Thursday, September 22, 2016

Creamy slow cooker pork and vegetables

Creamy slow cooker pork and vegetables: easy weeknight comfort food that will make your whole house smell as good as dinner tastes.

creamy slow cooker pork chops and vegetables recipe

Do you remember that Carly Simon song, "Anticipation"? The one used in the popular Heinz ketchup commercial when I was growing up? The one that evoked the feeling of not being able to wait to taste something? (Although ketchup -- really? I could wait, no problem, really.)

That song will be running through your head all day long as you smell this creamy slow cooker pork and vegetables dinner cooking. I speak from experience.

Slow Cooker Comfort Food

And it wasn't just me. The first time I made this slow cooker recipe, a pair of HVAC guys were working upstairs in our house, installing a new air conditioning system. At the end of the day, one of the guys said to me, "Well, we have a little problem."

I begin freaking out. You know, because I'm always so calm when problems arise (snort). "What's wrong?"

He replied, "We really don't mind working hard all day. But you made it really, really hard today since you've made us smell something that delicious all day long!"

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Monday, September 12, 2016

DIY autumn citrus spice room spray

While I have been compensated for creating this DIY autumn citrus spice room spray by #CollectiveBias and Nature's Truth, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #StimulateTheSenses

DIY autumn citrus spice room spray


Learn how easy it is to make your own DIY citrus spice room spray for fall using essential oils

Regular readers who remember my natural bug spray from earlier in the summer know that I'm a big fan of incorporating essential oils into my lifestyle. So I was thrilled when Nature's Truth asked me to create a DIY project featuring their blended essential oils to celebrate fall.

My biggest challenge was trying to pick just one of the scents!

Now that it's back-to-school time and cool fall weather is just around the corner, I opted to use the Purify botanical blend to create this easy DIY autumn citrus spice room spray. With scents of clove, lemongrass, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary, Purify offers the perfect blend of comforting fall spices combined with invigorating citrus notes.

And who wouldn't want a room to smell like that?

Easy DIY Aromatherapy Room Spray

Aromatherapy is a powerful thing. I'm sure you've had one of those experiences in which you smell a scent and it immediately evokes a vivid memory of a certain time or place. One whiff of this autumn room spray and I feel like I'm taking a walk through fallen leaves, wrapped in a cozy sweater, on a crisp and cool fall day.

Plus, this room spray is crazy-easy to make. All you need is some distilled water, a few drops of the oil and a little witch hazel or vodka to bind the oil and water together before spraying.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Skinny cranberry chocolate oatmeal cookies

Skinny cranberry chocolate oatmeal cookies are the perfect snack: chewy, crispy and chocolatey but also loaded with guilt-free ingredients.

Skinny cranberry chocolate oatmeal cookies


I read somewhere once, a long time ago, that having a little something sweet after a meal is a good thing because it sends a signal to your body that it's time to stop eating, the meal is over.

Doesn't that sound credible?

Honestly, I don't know if it's true, but it works for me.  Because I generally do find that just a taste of a little something sweet makes a meal complete.

Now, I'm not advocating that you eat an entire cheesecake just to send your brain a message. Note that I said a little something sweet.

Like a cookie.

Even better: A skinny cranberry chocolate oatmeal cookie that's chewy but crispy and loaded with good-for-you ingredients.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Healthy after school snacks that kids will love

Enjoy these seven healthy and easy after-school snacks that your kids will actually love and you can feel good about giving to them.

healthy after school snacks your kids will love

I don't like to admit it (because it means summer is coming to an abrupt end), but it's back-to-school time.

(Heck, it's been back-to-school time for weeks now for my nephews but I think they're district might be a little ahead of everyone else.)

Which makes this the perfect time to talk about after-school snacks. Forget about mini packages of chips, cheese curls, candy or any of the other junk you'll see in gargantuan packages at the grocery store. These seven easy after school snack recipes are all healthy and super easy to make.

So you can feel good about giving these snacks to your kids. And maybe to yourself as well.

Check out what I and some of my favorite foodie friends will be snacking on this fall:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blueberry peach cobbler cups

Easy dessert perfection: Cute cobbler cups featuring juicy summer blueberries and peaches, topped with a buttery biscuit crust.

Blueberry peach cobbler cups


I probably don't need to wax poetic with you about the awesomeness of summer fruit, do I?

I hope not. I mean, just look at that fruit, juicy goodness up there, would you?!

Blueberries + Peaches 4 Evah

And I don't think it was merely a coincidence that the universe decided to have both blueberries and peaches hitting their stride at the same time in the summer. They are simply perfect together in so many juicy ways.

But as much as I love to eat both blueberries and peaches fresh, by the handful or slice, respectively, or to freeze them by the bagful for winter smoothies, they are amazing to cook with as well. A blog oldie but goodie, my blueberry bread is a house favorite and I keep meaning to re-make those blueberry cobbler bars before the berries are gone this year (plus, they deserve a new photo shoot, don't you think?). And if you haven't added the peach cake muffins to your late summer breakfast rotation, you need to fix that ASAP.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Fast and fresh ranch pasta salad

This fast and fresh ranch pasta salad with crunchy summer veggies and chicken makes an easy, healthy weeknight meal or potluck dish.

fast and fresh ranch pasta salad from YankeeKitchenNinja.com

I originally created this recipe while we lived in Vermont. And were once again in the midst of moving.

I know, it's like deja vu, right? But don't worry. I'm not moving again. (You hear me, universe? I. AM. NOT. MOVING. AGAIN.)

But, as you can imagine, moving has a way of cutting into the time (and energy) available for cooking dinner. As does hot summer weather, which we've been experiencing here in Maryland in full force over the past few weeks.

So, just as I did back when we were moving, I've lately been keeping my menu planning focused on quick and easy recipes -- especially the low- or no-cook kind.

Case in point, this easy, fast and fresh ranch pasta salad, which you can throw together in the time it takes to cook a pot of pasta, yet is cool, full of fresh veggies and very satisfying. Plus, it will leave you with lunch leftovers that you don't even need to reheat.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Easy tomato and sausage ragu

Why settle for jarred pasta sauce when you can make this easy tomato and sausage ragu with mushrooms and fresh herbs instead? 

easy recipe for tomato and sausage with mushrooms and herbs

Can you believe I was nearly 30 years old before I discovered the awesome glory of sausage?

[Seriously -- if you a regular reader of the Ninj, pick yourself up off the floor, as you know I tend to add sausage or bacon to nearly everything. Are you new? Go ahead, search on "sausage" or "bacon" in the search box. I'll wait ... get it now?]

Growing up, sausage to me meant an oily, hot sausage-and-pepper grinder (hero, hoagie, sub, whatever) -- and those just grossed me out (they still do). Therefore, in my mind I didn't like sausage. Period.

While Mr. Ninj and I were dating, he would occasionally cook for me (ah, those were the days!), and once he made some pasta dish that involve browning sausage as the first step.

This is so pathetic to admit now, but I watched in utter amazement as he CUT THE CASING OFF and added just the ground meat to the pan to brown. Whhhhaaaaattt???? Crumbled sausage? Sausage that isn't in a log shape or drowning in soggy pepper juice? Pure genius!

It's been fast ride straight down the pork hill from that day. All the way to this easy, way-better-than-jarred tomato and sausage ragu.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Healthy one pot turkey pilaf

Master weeknight dinner with one pot turkey pilaf: only 30 minutes to a healthy delicious dinner with minimal clean up plus leftovers.

Healthy and easy one pot turkey pilaf

Another busy week means another entry for my list of healthy and easy weeknight meals that anyone can make -- one-pot turkey pilaf.

Lazy me is a big fan of easy, one-pot dishes, as evidenced by some of my favorite recipes, including one-pot tomato basil pasta and healthy one-pot Asian pasta. I mean, seriously, what's not to love?

In less than half an hour, from start to finish, you can have a healthy, delicious dinner on the table. With leftovers for lunch the next day, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Port wine cheese spread

Cheese and crackers go retro with this super easy port wine cheese spread; all the addictive flavor, none of the garish colors.

Port wine cheese spread


Summer is just the best time for parties and entertaining, isn't it? Who doesn't love celebrating al fresco with friends at a garden party, backyard cookout or cocktail party on the deck?

It's no wonder so many people choose to get married in the summer, too -- talk about an opportunity for a grand outdoor party!

To celebrate summer and special occasions like weddings and anniversaries, I've teamed up with the folks at Uncommon Goods to introduce you to some of the amazing items they have available in their unique catalog that are perfect for gift-giving or entertaining -- and to give you a chance to win a prize package of their wares.

Case in point: the cheese-and-cracker serving board and butter and cheese knife you see in these photos. In particular, the gorgeous, made-in-Vermont cheeseboard is featured in the Uncommon Collection, an exclusive assortment of products that meet their highest standards for uncommon design, sustainability and doing good. I love the kitschiness of the ampersand -- because we all know you've gotta have crackers AND cheese!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Best BBQ sides

Wow the crowd at your next BBQ or cookout with these easy and delicious sides: choose from salads, appetizers and salsas.

Six easy and delicious sides for your next BBQ or cookout


With Independence Day just around the corner, I've been fixated lately on the summer BBQ.

Or cookout. Is this a regional thing? Growing up in New England, we called them cookouts. I had to learn to refer to them as "barbecues" when I moved down south.

Whatever the nomenclature, I love those parties held outside that involve grilled meat.

But, more than the meaty main course, I'm all about the sides: salads, dips, appetizers, chips. Those little unsung heroes are often what makes the meal. And while anyone can bring some ice cream or cookies or a flag cake made with berries and Cool Whip, I highly prefer the guest who brings an amazing side.

So here's a roundup of some of my favorite BBQ (or cookout) side dish recipes, all of which are easy to make, easy to transport and guaranteed to wow the crowd.