Monday, March 30, 2015

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Slow Cooker Lasagna
Yield: Serves about 8 people

  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 16 ounces fat free cottage cheese, small curd
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free mozzarella cheese
  • 6 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon until it is no longer pink, or about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  3. While sauce is cooking, stir together cottage cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl.
  4. Spray a 5-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon 1/3 of the saugae sauce mixture into the slow cooker.
  5. Break 3 lasagna sheets in half and arrange over beef mixture; top with half of cheese mixture.
  6. Repeat with another layer and finish with remaining 1/3 of sausage mixture.
  7. Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for  about 4 hours.
  8. Remove cover and turn off heat.
  9. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese over beef mixture. Cover the slow cooker and set aside until the cheese melts, or about 10 minutes. 
Notes: you can add mushrooms or spinach to sausage mixture if you want to add more veggies.

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Carrot Cake Waffles with Cream Cheese Topping

Happy National Waffle Day! Today I was invited to celebrate at Fox59 by sharing a unique waffle recipe. In the past I've made brownie waffles and blueberry waffles and cinnamon waffles, but since today was a special holiday I wanted to make something more unique.

That very day that I was asked to do the segment, my mom told me about a recipe for carrot cake waffles that she saw in the newspaper. It was fate! I love carrot cake and I can't think of a more perfect spring treat. And instead of syrup I opted for cream cheese topping because everyone knows you can't have carrot cake without cream cheese.

In the past, I've been hesitant to make waffles because, let's be real, they're a pain to clean up! All of those little grids that you have to hand wash. But recently my dad got this Hamilton Beach waffle iron that is awesome because you can take the grids out and they're dishwasher safe! This post isn't sponsored by Hamilton Beach - it's just a little suggestion in case you don't already own a waffle iron.

Carrot Cake Waffles with Cream Cheese Topping
Yield: About 4 waffles

For the waffles: 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (not drained) 
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts  or pecans
  • 2/3 cup packed grated carrot 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
For the cream cheese topping:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Waffles:
  1. Heat waffle iron to medium-high.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, pineapple, nuts, carrot, buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients just until combined. Batter will be very thick.
  5. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and add 1 cup of batter, or an appropriate amount for your waffle iron.
  6. Cook as directed for your waffle iron or until golden brown.

For the Cream Cheese Topping
  1. Use a mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, or about 1 minute.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and beat until incorporated and smooth.
  3. Spread on finished waffles

Recipe Adapted from The Columbus Dispatch

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slow Cooker Spinach Jalapeño Dip

Monday is National Chips and Dip Day, and it just so happens that chips and dip are one of my biggest weaknesses. I don't know what it is. I don't normally eat chips. In fact, I can't remember the last time I've just eaten plain chips. But when you pair them with a dip -- oh boy! It's pretty much the greatest party snack of all time.

I had never used my slow cooker to make a dip until recently. And let me tell ya, it is awesome! It's actually kind of funny how easy it is. For this Slow Cooker Spinach Jalapeño Dip all I did was dump all the ingredients in the crock pot and give it a few stirs. That's it. I didn't even have to clean anything because I used a disposable liner in the slow cooker.

Also, in case you were wondering on a scale of 1-10 this dip is about a 6.5 on the spiciness scale. It's definitely more cheesy than spicy. But you can of course fix that by adding more hot sauce or jalapeños.

Slow Cooker Spinach Jalapeño Dip
Yield: Makes about 16 (1/4 cup) servings

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 (8 ounce each) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped and seeded jalapeño peppers (or about 3 peppers)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  1. Dump all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low (stirring occasionally) for 2-3 hours or on high for about 1 hour.
  3. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Saturday, March 14, 2015

No-Bake Snickers Bar Pie

Happy Pi Day! In case you’re not aware, every year math enthusiasts like myself celebrate Pi Day on March 14th because the date 03/14 is also the first three digits of pi (3.14), or π.

But today is not just any Pi Day. Oh no. This year Pi Day is extra special because it’s the first time in a century that the date is 3/14/15, which describes the first FIVE digits of pi, 3.1415. Excitement will peak at 9.26:53am when the date and time will describe pi to 10 digits.

Anyway, there’s your math lesson for today.

My mother is a math teacher, and for as long as I can remember we’ve celebrated Pi Day in the Wierks household by making pie of course.

So today I’m carrying on that tradition by sharing one of my favorite pie recipes – No-Bake Snickers Bar Pie. It’s very simple and you can whip it up within a matter of minutes. The pie tastes like a rich chocolate peanut butter mousse layered with Snickers pieces. Delicious!

I got to make the pie on live TV at Fox59 this morning, and as you can see by the video we all had way too much fun!

No-Bake Snickers Bar Pie
Yield: Makes about 16 servings

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup Snickers bars chopped (or about 3-regular sized snickers)
  • 8 ounces whipped topping (I use Cool Whip)
  • 1 prepared graham cracker pie crusts or chocolate cookie pie crusts

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and peanut butter until creamy.
  2. Stir in chopped Snickers.
  3. Add the whipped topping just and stir until just mixed.
  4. Gently add the filling to the pie crust and smooth with a spatula
  5. If you want, drizzle chocolate and caramel syrup on top and sprinkle with additional Snickers.
  6. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Two-ingredient cookies (plus mix-ins)

Sometimes the best things in life are the simple things. And these two-ingredient cookies are no exception.

I saw this recipe circulating around Pinterest, and it reminded me of the three-ingredient pancakes I like to make. After collecting enough overripe bananas I finally gave them a try this past week.

They were very easy to make – just mash bananas with oats. And the mix-in possibilities are endless. I made one batch with chocolate chips and a little vanilla extract and another batch with Craisins and chocolate chips. You can also add peanut butter, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, cinnamon, Nutella, etc.

These cookies also meet just about every dietary restriction you can think of. They’re gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian, and Paleo(ish).

I love these cookies as a snack or for breakfast. It’s easy to grab them and go. And sure they’re technically called “cookies,” but the only thing in them is bananas and oats. And you can’t feel guilty about eating bananas and oats for breakfast!

Have you made these before? What are your favorite mix-ins?

Two-Ingredient Cookies
Servings: Makes about 12 cookies
Calories: About 36 calories per cookies

  • Two large, ripe bananas
  • 1 cup quick oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mash bananas with the oats. Add any mix-ins you want.
  3. Form mixture into one-inch balls and place on greased baking sheet
  4. Bake for 15 minutes
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I actually recommend storing them in the refrigerator because the cookies seem to collect a bit of moisture.

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