Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy Cheesy Manicotti

Every year I would have my beginning cooking high school students make this recipe. It was always a delicious smash-hit. I always gave extra credit to any kitchen group that didn't break a single manicotti noodle. The trick is to add cooking spray to the water while they're boiling and remove them just before they're done. String cheese makes this recipe a snap. I make another sausage and cheese-stuffed manicotti, but this one is perfect for beginners or kids.
This cheesy goodness can easily hide vegetables, I've added minced celery, zucchini and carrots to the sauce, husband unaware. Mushrooms and green peppers are also delicous, throw them in with the onions and garlic.

Husband Rating: 5 stars (and constant requests for dinner)

6 oz. ground beef (this is the amount of 2 card decks)
6 manicotti noodles
6 Mozzarella string cheeses
3 TB onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 oz. shredded cheese
1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce (ragu works great here!)
Italian Seasonings to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Boil manicotti noodles as directed on package, being careful not to break. In a skillet cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink, drain any grease. Add onions and garlic. Add in spaghetti sauce and season with Italian spices until perfect. Pour half of the sauce mixture into bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Carefully stuff each manicotti noodle with a piece of string cheese. Line stuffed manicotti noodles into pan. Pour remaining sauce on top of manicotti. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

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Orange-glazed Chicken

If you have a grill- use it! This chicken is amazing on an outdoor grill. I have a grill pan that I found at Target for $30 that I used here. Pair with green beans, corn on the cob, or another veggie for a perfect meal. This recipe is easy to make ahead. I sometimes make the marinade the night before and let it hang out in my fridge until dinner.

Husband Rating: 4 1/2 stars

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
3 TB maple syrup
2 TB lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp. grated orange peel
1/3 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Dash of black pepper

Combine orange juice, maple syrup, lemon juice, garlic, orange peel, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until marinade is blended. Pour marinade and chicken in Ziploc bag, turning to coat chicken. Marinate for at least 2-3 hours in the fridge. Grill chicken until no longer pink (approx 12-15 minutes). Brush chicken with marinade frequently, but don't add any marinade during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Throw away any remaining marinade.

Italian Chicken Pitas

I kind of fell in love with pitas when I lived in Las Vegas. They are just so stinkin' simple, cheap and delicious. I have a ga-zillion recipes with pitas, so whenever they go on sale be sure to buy several and keep them in your freezer. They make the perfect lunch, they even travel well when we have a picnic. Can I get a "woot" for pitas please?
*To warm pitas there's the fast way (10-15 seconds in the microwave) or you can spread butter on the pita and warm on a pan to give you a delicious crisp. Mmmmm
*Be adventerous with this recipe, add crumbled bacon, olives, cheese, boiled egg, diced cucumbers, sprouts, go crazy!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
5 TB Italian Salad Dressing
1 roma tomato, diced
1 cup shredded lettuce
6 whole wheat pitas
1 TB diced onion (optional)
Ranch Dressing (optional)

Slice chicken into thin strips. In a skillet, cover chicken with Italian Dressing and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Warm pitas, slice and open. Stuff each pita with chicken, lettuce, onion and tomato. Drizzle with Ranch or honey mustard.

Beef Stroganoff

*This is one of those recipes that my mom made all the time
and just the smell of it seems cozy and warm. I like to serve
this over rice, but pasta works too. I've been using half
brown and half white rice lately, hubby didn't even notice.
My mom would serve it with steamed carrots and peas and
it all mixes together on your plate and mmmmm.
Bring on the comfort food!
*Remember to add your sour cream at the end, you don't
want any curdling!

Husband Rating: 2 1/2 stars

6 oz lean ground beef
3 TB onions, diced
1/2 pkg. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Dash of black pepper
2 cups hot, cooked rice

Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat, drain any grease.
Add onions and mushrooms, cook and stir until tender. Add cream
of mushroom soup, stirring until smooth. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and mix in sour cream and dash of pepper. Serve over
warm rice and vegetables.

Chicken Stir Fry

As a high school home ec. teacher this was one of my students' favorite recipes. It's a yummier twist to the ever-popular Ramen noodles. Feel free to add any veggies you are craving; zucchini, snow peas, peppers, mushrooms, etc. Also, Ramen makes low sodium noodles that taste identical. Go for it!

Husband Rating: 0 stars
(disclaimer: husband hates noodles, he's totally prejudice here)

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 cup frozen broccoli
3 carrots (or 8 baby carrots), sliced thin
2 pkg. chicken flavored Ramen noodles
2 tbsp. oil
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1 3/4 cups water

Slice vegetables and chicken into bite-size pieces.
In a large frying pan heat oil at medium heat. Add
vegetables and chicken and cook until chicken is no
longer pink and vegetables are tender. Push chicken
and veggies to the side of the pan and place noodles
on the bottom of the pan. Add water and chicken
seasoning packets. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove lid and break up noodles, stir and mix until
most of the water is absorbed and noodles are soft.

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Main Dishes

Asparagus Alfredo
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Bowtie Alfredo with Blackened Chicken
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Easy Cheesy Manicotti
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