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Christmas Eve Spinach Stuffed Shells

By Earlybirdbaker @earlybirdbaker
Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your time with loved ones whatever your plans this evening may be. Tonight I am cooking dinner for our family. We've never been big Christmas Eve celebrators, we always did everything on Christmas day. However since I've gotten older I felt like it was important to do something nice on Christmas Eve, like having a delicious dinner. 
Christmas Eve Spinach Stuffed Shells
 Stuffed shells are one of those easy go-to dishes that you can cook and people can eat as they like. I love them. I had never really made them before this year, something about them daunted me, but I decided to give them a shot this fall and was very happy with how they came out. I bump up my recipe with onion and garlic and spinach. Then coat them in a meat sauce so they are hearty and filling. Perfect dinner for a cold winter night, especially Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Spinach Stuffed Shells
 We are expected to get a couple of inches of snow tomorrow. I am hoping and praying for a white Christmas. I can't tell you the last time we had one here. It would just make my entire year! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and receives all the goodies they wished for. I personally would love world peace and for a gift on the smaller side I asked "Santa" for a KitchenAid stand mixer. I enjoy imagining all that I could make with a stand mixer...oh the possibilities!

Christmas Eve Spinach Stuffed Shells

1 Box Jumbo Shells
1 T Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced Small
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
32oz Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper To Taste
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 1/2 Jars, Tomato Sauce of Choice
1 1/2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
1) Cook jumbo shells according to instructions on box. Boil for about 10 minutes or until al dente (slightly firm). Drain, separate any shells that are stuck together, set aside.
2) In a medium sized saute pan heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the spinach mixture to a strainer or colander and squeeze the water out of it. Place on a cutting board and chop up with a knife. This will ensure that there are no big stem pieces and every thing will distribute evenly in the ricotta.
3) Using the same pan that you used for the spinach mixture brown your ground beef on medium-high heat. Once all the way browned, drain the meat and place back in pan. Add the full jar of tomato sauce to it. Leave on low on the burner.
4) In a large bowl place the ricotta cheese, spinach mixture, eggs, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until very well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a large casserole or lasagna pan, coat the bottom of the pan with the other half of the jar of tomato sauce. Fill your shells with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and lay them in the pan. Once the pan is full, cover the shells with the meat sauce and then the shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and turn heat up to 385 degrees and cook for 15 minutes more to let the edges brown and get a little crispy. Enjoy!
*When I make these it doesn't use every single shell from the box, but I find it easier to cook the whole thing rather than guess how much I might need. Also you may need to over flow into a second pan of shells, I always do, so make sure to spread out your sauce and cheese accordingly. 

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