Friday, September 30, 2011

Crock Pot Lasagna

When I hear the word "Lasagna" I think time consuming. What about you? I have tried those no-cook lasagna noodles and did not care for them.

I knew this week was going to be super crazy so I started searching for crock pot recipes. Over the years I have cooked some pretty awesome crock pot recipes and some pretty awful ones. I came across a recipe for Crock Pot Lasagna and had to give it a try.

I have to admit I was pretty skeptical about this particular recipe because it called for regular lasagna noodles without cooking them first.

I am happy to report that after a few changes, Crock Pot Lasagna will now be on our family favorite list. I might even try adding more vegetables like zucchini and spinach next time.

Crock Pot Lasagna


1lb 93% lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (yes, I cheated here and did not make homemade, but you remember it was a crazy week, right?)
1 cup water
1 15oz container low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups of 2% mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg or substitute
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp dried no-salt Italian seasoning
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked
salt and pepper as desired

Brown the meat with onions and carrots. Add garlic when meat is almost brown. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Add spaghetti sauce and water. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Combine cottage cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, parmesan, egg, parsley and Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1 cup of meat into the crock pot. Top with a layer of noodles (break to fit). Top with cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups of meat sauce. Top with another layer of noodles. Top with the rest of the cheese mixture and then the remaining meat sauce.

Cook on low for 4 hours. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and cook until melted.

Serve with a side salad and bread.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our Menu Plan

What a crazy week! I have had no opportunities this week to try out any new recipes. With teacher conferences, award ceremonies, soccer, bible studies and appointments/errands I had to simplify our menu plan. This week we are having recipes that I have already posted on this site (Tomato Florentine, Refried Beans, Chicken Pastry - my husband's recipe). Therefore, I can assure you that next week I will be posting some new recipes.

Here is a preview of our dinner menu plan for next week, recipes will follow at another time:

  • All other days I will just try to wing it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hummus Pizza

When you think of pizza I am sure you don't naturally think of hummus. It sounds bizarre I know, but hummus pizza is actually delicious. Although you may put traditional hummus on pizza crust this recipe for hummus is quite different. I mean different in a good way.

I found a pizza hummus recipe on Food Network and thought it would work great on a whole wheat pizza crust. I did not make any changes to these recipes so follow the links to get more details. The pizza crust was formed in four minutes flat, no waiting for it to rise or anything.

Once I put my hummus base on the pizza crust I topped it with tomatoes, black olives, red onions, and mozzarella. You could really mix it up with the toppings on this pizza. Feta cheese would be good as well, however my kids are not fond of it.

Hummus on the Pizza Crust

(Yes, I know what you are thinking "don't you have a baking stone" and I do, but I would still rather use my old and trusted pizza pan)

For the leftover pizza hummus try it as a snack or for lunch with crackers or pita bread.

*This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, who loves hummus.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

With the temperatures creeping into the 60's this past week I found myself thinking of hearty, warm soup for dinner.

Last year I came across a recipe for baked potato soup. I decided to tweak it a little to make it as healthy as I could without compromising the taste. Well, I am happy to report that my family adores this soup.

This post is dedicated to my mom's friend, Brenda, who had some amazing potato soup this past weekend at a famous restaurant in her hometown. I challenge her and all of you to make this healthier version of Baked Potato Soup, you will not be disappointed.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup


6 small baking potatoes (about 2-3 pounds)
2 tbsp butter or substitute
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour (exact measurement leveled)
6 cups of skim milk or alternative
4 oz sharp or mild cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp paprika
4 oz of fat-free sour cream
4 oz of plain greek style yogurt
1 cup of chopped green onions (I did not give these to the kids)
8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Wash and place potatoes in microwave until you can pierce a fork through them. Set them aside to cool.

Melt butter in a large pot. Add flour whisking to combine. Slowly add milk, whisking to reduce lumps. Once combined cook on medium for about 8 mins. You will need to stir to prevent sticking. Since we are using skim milk it will not thicken as needed until we add the remaining ingredients.

Peel and mash potatoes. Add potatoes, cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir until cheese is melted.

Remove pot from heat and add sour cream and greek yogurt until combined. Return to heat on low for about 10-12 mins.

Place in soup bowls and serve with green onions and bacon. I left the onions off for the kids.


*If you are really creative you could make bread bowls to serve the soup. Due to time restraints I only made homemade rolls.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes

Days around this household seem to be more hectic than ever. I really thought that once my children entered school, things would slow down and I could take a big breath. As the kids get older there seem to be more extra activities here and there.

During this crazy time of year, my crock pot becomes my beloved friend. There are so many awesome recipes for the crock pot, just throw everything in and let the crock do the work.

A few years ago I came across this great crock pot recipe that is not only easy, but will dazzle your taste buds.

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes


5-6 boneless pork chops

3-4 small sweet potatoes - peeled and chopped

1 can whole jellied cranberry

salt & pepper to taste

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Salt and pepper pork chops and place in crock pot.
Place jellied cranberry on top of the pork chops. Layer chopped sweet potatoes on top.

Cook 3-5 hours on low. Cooking time for my crock pot and this recipe was only 3 hours.

*Not sure if this would work with whole cranberries, but I would love to try it one day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bacon Pesto Pasta with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

As you may have read on my blog, I have recently been following another blog that is devoted to making great food on a budget. Well, my family and I have decided to try another recipe from this blog since the first one we had was delicious (Apricot Honey Dijon Pork Chops).

Since my kids are in love with my homemade pesto sauce and I needed to use the remainder of the bacon from the refrigerator before it spoiled, I decided to make Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake from Budget Bytes.
Here are my revisions to this delightful recipe. Either way you try it, this recipe is a winner, just ask my husband who said it was one of his favorites!

Bacon Pesto Pasta with Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

14.5 oz box of Ronzoni SmartTaste Pasta or whole wheat
6-7 oz homemade pesto sauce or store-bought

2 cups fresh spinach - chopped

5 oz oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes - chopped

6 oz low-sodium bacon
2 cups of low-fat mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350° and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, chop the bacon into small bits and cook in a skillet over medium/high heat until crispy. Spoon cooked bacon onto a couple of paper towels.

Add chopped spinach to the pasta on the last minute of cooking. Drain pasta and spinach.

Return pasta to the pot. Mix in the pesto, bacon, tomatoes and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and spread. Top with the remaining one cup of cheese.

Put the casserole in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted about 20 mins.

* You could also use freshly packed sun-dried tomatoes instead of the oil-packed. I like the freshly packed sun-dried tomatoes better, but my grocery store was out of my favorite brand this week. If you use freshly packed sun-dried tomatoes, soak them first in boiling hot water (not directly on the stove).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gnocchi Spinach White Bean Stew

There is no better way to incorporate a variety of vegetables into a dinner dish than in a stew or soup. I recently came across a couple of stew/soup recipes that sounded pretty healthy so I took pieces from each and came up with my own Gnocchi Spinach White Bean Stew.

My youngest son loves white beans, so this recipe was perfect.

Gnocchi Spinach White Bean Stew


17.6 oz Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi Homemade Style* or White Potato Gnocchi
1-2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp
1 medium onion chopped
1 large carrots chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 cup of homemade vegetable broth or store-bought
3 cups of spinach chopped
1 15 oz can of no salt Italian tomatoes
1 15 oz can of Cannellini beans
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring very often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes (I had to use 2 tablespoons of olive oil because my gnocchi was sticking). Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, onion and carrots to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add spinach and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and salt/pepper and bring to a simmer for a few mins. Stir in the gnocchi.

Place stew in bowls and top with parmesan cheese. Serve with a fresh salad and homemade bread sticks.

* I found the whole wheat gnocchi at Trader Joe's for under $2