Cooking with Ninja Cooking System

O me O my!

Last week I received a Ninja Cooking System as a freebie from IFBC 2012  in Portland, Oregon.  The enthusiastic PR job at the conference had all of us excited and true to their word, most of us received our Ninjas in 6-8 weeks.

I planned a weekend of cooking … with my new Ninja!  It claims to have stovetop, oven and slow cooker functions along with being able to steam cook/bake. (One minor gripe was we were promised accessories including a cookbook but they didn’t arrive with the Ninja.)

I made carnitas Friday night and inhaled them with a friend who “stopped by” briefly.  It was smelling so good she decided to hang out.  So Saturday I made pulled pork and another batch of carnitas.

I wish I could show you the final product but, em we inhaled them, too!  I promise to make posts on both recipes with photos in the future.  To go along with the pulled pork,  I made a homemade kansas city style bbq.  DELICIOUS!

This morning I took out a cornish game hen for dinner.  No game plan.

Recipe Inspiration
Ninja Cooking System. On and ready to serve.

Seasoned up the cornish hen with salt & pepper, crushed rosemary and stuffed it with lemon quarters.   And into the Ninja for searing …..

Getting its sear on!

After searing the bird, I added garlic, lemon and chicken broth, changed the function to Oven and set the timer for 1 hour. (my only suggestion is read the instructions!)

Oven function — good to go!

Home by 4:30p; dinner in the oven by 4:50p!  As an afterthought, I added a baking potato to the baking rack.

Lemon Hen and Potato

…. and went for a walk!  An hour aerobic walk before walking into the smell of lemon heaven.  I could tell by the fragrance, my hen was done.  WHEEEEEE!

While the hen rested, I added broccoli spears with the potato and continued steaming.

10 min later, I had dinner on the table.  Potato and broccoli perfectly done; cornish hen tasty and moist!

No fuss dinner in an hour!

Plus leftovers for lunch.

** Tips:  Add oil/butter to the nonstick surface to get a toasty brown sear.

** Tips: Have an extra cup of liquid (water, broth, wine, etc) handy in case the initial liquid evaporates.


Oh Yeah Baby Bacon Brownies!

I’d like to thank The Pork Board at the International Food Blogging Conference (IFBC) for planting the bacon suggestion in my head.

Juicing Day 2 – Craving bacon even as I juice faithfully.   I caved – what can I say?

Except I caved in a big way:  Bacon Brownies!  Oh yeah baby I said bacon …. and brownies.  That incredible combo of sweet and salty gets me weak in the knees every time I think of it.

Preheat oven to 300-350 degrees, depending on the texture you like for your brownies.  300 degrees will yield chewy brownies, 350 degrees will slightly crisp.

1 pack bacon
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cocoa, natural and unsweetened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
8 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups walnuts
Brownie Ingredients
1. Cook bacon to a golden brown crisp.  Drain on paper towels.
Crumble in a small pieces and set aside.
Pack of Maple Bacon by Cast Iron Gourmet
Cooked Bacon draining on paper towels
2. Unwrap butter and place in small bowl.
Microwave for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds.
3. Using a sifter, sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
If you don’t have a sifter, use a strainer and a spoon and stir the dry   ingredients through the strainer.
Sifted Dry Ingredients
4. Put the eggs in a blender and pulse (or low   speed) for 30-45 seconds.  You want the   eggs slightly frothy
and blended.  Alternately, you can   beat the eggs into a bowl, beat til frothy.
5. Hand mixing: Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until mixed   thoroughly.
Electric mixing: Use low speed while pouring the eggs into the bowl until   it’s well mixed.
6. Add tablespoon of vanilla extract and fold in.
7. Slowly add melted butter, stirring between pours to mix the batter   completely.
Once all the butter is mixed in, the batter will be glossy dark brown
8. Add bacon crumbles and stir.  If   desired, garnish the top with some of the crumbles


Finished Batter
9. Let the batter rest while you prep the   baking dish.
Spray the bottom of two 9×12 pans.
Cut parchment paper to fit the pans with 2″ overhang on 2   sides.  Fit parchment paper into pans.
10. Pour half the batter into one pan
11 Add walnuts to remaining batter, holding out some for garnish.
12. Pour walnut batter into second pan.    Sprinkle bacon over both pans and walnuts over second pan.
13. Bake for 40-45 min or until toothpick comes out clean.
14. Cool and enjoy
Oh Yeah Baby! Bacon Brownies

I did enjoy my test brownies with a Mean Green Juice ….. hehehe.

Oh Yeah Baby Bacon Brownies and Mean Green Juice

These are dense, chewy dark chocolate brownies with a surprise bite of bacon!  Next time I’ll sprinkle some sea salt on the top to kick it up a notch.

 This is a keeper. Anyone care to recommend some small bacon producers I can find online?


IFBC 2012 Portland Oregon – Day 1

IFBC 2012 in Portland Oregon.   2.5 days of engaging and enlightening interaction with food bloggers.  Just wow!

Conference started Friday afternoon and continued jam-packed until Sunday afternoon.  Friday started with lunch hosted by Organic Valley but not before I oohed and aahed at the Oxo table.   LOVE OXO products and have for years.

OXO Display @ IFBC

Organic Valley’s lunch was to introduce its cheese slices  and, keeping with that theme, lunch was grilled cheese and apples.  Although delicious, there were no offerings for attendees with dietary concerns (gluten-intolerance, vegan, etc).

Best moment – running into MeganTheGFVegan, a charming food blogger from Canada I met in June!  I didn’t know she was coming (note to self: read attendee list next time).

Next best moment?  Chatting with my tablemates about Doctor Who.  Wheeeeeeeeeee! I didn’t expect to meet Whovians at a food blogger conference.  Candace, author of the blog, Candace Karu, and Tara, author of the blog, TeaRelish, are devoted Whovians and our 10-15 min chat was so much fun.  Even better, Candace works for the Cabot Creamery Cooperative!  Talk about some great cheese.

The live food blog event showcased Oregon products.  10 companies each had 5 minutes to pitch their products while we tweeted or blogged about them.  Fortunately for me, most of them ship outside the state.

PEOPLE! Ya’ll need to check out the following:

  1. Jacobsen Salt Co – hand-harvested Sea Salt from the Oregon coast.  Domestic salt that competes with better known European sea salts.
Jacobsen Salt Co
  1. Rogue Creamery – Oregon Blue Cheese that will knock your socks off
  2. F/V Sonia’s Wild Albacore Tuna – this was the most amazing canned tuna you will ever eat.  It tastes fresh, slightly salty and delicious.
  3. Packer Orchards & Bakery – the Spiced Vanilla Pear butter!  Awesome
  4. The Schmid Family Farm – the marionberry jam with cream cheese on crackers.

Following all this deliciousness, I went to my 1st session: Building Community Online and Offline presented by Keren Brown of Foodportunity and The Frantic Foodie.

What a great session!  Keren is an animated outspoken speaker with lots of great ideas for building a community.

My purpose for going to the conference was twofold: to learn more technical blogging aspects and, more importantly, to connect with other bloggers and build relationships.   Keren’s session was perfect.