Breads and Dishes: Solved … To Make Better Bad Decisions

Breads and Dishes: Solved … To Make Better Bad Decisions

Spinach-stuffed shells are a cheesy option for your cheat day.  or any day.

Stuffed spinach shells are a cheesy option for your ‘Cheat Day’ or any day.

It is that time of year when all hearts begin to think of romance!

Oh wait, cross that out, it’s not spring yet (even though we experience spring on New Years Day immediately followed by a winter storm and now … who knows, as I write this, snow covers the ground and I can I don’t predict what the weather will be like this afternoon, so he’s alone …).

Instead, let’s take the New Years Resolution route. Can you believe it’s been a year since you promised to eat better, lose weight, and exercise? Let’s resolve not to go there this year. It’s a crazy time and if you can keep something close to normal, you’re doing great!

With that in mind and considering that people choose all kinds of diets these days. For example, on a low carb diet, bacon is a diet food! On the food pyramid diet, fruits are a diet food, but cannot be consumed on the low carb diet. In the wedding cake diet, cakes and ice cream are preferred.

(Oh who am I kidding, there is no such thing as a wedding cake diet, that’s just fantasy.)

With that said, there are a number of good things to eat, if you just look. For example, roasted pumpkin is delicious! In fact, if you toast one and add a pinch of salt to it, as well as a little sugar and brown cinnamon, you’ll have a wonderful, hearty dinner! Lemon Chicken Piccata is another delicious wonder that isn’t too much in fat and calorie mode. My Eight Can Taco Soup is another one that has loads of veggies in it and is tasty and easy!

But hey, what if it’s your “cheat day”? Then you need something spicy, cheesy, full of pasta and a delicious red sauce! I have the perfect recipe for you and as a bonus it has spinach so you can call it “healthy” right? Shells Stuffed With Spinach

With that, I leave you to my own personal New Years Resolution: make better bad decisions. In other words, if you’re going to be a troublemaker, do all the trouble!

Shells Stuffed With Spinach

½ box jumbo pasta shells, prepared according to box directions

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ small chopped onion

8 oz. fresh spinach

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 block of cream cheese, softened and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

8 oz. shredded cheddar triple cheese mix

1 23 oz. can of spaghetti sauce

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large pot (4-6 quarts), add water and heat over high heat until boiling. Add the shells and cook until almost done (within a couple of minutes of the “cook” time indicated on the box). Pour through a strainer and rinse under cold water. Separate the peels so they do not stick and mix with vegetable oil. You can do this while preparing the shell filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, pour in the olive oil and add the minced garlic and minced onion so they cook together, then add the fresh spinach, salt and pepper.

When the spinach is completely wilted, remove it to a container and leave the water. Using the same skillet, add the mushrooms to the water and cook for 3-5 minutes until just softened.

When the mushrooms are soft, pour in the water. Pour the remaining water from the standby spinach and return it to the skillet. Add the softened cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cream cheese is mostly melted, then add the triple shredded cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Cool slightly.

In a two-quart baking dish, spread a little pasta sauce, about a quarter cup, so the shells don’t stick together. Using a teaspoon, fill each shell with the cheese and spinach mixture. Once the shell is full, place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until the baking dish is full of shells lined up like little soldiers. You may have more batter than shells, or all the shells may not fit, in that case, just pop the extra filling on the plate.

Once the shells are in place, top with the remaining pasta sauce and spread the sauce to coat. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes until pasta sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Wendi Spraker is CEO, Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Dishwasher at Loaves and Dishes, and one of the duo Dorks with Sporks, a mother-daughter podcast Adventure in Take-Out.

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