Saturday, May 28, 2016

Recipes and Memories: Stuffed Manicotti Christmas

     Ahh, the Stuffed Manicotti recipe.  Mom wrote “Very Good” on this one.  She made it on several occasions, but I remember the first time she decided to make it.  It was on a long-ago Christmas Eve, and the whole family Mom wrote “Very Good” on this one.  She made it on several occasions, but I remember the first time she decided to make it. 
     The holidays are for sharing with friends and family.  But, having moved to Alaska in 1962, we had no extended family with which to share, so we, like so many other Alaskans, adopted friends as our Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.  During the time of this story, we were particularly close with The Sears’s, the Ash family, the DeVoy’s, and the Holtom’s.  They were the sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins that we sorely missed.  Most especially during the holidays.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.   However, after a few confusing years of choosing at random which family would host the big ones: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July, the Mom’s got together and decided to make an informal rotating holiday schedule. 
     The Stuffed Manicotti Christmas happened one year when it was my family’s (Mom’s) turn to host, and she decided to change things up.  It was on a long-ago Christmas  Day that she dared to make something besides one of the old standbys; turkey, or ham, or even prime rib!    
     “What?” I almost-but-not-quite-yelled.  “No turkey?  No stuffing and mashed potatoes?  What’s this world coming to?”
     Mom just smiled.  “Don’t worry.  It’ll be fine.”
     And, guess what, she was right.  The manicotti were a huge hit and, despite my dramatic protestations, Christmas dinner went off without so much as a hiccup! 
Stuffed Manicotti

2 Tbls. Oil                                                                        1 tsp. garlic

1 32 oz. can tomato sauce                                          1 med. onion chopped

1 Tbls. Flour                                                                    1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. oregano                                                               1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. sugar                                                                     ¼ tsp. pepper

2-1/2 C water                                                                 2 C chopped mushrooms


1 lb. hamburger                                                             ½ C chopped onion

1 lb. Ricotta or Cottage Cheese                                 1tsp. basil

24 Manicotti shells                                                       1 C shredded mozzarella

1 pinch of Love

Brown garlic in oil, add tomato sauce, stir in med. onion, flour, seasonings, sugar, water, and mushrooms.  Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Brown hamburger and ½ C chopped onion.  Pour off fat and remove from heat.  Stir in Ricotta or Cottage cheese and basil.  Stuff shells with meat mixture, lay in a 9x13 pan, cover with sauce, cover and bake @ 400 degrees for 45 -50 minutes.  Top with mozzarella and replace cover until melted.


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