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?

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.

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!

My New Love; My Digital Scale

I have a new love in my life and it is my digital scale.

For the past few years I have had a few cheapo scales – that sucked – but got the job done. I picked one for 99 cents or at a garage sales – they would eventually break and I would replace it.

Finally after the 3rd one I said enough is a enough and I went and bought a digital scale. WOW – I am in love. This thing is so beautiful and so easy – I find myself weighing everything! Weigh my bread, zero the scale, weigh my cream cheese, zero the sale, weigh my smoked salmon… get the idea? AWESOME! And it really doesn’t take as long as it sounds, it probably took longer for me to type it out then actually do it.

And let me be honest here, this beauty was less then $20 after tax. Really not all that expensive. It sits on my counter and waits to be used.

digital kitchen scale

If you don’t have one – GO AND GET ONE RIGHT NOW! I honestly don’t know how I lived so long without it.

It is great for cooking and baking and all that. But it is especially awesome for counting calories (or weight watchers points). For example, my sourdough toast I had this morning – the nutritional information on the back goes by weight. If I didn’t have a scale I would have to -gasp- guess the calories and that usually leads to disaster.

Adventures with Tofu

I have had Tofu before – added in stuff or deep fried at a Japanese restaurant. But I have never made it for myself or even bought it. Yesterday a friend showed me this recipe for Spicy Sweet and Sour Tofu. I thought it looked good, I had everything but the Tofu, so on my way home I picked some up. Pretty cheap, $2.50 for a blob of it.

tofu

Looks better in the photo then it did in real life. It also had this smell to it. But anyway. Following the recipe (sorta) I smushed it in some paper towel (to dry it?). Letting it sit for about 30 minutes. Then I chopped it up and fried it in some oil and garlic (now that sounds healthy.)

tofu frying in garlic

There is no real reason for the above photo, I just like to post pictures – and I got a new camera to play with hehe. Anyway after that I added the sauce (found here). It looked pretty good, especially when I stirred in the green onions.

spicy sweet and sour tofu

Doesn’t that look good? The end result wasn’t bad. I didn’t jump for joy and go, “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU TOFU” – I wish it had of. Tofu seems really good for you, high in protein and calcium and low in fat (except when you fry it in oil). I have been trying to eat more calcium, so I was happy to see how much was in the Tofu. I would like to eat it more, but I dunno if cutting it up in chunks and serving it as a main dish is the way to go. Unless of course it is Agedashi Tofu. I might try buying it again and cutting it smaller and adding it to something like spaghetti. Maybe.

The boyfriend stuck his fork in and said “I don’t think I can eat this.” In the end he had a small nibble, he said it tasted like nothing but he couldn’t eat a big chunk of it.

And that ends that cooking adventure with Tofu.

Recipe Review: No Weigh, José! Mexican Lasagna

From Eat, Shrink and Be Merry page 132
[rating:5]

This is a nice take on lasagna – it uses whole grain tortillas instead of noodles and has lots of added veggies like beans and corn. I also like that it only uses one kind of cheese – making it a little cheaper to make.

Mexican Lasagna = DELICIOUS! This was so good – I knew it would be, I have made it before but forgot about it for a while. I am going to try and make this more often. I did modify mine some – for starters I used ground turkey. I replaced green pepper with celery (had it in the fridge) – I also used more beans and corn. Black beans do not come in 1 cup cans and corn does not come in half a cup cans. So I just used a whole can of each! I rarely measure my veggies in stuff like this – I know that corn and beans are fairly high in calories so I adjust my calorie count accordingly. The calorie count posted here is for the original recipe.

I also left out the tomato sauce – I didn’t have it. I did add a bit of tomato paste and some water – but only because I had an open can in the fridge.

I am going to admit I hardly ever measure veggies, I almost always add way more then what a recipe calls for. Especially onion, so low in calories and it really shrinks down and is easy to hide.

No Weigh, José! Mexican Lasagna

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
1 cup each diced red onions and diced green bell pepper
2 tsp garlic
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup medium salsa
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
4 large or 8 small whole wheat flour tortillas
1 1/2 cup shredded light cheddar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup light sour cream

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large pan cook the ground meat, green pepper, onions and garlic until meat is no longer pink.
3. Add black beans, tomatoes, corn, chilli powder, and cumin. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Add pasta sauce and salsa; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro and remove from heat.
4. To assemble lasagna, spread 1/3 sauce mixture over bottom of casserole dish. Top with 1/2 tortillas, overlapping and cutting as needed. Top with 1/3 mixture, then 1/2 the cheese. Cover with remaining tortillas, then sauce and the top with remainder of cheese and green onions
5. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes. Let lasagna stand about 10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional Information per 1 serving of No Weigh, José! Mexican Lasagna
319 calories, 8 grams of fat, 30 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 31 grams of protein

Mexican Lasagna

I found one serving to be filling. Add a side salad and you have the perfect meal for less then 400 calories (depending on your dressing choice of course!).

Goodbye Loved Muffin Pan

I made Gina’s Broccoli and Cheese Mini Egg Omelets last weekend. It was my second time making them. They are pretty good and nice and handy to keep in the fridge for a quick breakfast. Fantastic on an english muffin with some fresh tomato and hot sauce.

This was my second time making them and probably my last. Sadly after spending more 30 minutes scrubbing and scrubbing my muffin tray – I had to throw it out. There became a point where trying to clean it was a waste of my time. I ran it through the dish washer and soaked it in hot water and still couldn’t get it clean. So now the muffin tray has met it’s fate with the garbage can.

Broccoli and Cheese Mini Egg Omelets

Goodbye my most loved muffin pan.

And to everyone out there wanting to make these – you have been warned! And yes I did spray them. Perhaps this is where a silicon muffin pan comes in handy.

Recipe: Baked Falafel Balls

Honestly, this recipe wasn’t that great. That’s what happens when I try and be creative with something like falafels. I have never had ‘real’ falafels; perhaps that is a good thing though for trying to make the recipe healthier. Next time I make these I am going to try looking online for some different recipes. I think I might of had too much onion in them or something. There are good, just not delicious. Here is the recipe anyway incase anyone wants to try them.

baked falafel balls

Ingredients
19 oz can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
2 tbsp whole wheat flour

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Blend chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin and coriander in a food processor until smooth, stir in whole wheat flour.
3. Form into tbsp sized balls, approx 23 balls.
4. Bake for 25-30 min until golden brown.

Nutritional Information per 1 Falafel Ball
32 calories
0.3 grams of fat
6.2 grams of carbohydrates
1.1 grams of fiber
1.3 grams of protein