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Crockpot Lasagna

I love a good classic.

A classic novel. {i.e. Pride & Prejudice}

A classic movie. {i.e. Roman Holiday }

And I most definitely love a classic lasagna recipe. {i.e. this one!}

Let’s keep it real though. On top of it being an all-out yummy classic comfort food, lasagna is a busy mom’s secret dinner weapon. It’s such a great option, especially when we’re talking about a crockpot, not oven, version because it’s so easy to throw together and it’s really filling, so a little goes a long way.

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Plus, this recipe usually makes enough for leftovers, which is a bonus because lasagna is one of those foods that almost always tastes even better the next day. Lasagna also keeps well in the freezer, so if you have the carb-resisting strength, you can freeze the extra for another meal. Maybe a lunch or light dinner? It’s safe to say that given the sheer number of lasagna recipes out there, the secret to making great lasagna is finding a recipe with ingredients that you love. For us, the trick comes down to quality meats (that’s right, meats, plural), quality cheeses (again, plural), and a top notch sauce.

 crockpot lasagna 3

Just look at that? Does it get anymore perfect than this, cooked to bubbling perfection? I was always so tired of getting it wrong when I would bake them in the oven. We love a few crispy edges, but not throughout the whole thing! And, then… voila!

Crockpot Lasagna 4

 This is a no-fail recipe that guarantees you won’t end up with hard, crusty noodles or a totally dry dish. Just layer the ingredients in the crockpot, sit back, and relax!

Crockpot Lasagna 2

Three different cheeses simmer right along with delicious ground meats and perfectly herbed pasta sauce in this easy, no fuss, delicious lasagna.

Dinner is serrrved!

Crockpot Lasagna

crockpot lasagna

recipe adapted from Creating Through Life

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
29 oz can tomato sauce
8 oz pkg. lasagna noodles, uncooked
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

Directions

1. Brown the ground beef and ground sausage. When they’re about half way done add in the garlic and onions. When the meat is browned drain and return to the pan or skillet.
2. Stir the tomato sauce in with the cooked meat.
3. Spread 1/4 of the meat sauce on the bottom of a prepared (sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray) crock-pot.
4. Arrange 1/3 of the uncooked noodles over the sauce, breaking them up to fit better as you go.
5. Combine the 4 cups of mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Gently spread it out to form a layer that covers the noodles.
6. Repeat these layers twice.
7. Top with the remaining meat sauce.
8. Cover and cook on low for 4 hrs.
9. Let the lasagna stand in the crock-pot with the lid off for at least 10 minutes. 5 minutes before serving sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the top.

Do you love these classic Italian flavors? Need some more easy meal inspiration? Check out these other similar recipes.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Italian Drunken Noodle

Italian Drunken Noodle

4 Sons 'R' Us: Baked Gnocchi

Baked Gnocchi with bacon, tomato, and mozzarella

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

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Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

Do you ever have times where you feel the need to disconnect? To step away from the computer, from social media, altogether for a few days and just reconnect with the world around you? To reconnect with your family, your spouse, your children? For us, it’s been the past four or five days. All the kids are home and it’s summer and sometimes we find we just need to be ‘present’. It’s amazing all that we always manage to get done during our completely unhooked periods. We deep cleaned. I’m talking the whole house, furniture pulled away from walls and cleaned behind. Carpets washed. Walls painted. Clothes and toys purged. We had movie days and movie nights. We rode bikes and threw footballs. We spent time with family. We talked. It was a much-needed and refreshing change of pace. But, starting tomorrow we’ll be back on the blog, emails will be re-opened, and social media re-visited. Thanks guys for understanding the need to occasionally go off-line. I promise the rest of this week holds several goodies in store!

For me, the crock pot is a summer must-have for come dinnertime, because turning the oven on is so not happening. When we think crock pot cooking, I know I typically think warm winter stews and casseroles, but it’s actually the steamy miserably muggy months when the crock pot becomes my BFF. My let’s make beautiful kitchen magic together, and save me money at the same, time forever friend.

Chicken, sausage, and rice is another one of my favorite crock pot meals to make, whatever the season. The chicken comes out cooked to tender perfection and pairs perfectly with the sausage. So much flavor! Round out the meal by serving this with a nice, warm piece of crusty bread and a refreshing side salad.

Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, and Rice

recipe adapted from Free WW Recipes 

1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp paprika
1 lb smoked sausage, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup sliced celery
1 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 bay leaves
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
2 cups instant white rice
 
Directions
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry
2. Place sausage, bell peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, paprika, and garlic powder in slow cooker.
3. Stir to blend well.
4. Top with chicken and sprinkle with black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
5. Cover and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
7. Add rice and stir gently.
8. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.
9. Remove bay leaves and chicken bones before serving.
IMPORTANT: For best results, do not remove cover during cooking.

Crockpot Barley & Chickpea Risotto

The hubs and I met on a blind-date, set up at the last minute (5 minutes before closing time) by my co-worker (now FIL). It may sound cliche, but that one night was all it took for us to know it was love. We literally talked all night long that night, the first of many to come over the next few months, closing down a restaurant and then sitting in the parking lot until the wee horus of the morning. One of the first things we discussed was religion. It was important to both of us, and we discovered that while we were both Christians we represented very different denominations. The hubs is Catholic, and I’m southern Baptist. Our families’ were pretty skeptical, especially if we decided to have children. They said it couldn’t be done, but we managed to do it anyway.

Part of us making it work is understanding and supporting the others beliefs and practices, even if under other circumstance we wouldn’t share them. We’re in the season of Lent and my husband cannot eat meat on Fridays. Therefore, our family cannot eat meat on Fridays. While this may be an easy sacrifice, for the sons it’s still kinda scary. They imagine without meat that  they will waste away in the night.  Despite their worries, meatless meals don’t have to equate to rabbit food, as I’m determined to prove to them.  A good risotto can take your mind off of any problem. A secret for all my risotto-lovin’ freinds… risotto cooking methods will work on just about any grain. I’ll give you a minute to digest that information.

Whether you’re looking for meatless meal options, like us, for Lent, or you just want to change up your regular menu and experiment, or even if you’re vegetarian, packed with protein and quite satisfyingly filling, this meatless meal doesn’t disappoint.

Crockpot Barley & Chickpea Risotto

4 Son 'R' Us: Crockpot Barley Risotto

recipe adapted from Foxes Love Lemons

1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
garlic cloves, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1-1/4 cups pearl barley, rinsed
1 can (15.5 ouncesgarbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2-1/2 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, garlic, cauliflower and onion. Cook until vegetables being to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in thyme and barley; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Transfer mixture to slow-cooker bowl. Stir in garbanzo beans, broth, water, salt and pepper. Cook on high 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until barley is tender and most liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in lemon juice. Serve in warm bowls garnished with cheese and parsley.

 

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

My kids love almonds. Come to think of it, they go ‘nuts’ for any type of nut really. I always keep almonds stocked in the pantry and they’re constantly sneaking handfuls here and there from the 3 lb bag. They think they’re being sneaky. Naturally, I don’t dissuade them of their ideas. I can’t have them thinking that I actually want them eating moderately healthy snacks, or worse that they like them. Plain-Jane almonds? How boring.  Imagine their surprise and delight when they came home from school to a batch of candied almonds to munch on during homework time. They loved these.

I usually get the eye roll whenever I mention the healthy benefits of anything to my boys. Like, really Mom? We just want to eat. Don’t ruin it by making it good for us! I refrained from mentioning that almonds are ‘good for them’ as the crunched away on ‘candy’. My house smelled like fall the entire day after making these. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to sample a few while they were still cooling and let me tell you, they were de-lish when still warm! Eat them out of a bag for a quick snack or sprinkle a few over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a truly delicious dessert.

I ended up taking the leftovers on a trip out of town and sharing them with our entire family to rave reviews from all! It doesn’t get more tried and true than that from a family full of Italians.

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 cups of almonds
  • 1/8 cup water

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk egg and vanilla until it begins to get a little frothy. Stir in your almonds until the are all coated in the mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add Almonds to cinnamon mixture and toss until completely coated.
  3. Spray your crock pot with non stick cooking spray. Cook the almonds on high for two hours stirring every 20 minutes.
  4. After 2 hours pour your water over the almonds and mix very well to make sure there are no clumps! Reduce heat to low and cook for one more hour, still stirring every 20 minutes.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the almonds to cool and dry on the paper.

P.S. Christmas is coming and these make delicious gifts for neighbors, teachers, even family dinners!

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