Spinach Stuffed Shells

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I know what you're thinking - why am I posting a baked pasta recipe when we're a few days away from the start of summer?

The answer is easy! You've never had pasta until you've had it with fresh marinara sauce and fresh basil from your garden.

Add to that the quick cooking nature of this recipe, and you've got a winner!


Harris Sisters GirlTalk: Spinach Stuffed Shells

Spinach Stuffed Shells


32 jumbo pasta shells
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
8 oz. fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped
32 oz ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese,
1 large egg
1 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and place cooked shells in a single layer on cookie sheets to cool. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. 
  3. Add the chopped spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
  5. Stuff cooled pasta shells with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture and place them in the baking dish.
  6. Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. 
  7. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and cover again with aluminum foil. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. (Mozzarella will melt during this 10 minutes.) Serve warm.

Tips:

  • Cook a couple of extra shells in case a few break while they cook.
  • If you would like to use jarred marinara sauce, a 26 oz. jar will work.
  • If you're growing basil in your garden and need to know how to preserve it for fall and winter cooking, make sure to read about how to dry fresh herbs.

Our Memorial Day Week(end) in Pictures

Saturday, June 3, 2017

I almost didn't post this to the blog this year because, let's face it, Memorial Day has come and gone now for almost a week AND this year's Memorial Day weekend was extra rainy for us, which snookered a lot of our plans (and thus the corresponding pictures too).  But since I have posted the pics from our Memorial Day weekend for the past several years, I finally convinced myself that I didn't want a gap in my posts even if there aren't as many fun pics this year.  Now that I have majorly talked this up (HA!), I share with you our Memorial Day Weekend in pictures from 2017.

Our long weekend started as many of them do for us- with a little drive to one of our favorite Nashville neighborhoods- 12 South, for dinner, some window shopping, and a little walk around. Here we all are on that Friday night.  Lexi saw this bench and made a bee-line for it, then asked me to take a picture of us!  As I was trying to get a family selfie, a nice man walked by and asked if we wanted him to get our picture, so he did.  (and it turned out a lot better than my selfie!)


We dined outside on the patio at our favorite little barbecue place.  It filled up pretty quickly after we sat down so we did get lucky there.  There were tons of lively folks and their pups out for a nice night.  Here's Lexi "holding on to her hat" as she said.  Every time the wind kicked up, she would grab her hair and say "hold on to your hats!".  Yep, that wind was about to blow in some weather, as we say here in the South.


After dinner, I visited one of my favorite 12 South shops, Draper James.  It is Reese Witherspoon's shop- named after her two Southern grandmas- Grandma Draper and Grandma James.  Everything in there is as sweet and southern as can be- just like this tote.  What would Dolly do?  She would buy this tote, that's what she would do!!!  But I did not.  I was only window shopping, but what a cute bag!  Oh, and I asked the clerk there that night if they ever saw Reese at the shop.  She said, "Oh yes, she was just here a few weeks ago!"  You never know who you will run into in Nashville!


Then it was on to more shopping- this time at the pop up flower shop down the street.  It was gorgeous and Lexi sniffed every flower in that place, I think!


My window shopping turned into actual shopping here.  I had been looking everywhere for a bougenvilla and couldn't find one anywhere this year.  I found one last year and it was so pretty all summer long.  They are popular in the New Orleans area, but harder to find around these parts.  Long story short, this shop had one!!  And it came home with us! 


I did find one other hanging basket that I couldn't leave behind, and then we headed off for ice cream as we finished up our night. 


Saturday brought the rain and much cooler temps, and our hopes of making our first trip to the swimming pool were dashed.  So Plan B was a morning spent at the indoor bouncy house place that Lexi loves so much.  On the up side, there was hardly anyone there (which is unheard of) so Lexi had her run of the place.  As I look at this picture, I am reminded that I bought the sweet little handmade dress that Lexi is wearing in this picture last year on Girls' Weekend.  It's much shorter on her this year, but it does still fit.  Thank goodness it has matching bloomers!  And thank goodness for Girls' Weekend.  It's coming up soon again this year!


An iffy kind of day turned into a stormy night, so John and I made our way to the movies for a date night while Lexi spent time with her grandparents.  This isn't a great picture, but then the movie we saw wasn't that great either- Baywatch.  It was the summer Memorial Day release movie this year. Don't get me wrong- it wasn't horrible.  It actually wasn't that bad, but I don't think it's going to win any awards or anything.  And yes, David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson both made cameos in it. 


Sunday's weather was up and down all day too.  The ground was pretty wet and it wasn't as warm as most Memorial Day weekends, but we were ready to get outside, so we did between the showers. Lexi caught up on her swinging.  Although, if you were to ask her, she's never really caught up!


I caught up on my planting.  This was the other hanging basket I bought at the flower market.  It's called Fuchsia.  This plant was super well established and full of big bright blooms.  


Just looks at all those buds!  It is literally dripping with them!


I did a little maintenance on the roses too.  I always cut my roses back to little more than 12 inches tall every Spring.  That helps them to grow out nice and full instead of just straight up.  


We planted these urns with succulents this year.  And they have taken off.  Succulents winter over nicely in our part of the world, so these beautiful pots should last us a long while.  That's my chenille plant hanging behind it, and gerber daisies in the pot on the deck.


This picture made me so happy.  It kind of looks like Lexi is exploring another flower garden, but no- that's our back yard!  So all that rain is good for something.  


The rain finally let up in time to watch a movie at sunset in our back yard.  We installed an outdoor movie screen last year.  We leave it up all summer and take it down when the weather starts to cool each year.  Lexi quickly snagged my chair and settled in for her movie.  It was Zootopia for the family friendly flick, and then Office Space for me and John after Lexi was off to bed.  It felt so good to set up camp in the back yard after a couple days of rain.  


Then Memorial Day Monday came, and the skies cleared.  The sun shone bright and hot, and we knew it was time to make a trip to the nearby splash pad.  We weren't the only ones with that plan, but it wasn't terribly crowded- just lively and fun.  Lexi played and ran and splashed herself silly. 


I imagine that water was a little cold, but she definitely didn't seem to mind.  The nice thing about this place is that it's enclosed so kids can't run away.  We her let in with the other kids and grabbed a nice shady picnic table to watch her play. 


We brought a picnic lunch with us- fried chicken and all the fixins.  But John's parents joined us for lunch and brought these pretty plates.   So pretty, so fresh, and I love the plate too.


Then it was off to splashing again.  We were all so glad to finally see a nice day and enjoy it outside together.  After Lexi tuckered herself out, she settled down for a super good nap, while John's mom and I did a little shopping, and the guys stuck close to home to watch after the babe.  It was a cookout for dinner and the long weekend drew to a close.


I hope your long weekend was just as nice, if not a little less rainy, than ours.  In any case, the summer is upon us.  Let's all make it a great one this year!