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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.

TURKEY BEAN CHILI

One pot meals are some of my favorite dishes because it doesn’t require a lot of time especially when you don’t have a lot of time to begin with. And because it’s so simple, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of the ease for all-around healthy food.

You can’t get any more well balanced in a meal than this turkey chili. Plenty of protein from the turkey and beans. Complex carbs from the beans with TONS of fiber from both the beans and veggies. And not to forget to mention, there is no flavor lacking in this chili. Don’t let the ground turkey concern you! Cumin is the secret to making ground turkey (or ground chicken) taste similar to beef. But if you must, you can simply use a lean ground beef instead.

I personally use half ground turkey and half ground turkey breast. The ground turkey breast is very lean with a little higher protein content, only about 1.5g of fat per 4oz and no saturated fat like regular ground turkey. It’s a fair compromise to really make it healthy. Actually, it’s just to make room for me to top it off with some of my Homemade Queso Fresco cheese, haha! For those who are diabetic, with 8 servings in this chili you’ll get about 16g net carbs which isn’t so bad for how filling it is. You can make your portion smaller and enjoy a side of veggies or a salad to keep the carbs down more.

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TURKEY BEAN CHILI
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil and sauté the bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, and garlic stirring until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and dried bay leaf. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the ground turkey and mix everything together.
  3. Once the ground turkey is nearly cooked after about several minutes, add the canned crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, and worchestershire sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce the temperature to a steady simmer for about 45 minutes uncovered. Stir once in a while.
  4. Add the black beans and kidney beans the last 5 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Revised: September 7, 2017

LAMB KOFTAS & BIRYANI

THIS! Is one of my absolute favorite dishes EVER! It’s truly a fusion of concepts in many ways but what I love most about it, is the combination of spices in both the lamb koftas and this really easy biryani rice. I’ve had some bad first experiences with lamb until I had ground lamb. There’s something about lamb that requires a certain attention with the right spices to make everything marry in ways you’ll want to keep eating it. Which is totally an okay thing to do versus red meat from cow. Lamb is a much healthier alternative (in addition to bison).

Kofta is basically another name for meatball in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, although the main difference between a kofta and the usual meatball you’re more familiar with is the spices. The compilation of flavors are a little more complex BUT that doesn’t mean it’s complex to make. It’s literally just as easy as making any other meatball. These of course being lamb have some fresh mint among warm spices like cumin, coriander, garam masala and even chili powder. But they’re not spicy just VERY flavorful. I would definitely recommend this recipe for someone who has never had lamb before and are worried about any gamey-ness. In this case there is none!

And of course what better way to pair a perfect lamb kofta than with a very basic biryani. The name biryani sounds intimidating enough to make someone not want to attempt to make it. Although it’s again not that different from making any other rice dish that has lots of yummy flavor. This also is a South Asian dish where you’ll find is popular in various ways throughout the region depending on the country. What I did here is I took some basic elements of Indian cuisine, mixed it with some Persian flavors and concepts and even married it together with a few clean Latin flavors of jalapeno and coriander.

I have always had a fascination and a strong love for Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern food. Maybe I was from both regions in past lives or maybe it’s part of me in some way genetically LOL but whatever it is, when you can get several spices together and make them work so well with little effort (maybe if anything, more prep time than anything), to me that makes some incredible food. You really don’t have to go fancy with technique to prove yourself or anyone that you can cook. 🙂


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LAMB KOFTAS & BIRYANI
Servings
servings
Ingredients
BIRYANI
Servings
servings
Ingredients
BIRYANI
Instructions
MEATBALLS
  1. In a large glass bowl mix the one onion chopped VERY fine, crushed garlic, ground cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, chili powder, fresh mint, and salt.
  2. Add the ground lamb and gently fold everything together without over mixing to prevent the koftas becoming tough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or up to a few hours.
  3. Take the large bowl of ground lamb out of the fridge to make the meatballs about an inch in diameter and place on a plate.
  4. Place about two tablespoons of olive in a large skillet over medium-high heat to sauté the cauliflower florets, bell peppers, jalapenos, the other chopped onion, garlic powder, and onion powder together for 5 minutes.
  5. Then, squeeze the juice of one lime over the mix and stir. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for another ten minutes until onions are very translucent and everything else seems to have absorbed all of the lime juice. Remove from heat and set aside for later.
  6. In a large skillet over medium/high heat pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet generously and cook the meatballs, moving them around until evenly brown all around. Each one should have a firm feel to your finger tip without feeling too mushy before you place them on a large plate covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  7. When finished cooking all the meatballs, drain the excess oil from the skillet and toss both the meatballs with the vegetable mixture that you set aside earlier on medium heat for a couple minutes before serving.
BIRYANI
  1. In a medium saucepan pour the olive oil and butter over medium/high heat. Sauté the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves for about 3-5 minutes. An obvious sign is when you start to smell the strong aroma of all three together for a good minute.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and saffron threads for a couple more minutes, stirring. Throw in the basmati rice, curry powder, and ground turmeric. Stir until the rice is completely coated yellow.
  3. Add the stock, stir and leave uncovered until it starts to boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce the temperature to a simmer, cover and let the rice absorb all its liquid for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and keep covered until ready to serve.
Recipe Notes

To make this a diabetic friendly meal, avoid the rice and serve in large romaine lettuce as tacos. Slice the koftas in half with the veggies and enjoy.