Stuffed Meat Manicotti With Portabella Mushroom Marinara

olive oil cooking spray
2 large cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
2 cups sliced Portabella mushrooms
1 red bell pepper chopped
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
1 28-oz. can ready cut roma or regular tomatoes or 2 lb. fresh roma or regular tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1- cup dry white or a light bodied red wine
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil (1 tablespoon dry)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (1/2 tablespoon dry)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 to 8 shakes chili powder or cayenne pepper
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Lightly spray a 4-quart stockpot with olive oil cooking spray and preheat on medium. Sauté garlic 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly golden. Add onions, mushrooms and pepper and sauté until onions and peppers are tender. Add tomatoes and all remaining ingredients, except fresh basil and olive oil.

2. Simmer sauce for 1 to 4 hours. Add basil and olive oil to sauce a few minutes before end of cooking time. If sauce become too thick add a little water.

Meat Stuffed Manicotti
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
1 pound 93% to 95% lean Italian turkey sausage, sweet or hot (no more than 2.5 grams fat per 1-oz serving)
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups herb or garlic fat free salad croutons, processed into fine crumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1/8-teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 egg whites
16 manicotti noodles
½ cup low fat mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring large pot of water to boil. There should be enough water in pot for pasta to move freely through water. Add pasta and cook according to package directions; stirring often to keep pasta from sticking together. Drain and rinse shells gently with cold water.

2. While pasta is cooking remove sausage from casings, if necessary. Mix ground beef and sausage together with garlic, onions, parsley, bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder, oregano, and egg whites until well combined. If mixture seems too dry add an additional egg white to mixture. Leaving nozzle attachments off a pastry bag, fill bag with meat mixture. Fill each shell with meat mixture talking care not to over fill and rip shells.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour 3 to 3 ½ cups of sauce into a large rectangular baking dish. Place meat filled shells side by side in a single layer, leave at least ¼ inch between shells. Cover shells with remaining sauce; cover dish with foil and bake 45 to 55 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and shells are tender. Remove from oven and cover top evenly with cheeses and allow to set 10 minutes until cheese has melted and serve.

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