Low-fat, low-calorie manicotti? Is that possible? With only 325 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, I can say, yes, that is possible. This combination of lean ground beef, fat-free ricotta, egg white and fresh herbs creates a delicious and easy manicotti recipe. I developed this recipe for Laura’s Lean Beef Company a few years ago, and it has been a family staple for a few years. Feel free to use ground turkey or pork instead of beef if you choose. Also, you can prepare it a day ahead and bake it the next day.

 

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package manicotti

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 egg white

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preparation

1. Cook manicotti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic 5 minutes or until meat is browned; drain and let cool slightly.

3. Combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and next 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the meat mixture and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon 1/2 cup marinara sauce in a lightly greased 13-x 9-inch baking dish. Fill manicotti shells with the meat mixture and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and is heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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My sister, Julie, is a fabulous cook and has been making this recipe for Hanukkah for years. The recipe sounds so bizarre with apricot preserves, chili sauce and, oh my, sauerkraut? When I worked at Southern Living Magazine as a Food Editor, and I sent this recipe to the test kitchen, they were a little questionable about it. But when we discussed it around the taste-testing table (a long table that seats about 20), everyone gave it the highest rating possible. It is really delicious, although, I will admit, difficult to photograph so I added some photos from this year’s Hanukkah party at my house (that’s my son reading the prayer-yes I was proud). This recipe is ideal for Hanukkah or in the fall or winter months when you want something comforting, warm, with a touch of sweet and sour. And if you live in Birmingham, Alabama and don’t have time to cook brisket, head to Jim N Nick’s Barbecue on Highway 280-yum!

 

Sweet-And-Sour Brisket

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 31/2 to 4 hours

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1  (5-pound) beef brisket, trimmed

1  (1-ounce) envelope onion soup mix

1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon  Italian seasoning

1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper

1  (10-ounce) jar apricot preserves

1  cup  water

1  cup  chili sauce

2  (10-ounce) cans sauerkraut, drained

Preparation

1 Place brisket in a lightly greased roasting pan. Sprinkle with soup mix and next three ingredients. Spread preserves on top of brisket. Add 1 cup water to pan. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

2. Bake, covered, at 350° for 3 hours. Uncover and pour chili sauce over brisket; top with sauerkraut. Cover and bake 1 more hour.

3. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauerkraut and pan juices.

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While in Atlanta last week, I went to “Rathbun’s”, a very cool, sexy restaurant, in Inman park which is definately worth checking out. You may have heard of Kevin from the Iron Chef on the Food Network or in one of his reviews about his success in publications such as Oprah, Esquire, USA Today or Travel and Leisure. All of his accolades are well deserved! Everything on the menu is worth a try, but save room for dessert. This Banana Peanut Butter Cream Pie is out of this world. For more information on Rathbun’s check out www.rathbunsrestaurant.com/. His other restaurant, which I can’t wait to try is “Kevin Rathbun’s Steak” and don’t miss his “Krog Bar”, at the same location.

 

You will want to savor every bite in this delectable dessert-the infamous Banana Peanut Butter Cream Pie.