Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spinach-Pork Stuffed Shells

Before I share this recipe, let me explain how cooking came to be for me.  To make a very long story short, when I was growing up I had to do A LOT around my house.  Let's be honest, almost all of the cleaning.  I had to clean the bathroom weekly, do the laundry, and clean the kitchen including scrub the floor by hand.  I also had to dust the family room in the basement.  Of course, I had to clean my own room too.  Not only that, but I had to iron the clothes for the whole family.  Seeing as both of my parents wore dress clothes, and my brother and I went to private school and had to wear dress clothes, that was a ton.  I would spend at least 4 hours ironing on a Saturday.  Not only that, but I worked between 20 to 30 hours a week.  Oh, and went to school.  I would come home from work (on a school night) at 9:30 and dishes would be waiting for me.  Yep, dishes to a meal I didn't even eat.  THIS is why cooking was the LAST thing on my mind.  I knew that if learned how to cook or even showed the slightest interest in it, it would be added to my never ending chore list.  That was the last thing I wanted to do.  So I pretended I had no interest.  I never learned to cook.  My mom tried every once in a while (not because she wanted to teach me, but because she wanted me to brown the hamburger while she watched TV).  I can't even tell you how many times I said the phrase "I don't know how to cook".  I stood by it too.

After college I moved to Ohio and lived by myself in a one bedroom apartment.  I had no clue how to cook or what to cook.  My dear sister, who loved to cook, took me under her wing.  She was constantly sending me emails for recipes that she liked or ones she thought I should try.  She also ordered me a subscription to Cooking for Two.  By following the recipes she sent me, and calling with questions when I had one, I basically taught myself to cook.  I don't think I'm an amazing cook by any means.  I think I can follow a recipe! :)  But thanks to her, I have a few good ones to choose from.

The following is a recipe that came from one of the Cooking for Two magazines I got.

Here's what you need:
6 uncooked jumbo pasta shells 
(I always cook more.  Some rip and aren't great to use.  Plus, I can always fill more than 6.)
1/4 pound ground pork (I used ground turkey this time because that's what I had)
4 cups water
3 cups torn fresh spinach
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 T parmesan cheese, divided
2 T heavy whipping cream
1 garlic clove, minced
 1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground pepper
1 cup meatless spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 400*

Cook pasta according to directions

In a skillet cook pork over medium heat

In a saucepan, bring water to boil; add spinach; boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted
Drain and squeeze dry; chop the spinach

In a bowl, combine the pork, spinach, egg, 1 T parmesan cheese, cream, garlic, salt, nutmeg and pepper
Because I love cheese, I also add some shredded cheese to the mix--just a little

Spread 1/4 cup sauce in an ungreased 1 qt baking dish

Drain the shells and stuff with mixture, then lay on top of sauce in the pan
Drizzle with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese (I won't lie--I didn't measure these.  I just drizzled and sprinkled until I felt good! :)

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover (and I also sprinkle some shredded cheese on at this point) and bake 10 to 15 more minutes

I made 8 shells and we ate two each.  That left us with one leftover meal.
The recipe says it makes 6 and a serving should be 3.  It's up to you.
Also, I have doubled this meal before and it works out just fine.


  1. Yum! Can't wait to try this recipe. got any more pork recipes?

  2. looks delicious!!! so does the kiwi :)

  3. This is one of my favorites! My mom and I cooked several meals to freeze ahead and this was one of her FAVORITES too.... it freezes well, and she has asked for it again.

  4. You are sweet B! :-)

    It does look good!