Saturday, January 9, 2010
I've decided that the secret is a good friend (preferably a friend who has kids who like to play with your kids.) So we each picked a few recipes that we liked, brought the ingredients & pans for said recipes and started cooking. We each made a batch big enough to feed each of our families and froze it all in tupperware. (We each have a family of 4, so we made enough of each recipe to get a lunch and dinner for each of us.) Yes, with all the various interruptions that come with kids and life in general, it took several hours. But we had a great time talking and cooking, and our kids had a great time playing together. And after several hours of cooking I now have about a weeks worth of microwave lunches and dinners, at a fraction of the cost of buying them from the store. (To make this weeks worth of food I used what I already had in my pantry and freezer and $12 worth of groceries.) And when you split it up with a friend like this, you get more variety. Yesterday we made pizza, chicken manicotti, spaghetti, (I made homemade spaghetti sauce and used it for the first three) beef stew and shepherd's pie. Now I have several meals ready that my family likes to eat that I just need to reheat. We're definitely going to do this again. Here's the chicken manicotti recipe that is a favorite of my husband's.
3 cloves garlic finely chopped (or 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder)
2 cans cooked chicken (14.5 oz each)
2 boxes manicotti shells
1 cup fresh spinach finely chopped (or 3/4 c frozen spinach, defrosted and drained)
5-6 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1 cup of water
1/2 lb of Italian sausage cooked and drained
1. Mix ricotta cheese, Italian cheese, chicken, spinach, and garlic until a smooth thick consistency.
2.Spread 1 cup of sauce in each of two 13"x9"x2" baking dishes.
3. Stuff uncooked manicotti with chicken mixture. Place manicotti in sauced baking dishes.
Sprinkle with additional sausage. Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
4.Drizzle 1/2 c water around the edge of each pan. Bake each pan at 375 for 45 minutes.
Freezes well before and after baking. If baking a frozen pan bake for 2 hours. Freezes for up to 3 months.