A new category

I see dozens of recipes on Facebook and Pinterest. I’ve tried a few: some with great results, and others, well, notsamuch. If we’re talking “the BEST Paleo chocolate cookies EVER — you’ll NEVER MISS THE EGGS AND FLOUR!” — yeah, shame on me. If it sounds too good to be true (it did), it probably is (it was).

Truthfully, it’s all about personal taste, isn’t it? What I think is magnificent, you might think is boring or even unpalatable, and vice-versa. Still, it’s worth mentioning for the greater good if something is a complete disaster, or if it has promise and might be worth another try later on, wearing a different shirt.

So in the interest of unbiased review, I will cook, photograph, write about and rate some of these allegedly revolutionary recipes that your family will rave about and henceforth demand. The first:

Crock Pot Lasagna

from TheCountryCook.net

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 T. minced garlic
1 26-oz. jar pasta sauce
1 c. water
1 15-oz. container cottage cheese (I dislike it, so I used ricotta here)
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 egg
2 T. parsley
1 t. pepper
Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Brown beef in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; mix. Drain excess fat.
  2. Add pasta sauce and water.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix cottage cheese, 1.5 cups mozzarella, 2 T. Parmesan, egg, pepper and parsley.
  4. Spray crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop approximately 1 cup of the meat sauce into bottom. Top with one layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (do your best to break up the pasta so it fits the shape of the cooker). Next, add a layer of the cheese mixture.
  5. Keep adding layers, ending with meat sauce (I got three layers total).
  6. Put lid on, and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. (Mine was done in 3 hours.)
  7. Turn off crock pot and add remaining cheese on top. Replace lid and allow to melt.
Layers before cooking

Layers before cooking

After three hours

After three hours

Review

I think I’ve found how companies like Banquet and Stauffer’s do their frozen lasagna, because this tasted exactly like those. It was, to our palates, extremely bland and somewhat dry. We both had to heat up pasta sauce and pour it over the top. Of course, it could have been my ricotta substitution that caused some dryness (cottage contains 79% moisture, as opposed to ricotta’s 72%), but that wouldn’t have affected the overall taste, which we thought was quite lacking in energy.

So if you prefer an unassuming, frozen-food-aisle flavor, this would be a good recipe for you to try. As is, it’s a one-and-done for me. I’d have to jazz it up quite a bit for it to pass muster. The plan is to stick with my standard recipe, unless I’m in a terrible hurry.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give Crock Pot Lasagna:

6 thoughts on “A new category

  1. PKPudlin

    Too bad because it looked really easy. Wonder if using a different sauce might work? I have a meat sauce that I use with *everything*, but that would require extra work. I might try it and then get back to you.

    Thanks for the review.

    PK

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I think if you have a dynamite sauce, it might make a difference, yep. I really can’t nail down the absent component…it’s crazy. Maybe it’s because the cooking method just makes everything meld together, flavor-wise, and that’s something I don’t like about a dish like lasagna. I like to experience the bite of the sauce, the texture differences between pasta, cheese, meat and tomatoes…I dunno.

      It was a big conglomerate flavor/texture, like the ingredients had never been separate. You might try it and see if the sauce is the missing link!

      Reply
  2. David

    It did look tasty and i too would have used the ricotta. I have tried several of these “crock pot” meals and every one of them to our liking has been drier than expected. I think it is because there is no variable temp settings. As a result I only use the crock pot for slow cooking meats!

    I cannot wait for the next recipe review cause a little known fact about me is that I love to cook ) I do about 80% of our cooking) and “cruise” cooking web sites all the time. :) Have you checked out: http://thepioneerwoman.com/

    Be Blessed my Friend!

    Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I did not know you had a secret culinary passion! I have indeed been to the Pioneer Woman site, many times. She does great work (isn’t she on TV, too?).

      Seriously, the only crock pot meal I swear by/can’t live without is beef stew. Some chicken dishes come in second, but I guess I’m not that much of a “casserole” type person, where putting a bunch of stuff in a pot and coming back later is a treat. The Thriller is not a big casserole eater either. Maybe it’s because we both had SO many of them growing up, as it was the Midwestern way of doing things (you know this extra well, growing up in a big family). I definitely agree that cooking meats is a slow cooker’s best function.

      Feel free to share any recipes and photos of your favorite stuff, and I’ll feature it here. Always looking for new ideas!

      Reply
    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Welcome, Fran! :-D

      Yeah, it wasn’t our favorite. My regular lasagna recipe is tangy and good and busy; this one was just too bland for us. Now that it’s summer, I will definitely be posting new recipe reviews. So glad you’re here — comment anytime!

      Reply

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