Posts tagged ‘Slow cooker’

February 25, 2011

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Okay people, this is a super easy recipe for Lasagna and it’s AMAZING to me that the noodles go in uncooked. What!? you say? Yes no pre-cooking necessary! Cooking the noodles is the biggest pain in the butt, to me.  Bringing water to a boil, cooking noodles in batches and then working with hot noodles…ugh it sucks and takes the most time!

The most amazing part about this recipe? Are you ready for this because I think it’s a shocker! I made LASAGNA the day before I moved to a new house – with 95% of my kitchen packed in boxes! YES! It is THAT easy!

The slow cooker to the rescue! Most of the work of lasagna can be done all at once – cook your noodles and make a homemade sauce that develops deep flavor with minimal effort. (seriously whoever invented the slow cooker is GENIUS!) If you are like me I like to use homemade marinara or tomato sauce for my lasagna and it takes hours to cook. Then you still have to cook the noodles, and then assemble the whole thing.  The prep time in this recipe is significantly less! (Note: I love white lasagna and am not sure how well the white sauce will hold up in the crockpot, I’ll let you know when I try it).

Alter this recipe using ingredients you like. The sauce below is just a simple sauce I use for weekenights and is not the good tomato sauce I always use, but I was moving so didn’t have any sauce pans out. Don’t hesitate to use your favorite store-bought sauce too. Mix it up a bit and use different meat – or no meat. I used sausage because that is my favorite.

2-28oz cans crushed tomatoes (I used diced but think crushed would work better)
2 teaspoons herbs de provence (or basil, oregano, thyme mixture)
1 clove garlic, smashed  (or 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cranks of fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 large container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
1 large package of spinach
1 pound ground beef, chicken, pork, sausage (optional)
1 box of regular lasagna noodles (not the no cook kind)

Brown the meat and set aside.

If you use your own homemade sauce – start it like you would normally and once it is completely assembled and to the point in  your recipe that all it needs to do is simmer, it is ready to be used in the slow cooker lasagna (remember it’ll cook for 3-4 hours in the slow cooker.

Mix the first 7 ingredients together in one bowl.

IMG_6785-3

In another bowl, mix the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and salt and pepper, set aside.

IMG_6789-7

Assemble:

1.   Put a little sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker;
2.  top with uncooked lasagna noodles. You may have to break the noodles into pieces to make sure you cover the bottom of the slow cooker (don’t hold back make sure you fully cover each layer with noodles even if they are little pieces, nobody will know!);
3.   add two cups of spinach (it looks like a lot but it will cook down);
4.   add 1 cup or so of sauce;
5.   dollop 1 cup or so of the ricotta mixture, then smooth it around;
6.   top with a layer of noodles;
7.   repeat another layer or two (or until you run out of ingredients;
8.   end with sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.

IMG_6784-2

Cover and turn the slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours, or until the noodles (in the center) are tender.

IMG_6791-9

September 28, 2010

Pot Roast (in the slow cooker)

As a kid, my mom’s pot roast was my and my brother’s favorite dinner! Anytime she would ask us what we wanted for special occasions we always opted for the Pot Roast. The tender meat with buttery potatoes topped with gravy make my mouth water just thinking about it. When I came home from school the house would smell so good and feel warm and cozy. Now I can have the same experience by cooking the roast in my slow cooker. My mom would make it on the stove and cook it for an hour and a half, but I cook mine in the slow cooker so I can put it on my menu during the week.  Coming home from work on those days is a treat. The house is filled with the wonderful smell of a dinner that is essentially ready, with just a few finishing touches. It is a comforting and warming feeling in the fall and winter.

This is my mom’s recipe, but of course I have altered it just a bit. I just can not seem to make a recipe without changing something up. However, it stays true to my mom’s version. 

IMG_4903

I use small whole potatoes when I can find them, if you cook potatoes in liquid with the skins on, the potatoes do not dry out and get too starchy. If you do not have whole potatoes cut your potatoes into quarters.

1 Chuck Roast (any size that will feed your family 2-3lbs)
1 yellow onion (quartered)
3 large carrots (cut into thick coins)
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of potatoes (I use the small yellow potatoes and leave them whole)
2 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic, left whole
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
flour for dredging
salt and pepper

Dredge all sides of the roast with flour seasoned generously with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides. Deglaze the pan with the wine and a little of the broth. Simmer for 2 minutes then pour the liquid into the crock pot.

Place the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the crock pot. Lay the roast on top and place the onion and garlic cloves around the roast.  Pour the remaining broth and sprig of thyme in the crock pot.

Cook on Low for 8 hours.

GRAVY – My mom would always make the broth into gravy using this method, it’s quick and easy. Place 2 cups of the broth in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Add some salt and pepper. Using cornstarch and cold water (about 2T cornstarch and 1/4 c. cold water) whisk into the boiling broth, it will thicken pretty fast. Add a little more cornstarch/water if you want a thicker gravy.

Serve with your favorite type of bread – garlic bread, croissants, bread sticks, or rolls.

Alternate stove-top method: Follow the first step and brown the meat and remove it from the pan, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot and add enough broth to just cover the meat. Simmer for an hour and a fifteen minutes, then add the carrots and potatoes and cook for another 30-40 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the meat falls apart.

December 11, 2009

Cuban Braised Beef

I have been looking for a good shredded beef recipe for some time and my slow cooker is my favorite tool right now so this recipe was right up my alley. Fast and easy and ready when I get home. This was such a good recipe and I just added a little more flavor and heat with jalapeno and my favorite mexican cheese – Cotija. Cotija is a very salty flavored crumbly cheese. You have probably eaten it many times if you eat at mexican food restaurants it’s the white cheese crumbled on top of your beans. I put it on salads too, it’s so good – my daughter likes it as well.

Adapted from Real Simple recipe for Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers

1 –  1 ½ lb flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds
28 oz diced tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, ½ inch thick slices
1 onion (cut into 1/8)
2T. chopped cilantro
2t. oregano
1t. cumin
1t. cayenne
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (or 1/4 of a small can of jalepeno)
1avocado
Cilantro (for garnish)
Cotija (for garnish)
Tortillas or Rice

COMBINE tomatoes, oregano, cumin, cayenne, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper in the slow cooker. Add onions and peppers and stir. Push flank steaks into the vegetables. Cook on low for 8 hours.

PLACE atop rice or on tortillas. Top with cilantro, avocado slices, and cotija cheese.

December 7, 2009

Slow Cooker Spanish Rice

This is the Completely Homemade version of the boxed rice dinner from the other night…this actually came out really good. I had never made rice in the slow cooker so I looked around at some slow cooker rice recipes online and was a little skeptical, but this turned out really good.

1lb. ground beef or shredded chicken (optional)
2 c. Long grain rice
2 ½ c. chicken stock
1 – 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1T veggie oil
1 green pepper
2 celery stalks
1 white onion
1T New Mexico chili powder
1t. cumin
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 green onions (for garnish)
Cilantro (for garnish)

DICE onion, green pepper, and celery finely. Cook the ground beef and drain the oil. In the same pan, sauté green pepper, celery, and onion in olive oil. Add rice and sauté 3 minutes or so. Mix all ingredients in a crock-pot and cook on Low for 6 hours.

SHORTCUT – you don’t have to sauté the veggies (however sautéing adds depth and flavor). Also you could use left over roasted chicken or cooked chicken.

STOVETOP DIRECTIONS – after sautéing rice and veggies, add the ingredients to the pot bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.