Baked Manicotti

Now that the fall sports season is upon us for the boys (football and soccer) I try to have a little more pasta in our diet. Mostly because the carbs are good for the boys’ stamina but we love pasta as well. I’ve made stuffed shells (see a previous post) but have never made manicotti which is essentially the same thing, but maybe even a little easier to put together.

Every night before a varsity football game 1 or 2 mothers get together and have a pasta feed for the team. This is crazy to me, but Tracey and I are doing one this year. Here are a few of the items we have to buy/ make: 8 gallons of milk, 10 pounds of spaghetti noodles, 10 pounds of spaghetti sauce, 12 loaves of garlic bread…you get the idea a TON of food feeding between 30 and 50 MALES including coaches.

I think I am going to make a lot of this recipe for that night. It was really that fast and easy. Enjoy!

Baked Manicotti


4 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup pesto
12 manicotti shells, cooked and rinsed in cold water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 cup sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish; set aside. Mix cheeses, egg and pesto; spoon into a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag. Use a scissors to cut off one corner from the bottom of the bag. Squeeze cheese mixture into both ends of the shell; place in the dish and cover all with the remaining sauce; cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes.

NOTES: I used low fat ricotta cheese and it tasted fine. I also topped it with Mozarella Cheese before baking.

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Since Fall seems to be starting, Adam requested a big pot of chili for this weekend, I usually just put it in the crock pot and anyone can eat whenever or however much they want. I have a few chili recipes, but wanted to try something different so I went to and found this blue-ribbon winning recipe that is served at tailgates before the Purdue Boilermaker football games.

Hmmm, football and chili a great combination and since the Packer’s played Saturday, (and WON) what could go wrong?! Ok, so I forgot a few ingredients at the store, but it was OK, since those ingredients were the ones that would make it really spicy and I don’t like things quite so spicy. If you look up the recipe you will see that it is different than mine in that I left out the items that I didn’t put in because I forgot to buy them, but it turned out great anyway and THIS will be my go-to chili recipe from now on! Hope you like it as well.

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili


2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (6ounce) can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon bacon bits
4 cubes beef bouillon
1 cup beer
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar


Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease. Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, bacon bits, bouillon and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, Tabasco, salt, pepper, paprika and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better the taste will be.

NOTES: Serve with Fritos and shredded Cheddar cheese on top. Instead of the Italian sausage, I used Andouille sausage. I cut it lengthwise and then diced it up.
A big thanks to the moms and dads of the Purdue Boilermakers for this award winning recipe!


One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’

‘It was great, Dad…’

‘Did you see how poor people live?’ the father asked

‘Oh yeah,’ said the son

‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?’ asked the father.

The son answered:

‘I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.’

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, ‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are…’

Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.

We will be sharing this with our sons tonight!

Caramel Bars

The season of fall sports is upon us, so the cooking becomes more minimal, although I try to make up for it on the weekends, but more bars and desserts get made for the endless games, pre-games, picnics and tailgates.

What I’m doing is preparing you for the next few months of recipes that are more about the kids and the needs of their teams rather than what I really want to make. However, I am bound and determined to still get some good cooking in on the weekends. I just love the fall when the air is cooler and the smells of what’s cooking in the oven waft through the house.

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever be able to keep this blog up, I mean how many recipes can I really have?? Then I look at the pile of magazines, (4 cooking ones alone per month), cookbooks (2 new ones last week including Julia Child’s), Taste of Home responsibilities and all the websites I follow about cooking and I just KNOW that I have a duty, a responsibility to keep on cookin’.

So with this in mind, I will stay up until all hours of the night (I do anyway) and sift through all of these magazines, cookbooks and websites to bring you, my faithful followers, the best of the best in easy to make recipes. WHEW! I have a lot to live up to, glad I have to go to Wausau for a soccer game this afternoon, I will have an hour in the car to get myself started (I won’t be driving, I assure you).

Caramel Bars


38 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together the caramels and heavy cream, stirring occasionally until smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the melted butter until well blended. Press half the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Reserve the rest. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the caramel mixture over the top and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over everything. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 18-20 minutes. Cut into squares while it is still warm.

NOTES: This recipe is adapted from

Hotel Key Cards

Food For Thought…

Ever wonder what is on your magnetic hotel key card???


1. Customer’s Name
2. Customer’s partial home address
3. Hotel Room number
4. Check-in date and time
5. Customer’s credit card number and expiration date!

When you turn them in to the front desk your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An employee can take a hand full of cards home and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.

Simply put, hotels don’t erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest.

The bottom line is:
Keep the cards, it is NOT unlawful to take them, destroy them but NEVER leave them in your room or in the wastebasket. Cut up the cards or run a small magnet over the strip a few times to erase the information on the card.