a generous dash of salt and pepper.

Puree the mixture until smooth.  Add the pureed mixture back to the pan you used to sauté the onions and warm thoroughly. Taste the sauce and adjust as you think fit…more salt, sugar etc.  *You may need to add a touch more water to make the sauce a little thinner – just depends on the size of your peppers*

Reserve the sauce until the pasta is ready to bake.


In the bowl with the other half of the onion mixture, add the diced shrimp, goat cheese, mozzarella, parsley and S&P.

Mix the shrimp mixture and stuff the manicotti shells evenly with the mixture.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Place the stuffed shells in a 9×12 baking dish and pour the reserved sauce over pasta shells, ensuring they are evenly covered.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the pasta 25-30 minutes.

After 25 minutes, remove foil, cover the top with Parmesan cheese. Cook the dish uncovered for another 5 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for a few minutes to achieve the crispy top (be sure to watch it carefully – it can burn fast!)

Serve with a salad and fresh bread and ENJOY!

A JBean Cuisine Original Recipe (inspired loosely by CookingLight Shrimp Stuffed Shells recipe seen here).


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Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

You know one of those dishes you instantly fall in love with, and then make it over and over?  Ya well, this is one of them in our house.  This is one of CH’s hands-down favourites, and whenever I ask him what I should make for dinner, this is on the list.

I remember making it for the first time over a year ago, while we were still in London.  I didn’t tell CH about the “secret” ingredient, I just merely served-up this delicious, creamy, bright orange macaroni and cheese and left it at that.  CH devoured the dish, went in for seconds and that’s when I popped the question on him “umm, do you notice anything difference?” // “No, oh that’s interesting – are you sure?” // “GOTCHA – it has butternut squash in it”.   Wife 1, Husband 0.

In all seriousness, this dish is EVERYTHING a good macaroni and cheese should be, plus the added health benefit of having butternut squash puree, and reducing the amount of cheddar cheese – each serving only has about 325 calories.  I’ve made this dish for company many times, for my parents (and even my Dad liked it – which is a feat in and of itself) and I most recently made it for my girlfriend who is Vegan – and it turned out beautifully (or at least I think it did…)  For those who want to make it Vegan – I used Oh She Glow’s recipe, the recipe for our usual version is below.

As a total aside, and one last note, it re-heats beautifully for lunch.  So definitely make a large batch and enjoy the next day!  Also, head over to The Way the Cookie Crumbles or Branny Boils Over for the original recipe and some great tips!


Butternut Squash Macroni & Cheese

Yield: Serves 8
Prep/Cook Time:  About 1 hour and 20 minutes, including roasting the squash “my-way”.


  • 1 small-to-medium butternut squash
  • 12 ounces (1 box) dried elbow macaroni
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups) + 3 TBSP shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry your butternut squash.  Place the butternut squash, in its whole-form, in the oven and roast for 45mins – 1hour, or until a butter knife inserted into the flesh meets no resistance. (You can also cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes).

Remove from oven, allow the squash to cool.  Cut in half, remove the seeds.

Scoop 2 cups of flesh from the squash and puree it with your hand-blender or food processor.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add about a tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente – you want it to still be firm. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the flour and mustard. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the milk.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.

At this point, add the grated cheeses, ½ teaspoon of salt, a dash of ground pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.

Next, add the pureed butternut squash to the saucepan and whisk until incorporate.  At this point, you can proceed without pureeing again, but I like a smooth as possible sauce, so I puree it one more time, in the pot, with my hand-blender.

Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir thoroughly.

*At this point, you can serve it immediately and it is delicious*  However…

I place my macaroni into a 9×12 baking dish, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs and additional 3 TBSP of cheddar cheese over top and put it under the broiler for 2 – 4 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.  This step adds a beautiful crunch texture to the dish, but again, it is completely option.


Recipe Slightly adapted From The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Branny Boils Over


Filed under Healthy, Italian, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese

I still remember the first time I had risotto.:  I was about 13 or 14,  my Mom had been out with some girlfriends for dinner, and they went to a local Italian restaurant.  She came home with leftover risotto, I hadn’t had dinner, so I swooped in immediately.  I was greeted by this creamy looking dish, that was filled with beautifully seasoned vegetables and a texture and taste that left me wishing there was more.  It was a far cry from this recipe, but nonetheless, it introduced me to a very delicious ingredient.

To this day, I enjoy risotto.  I have never ordered it when dining-out, which is odd, because it is a little labour intensive and would be a welcomed treat.  However, I think it’s because I really enjoy the process of making risotto, as there is something gratifying about slowly adding liquid to the dish, and watching it become more and more creamy.  We received a package of beautiful risotto rice in a gift basket recently, and this got my wheels turning to make this dish.

This recipe was meant to be CH and I’s Valentines dinner together.  We aren’t big Vday fans, but we welcome any excuse to spend the night together, eating a good meal and drinking a bottle of wine.  However, Vday came and went this year, and CH was stuck at the office, so this dish had to wait a few days to be made.  However, it was worth the wait, as CH and I had fun chatting away in the kitchen as he stirred and I added liquid, until we had the *almost* perfectly cooked risotto and one delicious dinner for two! (Ps – yes, I was a dork and planned a pink dish for Vday…).

As we were making it, the idea came to me to submit this recipe as my contribution to What’s Baking this month – the theme, chosen by She Cooks and Bakes, was “Bake with Valentines Colours”, and although this isn’t technically “baked”, it’s Valentines colored, therefore I think it applies.  Plus, how fun is it to have a savoury dish in the mix, and be a little different.  I also don’t bake a lot with food-dye, so this to me fit the bill ever so perfectly.

I haven’t even written about how good the beets make this dish, but just trust me, they take a normally delicious risotto and put it OVER the top good.  The earthy flavour of the beets blends perfectly with the rich-creamy flavour of the risotto, basically making a perfect match.


Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese

Yield: About 6 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 hours or so


  • 4 medium beets (about 2 lbs with greens), trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached
  • 3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth + 1 TBSP for roasting beets
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 TBSP for roasting beets
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese (plus a little more for garnish if you want it to look fancy!)


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss the beets with 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TBSP of chicken stock and a dash of S&P. Tightly wrap beets in a double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, about 1 hour or so (depends on size of you beets – could be as long as 1.5 hours if they are large beets). You will know they are ready when you can insert a knife through the middle without any resistance.

Place the cooked beets aside and cool to warm in foil package, about 20 minutes.

When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  *Be careful, beets stain EVERYTHING – so use caution!*

When you are ready to make the risotto, bring the broth and water to a rolling simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat and keep at a low simmer.

Preheat a wide (4- to 6-quart) pot over moderate heat.  Add in the olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add rice to the onions and oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Add the wine to the pan , simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth.)

Stir in diced beets, salt, and pepper (mixture will turn bright pink) and cook, stirring, until heated through. Thin to your liking with some of leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat and serve!


Recipe slightly adapted from Love and Olive Oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Italian, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan