I Decided to make manicotti for the missionaries today for dinner. (and I hope that someone it taking the time to make a nice dinner for my missionary son in Washington, too!).
I bought 3 boxes of manicotti shells (which have 14 pasta shells each in them). The first box I cooked all at once. I decided it was better to cook 1/2 a box at a time. Then I just picked up from the boiling water, drained a few seconds and put on a tray with waxed paper.
For the filling, I mixed 2 boxes of ricotta cheese, and 1 box of cottage cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 6 cups of a colby blend shredded cheese. I added 3/4 tsp pepper and just shook in some Italian seasoning (I would think 2 or 3 teaspoons). I mixed it all together then divided it into 6 parts (one part for each 1/2 box of manicotti shells.
I had found this big spritzer cookie maker at a garage sale and bought it since my kids are fans of the spritzer cookies (found HERE on my blog). It has a larger capacity and has a tube ending that was perfect. Using a pastry bag and large tip would also have worked, but I wanted to try my 'new' sprtiz maker. By dividing the filling per row, it made it easier to judge how much filling to put in each shell.
Once the shells were filled, I poured some bottled sauce (just use your favorite sauce here: I like a thick and chunky spaghetti sauce, it could be homemade, but I like bottled for easier assembly). The box stated that you could also NOT cook the noodles, but I didn't want to experiment on the missionaries and possibly end up with crunchy pasta! Let me know if you've ever made this without pre-cooking the pasta.
After placing all the noodles in a Pan (one box per baking pan), cover with foil and bake at 350* for 40 minutes. Take the foil off and sprinkle on a handfull of mozzarella cheese and put back in the over for another 15 minutes without the foil.
Here is one of my finished pans. I cooked up 2 of the pans, and put the 3d pan in the freezer for another day.
I served with easy garlic bread (on my blog HERE) and a leaf salad for a couple easy sides. For dessert, we had root beer floats (another easy thing to serve).