Monday, June 10, 2013

From the Heart

I love cooking for my family. It is something that gives me such joy and purpose in life. Watching their eyes light up and their mouths begin to water makes all the work I put into it worth it. This meal did all those things and more. It is so nice to cook for those you love and actually feel appreciated. Such a wonderful feeling. I do not cook every night. Luckily my mom in an excellent cook and she enjoys it just as much as I do! It is a big help because there are days where I am much too exhausted from doing school work, house work and not to mention a mom all day, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. But alas, some days I look forward to that meal I will be preparing. And I am known to go all out :) These shells are so delicious they would make any pasta-hater change their mind. The filling is cheesy but light and complimented by a wonderful array of italian herbs. The sauce is hearty and meaty and balances out the light shells.

Three Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells in a Hearty Meat Sauce
Serves 6-8
- 16 ox box of Jumbo Shells
- 2 24 oz jars of tomato pasta sauce (I use Prego)
- 2 16 ox packages of italian sausage (could use breakfast sausage)
- 30 oz skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed with the excess water squeezed out
- 4 TBSP dried basil, divided
- 3 TBSP dried garlic powder, divided
- 3 TBSP italian seasoning, divided
- 2 TBSP onion powder
- 2 tsp chili flake
- 8-10 slices fresh mozzarella
- salt and pepper

Heat a large pot of water over high heat and season well with salt. This is the only chance you have to season your shells. While that is heating, cook your sausage over medium high heat then drain the excess oil from the pan. Return to pan and add the 2 jars of tomato sauce as well as half the basil, garlic powder and italian seasoning and all of the onion and chili flake. Season well with salt and pepper, give a stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add the shells to the boiling water and cook only half the time directed on the box. You want these very al dente because they will finish in the oven. Heat your oven to 350 and mix the 3 cheeses (minus the sliced mozzarella), egg, remaining spices and spinach. Once your shells are cooked, drain and rinse with cool water. They will be very hot and may need a minute to cool before filling. Spoon enough sauce in a 13X9 pan to cover the bottom. Spoon a small amount of the filling into the shell and place seam side down in the pan. Try not to over fill your shells. Once your pan is full of stuffed shells, spoon the rest of the sauce on top of the shells and cover with the fresh mozzarella slices. You could use shredded or grated parmesan as well but the fresh mozz is soo good. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until cheese is nice and bubbly!

We enjoyed these amazing shells with a simple spinach salad with craisins, almonds and hardboiled egg.

I adore when food looks pretty!

We finished the evening with dessert and Grease. 

These boston cream pie cupcakes are to die for! They are insanely decadent and incredibly delicious. They are quite time consuming though so I think next time I will try my hand at a whole cake :)

I adore family time <3

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