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Car Dancing

Some people listen to music politely in the car. Reasonable volume, words to songs mouthed or quietly hummed, an occasional tap of fingers on the steering wheel- nothing exciting. Just mild appreciation for the tunes flowing out of the speakers. There are other people that sing a little loudly or nod their heads to the beat, like polite with a little extra.

And then there’s us.

When Chad and I get in the car it is time to get down to business. The speakers work to their maximum capacity. The sub in the trunk thunders with every drop of bass. The words get belted out like as if we were in a recording studio. Or a singing competition. And then there’s the dancing.

Did I ever mention that Chad is the all time Wii dance champion? Well he is.

All of those smooth as ever dance moves (and a few more that may have traveled here from 1994) translate to the front seat of the car and make for action packed traveling. My sweetheart is a much better car dancer than I am… and since I am older than he is and also boast years of driver side boogie experience from all the time spent in the car with my sister, I wonder just how much he practices when he’s in the car alone? Hmmm… food for thought.

We all need to make an effort to eat better and move more. This is not a “New Year, New You” thing. It’s an all the time thing. Crank the tunes. Break it down in the car. Don’t worry about how crazy you look. That’s what tinted windows are for.

And when you get home make a healthy batch of Spinach Manicotti.

In a large bowl mix together shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, fat free ricotta cheese, low fat cottage cheese, and grated parmesan or romano cheese.

Stir in some dried basil and oregano, and then a couple cloves of chopped garlic.

Boil some water in a great big pot. Add a dash of olive oil and a little kosher salt. Cook your manicotti to al dente according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water.

Back at the bowl, stir in an egg and your spinach. You can opt for frozen, thawed, and then squeezed dry spinach (pictured here), or you can saute fresh spinach with a tiny bit of olive oil or cooking spray.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce across the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Use a spoon to carefully stuff the manicotti shells with the spinach and cheese filling. I like to stuff a spoonful in one side and then another spoonful in the other so I don’t break the pasta shells. Line the stuffed manicotti shells in the prepared pan.

Spread the remaining sauce across the top of the pasta shells and then sprinkle with a little more of the part skim mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 or 30 minutes- I like my cheese to be melty and a little bit browned.


Spinach Manicotti (healthified)


1 cup shredded part skim mozarella cheese

1 1/2 cups fat free ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups lowfat cottage cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 (10 ounce) box of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry OR a 10 ounce bag of fresh spinach , sauteed in a little oil

1 egg (or 1 egg white… it’s your call)

1 (8 ounce) box of manicotti shells

1 jar of prepared tomato sauce (one day I’m sure I will be scolded for writing recipes that call for store bought sauce, but here’s the deal: everyone has their favorite, it’s affordable, and seriously WHO has the time to prepare sauce everytime they need it for something? I certainly don’t, though I am capable and I wish I could find the time to make fresh sauce and can it… another day perhaps)

To Make

Preheat the oven to 350. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan or romano cheese, and 1/2 of the mozzarella. Stir in the dried basil, oregano, and chopped garlic. When the water boils add the uncooked manicotti shells and cook to al dente according to package instructions. Stir the spinach and the egg into the cheeses while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Fill the manicotti shells with the spinach and cheese mixture and arrange them in rows across the bottom of the prepared pan. Top the stuffed manicotti shells with the remaining tomato sauce, and then sprinkle with the last 1/2 of the mozarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 – 30 minutes.

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Wednesday 25th of January 2012

Love this- car dancing is by far my favorite workout! And I've convinced myself (when the volume is on full blast) that I sound just like Carrie Underwood. The manicotti looks so delicious!

Heather Tullos

Wednesday 25th of January 2012

Thanks, Laurin! I sound like Ingrid Michaelson... and sometimes Aretha Franklin. Car speakers do amazing things for your self image.

Peggy Campbell

Tuesday 17th of January 2012

Awesome fun. Good food, too!