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!
As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond! Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)
So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?
I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes. Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces. The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals. (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)
Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.
I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today. Here’s an excerpt from that section:
I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations. I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.
I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process! Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!
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!
Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden! When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce? You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!
- Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
- Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan. Cool slightly after removing from oven.
- Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
That’s it! Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!
Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!
Easy to prepare, light, delicious, satisfying, and nutritious! This dinner can be on the table within 15 minutes!
Prep: 3/4 cup Orzo Pasta, 1/2 cup mixed chopped pitted olives, juice from half lemon, 1 TBSP (each) Butter and Olive Oil, 1/2 cup chopped unsalted roasted pistachios (or I used roasted/unsalted sunflower seeds), 2 Swordfish Steaks (lightly olive oil, salt, pepper).
Bring enough salted water to a boil to cook pasta. Light the grill or heat a grill pan (medium-high). Cook pasta for about 8-9 minutes (to your liking.) At the same time, grill swordfish , turning once. When pasta is to your liking, drain and return to pan. Stir in the butter, olive oil, olives, and lemon juice (salt/pepper to taste.) Remove swordfish from grill and lightly cover with aluminum foil to let rest for a few minutes.
Stir the chopped nuts/seeds into the Orzo pasta mixture and plate up along with the swordfish. Top with a lightly dressed arugula salad (juice from half lemon, light olive oil, salt, pepper.)
So easy, so delicious. Enjoy! Buon Appetito!