Thursday, February 7, 2013
Slow cooker lasagna
It's sizzlin' slow cooker February 'round these parts, in case you haven't heard!
And, though I'm only two recipes in, I've got a secret to share with you: I'm falling head over heels in love with my Crock Pot all over again. I totally did not see this coming!
What's not a secret is how much I love to cook. It's such an important part of my evening routine. Cooking dinner gives me a chance to work with my hands, create something something delicious, and step away from everything else in my life for a little while.
But, as I noticed last week, everything else in my life seems to be requiring a little more of me lately. "Pay attention to me!" scream the overflowing laundry basket, still-ailing desktop computer, and pile of W-2s and other tax materials.
In other words, the annoying adult stuff is being super immature and throwing a fit, drowning out the pleasant chirping of the fun stuff ("Pay attention to me! I'm fun!"). Not cool, adult stuff, not cool.
All complaining aside, we all have stuff, and sometimes it's a pain in the butt. But, most of us also have slow cookers that are perfect for times like these!
To whomever invented the slow cooker, I salute you. Without you and your crafty mind and most likely very busy life, I would've settled for a bowl of cereal for dinner or, worse, fast food. Thank you!
I can't begin to tell you how stupidly awesome it was to come home from work (no gym, no time!), tired and starving, to my number one comfort food already done and waiting for me to dig in! As much as I love to cook, I love eating and relaxing even more. Nothing wrong with taking a night (or month) off, right?
Slow cooker lasagna to the rescue!
All the flavors you know and love -- tender noodles, creamy ricotta, rich meaty sauce, and a generous layer of gooey melted cheese -- ready whenever you walk in the door and pop the lid off of the Crock Pot. Who know a classic casserole-style dish could be made so easily in a slow cooker? Delicious! We're 2 for 2 so far this month.
Add a salad and some garlic bread if you're feeling a bit more energetic, or just enjoy a big plate of it for a purely zen lasagna experience.
Lazy comfort food... is there anything better? :)
One year ago: Philly cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
Three years ago: Salted browned butter Rice Krispie treats
Slow Cooker Lasagna
(adapted slightly from Kraft's recipe)
-makes 6 servings
A few notes: I prepped the ingredients and assembled the lasagna in the removable bowl of the slow cooker the night before and refrigerated it, covered, until the next day. I placed the bowl into the Crock Pot base, turned the heat on low, and let it go for just shy of 6 hours. Finally, regarding leftovers, I simply covered the bowl and returned it to the fridge, scooping out portions and reheating over the next two days; no sense in trying to transfer when I had a perfectly good container already in use.
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (24 ounces) jarred spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6-7 lasagna noodles, uncooked (not the oven-ready kind)
In a large skillet, brown beef along with garlic, breaking up as it cooks, and drain. Stir in water and sauce. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 tablespoons parmesan, oregano, pepper, and egg.
In the bottom of the slow cooker pot, spread 1 cup of the meat sauce. Top with 1 layer (half) of the lasagna noodles, breaking to fit. Top with half of the cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups of the meat sauce, remaining half of noodles, then cheese mixture, and finally meat sauce. Cover with lid.
**At this point, you can place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, place bowl in slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons parmesan, and recover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!