Thankful Thursday #7

I know, I know, it’s Friday all ready.  I had some technical difficulties yesterday, so this didn’t get posted.  But it’s here now!  Yeah!

Today I am thankful for my parents.  I have had the great privilege of having lunch with my parents every Tuesday for the past several years.  After lunch Dad goes home and Mom and I spend the rest of the day running errands and shopping.  I am so very fortunate to live in the same town with them.  Our lunches have deepened our friendship and my appreciation for their wit and wisdom.  We have a lot of fun together and these times are very precious to me.  Occasionally one of my kids or another family member will join us when they are in town.  But as much as I love them, I have to confess that I truly treasure most those days when it’s just the three of us.

The older I get the more I understand what life is really about.  Life is about relationships.  Real, heart-to-heart relationships.  And as it is with so many other things, quantity is no match for quality.  I have determined to be more deliberate with the relationships in my life.  They are gifts from Father to be nurtured and cherished and celebrated.

What special relationships are you thankful for today?  If you would lile to share a blog post, click on Mister Linky below, or share with us in the comments.

Resting in Him

Today is Shabbat or Sabbath.  It began at sundown yesterday and ends at sundown today.  A day of resting.  A day of restoring.  A day of reflecting on the goodness and faithfulness of Father.  It is a day that Papa, in His grace, built into the Hebrew calendar.  One day a week to rest the body and reconnect with the important things in life: family, friends, and Him.

The concept of rest has been all but forgotten in our culture.  Americans typically spend their days rushing from one event or activity to another, chronically sleep deprived and stressed out.  So much to do in the short amount of time allotted.

But what if you had permission to take one day a week and rest?  No chores; no “musts”; no “shoulds”.  Just rest.  Read a book.  Take a bath.  Go for a leisurely walk.  Relax.  De-stress.  Reflect on all that’s good in your life.  Rehearse your blessings.  Rekindle your joy.  It’s incredibly freeing you know.  To just say “no” to the world’s expectations of you, to re-claim your time.  To deliberately choose what to do with your day.

Not only do you have permission to do that, but Father earnestly desires it for you.  That’s why He put it on the calendar.  So take some time to rest today.  Don’t make it hard or attach a bunch of rules to it.  Just have some fun.  And as a friend from Texas likes to say, “Shabbat Shalom, y’all”!

Baked Manicotti

Yummy!

Preparing healthier meals is one of the journeys I am on in this new year.  This baked manicotti recipe is one that I put together from several different recipes I found.  The cheeses are homemade as well as the spaghetti sauce, and the basil and parsley are from last summer’s garden.  I get my eggs from a friend who has pastured chickens which is a huge blessing!  The only thing in this that’s not so good for you is the white pasta shells.  Since we don’t eat pasta much (maybe once a month or so), and since my tastebuds seem very whole wheat pasta resistant, I am ok with the compromise this early in my journey, although when all the pasta I have is gone I hope to switch to the brown rice pasta.  🙂  You can always use whole wheat, sourdough, or brown rice pasta for yours.

Baked Manicotti Recipe

12 large manicotti-you can also use the shell shaped ones for fun

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp dried basil

1 Tbsp dried parsley

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided

3 cups spaghetti sauce

Prepare pasta according to package directions and rinse with cold water.

Put one cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Pretty sauce

Mix egg, ricotta cheese, 1 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, basil, and parsley in a small bowl.

Mix the herbs, egg, and cheeses well

For easy stuffing, put the cheeses in a plastic baggie that seals and snip off a bottom corner.

Cheese mixture in the baggie with the corner snipped off

Insert the cut corner into the manicotti and squeeze the bag to pipe the mixture into the shell.  Be careful you don’t overfill it or it may split.  Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish.

Stuffed shells on their bed of sauce

I actually had some odd sized shells so I just stuffed until I was out of stuffing.  🙂  Now you need to pour the rest of the sauce over the shells and sprinkle with the last 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.

All ready for the oven

Now bake this in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Bubbly and nicely browned

I served this with a simple salad, green beans, and garlic toast made with my Italian Herb & Cheese Bread recipe that I also use for pizza crust.

This is really simple to make.  You can even assemble the dish ahead of time and put in the oven when you get home from work.  Just let it come to room temp while the oven is preheating.  You’ll need to add about 10 minutes or so to the cooking time if you bake it cold.  Give it a try and then come back and let me know what you think!

I linked up at Foodie Friday, Monday ManiaSimple Lives Thursday, and Meatless Monday.