Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paglia e fieno (straw and hay) pasta

Paglia e fieno (straw and hay) pasta
Sometimes I come across recipes in very unusual ways.

Which I totally love, because, to me, it is extra evidence of the whole small world, six degrees of separation phenomenon.

I don't think it's all just coincidence.

For example, straw and hay pasta. Yeah, sounds really appetizing, right? "Let's eat some straw and hay!" So you can believe me when I say that I was not googling "straw and hay for dinner" or anything even close to that when I stumbled upon this.

(I may have a new barn but as of yet no animals that require straw or hay: that's not how El Jefe and The Ninjette roll.)

What I was googling was Vermont food blog, to see how many, if any, other folks like me are out there. (In case you're curious, nearly none, but that's not really what this post is about. It's about straw and hay, right?)

As is the way of search engine optimization, I got some interesting results (SEO is clearly very ninja-like -- can't be explained or totally comprehended by mere mortals, ha ha ha). One that piqued my interest was a restaurant review from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).

(See what I mean about SEO? Completely bizarro.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blueberry-peach cobbler with sugar cookie crust

blueberry peach cobbler with sugar cookie crust
Blueberry-peach cobbler with sugar cookie crust
So this is kinda fun: this post represents my first time participating in the Secret Recipe Club.

Here's how it works: each month I am assigned another member's blog (a different one each month). I then pick any recipe from that blogger's site, make it and write about it here. There's also a link hop at the end of the post so that I (and you) can check out all the other participating blogs.

Neat idea, right? I'm excited to see who got the Ninj and what s/he decided to make!

This month I got to check out the offerings from Jenn at A Cook's Quest. She has lots of great recipes, especially if you are cooking on a budget. But of course I knew which recipe I'd choose when I came across her sugar cookie crust for fruit cobbler.

Or cobblah, if you're a New Englandah.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tomato-peach chutney

Tomato-peach chutney
Just a quick recipe today that you might want to try this weekend, given that it is high season for both tomatoes and peaches.
Hurry, though -- peaches are ending and tomatoes are kicking into high gear, so it's like we're in that little egg-shaped intersection of a Venn diagram, or what we all now seem to refer to as a "perfect storm." But I think that's a little dark and negative when we're talking amazing summer fruit and veg.

Or maybe "Perfect Storm Chutney" is just the right name for it!

I made this chutney (remember, it's not a compote if there are veggies and vinegar in it) to go with some lovely little pork patties -- a bit like a miniburger but bunless. It was a perfect combination. But I can also see this pairing really nicely with grilled chicken.

Or how about spreading it like a jam on summer harvest zucchini bread?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bloody Mary tomato salad

Bloody Mary tomato salad
I wish I had some great story behind this salad.

But I don't.

It's just a salad that I happen to think is pretty bloody fantastic (Heh heh, see my little joke there? I'm hilarious. Really, I am.).

Currently I'm fortunate enough to be drowning in tomatoes from my garden. This is never a bad thing for a gardener. After three consecutive years of no tomato harvest due to bugs and blight, I'm happy as a clam.

So there are a lot of tomato salads being consumed in Ninjaville, which means I have to keep looking for fresh new ideas.

I've been making this salad as an accompaniment to steaks and burgers since I found the recipe last summer. As with its namesake, the olives give it an oomph of briney goodness that is just tangy enough to complement the sweet tomatoes. And it is simple enough to prepare that you can whip it up while your steaks are grilling.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cream cheese muffins: a recipe

Cream cheese muffins on waffles with strawberry-lemon marmalade
A few weeks ago, we had some houseguests who were on the Atkins Diet -- and wanted to stay on it while visiting.

Hmmmmm. No bread? No fun baked goods?  

No freakin' pasta?

Besides the fact that this seems like torture to the Ninj (I have started calling it the Nazi Diet), it also presented me with some entertaining challenges. Big hearty pasta dishes and muffins or quick breads are staples for me when we have guests.

So I had to think outside of the box.

Or just ask my Facebook followers for recipe ideas, which is of course much easier.

And they didn't let me down!

To be fair, these aren't really muffins per se. But "baked cheese cup" doesn't seem quite right either, although likely more accurate.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cherries in wine: a recipe

Cherries in wine
It's challenge time again!

For those of you who have been playing along at home (or at least watching me do so), you know that I'm referring to Grow It Cook It Can It's Cook It! 2012 challenge. We've made and shared so many awesome staples and recipes so far: pasta, bread, butter, cheese, lactofermented veg (pickles), jam and now fruit canned in light syrup.

I can hear you laughing now: only for the Ninj would wine constitute "light syrup."

But I swear, Caroline gave us permission to booze up our fruit, so it counts!

This has been a crazy busy month for me so, although I had visions of jar after jar of peaches and apricots lining my basement shelves, I wound up only having time to do a small batch of cherries before I missed not only the posting deadline but also all the good summer fruit entirely.

But this recipe, from Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved, looked very versatile -- how many other preserved foods can you use on both beef tenderloin and ice cream in the same meal?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ninja cookies -- happy 2nd birthday!

Ninja cookies!
It's hard for me to believe but today is the two year anniversary / birthday of this blog.

Does that make it a blogiversary?

And, oddly, not only is it the two-year anniversary and but also I have written 222 posts. Seems like I should play the lottery today, right?

After two years, I can say that I'm proud of what I've accomplished with this little blog:
  • My photography skills have gone from non-existent to pretty good
  • I have cooked and eaten a ton of new dishes, learning cool new techniques along the way, and rarely made the same thing twice
  • I have gained enough confidence to know instinctively how to tweak recipes, even on the first try
  • I'm beginning to have enough confidence to create my own dishes
  • I've "met" an awful lot of really nice people here.
So thanks for reading me, for laughing out loud and letting me know you're out there ... and that I'm not just chatting absentmindedly with myself in a very public way.


As far as the cookies go -- really, would you have expected anything else but ninjas?

There's nothing difficult here, just some plain sugar cookies topped with pre-rolled fondant cutouts. Only after I made them did I realize I could have saved myself some time by using Girl Scout Thin Mints.

(Yeah, like anyone just has those hanging around more than four minutes after they enter the house.)

I'd give you the cookie recipe but sometimes ninjas just need to be a little stealthy.

'Cause that's how ninjas roll.

Ever feel as if you're being watched?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dilly beans: a recipe

Make quick and easy dilly beans right in the refrigerator -- no canning skills required!

Easy refrigerator dilly beans -- no canning required
Dilly beans
Being able to write this post makes me very happy.


Because this year was my first time planting beans in the garden ... and they grew, without any bug or disease drama.

And they didn't just grow; they grew well and prolifically -- prolifically enough for me to start searching around for new and different (to me) ways to use and preserve green beans.

I know I've had gardening success when I bring my harvest into the house and Mr. Ninj says, "They look just like the ones you buy in the grocery store!"

(I'm also pretty proud of the fact that my bean trellis is actually a repurposed garden arbor that had to be removed to make way for the new barn. I love re-using and recycling!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Peach and bean pasta: a recipe

Peach and bean pasta with grilled chicken
It's peach season -- and I couldn't be happier.

I've been eating and cooking with them almost as fast as I've been slicing them up and freezing them using my new handheld vacuum sealer. (If you freeze much, you need one of these things. NEED.)

As everyone else does, I love all the sweet and desserty possibilities of peaches: crumbles, tarts, muffins, jams, galettes, smoothies ... the list is seemingly endless.

But I also learned a few years ago that peaches are amazing when grilled and paired with cheese at dinnertime.

They get all warm and practically melty, just perfect in a nice salad or next to a gorgeous grilled piece of beef.

Or chicken, in this case. With blue cheese.