Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unexpected dinner guests

Last night I tried a recipe from the Food Network for dinner. It was Beef and Cheese Manicotti. I have never actually made manicotti but I love it and often order it when we got to an Italian restaurant. My ex used to make it when we were married. He began doing the cooking because I worked days and he worked graveyard and it was easier for him to have dinner ready when I got home than to wait for me to fix it. Anyway, my current hubby is a bit of a picky eater and when he asked what we were having for dinner and I told him he made a terrible face and acted like I was poisoning him. I had made an entire box of the stuff and figured if he didn't like it I would be eating it for the next week myself.

He needed to go into town to buy something for his woodturning project in the garage and on his way he stopped by our neighbors' house. They were outside and he invited them to dinner since they hadn't planned anything yet. They declined since I didn't know about it. When he got home he told me he had invited them and I said, "Oh good, are they coming?" He said they had said no and I immediately called them and said dinner was ready and they were expected to be here. They came up and it turned out delicious. And even hubby liked it. I was so glad. Here is the recipe if you want to try it:

Beef and Cheese Manicotti
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
hr min
Cook Time:
40 min
6 servings

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups marinara sauce
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.
Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.
Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

I hope you enjoy it too. I wish I had taken a picture of it when it was finished. It looked as good as it tasted...........

After dinner we played WII bowling. I won the second game.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The best things in Life aren't things

Another Monday is here. I can't believe how the weather has changed today. It was snowing for a while earlier and then it was raining and now it's sunny and beautiful. But it's very cold out. I just went out to fill one of the bird feeders and couldn't believe the chill in the air. I am so ready for spring and warmer days. Having grown up in sunny Southern California I truly miss the sunshine after 3 or 4 months of the gray, foggy winter season here in Oregon. But when the sun does come out it is so beautiful because of all the shades of green here. And green is my favorite color. It makes me appreciate the fact that I live here now even though we have months of ugly weather. It doesn't get bitter cold here or rain terribly hard. Mostly we have gentle rains and no wind. I think I dislike the foggy days the most. I guess I am just glad that I can escape from time to time and drive to a better climate and enjoy the sun.