Trying something new–stuffed manicotti

I’m a creature of habit. I tend to cook the same things for my family. I order the same things off menus of familiar restaurants. I’m not that spontaneous. And I steer clear of certain aisles in the grocery store all together.

So when Husband came home with portobello mushroom smoked chicken sausage, I thought what the hell am I doing to do with that?

Husband offered to eat the links raw, which convinced me he really is the rugged mountain man I thought he was.

Instead, I went to the store, picked up a few easy ingredients, came home and cooked THE BEST pasta dish EVER. It tasted like something we ordered from Macaroni Grill. Husband kept blinking at me during dinner, like I was a mirage…wearing a chef’s hat.

So, of course, I want to share the recipe with you. It’s easy cheesy.

Portobello Mushroom Sausage and Cheese Manicotti

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup dry red wine. (I used a 2008 Gnarly Head Merlot)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

dashes of Italian seasoning

15 oz ricotta cheese

2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded or diced

3 oz Parmesan cheese, graded

3 links portobello mushroom sausage, chopped

pepper

10 manicotti shells

Directions:

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. Add red wine, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in sausage and season with pepper to taste.

Boil manicotti. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 1/4 cup sauce along bottom of oiled 13x9x2 glass dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 1/3 cup cheese-sausage mix. Arrange stuffed manicotti in single layer in dish and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over top. Bake uncovered until heated through and bubbling, 20-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

That’s it! Easy, right? This isn’t a dish I’d make frequently, but it’s definitely going to be one we treat ourselves with from time to time.

To top it off, Husband did the dishes after dinner! Score!

**WRITING UPDATE: Vampires of Crimson Bay Book #2 will have a title and cover soon. I can’t wait to share them with you! Intervamption continues to get great reviews–THANK YOU, readers! I’m chugging away through Book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series. Tentative finish date is November. (I’m really gonna need Fall rain to get me through.)

Those Vampires in Crimson Bay are HUNGRY! Recipes today!

I rolled out of bed this morning in a great mood. Other than the nail stuck in my tire that had the sucker all but flat, today’s been good.

In light of my odd morning mood–believe me, I am sooo not the morning person around my household–I managed to find two recipes from the Vampires of Crimson Bay’s A How-to Cookbook by Miss Canine

Truly Bloody Mary
• 1 ½ oz vodka
• 3 oz tomato juice
• 3 drops Tabasco sauce
• 1 dash lemon juice
a pinprick of AB blood

Blend all ingredients. Serve with a blood-soaked celery stick. For mundane tastes, omit the pinprick of blood and replace the blood-soaked celery stick with a dry one.

Tomato basil and O+ soup
• 4 cups chopped seeded peeled tomato
• 4 cups tomato juice
1 cup of your favorite blood type, freshly siphoned
• 1/3 cup fresh basil
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

Bring tomato and juice to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Place tomato mixture and basil in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Add cream cheese, stirring well with a whisk, and cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes).

For a healthier version, substitute the blood of a dieting mundane or light cream cheese for the ingredients in the classic recipe. And for mundane tastes, simply omit the blood.

Enjoy!

Sex

Do I have your attention yet? I thought so. Today’s topic has this Portuguese gal blushing–and do you know how bright a pink blush has to glow in order to encroach on olive skin? I don’t either because you can’t ask a flush of skin color anything, but you get my point. It’s a rare sight on my chubby-cheeks. Anyway, I can talk about s-e-x, without being looked down upon, can’t I? Heaven forbid the Crude-Police shut down the blog…

As much as I’d like to share those scorching-hot scenes from my manuscripts (I really wouldn’t–I’m blushing merely talking about them), I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to let you in on two ways to prepare your sex that will have party-guests licking their lips in approval.

Sex in a Pan
You’ll need:
1 cp flour
1 stick margarine, melted
2-8 oz. pkgs cream cheese at room temp
2 cps powdered sugar
cool whip
2 bxs instant chocolate pudding
3 1/2 cps milk

How to prepare:
Mix flour and melted margarine and pat down in 9×13 pyrex dish. Bake at 350 degrees until golden (around 25 min); let cool.
Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 1/2 cool whip together then spread on cooled crust.
Mix pudding and milk then put on top of cream cheese layer.
Spread cool whip on top. Refrigerate until served.

Sex on the Beach

You’ll need:
2/3 oz. peach schnapps
1 1/3 oz. vodka
1 1/3 oz. cranberry juice
1 1/3 oz. orange juice

How to prepare:
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass.

So there you have it. I cooked Sex in a Pan for dessert on St. Patrick’s Day and got rave reviews. People ooh’d and aah’d and moaned in delight. In fact, it was go good I should’ve passed around second helpings.

And Sex on the Beach is good for any occasion. Oh, there I go blushing again.

Mexican Dip

My college roommate (Hi Michelle!) made this awesomely-scrumptious dip during our Superbowl parties. I now make it every time people come over. If I don’t, I get complaints…except my friends and family don’t just complain…they hunt me around the kitchen with hungry scowls and sharpened pitchforks.

So here’s the recipe.

You’ll need:

1 pkg. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (don’t go Light, you’ll regret it on this one)
1 sm. can of diced jalapenos
1 sm. can of diced green chilis
1 sm. can of sliced olives
1 can of Hormel No Bean Chili
1 bag of Colby Jack cheese (Cheddar Jack)

Spread an even layer of cream cheese in a 9×13 Pyrex dish. In separate bowl, mix jalapenos, chilis, olives, and Hormel chili. Pour mixture over cream cheese. Spread entire bag of Colby Jack cheese over top. Microwave for 5 minutes on high or bake in oven until warm and cheese is melted.

That’s it. No joke. Serve with tortilla chips. The ingredients are cheap, it’s ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS, and it’s way easy to make. You’ll get compliments on this dip guaranteed–I do every time…

And it keeps the hungry, pitch-fork wielding family members at bay.

Turkey Tomato Soup

I just have to share this with you. It’s the best thing to simmer on the stove on a rainy day like today. And it’s a deliciously easy recipe.

You’ll need:
1 lb. lean ground turkey
3/4 sliced or baby carrots
1 red onion
1 celery rib
1 garlic clove
1 envelope mild taco seasoning, divided
3 1/2 cups water (or 4 if you’re sharing. heh.)
1 cn. Italian diced tomatoes
1/2 t. oregano (or a few shakes of Italian seasoning.)

What to do:
~Cook turkey, carrots, diced onion, diced celery, garlic, and 1 TBS taco seasoning over medium heat until turkey is browned and onions are clear.
~Stir in water, tomatoes, and remaining taco seasoning, Italian spices.
~Bring to boil.
~Reduce heat, cover, simmer 20 minutes

~Makes 6 servings (or 5 for me and 1 for the family in my house)

Seriously, this is one of the best soups I’ve ever made. And it’s easy. Serve it with some french or garlic bread and you’ve got either a hearty meal or a great side.

I think I’ll make some now. Yummy.