Sunday, January 2, 2011

Delicious Slow Cooker Lasagna

I'm not the best cook in the world, but I have begun to accumulate a few delicious family friendly meals.  For Christmas I got a new large slow cooker as a present (I know, the joys of being a Mom... these things are actually exciting!) that has inspired me to kick things up a notch.


Working full time presents a HUGE challenge when it comes to dinners.  My job allows me to be with my kids in the afternoons (don't ask what time I get up every morning... you don't want to know), but by the time dinner rolls around I'm exhausted!  The slow cooker has been the answer for me, because it allows me to get everything assembled the night before and get it started at the crack of dawn.  Yes, I'm up well before sunrise on weekdays.

As promised... here is my recent super yummy creation:

Slow Cooker Lasagna


Ingredients:
(all these are approximate and can be increased or decreased to personal preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Several cloves of crushed garlic (depending on your garlic preference)
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce (29 ounces)
  • 1 can of tomato paste (12 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 12 ounces of Ricotta Cheese
  • 16 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package of regular lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup water
Directions:
Cook the ground beef, onion and garlic until the meat is brown (this would also be a great place to add chopped carrots, peppers, spinach or other veggie you would want to "hide" in the meal).  Mix in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil and oregano.

In a separate bowl, mix together the Ricotta cheese, (approximately) 12 ounces of Mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Spread a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add two layers of the noodles (un-cooked).  I broke the noodles up in to smaller pieces to allow for easier serving later.  Spread another thin layer of the sauce over the top of the noodles (this gives them the moisture to cook in).  Then spread a layer of the Ricotta mixture.  Then sauce mixture.  Then noodles.  Then sauce. Then Ricotta.  Repeat until you have used up the sauce and the Ricotta.  Be sure not to fill it more than 3/4 of the way to the top (to allow for the expansion of the noodles).  Use a layer of noodles as the top and carefully add the cup of water on the top (this gives the noodles enough liquid to cook).  Cook for approximately 6 hours on low heat.  About 1 hour before it is done, sprinkle the rest of the cheeses, a dash of the Oregano and basil.

This was a HUGE hit in our house and the above picture was actually from earlier tonight!

*Note: This also makes as a great main dish for your kids school lunch the next day, just put a small portion in a reusable container!

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