Growing up, my mother was generally home around 4 o'clock. I'd sit with her in the kitchen when she made dinner, and I'd stir the onions. When I got to high school, she started to have meetings after work. Important meetings. That ran late. And so one night, she called and told me I'd just have to make dinner. I had never made dinner. I could bake, but my real-food experience was, well, zip. I couldn't scramble an egg, or make mac and cheese from a box or anything. I'd watched a million times, but never had to do it. So did she take pity on me, and pick a nice, easy recipe to start? No, she started me in grand style, with this cheesy baked pasta. Of course, it must not have traumatized me too much, since I'm still making it.
MOM'S BAKED SHELLS AND SAUSAGE
1 lb Italian sausage
sauce (see below or use a recipe of your own)
3/4 lb - 1 lb grated mozzarella
1/3 C grated Parmesan
1 lb package of medium shells
INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS FOR THE SAUCE (Or hey, used jarred sauce, I'm not my mother, I'm not perfect!)
1/2 C chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 (28 oz) can of Italian plum tomatoes
Saute onion and garlic about 5 min. Chop up or crush tomatoes (removing icky bits), add to skillet with oregano salt and pepper. Cook about 20 minutes or until a lot of the moisture evaporates.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE REST
Cook sausage til brown. Drain well. Slice into disks. After cooking sauce (or pouring jarred sauce in pan), add sausage to warm sauce. Cook pasta (a few minutes less than the package recommends), drain. In a greased casserole dish,(maybe a 2 qt?) layer half the pasta, then half the sauce with sausage, then half the cheeses. You should get two layers.Bake at 350 F for 35-40 min.