Delicious Crockpot Lasagna

Well, I did it, friends. I made a lasagna in the crockpot! You may be thinking, ‘hmph, I do that all of the time!’ but this was totally new to me! I have this incorrect notion that my crockpot is strictly for soups, stews, roasts, etc., so the idea of creating an ‘oven’ meal in it was a big deal for me. I am happy to report that it went perfectly! It was way easier than the oven, and in the summer months, it’s extra great, because you’re not heating your house up!

So here it goes… (oh, and I noticed as I was mentally recapping my ingredients that every single thing was from Trader Joe’s, and it was perfecto!)

**Update** Find my notes regarding a vegetarian variation below this recipe!

 

Ingredient list:

*marinara sauce
*6-8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
*1 lb. ground turkey
*1/2 red onion
*fresh basil
*fresh kale
*4 garlic cloves
*fresh parmesan
*fresh mozzarella
*15 oz. ricotta cheese
*1 zucchini squash

I had left over TJ’s marinara sauce in the freezer, so I thawed it out overnight in the refrigerator. (I usually take a jar of marinara and a big can of crushed or pureed tomatoes and mix them for my sauce.)

In a skillet prepped with a drizzle of evoo, I sauteed 1 lb. of ground turkey and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Once it was nearly cooked through, I added a half of a red onion (diced), a hand-full of fresh, chopped basil, about 1/4 c. of fresh, chopped kale, and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Once that simmered for a few minutes, I added all but about a half cup of the sauce and mixed it together well.

The 1/2 c. of sauce that I reserved went into the crockpot first, and I covered the bottom evenly.

Next, I prepped all of my ingredients for layering.

In a small bowl, I combined a small tub of ricotta cheese (15 oz.), 2 more minced garlic cloves, and about 1/4 c. of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Next, I peeled and thinly sliced a zucchini and cut all of the slices in half, so that each was about 3 in. long.

Then, I sliced a a ball of fresh mozzarella into thin slices (i think it was around 8 oz. whatever the baseball-sized ball is??)

Finally, you are ready to layer!

On top of the sauce, my layers went like this:

*TJ’s ‘oven ready / no boil’ pasta (cracked in half, using 4 halves per layer)

*zucchini slices, filling in any gaps left by the noodles

*meat sauce (I wanted to put the sauce and zucchini right on the noodles, because both are full of moisture, and those oven-ready noodles really suck up the moisture in the dish if you aren’t prepared for them to do so.)

*ricotta/parmesan mixture

*mozzarella slices

*pasta, zucchini, meat sauce, cheeses, repeat…

Finish off the dish with any remaining mozzarella and a fresh layer of parmesan. I rinsed my crockpot lid off, prior to putting it on, in order to really add some extra moisture. I think all of the steam helped, b/c not a single noodle was dried out.

Let it cook on low for 4 hrs. (or on high for 2 hrs.) Easy and delicious. I will definitely be making lasagna this way from now on. My house stayed cool, the aroma filled the kitchen, and it turned out perfectly.

 

Try it, and let me know if you like it as much as we did!

 

 

 

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I recently made a meatless version with half the ricotta, and it was also delicious!  Instead of kale, I used frozen spinach (just enough to sprinkle two light, even layers), and I also added thinly sliced portobello mushrooms (6 mushrooms / 3 per layer).  For the ricotta portion, I used half of the 15 oz. tub, 1 egg yolk, 1 large clove of garlic, 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning, and a pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  In place of the fresh mozzarella, I used layers of Trader Joe’s shredded Quattro Formagio and sliced provolone.

 

 

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Heavy Heart. Heavier Hands.

Hands.

I wish I could just get rid of you.

If I ignore you long enough, maybe you’ll just go away. *Backspace. Backspace. Delete. Hit the spacebar like I’m playing ‘whack-a-mole.’*

You stink, hands.

hands

You used to be my friends. You could curl around a softball and whip it from the fence to home plate in seconds flat. You could braid the finest hair and tie a ponytail before I even finished a sentence. Come on. What the heck is happening to you?! *Backspace. Delete. Delete.*

You are heavy.

You can’t bend right. Your fingers are weird. They snap and pop and curl. They’re lazy. They’re sleeping. They’re weird. You are numb. You fall on the keyboard like Frankenstein walking. You stomp the keys like each knuckle is weighted. You’re swollen. You are ugly. Your skin is cracked and dry, And it hurts to make a fist, because your skin doesn’t even fit you anymore. Squeezing you tightly is like trying to stretch a rubber glove around a basketball.

You stink, hands.

You stink.

If i just fight past it and pretend you’re not failing me, I think you’ll go away. you’ll stop this ickiness and wake up again. You have to wake up again. I have things to do.

I am tired of you. I don’t want to wedge you under my leg anymore, trying to lay you flat – trying to make you feel well again. I don’t want to stretch you out all day and night, hoping that this will be the last time before something miraculous happens.

You stink, hand. You just stink.

I think back to when I’d ‘hit the gym’. How you were simple tools in executing my agenda. You just did whatever I wanted – whatever I needed. You were mine, and you worked. You are no longer mine. You hate me and don’t work for me anymore. But maybe if I just pretend that you do, you will, and we’ll be a team again. I keep thinking that I’ll fix you. I’ll start running again. I’ll do push-ups and jumping jacks. I’ll pick up a paintbrush or ride a bike, and somehow all of that ‘normal’ stuff will pump a whole lot of ‘normal’ back into your veins.

I know I can’t just get rid of you, but I sure wish that I could. I know I can’t fix you, but I sure want to. As much as I can’t stand you, I could cry over you. I miss you. If you get better, then it’ll be a miracle, and you know what?

I believe in those.

I believe I will have my hands again.

Praying for all of you struggling with sjogrens/rheumatoid arthritis/autoimmune disease symptoms. They’re not normal. They’re not of God or from God, but their healing will be for His glory.

And these dysfunctional hands type, “Amen.”

video009 from Kristi D Klover House on Vimeo.
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Choose Joy

All day every day, we’re making choices about how to feel, and how to convey those emotions in a healthy way to our family…our friends…our co-workers…strangers at the grocery store…  Is it just me, or is it so hard some days to choose joy?

 

I have so many things that I want to write about – I’m living all ‘Young House Love‘ up in here…and I’m hoarding so many pictures of food on our camera, that I’m constantly seeing the message, ‘memory card full’…BUT this topic is heavy on my heart tonight and takes precedence over tasty meals and home projects.

 

Sometimes, I realize though, it’s not just about choosing.
I owe them. 
Who?
My kids.
I owe them JOY.
I realized the other night while gazing at their sweet faces, that I am dealing them a side dish of misery with every day lately.  I serve them up a hearty dose of resentment, discontentment, frustration.  It’s not right, and it’s not fair.
It has nothing to do with them either!
My girls don’t know that my scowl is because I can’t get the mini blind to stay up or the toilet to flush…they don’t ‘get’ that I’m groaning because BOTH the washer and dryer are broken and I threw away a moldy shirt for the 3rd time in two weeks…  They can’t translate heavy eyelids and sarcasm into exhaustion.  They just see an unhappy mommy.
They don’t deserve that.  No matter what.
They absorb everything.  They see what’s literally there in front of them.  They see smiles or frowns.  They hear groans or laughter.  They watch me pace and wring my hands or lift them in joyful praise…
These days are forming their perspectives.  Like a river that carves stone over the course of hundreds of years…my  outpouring of whatever emotions are carving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of my children.
Who is Mommy?
I’m not proud of who I’ve been in front of my kids some days.  Most days.
Who is Mommy?
I want them to say, ‘She is JOY.’
I, like you, only get one go at this.  They are only little once.  They only get one childhood, and while I’m not arguing that we can’t have our bad days or our moments…I’m proposing that we make a serious effort to show them joy.
Car breaks down…
In a rut with your spouse…
Bad day at work…
Serious case of road-rage…
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed…
Screwed up dinner…
Opened an unfriendly e-mail…
Found out someone you love has cancer…
Insert your heartbreak or frustration here…
I have a choice in every moment – unnecessary transparency or intentional joy.
Let’s choose JOY.
I opened up facebook the very next morning after confessing these thoughts to my husband and saw this post immediately.  I was so blessed by it, and I believe you will be also.  Give your family the GIFT of a happy mommy.  I love that she talks about happiness being cultivated, not faked.  We can do this, and we, and our families, will be so blessed because of it.  Carry on, sweet mama.  Choose JOY today.
They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)
Joy

 

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15-Minute Method: How to Boil the Perfect Egg…

One Good Egg

I am one of those people that has had to ask Google “how to boil eggs” probably more times than I should admit.  For whatever reason, I just couldn’t remember!  I must also confess, I would just pick a suggestion randomly, and they often didn’t even turn out well!

At last, by trial and error… I have finally achieved trial and success! These eggs are perfect!   Yes, I said it… PERFECT, and I’m happy to share the super-easy-to-remember process with you too!

egg

The “15-Minute Method”

Okay, I start out with my 2 quart pot (it’ll usually have a label on the underside or handle) – it’s like a medium sized pot.  I like to stick with 7 or 8 eggs at the most.

I cook several at a time, because my Avey-baby will gobble them up like nobody’s business.

Plus, they fit perfectly in this sized pot…

Place them in the pot filled half way with tap water before turning the burner on – for obvious reasons. If you try to place eggs into hot water, it will hurt, people! Plus, you can’t drop them in, because they’ll crack… so, unless you want poached eggs, trust me.

Then bring it to a rolling boil and set the timer immediately to 10 minutes (once it’s boiling). I usually have to turn the heat down a bit halfway through, because the roll gets a little violent, and I’ve quickly given myself a poached egg or two. Do not, I repeat, do not put a lid on it.

Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the pot from heat and let them sit in the pot for an additional 5 minutes – still uncovered.

Once the 5 minutes is up, drop them into a prepared ice bath – I like to use this large, glass measuring cup, because it’s easy… I use it to scoop up a bunch of ice, and then I just pour the water out when it’s time to stick them in the fridge.

Plus, being that it’s glass, it’s easy to see how many eggs I have left and identify them as hard-boiled…  You don’t want to stick ’em back in an egg carton and grab the wrong kind when you’re in a hurry.

These eggs have been perfect every time, and they’re a cinch to peel…

Quick Re-cap

I call it the “15-Minute Method, because it takes exactly 15 minutes to achieve perfectly hard-boiled eggs.  Lucky for me, it’s such an easy phrase to remember.

So, 10 minutes boiling and 5 minutes sitting in the hot water, removed from heat.  Ice bath, peel, DONE!

See??? Perfection!

eggs

Miss Avey would have to agree… She just downed three!

Enjoy!

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