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December 15: Buon Natale!

italy.jpgI’m getting ready for our store Christmas party this weekend. This year I have decided to host it at mia casa. Instead of preparing a more traditional dinner, I have opted to go Italian this year.

Honestly, I’d invite all of you over but fitting my staff and their guests into my tiny house is going to be tricky. We’re expecting a very cozy evening. I think I have it planned out so that no one has to sit on anyone’s lap pending no unexpected attendees. I think Anna took pity on me and willed her appendix to give out. Way to take one for the home team! I owe you one, Anna.

So for my much appreciated team, I will be preparing my Manicotti rolled in crêpes this year. It is delicious! It makes enough to feed a small army, so I usually divide it into two to three dinners, freeze the unbaked pans and save them for another meal. Gotta dig that.

Today I will share my recipe with you!123.jpg

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1, 6oz can tomato paste
2T chopped parsley
1T sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1T chopped fresh basil (or 1t dried)
1T chopped fresh oregano (or 1t dried)
35oz canned tomatoes (I usually buy a mix of crushed and fine diced)
1T salt
1/4t pepper

Heat oil in medium stock pot. Sauté onions for 5 minutes, add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

2lbs ricotta cheese
8oz mozarella, freshly grated
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated plus 2 cups for assembly (you can’t have too much cheese!)
2 eggs
1t salt
1/4t pepper
1T chopped parsley

Combine all filling ingredients, beating with a wooden spoon to blend.

6 eggs (room temperature)
1/2t salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water

Combine all manicotti ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Heat small crêpe pan over medium heat. Pour 3T of batter, rotating quickly to evenly cover pan. Cook until top is dry, but do not brown bottom. Let cool on wire rack. Stack partially cooled crêpes layered with squares of waxed paper.

and if your family is like mine and whines “where’s the beef?”…
Add 1T olive oil and 1/4 cup fine chopped onions to medium skillet. Sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add a clove of crushed garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add 1lb lean hamburger and brown. Drain grease, then add to sauce.

Preheat oven to 350º. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce into each of 2 baking dishes (13×9). Spread 1/4 cup of filling in center of each manicotti, roll up, and place in baking dishes seam side down in a single layer. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour.

bread.jpgWhile it is always nice to use fresh herbs, I have made this many times with dried and it is still delicious. Serve with the Braided Italian Loaf. Magnifico!

If the crêpes sound fussy to make, they sure beat the heck out of stuffing regular manicotti noodles. That is for the birds! It is way easier to flip a crêpe than fool with stuffing noodles. Trust me.

If it all sounds just to fussy to make and I’ve made you hungry for manicotti, come up to Guthrie and go eat at Roma’s. We have a fabulous Italian restaurant. Their manicotti is quite delicious. Not as delicious as mine, but delicious by any other standard. The owners are from Milan so it is an authentic experience. I especially love their bread!

Buon Appetito!

2 Responses to “December 15: Buon Natale!”

  1. Melissa H Says:

    In case anyone is dead set on stuffing manicotti and hasn’t heard this tip, a pastry decorating bag without a tip on the end will make much easier work of stuffing the manicotti than any other method I’ve tried.

  2. Stephenia Says:

    I love Italian food - for Christmas I usually make lasagne. I love Roma’s too! Their ravioli and italian sausage appetizer are yummy too. I have never tried manicotti this way, with crepes, can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing

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