Easy Cheesy Manicotti

frugal recipesIngredients (using ground beef from the freezer, cheap cheese sticks from winco and stockpiled pasta sauce):

6 oz. ground beef (this is the amount of 2 card decks)
6 manicotti noodles
6 Mozzarella string cheeses
3 TB onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 oz. shredded cheese
1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce (Ragu works great here!)
Italian Seasonings to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Boil manicotti noodles as directed on package, being careful not to break. In a skillet cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink, drain any grease. Add onions and garlic. Add in spaghetti sauce and season with Italian spices until perfect. Pour half of the sauce mixture into bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Carefully stuff each manicotti noodle with a piece of string cheese. Line stuffed manicotti noodles into pan. Pour remaining sauce on top of manicotti. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Notes from the chef (a former high school Home Ec teacher):

Every year I would have my beginning cooking high school students make this recipe. It was always a delicious smash-hit. I always gave extra credit to any kitchen group that didn’t break a single manicotti noodle. The trick is to add cooking spray to the water while they’re boiling and remove them just before they’re done.

String cheese makes this recipe a snap. I make another sausage and cheese-stuffed manicotti, but this one is perfect for beginners or kids.  This cheesy goodness can easily hide vegetables, I’ve added minced celery, zucchini and carrots to the sauce, husband unaware. Mushrooms and green peppers are also delicous, throw them in with the onions and garlic.

Recipe and photo credit go to Camille. Thanks!

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