Mama’s Manicotti

Hello and Happy Saturday! I am currently sitting in my robe, comfy on the couch, soaking up this long weekend! I wanted to quickly check in and share a recipe. I hope y’all enjoy!

On evening’s that Dan is scheduled to work late, I often have a bowl of cereal for dinner. Or, if I am feeling fancy, I will make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am all about the quick preparation and easy clean up. I fully intended to have this simple meal many nights this week and was pleasantly surprised when Dan texted me mid-week to let me know that he would be home by 7:30. Forget Frosted Mini Wheats. I decided to hurry to the store and pick up the ingredients for one of my all-time favorite meals, manicotti!

My mom is a pro at making manicotti and I have helped her prepare the dish many a times. Making it on my own was a different story. Let’s just say that I am glad she kept her phone handy as I called her 4 times throughout the process. The shells aren’t cooked. They will cook in the oven. Right? Right! The spinach is frozen. Should I cook it in the microwave? No, I will just run water on it and it will defrost. Right? Right!

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Miraculously, I successfully prepared the meal, included a side of garlic bread, and even a pan of brownies for dessert. If you have an hour to spare, I promise this dish is worth the time in the kitchen! Here is what you will need

1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 egg
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, egg, parsley, pepper, garlic powder, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with cheese and spinach mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until noodles are soft.

Reader Question – What is your signature dish?

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Friday Night Protein Bites

Growing up, I was hardly a 3 meals a day kind of girl. If I’m being honest, I was more of a 1 meal, 10 snacks a day kind of girl. My mom would joke that my dinner lasted between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00. By the time the rest of my family ate a ‘real’ meal, I was already full on cereal, granola bars, yogurt, and some form of chocolate, or frosting, or both. 

I am happy to say that with age, I have developed more of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Today, I will gladly sit down to a supper of vegetable soup and bread.

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That’s not to say that I don’t still love my snacks, because, let’s face it, snacks are amazing. However, I have managed to trade my Dunkaroos for Protein Bites. Partially because I can no longer find Dunkaroos at the store, and partially because Protein Bites seem to fill me up and leave me feeling fuller longer.

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Dan and I stopped at the grocery store on our way home tonight to grab the ingredients for nachos. Ever since reading the recipe De posted last week, I have been having mad cravings. While at the store, I decided to stock up on the ingredients for chocolate peanut butter protein bites as well. If you’re feeling like getting creative in the kitchen and could use a post-workout or midday snack, here is the recipe I use-Image

  • 3/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

 I mixed all my ingredients and let chill for 30 minutes before rolling these bites.

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Reader Questions: Have you ever made protein bites? What are your favorite snacks?

Comfort Food at its Finest

I am all about healthy substitutes, whole wheat over white, skim over whole, grilled over fried, light over heavy…

With that said, sometimes a girl just needs a cookie. A real, old fashioned cookie. Complete with butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. 
ImageWith the season premier of the Bachelor set to DVR last night, I made my way into the kitchen, rolled up the sleeves of my robe-who needs an apron, anyway, and proceeded to empty out the contents of our cupboards. Luckily, with a sweet tooth like mine, I almost always have the ingredients on hand for a dessert of some sort.
ImageThere is something so comforting about a batch of homemade cookies just out of the oven.
ImageWhat you will need to make these mini monster cookies: 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter (gasp)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter m&ms
*Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes
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Reader Question: What is your all-time favorite comfort food?