Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Become a Kitchen Ninja

For the longest time, my biggest kitchen pet peeve was not having a full-size food processor.  Caught in the excitement of shopping for my first one-bedroom rental, I purchased this mini food processor several years ago.  At the time of my purchase, my experience in the kitchen wasn't all that broad (read: boiling eggs and water).  So initially, this little guy met all my food processing needs.  Plus, it was cute!

The advantage of a mini food processor is definitely its miniature size.  I easily stowed mine away in a cabinet or drawer and pulled it out for quick processing.  However, I also was forced to eliminate any recipe that required full-scale blending, chopping or mixing from my queue, due to the mini's inherent size limitations.

Today, I can happily say that I retired the ol' mini for good and am the proud new owner of a Ninja professional blender (the NJ600, with 72-ounce pitcher).

The first, and likely most glaring, difference you notice between the Ninja and and the mini is price.  But, this difference illustrates a classic case of you get what you paid for.  The investment might be bigger, but the versatility and usability of the piece is also much larger. 

The Ninja's 1,000 watt motor packs more than enough punch for all my food processing and blending needs - it's essentially both appliances in one.  The Ninja was also easy to assemble, with one minor drawback: the lid!  It took a good 20 minute game of tug-of-war, as my Dad pulled the lid and I held the base, to yank the pre-affixed lid from the pitcher.  After this frustrating start, however, the lid has worked relatively well, with only some minor sticking.

If you're considering a blender or food processor purchase, I definitely suggest the Ninja.  I use mine almost everyday, and it has earned a permanent spot on my counter top.  If you're not quite convinced, check out some Amazon reviews and read on for ideas to put your purchase to good use!

How to be a Kitchen Ninja

For Smoothies

I make more smoothies than anything else in my Ninja.  I try to make a large batch on a Sunday evening, and pour out individual servings for quick weekday breakfasts on-the-go.  After blending, I remove the blade and transfer the entire pitcher (with lid) to the fridge.  The lid has a smaller, pour top opening, which makes transferring to my travel mug a breeze.

Try my mango-soy smoothie or a homemade "Green Machine" from For the Love of Food.

I used a combination of kale and spinach, frozen raspberries, 
pineapple and banana in my Green Machine.

For Dip

I used my new Ninja to blend up this lighter spinach artichoke dip for a quick and easy New Year's Eve appetizer.

For Dough

Ever tired making dough in a food processor?  If not, give it a go.  Though some traditionalists are against it, I think the method is much easier than a pastry cutter (and much much easier than the two-knife method).

Here's a recipe for food processor pie dough and pizza dough.


Quick cream of spinach

I most often skipped over creamy soup recipes before I had my Ninja.  They usually acquire their silky texture from a final whirl in the blender before serving.

Just a few nights ago, I tried this simple cream of spinach soup.

Slicing & Dicing

When faced with any recipe that requires a lot of prep work, try using the blender instead of your knife.  After roughly chopping veggies (like onions, carrots, peppers or potatoes), toss them in your blender and give them a few pulses.  I'd suggest sticking with the pulse, though, rather than allowing the motor to run, as you can go from a rough chop to fine mince in a matter of seconds!

Perfect your processor prep work with this recipe for restaurant style salsa.

For even more ideas - including appetizers, drinks and desserts - visit the recipe section of

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