We have had lots of struggles and challenges in our lives, but we've had even more blessings!

Friday, December 2, 2011

a different kind of stuffed manicotti

    I had wanted to make Byron something special for his birthday dinner. I had had a couple of different things in mind, which I know he really likes. But 'life' kept happening. Coming at us left and right, and I hadn't been able to be taken to the store, or send somebody to the store, for the necessary ingredients. It was one of those times where you just keep trudging on, as best you can.
    It just so happened, that Byron did not work at all on his birthday. But I wanted him to have time to play with his kids, not have to drag all three of us through a store, nor run to the store for me.
    So I trudged on. Into the panty, to see what was in there. And then over to both stand and kneel in front of the refrigerator, to see what I could find in there.
    Think brain, think. "Lord, I need some inspiration here."
    The light bulb came on (you know, the one that dangles mid air above our heads, waiting to suddenly click on, when we get some wonderful insight or inspiration). THAT one. ;->
    "Thank-You Lord!!!"
     I started to gather all of my possible ingredients together on the counter (so that I wouldn't forget to add any thing, as I proceeded forward), then thought, might as well arrange them for a picture first. o;-p
    Along the right side is, 'Leaf Oregano', 'Italian Seasoning', 'Garlic Powder', 'Parsley Flakes' and 'Basil Leaf', seasonings.  ('Trade East'(R)) ('Tone's' (R))
    Across the back is, 'Manicotti Noodles', 'sliced Mushrooms', 'Mild Chili Powder', and 'Creamy Alfredo Sauce'.
    Next 'row' in is, 'Cottage Cheese', 'grated Real Parmesan Cheese', a couple of eggs, 1/2 of a 5 pound pkg. of 'Meijer(R) Ground Chuck' and 2 'Spanish Onions'.
    Moving forward - 'shredded Cheddar Cheese' and 'Cream Cheese'.

    Mind you, I had only made stuffed manicotti noodles one time before. And that had been ages ago. So this was going to be an experimental dish in more ways than just the recipe for it, which I was concocting as I went. ;->

    After spraying my large skillet with pan coating spray, I added the ground chuck, broke it up some, and added a lot of the garlic powder.

   Finely chopped both of the Spanish onions, and put them on top of the garlic powdered meat.

   Then added a lot of the Chili Powder.

   Then some Italian Seasoning.

   While that was browning, I was going to start mixing the cheeses, etc..
   But first, Ms. Analyse had asked ever so politely, so she got to eat some of the shredded cheddar. ;->
    (Yes, the kitchen cupboards could use both a good scrubbing down, as well as sanded and repainted. They'll be getting one of the two soon. ;-p)

    First into the mixing bowl, went the cream cheese and the shredded cheddar. I had "nuked" (aka:microwaved) the cream cheese a bit (to make it easier to work with), before adding the cheddar, seeings how I had just pulled it from the fridge.

    Then the parsley flakes, basil leaf and leaf oregano were added.

     I took a break and feed Mr. Elliot his bottle, while Byron and Analyse fixed lunch. ;->
     (see the loafs of Banana Bread on the counter?  If you wrap a paper towel around them before sticking them in the fridge or freezer, it helps keep them moist and freezer burn free. (<-- Bonus Tip there.) )

     After mixing the cheeses and spices together (yet again using a sprayed pastry blender), I added the eggs. Why?  They help bind everything together.

    Blend thourally.

      The hamburg mixture is done, when most or all of the grease is evaporated and the onions have turned clearish. (That is too a word 'spell check'! geesh! o;-p)

    The full pan of browned meat and spices looked like this when done.

     I took half of the amount in the pan

     and added it to the cheese, etc. mixture.

    When I had gone back to cooking after feeding Elliot his bottle (and getting him asleep)
                                           (Elliot sleeping, at 4 months of age)
                                            (Isn't he ADORABLE? !!! )
    I had put the water on to boil for the manicotti noodles. Once it was boiling, I sprayed some pan coating into the water (it helps noodles not stick together. <-- Bonus Tip) and then added the noodles.

   I added the alfredo sauce to the other half of the meat mixture, which had been left in the pan.

    Time to start assembling.
    At first I thought I would be able to fill the tubes via a make shift pastry bag (aka: a baggie).
    No, I had NOT used the scissors to cut the slit in the noodle.

    After awhile, with the tube idea not working, I used one of Elliot's cereal spoons to fill the tubes.

    Why had I added some of the meat in with the cheese? Because I wanted to see how it would taste that way.

     Lots of the noodles split on me. At first I grumbled. Then I found that if I spread a little of the cheese mixture along one edge of the cut and overlapped the noodle a bit, they stuck together just fine. I also made sure to put the mended side facing the bottom of the sprayed pans. ( <-- Bonus Tip there)

    Spread one half of the meat / alfredo sauce mixture

    Over the top of one of the 9x13 pans of filled manicotti noodles.

    I reheated the meat and alfredo sauce which was still in the pan, added the drained cans of mushrooms, and spread it over the second pan of filled noodles.

   "Wa-la", both pans were now "made".

    Well, almost. I sprinkled the tops of both pans with the Parmesan cheese.

    Covered the pans and baked for an hour at 350o.

    While this picture of the baked product might not look all that impressive
     It tasted great!  To the point that I never got the chance to do my usual "So-o, what's the verdict on this experiment?"  Kayla took three bites and then declared "This is GREAT(!) Mom!!"
     The "boys" thought she was trying to earn brownie points, to which her laughter filled response was, "Brownies are fine... pretty much anything chocolate she wants to make me, is okay with me. o;-p"
     After harassing Kayla, ALL of the guys said it was a "keeper" recipe. :-D Byron even made sure to point out how fast Analyse was downing her's. She then asked for more.
    "I love it when a plan comes together" ;-p

    What did I serve with it? His birthday was close to a month ago, and now I don't remember....

    This is the point in a posting about cooking, where I usually give you just the recipe. But I can't. It wasn't that exact. But  P-L-E-A-S-E  do  NOT  let that stop you from trying this yourself!!!   Eyeball it as you go. You'll be glad you did!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Next week - I 'plan' on linking this particular posting up to:

  ~ "Homemaker Mondays ... Yours, Mine & Ours", are hosted by Jen, at '11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven'  (http://rtheyallyours.blogspot.com/).
  ~ "Making Your Home Sing Monday('s)", are hosted by Nan, at 'Mom's the Word (I love to hear)'  (http://momstheword--livingforhim.blogspot.com/).
  ~  "Kitchen Tip Tuesday('s)", hosted by Tammy, at 'Tammy's Recipes'  (http://www.tammysrecipes.com/).
 ~ "Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits", hosted by Susan, at 'Permanent Posies / Creative Chaos' (http://permanentposies.com/)
 ~ "Totally Tasty Tuesdays", are hosted by Mandy, at 'Mandy's Recipe Box' (http://www.mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com/).
  ~ "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Lisa, at 'Blessed with Grace'  (http://www.blessedwithgrace.net/).
   ~ "Foodie Wednesday('s)", are hosted by Bibi, at 'Daily Organized Chaos' (http://www.dailyorganizedchaos.com/). 
   ~ "These Chicks Cooked Link Party",
hosted by Katie L, at 'This Chick Cooks' (http://thischickcooks.blogspot.com)
 ~ "Full Plate Thursday('s)", are hosted by Miz Helen, at 'Miz Helen's Country Cottage' (http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/).  
~ "Foodie Friday('s)" (shall we say # 1?), are hosted by "Gollum" (aka: Michael), at 'Designs by Gollum' (http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/)


  1. Blog hopping from Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe box....it looks like they came out great! I'd love to try this, thanks for sharing! Looks like enough for me to freeze one pan to use later!

  2. Your little ones are just adorable! That pan of Manicotti could sure be brought to my table, it looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great week end and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. Love the pictures of your grandbabies,they are adorable! This looks yummy and I had the same trouble using a freezer bag when I tried to fill mine too. Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!


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