Make-Ahead Meals: Stuffed Manicotti

We made it! We’re on the shores of Gichigami, enjoying the 14 inches of snow that were dumped here this week. Kola Nut was thoroughly impressed by the deer grazing outside our front door.

And outside our back door? It’s Lac-Supérieur itself, greeting me home. How I missed you, Big-Sea-Water.

Now we sit and wait for others to arrive with kids and food stuffs. My young ones have already taken advantage of the pool area in the main lodge. There will be snowshoeing, snowboarding, skiing and more swimming. And eating.

We brought lasagna and french toast bakes and egg bakes and food, food, food. I made a bunch of dishes ahead of time and packed them in our cooler. They’re ready to throw in the oven to bake, little to no prep work to maximize fun and minimize dishes and work on my vacation. I did not come on here to work.

Although taking four kids swimming is a lot of work…

A few weeks ago I decided cottage cheese sounded good. However, I’m really the only one who eats it. My kids will eat a little, but it’s one of those things that kind of sits around after we eat it once or twice, and then it gets kind of soupy. I don’t like soupy cottage cheese.

I went for a small container. Then I realized that one small container cost MORE than a container over double the size. So, I bought the big one, and then I grabbed some ricotta from across the aisle, a box of manicotti shells, a jar of sauce and some Parmesan cheese.
Incidentally, I also grabbed a box of no-boil lasagna noodles to make a lasagna at the same time. I like to multitask.
Into the oven it goes to bake.


Stuffed Manicotti


8oz box of manicotti, approximately 12 shells
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
3 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook manicotti to al dente according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook. Drain, rinse with water and set aside.

Heat olive oil in pan. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and basil; add spinach leaves and cook until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat. Mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese together. Beat eggs and add to cheese mixture. Stir in mushrooms and spinach.

Fill shells by holding them open and piping the cheese mixture in with a pastry bag, cookie press, sandwich bag with the corner cut off, whatever you happen to have. Place them in a 9×13 baking dish with 1/2 the jar of sauce spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Top with remaining sauce.

Place in freezer until ready to use.

Top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes until cheese begins to brown.


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