Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black bean and avocado quinoa bowl

Easy black bean and avocado quinoa bowl, with spicy arugula, sharp cheddar cheese and homemade pico de gallo: a healthy meal in 15 minutes.

Healthy black bean quinoa bowl with arugula and avocado

Regular readers know that I'm all about healthy, easy weeknight dinners. While I can appreciate a complex and involved dinner recipe when the outcome is amazing, I reserve them for weekends when there's more time for meal preparation. During the week, I'm still into amazing outcomes, but I want to achieve them much more quickly.

I like to make grain bowls for dinner because they are easy but also really nutritious, with seemingly endless combinations of ingredients. While I used to make almost exclusively rice bowls, I now favor quinoa for these flavorful bowls -- I love the little extra crunch, plus it's easy to freeze and thaw.

This particular bowl, with black beans, creamy avocado, spicy arugula and sharp cheddar cheese, was born because I had a few extra tomatoes from the farmer's market hanging around. Rather than simply chop them up and add them to the bowl, I decided to turn them into a bold pico de gallo, using an easy recipe I picked up from Chris of Shared Appetite.

Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Apple zucchini bread

Enjoy this healthy, delicious apple zucchini bread for breakfast: it's loaded with end-of-summer produce and early-fall fruit, plus it contains no dairy or refined sugar.

healthy apple zucchini bread

You know The Ninj is dedicated to seasonality, and, given that it is still September, that means I'm still not showing you recipes that involve The October P-Word Vegetable. But that doesn't mean that I'm not excited for fall produce, like apples. What it does mean is that I have a bunch of end-of-summer produce overlapping with my beginning-of-fall produce.

That overlap is how I came up with this apple zucchini bread, my homage to September, the month that graciously ushers in fall while kicking summer out the back door.

You're totally going to dig this bread because it's moist, flavorful and super-addictive yet wicked healthy: It's loaded with fiber and it contains no milk, refined sugar or butter.

Whatchootalkinbout, Ninj?

(I can hear you saying that, I really can.)

Let's break that down:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Peach cake muffins (gluten-free)

Lightened, gluten-free breakfast muffins with all the flavor of fresh peach cake in a handy grab-and-go size.

healthy, gluten-free peach cake muffins

Can you tell that I'm still holding on to summer? Yep, I'm still talking about peaches.

(I might possibly be the only food blogger on the planet that is not writing about that other type of orangey produce that begins with "p.") Vive le seasonality!

I'm not having a difficult time holding on to it either because we've had a return to (or rather no respite from) the hot, humid, dog days of summer here in Kentucky. Lots of 90-degree days, which makes me continue to crave cold salads, tomato sandwiches and summer fruit.

Ah, summer fruit. Ripe berries, juicy stone fruits -- I can't get enough. I picked up a bag of peaches from my local farmers last week and they told me they were the very last ones of the season. Gah! The last ones! I turned a good number of them into a gorgeous peach puree (it's dynamite as a substitute for applesauce in my homemade granola) but still had a couple left for these peach cake muffins.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mason Jar Salads and More book giveaway

During the busy back-to-school time, don't forget to pack yourself a healthy lunch. Julia Mirabella's new book about grab-and-go layered lunches in Mason jars can help -- and you can win a copy.

Win a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More

Unless you've been living under a very large rock on the South Pole, you know it's back-to-school time.

And you don't know that simply because the calendar page flipped to September: You know it because it's being crammed down your throat everywhere you look, whether you have school-aged children or not. Major retailers have been working hard since practically July to sell you oodles of backpacks, lunch bags, plaid skirts and Number 2 pencils.

(Is there even such a thing as a Number 1 pencil? I imagine it being all uppity, like "I'm Number 1! I'm Number 1!" What a prick.)

And yes, I realize I'm dating myself with the calendar page and pencil references. Should have been an iPad reference, I guess. Whatevs: I'm still pretty analog.

Food bloggers are also guilty of riding on the coattails of the back-to-school fever. Packable snacks, cutesy lunchbox options and "kid food" boards are popping up all over Pinterest.

(Don't get me started on "kid food." Really, if I get started, I'll get all ranty and won't be able to stop.)

But while we're all focused on getting the wee ones back to school with the right supplies and a good lunch, we may have forgotten about ourselves. At least in the lunch department.

Bringing your lunch to work is a great way to reduce your dependency on fast food, processed food or other less-than-healthy food options -- and you know that helping you do that is pretty much The Ninj's raison d'etre. So put down that nasty-ass frozen Lean Cuisine because The Ninj wants to talk about a better, healthier lunch option that is still yummy and portable: Mason jar salads.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Final recipe roundup: CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014

All summer long, The Ninj provides weekly produce recipes by request -- here's a roundup of all the healthy, delicious recipes from CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014!

weekly produce recipes by request at yankeekitchenninja.com

With Labor Day behind us, it's time to wrap up the 2014 edition of the CSA Share Ninja Rescue, my annual summertime feature in which you tell me each week what produce from your CSA share, garden or farmers' market has you stumped for ideas and I provide you with healthy, creative recipe ideas both from my own arsenal as well as from some of my favorite fellow food bloggers.

Phew -- we were busy this year! Here's a list of links to all the produce and recipes we covered this summer (you might want to Pin or bookmark this page!):

Friday, August 29, 2014

Shrimp and avocado tortilla salad

Boiled shrimp, fresh veggies, baked chips and a yogurt dressing help make this cold shrimp and avocado tortilla salad a healthy meal that's quick to prepare.

shrimp and avocado tortilla salad recipe

Remember how I told you there might be a preponderance of quick-and-easy recipes on the blog following my move from Vermont to Kentucky?

Oh, looky looky: Here's one of those recipes now.

While other bloggers are already posting about pumpkin lattes and apple cronuts, I remain loyal to seasonality. Last time I checked, it was still August and still summer, so no pumpkin yet here, thank you very much.

In fact, it's still hot -- very hot -- unseasonably hot, lucky me -- here in Kentucky, so the last thing I want to think about is slow-roasting pumpkin flesh.

What I want is salad. Cool, crisp, not-a-lotta-cooking-involved salad. Salad that I can enjoy with a crisp white wine in a sweaty glass while dining al fresco on the porch, listening to the lazy buzz of the cicadas and tree frogs. Moving made me feel that I'd missed out on some of the lazy days of summer, so I'm keeping it going as long as I can.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

11 delicious ways with broccoli (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Enjoy these 11 delicious and unique recipes for broccoli, one of the healthiest crown jewels of the late summer / early fall harvest.

eleven delicious broccoli recipes

ERMERGAHD, peeps: Where the heck has the summer gone? Labor Day is next week, which means that summer is unofficially over, kids are headed back to school and all the bloggers except The Ninj are going to start inundating you with freakin' pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin, apples and Halloween ... oh my.

Why can't we all just respect produce seasonality??!!!

One more week until Labor Day means means one last huzzah for the 2014 CSA Share Ninja Rescue, my annual summertime feature in which you tell me each week what produce from your CSA share, garden or farmers market has you at a loss for ideas and I rescue you the following Tuesday with fun, creative recipe ideas, from me and my favorite fellow food bloggers.

As we come up on fall, it's time to enjoy crisp, crunchy broccoli -- a fave of The Ninj, a nemesis of Mr. Ninj, which is why you'll see that so many of my recipes involve disguising it in a pasta dish.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Salted cardamom oatmeal cookies

Salted cardamom oatmeal cookies: the taste is sweet, savory and salty while the texture is crispy-crunchy on the edges and soft in the middle.

salted cardamom oatmeal cookies

So, I promise that we're going to talk about salted cardamom oatmeal cookies in this post and there will be a recipe, but I wanted to give you a little moving update first. 

Things are finally settling down a bit in our new home here in Kentucky. I have gotten a new driver's license (this is my ninth license and ninth good DMV photo!), paid multiple visits to a twice-a-week farmer's market in my 'hood and located a nearby organic market that sells sustainably produced meat, honey and dairy products directly from local farmers.

Booyah. I'm all set. Thank goodness it appears that the Louisville area is embracing the local food movement.

I sometimes forget that it has only been two and a half weeks since we moved. But I'm pretty Type A, in case you haven't noticed (insert sarcasm flag here). I cannot stand not having my house all set up exactly the way I want it. And it makes me positively cray cray to hunt through boxes for my belongings. When I move, I just want to get on with the moving on, full steam ahead.

One thing about moving is that it is very, very hard work. Undoubtedly, it's hard work for the movers but, once the burly movers are gone, someone has to unpack each and every one of those boxes that they hauled into the house.

Who wants to take a wild-ass guess as to who the someone is who does all the unpacking?

Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fresh summer tomato recipes (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Eleven easy recipes -- some traditional, some unusual, all healthy and delicious -- for making the most of prolific, fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes.

Eleven easy, healthy recipes for fresh, sun-ripened summer tomatoes

I almost can't believe it -- time flies! -- but we're nearing the end of the 2014 edition of the CSA Share Ninja Rescue, in which you can get weekly seasonal produce recipes by request all summer long (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Hopefully you've been playing along, telling me each week what produce from your CSA share, garden or farmers' market has left you stumped for ideas, and I help un-stump you with a list of delicious, healthy recipes on Tuesdays.

I think this is my absolute favorite time of year, veg- and CSA-wise, because the most prolific veggie right now almost everywhere around the country is the tomato. From the most petite cherry to the giant slicers, fresh tomatoes taste to me like nothing else on earth. And while I'm happiest eating them plain, topped with a little crunchy sea salt, I've pulled together 11 delicious recipes that call for fresh summer tomatoes from my favorite food bloggers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Asian-inspired chicken and broccoli salad

Asian-inspired sweet-and-tangy chicken and broccoli salad, topped with apricots and cashews. A quick and easy recipe, perfect for weeknight dinners.

Asian-inspired chicken and broccoli salad with apricots and cashews

Hey, hiya! The Ninj's move to Kentucky is complete.

Well, let me clarify. Things completed are the the physical moving of goods from Vermont to Kentucky in a big-ass tractor trailer and my arriving in Kentucky by pulling off a spectacular pre-murder OJ Simpson run in high-heeled flip-flops through three concourses of the Charlotte airport to avoid (just barely) missing my flight, which had been dramatically re-routed out of my way by the good folks (kidding, really, they're asshats) at American Airlines who bumped me from my original flight to Louisville from Chicago in order to give my seat to a standby "medallion" passenger (oh no, I'm not bitter -- I love being treated like baggage by people who refuse to look you in the eye or answer your questions directly), thus arriving in Kentucky -- sweaty, stressed and sans luggage -- about 20 minutes ahead of my movers.

But I made it. And then so did our stuff (oy, the stuff -- so much stuff, even after giving so much of it away before we left Vermont). So, I am currently knee-deep in cardboard moving boxes and endless reams of packing paper on this end.

More than knee-deep, actually.  Let me show you my new kitchen.