The Simplest Crockpot Lasagna

My dad recently came to visit our little family. I have never gone so long without seeing my dad before, so I was very excited to have him over. Growing up, my dad was the main chef in the family. I wanted to show him all the yummy things I had been making recently. I know that he absolutely LOVES lasagna, so I decided to give it a go.

I am not sure about where you are, but in August it gets mighty hot where I live! The idea of a lasagna cooking away in the oven seemed like a bad idea. So I turned to my favorite kitchen appliance-my crockpot. The idea of a lasagna cooking away all day without heating up my kitchen sounded GREAT! This would also allow me to take my dad to the zoo with Cupcake. She has recently become super interested in animals and I figured that’d be a heck of a lot more enjoyable than him watching me cook.

My dad is a great many things. He is brilliant, witty and always supportive. He also can be a bit particular. I was nervous to say the least. If he didn’t like it, I’d know. And then I’d be sad. Thankfully he LOVED it! He ate it and then started inquiring into how much we really wanted to have for leftovers. Cupcake devoured her portion. It was delicious and I am looking forward to making it again.

This recipe is very basic and simple. There aren’t a whole lot of veggies in it, but you could easily add a layer of that in! I am planning on making it later this week with a layer of sautéed spinach and onions. Yummy!

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey

29 oz can of tomato sauce

8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles (I use the no-bake kind, but any kind works)

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.5 cups cottage cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for top layer

Directions

  1. Brown meat in a skillet and drain off fat
  2. Stir in tomato sauce and mix well
  3. Spread 1/4 meat sauce on bottom of crockpot
  4. Arrange 1/3 uncooked noodles over sauce (Break them to make them fit)
  5. Combine 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese with cottage cheese is a bowl. Spoon 1/3 cheese mixture over noodles.
  6. Repeat sauce-noodle-cheese layers twice.
  7. Top lasagna with remaining sauce. Cover with 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. Cook 4 hours over low. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

 Let me know what you think!

Easy Crockpot Clean-Eating Thai Chicken

You know what seems really terrible? Teething.

My poor Cupcake is currently working on adding eight more teeth to her little mouth. She is in a ton of pain. She is drooling all over the place, not sleeping well, and barely eating. As a result, I have a very clingy little girl who just needs her mama!

You all know that I try to cook in a “clean” way.I try to not drive myself too crazy about it (I’m looking at you delicious Oreos), but overall I do attempt to make clean recipes. Often when I am looking online for some momming inspiration in the kitchen, I find what looks like a great recipe. That is, until I realize it is either labor or ingredient intensive. Mama ain’t got no time for that, especially with a sad Cupcake on my hands.

After searching for a little, I kept coming across a few recipes for Thai-inspired chicken. I noticed a theme and started pulling bits and pieces from different recipes. I decided I wanted something I could literally just dump in the crockpot without doing anything extra. That is the type of easy I wanted. Plus, with the crockpot doing all of the work for me, I had more time to hang out with my favorite little lady and cheer her up!

I was surprised with how simple prep was (approximately 5 minutes), how good this was! I have made it using chicken breast, thighs or drumsticks. Pick whichever is your favorite or on sale this week, depending on your needs!

This recipe can also be made as “clean” as you want. It does have soy sauce, which in my house we use, but it’s up to you if you’d prefer a substitute! All of our ingredients are from clean brands, but you’ll have to read the labels carefully if that’s your thing.

Little side note, store brand natural peanut butters tend to be made of only peanuts and salt. Brand name ones include sugar and added oils. So, I save money and get my clean pb? Works for us!

Onto the deliciousness…

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken
1/2 c salsa
1/4 c peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
3 T lime juice
3 T water
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground garlic

(Using freshly chopped ginger and minced garlic would probably be super yummy, but again, no time).

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients into ziplock bag. Shake, massage, etc. to spread ingredients all over chicken.
2. Dump bag and all contents into crockpot.
3. Cook on low 6-8 hours

I serve ours with rice and cooked veggies for a delightfully awesome dinner.

I apologize for the lack of pictures! Once my hubby got home last night, it was time to eat and then put Cupcake (and this Mama) to bed! I will try to get some for the next time we make this and update!

The Best Split Pea and Black Bean Soup

Ever make a really foolish mistake? Yea…well this is embarrassing.

I decided to attempt to make my own french bread this morning when I awoke to rainy skies.  In my head, a good crusty french bread pairs perfectly with soup. So, I was excited to find this recipe for a homemade lentil soup that used ingredients I already had in the house. I have been trying really hard to been more aware of the costs associated with different recipes that I make for my family. We have been cutting back on our expenses and I have found we spend entirely way too much on our proteins. We love meat! I am looking forward to the challenge of finding satisfying vegetarian meals that fill us up, while still are healthy and yummy. This soup recipe was perfect.

I dug into my pantry and pulled out all of the beans. I had a package of lentils that I had never used and figured now was a good time to try! I love a thick soup, so I figured it would be perfect. I chopped my onions and threw in some baby carrots. I was on a roll. I set my beloved crockpot to high for six hours and went about my day.

It smelled WONDERFUL. Weirdly, the soup did not seem to be thickening up at all, but I figured that it was okay. I knew the magic would occur eventually. I was happily coloring with Cupcake when I had a strange thought. I ran over to my crockpot and my very watery soup. Five hours and 54 minutes had passed. I lifted the lid and all of a sudden it hit me-

I USED SPLIT PEAS. I didn’t use lentils.

People.

I promise I can read. I used to teach elementary school! It wasn’t even that I grabbed the wrong bag. For the last YEAR, I have had a bag of lentils in my pantry. The lentils were never used at our old house. They made the trip to our new house. The lentils were never lentils at all!

This is when I started to panic a little. My hubby does not love split pea soup. I don’t like it AT ALL. I also made it following a recipe for lentil soup. I had a watery soup and I had no clue what to do. I ran to my pantry and started scouring the shelves. Dinner was now supposed to be in five minutes. This was the one night we really had to eat at a specific time. I had my first ever self-made loaf of bread for this meal. I was crushed.

Four minutes to dinner. I can’t find anything. We do not eat potatoes. I don’t want a creamy soup, so milk is out. The amount of flour I would need at this point would ruin the soup. Ugh.

Three minutes to dinner. Cupcake decides she reallllllllllllllllly needs her sippy cup (which is already half-full) filled to the top. Water, Mommy. Water. Ugh.

Two minutes to dinner. Sippy cup crisis averted, I return to my pantry. And that’s when I see the forlorn box of potato flakes I bought to make potato pancakes many moons ago and never used. I rip it open and pour a bunch in. It’s working! It’s working! It’s also weirdly clumpy! And oh no! That doesn’t look pretty.

One minute to dinner. Hubby puts Cupcake in her high chair and gets her dinner ready (she has been on a kick of only wanting carrots and “petz” (pretzels) with hummus for dinner). I pull out the hand-mixer. Whirrrrrr. 

I tentatively ladled the soup (now a thick-almost chili consistency-like soup) into the bowl. I sit down to the table. We say grace. I pick up a spoon and…

People. It was good. Like really good. As in, I am now questioning my opinions on all previously hated foods, good. Both my husband and I had two bowls. As further proof, Cupcake took a break from her “petz” streak and ate a little baby sized bowl, herself!

I don’t even know how this happened, but my immediate thought was to lie to y’all and pretend like this was on purpose, because it definitely is good enough to pass as being on purpose. But, I’m all for being real with you and finding the joy in my mistakes! If you’d like to try this yourself…

Ingredients
1 lb. bag dry split peas
1 can black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c baby carrots
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 T jarred minced garlic
1 T cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t dried parsley
5 cups HOT water

1/4-1/2 c dried potato flakes *Added at end*

Directions 
1. Rinse peas and black beans. Discard any small pebbles or bad beans. Add all ingredients (except potato flakes) to crockpot

2. Cover, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours.

3. Remove the lid, and add the dried potato flakes. Use a hand mixer on medium for approx. two minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

I hear that chocolate chip cookies were once a happy recipe accident, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad! Have you ever had one? Let me know about it in the comments section!

Easy and Clean Crockpot Pork Tenderloin

The other day I was playing around on the web and stumbled across Whisking Mama. She had a recipe for “The Best Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin” and it really started a craving! It combined all things I loved. It seemed easy, it had clean ingredients, it used a crockpot, and pork tenderloin was on sale. I knew I had to try this so-called “best” recipe as part of my New Years Resolution to try a new recipe each week!

Cupcake seems to be confused and not realize that she is a tiny 9-month old who needs her naps. She took one 5 minute nap in the AM, which thankfully was all I needed to throw this recipe together. Cupcake’s godfather, who is one of my best childhood friends, came over in the afternoon to see the cutest little girl around. It was so lovely to have my crockpot slaving away over dinner so I could enjoy his company! I *heart* the crockpot.

Okay, enough of my yammering away..here it goes.

Ingredients

2 lbs pork tenderloin

1/4 c soy sauce (I like low sodium)

1.5 T mustard (we used spicy, but yellow is what the original recipe called for)

2 T olive oil

3 T maple syrup

1 t onion powder

1.5 t garlic powder

1 shallot, chopped (I omitted this because we didn’t have it in the house)

Directions

1. Mix together all ingredients in a bowl (except for the tenderloin). Set aside.

2. Put tenderloin in crockpot.

3. Pour mixture over tenderloin.

4. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Recommended in the original recipe is to turn the pork twice (at 2 and 4 hours) to ensure even cooking. I did this and thought it was perfect!

5. Serve with juices over meat

People, I loved it. Loved it! When I first thought of mixing oil, maple syrup and mustard together, I was admittedly a bit skeptical. After my giant flop last week, this was a magnificent surprise. Seriously, Whisking Mama was not kidding. This is the best. It was amazing and my husband already asked when we could have it again. It was seriously awesome. In fact, I am wholeheartedly enjoying my leftovers for lunch today!