When my dad died, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends as they brought us tray after tray of food.  As I mentioned in previous posts, most of the trays of food that were brought to us were meat.  We did have the occasional sweet treat, but not as much as I would have liked.  So what does that story have to do with this post?  This past week, my aunt's father passed away.  She drove down from Boston with my uncle and cousins to be here with her family during this sad time.  I knew that I wanted to do something nice for them since I know how stressful this time can be, and I defaulted to what I know best--making food.  I was going to make monkey bread, but knowing that it tastes the best hot out of the oven, I started to think of other things I could make instead.  Joel suggested that I try to make cannolis, because that is something he said he would like at a time like this.  I looked up recipes and merged a bunch together to come up with this.  They turned out great, but the one thing I would be sure to do next time is chop the chocolate chips a little finer than I did because they kept plugging up the opening of the pastry bag tip!

1 container (15 ounces) Ricotta Cheese
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup Chocolate Chips, finely chopped (optional)
2 dozen Mini Cannoli Shells

Using a hand mixer, mix the cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon or rubber spatula.  Scoop the filling mixture into a pastry bag and pipe it into each side of the mini shell.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.