Stuffed Manicotti, not so traditional!

Last night I made my stuffed manicotti, and it turned out really well. My husband and mom both really enjoyed it, and I thought it was one of my better ones too. I am always playing with recipes and making my own twists on things, so I thought I would share this one!

I originally adapted this recipe from The Geometry of Pasta, which is really a fantastic book for anyone who likes know more about how things became part of our lives, and not just food on our plates. The history and recipes are fantastic!! The artwork is very cool too.

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey

Salt, Pepper, Fresh Garlic, Italian Herbs

1 tray of Manicotti (the brand I buy has 7 per tray)

3 cups of fresh spinach

At least 1 1/2 cups of Ricotta, or just a 15 oz container is fine

1/2 bag of Parmesan cheese, you can use an Italian blend too, that works nice as well, we always have cheese in the house so I just use whatever I have

2 large egg yolks

Fresh grated nutmeg, of course if you don’t have a fresh nutmeg the dried spice will work as well, I use about a teaspoon

2 tbs butter – last night I didn’t have real butter so I used margarine and it worked just as well. I only needed to adjust the flour ratio and added a tablespoon more

3 tbs of all purpose flour

3/4 plus 3 tbs of milk

3/4 cups of your favorite red sauce, I think that a sweet red works best in this recipe rather then a salty.. that may be overload!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425

In a skillet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and Italian herbs brown your ground turkey, cooking it all the way and remove from heat to cool

Boil a large pot of water and add manicotti, I also throw my spinach on top because it floats and I like multitasking, When the spinach has wilted and darkened take it out, rinse with cold water, squeeze excess liquid out and chop finely =) And when the manicotti is al dente, rinse with cold water and set  aside

In a bowl combine Ricotta, Egg Yolks, Spinach, Salt and Pepper to taste, Nutmeg, Garlic, and when the turkey has cooled down a little bit, enough that it won’t start cooking the egg yolks, combine with the rest and mix well, make sure you taste this… if it doesn’t taste good now it won’t later and adjust the salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a 9×13 pan, cover the bottom with your red sauce

Fill a pastry bag with your ricotta mixture and pipe into manicotti shells and place on top of your red sauce, I usually have some left over that I just pipe at the edge of each shell… and give the rest to the dog =)

In your turkey skillet melt butter and add flour and combine till it’s nice and pasty, then slowly add the milk stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth

Pour your white sauce over top of the stuffed manicotti and make sure you smooth it out over the entire shell so the edges don’t get crispy

Top with your cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes, I usually broil for about 2 minutes right before I take it out

Let it rest for as long as you can stand, about 10-20 minutes and then serve =)

This is definitely a family favorite, and I have fun making it!

Pair it with a great spinach salad and some garlic bread! It is also super delicious the second day!

Jar reuse and Thrifty finds

Thoughts for Thrifty Thursday:

I have been on the hunt for massive jars! Ones that will hold 10+ pounds of flour or sugar. I do a lot of baking and I buy everything in bulk from our local grocery store. I found myself filling bags of flour and sugar and other common ingredients each time I went to the grocery store… one day I got sick of looking at my cabinet full of bags of bulk items… I had over 15 bags of flour because I just could not access it easily and I put it in other places. So my mom and I decided to hit up local antique stores because I knew there were old glass pickle barrels of large proportions! I was so excited to find this baby and it was very well priced. It was $18 bucks, which may sound like a lot but I filled it to the very top and then had some left over because I had bought that much extra flour! I have found large jars at places like Walmart for about 10 bucks, but they really are about half the size of this guy. They are hard to come by but I hope I can find at least one more for the sugar and one for rice!

 

I just love the look of jars, they don’t have to match or be similar at all but I love storing dry goods in glass. I found this guy at Goodwill for $1,75!! Seriously, what a steal!! Currently it’s housing my powdered sugar.

On New Year’s our tradition is to make a pork roast and saurkraut in the crock pot with mashed potatoes… well after I emptied the good sized saurkraut jar I thought hmm, I could just start saving the ones that we empty from things we use like jelly, pickles, relish, some mustards, tomato sauce or sauces alike. I am not really sure why I never thought to do this before. I have started a good collection of jars to house things like chocolate chips, baking soda and powder, grains, herbs, all the things I buy in bulk that I can now easily see and access and not over purchase, which in turn has saved us a lot of money! So now when I am grocery shopping I constantly look for things we need that also come in class jars and hopefully I can soon have a huge pantry full of them that I can share with you. I am a little OCD so I have contemplated spray painting and color coordinating the lids and of course I have to use my label maker to label what each jar is… but that is a personal preference =)

So next time you are grocery shopping and pick up something like jelly and grab the easy squeeze or plastic bottle…. think twice about it not only because we all know by now the less plastics we use the better off we are but because if you buy the big glass jelly jar you can reuse it for baking ingredients or herbs or even things in the bathroom like cotton balls, qtips, or your toothbrushes (Which storing in a glass container that you can sanitize in the dishwasher is a really good idea anyway!). I love anything that has multiple uses so think about what you can reuse so you don’t have to go out and buy new containers, which by the way are ridiculously expensive! Personally I have saved over $100 just by reusing jars and not having to go out and buy them, with the exception of the mega monster jars at the thrift stores because our food and goods no longer come in awesome containers like that!

Who knows, you could even star your own fresh herb garden out of recycled jelly jars!

 

The begining of something…. addicting?

Where to start… I have decided to update my blog, and hopefully actually use it as it’s intended. In the past I have enjoyed posting recipes for others to try out, and have shared some of my organizing ideas but I never really took it seriously. I am not sure I am taking it seriously this time either but I continue to get requests from friends wanting help with certain projects or ideas, which I absolutely love when they come to me and I can come up with a solution to help them out, so with that happening more frequently I guess I thought maybe I could help out some other people as well who happen to come across my blog looking for recipes, storage solutions, financial struggles, or marriage struggles… I can’t always guarantee that it will all rainbows and glitter, because lets face it, life is not always rainbows and glitter, but I can guarantee that it will be honest with the hopes of reaching someone somewhere to make their life a little easier through my trial and error!

A lot of things have changed drastically in my life over the past two weeks. I have become a stay at home wife again, by choice because my previous employment was literally making me sick, the stress and crazy that I had to deal with I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. It was not a healthy place for me or my family to be in and it needed to end. It was not an easy decision because that means we will be relying solely on my husbands income and while for two adults doesn’t sound terribly horrible, we are supporting 3. My mother lives with us and will probably always live us from here on out because I believe that is what is best for her. As we get older, obviously our parents gets older as well, and having to switch the roles to be the caretaker in some areas has been a big change for me, but to be honest it has been something really good. My relationship with my mom has not always been good, in fact some points it was pretty horrible, but as time has gone by I consider her not just my mom but my friend and my husband has embraced this sometimes less then private situation we have with open arms and has been welcoming to her and she is officially part of our family. So needless to say financially I am going to have to be a little bit creative when it comes to making our dollar stretch, but it is absolutely worth it for my own sanity and the well being of the rest of the household!

We also have had to deal with the awesome ugly truth of taxes as a home owner, landlord, and an adult with way to much responsibility. This year when I was preparing my taxes I never thought we would actually owe money… never. And there it hit me…. a whopping $8,000 we must pay back all at once to the IRS because the tax laws have changed since 2010 when my husband and I decided to turn the house we own into a rental so he could be closer to work and I could actually find work. Yea, that worked out well…. So it looks like when the tenant’s lease is up in March of 2013 (September of this year if they are willing to leave when our lease is up) we will be moving back into that house, which is in the middle of the country and will be a big adjustment for all of us. We just can not afford to keep that house as a rental. I really truly believe that everything happens for a reason, I know that moving out of that house was exactly what my husband and I needed to focus on our relationship as newlyweds and learn to live with each other and communicate with each other and this time around going back to that house we are in a very different place, emotionally and financially so I really am looking forward to going back and doing all the things we want to the house that we never had a chance to do. We originally bought that house because it was a very boring blank slate and I could do whatever I wanted to it… which brings me to my next thought on the beginning of all of this….

Pinterest!! I knew from past browses if I ever got an invite I would probably spend way to much time on there gathering ideas for when we move back into our house. I was absolutely right… it is an amazing and evil site all at the same time. I really do love the fact that I can pin up everything I want to do to the house and the yard and share my ideas and get feedback. It’s like the old fashioned cutting out magazine pictures and gluing them onto paper in a binder… except way more efficient! But man… I could spend days on that site if I wanted to!

Here are my boards if you would like to take a look at my small collection so far =) I noticed a lot of peoples boards are very unrealistic as far as renovations and house ideas go… so I would really like to keep mine down to earth and make the most out of what I am lucky enough to have instead of drooling over the 2 million dollar kitchens we ALL would love to have! I also look forward to sharing a lot of my things on there through here, in hopes of again, making someone’s life easier through my trial and error!

I would also love to do specific posts on issues you may be dealing with currently, whether it’s storage issues, financial issues or you are just looking for something yummy to eat!

I noticed a lot of blogs do specific posts on specific days, like Menu Mondays, Wordless Wednesdays…. I may try to come up with a few more like Financial Fridays and Storage Saturdays, I know I have enjoyed reading those posts from other blogs, so I will hopefully come up with a few new fresh ideas – although that seems a bit daunting since there are SOOO many blogs out there!!

There will be a lot going on in our lives this coming year and I look forward to having a place to write it all down, I have always found writing therapeutic so perhaps it will help maintain the stress levels!

To new journeys and beginnings…. a new chapter in life has begun!