Sunday, June 15, 2008

Manicotti on the spotty!

A couple months ago my brother, sister-in-law and their three kids came over. My brother and his boys are known for not eating 'green stuff'. The last time I fed them I had to keep from laughing out loud at the fact that they picked out all the bits of green pepper from the meatloaf. I mean really, just because it's green doesn't mean it's Soylent Green! Anyway, knowing that I had to feed a crowd I decided to make Manicotti the day before and freeze it.
Pasta freezes amazingly well, IF it's not cooked completely before freezing. Cheese freezes well, but it needs an egg to stabilize it. This holds true for mashed potatoes too. The egg doesn't add flavor, just a rich, creamy texture.
2 8oz boxes of manicotti noodles
24 oz small curd, low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 cups low fat shredded cheese- I used Kraft Mexican blend
1/2 cup grated Parmesan- I used the Kraft Italian blend
2 T powdered garlic- No vampires in this house!
1 T oregano (dried)
1 T basil (dried)
1 10 oz box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of all excess water.
Cook the pasta half as long as recommended on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lay the pasta in a single layer to cool. While it cools, in a large bowl mix the remaining ingredients and put about a third of the mix into a large zip-top bag. Cut one corner off the bag. Start with a small hole, you want it just big enough to fit in the end of the pasta. Its easier to cut a bigger hole later if needed than start over with another bag. Trust me on this one, I found out the hard way. Squeeze the filling into each manicotti shell. Add more filling when needed. If you put all of it in there it's too heavy to manage, at least for me.

Return to sheet in a single layer and freeze on sheet. This will freeze them individually so you can have one or the whole batch. It only took mine about 30 minutes to freeze before I could load them into a zip-top bag for storage.
I knew that I would be using these soon; otherwise, I would have wrapped each one in foil to preserve them before putting them into the bag.
To Bake:
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or home made)
1 cup of shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 375. In a large baking dish spread a little of the sauce in the bottom. This will prevent the manicotti from sticking to the bottom. Lay in manicotti in a single layer and spoon the rest of the sauce over them. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake until the pasta is tender. This took me about 30 minutes.
Serve with a salad and voila!
My 'green stuff' hating brother and boys? They ate them up and didn't even pick out the spinach. I lied and told them it was just herbs! Bad, bad me. I fessed up when the plates were clean though.