MC 4

Easy Manicotti

This recipe is easy, delicious and another family winner dinner. It is always nice to have an easy weeknight dinner, and this qualifies. I found it in the Kraft Magazine a few years ago, back when they used to send them out for free. Those were good days. You can still find the recipe online here – along with their other recipes. This recipe introduced me to the joys of pesto – yummmmmm.

Ingredients

12 cooked manicotti shells, rinsed in cold water

2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided

1-3/4 c. Ricotta cheese

1-1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. pesto

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you haven’t done it yet, cook your manicotti shells according to the directions on the box. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Step 2: Line the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan with foil. Spread 3/4 c. spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Mix cheeses, egg and pesto in a bowl. Move your mixture into a resealable bag. Clip one of the corners of the bag off. Our favorite pesto is Classico’s Traditional Basil Pesto. I’m sure any pesto would be great, though.

Step 4: Fill your manicotti shells by squeezing some of the cheese mixture into EACH side of the manicotti shells. Place the shells in a baking dish and cover with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover. If some of your shells have split open in the cooking process, just lay them in your dish, squeeze some of the cheese mixture into the shell, fold it closed, and pretend like everything is okay. :)

Step 5: Bake for 40 min. or until heated through.

There ya go! Sorry for the ugly picture….I think we had some ravenous children so I took one quickly and served them up. At any rate, this is very tasty, and actually, kind of fun to do. I normally end up with 8-9 filled manicotti shells – I think I am a little extra generous with my cheese filling. If you want more filled shells at the end, just watch how much you fill – you won’t want to stuff them completely.

Enjoy!! :)

SAH 8

Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

I was having a conversation with one of my sisters a while back, and the subject of artichokes came up. Normal conversation, right? :) She was talking about how much she loves artichokes, and I was telling her that I had recently realized that I don’t know if I really have consciously eaten an artichoke. So she passed on this recipe for us to try from the Pioneer Woman.

That was delicious. And pretty easy too – artichokes and all. :)

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil

1 lb. pasta (she does thin spaghetti – I prefer something with more texture)

2 T. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 can artichoke hearts (14.5 oz.), drained

1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz.)

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. chicken broth

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. Parmesan cheese

 

Step 1: Cook your pasta. Drain, and set aside. (see? easy so far.)

Step 2: Put olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat & melt. Add onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 min.

Sauteed onions have to be one of my favorite smells. And tastes. So good.

Step 3: Add artichoke hearts (drained) and tomatoes (with juice). Stir and cook for 8-10 min. I also chopped up the artichoke hearts before I threw them in so they wouldn’t be so hugely chunky.

Step 4: Reduce heat to low and add cream and chicken broth. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and keep cooking on low until heated through. Make sure you use enough salt so you have flavor. That means to test your sauce and make sure you can taste it.

Step 5: Place pasta in a large bowl, and pour Parmesan cheese over the top. Then pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat.

Done! That was very delicious, pretty easy and it made a LOT of food. My sister had told me that they usually have it for dinner, then for leftovers at lunch for a couple of days – which I interpreted to mean that my family would finish it off in one night. Nope. We also had it for dinner that night, and then happily had it for leftovers at lunch for a couple of days afterward.

Thanks Jen for passing that one on! And thank you to the Pioneer Woman for sharing this awesomeness in the first place. :)

G1

The Greatest Granola

While we are on a breakfast theme here, I wanted to share one more of our favorite breakfast recipes EVER. It came from my friend Melissa @ 320 Sycamore, and was given to her by her sister Kelsey.

This one is so good that my kids will eat it for breakfast, for snacks, for whenever. And my husband will actually EAT breakfast when we have this. That is saying something.

It is very easy, and – did I mention? – is super delicious.

Ingredients:

6 c. oats

1 c. coconut

1 c. craisins (or raisins or other dried fruit)

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. almonds (or other nuts on hand)

1/2 c. flax seed or wheat germ (we use milled flax seed)

1-2 T. cinnamon (to taste – we use the full 2 T.)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. vanilla

1/2 c. canola oil

3/4 c. honey

Directions: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put all of your ingredients in a large bowl and stir them together. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. The longer you bake it, the crispier it will be, so you can bake to your crunchiness/chewiness preferences.

That is it. When I shared the recipe with my mom, she mentioned that she prefers to mix the dry ingredients together first to keep things from clumping, and then pour the wet ones in. I arranged the recipe so if you would prefer to do it that way also, you can just go down the list until you hit the salt, mix it together, and then add the rest.

Also, I like to pour my canola oil in first, and then use the 1/2 cup measuring cup for the honey and just do 1 1/2 of those (to get the 3/4 cup needed). Since the measuring cup is already coated in oil, the honey all slides right out – no need to scrape.

When we made the granola this time, we used blueberry craisins. One of my favorites was when we used orange crasins – that had a nice twist to it.

See? Happy boy. Thanks Melissa – and Kelsey! :)

PC 5

Breakfast for Dinner

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? Seriously – I could happily eat breakfast for every meal.

Weekend dinner nights seem to be the ones that are prone to turning into breakfast for dinner here, but really, breakfast for dinner is good any night of the week.

Here are some of our favorite recipes for “breakfast foods” – be them for dinner, or for a real breakfast:

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Grandma Rock’s Pancakes (family recipe) – this batter works great for waffles as well

Ingredients:

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. sugar

1 T. baking powder

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c. oil

2 c. milk

Directions: Preheat griddle to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour onto heated skillet, and flip over once there are bubbles that form, pop, and then stay “empty” (see below). Cook on other side until browned to your liking. Enjoy!

*The original recipe has you separate the eggs, put the yolks in the batter, and beat the egg whites. Then you fold the egg whites into the batter. We have found that they still get nice and fluffy if you just beat everything together for awhile, and then it is not an extra step. They still are super tasty either way.

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Homemade Pancake Syrup (from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions: In a saucepan, combine the sugars, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in maple flavoring and vanilla. Cool for 15 minutes. We store the remaining syrup in a container in the refrigerator.

This recipe is legit – it has the perfect consistency (in our opinion – it’s not thick like the store kind, but has a little more substance than some homemade ones we have tried), and it tastes fantastic.

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Breakfast Potatoes (slightly modified from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients:

4 medium baking potatoes (or more – we sometimes fudge on that one)

1 small onion, minced

1/4 c. salted butter

Pepper and salt, to taste (Kosher salt is great)

Tabasco sauce

Directions: Bring a medium or large pot of water to a boil. While you are doing this, cut your potatoes into bite-sized cubes. Once the water is boiling, add your potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly softened, but not totally cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet (we use an electric one) over medium heat. Add the butter. After butter is melted, add your onion and cook for 1 minute. Add your potatoes in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes. DO NOT STIR THEM AROUND. Please. :) Sprinkle some salt, pepper, and a couple of dashes of Tabasco. Flip your potatoes, trying to get as many to flip at once as you can. This is just to minimize your potato touching.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes and give them a test to see if they are done and how your seasonings are. You can add more salt, pepper or Tabasco at this point, if desired. If they are still not done, flip them as before, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat cycle until they are done.

*These are also legit – they are so tasty! The original recipe calls for up to 20 shakes of Tabasco – 4 shakes about does me in and gives me heartburn for the rest of the night. It is all up to your preference. We usually moderate to around 3 – enough to have a “kick”, but not so much that you feel pain rather than have the sensation of taste.

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There you go – add some scrambled eggs and you have breakfast for dinner. Enjoy!!

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