Homemade Manicotti

3_FullSizeRenderHere’s my disclaimer.  I did not learn this from my Italian mom who learned it from her’s and so on.  I just am in love with Italian food. This is easy enough that my preteen daughters can do it and even the pickiest of eaters loves it.  I use my own sauce but store bought will do.  Its also a great place to hide shredded vegetables.

Homemade Manicotti

Noodles (Really, they’re like making crepes):

3 c. flour
2 c. milk
6 eggs
1 tsp. salt

FullSizeRender Whisk until smooth. Put 2 T. at a time on a hot greased skillet and spread into a 5 inch circle. Cook low to medium heat until set. Try not to brown. You technically shouldn’t turn them but sometimes they start to brown on the bottom but the top is not set so I quick flip them and then take them right out of the pan. Stack on waxed paper. I used to layer them between waxed paper but I realized that they stick more to the waxed paper than they do to each other.

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Filling:

2 lbs. ricotta cheese
½ c. grated romano, parmesan, or asiago (my personal favorite) or any blend of these
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp. dry parsley or 1 ½ T. of fresh parsley

1_FullSizeRenderYou also need 2 jars of spaghetti sauce and the equivalent of two 8X11 casserole dishes

Spread ½ of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the dishes. Fill noodles with approximately 1/8 cup of ricotta filling. (This is approximate because, if you’re like me, you’ll make noodles of varying sizes.) Lie them up in the bottom of the pan. (I turn them over so the weight of them holds the top shut.)

1_FullSizeRenderWhen you’ve filled all of the noodles, pour the other half of the spaghetti sauce over the top of the manicotti. I like to add a sprinkling of asiago on top but it’s not necessary. Cover and Bake at 350o for 20 minutes then uncover and bake 20 more minutes.

Usually there are no leftovers in our house but it does freeze well. Happy eating!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

2_FullSizeRender I’ve been trying to slowly switch to more natural products in my home. Since I’m a single mom with 4 eternally hungry preteens and teens and who just so happens to be in grad school, I’m not exactly rolling in the dough. So, while I would love to switch to all organic products, I have had to be selective in my endeavors. I started with cleaning and personal products. I have had a few victories in personal products but have really hit it out of the park in cleaning products. But my favorite, by far, is my laundry detergent recipe. I no longer buy laundry detergent, even when it’s a totally awesome sale (because great sale prices do not make the chemicals in the commercial detergent go away). Instead, I use this recipe:

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Homemade Organic (at times) Laundry Detergent

16 cups Baking Soda (not quite one of the giant bags from Sam’s Club)
12 cups Washing Soda (2 boxes)
8 cups grated Castile Soap or a combo of Castile and Fels Naptha (4 bars total)

The original recipe calls for lavender essential oil but I skipped this due to our allergy problem.  I use my food processor with the grating blade to grate the soap.  The added bonus is that my food processor is sparkling clean after I wash it up.  4_FullSizeRender

Mix it up and store it in a sealed container. The powder can be a little irritating to breathe so go hog wild mixing it up. I usually mix it a bit then close the lid and give it a few shakes. Depending on how dirty your laundry is, use 1/8 to ¼ cup per load.

We live on a farm which means that directly following winter is Mud Season. During the muddy spring, I use 3 bars of Dr. Bronners and 1 bar of Fels Naptha.

I bought my ingredients bulk through Wal-Mart and Amazon or at Wegman’s. The final cost was $22.59 and it lasted us approximately 3 ½ months.

Many thanks to Evelyn at Delightful Creations for the original recipe. You can check out her blog here.