Stuffed Shells and sautéed spinach

My life is one big chaos-filled roller coaster on a track of house-induced stress.

PoppaH has been in sunny California since July.  He has his dream job at Google to entertain him. I get to take care of the kiddos, dogs, chickens, lawn, sew a bunch of costumes for the high school play (I already commuted to it), fix up the house, sell it (in a very slow market), pack and drive across country to reunite the fam-damn-ily.


Anyone want to buy my house?  Not kidding.

I have not been cooking as much as usual.

Last night, however, I did. I had been seeing a stuffed shells recipe flitting about the Internet.  Cravings ensued.  Here is my version.

Stuffed Shells

*these measurements don't need to be exact*

1 box (1 pound) box of jumbo shells
1 1/2 pound loose sweet Italian sausage
1 quart (4 cups, or close to this amount) marinara sauce
2 cups (or close to it) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

Cook shells according to the directions on the box.  If you make your own shells, I bow to you.  Why are you reading my recipe?  You are a superior being.

Drain shells and rinse with cold water.

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat until it is cooked completely.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, egg and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Mix in 1 cup of the marinara sauce and the cooked sausage.  (save the pan without washing if you are going to cook the spinach)

Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan (I actually used a larger baking pan and it filled it)

Spoon about 2 Tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each shell to fill them.  Place each shell into your baking pan and repeat until you have filled all the shells and used up all the mixture.

Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the filled shells. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the shells.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

We like it served with sautéed spinach.  Here is how to make that.

Sautéed Spinach

16 ounce bag of raw spinach
1 Tablespoon of olive oil, bacon fat, or use the pan from the sausage
balsamic vinegar

About 10 minutes before the shells are done, heat a skillet and oil )or fat of choice) over medium high heat.

Add half the spinach.  Sprinkle with salt.  I use Himalayan pink salt in a grater - about 3 grates.

Cook, turning frequently, until wilted.  Add the rest of the spinach, continuing to turn, until it is all wilted.

Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Eat your spinach!