Super Easy Veggie Pasta Pot

>> Monday, August 31, 2015

I’ve pulled the slow cooker out of its summer hiding spot deep in our pantry. Yes. Even though this week wouldn’t have you believe it with crazy high temps -- it’s almost fall. Back-to-school. Busy season. And I can always use help in the kitchen.

Thing is, I’m tired of all my go-to crock pot recipes. Time to try something new. Will you join me? I’m on a quest to breathe life back into our dinners all while putting forth little effort. Like I wrote on Thursday’s post, I made this recipe after seeing the Summer Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe on Oh My Veggies with only a few modifications.



What you’ll need . . . 

  • 1 medium onion 
  • 1 large zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium head of broccoli
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Large bell pepper
  • Couple cloves garlic
  • Linguine or other pasta noodles, uncooked*
  • Jar (24 ounces) of pasta sauce (homemade is easy + delish)
  • Shredded mozzarella (I used fresh)
  • Parmesan 

Try to get as many of these ingredients from your garden or friends’ gardens as possible. Don’t necessarily stick to this list exactly -- keep it flexible. Use whatever is fresh and in your kitchen already. Just be sure to substitute ingredients in similar amounts so it’ll all fit in the pot.

* I used spinach linguine. I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t think cappellini would work best in this recipe. it might get too mushy. Prove me wrong!

Method . . . 

  1. Chop all ingredients into chunks. Halve cherry tomatoes. Mince garlic. Then on your stovetop, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic and onions over medium heat until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the rest of the veggies -- saving the tomatoes until last -- and cook until everything is slightly softened but still somewhat crunchy. Season with some salt + pepper to taste.
  3. In your crock pot, pour around a half cup of sauce at the bottom. Then layer on some pasta.
  4. OK. So, I didn’t measure my pasta layers exactly. Take a small handful of pasta, crack it in half, and make a thin layer. Too much? Take some out. Too little? Add. It’s not about being exact. Check out my photo for reference.
  5. Cover the pasta with about a third of the veggies you cooked. Then top that with another 1/2 cup pasta sauce and then a 1/3 cup (or so) of mozzarella.
  6. Repeat this layering until you run out of space or ingredients. Just make sure you top everything off with tomato sauce, cheese, and then the Parmesan. 
  7. Cook on LOW for three to four hours. We had to go out on an errand partway through cooking, and I don’t feel comfortable leaving the pot on since it’s kind of old. Anyway, I stopped cooking mine for an hour at the two hour mark and resumed later. Turned out great!
  8. Then let sit for half an hour to cool slightly and scoop out heaping servings. I didn’t get a photo of the end result. Just picture a bowl of steaming veggies, noodles, cheese, and sauce.

This is such a great way to get tons of veggies into your tummy. If you’re vegan, feel free to leave out the cheese, use your favorite substitute, or sprinkle some nutritional yeast in the pot. The leftovers are even better. We saved some in our freezer for a rainy day. Ada even asked for a second helping!

So, one recipe down. What should I try next?

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Thursday Things

>> Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Thursday, friends! I cannot believe Stephen will be back at work in less than two weeks. Where did the summer go? (Side note: I feel like NY starts school wayyyyy late this year. Am I right?) Anyway, lots going on here as we round out the season and prepare for the new year.

So, I thought I’d share my Weekend Things a little early this week.

// 1. I cannot wait to share this awesome slow cooker recipe with you! It’s based on this Slow Cooker Lasagna from Oh My Veggies. Delish!

// 2. Pun-Fueld Food Map of Each US State via Distractify

// 3. 7 Rules Every Tomato Grower Should Follow via Rodale

// 4. We got a piano! We weren’t actively looking for one, but it’s also been in the back of our minds. So, Stephen and I had a date the other day and checked out a new-to-us antique shop. This 1976 beauty was sitting in the front . . . and at just $160, I had to have it.

We’re going to need to get it tuned and repaired a bit, but it seems pretty solid.

I’ve already been busting out a few Elton John hits.

// 5. Some deals:

// 6. OK. So, this isn’t a deal, but I pooled my birthday money and bought a pair of Birkenstock Paris clogs. And I am absolutely in love. They are by far the most comfortable and cool looking shoes I’ve ever owned. I’m a soft footbed convert, and I always order narrow for the best fit.

I’ll try to snap a better photo sometime soon.

(Check out these peppers from our garden!)

// 7. Have any of you heard of the Circle + Bloom relaxation audio tracks?

I found them while doing some searches on fertility stuff. I’ve only downloaded the free trial track . . . but wow did it relax me. I don’t necessarily think I’d try these thinking they’d result in a BFP, but I could sure use some relaxation.

Just wondered if any of you have tried anything similar for visualization and stress relief.

My Writing Elsewhere . . . 

6 Apps Every Dad Needs
7 Best Pieces of Homemaking Advice from Martha Stewart
10 Creative Uses for Beeswax
5 Ways to Exercise When It’s Hot Outside
7 Edible Adventures Anyone Can Afford
10 Wonderful Ways to Use Wallpaper
13 Household Uses for Essential Oils


Psssst: Check out previous editions of Weekend Things!

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Peanut Butter + Carob Crispy Treats

>> Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I love crispy rice treats. They were one of my favorites when I was a kid. But I don’t particularly enjoy the gooey marshmallow kind. My mom used to make amazing peanut butter rice crispy ice cream bars. I loved those bars! So, I decided to recreate them for a quick, gluten-free dessert.

I used carob on top because I picked up a bag at the store a few days ago. I used to be addicted to the stuff. Anyway, if you’d rather top them with chocolate, that’s good, too. Or you can keep them naked. Whatever you like best. You can also use honey or brown rice syrup in place of the maple syrup. Or almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.

So many delicious options.



What you’ll need . . .
  • 6 cups brown rice cereal
  • 3/4 to 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 bag unsweetened carob chips*
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • Sea salt
* Vegans can choose Sunspire's vegan carob chips. And here’s more about carob versus chocolate.

Method . . . 
  1. Pour cereal into a large bowl.
  2. Heat maple syrup over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter and a pinch or two of salt. Mix until well incorporated and smooth with a spatula.
  4. Pour peanut butter mixture into cereal and mix around with a spatula until everything is well coated.
  5. Press into a 9 x 13 baking dish lined with parchment. Press down well so it’s nice and compact.
  6. Then place in your freezer while you melt the carob.
  7. Back in your pot, pour in the half cup of almond milk and heat until hot. 
  8. Pour in chocolate chips and stir with a whisk. You might need to add more/less milk to achieve a good texture. You want to be able to pour it -- not a thick paste, but also not too runny.
  9. Once it’s all smooth, take your bars out of the freezer and pour the carob on top. Spread around until uniform and return to the freezer.
  10. Let cool until set and then slice with a sharp knife into bars.
  11. Top with additional salt (optional). 

I store mine in zip bags right in the freezer. That way, they last longer.

(At least in theory.)

What’s your favorite childhood dessert? 

I like these guys and I’m also a sucker for worms + dirt!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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