Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 best recipes of 2014: The Ninj's favorites

Best recipes of 2014, part 2: Enjoy this list of my personal favorite recipes of 2014. Here's to a happy and healthy 2015!

Yankee Kitchen Ninja's list of the best recipes of 2014

Yesterday I revealed the list of my 10 Best Recipes of 2014 as chosen by you, my readers. Don't get me wrong, you chose very well -- from smoothies and desserts to pastas and soups -- there are some awesome recipes in that list!

But one other thing I like to do each year is also highlight some recipes that I particularly loved but that didn't turn out to be quite as popular (according to site statistics).

I hope you find some great recipe ideas in this list that you might have missed or overlooked during 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

10 best recipes of 2014: readers' choice

Here's a list of the best recipes of 2014 found on, as chosen by you, my readers. What a yummy year it was!

Readers choice list of the best recipes of 2014

As we say goodbye to 2014, I wanted to share with you a roundup of my top 10 most popular recipes, as chosen by you, my readers, as judged by the stats in Google Analytics.

I love that the majority of your favorite recipes are all of the healthier variety (well, you know, except for the bourbon-salted peanut butter truffles but -- come on -- I don't want to meet the person that didn't go cray cray over that one), because it means that we share the same passion for real food that tastes good, is easy to make and helps you maintain a healthier lifestyle. Yay for us!

I'm already gearing up to bring you more great recipes in 2015; I can't to see which ones you love as much as I do. Plus, check back later this week as I'll be posting my top 10 favorite recipes of the year that you may have overlooked.

Without further ado, here are your favorite Ninj recipes of 2014, ranked in order of popularity:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

8 easy last-minute homemade gifts

Need an awesome last-minute gift they're sure to love? Try one of these eight super-easy homemade gifts you can make with only one day's notice.

Time is running out and you still need a couple of last-minute gifts, don't you? Well, put down the car keys and stay the freak away from the mall, peeps. The Ninj has got you covered with eight different ideas for last-minute homemade gifts that you can make with only 24 hours notice.

Snacks, condiments, even chocolate treats -- heck, some of them take less than 20 minutes.

Yeah, you heard me right, friend: a homemade gift people will actually want in less than 20 minutes.

Let's get gifting!

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.

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 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!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bourbon brie flatbread with fig jam and prosciutto

Keep your holiday entertaining simple with this sweet-and-savory appetizer: smoky bourbon brie flatbread with fig jam and crispy prosciutto. 

Smoky bourbon brie flatbread with fig jam and crispy prosciutto, an easy appetizer

Regular readers know that The Ninj is all about quick-and-easy real-food recipes, especially for weeknight dinners. But that holds true for all my recipes -- even for holiday entertaining.

I don't know about you, but whether I'm hosting or simply attending a holiday party, I like to focus on the company, the conversation and the cocktails (not necessarily in that order, heh heh), rather than fret over the appetizer prep. That's why I often turn to flatbreads for parties; it's easy to use a variety of spreads and toppings to turn a simple flatbread into a great appetizer pizza.

Clearly the good folks at Alouette Cheese think the same way I do, since they have teamed up with Stonefire Flatbreads to share some "flavorology" this holiday season. Simply put, it's their term for the art of creating unique, simple and delicious flavor combinations using flatbreads and soft cheese spreads. What could be easier (or yummier)?

Stonefire and Alouette invited me to come up with my own favorite flatbread flavorology combination: with cheese flavors like wasabi cheddar, smoky jalapeƱo and roasted red pepper, it was hard to choose. But of course I was pulled like a moth to a flame to the Smoky Bourbon Creme de Brie -- you know, because nothing says "holiday" to The Ninj like bourbon. Except bourbon and cheese.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Two-ingredient sweet potato applesauce muffins

Enjoy these quick-and-easy sweet potato applesauce muffins as a healthy breakfast or snack. No lie: They're made with only two ingredients!

Easy and healthy two-ingredient sweet potato applesauce muffins

Last week, I shared with you the delicious results of one of the best aha moments I've had lately: slow cooker sweet potato applesauce, made with naturally sweet apples and sweet potatoes and no added sweeteners. Squeeeeeeee! Pretty awesome, right? And healthy to boot.

But wait -- there's more!

A few of you mentioned in the comments that you loved the idea of adding sweet potatoes to applesauce but you weren't quite sure how to best use it (although the suggestions of pairing it with roast chicken or pork were fabulous!).

Come on: Did you think The Ninj would leave you hanging? And hanging with a boatload of applesauce on your hands?

Behold: Use your healthy sweet potato applesauce to make these super simple muffins -- and they only require one other ingredient.

Double squeeeeeee!

Seriously, how cool is this? Turn one healthy snack into another, with very little effort and without sacrificing any of the healthy factor.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Slow cooker sweet potato-apple sauce

Slow cooker sweet potato applesauce: only two ingredients, one crockpot and zero added sweeteners to create this easy riff on applesauce that has an endless number of uses.

Sweet potato applesauce, made in the slow cooker, from Yankee Kitchen Ninja

Peeps, I am so excited about today's post -- inordinately so, but hey, sometimes it's the little things that make my day.

Why am I so excited? Because I had an aha moment that turned out to be super sweet. Literally.

I had a bunch of apples from my fall apple haul leftover and decided to make my favorite, no-effort slow cooker applesauce.  But I also happened to have a couple of sweet potatoes. And you know how apples get sweeter when you cook them into mush? SO DO SWEET POTATOES.

At that moment, this sweet potato applesauce was born.

And it couldn't be easier to make: two ingredients, one crockpot, zero effort. Well, nearly zero -- you do have to peel the potatoes and peel and core the apples. But after that? Just load up the crockpot and watch the magic happen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Healthy butternut and sausage chili mac

A healthy new twist on the classic chili mac dinner with butternut squash, sausage and kale, served Cincinnati-chili-style over pasta.

Healthy butternut squash, sausage and kale chili mac, served Cincinnati chili style over pasta

Now that we've put the pumpkinpalooza frenzy behind us for another year, it's time to talk about other delicious fall flavors. Like butternut squash. Fortunately for Mr. Ninj and the rest of you that have "texture issues" with squash (insert eye roll here), butternut squash pairs extraordinarily well with sausage.

And bacon. But that's a whole different post. Today we're focusing on butternut with sausage.

I'm calling this dish "chili mac" because it's a bit hard to classify: too hearty to be simply pasta with sauce yet not saucy enough to be chili. I'm also describing it as "Cincinnati chili style", so I hope you're familiar with Cincinnati's slightly offbeat way of eating chili served over spaghetti.

What I can tell you without any waffling is that this chili mac is pure fall awesomeness, thanks in large part to the sweet, seasonal butternut squash, which, in my opinion, is so much better than its cousin the pumpkinSuch a shame that the pumpkin gets the lion's share of the love and props. I bet a butternut-spice latte would be just as awesome. (Note to self: Next year, create a butternut-spice latte.)

I have seriously fallen in love with this chili mac -- I can't stop making it and, when I do, I can't stop eating it. Have you ever made a dish that gets you really excited for leftovers the next day? This is one of those dishes.

Friday, October 31, 2014

9 perfect pumpkin recipes

Get your pumpkin on with these nine pumpkin recipes. With ideas for breakfast, entrees, snacks, drinks and more, you're sure to find a recipe to please every pumpkin-lover's palate.

9 fall pumpkin recipes: breakfast, dinner, snacks, drinks and more

Before another October draws to a close and we put our pumpkin-spice whatevs obsession on the backburner until next year (well, except for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, of course), let's take a look at some of The Ninj's favorite pumpkin recipes.

Whether you like your pumpkin in a cool breakfast smoothie, a cheesy comforting pasta dinner or a zippy hummus as an afternoon snack -- or anything in between! -- The Ninj has got you covered with these nine great recipes:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin hummus

It only takes five minutes to make this healthy pumpkin hummus: enjoy it as a dip for fresh veggies and crackers or spread it on sandwiches for added fall flavor. 

Five minute pumpkin hummus: a great lunchbox snack!

Ah, what's a food blogger to do as October comes to end? No more pumpkin! We've probably given you more than your fill of pumpkin-themed muffins, cupcakes, lattes, smoothies, pies, cookies, donuts, whoopie pies, breads, waffles and sauces.

But I had to slip in just one more pumpkin recipe before Halloween.

One thing you'll notice about my pumpkin recipe list is that pretty much all the options are sweet. And I do not have that big a sweet tooth -- more of a savory tooth, to be honest. Which is why I love this pumpkin hummus. A bit hard to describe, it's not quite savory and not quite sweet. It's got a je ne c'est quoi that makes it a favorite for both kids and adults -- and, let's face it, how often does that ever happen with something that's not a baked good or smothered in chocolate?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin maple smoothie {$100 gift card giveaway}

This healthy pumpkin maple smoothie, made with silken tofu, is gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. A creamy, delicious, on-the-go fall-flavored breakfast or afternoon treat.

Healthy pumpkin maple smoothie: gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free

You'd have to be living under a very, very large rock not to have encountered some kind of Pumpkin Spice Whatevs this fall. While this craze may seem -- well -- more than a little cray cray, there's a reason why we all tend to get so worked up about pumpkin in October -- other than Halloween and jack-o-lanterns, of course. One whiff of pumpkin and cinnamon and nutmeg together can conjure up all sorts of memories of cool weather, falling leaves, cozy sweaters and crackling fires.

Which is probably why pumpkin spice is such a coffee house favorite -- you need a comforting beverage to keep you warm as you site by the crackling fire in the cool weather in your cozy sweater, watching the leaves fall.

But since I'm no longer a coffee drinker, I wanted to come up with a way that I, too, could enjoy Pumpkin Spice Whatevs this fall, without falling too far off the healthy food bandwagon.

As luck would have it, I got the opportunity recently to try some Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, which inspired me to focus my pumpkin spice attention on smoothies.

Now, before you freak out that I added tofu to my smoothie, let me explain. Mori-Nu is different because it's silken tofu, which has a very smooth and custard-like texture, so it adds a great creamy texture to smoothies (with no bananas required!). And it never needs to be pressed or drained, so you can use it as-is, straight out of the box -- you know The Ninj is all about speed and simplicity in recipes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow cooker chicken noodle stew

Break out your slow cooker for this super easy chicken noodle stew, a hearty, filling meal with all the comfort-food qualities of homemade chicken noodle soup. 

Hearty slow cooker chicken noodle stew

When the weather starts turning chillier, I love to make soup -- especially in my slow cooker. Oh heck, let's be honest: I love to make anything and everything in my slow cooker because, frankly, I'm pretty lazy.

Yes, I am! Obviously, I love to cook or we wouldn't be chatting like this every week. But getting a homemade dinner on the table every night is sometimes just a royal pain in the ass, even for a food blogger. And that, my friends, is why I love, nay worship my slow cooker -- so much so that I now own two of them.

Back to the soup. While a hot bowl of soup is always warming and welcome for dinner, occasionally it's just not hearty enough to stand alone as a full meal for me. So if you don't want to have to also whip up some grilled cheese or a salad to accompany your soup, take my advice: Turn it into stew.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ginger-molasses spice cookies (copycat Ivins' Spice Wafers)

Super crunchy ginger and molasses spice cookies are the yummier cousin of a gingersnap -- and a copycat recipe of Philadelphia's Ivins' Famous Spiced Wafers.

ginger molasses spice cookies - a copycat recipe for Ivins Spice Wafers

So you probably know by now that Mr. Ninj and I recently moved from Vermont to Kentucky (yes, it was a big move). What you might not know is that we originally thought we were moving to Pennsylvania (don't ask, long story) -- specifically, the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Yeah, not exactly Kentucky.

To that end, we started to spend a bit of time in the Philadelphia area, looking for potential places to live. During one visit, I went into a local grocery store chain and was confronted by a wall -- literally a WALL -- of orange and black boxes of cookies.

What the ... ?

Upon closer examination, they were all boxes of Ivins' Famous Spiced Wafers. Famous? Really? Famous where? Certainly not anywhere I had ever lived before (which is TEN different states, but who's counting?). Yet I was intrigued and, since they were cookies and cookies without high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, I bought a box.

Copycat recipe for Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers from Yankee Kitchen Ninja
Photo courtesy of

OK, OK, I bought three boxes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Brussels sprout and blue cheese salad with maple candied pecans

Brussels sprout and blue cheese salad is deliciously crisp and simple to prepare -- and even better when topped with 5-minute maple-candied pecans.

Crisp Brussels sprout salad with tangy blue cheese and maple candied pecans

Remember last week's maple-candied pecans? Remember that I mentioned I made them to garnish a Brussels sprout salad?

Well, this is the salad. But I bet you could tell that by the awesome candied pecans in it. Because you are wicked clever, yes, you are.

I love Brussels sprouts. And not just because they are the cutest food, like little tiny wannabe cabbages. Totes adorbs. I love their earthy flavor and crunchiness, when they're raw anyway. In fact, I may almost love them more raw in salads and slaws than I do cooked. (Well, at least I thought I did until I had these crispy Brussels sprouts with lemon, pistachios and pecorino at a restaurant called Lumber Yard in Amherst, MA a few weeks ago -- ERMERGAHD, they were seriously delish!)

You're going to dig this salad for its simplicity: a tangy shallot dressing, sprouts, rich blue cheese and those candied nuts. It comes together quickly as a side for roast chicken or fish, but I like to eat it as the meal itself -- because I freakin' love Brussels sprouts! The only thing that's slightly a pain is slicing the little suckers. But you can also shred them quickly using a food processor, if you're so inclined to want to wash more dishes (I'm usually not).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Maple candied pecans

Make these 3-ingredient maple candied pecans in 5 minutes, then enjoy them on salads, with cheese, atop oatmeal or as a sweet-and-salty snack.

Easy maple candied pecans can be made in less than 5 minutes

Sometimes the simplest things are often the best, don't you find?

Think of how many classics are little more than the combination of two ingredients: PB and J, rum and coke,  milk and cookies, Hall and Oates ...

(In fact, if you want to have your mind blown just a bit, check out BuzzFeed's list of insanely simple 2-ingredient recipes -- but be forewarned, some are just kind of creepy).

Anyhoo. I like to keep things simple. Which is why I often blow off little extra steps in recipe if it seems that they might slow down my dinner-making process -- steps like toasting some nuts to put on top of a salad. Pfffft. Sure, I know the nuts taste better toasted, but that's just going to add to both the prep time and the number of pans that need to be washed after dinner.

Yet in making a Brussels sprout salad last week, I felt that it needed a leeetle somethin-somethin to put it over the top, just a little bit of sweetness (Mr. Ninj said that removing all the Brussels sprouts would have made it perfect; I ignored him).

Sweet made me think of candied nuts. But with just a hint of salt. And, in the name of keeping it simple and fast, these maple candied pecans have only three ingredients: raw pecans, pure maple syrup and a finishing dash of sea salt.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kati flatbread salad

Kati rolls, the popular Indian street food, deconstructed into a hearty meal salad that can also double as a unique appetizer pizza.

Kati flatbread salad has all the great flavors of the popular Indian street food

I know you're all like, "Kati? What the heck is kati, Ninj?"

Don't worry, I didn't know either until I stumbled across an article in Good Housekeeping this month about new food trends. Apparently, we're all supposed to be going completely cray cray for Indian street food. And apparently, kati rolls are uber-popular Indian street food.

Kati rolls, based on what I've read, sound a bit like gyros: a warm, meat-based filling wrapped in flatbread (although the fillings can vary widely). OK, I'm in -- sounds awesome.

However, I'm not a big fan of sandwiches for dinner. To me, they're fine for lunch, but for dinner they seem a bit like a cop-out (and no, burgers don't count as sandwiches -- they're in a category all their own). It's silly and arbitrary, but it's my thing. 

Being all ninja-like, I just took the kati roll concept and deconstructed it into a flatbread salad. Because I'm OK with salads for dinner or lunch.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin Gorgonzola pasta

Enjoy all the best flavors of fall in this hearty but lightened pasta, with a rich and creamy pumpkin gorgonzola cheese sauce.

Pasta and mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin gorgonzola cheese sauce

Now that it's October, I give all of us official permission to start talking about pumpkin recipes.

Granted, I'm probably the only food blogger on the planet that hasn't been posting pumpkin recipes since Labor Day, but I'm loyal to produce seasonality.

I don't mean to malign the poor pumpkin; I love it, I really do. Well, except for pumpkin pie -- but that's just because I'm a pie crust hater. And pumpkin spice freakin' lattes -- but that's just because they are all over the place like a really bad rash. How about a butternut latte, Starbucks? Or a kale-scented candle, Yankee Candle people? I'd buy either one of those in a heartbeat.

Anyhoo, we're talking pumpkin. More specifically, we're talking pumpkin pasta. Even more specifically, pumpkin pasta with a rich, creamy Gorgonzola cheese sauce.

Awwwwwwwww yeah.

This pasta recipe is an oldie-but-a-goodie around Casa de Ninj. It's a Cooking Light recipe that I have been making for 10 years.

(ERMERGAHD, 10 years!)

It's a recipe I like to make not only because it is aw-aw-awesome but also because it reminds me of how far I have come since I really started cooking. Which, frankly, wasn't until about 2000, when I got married -- and realized that if I didn't step up and do the cooking, we'd be eating non-stop takeout Chinese from the Busy Bee, which was Mr. Ninj's favorite (in fact, he just refers to all Chinese restaurants now as "The Busy Bee").

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9 fall apple recipes

Nine apple recipes to please every palate -- sweet desserts, savory entrees, pantry staples and a 3-part series on making hard cider.

9 recipes for crisp fall apples

It's the very last day of September -- so before we start talking nonstop about pumpkin for the entire month of October, I thought I'd share a roundup of my favorite recipes using crisp fall apples, one of my absolute favorite fruits.

Whether you're looking for a sweet dessert, a savory entree, a staple for your winter pantry or just some good old-fashioned DIY hooch, there's an apple recipe here to please every palate.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Slow cooker apple bread pudding

Make these individual apple bread pudding cups right in your slow cooker. With no dairy or refined sugar, they're a perfect on-the-go breakfast this fall.

Make individual apple bread pudding cups in your slow cooker

Oh look: It's still September so The Ninj is still not talking about pumpkin.

Well, at least until next week.

You know I'm devoted to seasonality and September is the best month for apples: crisp, tart, crunchy, sweet ... GGGAAAAHHHH! I love apples! Even writing about them gets me excited to make something from apples.

So I made individual apple bread pudding cups in Mason jars in my slow cooker. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  But before we talk about the recipe, you have to hear the backstory on this one first. 

A friend of mine wanted to make my slow cooker bread pudding for a dinner party but was having a hard time finding a heat-safe loaf pan that would fit in her crockpot (mine is oval-shaped, so it's not an issue for me). That's when it occurred to me that I could put my crazy-hoarder-lady supply of canning jars to good use and make individual bread pudding cups.

OMG. Too stinkin' adorbs. I was practically peeing myself with excitement.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Peruvian pasta bolognese

Spicy Peruvian-style pasta bolognese is hearty, cool-weather comfort food with a garlicky ginger kick.

Peruvian style pasta bolognese with a spicy kick

I was asked in an interview recently what my favorite comfort foods are. Hmmm, let's see: well, there's pasta, pasta and ... oh wait, yes ... more pasta.

(I can't help it. I'm Italian. On both sides of my family.)

And I'm talking real pasta. Even though I'm a largely healthy (or healthier) food blogger, don't get me started on the "veggie pasta" spiralizer craze. Long strands of zucchini are no more pasta than slabs of fried eggplant are bacon. Sorry, I'm just not buyin' it.

But I do realize that regular pasta-based carbo-loading isn't the best if you're not a long-distance runner; therefore, I've been experimenting lately with healthier pasta varieties, such as whole wheat or quinoa pastas.  I have to because I don't think there's any way that I could ever voluntarily limit my pasta intake. 

Sometimes, however, a recipe is so good that it simply requires old-fashioned semolina pasta and nothing else. This Peruvian bolognese is one such recipe.

The recipe is based on a Peruvian dish called tallarin saltado, a noodle stir-fry made with beef or chicken, onions, a few tomatoes, ginger and other spices. This version takes the same flavors but melds them into a spicy bolognese-style sauce using pork sausage ... with no stir-frying required.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salted dates

Warm salted dates: serve atop crackers or toast rounds spread with creamy goat cheese for a quick and easy, sweet and savory appetizer.

Serve salted dates with crackers and goat's cheese for a sweet and savory appetizer

I'm a huge fan of simple but delicious food, particularly when it comes to entertaining. I prefer to be part of the party, enjoying the food and sipping a cocktail, rather than stuck in the kitchen heating up trays of appetizers or tending the sterno.

(Does anyone even use sterno anymore? And what the hell is that goey crap anyway?)

So if, as I am, you are a fan of Molly Wizenberg, she of Orangette and A Homemade Life fame, you'll know that I expected simple but delicious food when I started reading her latest book, Delancey, for the FSC Book Club.

And I was not disappointed.

Molly's recipe for sauteed dates with olive oil and sea salt jumped out at me for two main reasons:
  1. I'm a new convert to the awesomeness of dates, naturally sweet and just a little chewy -- and way more ass-kicking than a freakin' raisin
  2. The name of the recipe is also the ingredient list -- nothing could be simpler than that.

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.

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

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.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The bourbony adventures of The Ninj continue

After four years in Vermont, The Ninj is on the move -- this time, back to the South.

Handcrafted Vermont custom post and beam barn

I know it's not a very seasonal photo, but that's the custom post-and-beam barn we built on our farmette in Vermont. The farmette I've been writing about here for four years, ever since The Ninj became The Ninj. The same farmette that gave me such fodder as ugly fruit, too many zucchini and way, way, WAY too many deer  -- although the deer inspired a great venison jerky recipe, so I can't complain too much.

Well, it was our farmette, until yesterday.

If you only know The Ninj through this blog, you probably don't know that Mr. Ninj and I tend to move. A lot. About every five years or so (no joke). Work relocation, so it's always good, but still a lot of moving.

(If you need helpful tips like how to rip packing tape the way the professionals do and the benefits of box-hoarding, I'm your gal.)

So, after living in Vermont for four years, we're on the move again. The farmette is in the hands of some lucky, lucky new stewards, and we're returning to the South from whence we came but to a fun, new-to-us location: Louisville, Kentucky (a place where I can continue to say "y'all" and not be looked at judgingly and strangely).

Even if you only know The Ninj through this blog, you're probably clapping or hooting your ass off, because you just realized that the why-not-throw-a-little-bourbon-in-it Ninj is moving to bourbon country.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Zucchini-a-rama: 9 summer zucchini recipes (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Just in time for national Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day on August 8, check out these nine delicious recipes for summer zucchini.

9 delicious recipes for zucchini

Yep, it's another week of the CSA Share Ninja Rescue for 2014, in which you tell me each week what produce from your CSA share (or garden or farmers' market) has you in a recipe rut, and I shower you with a list of delicious, healthy recipes on Tuesdays. This week, we're talking zucchini!

If you have ever grown zucchini, which seems to produce endlessly, you undoubtedly understand the awesomeness of national Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day, fast approaching on August 8. Mark your calendars NOW, peeps!

If you can't wait until August 8, just do what The Ninj did this year to unload my surplus: I put a giant box of zucchini in front of my mailbox with a sign that said "FREE VEGGIES." Gone by the end of the day. Because people love free shit.

If you're looking for more ideas on how to use up enjoy this ubiquitous squash, take a gander at these nine yummy recipes for some delicious inspiration.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Easy cabbage tabbouleh

Add some healthy whole grains to your summer meal salads with this easy, no-cook recipe for cabbage tabbouleh, a riff on the traditional Middle Eastern favorite.

easy recipe for healthy cabbage tabbouleh

With the onset of the summer heat, we all start looking for cool, no-cook dinner recipes, don't we? You bet we do: Just take a look at your favorite food boards on Pinterest and you'll see what I mean.

Yet "no-cook" often turns into shorthand for "salad." So we end up eating lots of salads, which, let's face it, can get pretty boring. I like to incorporate more filling meal salads like this cabbage tabbouleh into my summertime repertoire.

Tabbouleh is an traditional Middle Eastern dish, composed largely of tomatoes, parsley, mint and onion, often with a grain mixed in, and finished with a lemony oil dressing. To be honest, I don't really like traditional tabbouleh. Something about the amount of parsley in it is just a bit overwhelming for me.  A little too earthy, too tart ... oh, I don't know, a little too something.

But I do like the idea of tabbouleh -- a simple, easy grain and veg salad, cool and quick to prepare.

Since I've been expanding my whole grain horizons (I no longer immediately think of the rhyme "bulgur is vulgar" when I see a bag of it), I decided to give tabbouleh another chance when I came across this recipe that substitutes cabbage for all that too-something-something parsley. Heck yeah!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

9 craveable corn recipes (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Enjoy these nine delicious recipes for fresh, sweet corn. In soups, salads, pastas, sides and even ice cream, corn is the sunny summer vegetable that everyone craves.

9 craveable corn recipes -- weekly seasonal produce recipes by request

We're about halfway through the 2014 edition of the CSA Share Ninja Rescue, in which you get weekly seasonal produce recipes by request all summer long. Heck yeah! Just tell me each week what produce from your CSA share (or garden or farmers' market) is giving you fits, and I talk you down from the ledge with a list of delicious, healthy recipes on Tuesdays.

This week, we're talking sweet, fresh corn. Nothing says summer quite like just-picked corn, does it?  But if you're wearying of the usual boiled corn-on-the-cob with a pat of butter, check out these nine delicious ways to enjoy this sunny summer favorite.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quinoa salad with fresh corn and tomatoes

A true summer salad -- fresh corn and tomatoes, tossed with warm quinoa, protein-packed edamame and a tangy lime vinaigrette. Enjoy it as a side or mix in grilled chicken for an easy meal.

quinoa salad with fresh corn, edamame and tomatoes in a lime vinaigrette

Now this is a summer salad, peeps. Because what comes to mind almost instantly when you think of summer veg? Corn and tomatoes, am I right?

Oh, summer tomatoes: how I love thee. How I love thee for tasting like tomatoes rather than cardboard.

And summer corn: what is there to say? Eight bajillion ears for a couple of bucks and you don't even have to cook it. That's my kind of vegetable. 

Now, toss those seasonal beauties with warm, slightly crunchy quinoa, some protein-packed edamame and a tangy lime vinaigrette.

Summer in a bowl.

I generally make this salad as a side to accompany grilled meat: steaks, chicken, ribs, whatevs. But it's extra-awesome leftover for lunch the next day, with some grilled chicken mixed right into it to make it a meal salad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

9 cool cucumber recipes (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Need new ideas for cucumbers from your garden, CSA share or farmers' market? Enjoy these nine delicious recipes using cool, crisp cucumbers.

get 9 cool cucumber recipes for this popular summer produce

Hopefully by now I don't need to remind you how CSA Share Ninja Rescue works -- but I guess I will anyway. You tell me what veg you received (or will be receiving) in your CSA share box or found at the farmers' market that you don't know what to do with, and The Ninj rescues you each Tuesday with a whole bunch of recipe ideas from me and my favorite fellow food bloggers.

Nearly two months into The Rescue (now in its fourth year!), this week we're tackling one of everyone's favorites: cucumbers! Seriously: Do you know anyone who doesn't like cucumbers? (Don't answer that because, if you do, that's just freakin' cray cray and I don't want to meet him or her.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free)

It's easy to whip up a batch of these gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, even if you only have 20 minutes!

peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies -- gluten--free

I think these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are my new go-to cookie recipe. Mr. Ninj says they taste like a smooshed, baked peanut butter cup.

Awwwwwwwww yeah.

I firmly believe that everyone needs a quick and easy, go-to cookie recipe, whether for whipping up a late-day treat for yourself or baking some last-minute goodies for the school party your kid forgot to mention until the night before -- and every other situation in between.

The key is that the cookies have to be wicked good but also wicked easy. These peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are both (I mean, come on: "smooshed, baked peanut butter cup" -- you know it's gonna be good).

I can't tell you how many times I have already made this recipe over the past few months. It's a cray cray number and yet we're still not sick of them. Now that's a good cookie!

Oh yeah, and did I mention they're gluten-free? And not in a substitute-gluten-free-flour-for-regular-flour way -- they are truly grain-free, so you don't even have to worry about the recipient's gluten sensitivity if you gift them to someone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

CSA Share Ninja Rescue on vacation

Even ninjas take a day off sometimes.

csa share ninja rescue: weekly seasonal produce recipes by request at

But don't worry, CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014 will be back next week.

Until then, check out the Rescue Archives from the past three years for all kinds of fresh, seasonal produce recipe ideas.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

7 ways to eat yer beets (CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2014)

Seven unique and delicious recipes for gorgeous summer beets: enjoy them roasted, pickled or even baked into muffins!

seven unique and delicious recipes for gorgeous summer beets

Hey now -- welcome to Week 6 of the CSA Share Ninja Rescue for 2014. You know the drill: You tell me each week what produce from your CSA share (or garden or farmers' market) is giving you fits, and I talk you down from the ledge with a list of delicious, healthy recipes on Tuesdays.

For Week 6, we're talkin' beets. Love me some beets! They are especially delicious roasted but I'm partial to pickling them as well. But have you also considered them for salads? How about burgers? And, best yet, beet muffins?

Behold: Seven unique and delicious recipes for eating gorgeous beets -- all from me and my favorite fellow food bloggers.