I have to admit, I'm not the most exciting cook. I can cook, and it seems to have kept my family pretty happy thus far. Except...it's always the same ole'-same ole'. Gravies, chilis, gumbos, spaghetti, meatloaf, stews, baked this, baked that, grilled this, grilled that, and my occasional chicken alfredo dish. They all have their favorite dishes, and also the ones that they just tolerate to fill their bellies. My cooking just lacks PZAZZ. My friend tells me all the time about these great dishes that she cooks for her family, they sound like they could be on the cover of "Southern Living" magazine. She uses all these fancy ingredients, that I either don't have in my pantry, or I have never heard of. I have always given the excuse that I don't have enough time. ( I give that reason for alot of things I don't do. It's a cop-out. I'm sure of it. I'm working to improve that.) I have been determined lately, to live life to the fullest. Enjoy the sweet life, I dolce vita, as I wrote in a blog a couple of months ago. I am doing my best to take my time and enjoy the beauty of life, instead of rushing through it and missing out on so much. Yesterday, I enjoyed making a scarecrow with the kids. It was creative, invigorating and fun! Today, there was church, shopping with my girls, Saints football (they won!!) and cooking a nice dinner for my family. One that will have that "pzazz" I am looking for. One that might get a thumbs up from everyone at the table.
I decided to make my normal spaghetti meal that I prepare. Everyone loves my spaghetti so I knew that it would be a hit. But, I decided to give it some flare, challenge myself and prepare a little something to go with the spaghetti. Something, that would take time and detailed preparation. Something I could maybe turn into a regular dish around the house at suppertime. I wanted to pzazz it up!! I decided to make Manicotti. If you are like me, I didn't know what this was until a couple of weeks ago, because that is when I first heard of it. It sounded delicious, but way out of my league. So..it was to be my new dish!! Hopefully there is a little "Italian" hiding in me somewhere. (Yikes!)
I took my time in preparing my meal, and it was time to present it to my family. I was a little nervous. I asked the family for reviews on the dish. It was a great success!! Thumbs up all around! They all loved it and Mason even ate two big helpings, and barely touched the spaghetti that he normally likes. They all want me to cook it again! Woooh! (very big happy face)
I am glad that I tried something new. A little pzazz was just what I needed. God has given us so many wonderful spices and ingredients on this earth for us to combine together, creating the ultimate enjoyment for our taste buds and to give us the perfect nourishment for our bodies. I enjoyed taking my time to cook it for them. I put my love into each moment of preparing it. It took about 3 hours from start to finish, but you know what...it kept me stress free the entire time. I relaxed! It was great to see all of the ingredients come together as one, to create something so delicious. It satisfied my stomach and satisfied my heart.
I wonder...how "delicious" would our lives be spritiually, if we were to take the time to mix in all of the goodness (ingredients) that God gives us and teaches us to use. His word, his commandments, his love, our worship to him and simply living our life to glorify Him. That is what He intended for us to have...a life filled with the goodness that only He can bring. We must live I dolce' vita and give Him praise for every second of it. Go ahead...add some pzazz to your life...pour God into it!!
Ecclesiastes 5:18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes.
1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese
10 ounces shredded mozarella
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt to taste
7 1/2 ounce manicotti pasta
Ingredients: (mix together in a small sauce pan and simmer slowly)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 TBS of minced garlic
2 cans of basil and oregano tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
sprinkle of garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped dried basil
1. Cook manicotti in boiling water until done. Drain, and rinse with cold water. (Don't cook too long or noddles will split open. You want them to stay together to be able to stuff them.)
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 8 oz. of mozarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, eggs, parsley, and salt and garlic. Mix well. (refrigerate until pasta is ready to stuff)
4. Pour 1/2 cup sauce into an 11 x 17 inch baking dish. (Sauce should cover bottom of pan) Fill each manicotti shell with 3 tablespoons cheese mixture, and arrange over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top, sprinkle rest of mozarella cheese and a little Parmesan on top.
**I cut up some green onion tops to sprinkle on top to add color. You may use basil leaves as well.
5. Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly.
I served my Manicotti along with the spaghetti I had prepared over whole wheat linguine noodles, steamed brocolli and garlic bread. For dessert I prepared a family favorite...quick and easy peach cobbler served with vanilla ice cream. (Delicious!)