Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday's Menu: Manicotti and Cherry Lemon Sun Drop Cupcakes

I was trying to think of something to call my regular Monday blog posts, since I'll be trying a new Pinterest recipe for my family each Monday.  I saw someone online call theirs Menu Monday.  I liked it, but didn't want to copy-cat it.  So this is what I have.  For now. 

Today I fixed Manicotti.  I have never tried to fix it before.  My family isn't one for a lot of Italian dishes.  But this one sounded like something they would enjoy.  And enjoy they did!  They loved it.  There was nothing left this week.  My men devoured it. 
We are also not one for marinara sauce, so I used a jar of prego instead.  Not to mention I added more cheese. 
Here's the recipe:
One box of Manicotti noodles
one 15-16 oz tub of ricotta.  I had a brain burp in the grocery store and accidentally purchased cottage cheese.  Which worked well this time.  Next time I'll do the ricotta. 
1 lb freshly grated mozzarella
3 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese
Two large eggs
1&1/2 Tbs dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 recipe of marinara sauce.  Or in my case, a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Cook your noodles as directed on package. 
Mix the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, parsley, and pepper together well, and divide it evenly, stuffing each shell.  If you've never stuffed a manicotti shell, simply place one end in the palm of your hand and use a spoon to stuff the shell from the top.  Lay each stuffed shell, side to side, making a single layer in your 9x13 pan
This is where my extra cheese came in.  I placed a very small layer of cheese on top of the noodles, covered the layer of noodles and cheese with my sauce, and then a heavier layer of cheese on top of the sauce.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cheese is brown around edges and bubbling. 
Serve with salad and garlic bread or your favorite sides.
OH!  I forgot to say that I added cooked ground beef to my mix.  But you can add anything, really.  Pepperoni, sausage, chicken.  Or no meat at all.  It's your dish.  Fix it the way your family will love it.
For those of you who like Marinara sauce, here is the recipe for that:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28 oz) cans crushed Roma tomatoes (I prefer Contadina brand)
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, simmer 20 minutes (This can be done while preparing the manicotti filling and pasta).
This recipe and others can be found at Cooking Classy with a Sprinkle of Fancy.

I also tried a dessert I found on Pinterest.  The original recipe was Mountain Dew Cupcakes.  But since I do live in the original SUN DROP capital of the world, I decided to make Cherry Lemon Sun Drop Cupcakes.  My kids went nuts over these.  And if you have small children, this is PERFECT for them to make for their class parties, etc.
Here's the recipe:

1 box of cake mix
Twelve oz of your favorite soda
Mix well, pour into cupcake liners, bake at 325 until done. (I never use paper liners.  I always spray my tins and the cupcakes just pop right out. 
I liked this because you can do away with the eggs and oil.  Which takes about 400 plus calories out of the cupcakes as a whole.  I must tell you, though, the cupcakes will be very moist and "tender."  So handle them with care!  lol 
When they came out of the oven, I immediately removed them to cool and while they were still hot, I brushed the tops of them with the cherry lemon Sun Drop. 
For icing, I made my own.  There was a recipe on the site but it called for five cups of confectioner's sugar and two sticks of butter.  Really?  I just made a glaze with a fraction of the confectioners sugar, a little bit of the cherry lemon Sun Drop, a drop or two of lemon juice, and a little 1% milk.  Yeah, it's definitely a sugar fix if you have a sweet tooth needing satisfaction. 
I think Monday's Menu was a success this week.  Now what to make for next week?