1 Recipe + 2 Craft Ideas…Kind of…

I’m on a recipe kick lately I guess because I have another one for you today!  It’s my favorite kind of meal: crock pot!  And on top of that, it’s pasta…which is even better!

The thing I love about crock pot/slow cooker meals is that you throw everything together, turn it on and forget about it until dinner time.  Super easy, fairly “mess less” and perfect for any night.  This particular recipe is one that both the hubby and I agreed is probably one of the yummiest crock pot meals out there!

Creamy Tomato Tortellini (in the crock pot!)

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What you’ll need:

1 bag (20 oz) frozen cheese tortellini

1 cup fresh spinach

1 can Italian style diced tomatoes, drained

3/4 block of cream cheese, softened and chunked up

1/2 lb. meatballs or sausage, cooked

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, add an additional cup if needed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Seasonings: garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning blend

What you’ll do:

Combine all the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.  That’s it!!! MMMM!

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Changing gears a bit to craft time!  Have you even had a Pinterest fail?  That’s what happened with our craft a couple weeks ago.  Hence the “kind of” part of 2 crafts…since one didn’t really turn out so well.  I’ve seen examples of “apple stamping” all over.  Ya know, where you cut up an apple, dip it in paint and stamp it on paper?  So it seemed like a seasonally appropriate craft for M to try.  The problem?  No matter how many times I tried I apparently couldn’t cut a straight edge on my apple…therefore her artwork didn’t reveal very many “apple like” stamps.  Does anyone have any suggestions for me??  Oh well!  She still had fun!

apple stamping

Last week we made these cute little scarecrows out of popsicle sticks!  I happened to already have colored sticks, so we didn’t even have to mess with that part!  But if you don’t, all you have to do is have your kiddos paint or color the sticks before you start gluing them together.  The craft is pretty self explanatory using googly eyes, pipe cleaners for hair, construction paper for the nose and a little pom pom decoration for the hat.  Just a little tip: if you glue the popsicle sticks to a piece of sturdy paper it assembles much easier! 🙂

scarecrow

Check back tomorrow for this week’s craft!  It’ll be a fun one!

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Spicy Ginger Peanut Pasta

pasta

So my brother (who is obsessed with Asian food!) lived with us for a little while and always made this pasta dish that he created.  Now that he’s moved out, I still crave it all the time!  So I decided to give it a whirl, but I added in peanut butter because I’m obsessed with the Spicy Peanut Bowl at a noodle place nearby and was hoping to create something similar.  It turned out super yummy, was surprisingly really easy to make and as a bonus, the left-overs freeze really well!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups steamed broccoli

1 1/2 cups coleslaw mix

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 oz. brown rice noodles, cooked according to package

2-3 tablespoons red chili paste (depending on how spicy you like it)

3 tablespoons ginger paste

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

salt and pepper to taste

sunflower seeds & chow mein noodles to garnish

What to do:

  • In a skillet, saute steamed broccoli, onion, coleslaw mix and garlic in olive oil until tender.  At the same time, cook brown rice noodles according to package
  • Once vegetables are fully cooked, add red chili paste, ginger paste, soy sauce and peanut butter.  Stir until fully mixed
  • Drain pasta and add to vegetable/sauce mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste (if it’s too sticky, add more soy sauce to liking)
  • Top with sunflower seeds and chow mein noodles right before serving

Hope you enjoy! 🙂

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Easy Freezer Meals

freezer meals

If you’re like me, before you know it dinnertime has rolled around again and you’re left wondering what to make/what you have the ingredients for/what’s quick, because let’s be honest…some days we’re just not in the mood to spend a half hour or better in the kitchen cooking!  Not to mention busy days/nights where you simply just don’t have the time to make something.  That’s when I either make some sort of processed junk that’s quick or invite ourselves to my parents for dinner so that I don’t have to think about it!

In an attempt to solve my little problem of “what to make for dinner” on those nights, I decided to make up some easy freezer meals to have on hand that I can pop into the oven and have a work-free homemade meal!  This week I only made 3 meals, trying to stick with ingredients that I had in the cupboards already.  I ended up with: stuffed shells, 2 pans of lasagna and tater tot casserole.  **Note: my recipes are for 2-3 servings, or to fill an 8×8 pan**

Grocery List (for all 3 meals):

1 package of Lasagna noodles

1 box of jumbo shells

1 large jar of spaghetti sauce, optional: 1 jar of alfredo sauce

1 large container of ricotta cheese

1 package each of shredded mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar cheese

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 package of frozen tater tots

1 can of cream of mushroom or celery soup

1 package of frozen peas and corn

Seasonings/spices: I like to use garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, basil, onion powder

 

Stuffed Shells (I made a pan of 10 stuffed shells)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking.  At the same time, cook shells according to packaging
  • Mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, basil and Italian seasoning
  • Remove cooked ground beef from heat, let cool and mix with room temperature spaghetti sauce (making it as saucy or meaty as you like)
  • Drain and rinse cooked shells in cold water
  • Spread a thin layer of meat sauce mixture or alfredo sauce at the bottom of an 8×8 baking tin
  • Stuff shells with ricotta mixture, place in a single layer in the pan and cover with meat sauce
  • Sprinkle a little parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the top and cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese is bubbly.

shells

Lasagna (I made 2 8×8 pans, each pan half meat, half no meat)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking. At the same time, cook lasagna noodles according to packaging
  • Mix together the rest of the container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, basil and Italian seasoning
  • Remove cooked ground beef from heat, let cool and mix with room temperature spaghetti sauce (making it as saucy or meaty as you like)
  • Drain and rinse cooked noodles in cold water
  • Spread a thin layer of meat sauce mixture or alfredo sauce at the bottom of an 8×8 baking tin
  • Layer noodles, ricotta mixture, meat sauce/spaghetti sauce on non-meat half, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat
  • Top with another layer of noodles, a little bit of sauce and a good amount of mozzarella/parmesan cheese.  Cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese is bubbly.
  • **Note: to make the entire pan meaty, increase your ground beef by another 1/2 lb.**

lasagna

Tater Tot Casserole (I made 2 8×8 pans, each pan half meat, half no meat)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking.  Remove from heat and let cool
  • Mix together 1/2 can cream of celery or mushroom soup, cooked meat, salt and pepper and frozen vegetables if desired.  Mix the other half of the can of soup with salt and pepper and frozen vegetables.
  • Spray the bottom of 8×8 pan with cooking spray
  • Spread 1/2 meat mixture on one side, 1/2 vegetable mixture on the other side
  • Cover with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Top with frozen tater tots.  Cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and tater tots are browned.
  • **Note: to make the entire pan meaty, increase your ground beef by 1/2 lb.**

tater tot casserole

I’m telling you, freezer meals are the way to go!  The next time you’re in the mood to cook, take advantage and stock your freezer.  A few hours of labor and a one time kitchen cleanup will result in several meals ready to pop in the oven whenever you need them!  Check back in a couple weeks… I just might have a few new recipes for you!

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Happy Fall {+ a Weekly Craft!}

Well, it’s October so that means it’s officially Fall, right?  This means pumpkin patches, bonfires, hayrack rides, apple orchards and pumpkin flavored everything.  Here in the Midwest where we’re blessed to have seasons, Fall also signifies a change.  The leaves on our trees go from green to deep shades of red, purple, yellow and orange, eventually they fall to the ground leaving bare branches, the weather is changing as well, we’re met with cool, sunny days and crisp, chilly nights.  We feel this sense of urgency to take advantage of the nice days we have spending as much time outside as we can before the weather really makes a change as winter sets in in the days ahead.  Even the smell in the air changes, a mix of burning leaves, fields being harvested and cooler air.

In this season of change, where the holidays are right around the corner, what better time to reflect on the blessings in your life.  Perhaps in doing so you’ll come up with some things you’d like to change about yourself, about your surroundings, about your life.  And during this season of change it seems appropriate, don’t you think?

 

In honor of Fall, my favorite season of the year, I thought it would be fun to post weekly Fall-related crafts!  M LOVES arts and crafts so I’m always looking for cute little projects for us to do together: this week we made handprint leaves!

It was super easy and turned out so cute!  All you do is paint your kiddos palms with craft paint, have them stamp their handprints and when the paint’s dry, draw on the veins and stems of the leaves with a brown Sharpie.  Happy crafting!! 🙂  And check back next week for another fun Fall craft!

handprint leaves