Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages – Crazy Cooking Challenge

I am so excited to be participating in my very first Crazy Cooking Challenge from Moms Crazy Cooking.  As you all know, I am new to the blogging world, so just heard about this late last week, but still wanted to join in on the fun.  Since I found out about my little bit of a wheat intolerance, I have only had pasta a few times, and typically use spaghetti squash instead.  Or just forego it altogether.  But I have been looking for a good reason to try some of the gluten free pastas, so the Tomato Sauce Challenge was the perfect opportunity.

The only problem was that I was heading to my mom’s for a long weekend the day after I found out about the challenge, and we already had plans for cooking in and eating out for the weekend.  So the only day I had to shop and cook and blog was Tuesday – yes, the day before the posts go up.  I needed something quick, easy, and would only require a quick trip to the store for a few items I didn’t already have in my fridge and pantry.  I started clicking on some links of the blogs listed on the Crazy Cooking Challenge page, and, although I looked at a few others, the first one I stumbled upon was perfect!  It was Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite.  I had most of the ingredients (including a partial bottle of red wine), and I knew that I could easily grab the last few items from the store and get it in the Crock Pot while The Bug was at pre-school.

Sausage on a platterI made a few changes to the recipe, mainly based on what I had in the house.  I had some fresh basil I wanted to use up, instead of dried, so added that in at the end.  Little Mommy suggests mushrooms as an optional addition, but I decided to add in zucchini – mushrooms are not The Hubby’s favorite, but I still wanted to get in some extra veggies.  And, while I wanted meat with dinner, I didn’t want a meat sauce.  So instead of the optional ground beef, I threw in some mild Italian chicken sausages.  You could definitely use pork or turkey sausages.  Or make it vegetarian or vegan by leaving out the meat altogether.

Veggie tomato sauce with chicken sausage on a platter

Well, first of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the brown rice spaghetti.  Pasta may be re-entering our lives, and not just in squash form!  And, since this is what we are really talking about here, the sauce was rich and delicious.  I loved all the veggies, the sausage was super soft, and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick that I balanced by topping it with a dollop of ricotta cheese (just because I had some to use up) and parmesan.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Susage form top

Bowl of Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage Seconds

I liked it so much that after I finished my spaghetti, I went back for a bowl of sauce and sausage.

This sauce will definitely be entering our regular dinner rotation.  And, most importantly, The Hubby and The Bug approved.  The Bug typically spits out zucchini, and can be hit or miss with meat, but he ate three plates of “noodles”!

This is a little spicy, but nom nom nom!

And in my never ending quest to re-purpose leftovers, I bet this would make a really awesome sausage sandwich, on some nice, crusty bread with mozzarella cheese melted on top.

So if you are reading this and haven’t checked out the Crazy Cooking Challenge, click on the button below to to see the other entries, and click on mine to vote for it as the Ultimate Spaghetti with Red Sauce recipe.  Thanks!

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Also shared with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday 3/7/2012

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages

Slightly adapted from Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped  (I actually used only half because the one I had was enormous)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes – I used Tuttorosso Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, and added the liquid from the can, but not the liquid that squished out from the tomatoes onto the cutting board while I was chopping them.
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce – again I used Tuttorosso
1/2 T dried oregano
1 T parsley
1 t sugar
1 t crushed red pepper flakes (this gives it a but of a kick, so you may want to cut this down, depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
1/2 T Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2T fresh (or 1/2 T dried, as per the original recipe, but toss this in before cooking)
*1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (optional, or substitute pork or turkey sausage)

Spaghetti of your choice (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free), cooked as per package instructions.

Optional: Ricotta and/or Parmesan cheese for serving.

Directions

1.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onions, carrots, and zucchini and cook until soft, and onions are translucent.

3.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Cooking the Veggies

4.  Throw all of the veggies in your slow cooker.

5.  While you are adding all of the other ingredients to the slow cooker, throw the sausages into the pan you used to cook the veggies and brown them a little on the outside.Browning the sausage

6.  Add all of the other ingredients except for the pasta and optional cheese(s) to the slow cooker, stir it up and add in the sausages.Filling up the slow cooker

7.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours (to be honest, I had mine cooking for about 7).

8.  While you are cooking your pasta, take the lid off of your slow cooker to allow the sauce to thicken up a bit.Sauce is ready

9.  Serve over your favorite spaghetti,with a little dollop of ricotta cheese and/or a sprinkle of parmesan, if you like.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausages

10.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage ready to eat

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March Foodie Photo-a-Day Challenge

March Foodie Photo-a-Day ChallengeThe Purple Carrot created a foodie edition of the photo-a-day challenges that have been going on on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.!  I thought this sounded like a blast, and an awesome way to connect with other foodies!  I could take nice pictures with my good camera, but I like the instant ability to post and the different filters on Instagram, even though I have the old iPhone 3G with a pretty lame camera.  So these won’t be the best pictures, but they are spontaneous, and so I think that makes it fun.  Enjoy!

Day 1 Breakfast Cinnamon Apple Raisin Quinoa

Day 1: Breakfast - Cinnamon Apple Raisin Quinoa

Day 2 Something Sweet Cupcakes from Cake Break

Day 2: Something Sweet - Cupcakes from Cake Break in Rehoboth Beach

March Foodie Photo a Day 2 Kitchen

Day 3: Kitchen - My favorite feature in my mom's kitchen. I NEED a double oven!

Foodie Photo a Day 4 Dishes

Day 4: Dishes - since I was not at home to take a picture of my Fiestaware, I found a store with an awesome display.

Day 5 Best Condiment Hunts Ketchup

Day 5: Best condiment - this one is for my little guy. When you are almost two years old, what else is there besides ketchup?!

Day 5 Whats Cooking Slow Cooker Veggie Tomato Sauce with Sausage

Day 5: What's Cooking - Slow Cooker Veggie Tomato Sauce for Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge.

March Foodie Photo Challenge Day 7 Pantry

Day 7: Pantry - Clearly I have some organizing to do.

Day 8 Vegetable Roasted Broccoli

Day 8: Vegetable - Our family favorite, Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli.

Day 9 Lunch Break

Day 9: Lunch Break - A delicious salad inspired by Sumptuous Spoonfuls.

Day 10 Most Used Appliance

Day 10: Most Used Appliance - My Magic Bullet for smoothies everyday.

Day 11: Can't Live Without

Day 11: Can't Live Without - Generic, all-natural peanut butter, often eaten straight up, with a spoon.

Day 12: Favorite Drink

Day 12: Favorite Drink - Since I gave up wine for Lent, right now it is a large cup of tea, which I tried to finish while The Bug was still napping.

Day 13 Silverware

Day 13: Silverware - A spoon in my yummy Chocolate Almond Banana Oatmeal.

Day 14 Fruit

Day 14: Fruit - An apple a day is even better with peanut butter.

Day 15: Freezer

Day 15: Freezer - Kitchenaid ice cream bowl was ready to churn some Andes Candies ice cream. Recipe coming soon!

Day 16: Restaurant

Day 16: Restaurant - I didn't have any plans to go out to eat today, so here is the webpage of one of my favorite restaurants, The Frog & The Peach.

Enjoy!