Friday, December 19, 2014

Moonpie cookies

Moonpie cookies: A homemade cookie version of the classic Moonpie, with crunchy graham flavor, sweet marshmallow frosting and a drizzle of chocolate.

Homemade moonpie cookies

Moonpies. Oh boy oh boy, peeps: Moonpies, together with Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies (like a second cousin once removed), are one of the things I really, really miss about having given up highly processed snacks.

I know, some of you might think the fake-ish waxy chocolate coating is nasty, but I looooooved those little snack cakes. They're like little packaged s'mores you can eat whenever you want.

They're on my list, along with Cool Ranch Doritos, of Processed Foods I Will Eat with Abandon If I'm Told the World Is Ending in 24 Hours.

In case you have lived under a rock (or at least never in the Southeast) for your entire life and don't know what a Moonpie is (so sad!), I'll give you a little background. Moonpies are graham cookies with a marshmallow Fluff filling, dipped entirely in chocolate. According to the company web site, they were created in 1917 when a Kentucky coal miner asked the Chattanooga-based bakery's traveling snack salesman for a "snack as big as the moon" that was also portable (for the lunch pail) and filling. Hence, the Moonpie. 

Lately I've been seeing all sorts of copycat Oatmeal Creme Pie recipes around Pinterest, so I decided it was time to give the Moonpie its similar due. But rather than make decadent sandwich snacks dipped in chocolate, I deconstructed them into cookies.

Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Slow cooker chicken and sweet potato curry

Slow cooker chicken and sweet potato curry requires little effort but yields lots of delicious dinnertime results -- plus plenty of leftovers. 

Slow cooker chicken and sweet potato curry

Based on my Pinterest feed, you'd think that no one eats anything other than cookies, pecan pie and party appetizers during the entire month of December.

While cookie exchanges, office potlucks and party dessert tables are all awesome, let's not forget that there are still a whole bunch of dinners that need to be made and eaten this month.

Now, that doesn't mean those dinners have to be elaborate or complicated -- let's save elaborate and complicated for the buche de Noel and gingerbread houses. With everything you've got going on, you need at least one thing to be simple.

And what's simpler than a slow cooker dinner? Pretty much nothing, my friend.

Regular readers know that, as much as I love CSA produce, I'm just a wee bit of a meatasaurus. Case in point, this chicken and sweet potato curry. I adapted it from a vegetarian Bon Appetit recipe, touted for its ability to please everyone, no matter what their food issues.

Well, oops -- I just screwed the vegetarians and the vegans by adding chicken. But unless you're a vegetarian or a vegan, you will thank me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Granola breakfast bread

Banish boring breakfasts by turning granola and cashew milk into a hearty, healthier granola breakfast bread that's super easy to make.

Healthier breakfast granola bread

Coming up with different breakfast ideas every morning can get to be drag, am I right? And then qualify that as different breakfast ideas that aren't too rich or too unhealthy (I'm looking at you, cinnamon buns), and it gets harder, especially at holiday time.

I find I often fall back on overnight oatmeal or granola with almond milk,  because both give me a nice shot of protein, are filling and yummy and, best of all, are easy to prepare.

Recently, I got an opportunity to try Silk's new Cashewmilk (Mr. Ninj loves it when food shows up at our front door!), so I immediately used it for breakfast, poured over homemade granola. Good stuff, my peeps, especially since it's creamier than plain skim milk with fewer calories and more calcium to boot (who couldn't use fewer calories and more calcium?). Plus, I loved the mildly nutty flavor and how it complemented the granola.

Which gave me a great idea: why not turn this yummy granola and Cashewmilk combo into a quick bread? Booyah.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bourbon salted chocolate peanut butter truffles

Dark chocolate peanut butter truffles finished with homemade bourbon salt: a decadent and delicious but also elegant and easy holiday treat.

bourbon salted peanut butter truffles

So, remember last week's bourbon salt? Did you make some over the weekend? I sure hope so, because you are going to want to break it out and use it in today's recipe: bourbon salted dark chocolate peanut butter truffles.

Ermergahd, peeps: These are like Reeses peanut butter cups that have gone to eleven.

Talk about an amazing holiday dessert treat. Got a party coming up? Bring these truffles: I guarantee they will be the hit of the dessert table and you'll be asked at which bakery you scored them. (Although some friends these are, if they don't already know you're an amazing ninja-like cook and would never show up at a party with store-bought dessert.)

Now, let's be clear: I am not claiming these bourbon salted peanut butter truffles are one of my normally healthy-ish recipes. They're not. There's a whole lotta sugar, salt and chocolate in here. But it's the holidays, and we all deserve some decadent treats at holiday time (which we make up for during Detox January, remember?).

Yet while these are not the healthiest recipe I've ever made, they certainly meet my other recipe criterion of being easy. Yes, elegant, delicious and decadent yet also easy-peasy. How cool is that?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bourbon salt (DIY)

Learn how to make easy DIY bourbon salt, the perfect finish for everything from roasted meats to sweet baked goods.

Easy homemade bourbon salt

Bourbon salt: really, it's a no-brainer, am I right? I love finishing salts and all things salty. I love bourbon. Ergo, I doubly love bourbon salt.

And what could possibly be better than being able to DIY something you doubly love? How about if making it was easy? And I mean falling-off-a-log easy.

Booyah.You know I'm all about easy recipes.

The only thing you will really need is a little patience for this recipe because it requires you to spend a bit of time reducing the bourbon to intensify the flavor. Plus you'll need to dry the salt. But we're talking a part of one afternoon (or one evening of watching TV from the kitchen, if you're me) at most.

It's so worth it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Honey almond loaves

Honey almond loaves, a healthier holiday treat sweetened only with organic honey and perfect for gift-giving. Enjoy for breakfast or dessert!

honey almond cake loaves make great holiday food gifts

I love the holidays as much as the next gal -- probably more so, given the multiple trees I decorate in the house -- but the overeating and over-indulgent eating can be a drag. Well, not at the time, of course -- at the time, the food is too delicious so you just keep cramming it in your face.

But let's be real: I know that there's no way I'm not going to indulge in whatever sweet treats come my way this holiday season, via gift giving, holiday parties or family celebrations. (We save the not indulging for Detox January, remember?)

So what's a normally healthy-ish eater to do? This year, I'm giving these honey almond loaves, sweetened only with honey rather than lots of refined sugar.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Best Thanksgiving leftovers recipes

Enjoy these eight great recipes for using your Thanksgiving leftovers in delicious new dishes the whole family will love.

Eight of the best recipes for enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers

Happy Leftovers Week!

If you've been reading my pre-Thanksgiving blog posts, you know The Ninj is all about the leftovers -- so much so that I shared new leftovers recipes even before Thanksgiving day arrived!

Now it's time for the leftovers to have their chance to shine. They were delicious on the the big day, but now they can be so much more. Whether it's a healthy salad, a creamy pasta dish or much more decadent tater tots, The Ninj has got you covered:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turkey cordon bleu pasta

Use your holiday leftovers in this recipe for deconstructed turkey (or chicken) cordon bleu pasta: quick and easy to make, lighter than you'd think.

Turkey or chicken cordon bleu pasta, great use for holiday leftovers

As I promised last week, I'm continuing my Thanksgiving leftovers posts this week, despite the fact that Thanksgiving hasn't even arrived yet, because I love using up the leftovers almost as much as preparing the holiday feast. So much so that a reader suggested I make two turkeys this year.

An excellent suggestion!

Since there are only so many turkey sandwiches that you can eat before you get sick of the stuff, I like to change it up with different kinds of dishes, such as last week's turkey, apple and fennel bread salad (I'm still eating it regularly, people -- it's that good). Another great one? Today's turkey cordon bleu pasta.

Yes, pasta! You know, because nearly all my favorite comfort foods are pasta, I swear.

Now, this is not quite the same as the chicken cordon bleu you might be envisioning -- there's no pounding, no stuffing, no breading, no layering and nothing at all French-ish (even though traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu, I'm told, is all-American and has nothing to do with France or the similarly named culinary institute -- go figure). So it's more of a deconstructed chicken cordon bleu. But with turkey. And pasta.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkey, apple and fennel bread salad

For this easy, healthy post-holiday meal salad, just toss your leftover turkey (or chicken) in a lemony vinaigrette with whole grain bread, crunchy fennel and sweet apples.

turkey, apple and fennel bread salad -- make with Thanksgiving leftovers or chicken

So yeah, I'm going there. There's still a week to go until Thanksgiving, but I'm going to start talking about the leftovers.

You're going to thank me, really. Because, when you think about it, planning for leftovers in advance in really quite smart. It means that you can be sure that
  1. Your turkey will be large enough to accommodate the awesome turkey sandwiches and dishes you'll be making over the long weekend
  2. You will have all the ingredients you need on hand without having to risk a trip to the grocery store on Black Friday (shudder).
See? It's just smart and strategic to talk leftovers the week before the holiday. Yeah, you're welcome.

And if there's any doubt that Thanksgiving is just as much about the leftovers as it is about the cozy family together time spent cramming in lots of yummy food on a Thursday, let me tell you a true story. Years ago, a former co-worker friend of mine attended Thanksgiving dinner at her cousin's house. Bizarrely (because, remember, this is THANKSGIVING, The Official Day of Over Eating), there was not enough food to feed everyone at the table! (I know, right?) According to my friend, if she hadn't been a thoughtful guest and brought a large tossed salad to the dinner, she would have had nothing to eat, as she gave her son her "portion" of turkey so that at least he would have enough to eat.

Oh, but wait, the story gets better.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Simple apple and herb stuffing muffins

Bake these sweet-and-savory apple and herb stuffing muffins in tins for cute individual portions with lots of toasty edges. A healthy, easy holiday recipe!

Apple and herb stuffing muffins -- an easy holiday recipe

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I hope you haven't finalized your menu. Because I've got a new ADORBS take on stuffing for you. Or dressing, if you call it that. I've never understood the big debate over stuffing versus dressing: potato potahto, oyster erster, whatevs.

Now, I suppose these stuffing muffins aren't so new to everyone. I believe they were a big Rachel Ray-Ray thing a few years back (I can just hear her saying "stuffin' muffin" because it's rhyme-y). But they're new to me so I'm excited to talk about them.

Every year for Thanksgiving, my menu is made up of some old favorites that will likely never change (deep-fried turkey, a healthy-ish sweet potato casserole) but I also like to include at least one new dish, just so it doesn't get too predictable and boring.

This year, it's stuffing muffins. I mean, come on, how could I not want these on my table? They are just too freakin' adorable, with their individual-sized crunchy little selves.

If you're like me and you like the crunchy edges of the stuffing the best, you're going to go cray-cray for these stuffing muffins because they are all about the crunchy edges. The whole darned thing is practically one big crunchy edge!