Friday, June 3, 2011

Cheese, Spinach, and mushroom stuffed shells

This was a make-ahead meal that I did on Memorial day afternoon when we got back from the Indy 500 (vrooooooooooom!!).  I figured it was going to be a tired week after the long weekend away and wanted to have as much carbs as possible on hand all week to prepare for the dam to dam race I was signed up for on this coming Saturday (12.4 miles).  Well, the race is not in the cards now due to a car accident I was in (not my fault) on Tuesday, but make ahead meals were still great to have on hand so I didnt have to cook all week with my sore body!

This is adapted from a recipe I was given by my Aunt Kris in Arizona...she takes food pics too and is a freak just like me! :)  I've been wanting to try it and then Mama K dropped 2 bags of these shells off last time she visited becuase she found them on sale...perfect!  I made 2 batches and left one in my fridge and froze the other to bring to a friend who just had a baby...just an FYI that this does freeze well.  The batch for us had all of these ingredients, the batch for the new mother omitted the red and black pepper and the chiles as she is breastfeeding.

1 container low fat ricotta cheese (I tried using the fat free one time in my manicotti and Justin vetoed that one, sometimes fat free just doesnt cut it! It was dry and chunky instead of creamy like cheese should be.)
1 container fat free cottage cheese
1 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese
1 can sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 can spinach (drained)
2 cans diced green chiles (not drained)
1 T crushed black pepper
1 T crushed red pepper

1 bag pasta shells
1 large can of your fave spag sauce (use 2 if you like your pasta really saucy like I do)
1 lb ground turkey italian sausage
1 bag turkey pepperonis
1 large onion (diced)
1 cup 2% mozzarella cheese
1 T italian seasoning

First you mix all the first group of ingredients up in a mixing bowl and stir until they are thouroughly mixed:

From there, the name explains itself....just stuff the uncooked shells.  I just used a normal spoon and stuffed them with as much as they would hold like so:

You will need your 13x9 baking dish that most of my recipes call for, which means I used the disposable one with fat free Pam sprayed in the bottom.  Just lay the shells face down or face up, however they lay the best.  Continue this until you run out of mixture or shells. 

A little food photography experiment:

Looks yummy close up, doesnt it?!  Next step (which you could actually be doing simultaneously as you are stuffing shells), is to cook your sausage in a skillet.  When it is done, add your onions and pepperonis to saute all of them together, and add your sauce as well.  Simmer until you are ready to pour on top of your shells, and then sprinkle some 2% mozzerella cheese on top of your creation.  Add some italian seasoning on top and cover with tin foil.

Sidenote: Can anyone tell me why some of my pics turn and how I would go about turning them the right way??  Drives me bonkersssssssss!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes to ensure the shells have softened and cooked in the sauce.  All that's left to do is SERVE!

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  1. Have you considered using fresh mushrooms? If you dry sautee the mushrooms, you cut out a lot the sodium.

  2. That's a great idea! I ALWAYS have canned mushrooms on hand as it's easier to keep them in stock than fresh ones so I just got lazy here :)