By Catherine McCord
In our house, we’re big on weekend cooking. My kids love helping out and I find that if I make a few recipes on Saturday or Sunday to store in the fridge or freezer, I have a lot less cooking to do during the week when life gets overwhelming. That doesn’t mean that we spend the entire weekend in the kitchen. Far from it. Our recipes have to be quick and easy so we can get out and do other things together. I treasure our weekends because they often feel like the only time we can just relax and play, enjoying our favorite activities and not being on a schedule.
Times like this are when my crock pot is my best friend because it assures that I need not spend a moment more than necessary in the kitchen. Chloe helps me wash the veggies, Kenya and I chop them, I sauté the meat and we all toss everything in the pot together. That’s it. When we come home from our adventures at the end of the day, dinner is all ready with plenty leftover for the week ahead. Don’t forget to double, especially for recipes like this one. Store what you don’t eat in dated single or multiple-serving containers in the freezer and all you have to do on school nights is defrost and reheat and your homemade meal is done within minutes. One more reason to live for the weekends!
Crock Pot Meaty Pasta Sauce (Serves 6)
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Lb Lean Ground Beef
- 2 Tsp Kosher Salt, divided
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 Cup Water
- 1-28 oz Can Diced Tomato
- 1-15 oz Can Tomato Puree
- 1 Cup Carrots, grated
- 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Tsp Onion Powder
- 2 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium sauté pan and sauté onions for 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and 1 tsp of salt and sauté for 4 more minutes, breaking apart the meat as it cooks.
- Add the sautéed meat and onions to the crock pot.
- Whisk 2 tbsp of tomato paste in 1 cup of water until the paste dissolves.
- Add the tomato paste mixture to the pot along with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve over pasta.
Veggie Lasagna is one of my biggest recent crock pot success stories and it only took me a few minutes to put the whole thing together. No sautéing or stove-watching required. Just chop your veggies, mix the cheeses and layer everything into the pot. By the time you get home from picking up the kids at school and an afternoon of errands, this delicious dinner will be waiting for you. Just take the lid off and serve.
You may not want to marry your crock pot, but you might consider it after tasting this lasagna.
Crock Pot Veggie Lasagna (Serves 6-8)
- 2 Cups Zucchini, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms and/or Spinach
- 1 15 oz Container Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
- 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 25 oz Jar Pasta Sauce
- 1 Box Lasagna Noodles (uncooked)
- 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated
- Place the vegetables in a food processor and pulse to roughly chop.
- Place the ricotta, parmesan cheese, herbs, garlic powder, salt and egg in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour half of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a crock pot.
- Place a layer of noodles on top of the sauce, covering the entire surface, breaking the noodles to fit the pot.
- Layer half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, followed by 1 cup of the chopped vegetables and then one cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with another layer of noodles, followed by the remaining ricotta mixture and the chopped vegetables.
- Pour the remaining pasta sauce on top of the lasagna and top with the remaining cup of the grated cheese.
- Cook on low for 4 hours.
Catherine McCord launched Weelicious in 2007, providing a solution to parents’ hectic lives by showing them how to cook recipes that are kid-friendly, quick and nutritious. With a background in culinary arts from New York City’s prestigious Institute of Culinary Education, and a passion for food, Catherine has developed recipes that appeal to a range of ages. Weelicious focuses on educating kids and involving them in the process with how-to cooking videos featuring Catherine’s own two children.