Mama DePandi's Cannelloni

adapted from: Giuliana and Bill Rancic 

(as seen in Paula Deen Magazine Jan/Feb 2010)

2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. chopped onion

1 green pepper, chopped, opt.

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes

1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil

2 tsp. Italian seasoning, opt.

1 tsp. garlic powder, opt.

1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

2 tsp. black pepper, divided

1 Lb. ground beef, cooked and drained

1 (16 oz.) pkg. shredded Mozzarella

1 (15 oz.) container whole milk Ricotta

1/2 c. grated Parmesan

1 (8 oz.) box cannelloni shells, cooked

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook 4-6 minutes or until tender.  Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the cooked ground beef, Mozzarella, Ricotta, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper along with 4 Tablespoons of the sauce mixture.  Stuff each cannelloni shell and place in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serves: 6-8 people.  

Jenn's Notes: I am used to the jam-packed flavor of My Spaghetti Sauce, so I had to add a little extra flavor to this dish.  The green pepper, Italian seasoning and the garlic powder were not part of the original recipe, but I felt like it needed a little extra flavor with the spices and I added the peppers, well because, I add peppers to everything!