It’s very easy for me to get stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking dinner for my family.  Busy schedules, limited time, and exhaustion play a factor in how inspired or motivated I’ll feel.  Many home cooks I know have a plan B on hand.  For example, I always have frozen udon noodles and edamame on hand for those nights when I don’t feel like “thinking” about what I’m going to make.  When inspiration seems to elude me, another way I can find motivation is by challenging myself to use certain ingredients in my kitchen.  This can kick start my creativity and get it flowing.

For several months, I’ve had a box of frozen spinach in my freezer.  I’ve been reminded of it daily every time I open the freezer door.  Today I discovered a box of manicotti pasta I had purchased a long time ago in my pantry.  Since I had an empty house tonight, I decided to challenge myself to come up with something good using these two items.  The more I looked through various ingredients I had on hand the more excited I got about the how I might make the filling.  After finding two frozen chicken breasts and a can or artichoke hearts I knew I was well on my way to a great dinner for tonight.

Making manicotti is fairly simple.  Cooked manicotti is filled with a savory cheese filling and baked in a marinara sauce.  My older daughter loves Alfredo sauce, so I decided to make a Chicken Alfredo Manicotti filled with three different types of cheeses, chicken, spinach, and artichoke hearts.  The dinner was filling and delicious.  I also felt proud of myself for not letting the spinach and pasta go to waste.  Add a green salad and a great family dinner is served!

Recipe: Chicken Alfredo Manicotti

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 45 min(s)

Manicotti with three different types of cheeses, chicken, spinach, and artichoke hearts.

Ingredients

    • 1 (15 ounce) container nonfat ricotta cheese
    • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
    • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
    • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped in small pieces
    • 1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
    • 1 egg
    • Salt and pepper
    • 14 uncooked manicotti shells
    • 1 - 15 oz jar store bought alfredo sauce or 2 cups of homemade

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the manicotti according to the package directions.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, chicken, artichoke, and egg until well combined.
  4.  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the filling to a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag and cut a 1/2-inch snip from
  6. the bottom corner of theh bag. Push the filling down towards the opening. Twist the
  7. bag on top and fill each manicotti shell with filling.
  8. Pour 3/4 cup of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Carefully
  9. place the filled shells in the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce on top of the shells
  10. and sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

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