My kids love pasta! What they really love is homemade pasta. I can't always find the time in my day to whip up a fresh batch of pasta for every meal that requires it <--go figure! LOL
I buy the organic brand of pasta by Whole Foods. It is super inexpensive--$1.29 a box. This is not an ad for Whole Foods it is just where I shop and so they get some free advertising from me. You're very welcome Whole Foods.
What makes this manicotti kid friendly you ask? I believe it is the cream cheese. Isabella devoured a whole pan by herself in about three meals. She absolutely loved the filling and has since requested this dish many times. I know this is not a traditional filling but remember I am trying to keep it kid friendly.
I still included the parmesan and ricotta cheeses but the flavor of the cream cheese made this dish a familiar flavor to my six year old. We eat a lot of cream cheese in our home. Well, we eat a lot of cheese PERIOD.
I feel a bit like Martha Stewart at the moment with my manicotti picture. LOL I will be honest, pasta is hard to photograph and this is not the best image but hopefully you will forgive me for sharing the one and only picture I have of this dish.
I promise it is creamy, cheesy and melts in your mouth delicious.
If you wish to make your own pasta, I have a wonderful Spinach Pasta on the blog. If you wish to have plain pasta, then visit this pasta making page too with step by step instructions using a pasta rolling machine.
To make this gluten free you will need to use gluten free noodles or make your own gluten free sheet pasta. I do this all the time and it works perfectly. Here are several links:
Kid Friendly Cheese Manicotti
Serves: one pan-6 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
12-14 manicotti shells, cooked
1 large jar of marinara sauce or your favorite homemade sauce
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (2 cups for filling/2 cups for topping)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 15oz. container of ricotta cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons fresh chives, diced small
I made two pans with 7 shells each. I froze one tray for a later lunch or dinner.
Preheat oven to 350.
1. Prepare shells according to package instructions.
2. Pour marinara sauce in bottom of pan, enough to cover with a 1/4 inch of sauce. (The amount will vary depending on size of pan you use).
3. In a medium bowl, combine all of the cheeses, garlic, pepper/salt and chives. Combine well.
4. Stuff each shell with cheese and place side by side in the marinara sauce.
5. Add more marinara across to the top of the stuffed shells, top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
**To freeze: Cover with foil. On the day of baking, remove from freezer and bake at 350 for one hour. Remove foil half way through baking time.
30 day shelf life in freezer.