Spaghetti Squash

Who can resist spaghetti noodles?  I see advertisements for appliances that will turn vegetables into spaghetti noodles, but Mother Nature has done it for us in a most convenient way.

Spaghetti squash may be the easiest way on earth to produce a delicious pile of goodness on your plate.  It need be only baked or steamed – I’m using the InstantPot for everything these days, it seems – and this glorious side dish is yours with little fuss.

The potatoes?  Oh, those were also done in the InstantPot.  Fill it up with potatoes and enjoy many low-fuss side dishes like this one.  I just cut the cooked potato into eighths and browned them a bit.

Some of the meat we have been having this week was done in the Nesco Roaster, which is another very versatile appliance.  I did pork chops in the Nesco and the roast beef in the InstantPot – both at the same time.  The resultant pile o’ meat allows me to offer a varied menu for each meal, with very little effort to get it together at the last minute.

As I look at the picture now, I can visualize any number of toppings for the potatoes – a small drizzle of Bleu Cheese Dressing comes to mind immediately.  That would have really added a nice bit of pizzazz to them – or maybe a bit of Jalapeño Ranch???

The black specks everywhere are my current crush – Penzey’s Chicago Steak Seasoning.  It has different peppers, with just a smidge of lemon, a bit of a garlic and onion presence that is almost not there, and an almost indiscernible hint of hickory smoke.  In the aggregate, this is a delightful sprinkle.  I can see this trial sized bottle is not going to last very long!

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Potato Soup

 

Potatoes are a good source of potassium.  We got into the habit of eating them frequently when DH was first home from the hospital after his transplant.  He was having a two-hour infusion with potassium in the cancer clinic several times a week, but when they got his numbers up a bit, he was released to Mama Judie’s Potato Soup Emporium, and we’ve been eating a lot of it ever since.  He still needs to take two capsules a day, but the potatoes are a good source, too.

This bowl is fortified with pepper cheese, bacon, onions and a few herbs and spices, plus the scallions and cilantro on top.

Here is where the new InstantPot really shines.  We can decide on potato soup (or even mash), and in half an hour, it is ready for the table.  I always make extras, as pre-cooked potatoes are so versatile to round out a meal, or make something really special very quickly.

Anyone familiar with Redmond Real Salt?  This is a new find for us.  Real Salt = real fun!

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Persimmon Foo Young

 

There were four lovely Egg Foo Young patties left, so this was our lunch the next day.  I added some cooked shredded carrots to the leftover sauce, and topped it all with cilantro and sliced scallions.  The little crescents that match so well are bits of the Fuyu persimmon that has been hanging out on my windowsill waiting for just the right moment to adorn a plate.

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Artifact Tableau

This is a tableau that is displayed at the Eye Clinic.  It is way up at the ceiling so capturing it with my trusty old iPhone was a challenge.

We are in the midst of changing out my poor overworked computer for a new one, and Photoshop is refusing my pleas for it to open at the moment, so this is pretty much the best I could do with getting that bottom edge completely straight!  GAH!  It bothers me every time I look at it.

But I love the result so much that I couldn’t wait to share it.  ;->

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Egg Foo Young

I took my own advice – this was our very late supper last night!

I found the recipe on Pickled Plum, but didn’t have all of the suggested ingredients.

It came out great anyway.  DH is anxious for a repeat performance!

 

Note to self:  Buy some sliced almonds!

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Two for Two

I know . . . this looks almost the same as my last post, but even though this is going to end up looking different from the last dish, it is the same easy method.

Two for Two?  What does that mean?  Well, I totaled up the cost for the food you see above, and it was just a smidge over two dollars.  The two of us ate our fill, and there was even still enough left over for one diner’s hearty meal, or – add a couple of eggs, and more veggies – and there would be a full lunch for two.

If more time is available, the planned overs would provide a lovely base for an Egg Foo Young, which would be a really fun thing to experiment with.

I just can’t emphasize enough how much time, effort, and expense is saved by preparing and utilizing planned over foods.  Above you see more of the boneless thigh/leg pieces that I roasted all at one time and bagged up.  The rice came out of a bag in the refrigerator, so the veggies were the only “initial effort” item.

What you see is about three minutes of chopping up a carrot, a small onion, two stalks of celery, and half a bunch of bok choy.  I didn’t have any mushrooms or bean sprouts, but those would have been added as well.

Once the veggies are cooked about three-quarters of the way, spray a little moisture around in the pan (I used some water from my trusty spray bottle, and a sprinkle of soy sauce), plop in the rest of the food, cover and turn the heat down, or all the way off, if your pan is heavy like mine is.

At this point, you can offer each diner the choice of quantity of each food by just leaving it as is, or you can mix it all together and have a one-dish, Chicken Fried Rice dish.

Sliced almonds are good on top, as is a sprinkling of sesame seeds and/or sesame oil, additional soy sauce, and a blob of hot Chinese mustard on the side of the plate keeps your mind active!

I usually have a jar of hoisin sauce around, for extra flavor, too.  If you are really into Oriental-type foods, keeping a small array of specialty sauces around makes a meal like this very desirable, and so much more enjoyable than trudging out “for Chinese”!

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Who Needs a Microwave?

The last time I mentioned reheating precooked food on the stove, there were several folks who wrote privately to ask for more information.

It really is dead simple to do this with excellent results while not needing to use the microwave.

Above you see the entire meal that we had last night.  There was still a bit left over.

Here’s how:

Cook the squash (or whatever fresh vegetable) to “almost done”.  Then shove it aside to finish cooking and stay warm; add the pre-cooked items to reheat and/or brown up a bit.  I didn’t think to turn over the potatoes so you could see how nicely they caramelized, but they did, and they were delicious.

DH put a little BBQ sauce on his plate, and I used a tablespoon of Bleu Cheese dressing, as “dipping” sauces.

Washing up?  This pan, two plates, our silverware, and a serving spoon.

Hint #1:  Starting with a fresh vegetable means that the quick-cooking vegetable can be stored more easily than a cooked one, and its taste and consistency are not changed by the freezing process.  Most veggies take very little time to cook, and all of the goodness that exudes from it is captured in the pan to add flavor and zest to the entire meal.  At the very end of the time, add a tablespoon or so of water and let it pick up the fond from the bottom of the frying pan and add itself to the food.  This also facilitates clean up.

Hint #2:  Making more food than you plan to eat at that very moment = a second easy peasy meal.  You can reheat it using these same techniques.  Way better, and quicker, than going out!

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