Three Cheese Manicotti

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Do you want to make a casserole without a bowl, a spoon or a pot? You do? Then this is the casserole for you. I make this often and double to have extra in my freezer to give away.

You DO NOT cook the manicotti prior to filling and freezing. That’s what makes this recipe so easy. The other easy part is the method to mix the filling ingredients. You mix the filling in a freezer bag by kneading it.

You start by preparing your pans with sauce in the bottom.

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You dump the filling into a gallon size FREEZER bag and gently knead until it is mixed up.

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Then you cut a small corner of the bag; about  1/2″. You want the filling to flow easily through the opening, but you don’t want it to pour out too quickly.  Don’t cut it too small because there will be too much pressure and the bag could burst. Once you do it a couple of times, you will get the feel of piping cheese into the shells. I fill one side horizontally and then turn the shell and fill the other.

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Fill all the shells dividing between two 8×8 pans or one 9×13.

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Cover all the shells with the marinara sauce. I use Hunts when I don’t have time to make homemade marinara.

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Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.

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Cover the pans with heavy duty foil labeled with thawing and cooking instructions. This is the most important part when you’re giving a casserole away. It’s handy for people to have the instructions right at their fingertips.

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Shells are $1.50 at Wal-mart and the sauce is $1. Cheese prices range. I leave out the parmesan cheese sometimes and it’s still great. You can substitute ricotta, but try the cottage cheese. It makes a terrific ministry meal to give away to someone in need and it’s easy because there’s “no cooking” involved. P.S. Your family is a ministry too, so be sure to double this recipe to have enough for them and others in need.

Three Cheese Manicotti

Filling Ingredients (gallon bag)

2 cups cottage cheese

1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese

Add:  1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning

¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Remaining Ingredients:

1-8oz. package manicotti

½ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Jar or can of favorite marinara sauce (I use the $1 can Hunts marinara)

Cooking spray

Directions:  Combine filling ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag and knead until thoroughly mixed. Clip a small corner, about 1/2”, of the bag and proceed to fill manicotti according to tray size.

2-8×8 pans:  Spread ¼ cup sauce into each pan if making 2-8×8 pans Pipe ½ of your cheese filling into each tray of manicotti.  Top each pan with ¼ cup mozzarella and 1/8 Parmesan cheese (half of bag)

1-9×13 pan:  Spread about ½ cup of marinara on bottom of pan.  Pipe all cheese into both trays.  Pour about 1 ½ cups of marinara on top.  Spread with ½ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ Parmesan cheese

**Cover manicotti shells entirely with marinara sauce.

Label foil and spray with cooking spray to prevent cheese from sticking.  Cover pan(s) completely.

Baking Day: Thaw completely for 24 hours. Bake covered at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until shells are tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Printable three cheese manicotti recipe

Helping Others

Another reason why I freezer cook is to help others. When I first read about the Proverbs 31 woman, I was in awe at what she was able to do. The footnote about her said she was a combination of women and then I breathed a sigh.  Verse 20 She opens her arms to the poor 
and extends her hands to the needy, spoke to my heart. When I have my freezer stocked with food, I am able to give it away on a whim. If my daughter’s teacher is in need because of a surgery I have a meal. If my friend has a cold and she can’t cook for her family I have a meal. If my husband’s co-worker is having a baby, I have a meal.

I have 2 “no cook” freezer meals that I keep in the freezer for such occasions: black bean casserole and three cheese manicotti. Both meals require no advance cooking prior to freezing.

The Lord also put feeding the homeless on my heart several years ago through Cook and Play ministries. We are cook once a month-the second Thursday of every month and we’d love to have your help. It’s such a REAL way to tell your kids to eat their dinners because there are hungry kids out there. Sure enough, when I take my grade school children to help serve, they see the line of hungry kids and women. We serve at shelter, called the Steadfast Home-which is all women and children. We use two women per month to help serve and grade school kids are welcome to help, too. I like to share my love of cooking with the women and give them a great big smile from Jesus. Would you like to help others, also? Visit our website, Cook and Play, and see how you could help.

Yep, freezer cooking allows you to help yourself and others. It’s a blessing to everyone.

Are you still contemplating freezer cooking? What’s holding you back?

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