After weeks of opening my pantry and sighing deeply at the mess and disorganization, I finally pulled every last item out this past weekend.
Joey came into the kitchen to find boxes, bags and containers on every countertop.
“Today’s the day, huh?” he said, and then he wisely made himself scarce.
He knows better than to get in the middle of my crazy when I’m trying to organize.
As I dug through the pile, I discovered several things. One: At some point, I purchased corn starch, forgot I purchased corn starch and purchased corn starch again. Two: I have way more cupcake liners than I thought I did. And three: For some reason, I spent some time in the past collecting half-full boxes of lasagna noodles.
I’m not really sure what to do with my wealth of cornstarch, and the cupcake liners are now tucked away in a much better location, so I turned my attention to the lasagna noodles, but since I’d already spent a bunch of time cleaning, I decided I needed an easy recipe to try.
The one I found fit the bill: a crockpot lasagna.
The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Big Oven.” You can find the original post at https://www.bigoven.com/recipe/easy-crockpot-lasagna/229584.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
- 3-4 cups mozzarella cheese divided
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese I used low-fat
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 cup fresh spinach cut into ribbons
- 24 ounces spaghetti sauce
- 6 to 9 uncooked lasagna noodles I used a combo of regular and oven-ready
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown and crumble the ground beef, along with the onions.
- While the beef and onions cook, add 2 cups of the mozzarella, the ricotta, parmesan, egg, parsley and spinach in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Once the beef is cooked through, drain off as much fat as you can, and add the minced garlic, sauteing for a few minutes.
- Add the pasta sauce and 1/2 cup of water to the skillet. (To really help clean out the jar, pour the water into the jar after you dump the sauce in the pan, and swish it around before adding it to the pan, too.) Add any seasonings you want to spice up your pasta sauce. (I added oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to mine.) Cook the sauce for a few minutes to let it all heat through.
- In a large crockpot, add about one cup of the sauce to the bottom. Layer in as many noodles as you can fit in a single layer (break them, if necessary).
- Spread half of the cheese mixture on top.
- Add about two cups of sauce and add another layer of noodles.
- Finish out by spreading the second half of the cheese mixture on and topping with the remaining sauce.
- Cook on low for four to five hours or until your noodles are cooked through.
- About 10 minutes before serving, top with the rest of your mozzarella and cover to let the cheese melt.
- (I ended up putting this together the night before we wanted to eat it and refrigerated it in my crockpot. I plugged it in and cooked it on high for four hours, since it started out cold, and it cooked up great.)
This was pretty darn good, made for great leftovers, and it took way less time than a traditional lasagna. You could easily kick this up a notch with fancier sauces or subbing in half the ground beef with sausage, too.
And now I’m down to just one partial box of lasagna, which fits my newly organized aesthetic much better. I still sigh when I open my pantry, but it’s a sigh of happiness now.
This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 16, 2021.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.