Crockpot Deep-Dish Lasagna

Deep-Dish Lasagna in the CrockpotI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I like pasta and cheese. This is one of my favorite recipes to satisfy said craving because it can feed me and my hubby for days. This recipe provides about 8 servings, 12 if you stretch it with salad and garlic bread.

I also really love this recipe because it takes 15 minutes of prep and it’s in my Crockpot cooking, and then it’s done in 4 hours. And in the summer this is a godsend because baking a lasagna would make my house downright sweltering. Like obscenely hot as in I can’t be inside until the sun goes down.

So if you need to feed a crowd, have a tiny kitchen, no access to an oven, don’t want to heat your house up to make comfort food, or otherwise just want easy delicious pasta and cheese this is the recipe for you!

Crockpot Deep-Dish Lasagna

This fills a 7.5qt Crockpot about 2 inches from the top. It feeds 8 people comfortably.

Thick & Chunky Marinara SauceYou Will Need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or bacon grease
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese blend
  • 16 ounces ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 1/2 batch thick and chunky marinara sauce
  • 12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese (~8 ounces)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Making the Delicious Food:

Grease your Crockpot with a light coating of olive oil or bacon grease.

In a small bowl combine egg, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, Parmesan/Romano and ricotta. Mix until fluffy and thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Cover the bottom with two cups of sauce. Top with 3 noodles, broken to fit. Then 1/3 the ricotta mixture spread across the top (it doesn’t need to be perfect the other toppings will squish it all together). Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat this layering of sauce, noodles, ricotta and mozzarella 3 times.

Now top with one last layer of sauce, noodles and only mozzarella for the top layer. Sprinkle with dried parsley so it looks pretty.

Cook on high 4 hours.

Serve warm with garlic bread and an Italian salad for maximum pleasure and budget.

Costs $10.40 – $1.30/serving OR $0.87/serving if stretched with salad and bread.

One Pot Smokey Sausage and Cheddar Pasta

One pot dishes are my favorite thing right now. I live in a budget-friendly apartment. I like it here. However my kitchen is very tiny. I have a 12 inch sink. A 10 inch toaster oven. 1 working range burner. Virtually no counter space. And the pies de la resistance? Only one outlet that can’t run two appliances at the same time without flipping a breaker.

So one-pot dinners have saved my life when it comes to feeding bigger groups of people healthy, home-cooked, budget friendly meals.

It helps that I like carbs. And cheese. Anything with white carbs and cheese is my friend. I would happily live off of baked ziti and take-out pizza for the rest of my life if I wasn’t afraid it would kill me.

So if you like carbs and cheese this is for you. With added delicious vegetables and the smokey flavour of kielbasa to make it healthy, filling and rich. The pasta will melt and the cheese will ooze and everyone will want more.

Enjoy.

Smokey Sausage and Cheddar Pasta

Comfortably feeds four very-hungry teenagers. Costs $1.77/serving if you get organic kielbasa. Which is like $8+ saved compared to eating out!

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (~1 cup’s worth)
  • 3 vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced or juliened
  • 4 four-inch kielbasa links, sliced (~12oz.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 16oz. macaroni
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more if you use olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

The Delicious Food

In a heavy-bottomed soup pan warm oil over medium high heat. Add onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and kielbasa. Saute until onions are fragrant and translucent. Toss garlic in and saute another minute, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add chicken broth, milk, pasta and salt. Bring to a low boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how al dente you like it..

Check pasta for desired consistency. If it’s good, stir in cheddar and pepper flakes.

Serve warm and enjoy.

$75 Meal Plan #5 – Sugar Free Edition

A meal plan, if it’s going to work, isn’t broken down into weekly measured portions and their associated costs. It’s a mix of this week’s purchases, what’s in your pantry, gifts and ground-scores.

So, following this format, I’m pitching in my budget. I spend $50-$75 a week on me and my husband. I’m currently breastfeeding so I eat twice as much as I previously did.

But we have no other sources of food beyond our budget. No garden, herbs in the window sill – nothing. I use coupons sparingly – the store ad for wherever I’m shopping, the occasional newspaper and coupons.com. When I get the mood I also use Ibotta, Grocery 51 and MobiSave. But these aren’t included in my grocery budget; they pay for date night.

THIS WEEK WE BOUGHT:

 Bananas, eggs, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, 1 romaine head, milk, sugar free salad dressing, 3lbs. apples, honey, angel hair pasta, 8oz salad shrimp, 1 cabbage head, red onion, celery, 2 lbs. Bag of carrots, 1 corned beef roast, 8oz. saltwater salmon, asparagus, cilantro, 2 tomatoes.

BREAKFAST OPTIONS:

Fruit

Oatmeal with honey

Banana Peanut Butter Smoothies

Scrambled eggs and hashbrowns

Baked sweet potato

LUNCH OPTIONS:

Burritos

Tuna salad

Leftovers

SNACK OPTIONS:

Popcorn

Fresh fruit

Vegetables

Boiled eggs

Pickles

Tea

Coffee

DINNER MENU:

Thursday  – creamy garlic chicken with rice.

Friday – shrimp pasta.

Saturday – chicken stir fry.

Sunday – corned beef with cabbage and potatoes.

Monday – southwest chicken salad.

Tuesday – grilled salmon with asparagus and quinoa.

Wednesday – corned beef hash (using leftover corned beef).

MEAL PREPPING I DID THIS WEEK:

These foods were prepared over the course of the weekend. Some was stashed away for later and some was consumed this week.

  • Crockpot beans
  • Boiled eggs
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Chopped cabbage in thin slices.
  • Shredded 2 carrots; roughly chopped 1; sliced 4 into sticks.
  • Diced small red onion.
  • Diced 5 sweet onions.
  • Quartered 1 yellow onion.
  • Cubed 2 lbs. Chicken breasts
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Celery sticks
  • Minced cilantro
  • Diced tomato

THIS WEEK’S TOTAL SPENT: 

How do you spend your grocery budget?

Winter Root Beef Stew (in the Crockpot)

If you’ve been reading for long you know I have a passion for teaching sustainability – be that on the farm or a city apartment, every system should be sustainable if not self sufficient.

I did not grow up with that lifestyle. I’ve had to learn the hard way, one lesson at a time. One of my more recent adventures has been learning to cook seasonally – and with local ingredients.

This is my new favorite winter recipe. You can even get locally brewed (or homemade) hard cider.

Shopping locally and in season is more work. So to make it easier on you I’ve got a good recipe for you in winter and it’s super easy to make. And if you want it in the summer? Well it makes a good freezer meal too!

Feeds 4- 6 people

You Will Need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs. Beef roast, cubed
  • 4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can hard cider (I used Angry Orchard)
  • 4 – 6 cups beef broth (enough to cover)

Prepare

Put olive oil in the bottom of the crockpot. Then add garlic cloves and worcestershire. Place beef on top. Then add paprika, salt and pepper. Next the vegetables – potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery and onions.

Pour the cider in. Then add broth until all the vegetables are covered.

Cook

Cover the crockpot with lid. Set to cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. All the alcohol will have cooked out.

Serve

Serve hot, with crusty peasant bread and a leafy green salad for best deliciousness.

Freeze It

Put all ingredients except cider and broth in a 2 gallon freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to prepare, dump still frozen in crockpot, top with cider and broth and cook high 8- 10 hours. It will be slightly mushier.

Budget Version

Omit cider. Replace broth with water. Double onion, carrot and celery. Omit parsnips and turnip. Add 1/2 cup applesauce.

I hope you e joy this recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Preserving Fresh Garlic

Fresh garlic

Note: This post was originally published, on the previous website, in 2013.

I recently found myself with a fairly large amount of fresh garlic and realized that it wouldn’t last long enough for me to use all of it. I quite often buy garlic, dried, from the grocery store but I’ve never dealt with fresh garlic. And let me tell you, the smell alone of fresh garlic is simply sublime. But the taste… ooh baby~

So I’ve got a whole bunch of delicious, local, organic garlic and I don’t want it to go bad. The logical solution? Preserve it. Dry it, in this case.

Here’s how you can dry your own fresh garlic (from your own garden or the farmers market) yourself. It’s ridiculously easy. See how short this post is?

  1. Take a bunch of fresh garlic.
  2. Tie it up and hang it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Pantries are great for this.
  3. Let the garlic bundle dry there for a couple weeks (elephant garlic needs four weeks or more).
  4. When it’s dry store it in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in a basket on the counter (away from the stove). It’ll keep like that for months. Don’t put it in sunlight unless you want it to sprout.
  5. If your garlic does end up sprouting, plant it!

I think this is one of my favorite parts of gardening: preserving the harvest. It reminds me of Under the Tuscan Sun