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SHEPHERD’S PIE

Oh man, you guys are gonna love this one! But first let me confess how I’ve been spelling Shepherd’s Pie as “Shepard’s Pie” for a while now and no one ever corrected me! As I got started typing up this food blog entry I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to double check the spelling. Glad I did! I’m kinda hoping I’m not alone in this LOL! Okay, so seriously I’m not exaggerating. You-guys-will-LOVE-this! This makes a big batch and depending on the size of your family, you could have the best tasting leftovers for DAYS.

This is truly a Shepherd’s Pie because I use ground lamb. Trust me, I tried ground beef the first time and it’s not the same as the best Shepherd’s Pie you’ve ever had wherever that may be. It must be lamb. Not half lamb, ALL ground lamb. If you’re hesitant to try lamb because you think it’s funky, let me reassure you that if you’re going to try ground lamb for the first time or give it another chance, this is the absolute way to go. I’m not just saying that, promise. Now that has been established, if you insist using ground beef or any other red meat by all means go for it… I do believe that changes it to a Cottage Pie though. This is important to know in case you do some traveling.

If you’re looking to make this meal low-carb, you just simply replace the mashed potatoes with your favorite cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe. There are tons of different recipes out there you can choose from but personally, I would just make my cauliflower mash the same way I would as my usual Red Skin Mashed Potatoes recipe. Just keep your eye on the amount of liquid when making them to get the right texture you want your cauliflower mash to be. As for using real potatoes, I keep the skin for extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, and all that jazz but feel free to peel them. Keeping the skin saves on time too!

You’ll see that I use quite a bit of Worcestershire sauce than your typical recipe. I have reasons! Any time I’ve used a few dashes or a few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce to a recipe, I can’t taste it! It does nothing! Hardly at least. I want a big punch of flavor because that’s what comfort food is about. So just a heads up, start off not using salt at all. Maybe use half the amount of Worcestershire sauce to start, do a taste test. You can add more towards the end and also add salt to taste. It’s the only way you’re gonna master what you believe is the best Shepherd’s Pie!

One last thing, you can make this a day ahead. Just put the meat at the bottom of the baking pan, top with the mashed potatoes. When you’re ready to bake it, just pull it out of the fridge, top it with the cheese and bake. Some times I’ve made the meat filling ahead so that all I need to do was make the mashed potatoes or vice versa. It works in all ways.

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SHEPHERD'S PIE
Servings
servings
Ingredients
MEAT FILLING
MASHED POTATOES
Servings
servings
Ingredients
MEAT FILLING
MASHED POTATOES
Instructions
MEAT FILLING
  1. Saute the carrots and onion with the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once the onions start to become softened after a few minutes, add the garlic. If the pan is starting to get dry, add a little more olive oil.
  2. Add the ground lamb, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Using a wooden spoon break up the ground lamb into small pieces letting it brown through.
  3. Once the lamb is nearly cooked through add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, flour, and half of the vegetable stock. Stir every thing really well. Let the stock cook down most of the way and add the rest. Stir frequently, reduce the heat and let everything simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and salt to taste if needed. Turn off heat and set aside.
MASHED POTATOES
  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot, fill with water until it's about an inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and stir every so often.
  2. Strain the potatoes once they're softened. Turn off the heat. Place the pot back on the stove and add the butter. Pour the strained potatoes on top of the butter, add the pepper, milk, and half of the vegetable stock. Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency.
  3. Add more milk and/or stock as needed to avoid the potatoes from drying. Stir. Add more salt and pepper to taste as well.
ASSEMBLE
  1. Place the meat filling evenly in a 9" x 11" (or 9" x 13") baking dish.
  2. Then, top it with an even layer of the mashed potatoes.
  3. Top the mashed potatoes with an even layer of the shredded sharp white cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake at 400 F degrees for about 15 minutes or until everything is bubbling and the top is golden.

SHRIMP FRIED RICE

Homemade fried rice is super easy and fairly healthy dish in moderation. I love to make it in large batches for a quick meal or paired with a ton of our favorite veggies and a protein. I use my favorite Turmeric Jasmine Rice to make it, it really adds more flavor than your standard fried rice flavor but feel free to use whatever kind of rice you like. And you’re certainly not limited to only using shrimp either. Use any kind of meat or fish that you love or simply add more of your favorite veggies. There really isn’t one that doesn’t go great with this.

 

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SHRIMP FRIED RICE
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet drizzle the bottom with olive oil until covered. Over medium-high heat saute the asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, onion, peas, garlic and ginger until everything is almost softened after about 5 minutes.
  2. Add more oil to the pan if needed before tossing in the rice with the garlic powder, onion powder, and white pepper. Stir everything for about two minutes allowing everything to heat through.
  3. Move the rice towards the outer edges of the skillet creating a reservoir in the center. Add a little oil to the center and pour the whisked eggs. After about 30 seconds when the eggs gets a little opaque, use the spatula to scramble it up in with the rice.
  4. Lastly, add the shrimp, soy sauce and fish sauce. Toss everything until the shrimp is cooked to tender after about 2 - 3 minutes. Add more sauce to taste if neede

HOMEMADE MARINARA

There is no need to keep buying pre-made jarred marinara when making your own is a no brainer! Trust me on this. If you’re like me and use marinara almost all year round for a multitude of things then this will make your life easier. You’ll also be happy knowing that your marinara isn’t loaded in added sugar and some other random crap that doesn’t belong in there. This recipe can make about two pint-sized mason jars and can store them for later use.

I use this marinara for my Braciole & Italian Sausage that many of you have gone crazy over. Even my Minestrone Soup and if you want in the Mediterranean Meatloaf! This is really the base for a lot of my tomato related sauces and other Italian dishes that I’ll be sharing in the coming days. But let this recipe again encourage you to take away and add the things you love most to make your very own version. Buon appetito!

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HOMEMADE MARINARA
Servings
pints
Ingredients
Servings
pints
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large spot, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, salt, and pepper for about 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. Add the basil, stir for a minute then add the can of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir everything together thoroughly and let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour or until it’s thickened. Stir every so often.
  3. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and add more salt to taste.
Recipe Notes

If you like a more smooth texture to the marinara, you can cool it and pour the sauce into a blender or food processor to your desired texture. Make a day ahead for better flavor.

SPICY GIARDINIERA

Here’s a fresh and tangy Italian “relish” so to speak with a twisted kick of spicy Thai chili peppers. I recently started growing Thai chilies out here in this intense Summer heat and clearly peppers thrive on extremely hot days because there’s a couple dozen chilies growing all at once. With so many harvested I was a little lost with what to do with them until a friend of mine came up with a brilliant idea to make a burn your mouth version of Giardiniera.

In Italy it’s called “sotto aceti” literally meaning “under vinegar.” It’s usually served with your antipasto just like olives are and in the U.S. you’ll find it either in its whole pieces or chopped fine put into a spicy beef sandwich. However you choose to enjoy it is entirely up to you. Personally, being the grazer that I am, I love picking the veggies out of the jar one by one munching away or thrown in a very elaborate salad.

In this particular version I added a few extra favorite things that I thought would be a great fit; lupini beans, radishes and garlic. You can’t go wrong with most veggies when it comes to making a brine and marinating in a jar of olive oil and vinegar. Let me know how yours turns out!

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SPICY GIARDINIERA
Servings
quart
Ingredients
Servings
quart
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the cauliflower, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, radishes, garlic, and salt in a large glass bowl and fill it with filtered water until all the veggies are covered. Use your hands to gently mix the veggies around until most of the salt dissolves. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and refrigerate overnight for at least 24 hours.
  2. Drain the glass bowl of veggies in a colander and rinse them with cold water then transfer back to the bowl. Add the lupini beans, Thai chilies, pepperoncinis, olive oil, vinegar, and water.
  3. Gently mix everything together with a large spoon. Lastly, transfer everything into the mason jar as much as you can.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple of days or longer to your desired taste.