Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Manicotti {Recipe & How To}

First off just just let me apologize for being so late with this post. In case you hadn't noticed before Sally and I do our regular posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. When I am late getting my post done I always feel like I need to apologize even though the majority of you probably don't even know or realize it's late. Oh well.

Today I am going to take about manicotti. LOVE IT! I got this recipe from Sally (but she can't say I'm recipe stealing this time because I know for a fact she got the recipe from her mother-in-law, who probably got it from someone who got it from someone and so on. It's one of my favorite recipes and makes a regular appearance in my meal plan rotation. I try sharing this recipe often but usually get the response "I don't make manicotti because it's too hard to stuff" or something to that effect.
I'd hate to think anyone was missing out on enjoying a meal so yummy simply because they can't stuff the shells. Hopefully today we can solve this problem.
Let's start with the recipe.


1 box Manicotti Noodles (that's 14 shells)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or more if you like a lot of sauce)
1/2 - 1 lb ground beef (or try Italian sausage if you are feeling daring)
2 C. cottage cheese
2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
Parmesan cheese (I don't measure I just dump, but probably around 1/4 -1/2 Cup)

Preheat oven to 350*

In a large pot boil manicotti noddles for 9 minutes. (Yes, I said 9 . The box says ten but if you cook your noodles too long they fall apart and are impossible to stuff. Cook them a little less and they are a little stiffer and easier to stuff. Trust me. )

While noodles are cooking brown your ground beef and add the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.
Combine all the cheeses and the eggs and mix together well.

Okay when your noodles are done cooking get your 9x13 pan ready by spraying it with cooking spray. Now you are ready to start stuffing your noodles.
Your noddle will look like the picture above. See how the ends are angled?  I'm right handed so I hold the noodle in my left hand so I can use my right hand to stuff. So with my left hand I hold the noodle up and down with the pointed part resting on my middle and pointed fingers then I use my thumb, ring finger and pinky to support the noodle and keep it open while I stuff. See picture below.
Once I have my noodle in position I use a small teaspoon sized spoon and start dropping my cheese mixture into the noodle. My middle and pointer fingers keep the cheese from coming out of the bottom while I stuff. Using a smaller spoon will hep keep the noodle from splitting open while you stuff. I like mine stuffed pretty full so once the cheese mixture gets closer to the top I start shoving it down a little bit to get in as much mixture as possible. I try to never stick my spoon to far down the noodle though. Being gentle is key.
It is inevitable that one or more of your noodles will be split by the time it is done cooking and will look something like this.
When this happens you will need to be even more careful. Always put the split end down at the bottom. If you try to start stuffing the noodle at the split end it will only make it worse. So start on the opposite end and be careful. Once it's stuffed place it in your pan like all the rest and it will be just fine.

In your pan you should be able to fit two rows of 6 across and then two more noodles laying the opposite direction at the bottom.  (sorry I don't have a picture of this).
Cover your noodles with your spaghetti and meat mixture. Cover your pan with foil. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes covered. Take off the foil and cover with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese if desired and continue baking uncovered for 15 more minutes. 
This is such a good recipe and makes great leftovers. I hope you enjoy.

1 comment:

Sally said...

I started cooking my noodles for only five minutes because I was tired of them falling apart (and I'm usually in a huge hurry) and it really is so much better when they are still a little firm. This is definitely my families all time favorite meal. I usually even skip the meat on top just to make it faster and they still love it, although I think Josh would prefer a little meat.

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