Love this Manicotti! (if you can't tell by now, I am Itallian!) For this recipe, I usually use 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 spicy Italian sausage for a more complex flavor. I use my own made from scratch marinara and I leave out the butter, you won't miss it, trust me.
I love making this lasagna...I use spicy Italian sausage, replace the cottage cheese with ricotta, use whole wheat noodles, and my own special tomato sauce that I make from scratch (if I have a creamy craving, I'll blend my tomato sauce with marscapone).
fave spinach dip! I make a healthier version with marscapone (Italian cream cheese) and Greek yogurt instead of the mayo and sour cream. I made some this past weekend and ended up making a simple pasta sauce with the leftovers, just added minced garlic, olive oil, shrimp and linguine.