Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recipes and Rambling: Easy Peasy Manicotti Bake (And VERY Brief Surgical Update)

(Note: I believe this recipe was sent to me by my Internet friend, Connie.)

Before I made this recipe, I had never in my whole life cooked with manicotti. And may I just say? It was a revelation! Really and truly. A real and true revelation. Of the most revelatory sort.

Because manicotti is really fun! It comes in a pert plastic package where each little manicotti-ette resides in its own little cordoned off living area.The manicotti aren’t all messy and mussed when they arrive in your kitchen---they are orderly! And neat! And impressive!

See? How fun is that?


Ahem. Enough of my carryings on. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

And what could possibly be more businesslike than a cold slab of ground meat. (In this case turkey.) One pound. In the pan. So brown it, already!


Except you might want to chop up some onion and add it during the Official Browning Process. (Do you see the manicotti noodles in the background? Aren’t they so cool? And orderly? And neat?)IMG_8100

Brown. Sizzle. Brown. Sizzle. Repeat.


Of course, we can’t possibly do a recipe for Smithellaneous without the expert aid and assistance of the Smithellaneous Mascot! Now can we?

While your meat and onion are browning (and sizzling), bring a pot of water to a boil so that you can cook the (cute and cool) manicotti. For seven minutes. According to the Cute and Cool Manicotti Official Package Directions.




Step back and enjoy the artful arc of steam as it rises from your sink and ascends into the heavens.


Step back and admire the not so beautiful stack of dirty dishes in the other side of the sink.


Step back and try not to step on ye olde Smithellaneous Mascot right under your feet.


Then. Grab your jar of spaghetti sauce and add it to the drained browned meat/onion mixture and bring it all to a boil. Notice the fun! festive! fabulous! manicotti in the background. (By the way, the only reason my spaghetti sauce is organic is because it was on sale; usually I don’t make an effort to use organic stuff.)


Spoon a little sauce/meat mixture in the bottom of the pan. (The original recipe didn’t say to do that but I thought it might help the noodles not stick. However, the more I think about it, the more it occurs to me that “saucing” the pan first leaves one with less sauce available to go on TOP of the noodles. Which is not such a good thing. So maybe the solution would instead be to spray the pan with Pam instead of putting the sauce down, thereby leaving yourself with plenty of sauce on the upper side of the noodles instead of wasting part of the sauce on the lower noodle side and thereby cheating the upper noodle side of its full sauce potentiality.)

At any rate, let me know what you decide and what works best for you.


And now, comes The Most Fun Part. Lay out your cheese sticks and a piece of foil. (I have NO earthly idea why that salt shaker is sitting right there since I didn’t use salt in the entire recipe. One of life’s unsolved mysteries.)


Then. Lay out your fun! festive! fabulous! noodles. After doing that, note that there are more noodles than there are cheese sticks. Wring your hands momentarily over this dismaying mathematical discrepancy. Smite your forehead and cry, “Woe is me! Woe is this recipe! Woe! Woe! Woe!”

Then. Decide to cut the ends off of each stick and use several “ends” to stuff each of the leftover noodles. Pat yourself on the back for thinking of such a grand solution. (Or you can always just buy extra cheese!)

Either way, sit down and rest a little after doing all that thinking. And woe-ing. And ‘ciphering.


And now the most fun part of all. Putting the cheese into the fun! fabulous! noodles! Can this much fun possibly be legal?


Unfortunately, I had so many noodles that I was not able to lay them in the pan in an orderly fashion which sort of bummed me out a little bit. I mean, think about it. Manicotti live their entire lives in orderly plastic packages and then to have to spend their last pre-digested moments on earth in disorderly rows in a baking pan? What will that do to their poor little ol’ (fun! fabulous!) psyches? Does anyone know? (Please let me know if you have an answer to this.)


Okay. Regardless of the perturbed (and disturbed) manicotti psyches, it gives me great joy to tell you that the said reportedly perturbed and disturbed noodles are now going to be covered up with the meat sauce. So while the noodles still know they are in a state of disorder, at least the overall dish will still look nice from above. And that’s all that counts, right? Who cares what horrors are lurking under the spaghetti sauce?


After you apply the sauce to the manicotti, then it is time to freely fling some cheeses over the disordered noodles and the accompanying sauce. I happened to have a mix of white and yellow shredded cheese so I flung that with great abandon. I didn’t even measure it or ponder it—the free flinging of cheese is most therapeutic. Try it! it’s fun! It’s cheap entertainment!


Bake the manicotti at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.

Then take manicotti from the oven. Admire it. Sniff it. Smile at it. Sing to it! (Note: Please make sure there’s no one else in the house if you decide to sing to your manicotti.)


Put the disordered but decently covered manicotti on the table with an assortment of accompanying stuff—in this case (because it was still summer) watermelon, bread sticks, and Italian green beans.


Sit down at your place and bask in the cheers and applause of your family. If they do NOT cheer and applaud? Send them to their rooms.

Then eat. And enjoy. (While trying not to think of disturbed manicotti psyches.)


Easy Peasy Manicotti Bake

1 pkg manicotti noodles (14 per pack)

Chopped onion (to taste)

Pack of string cheese (quantity depends on how much cheese you decide to put in each noodle)

1 pound hamburger or ground turkey

Jar of spaghetti sauce

Cheddar cheese-shredded

Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Brown meat and onions in a pan.

Drain meat; add spaghetti sauce, mix, and bring to a boil.

Spoon a little spaghetti sauce in the bottom of pan. (Or skip this step and just spray the pan with Pam.)

Drain noodles; stuff with string cheese (I used 3/4 piece of cheese per noodle) Place in pan.

Cover noodles with meat/spaghetti sauce mixture.

Sprinkle with shredded cheddar. And some Parmesan, if you’d like.

Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.


In other news, my visit with surgeon yesterday went great. The nurse removed some stitches and I was given permission to toss the Surgical Bra! Hurray!

I don’t have to go back for three weeks. Hurray again!

13 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Melanie said...

What an entertaining way to share a recipe, Becky. You could have your own cooking show! I will definitely have to try this!

So glad to hear your visit to the surgeon went well!! :)

Anonymous said...

Me, too...gonna have to try this recipe I mean...cause I usually don't do recipes..I just cook from scratch..whatever that means..but this is so easy that I can remember it w/o a recipe!
It looks yummy!
Glad to hear you are recovering from your last surgery so well!

Guerrina said...

Woohoo! Burn the bra! :) Oops, wrong decade! So glad your appointment went well and you're a few stitches shorter. I may have to try this recipe out! Definitely is easy! Go Becky!

MaryH said...

This looks great and because we are not huge meat eaters, this recipe could easily be turned vegetarian - just substitute sauted mushrooms and other veggies to the sauce and it sounds delicious - what a clever way to stuff the mannicotti - never would have thought of it - thanks for sharing - so glad your appointment went well and you are rid of the bra - burning would be very appropriate even in this day and age!

Anonymous said...

I think I will make the manicotti for supper tonight beings the fridge is bare and my brain devoid of supper ideas. Thanks! I'll see just how fun those noodles are.

Glad the bra is outta here!

love deb

Anonymous said...

The recipe sounds delicious and fun! I bet using string cheese is much easier than filling with ricotta mixture. Great idea!

Glad your appointment went well. Enjoy your three weeks off!

Anonymous said...

Honestly it looks tasty but like a TON of fat and sodium!!!

krueth said...

glad to hear your check up went well.
What a great easy recipe, I will sure be trying this for my daycare kids, they will love it. I tried one once and what a pain it was to try and stuff those manicotti tubes, Oh no, I was not doing that again, but a cheese stick..how clever is that? Thanks for sharing the recipe. Wendy

Professor Sepoc (Jane) said...

Even easier: don't cook the pasta! Stuff them dry out of the box, and make your sauce a little soupier than normal. You can just add some water to it. Cover dish with foil and bake! Makes me hungry!

Rachel said...

Okay... so I read this recipe the other day and it sounded so yummy and so simple I had to try it! I did tonight and I'm eating it as I'm typing and just had to say YUM!!! and thank you :O)

It IS delicious and WAS incredibly simple.

The only thing I did different was to use the smaller sized casserole dish and only half the manicotti - so 7 manicotti. We like the more sauce to pasta ratio here so that worked well and I even had a little sauce left over.

But it is defintiely yummy!

Melanie said...

Hi, Becky~
Just wanted to tell you that I made the manicotti bake this week and it was delicious!! I will most definitely make this again!!
Thanks for sharing the recipe. :)

Jessica Kramasz said...

Funny thing -
I bookmarked this recipe last fall. As I was planning the menu for this week I remembered it and added manicotti and string cheese to the grocery list. My husband, being the sweetie he is volunteered to do the grocery shopping this weekend so I could kepp the baby home (we had sub-zero temps over the weekend).

This morning I reread this post, chuckled over the cheese dilemma, and when the baby was down for his nap I set out to make manicotti.

I gathered all the ingredients and realised that though I knew the string cheese went with the manicotti on the list, my husband not. I had 7 manicotti and 6 string cheese (I cut most recipes in half since there is only two of us).

Fortunately you had me covered. I cut the ends off the cheese and was all set.

Thanks for the great recipe!

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