Stuffed Shells

Since decorating the house is taking more time that I originally planned and I won't have any updates to post on it in the next few days, I figured I'd post some recipes during the decorating down time.  A few days ago, someone pinned a photo of stuffed shells on Pinterest (follow me here) and it reminded me of my grandmother's stuffed shells.  I realized I hadn't had stuffed shells since I was little and I wanted them again.  Since Jon is sick (strep throat, ick), it was all up to me to cook dinner tonight and I decided we'd have some stuffed shells.  I searched for a few recipes online and mixed a few together to come up with one of my own.

1 16 oz. package of jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. sausage (Italian or ground sausage works)
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
3 crushed garlic cloves (I just used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/2 lemon to juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups of a tomato based sauce (any kind you like, I used traditional)
2 cups shredded mozzarella

After making this recipe, unless you are feeding a few people, I'd recommend only using half the noodles, but keeping everything else the same.  If you are feeding 4+, go ahead and use some extra sauce.

First, boil 4 quarts water and add in the pasta shells.  Cook the pasta 11-13 minutes until al-dente.  While the noodles are cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the sausage until fully cooked.  For tonight's dinner, we just used ground country sausage instead of Italian sausage.  I think next time I'll use Italian, but it was still good!

Once sausage is fully cooked, strain from the grease, and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add egg, ricotta, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan, oregano and a dash or two of salt and pepper.  Mix well and put off to the side.

Take a baking dish (9x13) and spray with a little non-stick cooking spray, then put a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Strain the pasta and place the cooked shells in rows in the baking dish. I rinsed the shellss off with cold water, but some of them were still hot and burnt my finger tips.  I think next time, I'll let them sit and cool a bit longer!

Add the sausage mixture into each shell.  Depending on how many shells you cook, you can fill the pasta up to be just barely full or over flowing.  Like I said, a box of 16 oz of jumbo pasta shells is a lot, so I just barely filled my shells all the way up.

 Once all of the shells are filled, poor the remaining sauce over the pasta and cover with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

Jon liked it and said he would eat it again.  I also enjoyed it as well.  It's not hard to make and gave me 25 minutes while it was baking to clean the kitchen and wash dishes.  I used the extra sauce from the bottom of the pan to drizzle over the noodles on our plate.

Next time, I'd do a few things differently.  Like I already said, I plan to use only half the shells but keep all the other ingredients the same.  I also think next time I'll add half the mozzarella to the sausage mixture and then sprinkle the remaining on top of the shells and sauce.


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