I have regular meals I cycle through weekly or fortnightly as a Mum to many. My dinners need to be very easy to make and quick to prepare and pretty much no-brainers.
While the kids are at school, my day is taken up with cleaning, washing, baby care and blogging. I don't even consider dinner while they are gone as there's just too much to do. (Apart from grabbing something from the freezer to defrost, such as meat, on the way to getting stuck into the giant list of duties I face daily.)
Before I know it, 4pm rolls around and there's kids everywhere, and the trails of mess and noise are back in full swing. It's a real why did I bother moment for me; I can barely enter my own kitchen for a sea of little people and the house looks as if I have done nothing all day.
I bet it's the same at your house?
Dinner needs to be fast and easy so that I can stay on top of things into the evening and not drain too much of my fading energy.
Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni is one of our favourite things and I have been preparing this recipe for years. If you do have the luxury of time in your day, you can make it hours ahead and refrigerate until needed or get really motivated and organise to freeze half of a double batch for a meal on another stressful day.
1 large box of pre-cooked cannelloni tubes, (I use Barilla.)
250-300gms of ricotta cheese,
1 bunch of fresh spinach cooked and chopped or one 250gm pack of frozen spinach cooked and cooled.
2 egg yolks,
Salt and pepper to taste,
Ground nutmeg to season,
1/2 a cup or more of Tasty cheese,
2 cloves of fresh garlic chopped or 2 heaped teaspoons of prepared garlic from a jar.
1 tin of diced tomatoes,
1 jar of prepared pasta sauce (ie Dolmio)
Fresh chopped basil leaves and Italian parsley,
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of olive oil.
Parmesan, extra Tasty cheese and sliced tomatoes to top.
Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, seasonings, cheese and garlic together in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, mix the ingredients for the sauce together. (Drain a little of the tomato juice off from the diced tomatoes to reduce the water content.)
Place a dash of olive oil into the base of a rectangular baking dish and pour enough pasta sauce to line the base.
Begin stuffing the ricotta mixture into your cannelloni tubes. (I use a cake fork to do this as they do the task perfectly.) Place each filled tube in a line in your dish until you have filled a row. Pour more tomato sauce mix on top and begin the process again until you have finished your filling.
Top with the remaining sauce and sliced tomatoes, cheese and some fresh herbs to decorate.
Bake in your oven at 200 degrees C for 30 mins (middle shelf) or until piping hot. Cover with foil if the top is browning too quickly.
Serve with garlic bread and vegetables on the side.
Serves four as a stand alone dish (or more if you have picky little people like me). One dish serves all eight of us at our house but our kids eat like birds! Serve with lots of extras if you want to extend it further.
New helping skills this week: Up on the stool and into the cutlery drawer for a dig in the spoons.
The teething Missy prefers to chomp on a soft spoon at the moment (self-selected of course), and likes the noise and mess she can make when she's in this space.
Want something special for dessert too?
When do you manage to prepare your family meals in your busy day?
Do you have a family favourite dish too?
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