What’s in my Crock-Pot?

bolognese sauce cooking in the Crock-Pot
ground lamb with onions and garlic
ground lamb with onions and garlic
bolognese sauce cooking in the Crock-Pot
bolognese sauce cooking in the Crock-Pot

Today, I’ve got some lamb bolognese sauce—also know less pretentiously as meat sauce—in the Crock-Pot. Here’s how to make it:

Totally Non-Authentic Crock-Pot Bolognese
  • 1 lb. ground meat of your choice
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • minced garlic (as much as you like)
  • 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • splash of milk, half and half, or cream if you’re feeling decadent
  • spices: oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, fresh ground pepper, bay leaves etc.
  • a handful of fresh basil if you have it

Unfortunately, this is not a recipe you can just dump in the slow cooker. You’ve got to brown that meat first, and you might as well cook the onions and garlic with it. When the meat is nicely browned, add a splash of milk or cream and let it cook down a bit. I’m not sure why, but it makes a meat sauce taste really good. Add the browned meat, can of crushed tomatoes, jar of pasta sauce and spices/herbs of your choice. Cook on high if you only have a couple of hours. Cook on low if you plan to leave it for most of the day. Serve it on pasta and freeze the rest. It’s also really great in lasagne. If you’re veggie, you can substitute tempeh, but it’s definitely not as rich.

Yogurt and Noodles

lunch on 29 Sept 2015: ramen noodle salad, apples, carrots and a raspberry fig bar
lunch on 28 Sept 2015: yogurt with strawberry chia jam and granola, pretzels and pub cheese, and carrots
lunch on 28 Sept 2015: yogurt with strawberry chia jam and granola, pretzels and pub cheese, and carrots

Monday’s lunch had a little bowl of homemade love: homemade yogurt with homemade strawberry chia jam and homemade granola. All that homemade-ness is counterbalanced with pretzels, pub cheese, and a candy pumpkin with absolutely no nutritional value.

lunch on 29 Sept 2015: ramen noodle salad, apples, carrots and a raspberry fig bar
lunch on 29 Sept 2015: ramen noodle salad, apples, carrots and a raspberry fig bar

Last night, I decided to make a little ramen noodle salad for the kids’ lunches—not because I was super motivated, but because we were out of bread and tortillas. The noodles were cooked with some frozen corn, peas, and edamame. Then I tossed them with a little soy sesame dressing, lots of black pepper and some roasted peanuts. Yum.

It’s Pizza Friday

lunch on 25 Sept 2015: flatbread cheese pizza with kiwifruit, cucumbers and carrots
lunch on 25 Sept 2015: flatbread cheese pizza with kiwifruit, cucumbers and carrots
lunch on 25 Sept 2015: flatbread cheese pizza with kiwifruit, cucumbers and carrots

This morning, Iain claimed: “Lunch looks good today.” Ah, a thumbs up from my toughest critic. And, what’s not to love: flatbread pizza with a golden kiwifruit and some crisp veggies. Happy Friday.

lunch on 24 Sept 2015: chicken with cheese, crackers, and fruit
lunch on 23 Sept 2015: quesadilla with carrots, Goldfish and pineapple
lunch on 23 Sept 2015: quesadilla with carrots, Goldfish and pineapple

Lately, I’ve been trying to get the kids more involved in packing their lunches. They’re not really helping with prep so much as giving me ideas for what they want to eat. Yesterday it was a quesadilla with Goldfish, baby carrots, and fresh pineapple.

lunch on 24 Sept 2015: chicken with cheese, crackers, and fruit
lunch on 24 Sept 2015: chicken with cheese, crackers, and fruit

Today, it’s a little leftover miso chicken from last night’s dinner with cheese, wheat crackers, apple slices and pineapple.

What’s in my Crock-Pot?

turkey picadillo simmering in the Crock-Pot

I love my Crock-Pot. It often saves my sanity at the end of a busy day that includes rushing around like a maniac in the morning, biking to school with the kids, teaching demanding college students, shuttling kids around to assorted lessons, and then bringing home said kids—who are especially ravenous after all that activity.

Since I use it almost every week, I have decided to introduce a new What’s in my Crock-Pot? feature to Love and Lunch. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite kid-friendly slow cooker recipes. Today, it’s turkey picadillo from Martha Rose Shulman at the NY Times. I browned the onions and meat before throwing everything in the Crock-Pot to simmer on low for several hours. Oh, and I added kale, because I add kale to everything.

turkey picadillo simmering in the Crock-Pot
turkey picadillo simmering in the Crock-Pot

Fruit Salad with Assorted Snacks

lunch on 22 Sept 2015: fruit salad with peanut butter filled pretzels, applesauce and carrots
lunch on 22 Sept 2015: fruit salad with peanut butter filled pretzels, applesauce and carrots
lunch on 22 Sept 2015: fruit salad with peanut butter filled pretzels, applesauce and carrots

Back by popular demand: another fruit salad lunch. Today’s fruit salad contains strawberries, white nectarines and golden kiwifruit. Iain helped pick out the sides: peanut butter filled pretzels from Trader Joe’s, applesauce, carrots and two mini peanut butter cups.

A Cool + Sweet Fruit Salad

lunch on 21 Sept 2015: fruit salad, quesadilla, fruit strip, and Goldfish
lunch on 21 Sept 2015: fruit salad, quesadilla, fruit strip, and Goldfish
lunch on 21 Sept 2015: fruit salad, quesadilla, fruit strip, and Goldfish

Our unending late summer heat wave continues, which makes lunches easy: the kids just want fruit salad. Today, it’s white nectarines with strawberries and orange chunks. On the side: Goldfish medley (Parmesan + cheddar), fruit strip (basically candy), and little quesadilla triangles.

lunch on 17 Sept 2015: peanut butter and jam on multigrain bread, dried banana chips, graham fish, cherry tomatoes and slices of Asian pear
lunch on 17 Sept 2015: peanut butter and jam on multigrain bread, dried banana chips, graham fish, cherry tomatoes and slices of Asian pear
lunch on 17 Sept 2015: peanut butter and jam on multigrain bread, dried banana chips, graham fish, cherry tomatoes and slices of Asian pear

Yesterday’s lunch contained the perennial kid-favorite sandwich: peanut butter and berry jam. For sides, I sliced up an Asian pear, picked a few cherry tomatoes in our almost-dead garden, and made a little sweet trail mix with banana chips and graham fish.

lunch on 18 Sept 2015: yogurt with blueberries, banana slices and brown sugar, cinnamon raisin bread with butter, SunGold kiwi and Parmesan Goldfish
lunch on 18 Sept 2015: yogurt with blueberries, banana slices and brown sugar, cinnamon raisin bread with butter, SunGold kiwi and Parmesan Goldfish

Iain helped me make today’s lunch. He decided on yogurt with blueberries, banana and a little sprinkling of brown sugar with a golden kiwi, a buttered slice of whole grain cinnamon raisin bread and some Parmesan Goldfish.

Fruit Salad + Savory Masa Corn Cakes

lunch on 15 Sept 2015: fruit salad with quesadillas, carrots and Parmesan Goldfish
lunch on 15 Sept 2015: fruit salad with quesadillas, carrots and Parmesan Goldfish
lunch on 15 Sept 2015: fruit salad with quesadillas, carrots and Parmesan Goldfish

Yesterday’s lunch contained four of the kiddos’ favorite things: fruit salad, quesadillas, Parmesan Goldfish (definitely the finest flavor of Goldfish), and a marshmallow.

lunch on 16 Sept 2015: savory masa corn cakes with red bell pepper slices, carrots, and apples
lunch on 16 Sept 2015: savory masa corn cakes with red bell pepper slices, carrots, and apples

Today’s lunch was a leftover special: savory masa corn cakes with cheese and cilantro. I made the corn cakes to go with a big pot of black beans that cooked in the crock pot all day. Yum! For lunch, each kiddo got two corn cakes and sliced carrots, red peppers and apples. I found the recipe for the masa corn cakes on Food52 and I highly recommend that you make them as soon as possible. They come together quickly and are quite delicious.

A Couple of Quick and Easy Lunches

lunch on 14 Sept 2015: pizza bread bites with Goldfish and strawberries
lunch on 11 Sept 2015: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with carrots and strawberries
lunch on 11 Sept 2015: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with carrots and strawberries

I decided to go old school on Friday and bring back the Planetbox. Iain had a field trip, so he got a sack lunch with a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich (no refrigeration required on a sweltering day). Lily got the same sandwich on homemade honey wheat bread with carrots and apples on the side.

lunch on 14 Sept 2015: pizza bread bites with Goldfish and strawberries
lunch on 14 Sept 2015: pizza bread bites with Goldfish and strawberries

For lunch today, I made the kid-favorite pizza bread bites served with the kid-favorite Goldfish mix (parmesan and cheddar). Strawberries are plentiful and cheap at the farmers market now, so we’ve been eating them like crazy.

Smoothie Bowls: They’re Everywhere

lunch on 10 Sept 2015: green smoothie bowl with granola, blueberries and coconut, granola bar, graham fish and apple slices
lunch on 10 Sept 2015: green smoothie bowl with granola, blueberries and coconut, granola bar, graham fish and apple slices

Have you noticed that smoothie bowls have become ubiquitous of late? Everywhere I go, I see acai bowls and pitaya bowls and chia bowls. Try doing a Pinterest search for smoothie bowls and you’ll see all sorts of beautifully styled bowls of fruit, nuts and assorted goodies. For some reason, I’ve never thought to make the kids a smoothie bowl—until last night, that is. I was trying to come up with yet another nice, light, fruit-filled lunch for a hot day. Smoothie bowl to the rescue. I made a simple green smoothie with frozen bananas, frozen pineapple, spinach and vanilla soy milk. I poured it in a bowl, stirred in a tablespoon of chia seeds to ensure that it’s not too runny, and garnished with frozen blueberries, granola and coconut. I hope it’s a hit with the kids. I kind of want one for my lunch, but I’ll probably end up eating carrots, crackers and hummus like I did yesterday.

The Heat Wave + Fruit-filled Lunches Return

lunch on 9 Sept 2015: apple slices filled with peanut butter and Nutella, fruit salad, Goldfish and carrots
lunch on 8 Sept 2015: fruit salad with pancake bites, carrots and sweet lipstick pepper slices
lunch on 8 Sept 2015: fruit salad with pancake bites, carrots and sweet lipstick pepper slices

We are having another heat wave here on the lovely and hot Central Coast of California. Once again, the kids have requested lots of fruit in their lunches. I think Iain would be perfectly satisfied to just eat fruit salad for three meals a day. Yesterday, I cut up some strawberries, watermelon and nectarines for Tuesday’s fruit salad. I had a few leftover strawberry and nectarine pancakes (I’m sensing a theme here) in the fridge, so I cut those up and put them in the lunch boxes. These days the kids are also enjoying lots of baby carrots and sweet red lipstick peppers from the farmers market.

lunch on 9 Sept 2015: apple slices filled with peanut butter and Nutella, fruit salad, Goldfish and carrots
lunch on 9 Sept 2015: apple slices filled with peanut butter and Nutella, fruit salad, Goldfish and carrots

For lunch today, I made one of my all time favorite snacks: Pink Lady apple slices filled with a little peanut butter and Nutella. Yum! I wrapped these little apple sandwiches in waxed paper since they can get a bit messy. Today’s fruit salad has strawberries, yellow nectarines, and white peaches.