Meal Plan Monday: Happy Anniversary!

Meal Plan Monday

Happy 8th anniversary to the most wonderful man on the planet!  It’s impossible to believe that its been eight years already.  I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it!

This week is a busy week.

I am making one dish I’ve never before shared with you, Italian Sausage Spinach Cannelloni.

This dish is special to me for many reasons.  It was from one of those little Land O’Lakes cookbooks (the kind you get at the grocery store checkout) (Land O’Lakes Recipe Collection Pasta published in 1992).  My mom made this when I was younger, and my sister and I requested it simply for the tomato sauce on pasta.

To avoid having to boil the manicotti tubes, simply double the bechamel and tomato sauces.  I’ve made it that way, and it works perfectly.

Otherwise, the noodles tend to stick together closed, making filling them impossible.  This recipe is completely worth the time and effort.

This is also the recipe I made (and froze) for Josh and I to eat on our wedding night in our new apartment.  And, it’s the recipe I’m making tonight for our anniversary, 8 years later.

Italian Sausage Spinach Cannelloni

Source:  Land O’Lakes Recipe Collection Pasta (1992) and stored on

14 uncooked dry manicotti tubes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 (28-ounce) can chopped Italian tomatoes, reserve juice

1 can tomato paste

2 T chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2 t dried)

1 t sugar

1/2 t salt

1/4 t coarsely ground black pepper (fresh ground!)

1 lb bulk Italian sausage

additional 1/4 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

2 cups chopped fresh spinach (or 10 ounces frozen, defrosted and drained)

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 t dried oregano

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup ground white (or not) pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

(Note:  Some of the ingredients are in multiple parts of the recipe, so I mentioned them separately.)

  1. Cook manicotti according to package directions; drain. Set aside. (Or don’t and increase the sauce measurements. If increasing the sauce measurements you may want to use a roaster or a deeper pan.).
  2. To prepare tomato sauce: In Dutch oven (or large heavy saucepan) add olive oil and 1 cup onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until onions are soft (5-8 minutes). Add tomatoes, reserved juice, and all remaining sauce ingredients (tomato paste, basil, sugar, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce just comes to a boil (2-4 minutes). Cover; reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 35 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare filling: in 10-inch skillet add sausage, 1/4 cup onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sausage is browned (10-12 minutes). Drain off fat. Add spinach. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until spinach is soft (2-3 minutes). Place sausage mixture in large bowl. Cool 10 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan, eggs, oregano, and 1/4 t pepper. Set aside.
  4. To prepare bechamel sauce: in 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly (1 minute). Add milk, whipping cream, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (5-8 minutes).
  5. Heat oven to 375. Divide filling between manicotti tubes using a small spoon to fill each tube with about 2 T of filling (I use my clean hands–think stuffing a roll of coins). Place 1/4 cup tomato sauce on bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking pan (more if you don’t boil the noodles and in a deeper pan). Place filled tubes on top of tomato sauce. Pour bechamel sauce over tubes. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
  6. **This is a great OAMC recipe. Before cooking/prep day, I would prepare the tomato sauce and sausage/spinach filling mixture and chill (I would prepare the tomato sauce anyway to serve as a pasta sauce–I could literally drink the stuff!). Make the bechamel sauce the day of your big session. Fill the tubes and prep the pans. Cook 45 minutes (Covered!), wrap in foil and freeze. On “eating day,” cook at 375 until tubes are al dente (they probably already will be) and bubbly and cheese is melted. I would keep it covered for most of the cooking time. This is a very very rich recipe, so I would serve with a salad of bitter greens tossed in a sharp vinaigrette. It says it serves 8, but, as I said, the sauces are so rich that I can’t really eat more than one tube, so I would say it serves 14.

What am I serving the rest of the week?  Look below to find out!

Saturday:  dinner out at Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro (for anniversary)

Sunday:  snacky dinner/cheese tray with spinach-artichoke bread

Monday:  canneloni, garlic bread, salad, cupcakes

Tuesday:  pulled pork sandwiches

Wednesday: potato bar with leftover pulled pork

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  pizza and corn

Saturday:  burgers

Sunday:  King Ranch Chicken

Whats on your plan for this week?


One thought on “Meal Plan Monday: Happy Anniversary!

  1. Pingback: We Plan Wednesday: MIL and SFIL Trip 2017!!! | Full Happy Muffin and Mama: The Blog

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