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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stuffed Pasta Shells

One of my most requested meals.  Yum!

Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb ground beef or turkey (I use turkey most of the time)
1/2 medium onion diced
3-4 cloves diced garlic
6 oz can tomato paste
16 oz tomato sauce ~ you can use 2 small or 1 large can
1 can diced tomatoes ~ I used petite cut
12 oz water
3 t Italian Seasoning
1 t Basil
1 t Oregano
2 bay leaves
1 t Cayenne pepper or 1/2 C of your favorite salsa if you want it to be spicy

Brown meat with onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you're usually turkey, put 1 t Italian Seasoning in with the meat. Throw in rest of ingredients and simmer on low for a little over an hour. Remove bay leaves. You can leave meat out if you want to make these vegetarian.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Dump in a box of Large Shells and cook for about 8-10 minutes. You don't want them to firm but you DON'T want them cooked either or your end result will be a bit mushy. Drain shells and cool.

Mix together
1 beaten Egg
15 oz container Ricotta Cheese ~ I use low fat

Mix in
1 C shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 C Fresh grated Parmesan ~ you can use the stuff in the green can, I just don't
1/2 t Salt
1 t Pepper
1 t Garlic Powder
1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
1 t Italian Seasoning
You can be done here OR you can add 1 C chopped fresh Spinach or 1 C defrosted, drained and squeezed of all liquid Spinach.

Spray 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Put a ladle to two ladles of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan, you don't want too much, just a thin layer of sauce. Take a shell and put a spoonful of cheese mixture inside. It can be coming out a little bit. Put sideways or face up, doesn't matter, just be consistent and don't do open face down or you'll lose all your filling in the cooking process. Keep filling up your shells until the pan is full. I usually have a few shells left over. Top with sauce, don't be shy, make sure the shells are covered. Top with 1 C of mozzarella and 1/2 C fresh Parmesan. Put in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Serve. If you want, these can be made ahead, just take them out of the fridge for about an hour before baking and adjust cooking time for about another 30 minutes.

Mix ricotta with a beaten egg.
Mix in your salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and cayenne.
Handful of fresh spinach.
Chop your spinach.
Mix in your spinach.
Next mix in your mozzarella and parmesan.
Put some sauce down in your sprayed pan.
Here is what the Shell box looks like. You will cook these in salted boiling water 8-10 minutes
Give the shell a squeeze to open.
Stuff your shell.
We're going to pretend this is a 13x9 because that is what I usually make. This time I made two smaller pans and passed one on to a friend for dinner.
Top with sauce.
Top with cheese.
Dinner is served!

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