Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna

Need a new Meatless Monday recipe? This is a good one. I adapted this recipe from a spinach lasagna roll recipe I found and tried.

Ingredients

    10-12 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
    1/2 lb lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked halfway
    16 oz small curd cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
    16 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
    24 oz pasta or marinara sauce (about 1 quart)
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    1 tsp garlic powder

Process

  1. Spray a 5-6-quart slow cooker crock with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cottage (or ricotta) cheese, half of the Parmesan, and the seasonings.
  3. Add about 1/4 of the pasta sauce in the bottom of the crock. Layer 1/3 of the noodles over the sauce (about 6 lasagna halves). Pour over another 1/4 of the sauce. Spread over 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Loosely spread 1/2 of the spinach over. Then repeat layers of noodle, sauce, cheese, and spinach. Top with final 1/3 of noodles, 1/4 of sauce, and then the reserved half of Parmesan.
  4. Cook on High for 2-3 hours or Low for 4-6 hours.

Tips

  1. If you forget to thaw the spinach ahead of time (ahem…), dump the bag out into a colander. Rinse with hot tap water briefly (about 30-60 seconds). Then, to drain, squeeze the spinach very well and place in a separate bowl.
  2. To doctor a jar of store-bought marinara (you know, if it’s on super mega sale and so you buy a dozen jars only to discover it’s rather sweet and fairly bland…), add directly to the jar 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1 tsp red wine vinegar. Stir with a butter knife or tea spoon. Ah, much better. 😉
  3. If your family appreciates a gooier lasagna, substitute shredded mozzarella for the Parmesan (about 2 cups total).
  4. Don’t like spinach? Missing the meat? Substitute 1 lb cooked, crumbled, and drained Italian sausage or ground beef for the spinach. Or 1/2 lb for half of the spinach.

Easy One-Pot Mac & Cheese

In our house, this is more commonly called “cheesy noodles”.

(For step-by-step photos, check out my Instagram highlighted story @belovedbrowneyesblog)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch each of salt, black pepper, ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Process

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Set aside
  2. In same pot, melt butter on low heat.
  3. Whisk flour into butter thoroughly. Cook on low about 1 minute.
  4. Raise heat to medium. Whisk in milk. Cook, whisking often, until thickened.
  5. Add seasonings and stir well.
  6. Turn off heat. Whisk in sour cream, then cheese, until well-combined and smooth.
  7. Stir in cooked pasta.

Stovetop Southern Biscuits Recipe

I’m still without an oven, but that hasn’t stopped me making old-fashioned Southern American biscuits. I don’t know if anything could stop me making these!

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 1/4 cup extra)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

3/4 cup cold milk

Process

Place a cast iron skillet (or other pan; oven-safe if intending to brown the tops under the broiler) over low heat on the stove while making biscuit dough. Grease thoroughly with bacon fat, butter, or lard.

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the diced butter. Use a pastry blender, fork, or your fingertips to cut in the butter until it is pea-sized.

Add the milk and stir to combine. If dough is too sticky, add small amounts of flour. The dough will be shaggy, but should not be very sticky or crumbly. Knead it in the bowl a few times to combine well.

Portion into 8 pieces. Roll each into a ball and then slightly flatten. Place into preheated skillet.

Return to the stove over low heat. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes. Do not raise the heat or the bottoms will burn before the biscuits are cooked through. Begin checking after 15 minutes. When touched, biscuits should be firm and not sticky. Use a fork or spatula to lift and check the bottoms which should be lightly browned.

Biscuits may be served as is. If desired, put them uncovered under a hot broiler to brown the tops.

Crispy French Fries

I love French fries. I like homestyle restaurant versions. I like greasy fast food versions. I like them with the skins on and with the skins off. I even like the bagged, frozen supermarket versions — yes, even the off-brands!

I like them so much that I don’t buy them. You see, if there is a bag of frozen French fries in the freezer, and if I have a working oven to cook them, I will eat them. All of them. In a very short time frame.

So I don’t buy them. (OK, in full honesty I do buy them, very, very occasionally. But only if we will eat them all at one meal!)

I do make French fries, though. Sometimes. And I do so love them. They take time and some effort, so I don’t make them too often. It’s a perfect balance.

And I’m going to show you how to make them, too. These are not just French fries, but guaranteedcrispy French fries. Yum!

Crispy Homemade French Fries

Ingredients:

Potatoes (I like russet potatoes; about 1 small potato per person)

Frying oil (high smoke point oil like vegetable, canola, peanut…)

Seasonings (we are a salt and pepper family, but Cajun blend seasonings or “seasoned salt” is great, too)

Procedure:

Peel the potatoes (optional). Cut into slices about 1/4″ thick. I do this by cutting the potato lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slabs, then those slabs into 1/4″ thick strips.

Cover with generously salted water. Bring to a boil and cook briefly, about 2-3 minutes. The potatoes should be just fork tender, but not falling apart. Think potato salad, not mashed potatoes!

Meanwhile, set up a French fry draining station, using a cooling rack over a baking tray. One rack will be sufficient for 4-5 small potatoes. You may need multiple racks.

When the potatoes are justfork tender, drain them thoroughly, then spread them in a single layer on the cooling racks. Allow them to rest and dry out for a few minutes (a good time to preheat your cooking oil).

Heat about 1/2″ of oil in a heavy skillet. Cast iron really works best here, if you have it. Heat the oil until shimmering. Test the oil readiness by holding the end of a potato in it. The potato should immediately begin sizzling, like this:

When the oil is ready, carefully place potatoes into the oil, in a single layer. Adjust the burner setting so that the potatoes sizzle gently, like this:

Cook the potatoes until they are golden brown. The darker they get, the crunchier they will be. But also, the less fluffy they will be inside. So, it is a balance of perfect browning. Every couple of minutes, use tongs to gently “stir” the potatoes to ensure they don’t stick to the skillet or each other. Turn them a few times, also.

When they look about like this:

carefully remove them back onto the cooling rack. Immediately season to your liking, while the fries are still hot.

As they rest here, they will soften slightly. It is best to eat them as soon as possible.

But don’t burn your mouth! 😉

Tip: don’t toss out that oil! Allow it to cool completely. Using a small strainer over a funnel, pour it into a glass canning jar. It can be reused several times, so long as you are frying “bland” things in it.<<<<<<<<<<<
<<<<<<<<<
;<<<<<<<
lt;<<<<<
;<<<<
gt;<<<
><<
p>

Tomato Soup

This makes a great low-calorie lunch for one. And can easily be scaled up for more servings.

IMG_8991.JPG

Single-Serve Tomato Soup

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried basil leaves

Combine everything and heat until warm. Or microwave for 1-2 minutes on high.

I like to serve this with sliced cheddar cheese and whole wheat crackers, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a BLT sandwich, depending on my calorie goals for lunch that day. ☺