Friday, May 13, 2011

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti with White and Red Sauce

I love pasta, (as if you couldn't tell by some of the recipes I post) ...... I love to experiment with recipes, and I hadn't made stuffed Manicotti in quite awhile, so I thought, why not make some on mother's day and have my parents over for dinner. I like stuffed mushrooms with a hot sausage cream cheese filling so I thought, mmmmm I bet that would be good in Manicotti. I usually stuff it with ricotta cheese, so I thought I'd try adding Jimmy Dean's hot sausage to it and see how that turned out. And with the white and red sauce, have you ever had Olive Garden's Fried Lasagna for an appetizer? They do Alfredo sauce on the bottom, and drizzle marinara sauce on top. So there you go.... That's what I did here. Don't try to count calories with this one.... It was Mother's Day and thought I deserved a splurge. I served mine with grilled Chicken breasts(some men in my family think you need more meat for dinner if what I've cooked doesn't require a knife and fork to cut it) I had marinated that in an Garlic& Herb marinade. Also serve with bread sticks or french bread for soaking up the sauce, and a crispy green salad or steamed veggie. YUMMO!! (sorry this picture isn't very pretty, I forgot to take a picture until we had eaten some of it--oops)

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti with White and Red Sauce

1 jar marinara sauce (or you can make your own, I've posted some recipes under sauces)
1 pound package Jimmy Dean Hot sausage
1 small (15 ounce) container Ricotta Cheese
2 whole eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons fresh Basil (remember the pre-chopped Basil in the tube found in Walmart's produce department is awesome)
1 clove minced garlic (a scant teaspoonful)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Half-n-Half
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 box Manicotti Noodles, cooked according to directions on package, drain and rinsed in cold water
Mozzarella Cheese (1 to 2 cups to put on top)

For filling:
Cook Jimmy Dean sausage in medium skillet over medium heat, until browned, chop with your spatula as you cook it so it's in smaller pieces. It's better to not have large chunks in the filling when filling the Manicotti noodles.
When sausage is cooked remove from skillet onto a paper-towel lined plate, to drain the grease and cool.
In a medium size bowl combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and eggs. Stir in basil, garlic, salt, pepper and sausage until well combined. Set aside.
For white sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour and salt. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Stir this constantly so it doesn't burn. Whisk in the half-n-half, stirring while cooking until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Spread white sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish (about a 13x9) so it completely covers the bottom.
Spoon filling into a decorator bag without a tip, or in a large ziploc bag with one corner clipped. Fill your manicotti noodles from both ends by inserting the bag into one end and squeeze just until full, then fill from the other end so your whole noodle has been filled (don't over fill or it will split, but if it does just put the split side down and no one will notice) Place in casserole on top of white sauce. Repeat with remaining manicotti and filling.
Pour your marinara sauce evenly over the manicotti. Sprinkle with 1 to 2 cups of grated Mozzarella cheese--depending on how cheesy you like it.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until sauce is hot and bubbly and manicotti is heated through.

Serve with salad and hot crispy french bread.

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