Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

We love the flavors of spaghetti around here so much that it is on the menu weekly, but it can get old. That is when I decided to add some different texture but similar flavors to this Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe.

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe.

Really this is easy and delicious… We aren’t big on ricotta here that is why we substituted mozzarella and fontina.


Printable Recipe
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Box of Manicotti Pasta
  • 1 lb of Hamburger (or your meat of choice)
  • 1 tsp dry flaked onion (1/4 fresh diced)
  • ¼ tsp Oregano
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 4 Cups Spaghetti Sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large pot bring to boil water tsp salt and olive oil
Add pasta boil for 8 minutes or just till tender, stir gently to keep it from sticking

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

Drain water
In saucepan brown meat halfway, drain fat

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

Add onion, oregano, pepper, salt and simmer just till brown.
Let meat mixture cool
Add half cheese to meat and mix
Add pasta to a 9x13 pan
Once cooled enough to touch tilt manicotti slightly and spoon in the meat mixture. I usually end up with extra meat, so I add that to the empty nooks and crannies. Don't over stuff.

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

Line up Manicotti in pan and pour sauce over the top
Add the remaining cheese

Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

Cover with tin foil and make for 30 minutes. If you like the flavor of browned cheese take off the tin foil for the last 8 minutes.

Stuffed Manicotti Recipe

My Family's Favorite Taco Recipe: Potato Tacos

Taco dinners are pretty much a staple here at Casa De Young, when all else looks bleak on the menu we turn to tacos.  I learned early on tacos are super versatile.  You can make an elaborate taco dinner with all homemade fixings, you can make an easy meal with the help of ready-made products or you can get a nice mixture of both depending on the time you have.
Here is how to make my Potato Tacos

Usually, dinner time for a family as large as ours is a hectic one.  All the kids are starving asking for food when all I want to do is get cooking.  I could make a simple little taco dinner, but I want one that will satisfy their hunger and buy me a couple of hours before they come back hungry again.   So here is the taco dinner I usually make for our family, it is still Mexican Made Easy but it is a little more rib-sticking.
The first thing I usually get going is Spanish Rice.  I just realized I don’t have a recipe for that post, I will get it going soon.
Peel or don’t Peel is completely up to you, but cut your potatoes into squares:
Diced Potatoes

I start frying these in a small amount of oil and begin to brown my meat.  By the time the meat is all browned, your potatoes should be tender.  Add your taco seasoning, 1 cup of water and mix with the meat.  Once the seasoning is mixed in add your cooked potatoes stir, cover reduce heat and cook until liquid has evaporated.
Potato Taco Mix

While your waiting on the meat potato mixture, start warming your refried beans and prep your taco shells.  Normally I like fresh corn tortilla from our local tortilla factory since I want to make this a more convenient meal we are using Stand and Stuff Taco Shells from Old El Paso. We have tried them all and these ready-made crispy shells are the families favorite.
Meat and Potatoes for Taco Recipe

Now that the meat potato mixture, beans, and shells are ready to go now it is time to stuff those tacos.  On one side of your taco shell and a layer of refried beans then fill with meat potato mixture.  Bake in the oven according to shell instructions and your Potato Tacos are ready to go, now that is Mexican Made Easy.
Potato Tacos ready for extras

The rest is up to you.  Add lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, olives, salsa you name it.  I love cilantro chopped up with spinach, it adds great texture.
Taco Salad Variation

If you’re in the mood for a Mexican dinner but don’t have the time, this is a great option.  Enchiladas, Fajitas, Burritos, and Quesadillas can all be simplified with a little imagination…


How to Make Homemade Tomato Soup from the Garden with your Crock pot

A lunch that will make my kids’ faces light up is tomato soup. They are even more excited while the garden is full of tomatoes. Homemade tomato soup is hard to beat, but make it in a slow cooker, they will be ready and politely waiting at the table.

I use to make the kids’ tomato soup from the can all the time, it was good. But since I made it fresh, the kids don’t want it any other way, with luck I have a good tomato harvest this year. Here is how I made Fresh Homemade Tomato Soup in my slow cooker.
My tomatoes are smaller than most. So if you have larger tomatoes or are using more, I would suggest going longer than suggested and possibly using an emulsifier to smooth out any chunky pieces left behind. (Thank you, Jamie, for bringing that important detail to my attention)

Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe

15 Blanched, peeled and seeded tomatoes (mine were small to medium for this recipe)
1 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp powdered onion
1 tsp salt
1 pinch of Oregano
2 basil leaves julienned
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
1. Have crockpot ready; set on high for 4 hours.
2. Blanche tomatoes.
3. Make a small slice in the bottoms of the tomatoes.
4. Place 3 to 4 tomatoes in boiling water until you see skins begin to peel, about 2 minutes.
5. With a slotted spoon place hot tomatoes into an ice bath to cool for handling.
6. Peel tomatoes
7. Take seeds out with thumb or spoon
8. Place tomatoes into the crockpot, basil and add seasoning.
9. Cook on high for 4 hours.
10. Because we peeled and removed the seeds, it is ready to serve.
Top with parmesan or cream cheese and serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

What do you like to serve your Tomato Soup with?

How To Make Your Flat Screen Blend In

Love your sleek fifty-inch wide television? For as long as you can probably remember, the television has always been the center of the home. After all, it’s our favorite shows and movies that bring the family together. These days, homeowners are placing more emphasis on decor than the latest flat screen television.  No doubt, you would probably enjoy it much more if you were able to blend it seamlessly with the room’s decor. These days homeowners find they're flat screen television just as difficult to decorate around as the old school clunky tube television set. Whether you’re set on making sure the flat screen doesn’t contend with the fireplace or you’re simply struggling with arranging an entire room around the black screen, we’re going to show you how to pull it off.

Add More Black Accents
Perhaps the easiest way to blend that big black box in with your decor is to add more black accents to the room. The bigger the television screen is you can expect it to dominate the room even more. Let’s be honest, if the room is decked out in a lot of lighter shades neutral the TV will stand out. Consider adding more black accents and accessories to space for a balanced look.

You can add in black pillows to your couch and go with a more darker wood flooring option. Try using dark toned accessories near where you’ve mounted the television set. This can be in the form of vases or even artwork. The heavy look of black in the room will give the eyes something to latch onto.

Mask with A Dark Background Color
If you’re not keen on decorating with black around the room you can consider camouflaging with just a darker toned background wall. You can wallpaper or paint the wall the television is mounted on a chocolate brown, charcoal or any other darker hue you desire to make the flat screen blend in. If you’re more of a minimalist and you want a clean-lined look using a basic wood veneer on the wall also accomplishes the same goal.

Add In A Focal Point
Take the attention away from a big flat screen television by adding an area of interest or a focal point to the room. For instance, a large vintage mirror mounted on the wall or a stunning piece of artwork is bound to be noticed before the television is. When creating a focal point in the room be sure to arrange your furniture around it as opposed to the T.V. Whether it’s the living room or the bedroom, it’s common to see homeowners arrange they're furniture that allows for easy viewing of the flat screen. Even if the couch is facing the TV adding in a couple of accent chairs that are placed in the opposite direction will help take some of the focus away from the television.

If you have a fireplace in the room, you can make it more of a focal point by decorating the area. Use accessories and paint to really bring your fireplace alive.

Mirror TV
A mirror TV is a trendy way to blend your flat screen with the theme of the room. With a tv mirror when the television is off it will simply appear like the glass to a sophisticated mirror. Yet, when you are ready to turn it on, the mirror instantly becomes clear for viewing.

To get a customized mirror tv made all you’ve have to do is have the make and model of your flat screen handy. You can select from hundreds of available styles. Best of all, the installation process is relatively easy.

Fill In Space Around the Flat Screen
Often, the flat screen tends to stand out because it’s the only thing hanging on the wall. The solution is to fill out the blank surrounding wall space. You can use books, art, and other accessories to make your flat screen practically invisible. Here are some ideas:

If you don’t have built-in shelving you can install them around the television set and fill them with books or you can fill some of the shelving space with framed photography.

Shelving, not an option? Well, creating an art wall achieves the same effect. To create an enticing art wall, you can surround the flat screen with framed artwork that ranges in sizes. Too cliche? Consider using objects as opposed to pictures. From plates to baskets you can really get creative on what you hang on your walls.

Say No the Floating Television
One of the biggest mistake that one can make when mounting they're flat screen is to not ground it. With a floating television, there is nothing below it to ground it. Even adding a media console or wood cabinetry below a mounted television is a great way to really center it because it fills in the blank space below and provides a visual anchor. If you install it right above a media console or a cabinet you can add tall vases and oversized vases to offset the look. Yes, decorating the console itself is bound to draw attention away from your flat screen.

There are many different ways you can ground your flat screen. This can be done by adding a few vertical floating shelves or a cabinet. You can dress the shelves with wood accents to further add texture. Even installing symmetrical shelving at the same dimensions of the television and filling the shelves with artful objects. If you decide to use shelving you can further emphasize the look by painting the backing of each shelf a bold eye-popping color.

Let the TV Take A Backseat
If you have several objects within a room competing for attention, why not let the television take a backseat by tucking it into the corner? You can angle your flat screen into a tiny nook and allow your furniture and accessories take front and center. No one will even notice the television until it’s time to watch it.

Furnace Maintenance Tips For A Trouble Free Winter

It’s hard enough getting through winter without your furnace breaking down. If it’s ever happened to you before, you understand how quickly your home can turn into a deep freeze. It always seems to happen on the coldest days of the year too, probably because your furnace is working overtime to heat your home and you haven’t been taking care of it. Proper furnace maintenance can help you keep down your energy bills, prevent your furnace from breaking during the cold depths of winter, and extend its useful life.

Before the weather gets cold, take the time to perform these routine maintenance tasks on your furnace.

1) Change the Filter – The filter is one of the most common sources of problems with furnaces. It prevents dirt from entering the furnace, but it can fill up quickly, especially if you have pets at home. Change your furnace filter regularly and always check it before you turn it on for the first time in the season.

2) Inspect the Burner Flames – First check to see if your pilot flame is lit as some units need to be lit by hand. Then activate the burners by turning up the thermostat and give them a close look. The burner flames should burn blue, and yellow flames are an indication of dirt in the burners. If that’s the case, it may be time to call a pro.

3) Vacuum Out the Burner – With the power off, vacuum debris out of the burners and take the opportunity to look for soot with a flashlight. Soot is a sign that something isn’t working right in your furnace, as it’s the product of poor combustion. You may want to hire a professional for this.

4) Check Your Thermostat – Sometimes the issue isn’t with your furnace at all, but a problem with the thermostat. If you’ve been using the same thermostat for years, there’s a chance that it’s time to replace it. If you set the temperature but the room still doesn’t feel comfortable, check to make sure your thermostat is working and accurate.

5) Clean & Check Your Vents – If dust and debris have been getting into your furnace, you could wind up with a blocked vent. Use a brush to clean out your vents. You should also check your vents for gaps or dents, otherwise, you may not be venting to the outdoors properly.

Prevention is always a better strategy than repair, but sometimes you just need furnace repair services in your area and fast. If your furnace lets you down during the darkest days of winter, you need a furnace repair company that can show up 24/7/365 to keep your home and your family warm. You can also bring in a furnace repair company for a tune-up to help you with some of these maintenance tips and prevent a breakdown altogether. Get your furnace ready for the cold weather and stay warm this winter!

Easy Chocolate Haystacks Recipe with Chow Mein Noodles

Chocolate Haystacks were always a traditional Christmas snack for my brother and I growing up.  My Mom would make these haystacks and peter pan pudding every year.  Well now it is my turn  and I want to share with you this very easy recipe.

No Bake Recipe: Chocolate Haystacks with Chow Mein Noodles

These delicious morsels are a little awkward to eat, but the combinations of chow mien noodles and semi-sweet chocolate is texture heaven.  Another perk is we don’t have to use the oven, just the microwave.

Melting chocolate morsels for haystacks

Melting chocolate morsels is pretty easy, we just need a little patience.  I had a little bit of bitter-sweet morsels left so I added those, but you only need to add the chocolate chips. Basically, microwave and stir for a bit after every 15 seconds.  I can speak from experience, if you heat up the chocolate too  much the sugars will crystallize and becomes super thick like fudge.  That just doesn’t work for making these chocolate haystacks.  Now it is time to add the chow mien noodles.

chow mien noodles for haystacks

Did you look at it and think, “oh man, that is too much.”  No, it will all be coated nicely and with very little breakage.  Just fold over making sure to come in through the middle once in a while.   See they are covered pretty good.  I notice there are thicker patches of chocolate here and there, but that is ok because we aren’t done yet; it is time to add peanuts.

adding peanuts to chocolate haystacks

Now fold in the peanuts just like you did the chow mien noodles.  Before too long, they will be nice and coated.

Now let’s add some little stacks to a baking sheet that is lined with wax paper or sprayed with a little nonstick spray.  For this step, I just used a basic cereal spoon.

chocolate haystacks setting

I try not to make these stacks too large or they are even harder to eat.  When these are no longer shiny, they are set and ready to be eaten.  These Chocolate Haystacks are so easy to make and the flavor possibilities are endless.  For our haystacks, I added some M&Ms, but here are some other ideas…

Omit the nuts entirely or add another like chopped pecans
Drizzle some white chocolate over the top
Mix peanut butter with the chocolate
Add Christmas colored sprinkles

To make these delicious chocolate snacks, all you need is:

1 cup roasted peanuts
1 package cooked Chow Mien noodles
1 small package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (an 8-ounce bag, but it wouldn’t hurt if you had a little more or a little less)

Printable Recipe


  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 package cooked Chow Mien noodles
  • 1 small package Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips


  1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, about 10 to 15 seconds at a time.
  2. When it is smooth and creamy, fold in noodles.
  3. After the noodles are covered, fold in the peanuts.
  4. Once incorporated, add small spoonfuls of haystacks to waxed paper or lightly sprayed pan.
  5. They will set up quickly, wait about 30 minutes to an hour.

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Recipe