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October 31, 2010

Big Yard Day Today and a Manicotti Dinner to Die For

I think the buys of the day yesterday went to The Nudge.


Just those two items will make MY life easier, making his life easier.

Every year we wait for the majority of the leaves to fall from a yard lined with huge old oak trees. He does the raking on the perimeter, while I use the Toro blower (yes, I am better at it because I get every leaf...lol).

I blow all the leaves to the edge of our retaining wall in front of our driveway.

The Nudge fills the leaf bags. In about 4 hours we are as clean as a whistle.

A good day to be outside...no wind (I am not reblowing the ones that blow back in again) sun, for warmth and a day around 50-55 degrees.

BINGO....that's today. I am making Eggs Benedict to fortify us for the tasks and....

.....homemade manicotti with meatballs and sausage for dinner to warm and fill our hungry tummies (recipes to follow).

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE !!!

I have been making manicottis this way as long as I can remember. It was long ago decided that my sauce and baked pastas where better then anyone else's in the family, so it was my duty to make the pasta course at Easter, Thanksgiving and, of course, Christmas.

I do not remember who taught me to make it with the crepes instead of the pre-formed dry manicotti shells that Ronzoni makes, but they are by far better than with those.

Until a year ago, when I saw someone make these on a TV food challenge, I thought I was the only one. After some research on the Internet, I discovered not only do the Italians make these all the time, they stuff and fold them all different ways.

Crespelles
Makes 12 - the mixture should have the consistency of a thin pancake mix
* 3 eggs
* 1/2 cup milk
* 3 Tbs. butter, melted
* 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
Drop everything into a blender and blend until smooth.
Let rest for at least 30 minutes and add more liquid as the flour soaks up the milk.

You will need a 9" nonstick frying pan.

Cheese Filling
(you can add spinach if you wish)
* 2 cups homemade ricotta or a good quality store bought brand, drained for 30 minutes (fat free, skim or whole milk, your choice)
* 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella (not the plastic wrapped bricks used for pizzas)
* salt & pepper
* grated Locatelli cheese to taste
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/8 tsp grated fresh nutmeg


Assembly
You will need:
* A 9x13 baking pan (Pyrex makes the perfect size)
* 1/4 cup measuring scoop.
* Homemade gravy or a really good jarred sauce (remember, what you put into a dish, you will get back, use the best ingredients. This is not a place to skimp.)

Ladle sauce to coat the bottom of your baking pan and roll 1/4 cup filling into each crepe
Place seam side down in a baking pan.

Spoon more sauce on top.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 400F. Uncover and serve.

* Extra grated mozzarella if you want. I do not use any on the top, just the sauce.
* Meatballs and sausage that has been simmered in the sauce at least 45 minutes.
* Serve with extra sauce and grated cheese, a good Chianti and a loaf of Italian bread.

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