Saturday, May 22, 2010

mini manicotti

or stuffed rigattoni

*rigattoni noddles
*less than 250g raw hamburger (usually the smallest pkg you can buy is 500g/1 lb so use less than half) I've used 1/2 pork and 1/2 hamburger and that's good too, even ground chicken works
*diced onion (small dice)
*3+ cans Heinz tomato soup (i've tried other brands other combinations but nothing tastes as good as heinz, you can try pasta sauces, campells tomato, basil & oregano, or campbells fiesta tomato, etc but DO NOT use campbells or no name brands tomato soup, they really really suck)
*lea & perrins
*celery salt
*cottage cheese

drain liquid from cottage cheese while doing other prep ( this is important step)
you can also use a small amount of really really dry thawed out spinach chopped up but this is not necessary

I use a wok for this because of its depth, it's easier to plunge the noodles into the mixture. If you don't have a wok just use a smaller pan with high sides.
Sweat the onions and garlic, if using extra lean or chicken you will have to add oil otherwise the meat won't brown nice. I usually throw the meat in and brown everything up together at the same time

this is where you add the balsamic, lea and perrins and celery salt and whatever spice you want to add. you MUST brown the meat until no liquid is left in pan though, don't be tempted to just cook the hamburger and then drain it. And then keep browning until the meat actually pops, it should be very very brown, but not burned. Otherwise it just doesn't taste as good as it could. In fact that is one of my pet peeves, people just don't brown hamburger as long as they should. It's an important step in the flavouring. And it smells awful if not browned properly. That's probably one of the reason that I hate eating anything with hamburger in it that someone else cooks.

take the pan off burner and cool slightly, i usually stir it around alot. then add the very dry *cottage cheese curds, *1 can tomato soup, *parsley and about *1/3 - 1/4cup bread crumps, s0rry forgot to mention bread crumbs, i've used panko here only because i had some, otherwise I usually put in the ends of the loaf into the food processor and just use those. don't add too much that the mixture is really dry, it should not be really soupy either. just remember this mixture should be able to get put into the noodles

mix it all up till blended

dump 1 can of tomato soup into the roasting pan remember to grease it up or you will be sorry when you can't get the stuff out. this is non-stick and I still use a little bit of oil on it.

smear it around, remember the bottom of noodle gets cooked with this mixture, so if your using a combination of other stuff, instead of straight out of the can, get enough on the pan for this. Actually after I cooked this up I realized I should have added more under the noodles. The pan should not be visible. I should have added about another 1/2 can or some stock or just water would have done, because it was kinda dry on the bottom after I made them. Use your judgement you don't want them to burn on the bottom trust me that really sucks after you do all this work for them to be uncooked or burned on the bottom

get your noodles ready, because your hands will be all gucky so dump them out of container or bag

plunge the noodles into mixture until full

repeat, it doesn't take long plunging faster is better, 3 to 4 times per noodle usually is all it takes, and if you have little ones around get them to help they enjoy helping out. There are times I had all 3 kids plunging noodles into filling and it doesn't take as long as you might think. They enjoy filling the pan as well.They can personalize the topping later. Often one put parmesan, the other just grated cheddar and the other one who likes mushrooms put on chopped mushrooms after I fried some up for him. Mushrooms.....that's a way to ruin a good thing in my estimation. But my son likes them. Put this personalized topping on after the tomato soup topping. You can fancy it up with parsley or chives. When I had all three teenagers for those 4 years I was lucky to have a basement suite (no tenants - just extra kitchen) I made a 2nd using the oven downstairs. Because they became territorial after their toppings went on. A couple times if there wasn't too much filling left over, i would just spread the remaining mixture over the top after the tomato soup was put on. Use your imagination.

it should look like this

ooops forgot about the parmesan cheese, add some any amount you want, actually any cheese will do, I've used swiss, and many combinations of whatever odds and ends I had of hard cheeses

fill up the pan really fill in anywhere you can, but don't overfill the pan

smear the last can onto the top

i bet you thought you didn't have enough mixture, well forgetaboutit, you will have more than you need, it always works out that way i always have extra ALWAYS. I have bags in the freezer of extra mixture that I never remember I have until I throw in the current bag. If you have more cans of soup or want to try with other tomato stuff like just canned tomatoes - pulverized with an imertion blender, or any other combinations of liquid, here's your change to improve on it - in another smaller pan of sorts, but you should do this afterwards, because main roasting pan has to go in the middle of the oven and the extra one will not get the right space to cook. believe me when I say WAIT and make this second one later - you will thank me because it never turns out if the other one is on a different rack. so don't waste your time and creativity at this time

cover with foil or lid of your roaster has a lid, i've used a large turkey roaster for this for a larger amount with it's own lid and it works just fine. Just don't double up the layers because THAT WILL NOT WORK, been there - tried that- doesn't work , will be too dried out or toooo liquidy DOES NOT WORK - only one layer per pan

put it into oven at 325 - 350 (my oven is hot, yours is probably ok at 350) after 40 min open the foil carefully because the steam will burn you. and test the noodle with a fork or knife, put it in slowly, you will know when it is not done. If it's not done take it out every 10 min after that and test it. It should look dry and shinny and no visible liquid at all.It usually takes an hour. but start checking at 40 min- it's never the same twice. If you think it's ready take out of oven and let rest, covered, for about 10 min.

enjoy and let me know how it turned out

mmm goooood

i usually cut the noodles in half for my grandchildren so they can get one in there mouths at a time, but they like to poke there fingers into each one. It's messy

what little is left is wonderful the next day cold, great for snacks or lunches or for kids en route to soccer, hockey, ball, swimming - you name it. They will be fought over I guarantee it. You can use hot sauce for dipping them also. Great finger food.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers Day

Ahhh mothers day! Its taken 25-30 yrs to appreciate motherhood as a "good idea" How did it all start? Xmas 1979 we were at a family dinner and we were the only couple without children. We felt left out. I remember going to bed that night and discussing parenthood. So one day during the week between xmas and new years I had the IUD removed and probably that night concieved. My son was born Sept 20/80. On my husbands birthday during a thunder storm. Then in October 82 my brother came to visit with his girlfriend and my husband was out of town for that week so I let them have my bedroom and I slept on the couch. I was having a shower that morning when my husband came home and he refused to go in our bedroom to get "the little bags". "If I go get them, they'll know what we are doing. Don't worry I won't get you pregnant." Well so much for that. My daughter was born in July after a week of the hottest weather ever, ending in a thunderstorm or incredible lighting. I remember driving to the hospital in such a rainstorm that I couldn't see anything out of the windshield and the lightning and thunderstorm were amazing. The last day of August 84 I was moving, my husband was out of town again...... I was throwing the last mattress on the floor I remember how pissed off I was that I was doing this alone (with two little kids running around and my stepson was living with us at the time). My husband came in the new house in a really good mood and walked into the bedroom were I was arranging the last piece of furniture that I unloaded from the moving truck. I was so mad at him for all the work I had to do and he was in a good mood because he was out of town all week. My daughter was born 6 weeks early in April 85. So if you want a female baby I say have sex in unexpected places and make up sex probably helps. And the reason that she was born 6 weeks early.....once again my husband came home after being out of town and decided that sex would be a good idea. Needless to say - it wasn't. So babies are usually born during a change in the weather and if you are overdue, having sex won't be a bad idea. But not a good idea during the last trimester. So the reason I'm a mother is three times of unprotected sex, last two times I was promised that I wouldn't get pregnant, "I promise".

Monday, May 03, 2010

May already.......

What's been happening, I'm still in March. Can't believe how time is flying. Someone should do a study and just see if the rotation of the earth has sped up. Time is just going to fast lately. Way tooooo fast.

I'm in the middle of making a pie, so far the filling is to die for. It's called a Lime-Marshmallow Pie from "Ready for Dessert" by David Lebovitz.
I'm just debating weather I should make the topping or not yet. I don't have a candy thermometer. And I'm watching the grandchildren so can't run out to buy one until later. So the topping will have to wait. I just have to keep my fingers out of the pie until then. Or maybe.......I should make more filling.....for tasting or for dessert for the kiddies. Hmmmm that's a thought. That's a good thought.