Birthday Weekend Dinner

I can’t believe it’s already Friday. How does the week pass me by so quickly? Feels like I haven’t even done anything productive with my time. Well, I did “win” the poker tournament that Chong and I frequent every week. Actually, I came in second place but Dave, the winner, was nice enough to split the pot with me this week (since I split the pot with him 2 weeks ago) and then we played for the remaining $4. Poker is actually pretty fun. I started playing online and then graduated to real life and I think I can read certain people (my husband) well. : )

Ok, so last weekend turned out pretty well. I thought I wouldn’t have enough food to thinking I had too much food, to thinking I had just enough food. Man, can my brother eat! I spent a good 4-5 hours prepping and cooking and then when it came time to eat, I was too hungry and too pooped to enjoy my food. : ( But it was still good, especially dessert!!!

I made Manicotti Alla Romana (stuffed manicotti) and PB cake for Chong. My cousin and her husband bought me a Cafe Latte Strawberry Cheesecake and her younger brother and his gf bought Chong a Peanut Butter Silk Pie from Perkins. We went to Perkins last week and I wanted him to try the pie but unfortunately, they were out. So he had a piece of PB cake and pie and he was in heaven.

Manicotti Alla Romana

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 pound ground beef
* salt to taste
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
* 1 (12 ounce) package manicotti shells
* 2 cups ricotta cheese
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Saute garlic for 1 minute and stir in ground beef. Cook until well browned and crumbled. Season with salt and set aside to cool.
2. Cook spinach according to package directions. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add manicotti shells and parboil for half of the time recommended on the package. Drain and cover with cool water to stop the cooking process and prevent the shells from cracking.
3. To the ground beef mixture add the cooked spinach and ricotta cheese. When the mixture is cool, add the beaten eggs. Spread 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Gently drain the manicotti shells and carefully stuff each one with the meat and cheese mixture; place shells in prepared dish. Lightly cover the dish with plastic wrap or a clean, damp towel to prevent shells from cracking.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
5. Prepare the white sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and chicken bouillon. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble. Stir in half and half and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Pour or ladle the sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.
6. Stir the basil into the remaining spaghetti sauce. Carefully pour or ladle spaghetti sauce over the white sauce, trying to layer the sauces without mixing.
7. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more.

It looks like a lot of ingredients and work, but it’s not as hard as the recipe makes it AND it’s SUPER delicious so it’s worth it.

Mannicotti Alla Romana Pictorial


Cooking–>Cooling off

Garlic & onion–>Add sausage

Sausage/Ricotta/Spinach–>Mix together

Stuffed

Sauced

Baked (used mozzarella instead of parmesan)

Ready to serve

Results:  These were pretty good.  I loved the creamy white sauce combined with the tangy tomatoe sauce.  The filling could’ve used a bit more salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning but I didn’t want to make the stuffing out-taste the rest of the dish.  Everyone loved it, including P’s husband, who is a very picky eater.  I have leftover stuffing and sauce in the fridge so maybe I’ll make stuffed shells this weekend.

As promised, I made Chong a PB cake and after his first taste of the cake, he wanted to devour the rest of the it.  I think he was really hungry at this point, but dinner was an hour away so I didn’t want him to spoil his appetite so he only got a small bite. The cake and frosting were  really easy to make.  I didn’t have enough time to make the cake look pretty so it’s just a plain half-frosted cake in case some people didn’t want frosting.  Oh, and silly me bought whipping cream instead of heavy cream but it didn’t make a difference since I used such a little amount.  Even milk could’ve worked.  Darn, now I have to find a way to use up the rest of the whipping cream before it goes bad.

Peanut Butter Cake II

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package butter cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each one. Add cake mix alternately with the water. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Assemble and frost with Peanut Butter Frosting once cool.
  4. To Make Peanut Butter Frosting: Combine 1 cup peanut butter, and 1/2 cup butter or margarine cream together until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Mix in enough cream to make the frosting of a spreading consistency. Apply to cool cake.

Peanut Butter Cake Pictorial

Butter & pb–>Cream together

Add eggs & water–>Stir

Add cake mix–>Mix

Oven-ready

Golden deliciousness

Butter & pb–>Mix with powder sugar & whipping cream

Frosted and ready to eat!

Wow, I realized I took ALOT of pictures but I didn’t think it would take this much work to post them up!  Ok, this will be Part I and will come back later with Part II.




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