This is a fall favourite!

Lucky for us, our garden yielded some really awesome squash!  This is a dish that we all enjoy so much and it’s really great if the squash is small and you can give an entire squash per person.  It’s a bit time consuming to make but so worth the effort!

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You can adjust the amounts you need according to how many people you are serving.  I am serving three adults.

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Slice your quash in half.  Dig out seeds.  Put them upside down on a glass pie plate that has about 1 cup of water in it.  Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, or until they are fork tender.  Now, put your squashes right side up on a baking sheet.  (use rolled up tinfoil to make them stand up secure)  Butter the insides generously, salt and pepper them and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Set aside.

Peel and boil your potatoes with a few handfuls of kale thrown right in with the potatoes, I also heavily salt the water as I find doing this gives a nice balance of salt in the potatoes.  After your potatoes are nice and soft, drain.  Add 1/4 butter, 1/2 cup of cream or milk and about 1/2 tsp. black pepper.  Now, with a hand mixer, whip them well.  Set aside.

While all the above was going on, fry up a pound of lean ground beef with a generous amount of onion, lots of onion.  I put in two whole medium onions.  Add to this 1.5 cups of beef broth and thicken with a mixture of water and cornstarch.  Set aside.

Grate a good cup and a half of sharp cheddar cheese.  Set aside.

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Okay, now you are done setting things aside.  Open-mouthed smile  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pile meat mixture into your squash halves.  Be generous, you want to use it all up.  Now pile on those creamy potatoes.  Now cover in cheese.  Bake for about 45 minutes.   (all ovens are different, check for doneness after about 30 minutes).  Oh yeah, oh yeah.  Good eating!!  Click the pictures….

All Day Vegetable Soup… in about 30 minutes.

This soup tastes like it simmered all day long.  The flavours are so matured together, so melded when you eat it you think, oh yes the old fashioned vegetable soup that grandma took all day to make.  Stop.  This soup took about 30 minutes, start to finish.  (I later added some nice cooked sea shell pasta for my grandson Sam)  This soup is pressure cooked, and this is just one reason why I would highly recommend any busy person to invest in a pressure cooker. 

Let’s start:

In the bottom of your cooker heat some peanut oil and butter.  Chop two stalks of celery, one good sized onion, two large potatoes, some green sweet pepper, a couple of carrots or one large one and I threw in some fresh spinach for good measure.  (here is where you can add any veggie you love, I want to try it with some chunks of turnip next)

Sauté your veggies until the celery is limp and potatoes have started to brown a bit.  Now, add two cups of chopped up stewed tomatoes and one liter of beef broth.  If you use salted beef broth do not add more salt!  Stir and….

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….add two tablespoons chopped garlic. a good healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce, add a good dose of black pepper and one heaping tablespoon of dried basil and I put in a teaspoon of fresh chopped cilantro and two tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano.  Oh an throw in a small can of paste tomato.  Now, stir it all together.

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Close lid on cooker.  Cook on high, 6 minutes after it reaches pressure.  Quick cool your cooker either with cold water or a pressure release valve if you have one.  Open and add more salt if you feel it needs it.   Enjoy!  Delicious and don’t worry about left overs as it only improves with time. 

Click the pics to enjoy….

Freezing Eggplant, yes you can.

I think I have found the trick to freezing eggplant.  The main problem people seem to have is too much moisture in the eggplant.  The trick is to make sure you ‘book it’ first.  By booking I mean:  Take your eggplant, slice it, peel the slices (that’s easiest), then on a tray lay out a layer of paper towels, put on there a sprinkling of sea salt, then a layer of eggplant slices, then a sprinkling of salt on those, then a layer of paper towels…and layer them like this until they are all used up ending with a layer of paper towels on the top.  Then put another tray on top and weight this down.  Leave for at least an hour or two. 

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Now, in a bowl mix a couple of eggs with milk and blend well.  On a large tray, mix as many bread crumbs as you need to cover all the eggplant slices that you do. I did a large amount, several eggplants and used at least 5 cups of crumbs, 1.5 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1.5 tbsp. dried minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper.  Mix well.

Next, take a large tray and mist it with oil.  Now start taking your eggplant slices and ‘dust’ them off with a clean kitchen towel and dip them in the egg and milk then press into the crumb mixture, both sides. 

Have a frying pan hot with some peanut oil in it. Quickly fry the eggplant pieces both sides (about 4 minutes a side), then  place on your oiled tray.

Place the trays in the freezer as soon as they are full.

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After at least 24 hours, when they are well frozen, I vac-packed meal size portions, separating layers with wax paper.  You can use a regular zip freezer bag, but try with a straw to remove as much air as you can.

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The above piece is a quality test.  After being frozen for 24 hours I took this piece and fried it until it was hot throughout. It was perfect.  Not mushy and ready for any dish I would like to make.  Eggplant Parmesan anyone?  *click the pics for the full story. 

Lasagna on the double!!

So, this last 24 hours I have been getting over a flu.  Feeling down and out I didn’t do anything all day.  But, when it came near supper time, the LAST think I wanted was greasy fast food.  Luckily, I found a recipe for lasagna for the pressure cooker!  Of course I had to modify it because I really wanted this glorious meal ready in a total time of about 15 or 20 minutes.

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You can make your meat sauce home made (time consuming) or you can use a high quality jarred sauce.  I happen to have my own home made meat sauce in jars from my pressure canner.  Oh yes.  Anyway, here we go.

Take 1 quart of meat sauce and put it in your cooker.  Add in 10 strips of packaged lasagna pasta broke up into 2 inch strips.  Add enough water to nicely cover your pasta.  Now, I brought this to a gentle boil and let it simmer  for about 5 min.  Now, put the lid on your cooker and bring to pressure (low/8 lbs), cook for 6 minutes.  Shut off heat, quick release pressure.  Open the cooker, stir up the sauce and noodles and put them in an oven safe baking dish and add a nice layer of freshly grated mozzarella cheese.  Put under your broiler on high for about 1 or 2 minutes. 

This was surprisingly delicious.  15 minutes start to finish.  Perfect.

Chicken Cordon Bleu.

This has to be the best chicken I’ve created to date.  It was tender, juicy and just enough kick to bring the flavours to life.  I added a mushroom, garlic cream sauce just to push it over the edge to the point of decadence enough to spoil us forever for any other chicken cordon bleu. 

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Preheat oven to 375 F.

I took chicken breasts and pounded them out fairly thin To about 1/2 to even 1/4 inch.  Then I dried them with paper towels.  I gently salted and generously peppered them.

Place on each breast a whole slice of lean ham, then place on the ham a whole slice of real Swiss Cheese folded in half.  Now as best you can, fold the chicken in half over the ham and cheese.  Pull and pat until you have as many holes there may be covered.  But don’t sweat it too much if it’s missing here and there a bit.  Do this for all of your breasts.

Prepare enough bread crumbs for the amount of breasts you are doing.  Generously add grated dried garlic, I used a whole tbsp. for two breasts, salt 1/2 tsp., 1 tsp. ground pepper, small pinch of cayenne, 1 tsp. of rubbed sage, good shot of dried oregano and any other dried herb or spice you really like.  Don’t skimp out on the herbs and spice unless you prefer a milder flavoured chicken cordon bleu.   Mix your spices well into the bread crumbs.

Dip your breasts through a mixture of whipped egg and 1 tbsp. milk.   And then press them into your bread crumbs until they are well coated.  Repeat until all the chicken is coated.

Now, heat up some real lard or peanut oil in a stick resistant fry pan, I use a ceramic one.  Doing two or three breasts at a time, nicely brown each piece on both sides.  Then place on a lightly greased baking pan.

Bake until done.  Use a meat thermometer, when you reach 165 F in each piece you are done.  Be careful not to over bake and let your cheese run out and your meat dry out. 

~Mushroom garlic sauce.  In the frypan you used for the chicken (do not clean it out) sauté a whole bunch of mushrooms in 1/4 lb. butter with minced onion.  After they are tender and a bit brown, add 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 tbsp. minced garlic (or more if you really love garlic).  Now bring to a gentle boil.   In a cup put in 1 tbsp. corn starch and 1/4 cup of water, mix these well.  Now whisk this into your pan, and whisk vigorously until mixture thickens.  Pour over each piece of chicken.  Enjoy!!!  Remember to click the picture to enlarge and get the best idea of what you will end up with!