Saturday, June 12, 2010

OAMC Italian Style

I’m really busy. At least I think so. Tomorrow is my 15th straight day of work, and last night Matt and I were busy preparing the guest room for our impending house guests. I find myself running improbable errands on my lunch break (grocery shopping in 20 minutes: not recommended), and taking care of phone business on my commute. Most of my reading is now done by audiobook. All of this so that the end of the day brings uninterrupted family time.

I freely admit that if we hadn’t had the foresight to cook dinner ahead of time and freeze it, we’d have been eating out (or grilling out) almost every night this week. Instead, we got to choose from a variety of meals we’d already prepared. Last night, we chose Chicken Tucson. I’ve already shared that recipe, so today I’ve posted a different one. Another favorite cook and freeze meal… Italian style!

Stuffed Manicotti

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 8 manicotti shells (I always have more stuffing than shells, so buy extra)
  • 1 14-oz. jar pasta sauce
  • 1 cup Mozarella, grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  1. Brown ground beef with onion in large skillet. Drain well, then add mushrooms. Cook and stir 4-5 minutes longer, until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs, milk, egg, first quantity of Parmesan cheese, and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Boil manicotti shells as directed on package. (Mine are never al dente enough, and they always break. If yours break while you’re stuffing them, don’t fret. They turn out just fine.) Drain, and rinse with cold water. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Stuff each shell with beef mixture.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. (I don’t have any 9×9 dishes, so I use whatever I have that’s remotely close.) Top with stuffed manicotti noodles. Cover with remaining sauce. Chill in refrigerator, then wrap. Attach baggie of mixed Mozarella and second quantity of Parmesan. Label all. Freeze.
  4. To bake immediately, sprinkle with mozzarella and second quantity of Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 25 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
    To cook from frozen
    , thaw overnight in refrigerator. (Mine always takes longer than “overnight”, so start early!) Cover and bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese mixture, and 10 to 15 minutes longer, until casserole bubbles and cheese is melted.