Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Shepherd’s Pie

For all you meat and potato people out there, this is the ultimate comfort food.  It is traditionally made with lamb but I make it with ground beef.  What is Shepherd's Pie?  It's basically a casserole with meat and veggies, topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven until golden.  Some make it without a crust. I make mine with a buttery crust for extra comfort!  When you dig into this rich wonderful dish, you get a spoonful of mashed potatoes, some meat and veggies all in one bite.  How good can it get! 

Shepherd’s Pie


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very cold butter
2-3 tablespoons of very cold water

Combine flour and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with fork just until flour is moistened.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough into un-greased 9-inch deep dish pie pan; unfold dough, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Crimp or flute edge. Set aside.

Unbaked Pie

Potato Topping 

1 ½ pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons parsley

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. 

Heat half and half and butter in a small sauce pan until warmed through.  Drain the potatoes very well in a colander and return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.  Set aside.

Meat Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced very small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen baby peas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion and carrots and saute for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. 

Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. 

Baked until crust is golden and potatoes have browned lightly.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.  Add the corn, mushrooms and peas to the meat mixture and allow to simmer for five more minutes on low heat.

Spoon the meat mixture into prepared pie crust.  Top with the mashed potatoes. Make sure you spread the potatoes with a rubber spatula all the way to the edges to make a seal. This will prevent the mixture from bubbling over into your potatoes.  You can use the back of a large spoon to create the design I made on top or just smooth them out.  Sprinkle top with parsley.

Place pie pan on a foil lined baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Classic Pasta And Mushrooms

Sometimes you just want to make something simple.  Maybe use some leftover chicken or maybe some cherry tomatoes. And sometimes it can get even more simpler than that depending on how hungry you are. This is my go to quick meal. Why reach for that pack of Ramen Noodles or that can of soup when you can make a rich and creamy pasta dish in no time. Sometimes just a handful of ingredients spell out comfort food at its best.

Classic Pasta and Mushrooms

3 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ cup Cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (OR Dry White Wine)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Parsley, Minced
1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
 Salt and pepper to Taste
1 pound Thin Spaghetti Or Angel Hair Pasta
Extra Parmesan, For Sprinkling

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water, leaning toward the al dente side. Do not overcook! Drain pasta and then return to the cooking pot. Save some of your pasta water in a separate cup.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and garlic to pan. Toss/stir around and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes; increase heat to high if needed to help mushrooms begin to turn golden brown.

Next, pour in chicken broth or white wine.  Using a wooden spoon, stir while scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for several minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.

 Reduce heat and pour in heavy cream.  Continue to stir until sauce thickens.  Finally, add Parmesan and stir, allowing cheese to melt and incorporate into the sauce. Turn off heat.

Add cooked pasta to a large bowl. Add half the sauce from the pan and toss well.  Then add remaining sauce as needed. If sauce gets to thick, use pasta water to thin it out. Serve pasta in individual bowls, topping each helping with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with extra parsley and extra Parmesan.

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Cream Of Mushroom Soup

I always make this soup when I have mushrooms in the fridge that I need to use. It is so rich and creamy....one of those perfect soups for a cold afternoon.  You’ll never go back to the canned stuff once you make your own homemade cream of mushroom soup.  It’s not full of salt like the canned soups are. It’s thick and creamy with that earthy mushroom flavor. Really good!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

½ cup butter, divided
2 cups Shiitake mushrooms, sliced or chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ cup flour
2½ cups half and half
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons dry minced onions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

I like Shiitaki mushrooms, but I use whatever I have leftover. Crimini, Baby Bells, or even button mushrooms work well.  You can even mix them and add a variety to your soup.

In a large skillet melt ¼ cup of the butter. Add mushrooms and garlic salt. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt ¼ cup butter. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add half and half and heavy cream.

Add minced onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 more minutes on low.  Serve.

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Creamy Cheeseburger Soup

If you make nothing else this year from all my recipes, you have to 
make this soup.  It is my all-time favorite of the soups I make and 
I could live off this stuff.  It is so rich and hearty and absolutely 
delicious.   This is a keeper my friends.

Creamy Cheeseburger Soup

1 pound ground chuck
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
4 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite sized chunks
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar, diced into small cubes or shredded

In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef over medium heat until 
cooked through. Drain the fat, stir in the seasoned salt to coat the 
beef, and set the beef aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the bottom of the stock pot set over 
medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes 
or until translucent. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook 1 more 
minute. Add the corn, potatoes, cooked ground beef, and chicken 
stock to the pan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for 10-15 
minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. 
Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. 

Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened to consistency of a thin 
gravy. Add the flour mixture to the pot of soup, along with the 

Stir to combine and continue cooking over medium-low heat until 
the cheese has melted and the soup has thickened, stirring 

Serve with croutons or extra shredded cheese or both!

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