Once a Month Cooking Recipe for Chicken Manicotti for the Freezer
Make Dinner Easy!
The first time I made this recipe, it called for the chicken tenders to be marinated in Italian dressing before inserting into the manicotti tubes. I tried it that way and they do come out a little more tender, but my daughter thought it tasted too vinegary this way. So the next time I made it I skipped the marinade and just used garlic powder or garlic salt instead and it turns out just fine.
This recipe is a favorite because you do not have to pre-cook any part of it. You just assemble it and freeze as is. This gets a double thumbs up in my book, as it is quick on the prep day and on the serving day. Clean-up is a snap both times. Fast clean-up is one part of freezer cooking that often gets overlooked. If you imagine your nightly meal routine, undoubtedly the worst part isn’t cooking the food, it is the mess left after you have eaten it.
One Secret is the Storage Method
The real beauty of this recipe is the storage method. It is my all time favorite trick. After you have stuffed the manicotti with a chicken tender, you nestle the manicotti right back into the plastic tray in which you bought it. It is sanitary, afterall, that is how you purchased it! By the time you are done stuffing each manicotti, you will have filled every slot in the tray. You just stack one tray on top of the other, wrap it in foil or vacuum seal it, and it is ready to go into the freezer.
The Best Shells for This Dish
Barilla is far and away the best brand to use for this recipe. The shells stay firm and don't disintegrate after freezing and baking.
Easy Chicken Manicotti
1 jar pasta sauce (25 oz)
¾ cup water
1 tsp garlic salt
1 ½ lb chicken tenders (not the breaded type)
1 package uncooked manicotti shells (usually contains 14 shells)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1.Sprinkle the chicken tenders with garlic salt.
2. Insert one chicken tender (sometimes I have to trim them or cut them in half length-wise) into an uncooked manicotti shell.
3. Stack the stuffed manicotti back into its original tray.
Some of My Meals Ready for the Freeezer
How to Store and Serve
Place each manicotti back into the tray in which you purchased it. Stack the trays on top of each other. Wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil or vacuum seal it. Label and store in your freezer.
The day you plan to eat it, thaw it in your refrigerator during the day or the night before. It works for a 6:00 dinner if you put it in the fridge by 8 a.m. If you don’t have time to thaw it, just increase the bake time by 20-30 minutes.
On Serving Day
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Layer about 1/3 of the sauce onto the bottom of the pan.
4. Lay the manicotti into the layer of sauce. Try to fit them all in one layer. If not, two layers will work.
5. Pour the rest of the sauce over the manicotti.
6. Cover with aluminum foil.
7. Bake for one hour. The last ten minutes, take the cover off and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top so it melts.
Serve this with a salad and garlic bread. A fast, easy meal!
Do you do freezer or once a month cooking?
Try Making Your Own Mozzarella
I've made cheese with my own children and it is fun! Watching the milk curdle gives them a whole new understanding of the process.