Oh how I am loving crock pots and casserole dishes! These two kitchen tools are a match made in heaven as you will soon see. Many of my readers will agree, when you have chronic health issues (not that this is at ALL isolated to those with health issues or chronic pain), you find that making meals for your family (or even just for yourself) can be a major challenge. I am definitely in that spot lately. Sometimes I just don't even feel like eating so making food for a Husband with a rambunctious appetite can be quite a chore (but I welcome it because I love Him more than life itself!)! Lately for whatever reason I have been almost totally unable to eat meat. But my sweet Husband loves meat - so I have to think outside of what I feel like eating and cook for him. It's an act of love, and if I allow myself to, I can find it like a puzzle or a contest. I feel like I succeed when he is happy and fed at the end of the day.
I also tend to have a major slump in energy right about 4 pm - exactly the hour that I should be thinking about starting dinner for my husband before he heads off to work (or rather in between 2 jobs - have I mentioned that he is a very hard worker?). So, I am realizing that to provide him something other than top ramen or frozen burritos I need to think ahead. And this brings us back to crock pots and casseroles. A couple of days ago I threw some frozen meat and some tomato sauce, Italian spices, onion, garlic and fresh kale into the crock pot. And without any work at all I had a yummy pasta sauce. The crock pot is amazing for making soups and stews - but I am trying to use it for things other than the obvious. Curry, taco meat, even a whole roast chicken! My one issue is that the crock pot has to be full to really heat (the heating element is at the top of the pot), so I almost always end up making too much for the two of us (or the one if it is something that only he will eat). Well, this is where the joyful marriage of crock pot and casserole comes in! Today I took the pasta sauce (which my husband was kinda tired of eating) and I made it into a lasagna casserole (with baby lasagna noodles so cute!). He will love it, and I have saved a pot of sauce from going bad! Basically any crock pot meal can be turned into a casserole. Now, thankfully my husband actually LOVES casseroles - but some tips for keeping it yummy and not just a mushy mess is to make sure you add fresh things (like for me I added fresh noodles, cheese and cream layered with the sauce), don't overcook the new casserole, and end with some fresh greens on top (basil or arugula spinach etc). Just think of the possibilities!
I hope this helps those of you who are in a dinner-time slump! And for those of us with health issues that cause cooking to sometimes be an extra challenge: these dishes require less time on our feet and often provide meals for a couple of nights! We CAN provide lovely yummy dinners for those we love!