Since Julia was born two and a half years ago, cooking dinner has been more of a juggling trick and timing nightmare than a study of fine culinary skills. Julia has always been moody from four-thirty until George gets home a few hours later. Add Grant to the mix, who at three months is still unpredictable, and it’s a wonder that dinner gets on the table at all.
Thankfully, for the first month or so after Grant was born, people from our Mom’s Group brought over delicious dinners twice a week. That’s right! What a blessing! I also took advantage of the new mom’s discount from a local meal assembly store. These were not permanent solutions to our dinnertime conundrum, and fast food every night certainly wasn’t an option, so I started using my crock pot to prepare meals during naptime. At dinnertime, all I would need to do is make a salad or a side, and dinner was ready. Plus, I could smell the delicious dinner all afternoon, which was a nice reminder that at least one thing was taken care of, leaving me to focus more on the two cuties.
This still wasn’t the perfect solution because I would sometimes need to use a separate pan to brown meat, so I still ended up having a lot of dishes to do. My old crock pot ran really hot, and I didn’t really trust it enough to leave the house if I was using it. Washing it was also a chore, and I’d often have to soak it over night.
This brings me to my latest kitchen investment: the Ninja Cooking System. I learned about it on my favorite slow cooker blog, crockpot365. As soon as I read about it, I knew this was going to be a lifesaver in my kitchen. It does the job of a skillet, an oven and a stove, yet it’s also a slow cooker. It’s dishwasher safe, but its nonstick surface makes it easy to wash by hand. I’m in love with this machine!
For example, earlier this week I made taco soup. I would normally have to use a skillet to brown the meat, but this time I just used the skillet setting in the crock pot. Once the meat was browned, I added the other ingredients and turned the dial to slow cook on Low.
Yesterday I made chicken noodle soup, which turned out great, even though I was out of thyme and accidentally added too much basil. It cooked on high for about four hours. It was ready early, so it automatically switched to warmer mode, something my old crock pot wouldn’t do.
Today I made spaghetti and meatballs and only dirtied the cooker. No strainer, no separate pan to boil the noodles, and no filthy sauce pan to soak. The best part is that it took only 25 minutes from start to finish. Ugh, I sound like an infomercial, but I can’t help it. The Ninja Cooking System won’t walk the dog or take out the garbage, but it certainly makes dinnertime easier.