This holiday weekend feels like such a blur! I literally felt like I was just wrapping gifts yesterday. I guess that’s how Christmas is every year. Anyway, on Saturday before heading down to my parents’ home, I decided to prepare the manicotti dinner I was planning on baking for my family. I knew I’d have tons of stuff to do while I was down there (cookies, Chex Mix, Puppy Chow, gift baskets) so I wanted to have the dinner ready to go. I decided to use the same recipe as the Italian Sausage Lasagna I make for Alex, but just swapped out the noodles.
Since I don’t eat red meat, I needed to substitute something for myself. I went with spinach, which is always a classic choice. I decided to take the lazy way out and tossed some frozen spinach in a Tupperware container to microwave. (Just add a little water to the bottom of a container and steam any vegetable you want in a matter of minutes!)
After that, it was time to get stuffing. Now if any of you have ever made manicotti before, let me get your address, because I’m sending you a gold star. This process was the most difficult I’ve dealt with in the kitchen in quite some time. (Hence, no photos.) After the first few were stuffed, I started getting the hang of it. Of course this was after I ripped a few open! Once the noodles were stuffed, I put them in a baking dish and layered them with plenty of sauce and cheese.
I wrapped it up in foil and moved on to the pepperoni rolls.
Not without my trusty apron, of course. Thanks Aunt Cindi!
The manicotti was a hit, Christmas was a blast and I couldn’t be happier to get my decorations down for the season. Sorry Christmas, but this year, you just wore me out! If anybody needs me, I’ll be spending the entire day relaxing and reading before I go back to work tomorrow.
Makes 8 servings
- 1/2 lb Italian sausage
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- 1/2 container ricotta cheese
- 1/3 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, and extra for sprinkling
- 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup of onion, diced
- 6 lasagna noodles
- 2 cups of marinara sauce
- Cook the sausage, onion and garlic in a skillet. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, sugar, tomatoes and tomato sauce, breaking up tomatoes. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 45 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain noodles as directed on package. Mix ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and the oregano.
Spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture in ungreased rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Top with 4 noodles. Spread 1 cup of the cheese mixture over noodles; spread with 1 cup of the sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 4 noodles, the remaining cheese mixture, 1 cup of the sauce mixture and 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining noodles and sauce mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
How was everybody’s Christmas?!