Crock Pot Garlic Mushrooms

It's quite possible that these little fungi will become your new favorite side dish. Consider yourself warned.

It’s quite possible that these little fungi will become your new favorite side dish. Consider yourself warned.

Snow Day #7. I’ve been using my crock pot for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner.  Somehow the invasion of snow has worked up some serious appetites after playing outside. To feed my little monsters, I planned on making pasta last night (no, not in a crock pot… just the normal boil water and add pasta) but I wanted a nice side dish to go with it.  I bought a huge container of mushrooms last week, but then forgot what I was going to make, so I decided that they would make the perfect side dish for our pasta dinner.

Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables. They are all fine and good raw, dipped in ranch, or marinated. And they come in so many different varieties! Don’t believe me? Take a trip to your favorite international grocer and see if you can even identify all of those little fungi. I like enoki in miso soup or baby portabellos in beef stroganoff, but I used regular, white mushrooms in today’s recipe. They are a pretty standard item for me to buy, since they are sturdy, take a long time to spoil, and can be added in so many different ways.

This dish is really easy to make, but be warned– you can fill the crock pot with mushrooms and six hours later, you will have about a quarter of a pot of food left! So plan for more than you think you want. They also work well added to spaghetti sauce or used as a layer in vegetable lasagna.  Enjoy!


Crock Pot Garlic Mushrooms (serves 8 as sides)

2 lbs white mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and quartered

1/4 butter (one stick)

2 T. minced garlic

1 T. dried dill

1 t. onion powder

1/2 t. paprika

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

2 sprigs fresh thyme, just the leaves

parmesan cheese

Put mushrooms in crock pot first, then all of the seasonings and garlic. Put the stick of butter on top as the last step and then put the lid on. No mixing is necessary. Do not add parmesan cheese yet. Just don’t. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove the mushrooms using a slotted spoon and then decorate with grated or shredded parmesan cheese just before serving. If you wish, you can save the liquid in the crock pot for mushroom gravy.


Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash

crock pot spaghetti squashI was walking through the produce aisle this week and excited to see all of the fall produce slowly emerging as the weather starts the cool and the crock pot starts to heat. With squash of every size and variety piled up like presents under a tree, I started loading my cart with butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash. But the tipping tower of treasures presents a second issue– how do you prepare and cook these ridiculous looking vegetables?  As with most foods that I don’t want to fret about, I make them in my crock pot!

If you haven’t ever experienced spaghetti squash, you are about to be delighted. I’m pretty sure it’s the best diet food ever since it’s low in calorie, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, guilt-free, and packed with nutrients and flavor. But what intrigues me most about this cavern of goodness is the bizarre pasta like consistency of the meaty threads.

Here’s the prep: waaaaaash the squaaaaaash. I love that you just sounded that out. Seriously though, this thing it going to sit in it’s entirety in your crock pot all day, let’s not harbor fugitives like bugs or germs.  Then take a sharp knife and stab the squash 5-6 times so that the heat and moisture can seep in and out to cook the flesh. Yes, it’s a vegetable, but I think you can use words like meaty and flesh to describe never-living creatures, too.

Put the 4 lb squash and 2 cups of water  in your crock pot for 6 hours on low. When it’s done, the squash will deflate a bit and be awkward to lift out. Watch out– it’s HOT and full of juices. Let it cool a bit before you handle it. You will need to cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds inside (Throw the seeds away. This is not a pumpkin.)

Use a fork to shred the cooked pasta-like fresh from inside the squash. Once you have scraped it out, throw out the skins. Much like pasta, this is now a wonderful blank slate to begin preparing a delicious dish!  Here are a couple ideas to choose from as far as fun flavors to add into your spaghetti squash:

  • Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • Add 1 cup alfredo sauce, 1 lb. browned ground beef and a can of stewed mushrooms.  Oh look- beef stroganoff!
  • Top it with crock pot chicken cacciatore for a low-fat, low-carb hearty dinner.  (Yes, this requires two crock pots.)
  • Add a scoop of crock pot caramelized onions and some cubed mozzarella cheese. French onion spaghetti squash!

Trying a new vegetable dish  is no longer a challenge or a disappointing dinner. Enjoy your local seasonal vegetables in these new and exciting ways.

Crock Pot Vegetarian Lasagna

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I love lasagna! Anytime you can combine everything into one dish and it hits pretty much every food group, then I’m a happy girl. But oven-baked lasagna takes way too much work… all the boiling and layering and smoothing and baking and spilling, then oven cleaning… I would rather just order lasagna from a nice little Italian restaurant than go through this whole charade.

This one-pot dinner is a great meat-free option that leaves you full and satisfied.

This one-pot dinner is a great meat-free option that leaves you full and satisfied.

So after doing a little research, I’ve figured out that crock pot lasagna is very doable. Not only can you assemble it in the pot, but I am convinced that most of the cooking should take place in the pot, too. This dish is easy to cook, doesn’t take more than an afternoon to finish and you can even freeze the leftovers for another night. That is, if there are any leftovers!

I hope you enjoy this take on one of my favorites. Enjoy!

1 12 oz. box of lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 24 oz. container chunky spaghetti sauce

2 zucchinis, sliced thick

2 c. fresh spinach leaves

1/2  c. fresh basil leaves

1 egg

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 t. black pepper

1 t. dried oregano

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

This recipe is best made in an oval-shaped crock pot; a round one will work, it just creates a very tall lasagna.

In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, garlic and seasonings.  Pour 1 c. of spaghetti sauce into the pot and stir it around so it coats the bottom of the crock pot. Fill the sauce jar up with 1 c. water and shake it around– this watered down sauce helps the noodles soften more when cooking. Place first layer of 3-4 noodles in crock pot. Cover noodles with 1/2 of ricotta mixture. Lay zucchini slices on next, followed by another layer of 3-4 lasagna noodles. Add 1 c. spaghetti sauce and cover noodles with 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, spinach leaves, basil leaves and then the remaining ricotta mixture. Add final layer of noodles. Cover with remaining sauce and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cook on low for 3 hours.

Crock Pot Chicken Divan

This recipe gives me crazy flashbacks! My mom use to make this when I was a kid. She made it in the oven, but it was almost the same recipe— broccoli, chicken, rice and some sauce that had a little bit of an orange color but didn’t taste at all like oranges. It took me a few more years of life to find out that the color was from the curry powder. I think Crayola should add the crayon color “curry”.  

It’s hard sometimes for my taste buds to explain the flavors to my head, but I think I’ve figured out most of my mom’s recipe.  I’ve added the crock pot. Maybe the celery seed, too, but I think it adds a nice flavor. I start with frozen chicken breasts because I never think ahead to thaw it out and I don’t like when I defrost it in the microwave and then the edges get a little cooked and weird. Using frozen chicken breasts works just fine, it will defrost and cook and fall apart into the creamy goodness of the sauce and the starch of the rice and absorb all of the spices by the time it’s done.

This home cooking will serve a table full of happy tummies and happy hearts. Enjoy!

1 lb. frozen broccoli cuts

1 c. uncooked white rice

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 t. Worchestershire sauce

1 t. fresh lemon juice

2 t. curry powder

1/2  t. celery seed

1/2 t. ground black pepper

2 T. melted butter

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese sprinkles

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. mayonnaise

Put frozen broccoli in crock pot first. Sprinkle with rice. Lay chicken breasts on top. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour on top of chicken. Cook on high for 4 hours. Prior to serving, shred chicken and mix everything together.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

We love pasta.  Sometimes in a rediculous way. I don’t know if that makes me a carb-a-vore or a carb-a-whore, but either way, it’s one of my favorite meals to make… and eat. I especially like when the kids eat pasta because I know that the sauce sneaks in lots of great vegetables and nutrients. The problem with an elaborate dish like baked ziti is that it can take a lot more work and I don’t have time to do all the steps in time for dinner. So, I’ve figured out a way to make some of my favorite dishes using my handy dandy crock pot. Time is no longer a nuisance.

All the parts of this recipe can be made separately and ahead of time, so if it helps you to make the meatballs and boil the pasta the night before, then go ahead and save yourself those steps.  But I do recommend making homemade meatballs (recipe is listed below). In fact, you can make them and freeze them without sauce so that when you want to eat them, you can decide later if you want them in marinara, stroganoff, alfredo, or sweet and sour. (PS– IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A VEGETARIAN ENTREE, FOLLOW ALL THESE STEPS EXCEPT FOR THE MINI MEATBALLS. YOU CAN ADD FRESH ZUCCHINI, MUSHROOMS OR SPINACH IF YOU’D LIKE ADDITIONAL FLAVORS.)

After you make the mini meatballs, these are the other things you’ll need for the baked ziti:

1 lb cooked ziti (al dente)

2 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 T. oregano

Pour hot, drained pasta into crock pot. Top with spaghetti sauce, but save 1/2 c. for later. Stir until pasta is coated then add cheeses, but save 1/2 c. of mozz cheese for later. Stir until cheese is starting to melt. Top with oregano and stir through one more time. When meatballs are done, line them on top of pasta and sauce mixture. Pour remaining sauce on top of meatballs and then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Warm on low for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Mini Meatballs (makes 48 balls)

1 lb. ground turkey

1 c. bread crumbs

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 t. oregano

1 T. parsley

2-3 cloves chopped garlic

1/2 t. black pepper

 1 beaten egg (if needed)

Mix all ingredients together with your hands. If consistency isn’t wet enough to bind, add egg (I prefer mine without it). Roll meat mixture into small, bite-sized balls and place on foil covered cookie sheet. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and then broil on high for 3-5 minutes to brown but NOT BURN outside of ball.   When cooled, balls can be frozen and saved for later use.

Crock Pot Ratatouille

In the Pixar movie by this name, the character Linguini says “Ratatouille. It’s like a stew, right? Why do they call it that? If you’re gonna name a food, you should give it a name that sounds delicious. Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious. ” But with Remy’s help, Linguini learned to cook, to enjoy it and to share great delicious dishes to others.

In our house, this movie is a favorite because it also teaches lots of great lessons. For example: we shouldn’t judge others based on their families or where they came from, you should pursue your interests with passion and dedication, you shouldn’t steal from others, in order to have great success we all need to work together and there will always be people to criticize, but even more people we can make happy.

This recipe is easy to make, maybe even for a movie night with your friends or family.  Enjoy and remember “anyone can cook!”

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2-3 zucchini, sliced ½ inch thick
2-3 yellow squash, sliced ½ inch thick
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
2 cans diced tomatoes, NOT drained
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil, just until onion is soft. Put eggplant, zucchini and squash in crockpot. Add onion and garlic on top, then both cans of diced tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
Serve on top of egg noodles. Top with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy!