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November 21, 2011 / makingitmamastyle

Freestyle Spinach Manicotti

Do you ever freestyle in the kitchen?

Surely I’m not the only one who sees an empty skillet as a canvas for culinary creativity.

I like to think I can hang with the best of them when it comes to sizzlin’ up a stark skillet with an original dish not fully realized until completion.

There are pinches of this and dashes of that, all whisked together into a marriage of sensational flavors to satisfy even the hungriest belly.

If there’s one thing I hope to accomplish with my posts, it’s to share my love for cooking as an art form. Is that a little too intense and emotional? Well, ….yes, probably, but in all seriousness, cooking truly is a form of art.

Don’t be afraid to veer from a recipe. Try whatever flavor combinations appeal to you, use what you already have on hand, experiment with an new ingredient. It’s your kitchen! (And heck, if something turns out terribly, there’s always peanut butter and jelly!) 

To me, cooking becomes infinitely more enjoyable when the freeform of the tasting spoon replaces the command of the measuring cup.  Use those recipe cards as guides, follow your taste buds, and have fun enjoying the delicious dishes you create.

Don’t be too surprised when your children start licking their plates and requiring multiple baths in a day.

Yep, your meals are gonna be that good.

Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

  • 1 box Manicotti noodles
  • 1 egg
  • 15 oz container fat free Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6oz frozen spinach, thawed and strained
  • Jar of basil marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Boil the noodles for 6 minutes. Saute the mushrooms and garlic for a few minutes, add the spinach, cook another minute or two. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, stir together the Ricotta, egg and basil. Combine with the spinach/mushroom mixture. Spread 1/3 cup of sauce onto the bottom of a sprayed 9×13 dish.  Using a ziploc bag snipped at one corner, pipe the mixture into the noodles and place them in the dish. Cover noodles with remaining sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350, covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.

This can be prepared in advance and baked just before serving.

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