Aunt Dawn’s Stuffed Shells


About this Recipe

Every year my mom, sister and my girls go to Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. This has been a long standing tradition since well before I was born…that’s 40+ years. We meet with my grandmother’s side of the family- there is typically around 40-50 people divided among 3 different beach houses. It is truly the best vacation and something we look forward to each year. Last year our Aunt Dawn made her special stuffed shells and Shelby fell in love with them. Ever since we left that trip not only did she have a special place in her heart for Ocean Isle, Aunt Dawn’s daughters, but those super tasty shells that only Aunt Dawn could make. Thanks Dawn for taking the time to show me how to make these so that Shelby can have a great reminder throughout the year of special people back in North and South Carolina!

We decided to incorporate ground beef into the cheese mixture. On our second round of making these with browned Italian elk sausage (you could use regular Italian sausage) and added that to the pasta sauce. We empty the jars of sauce into a sauce pan, added the brown Italian sausage and let it come to a simmer. We served that over the shells and the girls and guests loved it!


  • I made two cookie sheet pans with this quantity. We baked one sheet serving 6 people and had left overs for the next couple of days. I wrapped the other sheet with plastic wrap tightly and froze for another meal later.

The questions we provide are great for both adults and children. You can start with the question and answer it for yourself, and then answer it about your kids if they can’t answer it themselves.

  1. Where were you born: the city, state and the hospital?
  2. What is your birth story?
  3. How were you given the name you have?

Shrimp Boil Ingredients

Recipe by: Dawn Spivey
Feeds 10-12 people or a 4-5 with a pan of leftovers.

For the pasta

  • 2- 12ounce boxes of jumbo shells (Barilla or American Beauty
  • salt
  • water
  • 2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 bag shredded parmesan cheese

For the meat

  • 3lbs ground beef (you could substitute 1.5lbs with Italian sausage)
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1.5 tsp garlic salt
  • 1.5 tsp salt

For the cheese stuffing

  • 47 ounces Whole Milk Ricotta (1- 32oz and 1-15oz containers)
  • 32 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In large stock pot fill with water and add 3-4 tsps. of salt. Bring water to boil over high heat.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat add 2 tsp of oil.
  3. Add diced onion and ground beef at the same time. (if your skillet is not that big you can divide meat and onions in half and do two batches.
  4. While browning the meat and onions add the Italian seasoning, garlic salt and salt. Cook through. Remove from heat and allow to cool
  5. While cooking the meat, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to the package- approx. 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the noodles with cold water
  7. Drain the noodles and fill stock pot with about an inch of water.
  8. Add noodles back into pot and set aside.
  9. In a large bowl (real large), combine the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt. Add in the meat mixture.
  10. Set up the noodles and meat/cheese mixture next to each other.
  11. Spray the bottom of the baking dish or sheet with non-stick spray.
  12. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce/marinara in the bottom of the baking dish or even a cookie sheet with raised edges.
  13. To stuff the shells: I use my hands and grab about 1 heaping tablespoon of meat/cheese mixture. Place inside shell.
  14. Set shell with open ends facing up (like a boat). Continue to do so with all shells and mixture.
  15. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  16. Drizzle the remainder sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  17. Bake covered with foil for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes. You’ll see the cheese melting on the inside of the shells.

Basic Salad Ingredients

  • 1 head of bib lettuce, washed/dried, torn into pices
  • 1 carrot, shredded (use your peeler)
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • Italian dressing of choice
  1. Combine washed and torn lettuce, peeled carrots and half-sliced tomatoes into a medium sized bowl. Serve with Italian dressing.

Chocolate Olive Oil Snacking Cake

Jessie Sheehan has always impressed me with her skills in the kitchen. After purchasing her “The Vintage Baker Cookbook and making recipes from her site I knew sharing her desserts on our Sunday Suppers would not disappoint. Here is the link to the dessert this week:

If your interested in her book (one of my favorites) click here.