Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday sweets and treats

Check out these 10 easy to make and ready to give recipes for all kinds of holiday sweets and treats: cookies, candy, nuts, snacks and more!

Easy to make and ready to give recipes for all kinds of holiday sweets and treats

Happy holidays, friends!

Since I can pretty much guarantee that the teachers, hairstylists, mail carriers and everyone else on your list already has all the crap from the mall that s/he could possibly ever need or want, how about making some little thoughtful gifts this year instead?

If you're not up to even the easiest DIY project, The Ninj still has you covered with ten super-easy recipes for holiday sweets and treats that everyone will love: crunchy cookies, easy candy, my famous snack crack and even some no-bake treats.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Candied ginger cookies {copycat Tate's Ginger Zingers}

Thin and buttery cookies, with crispy edges, chewy centers and a zing of crystallized ginger: a copycat recipe for Tate's Ginger Zingers. 

candied ginger cookies copycat Tate's Ginger Zingers recipe

Oh, hi. Sorry it's been awhile. Life has been taking precedence over blogging for a wee bit -- hope you understand. But I couldn't let the holiday season slip past without sharing my latest favorite cookie recipe with you.

On First Eating Tate's Ginger Zinger Cookies

Last summer, I spent some time at the beach in North Carolina with my oldest friend and some of her other friends (as it goes, now we're ALL friends -- yay us!).  We all shared meal preparation and each brought some of our favorite goodies from home to share with the group. My friend mentioned that she'd brought these amazeballs ginger cookies that I needed try.

ZOMG, peeps, she was not kidding.

They were Tate's Bake Shop's Gluten Free Ginger Zinger Cookies. None of us there who were scarfing them down eats gluten-free, but it totally doesn't matter. If you are even the teeniest bit a fan of crystallized ginger, you will go cray cray for these cookies -- thin and buttery, with crispy edges, slightly chewy centers and a zesty zing of crystallized ginger in almost every bite.

I knew immediately that I had to figure out how to make them myself -- you know, like a good ninja does.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Homemade cranberry sauce in a can

Add some kitsch to Thanksgiving this year with homemade "canned" cranberry sauce using an upcycled empty can for the mold.

Homemade canned cranberry sauce made in a can mold

My sister and I have this thing.

Well, to be honest, my sister and have about eight million things. We're like those twins that have their own language that no one else can understand ... but we're not twins. She's two years older than I, but we've always been best friends. (In fact, I told her recently, "You'd better never die because, if you do, there will be no one to understand me!")

So, anyway, one of our things is canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. My first "adult" Thanksgiving was when I was in graduate school. I was attending school in the South, too far away from my parents' home in New England for me to afford to make a quick trip home for the Thanksgiving holiday. And my sister was living not that far away, so we decided to throw our own little Thanksgiving dinner for two.

Even though I had almost no idea how to cook anything and she was only slightly more talented, we went all out in a little apartment kitchen: turkey, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce.

In all fairness, let's clarify. We roasted a turkey (poorly), steamed some green beans, mixed up a box of Stove Top stuffing and opened a can of jellied cranberry sauce.

But we were both in agreement that the cranberry sauce was a must-have. You know, because of the the "ssssllluuuupp" noise it makes when released from the can. And, frankly, because it's freakin' shaped like the can.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One pot kielbasa and rice with peas

This easy one pot kielbasa and rice with peas is a family friendly weeknight dinner that's ready in less than 30 minutes. 

one pot kielbasa and rice with peas

You know I'm all about quick and easy, real-food dinners that anyone can make, right? (I mean, if you don't know that by now, after six years, I must be doing something wrong!!)

I've pretty much got the mother of all them this week.

Easy One Pot Weeknight Dinner

This one-pot dinner made with kielbasa, rice and peas is so crazy easy and so crazy yummy that you will quickly make it a weekly regular, I can almost promise. Plus, it's a complete meal, made in less than 30 minutes in one skillet -- what's not to love?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nutty chocolate coconut no bake snack bites

You're only four ingredients, five minutes and a food processor away from these healthy nutty chocolate coconut snack bites.

Nutty chocolate and pecan no bake snack bites

With Halloween just around the corner and frightened by stories from of trick-or-treaters arriving by the busload in our new neighborhood, I have a cabinet full of giant bags of snack-sized candy that are screaming out my name.

I can hear them in my sleep: "Eat meeeeeeeeee. I'm yummmmmmmmy. I'm sweeeeeeeeeet."

Little devils! So what's a Ninj with little willpower to do?

Healthy No-bake Snack Bites

Make a healthy sweet snack to stop the voices, that's what.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Easy weeknight chicken minestrone

Get a warm, hearty dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes with this healthy and easy weeknight chicken minestrone soup.

healthy easy weeknight chicken minestrone

It's October and the weather is starting to get cooler. So of course I can't stop making soup and chili. And basically anything I can cram into the slow cooker.

Easy Weeknight Soup

Of course, any soup that I'm making now has to be easy enough for a busy weeknight meal. This one fits the bill, as it takes less than a half hour, including prep, to pull it together.

And did I mention that there will be enough left over for tomorrow's lunch bag? Winning.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Healthy apple pumpkin breakfast muffins

A healthy, easy, breakfast muffin, low in sugar in loaded with good-for-you apples and whole grain oats -- plus some seasonal pumpkin.

Healthy apple pumpkin breakfast muffins

Now is the time of year when I highlight a few pumpkiny things on the blog. Because it's actually October now, the time when pumpkins are in season and seasonally appropriate.

Although you, like I, are likely suffering from a bad case of PSO: Pumpkin Spice Overload, which has reached epidemic proportions this year.

Pumpkins and Apples

I've gotten a bit of a reputation among my friends and readers over the years for being adamant with my No Pumpkin Until October rule. Every pumpkin-spice-hating meme has made its way on to my Facebook page, courtesy of Ninj fans.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate pumpkin. I'm just a firm believer in keeping my life and eating habits seasonal.

And letting apples, one of the world's most perfect food, have their time in the sun, which is the entire month of September, in my book. It's the month for indulging in apple butter, apple pie oatmeal, apple bread pudding and apple sauce -- just for starters.

But now that it's early October, it's time for apples and pumpkins to join forces, which they do so quite deliciously in these healthy apple pumpkin breakfast muffins.

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!"

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.