This week is shaping up to be the week of casseroles and skillet dinners. We have concerts, meetings, shopping and schoolwork to finish up before the 19th. Thankfully school will be out after that and we can really relax before Christmas.
G had his first 6th Grade Orchestra concert. They don’t start instruments here until 6th grade but it is amazing how far the kids come in only 3 months. I didn’t hear a squawk or a squeak. He looked so handsome and far older than 11. It killed me to see him like this.
So we are fitting dinners in around everything else. I love having casseroles because I can just stick them in the oven before we want to eat and can make them any time during the day and not have to worry about mixing everything together before we go or when we get home.
This recipe started out to be a Chicken Alfredo Lasagna but when I didn’t have any lasagna noodles I needed to change quickly. So, it became Cheesy Chicken Manicotti.
This dish was ultra rich and creamy. It was amazing! Everyone loved it even my little ricotta cheese hater. I think because of the extra cheese, chicken and spinach the ricotta texture wasn’t as pronounced as in lasagna so he actually ate a serving and a half with out balking.
I served this dish with green beans and a green side salad.
For my mostly gluten-free son because I did not have gluten-free manicotti noodles I spread the chicken mixture over a layer of his gluten-free noodles. Then I topped with a second layer of noodles before pouring the cream sauce over the top. I also sprinkled Mozzarella over the top of his dish just like ours.
- 1 lb. chicken breasts, cooked and cubed into tiny pieces
- 1 (8 oz.) container ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 (16 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 (8 oz) package manicotti shells (about 14)
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (get the good stuff you great yourself)
- 2 TBSP butter
- salt & pepper
- garlic powder to taste (if desired)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 casserole dish by spraying with non-stick spray.
- Boil manicotti noodles to al dente in a large pot. Drain and lay on a flat surface not touching or they may stick together. Do NOT OVER COOK the noodles. You want them fairly firm but cooked.
- While noodles are cooking mix chicken, 1 cup mozzarella, ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Once the noodles have cooked and cooled enough so that you can handle them start filling them with the chicken mixture. Use a teaspoon or butter knife to gently press the mixture into the tubes filling them completely.
- Lay a single layer in your casserole dish. Mine held all 14 pieces of manicotti but it was like a jigsaw puzzle getting them to fit.
- Make the alfredo sauce. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL! Add in the cheese, salt and pepper. If you wish to add garlic now would be the time to do it. Stir until all cheese has melted. Allow the pan to come back to a light simmer but never to a boil. Stir constantly until mixture starts to thicken. Just at about the point you think this will never happen and are ready to give up it will start to thicken. It may take 15-20 minutes of stirring.
- Pour Alfredo sauce over the manicotti and top with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until heated through. Top will be starting to brown and be bubbly around the edges.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes before serving so that pieces retain their form. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
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