So a quick update. Christmas went well. It was very quiet, almost a non-event, which is fine with me. I think I kind of outgrew the holiday. I still love Thanksgiving, but Christmas just doesn't have the same vibe for me. Other than that I've just been hiding out inside away from the cold. How is it I always forget quite how much I despise cold weather? Yeah the break from the insects and sweating is nice, but having to bundle up in a million layers just to go outside (which is waaaay too frequent with an older dog who pees every hour) is such a pain. Not to mention the ice and mud (it's always one or the other it seems).
Today's topic is going to be about cooking (again? what is wrong with me?). I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that the only things I have to cook with are a toaster oven, microwave and crockpot because our kitchen isn't done and we don't have a stove. I've never enjoyed cooking, but finding ways to make delicious meals with these small appliances is kind of fun! My latest experiment turned out great!
Here is the website with the recipe, but I'll copy/paste it here too: http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/13633054/crockpot-ravioli-casserole/
|1½||lbs. lean ground beef|
|1||clove garlic, minced|
|1||(15 oz.) can tomato sauce|
|1||can stewed tomatoes|
|1||tsp. Italian seasoning|
|10||oz. frozen spinach, thawed (I used fresh spinach)|
|16||oz. bowtie pasta, cooked|
|½||cup parmesan cheese, shredded|
|1½||cup mozzarella, shredded|
*Brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low. Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crock-pot to high. I added the fresh spinach, pasta, parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella and I mixed it all up really well. Then I added the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top.
I made a few modifications however. I didn't have any ground beef, not to mention no way of browning it, so I used chicken. I cooked the chicken in the toaster oven until it was done and then deboned and shredded it. I sprinkled garlic powder, onion powder and a poultry seasoning on the chicken before cooking it. Before deboning the chicken I put the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes in the crock pot to start warming up. I seasoned it with salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. I seasoned it pretty heavily (but didn't measure it) because comments on the website said it was a bit bland. After putting the chicken in I just left it until my husband got home. It only cooked for a couple of hours because I got a late start and the chicken was frozen so it took longer to cook than I thought. I think my lack of preparedness is part of the reason I don't like to cook, but I don't like to prepare either, so oh well hehe.
The next tricky part was cooking the pasta in the microwave. I've tried it before and it turned out mushy and disgusting and... well inedible. I found another website with a different method that involved boiling the water before adding the pasta and it worked great. Here is the link http://no-kitchen-cook.livejournal.com/626.html
It took a lot longer to bring the water to a boil than what they mentioned and even then it wasn't a big boil, but I was boiling six or eight cups of water! Once it was hot enough that little bubbles were forming on the bowl I dumped the pasta in and kept cooking it in the microwave, checking every two minutes until it was al dente. I didn't want it mushy since it would be cooking in the crock pot another half hour. So then I added the cooked pasta, the (thawed) frozen spinach and the (way more than they called for because I love cheese) mozzarella cheese along with some more seasoning (I really didn't want it to be bland!). I left the crock pot on low instead of turning it to high like they say to because my low setting is hot enough to burn stuff. I rarely use the high setting.
After all that hard work it was TOTALLY worth it! It was delicious and not bland at all! All I added was a bit of salt because I really like salt lol. So if you feel like trying it I definitely recommend it. If you have an actual kitchen and you plan well in advance instead of deciding at noon to try it then it should be a lot easier hehe. Also I really didn't think I would like this because I'm not a big fan of tomato flavored things or marinara, but it really wasn't that strong of a tomato flavor. It was great.
So I hope that my tangent on cooking isn't boring for those of you who come here to read about small time farming. I'll try not to wait so long to post again. :D