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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.

MEXICAN INSPIRED PASTA

I remember it seemed so recent many of us were freezing our butts off and now the weather is heating up faster than I can even get anything done! Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little but seriously the heat seems to be kicking in gear quick. So let’s lighten things up a little why don’t we! I just spent a good amount of time home in California and it reinforced how much I miss the Mexican food there. A lot of it is very much so Baja Mexico influenced and so I wanted to bring that into the kitchen with a unique flare of fun all in one skillet.

There’s a lot of good health going on in this mix. If you’re watching your carb intake then just omit the pasta altogether. Or if you’re not feeling the pasta then replace it with your favorite rice. Keep it heart healthy by leaving out the cheese. I use a lot of ground turkey instead of ground beef for general health benefits but by all means it doesn’t mean you can’t use your choice of meat. On a busy day and not much of a desire to be in the kitchen for a long time, this is one of my latest favorite go to.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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MEXICAN INSPIRED PASTA
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servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta and set aside until you're ready.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions for two minutes.
  3. Add the ground turkey, salt, ground cumin, and use a wooden spoon to break up the ground turkey into fine pieces. Stir occasionally until it's almost cooked thoroughly.
  4. Then stir in the salsa and tomato sauce until everything is heated through. After a couple minutes, add in the black beans and corn. Stir for another minute or two, again until everything is heated through.
  5. Lastly, mix in the elbow pasta, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado for a minute before serving.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

TUNA CASSEROLE

Who doesn’t love comfort food? Comfort food is seriously some of the easiest dishes to make. They’re quick, full of flavor, filling and of course satisfying! With this being my favorite time of year I have to share with you a more basic meal I grew up eating. My Mom always whipped this up using those crunchy shoestring potatoes inside and on top and it was beautiful gluttony. Which you can do so if you like! But I love my veggies and it eases my guilt when I can mix them into a dish like this. I’m telling you though they add a fantastic gourmet flavor that you’ll be glad to have made a huge batch for leftovers.

And let’s face it… part of my mission in sharing this food blog is to make things a little more healthier without compromising flavor.  If you don’t like leeks, use onion instead, actually add anything you like. If I have mushrooms in the fridge I’ll slice them up and add to the saute. And if you’re a garlic freak like me then try roasting a head of garlic and throwing them in the mix. YUM!

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TUNA CASSEROLE
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place a large pot of water filled with water over high heat to get the water boiling for the macaroni.
  2. Meanwhile saute the bell pepper, leek, jalapeno, salt, and pepper with olive oil over medium heat until they're almost soft. Then add the frozen peas. Stir the veggies around for another two minutes until the peas thaw then turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Cook the noodles from both mac 'n cheese boxes as directed on the box. Once you've drained the pasta and returned to the large pot, add the two cheddar cheese pouches that came with the boxed mac 'n cheese. Also add the can of cream of mushroom and milk. Stir everything together until it's well incorporated.
  4. Lastly, fold in the 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, albacore tuna, and sauted veggies. Place the casserole into a 9" x 13" baking dish (or a deep 9" x 9"). Sprinkle a thin layer of grated parmesan cheese on top with the remaining 1/4 cup.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 - 30 minutes or until it's bubbling and the top is golden brown.