irrelephant has captured one fab way to grab that last taste of summer with her Caprese Pasta Salad full of the freshest ingredients in your garden.

 

Easy to make, and easy on the wallet, we couldn’t wait to dive in to this delish dish!

 

Please click here to visit irrelephant and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To make a delicious and refreshing pasta salad with a few basic ingredients. Potato salad and chips get old, fast!

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollabAny type of pasta works great. I used Penne because that is what I had on hand.
  • I planted an herb garden on the deck this year and I used a few handfuls of sweet basil for this recipe
  • Fresh mozzarella is always best
  • My hubby ate half of my grape tomatoes, so I had to cut mine in half to get more bang for my buck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar although recipe calls for a dressing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe states to cool or chill the pasta 4-6 hours before adding the dressing. Yeah right! If any of you know me at all, I have zero patience for waiting. I rinsed my pasta off in cool water and then drained it thoroughly. Next, I popped it in the fridge for a few minutes before adding all the ingredients and dressing.

Pros:

So easy to make.

Cons:

None!!!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised! This salad has such a light and yummy flavor and will definitely make this again with that yummy fresh mozzarella.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Create a fresh and light pasta dish that would complement any BBQ cookout!

 

 

Details:

  • DSCN8222I stuck with Bow Tie pasta and used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. It has the perfect balance of tang and flavor.
  • For the cheese I used one of my favorites Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls. I like to have these on hand for an impromptu mommy dinner complete with a nice glass of wine, some olives and crispy crackers (all while sitting in a dark closet where my children can’t find me).
  • The tomatoes and basil were harvested out of my deck garden. YUM and cheers to super fresh eats!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I definitely suggest testing your dressing to salad ratio before chilling. You hate to have a flavorless side!

Pros:

This salad is a cinch to throw together and a serious crowd pleaser. I had family over when I made this and they loved it.

Cons:

None. Not a single thing to complain about or be disappointed in with this dish.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This will now be in permanent rotation in our house. I can’t wait to get invited to a BBQ or potluck so I can serve this to friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Perfect dish for a family get together!

 

Details:

  • I am not a huge pasta eater, but love the Bow Tie pasta!
  • Grabbed a handful of fresh basil then picked up a ball of fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes.
  • Be sure to coat the pasta with the olive oil, I think this is what helps the pasta stay moist and soak up the dressing!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Buy fresh ingredients, it makes this salad taste so yummy!

Pros:

Easy and flavorful! Tastes great even the next day so perfect for leftovers!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Great for get together…I love this as a side dish or main course!  Throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp, or simply add-on the side as I did!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: Caprese salad is one of our all-time summer favorites. I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella combined with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. When I saw this recipe I instantly knew it would become a summer staple for cookouts with the family.

 

Details:

  • This was a very, very simple recipe with minimal ingredients. I started with getting my pasta water boiling. I used a whole wheat fusilli pasta because I was all out of my favorite Campanelle pasta.
  • I diced up the fresh mozzarella and I chose to split the grape tomatoes in half making them more bite-size. I sprinkled both with some black pepper.
  • I contemplated making my own balsamic vinaigrette but then decided to use my favorite  Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.
  • I combined the ingredients, tossed, and then ribboned the basil leaves and put them in.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a serrated knife when cutting the mozzarella and tomatoes. It keeps the edges nice and clean and not all squished.

Salt your pasta water after it comes to a boil.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Freaking yummy and super easy, using minimal ingredients.

Cons:

Absolutely none!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This recipe of course was delicious. Everyone at the party enjoyed it. You can jazz it up a bit more too; I often like to add black olives or diced salami, both keeping with the Italian theme. So if you like the classic caprese salad, you will love this pasta salad. Quick, easy, and delizioso!

 

 We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab


The gorgeous
Caprese Pasta Salad and it’s photo by irrelephant


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Six Sisters’ Stuff has done it again, showing us the easy way to a delish Italian dish!  Their Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe looks like a busy day’s dream come true!

 

Lasagna without an hour of prep work?  Sign us up!

 

Please click here to visit Six Sisters’ Stuff and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Love a quick way to put together a dish and come home to a yummy meal!

 

Details:

  • I added fresh chopped basil that I had on hand.
  • I used ground sirloin and cooked with chopped onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • All of the products that I used were organic!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely watch it once it is done cooking. Mine cooked for 3 hours on high and was amazing as I took a couple of bites! Then I went on a shopping spree while it was on warm and I came back to a slightly drier dish.

Kristy - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Very easy, just layer and put on high or low then you will come home to a good meal.

Cons:

It needs a little spice! I think I may use spicy Italian sausage next time to get it a kick!

 Kristy - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

YUMMO!! Mike loved it!  I thought I wasn’t going to get the crunchy edges that I love so much from pan lasagna, but you definitely get crispy edges.  Ideas to add more vegetables, I love adding shredded carrots to my tomato sauce and using zucchini slices instead of noodles!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: Okay, I have always wanted to try this. The one thing that has been holding me back is that no one in my family will eat lasagna! Weirdos.  I personally love it, so I was excited to finally try it.

 

Details:

Now usually when I use the slow-cooker, I prefer not to have to cook anything beforehand. However, this called for browning the ground beef or sausage.

  • I opted for sausage and I made my own sauce.
  • I also only used ricotta cheese on half of the lasagna just so I could get my husband to eat it…again, weird.

You basically layer the lasagna just as you would if you were cooking it in the oven, but you don’t cook the lasagna noodles first (regular noodles, not no-bake). I was curious to see if this would actually work!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Careful breaking up the noodles to fit in the slow-cooker. I recommend wrapping them in a towel or putting them in a storage bag before you start cracking.

Sheri - Lasagna 1

Pros:

I’m a big fan of the set it and forget it.

Cons:

The noodles were a bit soft for my taste, I prefer them a bit more al dente.

 Sheri - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

Overall I was surprised that it actually came out well. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I want to try adding veggies next time. My husband ate it but requested that next time I add prosciutto.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I’m not generally a big fan of “American” Italian food, but I am loving learning more about this magical contraption they call the “Slow Cooker”.  I was really excited to give this recipe a try, especially since I love Six Sisters’ Stuff!

Details:

I stuck with the plan, but here are some specifics.

  • Prego Chunky Garden Combination Pasta Sauce
  • 93% Lean Ground Beef
  • Dried Parsley (as opposed to fresh)
  • I also added a little extra cheese… of course!

Also worth noting, my crock pot cooks food at warp speed.  I learned this after crying out for help to my Facebook friends when my last crock pot experience was done and bubbling out of the pot in 1/4 of the recommended cooking time!  It’s the Rival Smart-Pot 5 Quart Crock-Pot.

In my turbo crock pot, this dish was lookin’ pretty done after about 2 hours (on low), however we didn’t eat it until it had been almost 4 hours.  At the 2 hour mark, I used my “toothpick trick” (trick details forthcoming) which probably helped cool it down in there and keep the dish from overcooking.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray before adding any of the ingredients.  This trick not only helps get the food out, but makes clean-up pretty easy, too.

If your slow cooker starts to pop the lid with steam and make a “clink clink” sound, prop it open just a bit with a toothpick.  Works like a charm!

I picked up zuccini and mushrooms to add, but I forgot about them!  Next time, I won’t forget and I might also add just a little more sauce or water to compensate for the added ingredients and prevent the dish from getting dry.

Maren - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Where do I begin?  Although not a big pasta girl, I loved this lasagna recipe and was giddy about the two good-sized containers of leftovers that we had.  More for me!

Cons:

None!  With a little maneuvering, I was even able to get each piece out without turning it into slop!

 Maren - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

LOVED IT!  So easy, so yummy, frickin’ awesome.  I feel excited to have this recipe in my book; since most of the items are in the cupboard, this is a great meal to make when you have a busy day at hand.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: To take lasagna where it has never gone before – the crock pot!

 

 

Details:

  • I went with an Italian pork sausage and think I would change that for next time. I found the meat a little chewy. I think I would actually mix it with ground turkey for the flavor.
  • I also used my own homemade sauce. I used 24 oz like the recipe called for. I ended up adding a little at the end however because I like it to be a little more saucy.
  • Also, I added 3 or 4 more noodles than what was called for. 6 just didn’t seem like enough.
  • After 3 hours it was pretty much done and I should have set the crock pot to “warm” at that point because after 4 hours it was really done – almost too done (mushy noodles don’t appeal to me!).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a slow cooker liner! They will literally change your life. I used Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. They are amazing and made clean up seriously quick. Much quicker than a large pan of lasagna that is for sure! I would also suggest cutting the cook time way down. I don’t know if my crock pot runs really hot but it cooked almost completely at about 3 hours. Next time I make it I plan to switch it to “warm” at the 3 hour mark.

Amanda - Lasagna 1

Pros:

EASY! Delicious and basic ingredients for the most part.

Cons:

My kids didn’t like the ricotta cheese so I may need to omit that next time. Or maybe I will just force them to try it again! My hubby also prefers how the oven makes the top crispy so I may need to put a little section in the oven on broil to appease him too.

Amanda - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

I will be making this again for sure! It would be ideal for a large group to have a few crock pots going.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Janet

Mission: It seemed like an interesting recipe to try in the crock pot. I’m always game for trying new recipes and making a meal that is good left over for lunch at work.

 

Details:

I got all the ingredients at the grocery store!

  • I swapped out the ricotta for a container of cottage cheese.
  • I used dried parsley and added some shredded mozzarella cheese to the recipe as well.
  • I also had a half-full open jar of sauce that I added in addition to the full jar the recipe calls for.

Tips & Tricks Learned:Janet - Lasagna 1

The recipe only called for two layers of noodles, but I put in three. After making, I could have even put in another two layers. It all depends on the size of your crock pot.

I had put it on high for about 1 hour and then turned it to low for 2-3 hours. Once you notice that all the cheese is melted and the edges start to crust and brown, it is done.

Put extra cheese in on top, you know you want to! It is lasagna after all!

Pros:

Easy to throw together, but most lasagna recipes are that way. It made a lot and I ended up putting it all into small containers for lunch. I put half in the freezer and the other half in the fridge.

Cons:

It tasted good, but just wasn’t the same as cooking it in the oven. It fell apart and was a little too liquid-y. I wished I had put in more noodles when layering it.

Janet - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

After getting it all started, I began to question why one would ever have the need to make lasagna in their crock pot? It might be a good way to make lasagna in the summer if you didn’t want to turn your oven on, but it just didn’t have the same flavor as it would if you were to cook in the oven. It was interesting to try, however I am not too sure that I will make it again.

The best part about this project for me though was not the food, but learning about the Six Sisters’ blog!  They have some awesome recipes and ideas; I urge you to check out their site!

 

 Lasagna Conclusion

 

The tasty Slow Cooker Lasagna and it’s photo by Six Sisters’ Stuff


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