Not sure who originally cut out this recipe, me or my mom. At this point, I've kinda mixed her cut out recipes and mine so I never know who originally wanted to make a dish. I found this in my "need to make soon" stack which consists of clipped out recipes from magazines, newspapers, hand written little notes from family and friends and printed out blog recipes I hope to try soon. It in no way is associated with the stack of boxes (yes, that's boxes with an 's') of same said types of clippings I have in storage that are labeled "need to make at some point in my life" recipes. It's also not related to the stack of actual magazines that have recipes in them to try. Or my stack of boxes of cookbooks. Oh don't get me started....
A search on-line found that this recipe was in a Taste of Home publication...Mexican Manicotti was published in the Quick Cooking, March/April 2000 issue. You can find the recipe on-line here and also a photo (which is good to look at since mine looked nothing like theirs.)
This is actually pretty easy to make, though you do have to prep everything ahead of time. Once you fill the shells and pour the liquid over everything, it needs to set overnight in the fridge. It makes for a nice dinner that you just have to throw in the oven when you get home. I also liked that you don't have to cook the hamburger or the pasta first, you just mix the hamburger with the beans and spices and stuff it all into the dry shells.
I actually thought this casserole was a little bland, but everyone I gave some to try (The Assistant, my Mom, Mr. L) seemed to really like it. Mr. L said it tasted very "light"...not heavy and as if there weren't a lot of calories. That can be misleading as this is far from diet food so be careful you don't eat half the dish!
Two things about this dish I want to point out. I thought there was too much liquid in the recipe. Way to much liquid. I would try only 2 cups at first and maybe even less. I know it needed the liquid to soften and cook the manicotti, but I think there was just too much liquid at the end and it was somewhat mushy. Folks have had good luck using less liquid in the reviews I've read. I also don't think this holds up texture wise for reheating, the manicotti shells seem to disappear. That being said, it was leftovers that I gave to my Mom and The Assistant and they both raved.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells
2 1/2 cups water
1 jar (16 ounces) picante sauce
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
1 cups (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican-blend cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Sliced ripe olives, optional
In a bowl, combine the uncooked beef, beans, chili powder and oregano. Spoon into uncooked manicotti shells; arrange in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Combine water and picante sauce; pour over shells. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover; spoon sour cream over the top. Sprinkle with the cheese, onions and olives if desired. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings
Note: I used 'lite' sour cream. I used reduced calorie four cheese mexican blend shredded cheese. I used "Pace" picante sauce. I did add the ripe olives.
Note: I thought about using non-fat refried beans in this to also bring calories down but didn't have any. I actually think that using full fat beans helped the flavor...and next time I might try this with full fat cheese and sour cream.
Note: I probably used a good two cups of cheese to top the dish.
Note: I put the bean/hamburger mixture in a ziploc bag, cut a hole in one end and used that to stuff the shells. Worked much better for me than trying to use a spoon. I admit I did at one point take my finger and push some of the mixture into the shells to pack it in a bit. I had at least a half cup of mixture left after filling the shells (I just put it around the shells with the sauce).
Again, the photo of the recipe they show looked nothing like the dish that I ended up taking out of the oven. And I didn't find this very "Mexican" tasting. Maybe next time I'll add some hot sauce to the meat mixture or mixed with the sour cream to spice it up. Or I'll use the refried beans with lime or jalapenos, add some chipotle chilies, green chilies? Something to punch it up a bit for me. But everyone else has requested I make this again, and soon.