Friday, October 2, 2009

What's For Dinner? Easy Italian

Ciao! I know I haven’t blogged a “What’s For Dinner” since our gigantic steak feast on Saturday, but this week the Atwood’s have gone Italian! Well, not quite—there’s no denying Nathan’s Irish roots and my Dutch stature, but we have been fixing more Italian-inspired dishes this week. I decided to hold off doing a What’s For Dinner until I could post the two together.

Authentic Italian chefs would probably croak right now if they saw these recipes, but one of my favorite things to make is easy Italian food. So, this week I cooked up some cheese Manicotti and Homemade Pizza.

I was so excited to use my pizza stone for the first time (we received it as a wedding gift), and it made the pizza crust extra delicious in my opinion.

Originally my plans were to make a homemade pizza crust, but those plans got ditched when Nathan and I scored a sweet coupon for Pillsbury Already-Made Refrigerated Pizza Crust (I know, I know . . . but like I said, I love easy).

One of our favorite pizza varieties is Pineapple & Ham. Unfortunately, I had no ham on hand so we used pepperoni instead. It still turned out yummy. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 can Pillsbury Pizza Crust (you can find these in the same place as the canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
  • About 2 c. Mozzarella Cheese
  • ½ jar of Ragu Six Cheese Pasta Sauce (I like this better than regular Pizza sauce because the spices are already added)
  • 1 small can of Pineapple rings or chunks in 100% juice
  • Pizza pan or Pizza stone
I just made up my pizza and cooked it at 425 degrees for about 17 minutes.

In the oven

Dinner's Ready!

I’ve never tried my hand at manicotti, but Nathan really enjoys it so I thought I’d give it a try. This is a super easy dish that can be jazzed up so nicely. I kept it simple with just a few fresh spices and ricotta cheese, but next time I think I’ll add spinach and a meat sauce.

Here’s what I used:
  • 1 box Manicotti noodles
  • 1 (15 oz) Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TSP fresh basil
  • 1 TSP fresh parsley
  • A little cottage cheese (my egg and ricotta mixture was still a little runny, so I added a little cottage cheese to thicken it up)
  • 1 c. Mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ jar pasta sauce—we used Ragu Six Cheese again (gotta’ love those coupons!)
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  1. Cook Noodles
  2. Meanwhile, I heat olive oil in a medium skillet and add garlic and onion (for some reason I love this smell in my kitchen!). After they “sweat” a little, add dry spices and simmer on low for about 3-5 mins and set aside to cool.
  3. When the noodles are done, drain and set aside to cool, then mix up egg with ricotta cheese and add a little cottage cheese too (if needed). Then add spice mixture to the cheese mixture and stuff the little noodles. :)
  4. Spread the bottom of the pan with sauce, and place stuffed noodles in the pan, top with mozzarella cheese and more sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, and then uncover and cook for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

I served this up with some Garlic Toast and a nice side salad complete with apples (trying to get rid of those darn things!) and celery. I have to share the infamous and hilarious quote by my husband as we sit down to eat our salad and meal. He remarks on how yummy everything looks, glances at his bowl of salad, sighs and says:

“Sometimes I view salad as an obstacle to get to my meal”

I guess my vegetable trickery is coming back to haunt me.

For now, Arrivederci!


  1. Looks yummy! I will definitely have to try the manicotti!

  2. So how do you like the Apples in the salad? Granny told me you are making lots of pies :)

  3. I'm making my grandma's sauce and meatballs tonight; where do you get the cute titles for your blog: What's For Dinner, Thrifty Thursday, etc? This is so much fun!

  4. Christy--I L-O-V-E apples in salad! :) And yes, I made a big batch of pies to bring to work and they got devoured. I think I'm going to use the rest of the apples for the cinnamon apple rolls recipe your mom sent me :)


We love hearing from our readers. Thanks for stopping by to leave us a comment!
All the best,