I am…..


I am many things but figuring out what things about me make me a ninja is hard. I am the procrastinator of the group obviously since I am the last to post, and wanna be perfectionist since this is probably my 6th version of my intro. But I am much more.

My name is Kirsten, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I am one of the Canadian Ninjas  and very lucky to live close to Megan in the suburbs of Vancouver, British Columbia. I work full time (plus some) for a non profit organization with children, I have a near five year old son about to enter kindergarten (get ready for cute bento lunch posts) and have been married for what seems like for-ever! (just kidding honey)

Like the others I love coffee, sushi, reading, cooking, wine and having fun.  I love to learn about nutrition but hate anything that feels like exercise. You will never find me in a gym but biking with my family, exploring the local parks & trails or hanging in my backyard with friends makes up my free time. I love to entertain, menu plan, and try new foods. I am shy but sarcastic and once I get talking I never shut up. I am never without my phone or iPad but am completely computer illiterate. This is going to be a great big adventure for me and I can’t wait to get it started with you.

Searching out a group of women online that were there to support each other in a healthy life was how we met, one fateful New Year’s Eve chat was how we connected and now we are family. Welcome to Being Ninjas.

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Freezer Cooking – Even better the 2nd day

In yesterday’s post I promised to follow up today and tell you what I made with the 13 pounds of ground turkey that we picked up on our last trip to Costco.

cooked shredded chicken, quesadillas, 1 lb taco meat & 3 lbs sloppy joes ready for the freezer

cooked shredded chicken, quesadillas,
taco meat & sloppy joes ready for the freezer

For this cooking session I chose 5 of our favorite recipes to complete.

  • 3 lbs sloppy joes – my usual recipe is for 2 lbs so I just multiplied everything by 1.5.

    Sloppy Joes
    2 pounds ground turkey
    2-3 T dried minced onion or 1/2 onion diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 1/2 c ketchup
    1 c beef stock (or water)
    1/4 c apple cider vinegar
    1/4 c brown sugar
    2 T Worcestershire sauce
    1 tsp dry mustard
    2 tsp cumin
    1 tsp Italian seasoning
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Cook the ground turkey, onions and garlic in a large skillet until meat is browned. Drain fat.
    Add all remaining ingredients to the pan, bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Allow to cool completely. Spoon meal size portions into freezer bags, squeeze out air and seal. Freeze flat.
    To cook:
    Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in pan on stove.

  • 2 lbs turkey breakfast sausage
    I use this recipe with the addition 1/3 tsp fennel & 1/2 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar.)
    I didn’t make patties this time. I cooked, crumbled & drained it and will use it in breakfasts over the next several weeks. (When I do make patties I freeze them uncooked. I also don’t fry them in butter.)

  • 6 lbs taco meat – no recipe since I’m sure you all know how to make taco meat. I use the taco seasoning I posted here.
  • 4 lbs frozen in 1 lb packages. This will be used for things like tacos, nachos, taco salads, mexican pizza.
  • 2 lbs were used to make freezer burritos.

    Freezer Burritos
    2 lb taco meat
    32 oz salsa
    2 cans refried beans
    2-4 oz diced green chili peppers
    18-20 large tortillas (about 10 inch)
    1-2 cups shredded cheese

    Cook taco meat, then add salsa, beans & undrained chilis. Continue cooking over medium heat until heated through.
    Heat tortillas in pan on stove top or in microwave.
    For each burrito, place 1/3 cup meat mixture on a tortilla & sprinkle with cheese. Fold in sides, then fold up from bottom and roll up.
    Place rolled burritos on a cookie sheet lined with freezer paper. Freeze until solid.
    Remove from freezer and wrap individually and place in a freezer bag labeled with cooking instructions.

    To cook:
    Brush with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees flipping 1/2 way through. For thawed burritos cook 20 minutes. If baking from frozen increase cooking time to 40 minutes.

    18 burritos,  3 lbs taco meat & 2 lbs breakfast sausage

    18 burritos, 3 lbs taco meat, 2 lbs breakfast sausage packaged & ready to go in the freezer

  • 2 lbs for meatloaf muffins
    This is a recipe I got back when I did Weight Watchers. I’m not sure of the source but it’s all over the internet.

    Meatloaf Muffins
    1-6 oz box instant stuffing mix (such as Stove Top)
    2 eggs
    1 cup water
    2 lb ground turkey

    Mix all ingredients.
    Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
    Fill muffins tins to top.
    Place in freezer until firm.
    Remove from pan and transfer to freezer bag

    To cook:
    To cook immediately, bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
    To cook from frozen, bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes or until cooked through.

    So there you have it, my freezer cooking adventures from this weekend. These recipes represent just a handful of the things I regularly make to have on hand in the freezer for quick, easy meals. If you’re interested in more freezer friendly recipes or more cooking days, leave a comment below letting me know.

    ~Ninja Michelle

  • Meal Plan Monday (sort of) – Freezer cooking edition Aug 11, 2014

    Once again we are linking up with Laura for OrgJunkie.com‘s Menu Plan Monday. Be sure to check out her menu plan for the week here.

    As Megan mentioned in last week’s Meal Plan Monday post, most of the ninjas do some sort of meal planning. I am not one of those ninjas who meal plans. You’re likely asking yourself, “then why is she the one writing the Meal Plan Monday post?” That’s a legitimate question and one I asked myself. My answer is this, while I don’t meal plan in the sense of deciding what we will have for our meals throughout the week, I do plan for meals. Huh? Let me explain a bit.

    First off, We’re monthly grocery shoppers. What that means is we try to shop for the bulk of the groceries we need for a month (or longer) in one big (and expensive) trip per month. We do stop weekly at the local farmer’s market to restock fresh veggies & fruit as needed, as well as free range eggs & sometimes local meat. We might also make a stop at the local grocery store for things like milk & bread or something we don’t normally keep on hand. Shopping monthly allows us to shop out of town at a larger grocery store that has a much bigger selection & better prices on organics and other foods that fit how we try to eat than we could shopping in town. We are also able to shop Costco and stock up on items.

    Another thing we do is buy our chicken in bulk through Zaycon Foods. (This is my referral link. If you click-through and end up signing up with them, I will get a credit added to my account to go towards my next order. If you do that, thanks! If you prefer you can just google them and get to their site that way.) While I would love to buy all of our chicken locally, cost-wise it just isn’t possible and I feel like Zaycon is a good alternative. If you’d like to know more about the chicken we buy from Zaycon Foods and how we process and use it, post your question in the comment section below and I can do a future post on it.

    So with all this bulk food buying, how do I plan for meals? Well one big part is freezer cooking. For me this can involve making any number of things(breakfast, school lunches, dinner items or sides.) The freezer cooking I did this weekend involved 13 lbs of ground turkey and around 4 lbs of frozen chicken breast. Obviously not all or even most of these items will be eaten this week. They will go into the freezer with items from previous freezer cooking days as well as the store for us to pull from as needed.

    Today I’ll tell you what I did with the chicken. Come back tomorrow to see what I did with all that ground turkey.

    First off I made some taco seasoning. Have you seen what they put in those packets you buy at the store? Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, maltodextrin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Caramel Color (sulfites)? Uhm, no thanks.

    taco seasoning
    Taco Seasoning
    8 T chili powder
    2 tsp garlic powder
    2 tsp onion powder
    2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    2 tsp dried oregano
    4 T ground cumin
    4 tsp sea salt
    ~4 tsp black pepper (I use fresh ground pepper so I don’t actually measure it, just grind some in until it looks right.)

    Place all seasonings in a jar (mine is 12 oz), cover & shake to mix. Store in an airtight container.

    3 T = 1 packet

    I used the taco seasoning to season half the chicken breast & steak seasoning on the other half then I baked it in the oven, covered, at 350 degrees until cooked through. For me this was about 40 minutes since the chicken was frozen when I started. Once the chicken cooled a bit I used 2 forks to shred it. The steak seasoned chicken was frozen in 2 cup portions to be used in future meals. The taco seasoned chicken was sprinkled with additional taco seasoning & cumin. Part of it was used to make 2 meals worth of quesadillas for the kids lunches and the rest was divided into baggies and frozen to make quesadillas in the future.

    shredded chicken

    2 tortillas (per quesadilla)
    shredded chicken
    shredded cheese

    optional filling
    cooked peppers & onions

    sour cream

    1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
    2. Place tortilla in skillet, top with a small amount of shredded cheese, then chicken & any other additions you’d like ending with more shredded cheese. (I just did chicken in & cheese in these since they are for the kids) Top with a second tortilla.
    3. Cook until bottom tortilla starts to brown.
    4. Place a paper plate over the quesadilla in the pan. Place your hand over the paper plate then carefully lift the pan and flip it over so that you are holding the paper plate and quesadilla in your hand (with the cooked side up.) Now carefully slide the quesadilla back into the pan with the uncooked side down.
    5. Continue cooking until the 2nd side is browned.
    6. Slide out of the pan onto a plate, cut and serve with your favorite toppings.

    These can also be frozen and used for school lunches. Just take out of the freezer and put in their lunch box in the morning and they will be thawed by lunch. They can be eaten cold or microwaved for 30-45 seconds.

    As promised here’s part 2 of my freezer cooking day.

    This crazy ninja’s life

    Hi, I’m Leslie one of the Midwest Ninjas. I’ve been thinking about this introduction for weeks and really freaking out a bit about what in the world I could tell you about myself that would be of any interest at all.
    I keep coming back to, “how can I be this busy and this BORING at the same time??” and then I realize my life isn’t boring, it’s simple and it’s exactly the way I want it. Maybe not as exciting as some, or as thrilling as others, and maybe not exactly how I envisioned it would be once upon a time, but dreams change and evolve as we do, and this crazy life is my dream. Because you see I’m Momma to six of the coolest kids on the planet. They are ages 16 – 6 (three girls and three boys) and keep us laughing and entertained 24/7. I’m Wife to my high school sweetheart, who still (after 17 years and counting) looks at my disturbing pre 6 am self, or me belting out a broadway tune, or the times I’m bouncing off the walls, mad, sad, crying, at my wits end…like I’m the best person he knows. Our life is crazy and wonderful and hard and stressful and…perfect.
    Our family lives on a farm in Illinois where we run our own businesses and try to spend as much time with our kids as we can. We have five Golden Retrievers, two horses, and three cats. I love to fish and hike and read. My grandma used to spend hours with me fishing and it’s something I took for granted until I didn’t have her here with me anymore. Now I see it as a priceless heirloom memory. Give me a coffee (my favorite food group), a book, and access to my ninjas and I’m sure to have a great day! I’m good at pinching a penny until it screams, I adore cooking, I’m obsessed with office supplies (Staples, Amirite?!), schedules, and sushi. I love camping with my hooligans and being lazy at the beach. I’m a hippy and a gypsy at heart and would love nothing more than to show you some of our adventures and misadventures!

    I’m forever thankful for that New Years that brought all of us together. People ask me how our friendship started and I have to laugh as I explain “…we started chatting and just never stopped!” I’m not sure even the ninjas know just how much they mean to me. They are my sisters. Sisters that encourage, make you laugh until you cry, understand, always have a kind word, kick your rear when you need it, motivate, dig holes…I could go on and on. I can’t wait for you all to get to know them better. They are truly the best women I know and I’m a better person for being one of them. Welcome to Being Ninjas.

    Becoming NINJAFIED in Indiana

    The task of sitting down and writing something about yourself…..something I have fretted about for a week. I come on the tails of some of my awesome fellow ninjas who so eloquently described themselves by encompassing the sweet, multidimensional friends that they are and am approaching this blog as a tool to step out of my comfort zone. We shall start there.
    My comfort zone is in a small quaint fixer upper home in the state of Indiana. FIXER UPPER being the very bane of my existence!! I can share this experience with Mark, my very sweet, hardworking husband of 5 years (7 together) that, remarkably, has made it out alive throughout this whole process and not buried in a hole somewhere in my backyard (side note, we aren’t done yet!). I would say that as the years of marriage roll past us, I have learned to love him better, work alongside him better, and be a better friend to him, better spouse. We are a very medically oriented family as I am a nurse and he is a firefighter/medic which causes our dinner conversations to be pretty interesting! I am a step momma to his four children and a momma to my two boys. His four are in another state and all out of high school and we don’t get to see them as much as we’d like. I have the pleasure of being a mom to “D” who just graduated high school and is stepping into the world and “AB” who is getting ready to walk the halls of high school for the first time as a freshman! Both boys have kept me very busy and involved with travel sports as well as school sports – baseball, basketball, track and football. Not to mention that being a mom to two teenage boys can be cause for many thought provoking conversations!

    niagaraWe share our world with five fur faces and I can always tell a story of what one of them are doing! I am a tried and true animal lover. With three dogs and two cats in the mix, life can get pretty interesting! Two of my pups I rescued from the animal shelter (one was mere days away from being euthanized) and one is my golden retriever whom I got as a puppy. One could argue that I tend to feel more comfortable around animals as opposed to humans but it’s become painfully clear that those relationships can’t always carry you through the tough times!

     005 Essie

    As I’ve embarked on this journey of an internet friendship with the ninjas, I’ve found that my life was very one dimensional a couple of years ago. I was caught up in the sport mom role. We were SO busy with travel and with school sports, I feel like that was the only time I could devote to anything. As my schedule is loosening up a bit, I find that some of the experiences the ninjas have shared have caused me to crave some knowledge about different, unique things (food, gardening, BEES). You could say that learning about others and their interests has caused me to explore some new things of my own. WINE!! I never even gave thought to wine before them and have quite the rack filled in my home now and am continuing to learn! I have taken a pretty avid role in volunteering at the local animal shelters and teaching my children what it is like to give their time. I have grown closer to my husband and we carve out time to either travel (we take a cruise every year and will be going on our 6th cruise this November!) or just hop on his motorcycle and cruise through the towns and roads of Indiana. Being less busy has definitely opened up our minds to dream about spending more time just…being.
    On my days off, in the quiet still of the morning, you can usually find me drinking my very treasured first cup of coffee catching up on emails, blogs and chatting with my ninjas, talking myself into lacing up my shoes for a walk or getting the yoga mat out for a session. Nutrition and fitness are what brought me to know my fellow ninjas and quite honestly, it is still a cause for struggle in my world! I also enjoy shopping with my nieces, whom I am very close to, throwing tennis balls outside to my pups, or planning my next trip to Barnes and Nobles by myself with a cup of coffee. So welcome!!! Welcome to our zany, ADD (read: “squirrel” moments in conversation), OCD (slight), honest, REAL world that we like to call being a ninja.