Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Crock Pot Wednesday-- Crock Pot Lasagna

Two crocks filled with lasagna!

I recently got a new recipe off of Pinterest for crock pot lasagna. (Unfortunately, there wasn't a link--just a recipe on what looks like a cell phone face, so I can't give credit.)

Anyway, I made up two large crock pot inserts of the tasty recipe given below--and stuck them both in the refrigerator to cook (1) on Sunday while we were at church; and (2) for my "Crock Pot Wednesday" lunch that I make for my kids and teachers at our house on our "cottage class" teaching day (Wednesdays). 

First, the good news. This recipe was super easy. My teenage assistant and I whipped two crocks full in fifteen minutes (with precooked ground beef from my freezer). It feels easier than regular lasagna (even though I do not precook the noodles in either recipe). I think it was just a mental thing though--I felt like it didn't matter if it was neatly layered in the crock pot whereas when I make them in pans for the freezer, it feels more structured and time consuming. (Again, it was probably all in my head!)

I love assembling crock pot entrees, sticking the crocks in my fridge and having them ready to use in the next few days. It is similar to freezer cooking except it is in the fridge and ready to turn on the slow cooker and go. 

I have two identical crock pots--this one with three sizes of "crocks." Thus, I have six removable crocks in three sizes (two of each size) to do this multiple-crock cooking I am describing in this post.

Now the bad news: both times I cooked this dish, the lasagna noodles became very soft, almost dissolving type of soft. I like my pasta al dente, so I wasn't thrilled with the texture. Also, it is much soupier than traditional lasagna. However, my guys liked it (not as well as traditional), but enough for me to keep it in my repertoire and use it again for "Crock Pot Wednesday"! 

(I have wondered if refrigerating the crocks of lasagna and keeping them for a while before cooking them might have added to the soft noodles. I will update this after trying this recipe again with cooking it as soon as it is made as opposed to storing it and cooking it later. However, I have frozen pans of lasagna for twenty-three years now, and it has never affected the texture of the noodles.)

I did this recipe four times for two huge crock inserts. (Each crock fed eight to ten people.) As it is given below, I think the recipe would fit in a six or possibly even four quart crock pot and would likely feed four or five people. Be sure you keep it on low. (My kids turned it on high for an hour to rush it along, and it burned the sides and bottom. However, my slow cooker is extremely hot. My high is more like super high; my low is like high; and my warm is like low!) 


1 lb ground beef
Lasagna noodles
1 regular jar spaghetti sauce 
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 4 eggs (I like to stick extra eggs in everything!)

1. Mix ground beef and sauce in large bowl, reserving 1/2 cup or so of sauce by itself.

2. Mix cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and eggs in large bowl.

3. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Pour the reserved 1/2 to one cup of sauce in bottom of crock.

4. Place two uncooked lasagna noodles (broken in half to fit in the crock) over the sauce.

5. Spread 1/3 of meat mixture over noodles.

6. Spread 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture over meat mixture.

7. Spread 1/3 of mozzarella cheese over cottage cheese.

8. Add another layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (two again, broken in half).

9. Pour the other half of the cottage cheese mixture over the lasagna noodles in this layer.

10. Add 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

11. Add another layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (two again, broken in half).

12. Add remaining meat mixture.

13. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

14. Cook on low for four hours; do not overcook.

I get very confused about the order and amounts in lasagna recipes, so here is a quick recap of the order:

a. 1/2 cup to 1 cup sauce alone
b. Two uncooked lasagna noodles
c. 1/3 of the meat mixture
d. 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture
e. Two uncooked lasagna noodles
f. 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture
g. 1/3 of the mozzarella
h. Two uncooked lasagna noodles
i. Rest of meat mixture
j. Rest of mozzarella

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