December 27, 2010

Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce

Is it wrong to be all Christmas-ed out? Well, I am. We really had a good holiday this year; however I am happy to be getting past all the Christmas chaos, and back to "normal". My plan is to get our meals back on track with healthy options, so we can combat all the over-indulging that happened throughout the month of December. Kinda like a detox plan for the whole family; with plenty of lean proteins and fresh veggies. I am actually looking forward to it. Trust me, it is needed. Especially with a meal like these stuffed shells. Don't get me wrong, they were delicious...but not the most figure-friendly dinner of the season. It will be nice to get back to eating light again.

It is our family tradition to have Italian food for our Christmas Eve dinner. This year, I chose this Pioneer Woman recipe for our feast. It was sooooo decadent with all the ooey-gooey cheese and meaty sauce. Seriously fantastic; but my pants are definitely tighter than they were before Christmas Eve! Oh well...I guess that is what New Year's resolutions are for, right?????

Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce
From: The Pioneer Woman website

8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
8 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
½ cups Grated Romano Cheese
1 whole Egg
12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ whole Medium Onion, Chopped
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ pounds Italian Sausage
½ cups Red Wine
1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.

Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.

In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.

To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

The Result:
In all the madness, I forgot to take a photo of my finished dish. The Pioneer Woman website has drool-worthy you can get your fix there. This was an awesome recipe. It was a little labor-intensive, but not too bad. I like to make something special for our big holiday meal and this dish fit the bill. We served a side of roasted brussel sprouts, and our Christmas Eve Italian food feast was complete.

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