Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Pink Teacup ~ Soul Food In Manhattan ~ Pink Saturday

The Pink Teacup, located in New York's historic Greenwich Village neighborhood at 42 Grove Street, between Bleeker Street and Bedford Street, is not an afternoon tea place, but a Southern soul food restaurant. It has been serving tasty cornbread, chitterlings, mac-n-cheese and fried chicken to hungry New Yorkers for over 50 years!
The history of the Pink Teacup from it's website:
"The Pink Tea Cup was opened in 1954 by Mary Raye, a native of Florida. Mary had always dreamed of owning her own business. Cooking was her great love, and after working as a cook in many hotels and private homes, she dared to venture out on her own.
Mary retired in 1979 and her husband, Charles, continued the tradition. In 1982, he moved the restaurant to its current location where the increased seating enable more people to savor the down home cooking. Charles added a few items to the menu and his special touch of Georgia love.
In 1989, Charles turned the business over to his niece, Seretta Ford with only one request, "continue with the recipes that we have used for the last thirty-five years." Lisa, Seretta's daughter, joined her shortly thereafter, and the rest is history."

The cozy, no reservations and "cash only" restaurant has soft rose-colored walls and crowded rows of petite wooden tables. It serves hearty portions of grits, fried chicken, biscuits, collard greens, pork chops, and biscuits, among other entrees and sides, and all dinners are served with two vegetables, soup, salad, hot bread, Jello or bread pudding.
It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a menu within a modest price range.
The Pink Teacup is a popular place for locals, and their "Wall of Fame" is full of signed photos of celebrities who have eaten there also, including Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

Photo sources

To see more Pink Saturday blog posts be sure to visit our dedicated host, Beverly, at the blog How Sweet The Sound to see a link list of all the blogs participating in Pink Saturday.
Enjoy the color pink today!

Edited on 6/22/11 to add:

Sadly, after 56 years at the same location, the original Pink Teacup Restaurant closed and a new version of the restaurant opened on  88 7th Ave S., just north of Bleecker St in Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan.  I have not had a chance to visit this location as yet, but as soon as I do I will blog about it! Meanwhile check out it's new website.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January's Daring Baker Challenge: Tuiles!

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schme ink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named.

In the Netherlands this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on December 31 st, representing the past year unfolded. On New Years day, however, the same batter was used but on this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that's about to roll on.

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Recipe:Yields: 20 small tuiles/6 large tuiles

Preparation time: batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)

60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)

2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)

65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour

1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice

Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly, or other shape. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. * This is what I did!

If desired, mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the tuiles.

Bake the tuiles in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape.

These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….
* I used a small round metal tube to roll mine.

To serve I made a low fat chocolate pudding and served them along side, instead of trying to fill the little cookie shells with frosting or whipped cream.

They were light and tasty and in this combination a diet wise dessert. I'll definitely make them again!

If you would like to see wonderful versions of tuiles, made by other members of The Daring Bakers, check the Daring Bakers blogroll. There were three versions of the tuiles recipe that we were allowed to choose from, so some DB's made them with almonds and some made them in a savory version...check them out!

There is also an open forum for general baking discussions here, but you have to be a member of Daring Bakers in order to register to log in for each month's challenge and discussions regarding it.

If you think you are up to taking the monthly challenge instructions are on the blog as to how to join! Don't delay, as there is only a 24 hour time limit to join every month for the next month's challenge.

I hope to see you all doing the February Daring Baker Challenge!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Have Another Cup!

I love coffee, and I usually enjoy a cup or two of fresh brewed coffee every morning. The ritual of grinding the coffee beans, filling the electric coffee maker with clear cold water, filling the filter with the right amount of the dark fresh grounds and then listening to the perking hiss and drip, drip, drip of the brewed coffee filling the carafe is a comforting routine of morning.
As the deep coffee aroma fills the room I wait with gleeful anticipation. Ah, that first cup is just so satisfying! I often just sit and drink it quietly, with no distraction, just to savor it, and feel it's warmth awakening my body to the new day.
Later, with breakfast, I'll have a second cup and sometimes I would guiltily will pour a third cup, feeling that it was probably not a good habit and not very healthy for my body.

That is, until I read this health article from the New York Times, published January 23, 2009:

An excerpt from the article:

"A team of Swedish and Danish researchers tracked coffee consumption in a group of 1,409 middle-age men and women for an average of 21 years. During that time, 61 participants developed dementia, 48 with Alzheimer’s disease.
After controlling for numerous socioeconomic and health factors, including high
cholesterol and high blood pressure, the scientists found that the subjects who had reported drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to have developed dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less. "

It goes on to say that research shows that caffeine has been shown to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain which are one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, and that coffee may have an antioxidant effect which reduces the vascular risk factors for dementia. People who consume coffee have also been shown to have a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Another excerpt from the article:

"Dr. Miia Kivipelto, an associate professor of neurology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and lead author of the study, does not as yet advocate drinking coffee as a preventive health measure. 'This is an observational study,' she said. 'We have no evidence that for people who are not drinking coffee, taking up drinking will have a protective effect.' "

It may be so, but for now I'll take my chances!

Would you like to join me in with another cup? Do you take it black, or with cream and sugar?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, and is one of the most important traditional Chinese holidays. 2009 is the Year of the Ox, which is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work.

Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, and usually contain the gift of money in lucky even number denominations. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.

In Chinese tradition the gift of a sunflower on the Lunar New Year means you are expressing wishes for a good year, so I am passing this sunflower to all who read this post today! I am not Chinese, but I find it is fun to join in the celebration of the holiday.

Happy New Year! Xin Nian Kuai Le! click here to hear Chinese pronunciation

Melissa, of the lovely blog Melissa's Hear and Home, kindly presented me with this lovely award from Norway called " Nobelpris,"which translated into English means:

"This is an award for being a wonderful Mom.~
You do fantastic work!~Be proud of your accomplishments."

I am touched that Melissa feels I am such a good Mom and grandmother deserving of this award. Being a mother was the greatest gift God could have given me, and I feel especially blessed now be a "Nonna" to our darling little Leo.

Here is one of the most recent photos I have of our little charmer.... babies grow so fast!

It's very hard to pass this award on to just a few of all the wonderful mothers and grandmothers that I know through blogging, as I feel everyone is deserving of this award! So if you are a mother or grandmother who reads my blog please accept this beautiful award from me and pass it on to your readers also. Every Mom and Grandma, Nonna, Mimi, Nanna, Oma, or whatever your grand baby's name is for you, deserves to be "proud of their accomplishments."

Thanks so much Melissa!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Road and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Do you like to give recommendations to family and friends for books and movies that you have enjoyed, feeling fairly safe in your opinion that they will also enjoy them? I usually have no problem doing that, but I have been literally haunted lately by both a book and a movie that I'd like to tell you about that both come with a caveat recommendation of "read or see at your own risk."


They are not the type of feel good, happy ending stories that I think most people enjoy, yet I think they are worthwhile because they will make you think about your perceptions of life for a long time afterwards. They both contain events that shatter the concept of normalcy and introduce an element of survival under the most adverse conditions, which will have you questioning your own strengths as well as the power of hope.

The book is the novel "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where we follow a father and son as they travel toward the coast, fleeing the onset of winter. They must survive by any means possible, but they are determined not to enter into the ultimate acts of horror where starvation has led others.
McCarthy's writing skillfully compels you to keep reading, and he keeps the language simple and the chapters fast moving, but also fills them with both poignant and powerful imagery. He makes you feel compassion for the nameless father and son so much that you must know what happens to them. I could not put the book down and felt the need to finish it almost entirely in one sitting.
Can love survive in a brutal world, can we make the ultimate sacrifice for it? Are all our realities so frail and so easily destroyed?
This is an unforgettable book, and one I believe will become a classic. The Road was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Literature, and is in production to be made into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen for release in 2009

The movie is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a drama released in 2008, based on the 1921 short story of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film was directed by David Fincher, written by Eric Roth, and stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

Eric Roth almost completely rewrote Fritzgerald's short story which can be read in its entirety here. What he kept was the main premise of the story about what it would be like to age in reverse.
The movie synopsis the Paramount Pictures web site:

"We follow his story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man’s life can be. Benjamin Button is a grand tale of a not-so-ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time."

I found it to be an enthralling fantasy, well acted, beautiful in its detail, with a cinematography that had a dreamy sepia quality about it that made me feel as if I was watching an vintage film. There were many quiet little subplots within the story, little gems of wisdom which could easily be missed, but which somehow all come together in the end. I was literally in tears many times watching it, especially at the end, but I went away feeling enriched by the experience. It is a movie that requires you to pay attention, to feel, to think. It made me appreciate the normal process of aging, and the realization that although "we live our lives forward, but understand them backward," as observed by the Danish philosopher Kierkeguard, that process is a gift which would not serve us well in reverse.

However, this is not to say the movie is not without its critics. As I left the theater I heard many a grumble from the departing audience that it was "one of the worst movies they ever saw," and many complained about the length, which is close to three hours. I do repeat that you should see it at your own discretion, as it is an unusual and reflective tale, but I feel somewhat vindicated in my favorable impressions of it due to the fact that it received 13 Academy Award nominations today!

I'd love to know what your opinions are if you read the book, and or saw the movie, and I hope I piqued your interest if you haven't.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Big Smile and a "Five Things Tag"

Can there be anything better in this world than a baby's first smile?

My little grandson, who is all of five weeks old, is beginning to gurgle, coo and smile! It make this Nonna's heart just sing with happiness! I love you Leo!

Diane, of the blog A Picture tells 1,000 Stories, has passed a fun little "5 Things" tag onto me. Diane has two of the most adorable grandsons, and she has the very best ideas for turning thrift bargains that she finds into little treasures. Every Tuesday she hosts a Trash To Treasure blog carnival, and welcomes everyone to join in. Thanks Diane!

Now for the tag:

1. Name five things in your purse:

Wallet, cell phone, I-Pod shuffle, lipstick, Starbucks brand cinnamon breath mints.

2. Name five things in your work room:

Hmmm... I guess my work room is my basement/family room, so it would be a TV, bookcases, two desks (which I'm counting as one -- one for myself and my husband), two computers (ditto!), and my cat, who seems to follow me wherever I go in my house.

3. Name five things you have always wanted to do:

I've always wanted to learn to swim, learn to knit, learn to type, travel around the world, and play a musical instrument well. Maybe someday I'll be able to accomplish at least one of those things?

4. Name five things you're interested in:

Obviously besides my family, friends and church, it would be reading, travel, blogging, exploring museums, and learning new knitting!

5. Five Blogs to pass this on to:

M. Kate at La Vie Est Belle

Melanie Jellybeanangel

Trish @ Nana's Living The Dream

Tara @ Days Missed on a Hammock

Sherry @ Edie Marie's Attic


I hope you can join in if you have the time and haven't already done this tag.

Have a good day everyone!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History Is Made -- Our 44th President!

photo source

I will be very excited to watch the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States today. It is an historical moment in our nation's history that I feel we are all very privileged to witness, no matter what our political views are.

I wish him success, and the fortitude to lead our nation while we are involved in two wars and in the midst of dire economic times. I pray that he will lead our country to the best of his ability, and keep us safe from terrorism.

I also hope he will remain a symbol of what all Americans have always been proud of -- the American dream that anything is be possible, that we all can see our dreams come true if we work hard.

I hope expectations are not so high for him, in our country and the world, that we will ultimately be disappointed. He has much work to do, and much to accomplish in the next four years, but to do that he will need the cooperation of our government, the people of the United States, and World leaders.

As a person who is interested in both history and education, I receive an e-mail newsletter list from an organization called Facing History and Ourselves, which helps students and communities worldwide link the past to moral choices of today.

They recently offered two wonderful videos to watch, where the then Senator Obama and his wife Michelle discuss the importance of teaching and practicing compassion, empathy and tolerance. Wouldn't our world be a better place if we all could embrace those ideals and practice them?

Here is the excerpts from their e-mail, and the links to the videos:

"President-elect Barack Obama spoke to Facing History and Ourselves students and community members about his autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Watch an excerpt from his remarks from 2006 about the importance of seeing the world from different points of view.

Future first lady Michelle Obama, a member of Facing History’s Advisory Board in Chicago, spoke in 2007 to attendees at a Facing History community event about the need for the global community to truly understand one another. View an excerpt from her remarks."

I hope you have a chance to watch them.

May God bless our nation and our new President!

ETA: The wonderful photo tag above was made by Lora of My Blessed Life , and she welcomes anyone to use it on their blog if they wish. Thanks Lora!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe's Bicentennial

Today is the bicentennial of Edgar Allen Poe's birth.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, and died on October 7, 1849. He was an American poet, short-story writer, editor and literary critic, and writer of tales of mystery and the macabre. He is considered the father of the modern detective story and the psychological thriller.

Poe's grave in Westminster Hall Cemetery, Baltimore Maryland

One of my favorite poems by Poe is "Dream Within A Dream," which reflects the sad story of his life, where he lost almost everyone he loved to an early death...his parents, his brother, his young wife.

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Poe's mature life was spent mostly in the cities of Baltimore, Richmond, and New York, as a writer and editor on a number of newspapers and magazines. Despite suffering from poverty, alcoholism and nervous breakdowns, he was always a hard worker and prolific writer.

One of his most famous poems and the one that brought him fame in his lifetime was "The Raven," but it did not bring him fortune, as he only earned fourteen dollars for publishing it in the New York Evening Mirror. You can hear an audio of it being read aloud at the Internet Archive here. There is a blog about Poe's Bicentennial at this link that has many interesting links to explore.

Although he lived a short and tragic life, Edgar Allan Poe remains today one of the most-beloved mystery writers in history. Happy birthday to one of my favorite authors!
ETA: 1 /23/09
2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award NomineesMystery Writers of America (MWA) has announced the nominees for 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
Here are the nominees for the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories.
Best Novel:
Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)
Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
The Night Following by Morag Joss (Random House - Delacorte Press)
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
Best First Novel by an American Author:
The Kind One by Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller (Hyperion)
The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)
A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (Random House - Doubleday)
You can see the complete list of nominees in all categories here on the MWA's website.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

I had to run a few errands recently in a very old and unique neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York called Park Slope. This neighborhood takes its name from its location on the western slope of neighboring Prospect Park. I thought I'd take some photos of some of the interesting homes in the area, to share their architecture with you.

Did you hear about the miracle rescue of all the passengers from an airplane that went down in the Hudson River yesterday? The cause of the crash was thought to be a collision of the airplane with a flock of birds, which then destroyed the engines. The photo below will show how Canadian geese have been spotted flying over NYC in greater numbers than I ever remember seeing in my entire lifetime of living here. This group made quite a racket as they flew overhead!

The home below still had their outdoor tree whimsically decorated for Christmas.
Yes, a tree does grow in Brooklyn! (my apologies Betty Smith, but I couldn't resist!)

Another apartment building, in the photo below, whose construction probably dates back to the early 1900's. The area that today comprises the neighborhood of Park Slope was first inhabited by the Canarsee Native Americans. The Dutch colonized the area by the 1600's, and farmed the region for more than 200 years. During the American Revolutionary War on August 27, 1776, the Park Slope area served as the backdrop for the beginning of the Battle of Long Island, also called the Battle of Brooklyn, the first pitched battle between the British and the Continental Army under the command of George Washington.

The picture below is of houses on 6th Avenue near 12 Street.

Except for the bars on the windows, the house below looks like it could have been built in the colonial era. The Park Slop area is very populated, and it's fortunes over the years have been both up and down. At one time it was among the richest neighborhoods in America, another time subject to urban blight. By the 1990s, partly as a result of inflated Manhattan rents, people who might otherwise have lived in Manhattan began moving to Park Slope in large numbers. The influx was mainly families and young professionals. This created a real estate demand for the area which has caused some home values to rise into the millions.

A long lasting Halloween pumpkin was found sitting on this front stoop! The world "stoop" is derived from the Dutch word "stoep," which means "a small porch," and is commonly used in the common vernacular of the NE states.

I really admired these unusual and intricate window bay carvings and cornices It is an example of old world craftsmanship that rarely seems to be seen anymore.

A close up of a stoop with antique decorative wrought iron railings and some decorative window bars.

This building reminded me of a scene in the opera "La Boheme." I could envision struggling artists living in the attic loft apartments on the top floor.

This quirky little scene under a tree on a home's front lawn made me smile! Click on the photo to enlarge it to see what is written on the sign:

It says, "Retirement home for well loved stuffies." Isn't that sweet?

Only in Brooklyn! "Ya gotta love it!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Homemade Manicotti

Light, soft, delicious little crepes filled with a creamy firm mixture of ricotta/ mozzarella/ Romano cheese and smothered in a rich tomato sauce, manicotti are my family's favorite celebratory pasta dish. I make them for holidays, when company is coming, or as a special birthday treat. They are actually easier to make than lasagna and, in my opinion, even tastier!

My recipe comes from this 1968 slim paperback cookbook, which was once given away for free by the then Brooklyn, NY-based Pollio Dairy Products Corporation, makers of fine Italian cheese products. As a young bride in the early seventies, eager to prove that I could replicate the wonderful dishes my in-laws made, it became my favorite cookbook, as it is filled with many authentic recipes from appetizers to sauces, main courses, and desserts.

The Pollio recipe or Polly-O, as the family name was commercially presented, has two versions -- the traditional pasta shell made by making a dough that is rolled out and kneaded and cut into sheets, then dried and cooked in boiling water -- or the second version, which is the one I have been using for over 30 years, and which my in-laws and all the Italian families that I know who have been making them use, which is a simple batter, cooked in a pan like a crepe.

The recipe for the quick batter:

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

1 egg beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir milk gradually with the flour until smooth. Add, stirring constantly, the beaten egg to which the salt has been added. As you can see in the photo above the batter is somewhat thin in its consistency.

Next, brush a 6-inch frying pan with olive oil, vegetable oil, lard, or butter.

This is the pan I use in the photo below, which is a treasured little old-fashioned "Wear-Ever" brand aluminum pan, well-loved, and used to make a lot of little crepes over the years. I will pass this pan down to my daughter one day as a family heirloom. It is a little smaller than 6 inches, so instead of making the usual 8 - 9 manicotti shells the recipe above, it makes close to, or a little over, a dozen smaller ones a size which we find just perfect.
My in-laws have used the same size pan to make their manicotti, so it has been a matter of family preference, which is probably how most recipes become individualized over time, and which is also what makes them so special, as no one makes them exactly the same which becomes part of the charm.

I always use a small dab of butter in the pan, which I feel adds to the good taste of the crepe. It takes a little practice to have the pan hot but not overly so that the butter does not burn, and the crepe does get too browned in appearance. It doesn't affect the taste if it happens, but they look nicer if they cook without brown spots.

Add the right amount of batter to the pan, after the butter melts.

A quick swirl of the batter to cover the pan bottom evenly and then, as soon as it sets, a quick flip over with a small spatula or fork until the crepe is set on both sides, as you can see in the photo below. They cook very fast and need your full attention.

Repeat, until all the batter is used. I have a platter nearby where I flip them out, as you can see in the photo below.

My platter of completed manicotti "shells" or crepes.

Next, I prepare the filling:

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/2 pounds of Polly-O ricotta

1/2 pound of Polly-O mozzarella, cubed, grated, or in slivers

1/3 cup Polly-O grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste -- I add just a little to the beaten eggs

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Blend all ingredients of the filling together until mixed.

Prepare a baking pan by covering the bottom liberally with tomato sauce. In each crepe add around a two-tablespoon dollop of filling in the center and bring the sides over, so they overlap to hold the filling in and lay side by side in the dish. See the photo below.

Continue until all manicotti crepe shells are used. It may take a few times before your eye will know not to end up with too much filling or too many shells, but it usually works out evenly. Ladle tomato sauce over the middle of the shells as seen below.

I then sprinkle grated mozzarella and grated cheese over the sauce. The manicotti can be frozen at this time, covered well with aluminum foil. Bring to room temperature before cooking, if frozen.

Bake in a hot, 400 degrees F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and hot. Let stand for about 5 - 10 minutes and serve, with extra sauce and grated cheese available.

As a pasta first course we usually have two manicotti, and then I serve the meatballs, or another meat that I've prepared, and vegetables. If they will be the entire entree, then three of four are easily consumed, which is why we like them prepared in a smaller size.

I hope you'll try them!

Buon Appetito!

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