Friday, October 5, 2012

Totally easy Friday dinners

You would think, over the years, I would have learned not to start "theme" posts where I'm supposed to post something once a week, since this usually lasts about 2.3 weeks before I quit doing it.  But I'm trying again mainly because between weird jobs numbers and awful gas prices and politics as usual, I need a break from the serious stuff.

Besides, Fridays are always a bit difficult in the blog world.  Things are winding down for the weekend, people duck out of work early, and passionate political debates give way to figuring out weekend chores or plans.  It's hard to jump into a discussion of eternal verities or temporary political insanity or both on Friday--at least, for me, it is.

So these posts are especially for my Catholic mom readers, the ones who, like me, sneak a bit of news-reading or politics-watching in between figuring out what's for dinner and actually making it.  And for those of us Catholic moms who follow the Church's old meatless Fridays tradition (not just during Lent, but all year) it can be a challenge to come up with new, interesting, different, etc. Friday fare.  Oh, sure, for the adventurous chef there are blogs and cooking sites just full of vegetarian recipes for the meatless meal--provided you have the ingredients and equipment sitting around to make things like homemade butternut squash and pear ravioli with rosemary sauce (prep time: only an hour and fifteen minutes!).  But even those of you willing to try a recipe like that one may not have time on a busy Friday, so here's a really fun, easy, alternative.

Yes, that's right: you can make frozen ravioli in a slow-cooker.  The "recipe" at the link is both funny and cute (I love the bit about not chipping a nail during the strenuous stirring of jarred pasta sauce into frozen cheese ravioli), but the instructions are essentially: buy frozen ravioli and jarred pasta sauce, place in slow cooker, cook on high for about three hours or low for about double that (all cookers vary, check during cooking, etc.).  I know from experience that if you have a large-size slow cooker you can double the amounts the lady at the link is using, and it still comes out great.  And if you use a slow-cooker liner, there's not really any clean-up, either.  You can sneak fresh peppers, onions etc. in at the beginning or sliced canned olives or fresh sliced mushrooms at the end (before the cheese topping step) and call it "Pizza Ravioli" if you like, but if your kids are going to fish out the veggies anyway it's totally optional.

For those Fridays when some kids have sports or some others have lessons or your husband is working late or he's coming home early and the two of you are sneaking out for a bit and leaving the older kids in charge or you have company coming for the afternoon and they might or might not stay for dinner...etc. this "recipe" is really great.  It's not that merely boiling frozen ravioli and adding sauce is such a big deal, but what's not to like about being able to serve people at different times or have plenty on hand in case the kids playing in your yard don't go home at dinner time and so on?  These are the advantages of the slow cooker, and it's terrific when it works with a meatless Friday pasta dish as well as it does with soups, stews, and the other usual slow-cooker stuff.

Have a favorite insanely easy meatless Friday meal to share?  Feel free to post it in the comment box; or, if you'd like to email it to me, I can add it to next Friday's post!

1 comment:

Rebecca in ID said...

Sounds like a winner! I love hearing about new things to do with the crockpot, because I like to cook dinner but not at dinnertime. I wish I had something brilliant to share, but Friday is nearly always "cop out" night for me, culinary-wise. Fish sticks, an omelet, grilled cheese w/ tomato soup, etc.