Friday, December 28, 2012

Sausage Veggie Couscous Soup in the Ninja Cooking System

Do you love the raw e-cards that are flying around the web? If not stop reading here & scroll down to the recipe. You've been warned. I love reading those & enjoy the subsequent belly laugh.  I also get a kick out of the ones that shame their pet. Maybe you have seen the one of a dog with a tag around his/her neck that says "I licked my brothers balls" or "I chewed the face off an antique stuffed panda bear".  Well today its my turn to shame. Not my pet, though.

So this soup is chunky, hearty, flavorful and healthy.  I love this soup. Really. I can eat it for lunch and dinner, then lunch and dinner the next day.  Then the leftovers go in the freezer for another time. But I really shouldn't have leftovers, except that my husband is super duper picky. It's kind of a plague of sorts, for a food blogger, to be so restricted. You see, he is an amazing husband...I love him for sooo many reasons, he is; strong, loving, has an amazing work ethic, a can-do attitude, he's seriously smart, mostly patient, caring dad and the list goes on (and on).  But what he isn't is adventurous in the dining department.

 We were at the Longsdale Market in Vancouver, Canada many moons ago, before marriage & I ordered each of us a bubble tea. He looked at the gigantic straw, the bubble tea, looked at me, took a sip and his face became crazed. Really. He ran for the garbage can and spit it out.

Bubble tea is out, Thai food and Vietnamese Pho are out of the question & as far as couscous goes, that's just simply not happening. It's like a relative to the bubble tea balls, or so he tells me.

So if you love a delicious soup and aren't afraid of the couscous give this one a try.  If you're like my husband, well. I'm sorry, I can't help you today. Alright, I suppose you could substitute the noodles for couscous. Maybe.

Sausage Veggie Couscous Soup

  • 3 mild Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh cauliflower, diced
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, diced
  • 1 large fire roasted red pepper diced (I usually use the jar variety)
  • 1 can canellini beans
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl couscous (otherwise known as Israel couscous)
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • a few dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

In the Ninja Cooking System on Stove top high, fry the sausage for about 10 minutes. Break into smaller pieces.  Add onions, carrots, broccoli, & cauliflower. Fry for another 10 minutes.

Add beef broth & water. Place lid on top and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove lid, add beans, couscous, red pepper, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Turn the Stove Top dial to medium. Place the lid on top and cook for 15 minutes.

Serves 10 people

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Creamy Turkey Noodle Stew

I hope that your holiday was everything you wished for it to be. We had a lovely evening at my folks house with extended family. There were a lot of laughs during the white elephant exchange.  My 70 something dad got stuck with a 2013 Twilight calendar and book! I ended up with my own gourmet foodie gift basket. It got passed along to my nephew who just graduated and moved into his very first place. I remember when....

If your family likes turkey noodle casserole then you might give this one a try. I call it a cousin of the casserole.  Here's what you'll need:

Creamy Turkey Noodle Stew

  • 2 cups leftover turkey pieces or 2 cups diced turkey 
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1 can Progresso Creamy Portebello Mushroom Cooking Sauce
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (I used cauliflower, carrot & broccoli)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 6 slices of Havarti cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

Using the Ninja Cooking System, fry the onion and oil on medium for about 8 minutes. Add the turkey, oyster sauce, chicken broth, mushroom cooking sauce & mixed veggies.  Stir.  Place the lid on top of the Ninja Cooking System and allow the ingredients to cook for about 10 minutes.

Stir again then add milk, sour cream & cheese. Allow to cook for a few minutes. Last, add uncooked egg noodles. Continue to cook on medium stove top for 10 more minutes.

Season with salt and pepper & serve.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

The holidays can be stressful. That feeling of being pulled in so many different directions while balancing your own needs. Maybe you're working with a tight budget, like us, so it adds another layer of complication.  Maybe you are navigating loss....we have friends & family who are, multiple families & different kinds of loss. Perhaps you are battling health complications. Whatever is weighing heavily on you today or tomorrow or in the coming months, I hope that you are able to feel love & support from your family or friends or community.

Sometimes it just means reaching out. A friend recently posted online that she was enduring health challenges and having a hard time taking care of her family meals.  I called others and we banded together to bring meals to her.  I would not have known that she needed assistance with meals if she had not reached out.  I hope you will reach out, too, in friendship or need.

                             Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

I'm not exactly sure how we ended up with 5 nearly rotten bananas. It is one of those situations that makes me sort of  bend my head side ways a bit and say "huh"?  I have a few theories....maybe tucking away the blender for the holiday party wasn't the best strategy after all. Or could it have been buying that case of 2 gazillion Eggo waffles from Costco caused us not to eat cereal with fresh sliced bananas swimming in a bath of organic milk?

Whatever the cause of the nearly neglected bananas, I'm here to declare that "I will not let my dear bananas go bad....I can and will save you" .  Ok, does anyone else talk to their fruit....or write about their nearly rotten fruit? Nod you head up and down, please!


So here you go, a worthy way to honor the banana!

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 ripe super ripe bananas
  • 1/2 butter melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking powder & cinnamon in a bowl.

In a second bowl, mix bananas, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

Next, combine dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Don't over's kinda like your pancake need to over stir here.

Pour into an ungreased cake pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake on 350 for 30 minutes or until your toothpick comes out clean!

Serves: 12 large slices

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to Make a Money Tree for a Birthday Gift or Christmas Gift

Hi friends,

I can't take any credit for this idea. At all. This is all my sister-in-law. A few years back she "wow'd" us with these super cute money Christmas trees for our kids. They were such a hit that the same trees are unpacked each season & set up in our kids' rooms.  My daughter is using hers as a night light!

Here's how to make a Christmas Money Tree:

Take a dollar bill and fold the width less than an 1/8 of an inch.  Repeat & alternate so that the entire bill is folded in an accordion style.  Take curling ribbon and tie it around the middle of the folded dollar bill. Leave enough ribbon so that you are able to tie onto the tree. Once you have it tied onto the tree you can either trim the excess ribbon ends or curl them.  Last, fan out each side of the bill.

My personal preference is to curl the ribbon only if you are also placing ornaments or other decorations on the tree.  As you can see from this photo I did not place ornaments on the tree as it was for a December birthday party that my son was invited to.  This is also why we choose a non traditional tree color (cobalt blue).

A little holiday humor:

Q:  What did the grape say to the raisin? 

A:  'Tis the season to be jelly

For more creative gifting ideas from across the web just drop by my Pinterest Page. I have a board title "Wrapping gifts" & "Homemade Gift Ideas" :

Purple Oven Mitt on Pinterest

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crock Pot Beef Broccoli

I have a heavy heart today. It feels achy, sore and sad. A friends dad passed away coupled with the devastating news about the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.   I watched President Obama begin his speech by stating "we have endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years". He paused  during his speech numerous times & wiped away tears before they rolled down his face. As he held back tears, mine flowed. I knew, then, that the conversation I would have with my children would be difficult. I was tasked with balancing my own emotions of sadness and confusion regarding the tragedy while explaining it to my own elementary aged kids.

I was thankful to receive the mass email from the Superintendent of our local school district with a link to an online resource for talking to children about traumatic news or events. I took the time to read the article before my kids arrived home from school and it provided a great platform for me to work from.  I began asking my kids if they had heard about the tragedy today...they had not.  I explained briefly that a gunman entered a school and fired rounds from a semi-automatic weapon and that there were numerous casualties.  From there, my kids had lots of questions and I remembered the link, "don't provide unnecessary details".  I answered their questions honestly and paused at times. Trying to stay strong for them. For us.

So for now, I will hug my kids a little longer, turn the t.v off,  tuck my smart phone away a little more often and try to really engage in our family experience, as we all try to understand, mourn and process the "whys" of how precious lives were taken away in such a horrific way.

Crock Pot Beef Broccoli

  • 1 pound Beef, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/3 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 3 tablespoon green onions
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients in the crock pot except the rice, broccoli, sesame seeds and green onions.  Set on low for 6 hours.  

Steam broccoli. Place rice on the plates and layer with beef and sauce. Next add cooked broccoli, green onions & sesame seeds. 

Serves: 4 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oreo Cake Pops

I've admired the whole cake pop phenomena from afar. Most that I have seen flying around the web look so creative and fun. I don't have any cake decorating training or experience so I've shied away from even attempting these things but my daughter asked for cake pops this week.  She had a double header (soccer matches) on her birthday & we decided to give it a "go" to share with her team mates. Although these aren't the penguins she wished for I do believe she was happy with the end result. They are cute as a button and taste pretty good too.

Here's how to make no bake Oreo cake pops:

1 package Oreo cookies
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1" cookie scoop
Food Processor
Lollipop sticks
Truffle cups
Wax paper
12 ounces white almond bark

Serves: 30 cake pops

Blend oreos in a food processor until a fairly fine consistency is achieved (no powder but not chunks).  Place Oreo bits in a large bowl. Add cream cheese. Roll up your sleeves and hand mix. Over and over until you are able to get the cookie scoop in there. Using the cookie scoop pat in firmly until full. Then pop out and roll with both hands until a round ball is formed.  Place on a wax lined cookie sheet. Place in the fridge or freeze for a bit (30 minutes).

Melt almond bark. Insert lollipop stick 1/2" into the melted bark, remove, puncture the Oreo pop then place the pop + lollipop stick into the bark until fully coated.  Strike the stick against the side of the bowl to remove excess bark.  Place the pop on the wax lined paper & sprinkle immediately.

Once all pops are formed tie ribbons on the sticks and serve!

We aren't giving up on the penguins...just adding it to our culinary to-do list. What's on your to-do list?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Crockpot Slow Cooker Jambalaya

A mere 14 days until Christmas & I'm reflecting on the joys of holiday shopping.  Although I started shopping a month ago I've already missed the boat on the oversize sock monkey that my daughter saw in a Black Friday ad. Which has now lead me to scouring Craigslist for a used ipod.

As a buyer,  Craigslist can be a gamble.  In the past I've replied or called on items never to receive a phone call back. Last night I left a message and heard back within 10 minutes. But its always an awkward call. The seller fishing for info to see if you're a flake & the buyer asking all the "right" questions and hoping that one is not talking to a criminal.

I'm guessing that she won't miss the grande sock monkey once she opens up the ipod that I overheard her brother telling her that she probably won't get this year. He can be such a realist & in some ways he was almost right. She was just a sock monkey away from the ipod.

All good monkeys eat their soup & today I offer a west coast version of Jambalaya

Crock pot/ Slow Cooker Jambalaya

  • 2 cups black eyed peas (I used frozen)
  • 14 ounces sliced beef sausage
  • 2 cups mixed veggie (I used frozen)
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 12 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoon basil 
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 8 cups (cooked) brown rice

Mix all ingredients (except rice)  in the crock pot & set on High for 4 hours. Cook rice, place rice in the bottom of each serving bowl. Remove chicken thighs and with 2 forks tear into shreds then place back in the crock pot. Place jambalaya on top of the rice and serve.

Serves: 8

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Baked Tomato with Feta, Breadcrumbs & Green Onion

There are some big things happening in social media this week & it's pretty fun to watch as Google + rolls out "Communities".  I'm new to the whole Google + thing & admittedly I have stars in my eyes. I added a "Circle" of food bloggers to my profile & the news feed is a foodies' dream. It's 95% food & 5% humor which is aligned perfectly with my interests.

So what exactly is Google + ? It's a direct competitor to Facebook.  Why am I interested in adding another layer of social media to my repertoire? I love engaging with readers and other foodies & mainly because, in recent months, Facebook has been manipulating what "followers" see in their news feeds. The translation here is that if I don't pay to have my blog posts, updates and shares distributed on Facebook then a fraction of my followers will see my latest updates. For example, I shared another bloggers funny quote & photo on December 4th & in the past 4 days only 30 of my 108 followers were able to organically (in their news feed)  view it.  It's sort of like being a public speaker at an event and of the 100 people in the audience, 70 people are wearing ear plugs. Booo.

I'm also a new member of a few "Communities". Communities brings like minded individuals together for private conversations within the community, sharing & collaborating. It's hosted by a moderator & it's a great place for folks to discuss technology, brands, marketing and so on. It features "Hangout" video chats & an events calendar. Oh & guess what?! Posts show up in our news feeds. Imagine that!

If you're a food blogger you may consider dropping by Chef Dennis' site. You can find him here: He is the moderator of one of the "communities" & all food bloggers are welcome!

By the way, here's where to find me on Google+:  Purple Oven Mitt, Google+

This week it's two cheers for Google & for a cheesy baked tomato recipe!

Baked Tomato with Feta, Breadcrumbs & Green Onion

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, halved & flesh removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Place halved tomatoes in a baking dish. Add cheese, bread crumbs & green onions. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 375 for 20 minutes.

Serves: 4

Monday, December 3, 2012

Maple Whiskey Pork Chops in the Ninja Cooking System

Maple Whiskey Pork Chops in the Ninja Cooking System

Q:  What kind of pig knows karate?

A:   A pork chop

I know you read my blog for more than just the amazing recipes. I'm your go-to source for hilarious jokes that will delight your friends and family too.  O.k. maybe not. At all. I was typing up a short bio for a new social media platform that I'm enjoying (Google+) & I felt a bit challenged.

 Most social media provides space to write a tagline. I've got one on Twitter, Facebook, Google + & Pinterest but it seems redundant to use the same one across the web. I'm lacking satisfaction with all of my taglines and this means a call for help! (Yes, you. You're reading this blog post and I need you. Please, pretty please.)

Here's what you'll find on Twitter: Mom, wife, newbie blogger and National Guard family. On a quest to eat healthier. Somewhat obsessed with cookbooks and creating a variety of home dining experiences.

Here's my Google + profile:  Here you'll see a wife and mom with a business degree who can't sing, sew, knit or draw. I'm surrounded by cheerful yellow walls & black granite counters mixed with a 50's lime green dinette set in our kitchen nook and I life that I love. Constantly trying new recipes and challenging myself to balance the tried and true with the exciting and new. And yes, I heart the kitchen!

Here's my Pinterest profile: Mom, wife, family/food/travel blogger. On a quest to eat healthier. Somewhat obsessed with cookbooks and creating a variety of home dining experiences.

The Facebook Page profile: Sharing the joys of family life with recipes, entertaining tips, travel experiences and book reviews.

I'm not really content with any of my profiles. Can you please help me?  I would love feedback. Don't worry, I won't be offended when you are honest. Thanks!!

But back to the pork chop, this little piggie went to to the Ninja Cooking System and tasted great! Here's how to cook Maple Whiskey Pork Chops in the Ninja Cooking System:

  • 4 bone in pork chops
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whiskey 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons blackened seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons no salt seasoning (sold at Costco and Trader Joe's)

Yield: 4 servings

Mix all ingredients in a gallon sizer plastic bag. Toss to coat and marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Pour pork chops and marinate in the Ninja Cooking System.  Set dial to Oven at 350 degrees. Place lid on top and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and turn pork chops over. Place lid back on top and cook for another 10 minutes.

I love how perfectly 4 pork chops fit in the Ninja!

ps- please use comments below for any tips on writing a better profile for my social media platforms.  Thanks!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pomegranate Lemonade Vodka Martini

Pomegranate Lemonade Vodka Martini

Here it is a week from my cookie exchange party and I still can't commit to a treat. Sure, I have the entire dessert menu designed and planned out, but as usual, I can't decide which cookie/candy to make. The hazard in waiting too long is that as the days pass & I hear what my friends and family are making then I think to myself "well I can't make this cookie or that candy because it's too similar".  But maybe this lack of committing has nothing to do with the party and more to do with enabling my Pinterest and online recipe  searching addiction!


             Who knows, in the meantime it's the weekend, and here's to cocktail! 

This is a version that my brother-in-law makes. He is an excellent mixologist.

Pomegranate Lemonade Vodka Martini

  • 2 cups Newman's Lemonade Juice
  • 4 shots whipped cream flavored vodka
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • cocktail shaker
  • garnish with any citrus slice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake-on & serve.

Yield: 4 martinis'


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Star Nutmeg Cookies with Frosting

Star Nutmeg Cookies with Frosting

I had the privilege of writing an article for a friends website.  I discussed how on a balmy July day I was inspired to host a Christmas Cookie Exchange. I touch on a bit of "insider information" regarding what works for me in hosting the party and how it has evolved into a family tradition.  If you have a chance please take a peek at the article:  Local in Bellingham

Here's the nummy recipe for the bright cookies that are featured in that article:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • nutmeg to decorate
Yield 3 dozen: Star Nutmeg Cookies with Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour and nutmeg in a bowl.  In a mixer, add butter and sugar- mix well.  Add the egg, bourbon vanilla extract and mix again.  Next, add the flour mixture & mix.  Chill for about 15 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out dough and cut with star shaped cookie cutters. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool on a rack.


In a mixer add butter and bourbon vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and milk. Frost cooled cookies and decorate with nutmeg.

Recipe adapted from Portland's Palate. 

What holiday cookie do you make each year?