Monday, January 26, 2015

I Say A Little Prayer For You - Crockpot Fridge Buster Lasagna

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you

Or for me ... it's taken me five days to write one blog post.  

January 21 - Abysmal.  That is the single most accurate word to describe yesterday.  I'm not assigning fault.  I'm not going to give specifics.  I'm just going to say that for thirteen hours, I was in an abysmal situation.  I was not alone, but as I have stated in the past, the pain of others brings me no pleasure.

Today is not shaping up much better.  And tomorrow is up for grabs.

The weather is lovely, nicer than it has been for weeks.  There is a warmth from seventies type temperature, the air is clear, and the sky is a crisp blue.  There have been some really great sunspots formed on the floor at the house, quite pleasing to several of my furry children.  As you can see, I am looking for the golden lining.

January 22 - Oh please dear Lord, by all that is holy, please just send a gentle heavenly nudge this way to ensure a voluntary consent.  I would like to avoid trials and tribulations this morning.  Especially trials.

January 23 - The last day of a tough week.  The pain and exhaustion come and then they go.  Rapid cycling fibromyalgia.  I can't eat, I can't keep my head upright, I can't think clearly.  I haven't been able to make it to the hospital to see Terry.  I can't cook nor food shop. And "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island" keeps running through my head.

Although we did not need a trial this morning, the proceedings were sufficiently convoluted and complicated to take most of the morning.  My back is breaking.  I'm going to have to head home and stay home.  I feel physically and emotionally defeated.

No cooking, no recipes.

January 24 - I survived.  I am here, albeit after a late rising, and I feel strong enough to put on clothes and leave the house for some food shopping.  After a disastrous Friday morning, the end of a horrible, stressful, debilitating week,  I came home and stayed home and crashed and burned.  I slept - oh, did I sleep.

Oh nuts.  I crashed again.  I tried to eat, I really did.  A nice one egg omelet.  Well, at least Robert enjoyed the other half.  Okay, shopping tomorrow, God willing and the crick don't rise.  In the meantime, I decided I had to prepare something edible for my family.  I had been playing around with the idea of crockpot lasagna, but I was missing ricotta cheese and ground beef.  That led me to strip-search my refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and while this is hardly easy, I was able to sit down between assembling each layer, and so it came together.  Of course, what with sitting down between layers and watching episodes of The Librarians, it was too late to fire up the crockpot, so the lasagna-filled crock is sitting in the fridge.  Tomorrow, while I head out to finally do some food shopping and stocking, the lasagna will be slow-cooking for 6 to 8 hours, until it burbles.  Isn't that a great word?  Burble.  It sounds so cheerful.  I could use cheerful.

Crockpot Fridge Buster Lasagna
Prepare each layer, and set aside.

olive oil
1 - 9.6 oz. bag Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Hearty Sausage Crumbles (mine were frozen)
1 chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 -24 oz. jars vodka sauce (I used one jar Bertolli and one jar of Classico.  Next time I think I'll use a spicy marinara, in which case I will substitute for the half-and-half with some water or wine)
1/2 cup half-and-half

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Pour in the sausage crumbles and cook until no longer frozen and starting to brown.  Add the onion and garlic and cook just until the onion is soft.  Now add the vodka sauce.  Pour the half-and half into one of the sauce jars, shake well and then add this mixture to the other sauce jar. Cover and shake well and finally pour the liquid into the pan.  Lower the heat, and simmer together for about 15 minutes.  Lower the heat as much as possible, and keep sauce warm while preparing the layers.

Sausage and Meatballs
olive oil
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage, sliced (I used red pepper and onion variety from Carroll's in Georgia)
1/2 pound tiny turkey meatballs, cooked (mine were from a frozen cache; see the November 23, 2014 post for the recipe)
1 - 24 oz. jar Bertolli Porcini Mushroom Sauce (next time I will go with a regular mushroom sauce)

In a frying pan, combine a tablespoon of olive oil with the sausage over medium heat.  Once the sausage is defrosted and beginning to show color, add the meatballs.  Cook together until the meatballs are defrosted, then drain off any fat in the pan.  Return the pan to the burner and add the sauce.  Simmer the meats and sauce for a few minutes, then leave sitting on the burner on the lowest setting.

Spinach and Artichoke Layer
1 - 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1- 12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 very large clove garlic, minced or microplaned
1 egg
salt and pepper

With a wooden spoon, combine all the ingredient in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cheese Layer
3/4 pound large curd 4% cottage cheese
1 - 8 oz. package Kraft shredded mozzarella with cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 eggs
salt, pepper, parsley flakes

With a wooden spoon, combine all the ingredient in a medium bowl and set aside.

Lasagna Layers
1 - 1 pound package soft taco size flour tortillas (10 to a package)
remaining shredded parmesan (I hand-shredded a 5 oz. piece of parmesan for the entire recipe)
1 - 8 oz. package sliced provolone cheese

I prepared this in my 6 quart oval crockpot, and it was filled almost to the top.  Removing the finished lasagna from a crockpot is always tricky, so I followed the advice of several online food bloggers and created an aluminum foil "sling" as a liner for the crockpot.  Cut three of the tortillas in half.

Now, the layers:
Sauce to coat the bottom of the crockpotollllllWith a wooden spoon, combine all the ingredient in a medium bowl and set aside.e44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444

(Wait.  Chelsea just walked across the keyboard, typed this and turned on the music.  The iPad is now playing the theme from "Rocky", and Chelsea is seated next to Robert.  Apparently I wasn't paying enough attention to her.)

Let's try those layers again:
  1. Vodka sauce to coat the bottom of the crockpot
  2. One and one-half tortillas
  3. One-half of the cooked sausage and meatballs, including half of the sauce they were cooked in
  4. Shredded parmesan
  5. One and one-half tortillas
  6. Vodka sauce to generously cover the tortillas
  7. One-half of the cottage cheese mixture
  8. One and one-half tortillas
  9. All of the spinach and artichoke mixture
  10. One and one-half tortillas
  11. Remaining sausage and meatballs with their sauce
  12. Shredded parmesan
  13. One and one-half tortillas
  14. Vodka sauce to generously cover the tortillas
  15. Remaining cottage cheese mixture
  16. One and one-half tortillas
  17. All of remaining vodka sauce
  18. All of the sliced provolone
At this point, I covered it and put it in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, I set the cooker on high for the first hour, then reduced to low for the rest of the time.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until done all the way through.  Shut off the heat, and leave the crockpot for about a half hour.  Using the aluminum foil sling, carefully remove the lasagna to a deep aluminum pan or casserole dish.

Before you run out and purchase a crockpot to prepare this ginormous dish, read tomorrow's blog post. Oh, it tasted pretty darn good, but ...

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