Thursday, January 31, 2013

Italian Sausage, Bean, Farro and Veggie Soup in the Ninja Cooking System

Have you heard of Vine? It's an app that the folks at Twitter developed & features 6 second videos. I set up a Vine profile today and linked it to my Twitter account. I even went so far as recording a video of this recipe. I will say that I think the app is pretty neat.  I know that we already have a video based app in You Tube. I think where You Tube falls short Vine shines.  Vine caters to those with short attention spans (don't be offended, I have one of those too).  When I imagine waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting in line to get fuel or waiting for my child's bus to arrive I think that Vine will entertain me nicely. The news feed sorts by category & the short videos could fill the gap in time nicely. Just sayin'.

 I discovered the hard way, though,  that there isn't a way to edit a post (video). My tags were #soup & #ninjacookingsystem.  Which sounds great except that it's such a new app that the category for my post should actually be #food.  Living and learning in social media, or as my son would say "NEWB".

Italian Sausage, Bean, Farro and Veggie Soup in the Ninja Cooking System

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup quick cooking farro (I used a 10 minute cook sold at Trader Joe's)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup kale, torn into quarter size pieces
  • 1 cup or 3 stalks of diced celery
  • 10 dashes of Franks hot sauce
  • 6 dashes of worchestire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of no salt seasoning
  • 2 cans of butter beans (purred in a blender or food processor)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (purred in a blender or food processor
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 chicken boullion cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil to garnish

In your Ninja Cooking system on high add olive oil, Italian sausage and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and cook on high for 10 minutes or until boiling. Stir and reduce the heat to stove top low and allow to cook for 20 minutes.  Set to slow cooker low until ready to eat!

Garnish with fresh basil

Easy, healthy & yummy!

Serves: 10 people

By the way, if you would like to see the video of this recipe please visit and view my profile: @purpleovenmitt 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Creamy Pasta with Chicken, Mushrooms, Basil and Sun Dried Tomatoes in the Ninja Cooking System

My quads are still on fire. My son is quoted as saying to me  "If I had a nickle for every minute I waited for you I'd be rich".   Spending 3 days at Mt. Baker over a 9 day time frame is not for the timid. I'm not sure which is worse, the fact that I can't keep up with my kids on the slopes or that even if I could keep up my body laughs at me in rebellion for even trying. The Baker bug has infected this family. Any free day on the calendar is penciled in for the pilgrimage to "go east".

We pack our lunches & vita waters in the National Guard camo backpack & plan a dinner meal to be warm and ready upon return. A creamy pasta with chicken, mushrooms, basil and sun dried tomatoes in the Ninja Cooking System  it is. With the addition of Shiitake mushrooms this meal is earthy and nourishing.

  • 1 pound of chicken, diced
  • 1 pound of pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • 12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups heavy cream or milk
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, rinse and toss in a tablespoon of olive oil. Place in a container in the fridge.

Place chicken, garlic, onion powder, chicken broth, salt and pepper in the Ninja Cooking system on Slow Cooker, Low for 8 hours. Once the 8 hours is up your Ninja will set to keep on warm.

About 30 minutes before dinner time, set the Ninja to stove top medium. Add fresh basil, mushrooms, red pepper flakes & sun dried tomatoes to the cooked chicken. Cover. Saute for about 10 minutes or so.

Add heavy cream, cheeses & cooked pasta. Toss well & cook for a few more minutes. 


Serves: 6

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beef Barley Stew in the Ninja Cooking System

Hi friends, I've got a mild case of writers block today.  It's been explained to me by numerous writers and academics that the best thing to do is to step away, take a break and come back later. My problem with this advice is that later can turn into much much later and that's just not how I roll. I'm all about production and results & later doesn't yield results. (You love me anyway, even if I'm a driver, right?)

So what's causing this said writers block you ask?  Writer's block happens to me when I have stuff to talk about but I put a filter on and decide that I can't share my entire life with the world. 

It's seems as though the stuff I want to write about is floating around the front of my mind like a dark cloud floats low in the sky on a spring day.I want to push the gray clouds out of the way and frolic in the flowers and bask in the sun.  So, for now, I will share with you a beef barley recipe that my kids like. A home cooked, healthy meal can be my way to bask in the sun, for now :-)

Beef Barley Stew in the Ninja Cooking System
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 boullion cubes
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pan fry the hamburger, onion, garlic, salt and pepper on stove top medium for about 13 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove and drain.  

Place carrots & celery in the Ninja Cooking System on stove top medium (no need to add oil as you will have ground beef grease residue). Saute for about 5 minutes. Add water, boullion, parsley, barley, brown sugar & tomato sauce. Mix well.  Add hamburger mixture and cover with the lid. Turn to stove top high for 10 minutes. 

Last, turn the dial to slow cook, low and set the timer for 2 hours.

Serves: 6

What do you do when you get writers block?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Greek Quinoa Salad

Purple Oven Mitt
It's a new week full of possibilities! Although our Seahawks didn't make it past the Falcons & we are still unsure if a Sonics team will materialize I do have great news; my sister may be flying into town this week. I always feel hopeful in times like these.

I'm focusing on gluten free cooking today as both of my sisters avoid gluten.  One of my favorite things about Quinoa (other than I can finally say it properly-ha) is that it's filling and I don't feel stuffed or bloated after eating it.

Greek Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup Greek salad dressing (I like Trader Joe's brand)

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Place in a bowl.

Toss all ingredients together. Add quinoa and serve! Easy. Healthy & Gluten Free.

Serves: 4 

"Let us be grateful to people that make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom"  ~Marcel Proust

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Salmon Chowder in the Ninja Cooking System

Purple Oven Mitt

Last week I took a little detour from my usual grocery store haunts & made a pit stop to a little discount place.  While there I stumbled upon an old staple of ours.  Little did I realize that later in the week I would be watching my kids drag each other across the living room trying to get the last bag.  

This discount place has mini shopping carts that haven't been cleaned in a decade or more and the aisles have room for one in a half carts and one in a half customers, at best. But,  they tend to have super cheap prices on expired products, so how could I go wrong? HA!

As in all conflicts a resolution usually follows. I watched  them counting out pieces in order to make a fair and equitable distribution, with a cock a roach (on wheels) as their witness. Seeing the mild violence, negotiation and ultimate child led resolution of a white cheddar smart puff lunch size bag would warm any mothers heart. These are the everyday joys of family life, my friends. I love my kids so very much and it's in these random moments that I forget my worries and let my heart happy.

Salmon Chowder in the Ninja Cooking System

  • 1-1/2 pounds of wild salmon
  • one leek, sliced
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • half a lemon, juiced
  • 10 cups water, divided
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • a few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour

Place 4 cups of water in the Ninja, add the steamer basket and salmon. Cover with the lid and cook on stove top high for 20 minutes (If you have a thick filet of 2" of more) If you have a thin filet steam for about 15 minutes. Remove.  If your filet is thick in the middle like mine it will be a bit raw. Don't worry, it will cook more later.  Remove steamer basket but leave the water that was used to steam the salmon in the Ninja. 

Add the remaining 6 cups of water,  leek, celery, garlic, bouillon cubes, dill, paprika, red pepper flakes, potatoes, hot sauce, salt, pepper & lemon juice to the steamer juice in the Ninja. Cook on Stove top medium with the lid on for 15 minutes.  

In a saucepan on the stove, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, gradually. Turn the heat off. Stir until a paste is formed. Add paste to the veggie mixture in the Ninja. Stir until mixed.

Remove the skin from the wild salmon and flake it using forks. Remove and discard any bones. Give any salmon scraps to your cat :-)

Place the salmon and heavy cream in the Ninja and reduce heat to Slow Cooker low.  Turn the timer to 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes has arrived your Ninja will automatically set to warm.  Allow to warm for up to 3 hours and your chowder will thicken beautifully. I took the photo above right after I added the salmon and heavy cream before the chowder had a chance to thicken because we were racing off to drop off my sons friend, bring my son to basketball practice and catch my daughters basketball game! Busy times :-) whole family loved this Salmon Chowder & I hope yours will too!

Serves: 10

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blondie and Chocolate Brownies

Purple Oven Mitt
I have been sitting on the edge of my seat. Wondering & hoping. Imagining and pondering. Will the Kings become the Sonic's? Can it be true?  

I haven't always been a Sonic's fan (Washingtonian's please don't pelt me with tomatoes) My loyalty was with the Trailblazers for many moons.  Since moving to Washington over a decade ago I became a fan of our state sports. With the same enthusiasm as cheering for the Seattle Storm (WNBA), I will welcome and support the Sonic's.

I don't know if this Sacramento deal with go through. Quite frankly I don't care where a team comes from, I just want a team. Is that greedy? I'm not saying that I won't feel badly for Sacramento if they loose their team. I think I know how they will feel if they loose their team. We lost the Sonics to Oaklahoma City back in 2008. But at the end of the day it's about business and the bottom line & I get that.

May our bottom line be as sweet as these cute brownies. After all, Valentine's Day is right around the corner....

Blondie and and Chocolate Brownie

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup M & M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x9" glass pan.

Cream butter and sugars in an electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl add flour and baking powder. Mix. Pour into the butter/sugar mixture. Mix well. Remove half the batter and place into a bowl.

In the microwave melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the cocoa powder and mix well. Pour over the remaining batter that is located in the mixer.  Mix well. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the bottom of the greased pan.

Spread the blondie mixture on top of the chocolate layer. Sprinkle the M & M's on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted and removed is mostly clean/dry.

Are you a NBA or WNBA Fan? Which team is your favorite?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thai Shrimp Soup with Ramen in the Ninja Cooking System

We made another pilgrimage to the snowy slopes of Mt.Baker this weekend. It's the first time we squeezed 7 of us in my car headed for Baker and gear for 6 people! What an accomplishment for my little Toyota. Kids had a blast and are asking and pleading for more time up there. We're thankful for the free 5th grade seasons pass & a big thanks to Mt.Baker for offering that program to our community.

After being on the mountain all day there isn't anything quite like a hot meal that's easy to prepare.  Again, my go-to source is the Ninja Cooking System that I received as a perk for attending the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland last year.  I love this system because you can fry, saute, steam, slow cook and bake. Less clean-up + Fresh ingredients + Many features= Healthy Meal & Happy Mom

Thai Shrimp Soup with Ramen

  • 2 cups shrimp
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • Juice from one lime
  • half a red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
On stove top medium for 12 minutes, saute the broccoli, onion, carrots & garlic in vegetable oil.  Stir every few minutes.

Add fish sauce, lime juice, water, salt and pepper. Turn to stove top high for 5 minutes. 

Add two packages of ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packets or save for another use).

Cook for 6 minutes. 

Turn to stove top medium and add shrimp and coconut milk.  Stir and cook for about 4 minutes.  

Serve with lime slices and fresh basil leaves.

Serves: 8 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pomegranate Orange Quinoa Salad

Ahh New Year & new homework. It's been challenging for our kids to get back into the homework routine.  We've been hearing a lot of "I hate math" & "I hate reading". Grumble grumble. I think it's more about the long holiday break, late nights, sleepovers, family holiday gatherings and friends' parties....all things fun filled the air for weeks.

We've been giving a lot of encouragement this week. Even trying to remain patient when one child needed a homework break for a few hours. A little inspirational quote to help motivate:

    "You can have whatever you are willing to struggle for"

I suppose that the habit of study isn't too unlike the habit of eating well. Although I watch what I eat and try to be careful, there certainly isn't a shortage of indulgence. The holidays have brought an over abundance of gluttony and now I try to balance out a little bit with some healthy fare. This fresh recipe is gluten free and fresh.

Pomegranate Orange Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • salt to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Place quinoa in a large bowl.

Peel & slice the orange into 1//2" pieces. Add to the quinoa.

Add celery, pomegranate, orange juice and salt. Toss to coat and serve


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bacon Mushroom Chicken in the Ninja Cooking System

Happy 2013 to you! I wrote my first check today & shockingly managed to fill in the proper date.  I think the reason I'm on top of it this year is because I shopped at Costco. From the moment I parked my car and saw the line of people stacked up outside the closed burgundy colored garage style doors I knew I had to be sharp and on top of my game. I couldn't daydream about snowboarding with my family as I embarked on this experience. I needed to be diligent and thoughtful.

I walked in the door & I dodged carts and masses of people. I searched the produce expiration dates to avoid buying almost expired/slimy green beans. I weaved through the aisle that contained a couple juggling 3 carts full of croissants. I made a quick pit stop to the women's blouses that were on sale. The sign featured a neon yellow "$3.00 Instant Rebate" and that captured my interest.  I glanced down at the tag on the blouse which touted its iron free features. PSY did his happy dance in my mind & the teal blouse landed in my cart. Last, the Costco grand finale; the shock at checkout.  When the clerk tells you your total is two hundred something dollars it's a very ghastly experience. Especially when the hubs sent me to get AA, C, D and 9 volt batteries for a carpentry project he is building to house the said variety of batteries.

What isn't ghastly is this recipe. I'm pretty sure that anything with bacon in it is magnificent. I'm not really sure why MSG made such a debut in the 80's and 90's. Who needs that flavor enhancer when we have bacon.

Bacon Mushroom Chicken in the Ninja Cooking System

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 8 pieces of cooked bacon, diced into half inch pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmeasean cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Egg noodles or rice
  • *Optional; 4 tablespoons of butter. I didn't use butter, because it's the New Year and I'm pretending like I'm going to eat healthier for at least a few more days. 

In the Ninja Cooking System on stove top Medium, fry the oil, onion and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, bacon, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Fry for about 16 minutes (turning once) or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken.

Pour the water, cheese, milk and heavy cream on top of the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture. 

Add the corn starch and whisk away for about 3  minutes. Next, reduce the heat to stove top low and whisk a bit longer. Last, turn the Ninja to Slow cooker low while you prepare to plate the meal.

Layer the noodles or rice with a piece of chicken and top with the creamy, saucy goodness. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 6

Did you write a check with the correct date?