Birthday milestone/dinner

Tomorrow is Ross’s 18th birthday, but since he’ll be at school until all hours for play rehearsal, we celebrated today.


His birthday menu has not changed for years: manicotti.

It was a marathon day in the kitchen: baking his cake in the morning, then making marinara sauce and then assembling the dish.

Here is the recipe:

Marinara sauce

2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

15-ounce can tomato sauce

(2) 12-ounce cans tomato paste

¼ cup fresh parsley

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a 5-quart pot, brown onion and garlic in oil.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Cook on medium high about 20 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce begins to caramelize on the bottom of your pan. You will have to monitor this, as it is difficult to give a precise time because of differences in appliances. Use a long-handled spoon to feel whether or not a coating has begun to form on the bottom of your pan. When this happens, the acids in the tomatoes are converting to sugars and this step makes the sauce so much tastier. Turn off the heat when you feel the coating, wait about 30-45 minutes for the sauce to cool and then use your spoon to scrape it off the bottom of your pan and incorporate it into the rest of the sauce. The coating will be a darker color than the rest of the sauce, but that’s okay.

16 ounces manicotti (tube-shaped pasta), cooked to package directions.



4 cups fat-free cottage cheese

8 ounces finely shredded mozzarella cheese

⅓ cup dried bread crumbs

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.


Use a large pastry bag containing cheese mixture to fill the pasta.

pastry bag


Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

You will need a couple of extra baking dishes to hold all the manicotti—these will be your leftovers for another night. 

Place the stuffed manicotti tubes in the dish so they slightly overlap.


Top with marinara sauce. 

Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly. 

Garnish after baking with fresh parsley.


Happy birthday to our youngest, our band baby, our heart attack child. Love you!



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Filed under home cookin', kids

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