Cheesy Manicotti

A traditional manicotti is stuffed with a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, parmesan , eggs parsley salt and pepper. Some recipes also add in spinach. My recipe is a little far from traditional but it's more filling and if you're tired of spaghetti but still want pasta and red sauce it's  a tasty alternative. Bonus is so far any kid I've put it in front of has happily ate it with zero complaints.

  Firstly I want to give a little back story to this recipe. I tried traditional manicotti as a teen and I loved it but ricotta cheese was hard to find and I was anemic growing up so I frequently ate meat to help keep my iron up. I love spinach but not warm spinach , weird I know however most of my cooking passion has started by trying something or a recipe and tweaking it to my liking and I KNOW that there has to be other people out there who are the same. I hear people say oh Id love to try that but it has this in it. So take it out! Taste the ingredients together and maybe even add something that YOU think tastes good. Yes even with recipes you find on here!

Here's what you'll need for manicotti. This recipe is a little time consuming but incredibly worth it and I do take some short cuts. For example we normally always have canned green beans in the house. We all love and eat them and yes in the summer I prefer fresh but its also much more convenient and quicker to pop open a can and have them heating while the rest of dinner is cooking.

 If you want to fix up your green beans a little you can always throw in bacon or onions or both!

When I made this tonight I just did plain salt and pepper green beans, garlic bread slices and the Manicotti, the star of the show of course! I wasn't able to get garlic bread because I went to late in the day , but I also have a horrible tendency of burning things on broil. Never really happens when I cook anything else, but garlic bread it never fails that I burn it at least once every couple of months. So I picked up some awesome garlic spread from Safeway that was premade and just used regular sandwich bread and broiled on high for 1 minute. Ok enough rambling here's the stellar recipe.

Cheesy Manicotti 

1lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Sausage I use Italian
1 TSP of each Pepper & Salt 
3 cloves of finely minced garlic
1/4 of Yellow onion 
Manicotti Noodles 
1 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese 
Sliced Mozerella
1 Jar Prego Mushroom Pasta Sauce 
Spaghetti Mix 
1 C Cottage Cheese 
2 TSP butter

Your choice of sides. 

Finely mince garlic. Normally I'm the type of person that's like HA! Three cloves yeah we are making that six, but trust me if you use too much garlic it will overpower this dish and you wont get all the flavors that are possible. Add finely diced yellow onion, the 2 tsps. butter, and the garlic to a skillet and let sweat. Add ground beef and sausage when onions begin to turn translucent. Add salt, pepper. Cook until done. 

Add meat to strainer in sink and rinse with hot water. Be sure to run some dish soap down your drain with hot water after you're done to prevent any grease build up in your plumbing. Rinsing the meat will not get rid of the seasoning and prevents the grease from building up , if grease is left on the meat it will be very difficult to stuff your noodles. 

Add meat mixture back to pan and add 1/2 of the spaghetti mix to the meat with 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside. 

Boil Manicotti Noodles. Its important that you do two things when boiling the noodles. First you don't want to add the noodles until after the water has begun boiled and you want to ensure that the water completely covers all the noodles. The box says to boil them for 9 minutes but I recommend 11. They are done when they collapse Half to three quarters of the way when picked up with a spoon. Make sure you have a strainer ready and a cookie sheet to lay your noodles flat on to cool a little. I recommend rinsing under cool water to stop cooking and to make them easier to handle. 

Heat Spaghetti sauce and add the remaining 1/2 package of spaghetti mix. Reserve 1 1/4 cup sauce. Mix the remaining sauce in a large bowl with the Meat Mixture, 3/4 C Cheddar Cheese ,and 1 Cup Cottage Cheese. Mix throughly

Time to stuff your noodles! 

Spread a thing layer of reserved sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 pan 

Layer stuffed manicotti noodles on top of sauce, add slices of mozzarella cheese , cover with sauce and top with remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. 

Serve with your chosen sides and enjoy! 

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