Mealtime Mama: Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna

mealtime-mama-category-sponsor-banner-2017Happy first Monday of the New Year, mamas! Do you know what you’re making for dinner tonight? If not, here’s a recipe we found on the Harps website that made our mouth water when we read the directions. This Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna will make you feel like you’re eating something naughty but the calorie count on this one makes it nice for those of us trying to eat healthier in 2017.

Plus, what better way to get your kids to try zucchini than sneaking it into a lasagna that’s going to make the kitchen smell incredible while it’s in the slow cooker? (You can make the whole dish in the Crock-Pot, which means less clean-up time. Score!) Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe, courtesy of Harps, the sponsor of this category.

Slow Cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna


  • slow-cooker-lasagnaNonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup low sodium marinara sauce (plus additional for serving)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)


slow-cooker-lasagna-nutrition-boxSpray Crock-Pot with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, oregano and garlic powder.

Spread 2 T of pasta sauce in bottom of pot. Sprinkle 1/2 of the zucchini over sauce and top with 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Break 2 noodles into pieces to cover the cheese. Spread 2 T of sauce and then layer 1/2 of the spinach and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Repeat layering, ending with cheese and the remaining sauce. Firmly press ingredients into pot.

Cover and cook over low heat for 4-5 hours. Allow lasagna to rest 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve. Spoon a little extra sauce over each serving and top with a basil leaf if desired. (This recipe yields 6 servings.)

Photo and recipe compliments of The Midwest Dairy Association. 

For more meal inspiration, click here to check out the HUGE collection of recipes on the Harps website. You can register (for free) on the site and save all your favorites (or share one with a friend) by clicking one button. It’s super easy to search for ingredients, and we love how organized the recipe collection is. While you’re there, sign up to use the Harps Digital Coupon program. (No more forgetting your paper coupons at home!) Just enter your phone number at checkout and your coupons will be applied to the total. It’s so easy, and it’s one more reason we love shopping at Harps.






















Mealtime Mama: Aunt Carrie shares her orange cookies recipe + instant spiced tea


Our thanks to Carrie Chastain of Siloam Springs for the sweet recipes below. Mrs. Chastain, an outgoing grandmother of eight, says the cookie recipe goes back so far in the family’s history that she has no idea where it really came from.

The orange cookies were originally baked on a wood stove and the ingredients list had to be adapted to modern measurements.

We think both of these recipes are PERFECT for the holidays!

Aunt Carrie’s Orange Cookies:

sugar2 cups sugar

1 cup butter (salted is preferred)

2 eggs

1 cup sour milk or 1 cup milk and 2 teaspoons vinegar

1 orange, juice and grated rind (I put about a half teaspoon orange flavoring in also)

1 teaspoon soda

4 and ½ cups sifted flour

Cream sugar and butter, add juice and rind of orange, then eggs, add milk and flour. Stir soda in last ¼ cup milk. Add to mixture. Drop by teaspoons on buttered pans. Bake at 350 degrees until brown. (This is a very old recipe, but I found it takes about 12 minutes.)


orange-resized1 box powdered sugar

1 orange, juice and grated rind

2 T butter

A little milk

Melt butter and add small amount of sugar, cream well, add orange juice and rind and remaining sugar. Makes about 128 “good-sized” cookies. Can make half recipe for fewer cookies.

Instant Spiced Tea:

1 cup instant tea

1 ½ cups Tang or similar orange drink mix

cinnamon1 package lemon Kool-aid

½ T ginger

2 T cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients well and store in covered container. Add 2 rounded teaspoons of mixture to a cup of hot water.

Note from the mamas: These recipes originally published in 2009.

Mealtime Mama: Cute treats for your Halloween or fall party

By Shannon Magsam

OK, mamas, this is a repeat post from last year. But it’s a fun one with several good ideas for fall food. Hope you enjoy:

The month of October is perfect for a party because of all the fun fall treats and the weather is just right for being outside.

I thought I’d share a few of the treats from our recent house party in case you want to use them at a gathering you’re having this month. Let’s start with the caramel apple bar, which I plan to do again on Halloween night for friends and new neighbors who stop over while trick-or-treating here. This was my 13-year-old daughter’s idea and it was a hit with our guests.

The Caramel Apple Bar is not a cookie, it’s this:

caramel apple bar, use this

You just grab some sliced apples (I cheated and bought them pre-cut), some caramel (you can make your own or buy) and then come up with all kinds of toppings that would taste great on a caramel apple. We had coconut, M&Ms, sprinkles and Skittles. There are tons of possibilities! I wish we’d added a spoon into the caramel (which is in the spider container in the above pic) because some friends just wanted to drizzle caramel over their apples.

Up next, MUMMIES!

Mummies, use thisThese were my teenager’s idea, too, and she made them. We realized after the fact that we should have used double-stuffed Oreos. To make them, just use icing to scribble the mummy faces and add edible eyes. If you use the larger Oreos, you can place a candy stick into each for a lollipop effect. Ours didn’t have enough stuffing for the stick, but I think they turned out cute anyway ;)

Our {Frightful} Fall Kettle Corn was also a big hit:

Frightful Fall Kettle Corn

We also cheated a little on this by buying bags of kettle corn to pop. So you just pop your kettle corn, pour it into a big bowl and add your favorite candies. We used mini chocolate chips, pretzels, M&Ms and candy corn (which makes it so cute!). After you gently mix the popcorn and candy together, drizzle melted chocolate over the top. We used decadent Ghirardelli dark melting wafers. YUM.

Those were the sweet treats. We also had chili (my husband’s special recipe) with all the fixin’s plus a few of my favorite appetizers. It was a fun party and the food prep turned out to be a great bonding experience with my teenager. Of course, as soon as we got finished cooking, my daughter went back to her regularly-scheduled Instagramming. It was good while it lasted.

Hope this inspires you to invite a few of your friends over for a fall get-together!

Mealtime Mama: Summer Peach Guacamole

peach guac

It’s peach season, so we are excited that Helen at My Brother’s Salsa has given us a wonderful recipe that uses one of our favorite fruits.

She even made a video for us about how to make her Summer Peach Guacamole (the written recipe is also below):


Summer-Remix4Two fresh summer peaches (peeled, diced)

Two ripe avocados (peeled, diced)

4 Tablespoons My Brother’s Tomatillo Salsa

optional:  sea salt, freshly chopped cilantro

Directions: Combine ingredients in small mixing bowl and stir gently. We would also add that you should serve it with My Brother’s Organic Corn Tortilla chips. Yum!

my brother's salsaCLICK HERE to see more of Helen’s recipes and also read about how she got started making My Brother’s Salsa. The website is fun to visit!

Note from the mamas: This post originally published summer 2015.

Mealtime Mama: Creamy spinach bowtie pasta

mealtimeMamas, I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from but I do know it’s GOOD and it’s crazy easy. I got it years ago from my friend Amy who said it was one of her “go-to” quick dinner recipes.

I made it the other day and my 12-year-old son, who usually hates all things green, said it was one of his new favorites. Yay!

Here’s what you’ll need:classico sun-dried tomato alfredo

  • Box of bowtie pasta (I like the miniature farfalle)
  • 1 small box of frozen chopped spinach (I use the Green Giant brand.)
  • 1 jar of Classico Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo sauce
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (You can also used diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning)


Cook the pasta according to directions on the box. Microwave the frozen chopped spinach according to package directions and then drain it really well. (Spend an extra minute or two draining the spinach. You don’t want spinach juice in your sauce.)

Pour the Classico Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo sauce into a sauce pan and simmer. Add the can of tomatoes and then add the drained spinach. (I use half of the spinach, but you could use the whole thing if your family loves it.) Mix well.diced-basil-garlic-oregano-sm

Add a little basil, oregano and garlic seasoning to the sauce pan. I use a couple of dashes of each spice. (If you use canned tomatoes that already have Italian seasoning included, you might not need to add any extra.)

Warm the sauce mixture until heated through. Serve over warm bowtie pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese. (You could easily add some grilled chicken to this dish, if you like.)

The whole thing takes less than half an hour, and the results are delicious. Hope you enjoy it!