Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Decadent butternut stuffed shells, lightened up!



No matter what I cook for myself, I try to make it as low fat as possible while still maintaining the deliciousness factor.  I don't always experiment on others with this super low fat idea, just because I don't want something to taste too bland.  I don't mind experimenting on myself.


I saw a recipe for butternut stuffed pasta shells, and my mouth watered immediately, so I knew I had to try it.  The problem was that it called for a whole stick of butter.  Yes, a whole stick of butter. That equals 800 calories and 90 plus grams of fat.  Another recipe called for a cup of heavy cream, also 800 calories and almost 90 grams of fat!  YIKES!  I think I can do without that, my cholesterol is already bad.   


I opted for way fat free cream cheese as a substitute.  So often, our toppings and sauces actually have more calories than the actual dish has.  That is one of the main things to watch out for.  Don't waste your calories on dressings.  Below are 3 of my favorite tasty cheeses for sauces and pastas.



For this recipe, I used a block of fat free cream cheese.  It will be used inside the shells and also in the sauce.   I grew my own parsley and basil this year, something that I am VERY proud of because I  usually can only grow weeds.  The fresh herbs really do brighten up a dish!   Chop a few leaves of parsley and basil very finely and mix it into the room temperature block of cream cheese.  







You will also need about a cup of cooked butternut.  I roasted mine because it is so easy, just cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.   










The measuring cup  contains stuffing for the shells.  One cup of butternut mashed well mixed with one half of the mixture of cream cheese and herbs.  Also add two heavy sprinkles of garlic powder to the mash.


I used the big shell noodles for this recipe, but you can easily use bow tie, fettuccine or any other that you may have in your cabinet. Just mix the butternut mixture into the cooked noodles and bake like below. 


Cook about 10 of the large shell noodles as directed on the package.  Pretty much I usually boil them for about 10 minutes.  Preheat your oven for 350 degrees.  Spray the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.  Drain the noodles well, stuff them pretty full with the butternut mash and place them in the baking dish.  Cover lightly with foil and bake for about 25- 30 minutes.


For the cream sauce, place the remaining cream cheese with parsley and basil in a microwavable dish with about 2 T of water and 2 T of feta cheese.   This cooks fast, so I started in 15 second increments.  Cook for 15 seconds, then stir and see if you need more water.  It needs to have a creamy but pourable texture.  


Once it is nice and creamy, place four of the shells on a plate and lightly pour some of the sauce over them.  Sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan and chopped parsley and DIG IN, oh yeah, you may want a nice piece of crusty garlic bread, that makes it much better.  I ate this last night, and typing this is making me SOoo hungry.   

Love what you eat and eat what you love!   :)













2 comments:

  1. You talk a lot about butternut. I have never tried it, I guess I am going to have to now. This looks really good!

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    1. I really like it. Especially since I learned to just cut it in half and roast it. It is very very hard for me to peel and chop it, so I don't do that anymore. Surprised I didn't lose a finger. Lots of vitamins and low calorie to boot! :)

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