Friday Night Cooking with a NINJA

While waiting for husband to get off work I decided to spend some time in the kitchen. The meal was sort of calorie conscious but not completely.

I started off by making my favourtie Smackaroni and Cheese recipe from The Looneyspoons Collection. I cooked it just like the recipe said and then I let it sit in my Ninja a little too long as my noodles were pretty soft. Next time I think I might try adding the noodles dry and letting the cheese sauce cook them. Or just eat it a little sooner or cook the noodles a little less. It was still as delicious as always I just prefer my noodles a little more al-dente.

Smackaroni and Cheese in the Ninja Cooking System

While that was simmering (a step not called for in the recipe, again – probably why my noodles were soft) I made some hummus. Nothing special about the hummus I was just looking for a reason to try out my new Breville Control Grip immersion blender (it works awesome BTW!) I used this recipe – Hummus Without Tahini. I used cumin instead of red pepper flakes – I love spicy but wasn’t feeling it. Not really a very healthy hummus recipe but it was pretty decent. Normally I cut back on the olive oil but didn’t feel like it this time. I served my hummus with pita’s that I fried in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and seasoning salt – again, not a very calorie conscious choice.

Garlic Hummus Without Tahini

I love cooking and trying new recipes but for the past few months I have just been so lazy. Right now I am just trying to get back in the habit of cooking at least mostly healthy recipes and blogging about it.

Stew-Pendous Ninja Beef Stew Recipe

This is based off this recipe Stew-Pendous Beef Stew with Biscuits (I LOVE these sisters). I skipped the biscuits and made a couple changes to the recipe based on what I had on had. You can see my ingredient list below.

2 pounds stewing beef
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1.5 cups chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
2 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chopped carrots
6 baby yellow potatoes
6 baby red potatoes
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup frozen corn

beef stew in the ninja cooking system

I browned my beef in the Ninja, after I added the veggies and cooked all together for a couple minutes. Then I just added everything else and cooked on low for eight hours. I totally cooked it too long but it was still tasty. Next time I made stew I think I will try a different recipe. There is one in the Loneyspoons Collection cookbook that is made for a slow cooker and says to cook for 8 hours – I wonder how that one differs.

Stew-Pendous Ninja Beef Stew Recipe
My calorie count for the stew ended up the same as the original – 399 calories per serving.

Honestly my love for this recipe wasn’t there like some of the others. This isn’t the first time I have made it but it has been a while. I don’t know if it was because I made it right after making soup or if I just didn’t like. Like I said, it was tasty it just didn’t appeal to me – maybe just because I cooked it too long. My husband really liked it though. Maybe I just don’t like stew?

Baking Muffins in the Ninja 3 in 1 Cooking System

The Ninja says you can bake it in. So I had to try. The results were not so good.

I am not sure if it was my fault or the Ninjas – probably a combination of both.

I started with this recipe for Blueberry Pancake Muffins. This recipe is apparently designed for the Ninja Cooking System.
Ninja Blueberry Pancake Muffins

I didn’t have blueberries so I used frozen Strawberries instead. I also added a package of instant oatmeal, used skim milk instead of buttermilk and egg whites instead of an egg. Maybe those were my mistakes.

I was attempting to be creative and make Strawberry Oatmeal Ninja Muffins.

baking muffins in the ninja

Regardless my muffins cooked. If you could call it cooked; they really didn’t rise. It was like eating a poached (read boiled) muffin. The first two were hard to get out of the pan but the rest came out okay. It tasted alright but the textured was all wrong and I don’t think that was my fault. Like I said, imagine eating a cooked but soft soggy muffin. Muffins are supposed to have the nice crispy top and be golden brown and delicious all over. Let’s face it, that is never going to happen in an appliance that STEAM BAKES.

And I mean really – all this to save 20 calories a muffin? Sure you can bake with half the fat but half the fat split up over a recipe is not worth it. Trust me on this.

strawberry oatmeal ninja muffins
YUCK!

I threw all these poor muffins in the trash (minus the bite I took to taste them). Even my dog didn’t want to eat them. But really, look at them. Do you blame her?

I don’t think baking in my Ninja will ever happen again and not just because of this mess.

Before I even made these I had already come up with a few more reasons why baking in the Ninja Cooking System was just not worth it. You can only cook (notice how I didn’t say bake?) 6 muffins at a time; most recipes out there are for 12. Trying to reduce a recipe is a pain, especially when it calls for one egg. How do you half an egg? All this hassle just to save a few calories a muffin is not worth it. Not to mention the horrid texture. The extra cleaning time. No muffin liners. No crispy tops. Do I need to go on?

Do yourself a favour, make your muffins in a oven. Save your self time and make a regular size batch of muffins (or whatever). Bonus: they turn out properly and you won’t be embarrassed to offer one to your guests. You can also use paper muffin liners and make your clean up a breeze. Another bonus: you don’t need to spend tons of money buy baking pans that fit inside the Ninja (huge bonus in my books!).

In can be argued that making 6 muffins at a time will save your waist line. In that case just throw half your muffins out. Because you are going to end up doing that anyway if you cook them in the Ninja.

This is just my experience cooking muffins but I am pretty sure results will be the same or at least similar with all baked goods. Slimy cupcakes anyone?

EDIT – I was just browsing the Ninja Facebook Page and it seems a lot of people are baking with good results but I found a post talking about the Blueberry Pancake Muffin Recipe. That person threw theirs away too and they followed the recipe. Perhaps it is just a fail recipe. After seeing that I might consider baking something again…

Ninja 3 in 1 Cooking System

I got a Ninja Cooking System for Christmas. I had never even heard of one before I got it. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it but after reading lots of reviews online I decided it was worth trying it.

ninja 3 in 1 cooking systek
It sure does look bad ass!

I tried it today for the first time. I spent some time looking up recipes and reading the books that came with it. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a lot of recipes for it but the nice thing is you can do anything you want in it. At first I was a bit confused by it but it really is simple. It is like a crock pot but better.

I decided to cook a soup from the The Looneyspoons Collection that I have made before – The Chicken Soup that Flu the Coup. It is really similar to Chicken Soup with Humpty Dumplings from the Eat Shrink and Be Merry cookbook. It just doesn’t have the dumplings. I love these sisters. All their recipes are so good.

vegggies
VEGGIES!

cooking in the ninja

Using the Ninja was so easy and I think the soup turned out better then ever. I did make a few changes to the soup recipe – I added more veggies, used chicken breast instead of thighs, replaced the fresh tomatoes with canned, added some dried chili peppers and a hand full of mini pasta. It passed the husband test – he had a second bowl!

chicken soup that flu the coup
Chicken Soup that Flu the Coup – 153 calories & 14g protein per serving.

I think cooking it was even easier too – not that it was every hard on the stove but this just seemed easier and better. Clean up was easy too. I can’t wait to try more recipes in my Ninja!

It has been so long since I have blogged but when I opened my Ninja today I thought it was a good time to get back in the habit. The Ninja is so new I thought blogging about my experience might help and encourage others. Also it’s a new year and time to get back on the eating better train. Let’s see how long that lasts!

I can’t believe I went all of 2012 without blogging. 2012 was a crazy year! I actually lost about 40 pounds in 5 months in order to look my best for our wedding. Unfortunately since then I have gained back a few pounds. Okay, a bit more then a few pounds. But it is a new year. Back to eating healthy and cooking more. I really hope my Ninja helps me with that!

Recipe Review: Smackaroni and Cheese (The Looneyspoons Collection)

Finally got a chance to cook out of my new cookbook – The Looneyspoons Collection – this same recipe can be found in Eat, Shrink and Be Merry but I used my new book :p I made this before a while ago but it was even better then I remembered it! SO AMAZING! I made a couple small changes, I used ground turkey instead of beef, left out the zucchini, and replaced light cheese whiz with jalapeno tex mex cheese whiz! The spicy cheese whiz added a nice little kick and flavour boost. I am pretty sure I am going to be making these recipe over and over – my man loved it. What’s not to love, pasta, meat and cheese. YUM!

The best thing was, dinner was ready in just half an hour!

Recipe Review: Smackaroni and Cheese (The Looneyspoons Collection)

There are two different versions of this recipe, one of them can be found here – it is different then the one I made.

Dinner: Frozen Meal Salad

Look at me, blogging again – weeeee. Really struggling to stay on track so just trying to do everything I can. So tonight I was alone for dinner and decided to make a frozen Weight Watchers Meal – Smart Ones Santa Fe Style Beans and Rice. I put it on top of some spring mix and called it a salad.

This is something I do often for lunches at work.

Weight Watchers Meal - Smart Ones Santa Fe Style Beans and Rice

Total calories: 330

Cute New Lunch Bag

I couldn’t resist this super cute BUILT lunch bag in the store. I had to have it. I love that it isn’t big and bulkier like all my other ones and that it still zips closed. Perfect for packing my healthy lunches for work.

I have been eyeing up these bags for a while now – seen them in different stores around town. The best part is, I found it on a clearance table for only $5! Super excited. Can’t wait to pack my lunch it in… it is almost too cute to use… almost.

built lunch bag

I also found these mega cute cupcake cups… not that I should be making cupcakes, but I couldn’t leave them at the store. I am always looking for pretty ones and these were only $1!

cute cupcake cups

Quick and Easy Dinner: Crockpot Roasted Chicken

I guess it is really more like steamed chicken when you cook in the crockpot. But whatever. I have posted about doing this before but I am posting about it again. Posting stuff like this helps keep me on track. I have been terrible about making dinners lately – seriously. Lots of frozen pizza and pre made food it is horrible. Really trying to get back on track with making nice dinners. The new cookbook I got the other day should help with that.

I love chicken. The thing that sucks about making your own chicken is that it costs the same or MORE then just buying it already cooked. Kind of stupid really but I am sure this is better for me. And I get the satisfaction or knowing I made it myself. I also find when I buy the pre-cooked chicken I ended up buying a pre-cooked side or something bad for me to go along with it for an instant dinner. Cooking the chicken myself leads to all around better and healthier cooked meal.

So yah, buy a chicken and stick it in your crockpot before work. I topped mine with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cajun seasoning. I poured a splash or a bit more then a splash of wine into the bottom of my crockpot. Put the lid on and turned it on low. I let it cooked while I was at work. Super easy.

When I got home I steamed some broccoli and made some mashed sweet potato. I did both things in the microwave. Dinner took less then 30 minutes to prepare in total and the chicken cooked itself while I was at work. Awesome.

Oh, and it tasted DELICIOUS!

Quick and Easy Dinner: Taco Salad

This is one of our favourites around our house.

First you cook up some extra lean ground beef or chicken chicken or turkey or whatever you want. I like to add some taco seasonings.

Then you take some lettuce, I like to use this stuff:

free express iceberg garden salad mix

Free Express - Iceberg Garden Salad Mix

I dump in on a plate or in a bowl – whatever I am in the mood for. Sometimes I top it with chopped tomatoes, cucumber and onion – sometimes I am lazy and don’t. I add some cheese, the ground meat and use hot sauce and light sour cream for the dressing!

Pretty straight forward, it takes maybe 10-15 minutes to cook the meat and that is that. Calories are going to depend on how much meat and cheese you use – I probably use too much. But it is delicious!

New Cookbook: The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podlesk

Words can’t even describe how extremely excited I am about this cookbook. I absolutely adore Janet and Greta Podlesk other three cookbooks and this one is their best yet.

When I am on plan I cook at least once a week from their other book Eat, Shrink and Be Merry. Having a new book to cook from is extra exciting and should help me stay on plan easier. I haven’t had much of a chance to really go through it yet but at a quick glance it does have a lot of their popular recipes and some new ones too.

I pre-ordered my copy of The Looneyspoons Collections almost two months ago! The wait almost killed me.

You can order your copy here at Chapters.cause promo code OLNOV11 to save $5 during the month of November.

Since you need $25 to get free shipping you should book up their other cookbooks, they are all fantastic. I really can’t say enough good things about these books – if you can’t tell. I just love that their recipes are low calorie but don’t taste it. I also really like that they use ingredients I can find in Canada, since they are Canadian too.

I am sure there will be many more posts once I start cooking. But first I must look at it!