Monday, February 28, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Manicotti

Spinach Stuffed Manicotti

I love manicotti and typically I see it without meat, but our family are big meat eaters, so I came up with this recipe and added hamburger to it.  Manicotti used to intimidate and frustrate me, till I learned a few tricks anyway.  So here is how dinner went for me.

I started off by browning 1 lb hamburger (actually I only did 3/4lb but didn't get to fill 2 of my noodles so changed the recipe to include a little more meat and ricotta for your benefit.) 

After the meat was browned and drained I added about 2 cups of fresh baby spinach, 1/3 jar pasta sauce,1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 cup ricotta cheese, and 1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese to my skillet. 

I cooked this mix till the spinach was reduced and the cheese was melted.  Then I set it aside to cool so it is easier to handle while stuffing. 

While the meat and cheese mixture was cooling, I boiled the pasta making sure not to overcook it.  I cook mine for about 6 minutes so they are still a little firm.  I drained, then rinsed the pasta with cool water to stop them from cooking.

I placed the remaining sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish and started stuffing the shells.  Using a gallon sized ziploc bag with one of the bottom corners cut to pipe the mixture in the shells.  This method is a little messy and  I should of made sure to let my meat and cheese mix get cool enough but I was impatient and just held my ziploc bag with a towel to help with the heat.  You can also rip your noodles down one of the seams, spoon some the mixture in, and roll them up.  Place them in the pan seam down and no one will know the difference.  These two methods have helped keep my sanity with stuffing manicotti. This time I piped them because I had never tried it that way before.  If any started to split while I was piping, I just finished off the split and rolled them instead.

After all the noodles were stuffed and in the pan I topped with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.  All that was left to do was bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

We had this with salad, fried zucchini, and Quick Bread Sticks

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Spinach Stuffed Manicotti
Serves 6-8

1 box Manicotti noodles
1 lb hamburger
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 jar pasta sauce, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 pkg Italian blend shredded cheese
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Brown hamburger, drain and return to skillet.

Add about 2 cups fresh baby spinach, 1/3 jar pasta sauce 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, ricotta, and 1/2 pkg of shredded cheese to skillet.  Heat until cheese is melted and spinach is reduced.

Set aside to cool.  Boil noodles for about 6 minutes make sure not to over cook or they will be difficult to stuff.

Pour remaining pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish.

Put meat and cheese mixture in a gallon ziploc bag and cut a corner to pipe into the noodles.  You can spoon it in, its not as messy but the noodles tend to rip more for me with a spoon.  Also you could tear down a seam of the noodle spoon in the mix then roll and place in pan seam down .  No one will know you didn't "stuff" them, it can be our little secret.
After all noodles are stuffed and in pan top with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quick idea: Stuffed French Toast

After I posted my Cinnamon French Toast  recipe a friend of mine sent me this quick idea on how to make them extra special.  I made this last Wednesday for Brinner, breakfast for dinner.  They were so yummy my husband asked me, "your going to put this on your blog, right?"

We really like breakfast foods at our house, can you tell!?

All you have to do is spread softened cream cheese on your bread just like you're making a cream cheese sandwich, then dip in your egg and continue with the recipe as usual.  I did a little more by leaving out the cinnamon from the original recipe and taking 8 oz of cream cheese, about a cup of strawberry jam, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract mixing that together and spreading the mix between my bread.  I served it with frozen berries, whipped cream and syrup.   Mmmmm so yummy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken Fried Chicken

This one is for my Bro-in-law Jeremy. He was asking for a chicken fried chicken recipe and it sounded good to me also. So I did a little research and this is what I came up with. We had these for dinner tonight with my mother in law and father in law over to help taste test too. They were a hit.

This was only about a third of one of the "monster" pieces of meat I used

Now I tried to find the smallest chicken breast I could but still ended up with HUGE pieces of meat. Even my husband only ate half of one and I didn't even finish my half (that's saying a lot). So I am putting the recipe for "normal" sized chicken breast not the monsters I used, but if you can't find "normal" ones you may have to double the breading and egg mix like I did. But my freezer has 4 individual lunches for my husband, even with leftover mashed potatoes, and a dish with a whole dinner's worth of chicken for our family, all I have to do is provide the sides.

I used 8 boneless skinless chicken breast and started off by putting a piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flattening it with a meat mallet or you could use rolling pin, you want to make them about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. If you've had a stressful day make sure you don't over do it or your chicken won't stay together while you handle it, I got a little over zealous with one of mine and had trouble keeping it together for all the dredging.

In a shallow dish combine 2 cups bread crumbs, 3 Tbsp flour, 3 Tbsp potato flakes, 1/8 tsp of onion powder, 1/8 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper.  In another shallow dish, I used 2 8x8 pans, whisk together 3 eggs and 1/3 cup milk.

In a deep skillet pour about 1/2 inch thick oil and heat on medium high for a few minutes. If you drop in a bit of flour and it sizzles at you, it's ready. Dredge your chicken in bread crumb mix, egg mix, then bread crumb mix again. Place the coated chicken in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. After drained I placed mine in the oven at 275 degrees while I cooked the rest and just added them to the dish in the oven as I went.

You can make gravy with this if you choose, we did but it wasn't picture worthy. Probably cause I burnt the drippings, but oh well, the chicken was good enough it made up for it. I also don't usually use a recipe for gravy and dinner was running late so I didn't measure anything out this time. Next time I make it I will try to get a gravy recipe on here.

Printable Copies:

Chicken Fried Chicken

8 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp potato flakes
2 cups plain bread crumbs
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk

1. Start off by putting a piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flattening it with a meat mallet or rolling pin, you want them to be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

2.  In a shallow dish combine bread crumbs, flour, potato flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and, ground black pepper.

3.  In another shallow dish whisk together eggs and milk.

4.  In a deep skillet pour about 1/2 inch thick oil and heat on medium high for a few minutes.

5.  Dredge your chicken in bread crumb mix, egg mix, then bread crumb mix again.

6.  Place the coated chicken in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

7.  Place in the oven at 275 degrees to keep warm as you go.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poppy seed Chicken

Poppy seed chicken is an absolute favorite around here.  The girls even like it, but won't just dig in themselves we actually have to feed it to them.  This can be a pain but once you taste it you will realize why we bother and make it anyway, it's just that good.

You start by boiling 2-3lb of chicken, I like mine on the meaty side so I go with 3 lbs.  While the chicken is cooking, in a large bowl I put together my 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, 12 oz of sour cream with salt and pepper to taste.  After the chicken has cooked, remove from pan, and cube into bite-sized pieces.  Stir into your large bowl with the soup mix you've been working on.

In a seperate medium bowl combine 2 1/2 - 3 sleeves of ritz crackers, crushed, 2-3 Tbsp poppy seeds, and 2 sticks of melted butter.  Stir till well coated with the butter.

In a 9x13 pan spread half of your cracker mix on the bottom of the pan the pour in your chicken mix.  Top with the other half of the cracker mix and place in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

We love this served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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Poppy seed Chicken

Oven Temp: 375 degrees  Time: 30 minutes  Serves:8-10

3lb Chicken cooked and cubed
12oz sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 - 3 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
2-3 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 sticks of butter, melted

Boil your chicken then transfer to cutting board and cube in bite-sized pieces.  Mix together the chicken, sour cream, and chicken soups.  In a separate bowl mix crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter.  Layer 1/2 the cracker mixture at the bottom of a 9x13 pan.   Then pour chicken mixture on top of that.  Top with remaining cracker mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

    Oh wow, what a day!  The girls are still sick and clingy so I decided to do a crock pot meal that I could start during their nap time and just put some tator tots in the oven about 20 minutes before dinner. 

    This is just how cooking dinner went for me, it will give you an idea of how the rest of my day went.  I started by browning my meat, which I forgot to pull out of the freezer to defrost, not so bad but all the mishaps add up.  Then I drained the meat and decided to dump some on the counter and spill grease all over the place.  I cleaned that up and then put the garlic, onions, and green peppers in the skillet cooking them till they were tender.  Normally I would put the salt that the recipe called for in here too, but I just now realized as I was typing this that I forgot it.  We never noticed it was gone so I took it off the recipe (its not really needed with all the sodium in the ketchup anyway.) 

    After that I placed all of the ingredient in the crock pot and finished off the ketchup bottle with only 1/2 a cup instead of the 1 cup I needed.  I was just going to put tomato sauce in for the rest of it till I realized I didn't have any of that either.  Luckily I found a new bottle of ketchup while looking for the tomato sauce, whew.  I think I need to clean out and re-organize my pantry, but that is a project for another day.  So now I have all my ingredients in the crock pot cooking on low for 4-6 hrs til dinner time. 

    Also just a couple tips: this can be done in the skillet if you don't want to use the crock pot or don't have the time,  just make sure to use the full 4 Tbsp of water.  In the crock pot don't put too much water in or they will be really "sloppy" joes as the liquid won't evaporate like it will in the skillet.  Also you can put in a few shoestring carrots if you want to add more veggies to this dish, I meant to, but of course forgot till it was too late.  Make sure to cook the carrots in the microwave til tender before adding to the dish, you don't want crunchy carrots in there, or I wouldn't anyway. 

    This is such an easy meal and if you've never had homemade you won't go back to the can after trying this.  I serve this with tator tots, sometimes green beans or a salad.  And if you've never tried it this sandwich is really good with cheese, pickles, and mustard as condiments or that's what my family likes anyway.

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Recipe with picture

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/4 diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup ketchup
2-4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Brown your hamburger along with the garlic, onion, and green pepper.

Place all ingredients in the crock pot for 4-6 hrs on low.

I like to serve on hamburger buns or occasionally just over tator tots with cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chicken Enchilada

We have had a crazy couple weeks with our girls sick.  So I have been using lots of go to meals, and I will admit pizza and sonic have come into play and even my wonderful mother in law brought over some chicken noodle soup last night for us.  Here is one of my favorite go to recipes, we used it tonight.

Start off boiling 2lbs of chicken breast.  While the chicken is boiling, cook 1 cup of brown rice according to package.  Once rice is cooked stir together rice and 1 block of cream cheese.  Shred or cut up chicken and add to rice mixture.  Mix in 1/3 cup green enchilada sauce (save the rest for later).  And sometimes I will put in half a can of black beans, and you guessed it put aside the other half can for the girls to eat. 

Take 8 burrito size tortillas and heat them in the microwave til they are warm.  I put the stack in for 30 sec then flip them and put them back in for 30 sec, flip them again and nuke them one more time for 30 sec. 

Fill your tortillas with chicken and rice mixture and put into a 9x13 pan, or I do 2 smaller casserole pans and put one up for later. 

Cover with the rest of your enchilada sauce and 2 cups of cheese.  Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Printable Copies:

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 8

2lb Chicken breast
1 cup minute brown rice, uncooked
1/2 can black beans drained and rinsed (optional)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
8 burrito size flour tortillas
2 cup shredded cheese
2 (10 oz) cans green enchilada sauce

1. Boil then shred chicken breast

2. Cook rice according to package

3.  Mix cooked rice, cream cheese, chicken, and 1/3 cup enchilada sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Then add in 1/2 can black beans, don't over stir after adding beans or they will mush

4. Warm tortillas then roll mixture up in tortillas and place in 9x13 baking dish

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top and then shredded cheese on top of that.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes
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