The word ‘stuffed’ (when describing a dish,) typically conjures up visions of savory cheeses, spinach, and a variety of other delectable ingredients – delicately wrapped inside a piece of tender meat or hearty pasta. Today I made homemade manicotti shells, a la crepe-style, and stuffed them with a mixture of Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and crispy pancetta! (Add anything you’d like – mushrooms and/or sun-dried tomatoes would have also been tasty! Leave out the pancetta for your vegetarian friends.) A real show-stopper, especially when your guests find out you made the manicotti shells! It honestly couldn’t be easier: Make the batter, quick griddle the manicotti shells/crepes, mix up the filling – and you’re ready to roll, literally!
1.5 Cups Flour, 1.5 Cups Milk, 6 Eggs – Whisk together until smooth – drop onto lightly greased skillet or griddle – making thin crepe-style manicotti shells. They cook very quickly – maybe a minute or two with a quick flip. Remove from pan to parchment-lined sheet pan.
Spread filling in a thin layer, roll ’em, and place in a baking dish with sauce on the bottom. Top with additional sauce and cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. 375 F (Covered – 30 Minutes) Remove foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden-brown! Buon Appetito!
UPDATE – Recommendation: Here’s an added tip to the following directions for skinning fresh tomatoes and freezing before use to make a delicious pasta sauce. If you prefer to ‘seed’ tomatoes (as much as you can’ before making sauce, then BEFORE FREEZING, cut out the stem area, cut each tomato in half across the middle, and the most of the seeds will squeeze right out. (I found it harder to get the ‘seed’ the tomatoes once frozen whole, even after defrosting before use. Hope that helps!
Now onto the original post:
Summer gardens are the best! Fresh fruits and vegetables that pop with flavor and keep you coming back for more and more. As much as we love them, we usually find that they are all ripe ready in large bunches – so what to do with all of them? Here’s an idea for garden fresh tomatoes that can be put ‘on hold’ until you’re ready to make your next batch of homemade pasta sauce: Fresh Frozen Peeled Tomatoes!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- Have a large bowl of ice water on hand
- Rinse tomatoes and cut a small ‘X’ opposite the stem end
- Drop in batches of 4-5 into boiling water
- 45-60 seconds later you’ll see the ‘X’ start to split up the sides
- Remove tomatoes to ice bath with slotted spoon
- Skin will easily peel away!
Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper and place peeled tomatoes on sheet pan. Place sheet pan in freezer until tomatoes are frozen. Transfer to freezer bag and store for up to 6 months – defrosting when you’re ready to make fresh homemade pasta sauce!
Ciao e Buon appetito!
Okay, I admit it. Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot. I love to cook, so I never saw the point. Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde. Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot. As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot. (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry. Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test! Results: AWESOME!
3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!
(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven. Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)
Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers! (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun. If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)
Last day of winter break before going back to work tomorrow, so what better way to spend part of it than making homemade fresh pasta, Cavatelli to be exact! My absolute favorite! It’s very similar to a (potato) gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese, and instead of little dumplings, the dough is rolled into little shells. I posted this very easy (3 ingredients) recipe a while back, and today’s updated post shows the same pasta made with my very vintage hand-crank Cavatelli machine. The previous post, Sunday Cooking, shows a picture of hand-rolled pasta shells. A little more free-form than these more uniform shells, but either way, they’re great! (If you do get your hands on a machine, it’s even more important to have very dry and well-floured dough so it doesn’t get stuck in the machine! Thanks, Dad, for that in-the-moment advice!) It’s a good idea to lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan to freeze so they don’t stick together when put in a freezer bag for storage. Take them right from the freezer into a pot of boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes. They’ll float to the top when ready! Buon Appetito!
Simple, savory, and absolutely delicious! Just a short post today to highlight a twist on lasagna – Chili Verde Lasagna.
Make like you would any other lasagna, and simply substitute the typical tomato sauce for your favorite chile verde. I used some homemade chili verde from the freezer on a whim, and it did not disappoint! (I used what I had on hand as the regular cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan, but you could certainly substitute/add some other delicious Mexican cheeses. Here’s a link to the Chili Verde recipe I made a while ago from the Ambitious Kitchen: http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2015/12/healthy-slow-cooker-chicken-chile-verde/
Cooking on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to come up with something new and different each and every time. What it does mean is that you and your family will have healthy home-prepared meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – even fast food! As part of this weekend’s ‘Sunday Fun-day in the Kitchen’, here’s a tray of breaded chicken cutlets (that have made an appearance on this blog before) that was the result of 3 large boneless chicken breasts for $5.18!! Imagine the possibilities: Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Sandwiches, Sliced Chicken atop a Green Salad, or any other way you can imagine eating crispy delicious oven-baked breaded chicken cutlets! – And what a bargain!!
Using a sharp knife, filet the boneless chicken breast to about 1/4″ thick, then cut into 4-5 cutlet size pieces.
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper both sides of each piece, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then coat with seasoned bread crumb mixture. Place on a prepared (cooking spray) baking sheet pan, drizzle olive oil between and around the pieces, then bake for about 15 minutes on each side to a crispy golden brown. (You should shake the pan about half way through the cooking on each side to ensure the cutlets don’t stick to the pan. Add more olive oil as needed.) Once cooked, move cutlets to rest on a plate – then enjoy! These store really well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Now you know what’s for dinner!