Kid Friendly Recipes
Baked Manicotti: A Freezer Meal
Freezer meals are an important part of a parent's life. They're there for the days when you're home right after welcoming a new baby into your family or the days when life just seems to be moving so fast you can't possibly catch up. Bonus if it's not a frozen pizza that you're reaching for when you open the freezer, but instead, a meal that will give you the energy to get you through the rest of the day.
Along with soups and stews that occupy my freezer, I like to make pasta dishes. They freeze well, sauce, cheese, and all, which makes it more than easy to pack them up, freeze, and have them ready for the oven in no time. Plus, my kids eat them without complaint. Pasta night is something they look forward to, even if it's stuffed with cheese and spinach.
These shells are stuffed with a mixture of spinach and cheese, then slathered with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. They're great served with a quick and easy side salad or steamed vegetables, and a loaf of bread on the side. Plus, they're stored in the freezer, just waiting for you to pop them into the oven as you dart from school pick-up to basketball practice or just enjoy some time sitting and smelling your newborn's head.
Stuffed Manicotti Freezer Meals
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ pepper
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 eggs
- (2) 8oz boxes of manicotti, approximately 24 shells
- 6 cups spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil; add spinach leaves and cook until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat. Mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese together. Beat eggs and add to cheese mixture. Stir in mushrooms and spinach.
Spread 1 ½ cups of sauce on the bottoms of 2 9x13" pans. Spoon the filling into the shells and place 12 shells into each pan. Cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.
Cover and place in freezer.
To cook, bake thawed shells at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes and frozen shells at 325º for 60-65 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.
Makes 2 family-size dinners.