Pasta. My weakness,
This is what I was born to cook.
During a busy work week I find myself always reaching for meals in the freezer.
My kids are so spoiled for home cooked food and sometimes when I get home from work I am exhausted. These are the days I pull out food from the freezer.
My go-to freezer meals are usually gumbo, white beans, red beans, roast and gravy, and meatballs and gravy.
I am trying to branch out and have different things in my freezer so I decided to stuff some shells.
For the meat I used Italian sausage but this can easily be subbed out for ground beef, deer, or pork.
Here is how I made them.
This is the Italian sausage I used. If you are not a fan of Italian sausage, any sausage can be used. Even ground pork or beef.
I squeezed the meat out of the casing and cooked it until brown. Drain the fat. Move the meat into a bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, brown onion and garlic in 1 tbsp. butter. Season with salt and pepper.
When tender, move to the same bowl as the meat.
After meat and veggies have cooled, stir in ricotta, cream cheese, parmesan, parsley flakes, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, and 1 egg.
***This recipe yields about 25 stuffed shells. I put 10 shells in a 9×9 casserole dish for dinner and had 3 loaf pans with 5 shells each in them. Aluminum pans are so easy for the freezer. ***
Spray your pan or casserole dish you are using. Add a little marinara to the bottom of each dish.
Stuff your shells. (pasta is cooked al dente in a separate pot)
Top each dish with shredded mozzarella.
Bake in 350 oven covered for 30 minutes, 15 minutes uncovered. I froze the 3 aluminum pans. I covered them with saran wrap and then foil, very tightly!
When I want to cook the frozen ones I will let them thaw and then bake them. Or you can cook them straight from the freezer (remove saran wrap of course) and tack on extra time until the center is warm and the sauce is bubbly.
Italian Stuffed Shells
1 lb mild Italian sausage, meat squeezed out of casings or ground pork or beef
1 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz ricotta
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Kraft grated parmesan
1/4 tsp parsley flakes
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 jars marinara (I like Classico Tomato and Basil)
12 oz box of jumbo shells, cooked according to package
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage in a little olive oil until fully cooked. Drain fat. Move sausage to a bowl to cool.
In the same skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
When veggies are tender, move to bowl of sausage to cool.
Add ricotta, cream cheese, parmesan, seasonings, and egg. Stir to combine.
Spray a casserole dish or aluminum pan with non stick cooking spray and pour in a small amount of marinara to coat the bottom.
Stuff the shells using a spoon and place each shell on top the marinara.
Pour marinara over the shells and top with mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
****This recipes yields about 25 shells.*****