Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pork and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

I was grocery shopping with my daughter and out of the blue, she asked if we could have stuffed shells for dinner.  We hadn't had stuffed shells in a very long time, so her suggestion sounded like a good idea to me.  I didn't know what recipe that I wanted to use, but I grabbed a box of jumbo shells off of the shelf anyway.  As I went to put the box in the cart, I noticed that it had a recipe on it.  Upon closer inspection, the recipe looked pretty awesome.  I decided right then and there that we would have them for dinner, so using the recipe on the box, I purchased all of the ingredients and made them that night.  Needless to say, they were a hit.  I don't know that I had ever had stuffed shells with sausage as an ingredient before, but I loved the addition.  I will say that the type of sausage that you use will greatly affect the flavor of the meal, so choose one that you love!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 32 jumbo shells
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar (15 oz) pasta sauce of your choice (the original recipe calls for Alfredo but I preferred a marinara sauce)
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
  • 8 oz package shredded Italian style six cheese blend, divided
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium-high heat, combine pork, mushrooms, onions, garlic and Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until pork is no longer pink.  Drain.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish.  
  4. Add ricotta cheese, drained tomatoes and 3/4 cup of shredded cheese blend to pork mixture; stir to combine.  Divide among cooked pasta shells.  Place in baking dish.
  5. Cover with remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and continue baking until cheese is melted and bubbly (about 15 minutes).

Difficulty: medium - just a bit of a pain to stuff the shells, but not really a big deal
Time: 20-25 minutes prep, 35 minutes to cook
Source: modified slightly from a recipe found on the box of Essential Everyday pasta shells


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Every now and then I try a recipe with no expectations and it shocks me with its deliciousness.  I had no idea what to expect with this soup - I am a lover of soups, but usually they are thick and filled with chunky veggies and meat and pasta or rice.  This one fell far from my typical choice, but I happened to have the ingredients on hand and no plans for lunch on a Saturday.  I threw the veggies in the oven while I was doing my usual Saturday morning cleaning and finished it up at lunchtime.  When I took that first spoonful, I was shocked at how amazing it was.  I finished that bowl.  And then another.  My kids were skeptical at first, but they did the same.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 medium acorn squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 medium tart cooking apples (Granny Smith, Greening or Haralson), peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
DIRECTIONS: 
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Cut squash in half; remove seeds and fibers. Place squash, cut sides up, in rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Pour water into pan until 1/4 inch deep. Bake uncovered about 40 minutes or until tender. Cool; remove pulp from rind and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion in butter 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in apples, thyme and basil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes.
  3. Remove 1 cup apples with slotted spoon; set aside. Place one-third of the remaining apple mixture and squash in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth; pour into bowl. Continue to blend in small batches until all the soup is pureed.
  4. Return blended mixture and 1 cup reserved apples to saucepan. Stir in half-and- half, nutmeg, salt and pepper; heat until hot.

Difficulty: easy
Time: about an hour and 20 minutes, though much of it is hands off
Source: www.bettycrocker.com