Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuffed Shells

Last week we had some guests over for dinner on Wednesday...BJ & Kasey!!  They were in town for the two weeks leading up to the wedding last weekend.  We got to go out for dinner with them the week before but opted for something at the house this past I knew it would force me to get my butt back in the kitchen!  We had such a great time visiting with them and can't wait for them to move HOME!  They are currently living in Wyoming for another year or so...then hopefully they will return to Texas if all works out as planned!

A quick Baby B update before I start...I scheduled our full anatomy ultrasound this morning for July 21st so we will find out the sex that day right before we fly out to Key West for a vacation...I can't wait for that day for so many reasons!!!

I found this recipe in one of my magazines and decided to lighten it up a bit by choosing low fat cheese, and less of it, lower sugar marinara, and of course lean beef.  Just a warning...this one is much more complicated than my usual, but since I haven't been cooking much I was feeling up for the challenge.  It wasn't hard, just more steps than usual.  Barry wasn't sure about me "experimenting" when we were having company over, but I think it turned out pretty good.  It tasted pretty similar to lasagna, next time I will probably add more pesto to change the flavor a little bit.

Here is what you will need:

20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 pound lean ground beef (turkey would work too)
1 large onion, chopped
15 oz low fat ricotta cheese
1.5 cups part skim shredded Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup prepared Pesto sauce
1 egg
1-2 jars of your favorite (low in sugar) spaghetti sauce

Start by browning meat and onions together in a skillet until meat is no longer pink, drain the excess fat off.  It seems like a lot of onion, but its not!

If you are good at multitasking you can boil the pasta at the same time.  I actually used the whole box of shells because I wasn't sure if 20 would be enough...I had leftovers, but no big deal! Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup Italian cheese blend, Parmesan cheese, pesto sauce, egg and half of the meat mixture.

Pour about 1/2 a jar of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.  The original recipe called for just 1 jar...I had an extra jar on had in case that wasn't enough.  It wasn't!

Spoon cheese mixture into shells and place into casserole dish.  Don't be afraid to fill them...I had a little bit of the filling left over and mine were pretty stuffed!

Combine remaining spaghetti sauce and beef mixture (I used a whole jar of sauce) and pour over top of shells.

Top with remaining shredded cheese.  I threw some extra Parmesan on just because.

Now, the original recipe said to cover and refrigerate over night.  I did that because I had time to make this the night before, but I am not sure its necessary.  Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

I'm off to the treadmill...feeling a little jog today!  Happy Monday!

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