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11:25AM

Shepherd's Pie

Good Monday Morning. I feel like I am in dreamland today; it does not feel like a Monday. In fact, I don’t know what day it feels like. These last 10 days have been a whirlwind of emotion and lost time. More than a week ago I thought my grandmother was going to die; all signs pointed to eminent death. Nick and I expected to go to Florida almost immediately, but we had to beg my mom to go.

That’ll be a post for another time.

Finally, my mom randomly showed up on our door step at 8:30 on Saturday evening, without any notice. That’s how the trip started and it did not get much better. Death makes people act a very funny way, but the chaos that was my life this past week was far beyond the idea of death.

Again, that’s a post for another time.

We spent a week visiting with my grandmother. Nick and I were the calm, collected part of the equation trying rationally to deal with all of the curveballs sent my mom’s way. At least I know that I can deal with almost anything in a rational way when I don’t let me emotions get the best of me.

Anyway, the week ended as chaotically as it began and there was no stopping it. Nick wanted to stand up for me and it happened to be against my mom. I was so drained emotionally that I did not stop the last piece of chaos when it started at 2:30 in the morning outside in the parking lot in Northern Virginia.

This week was horrible. And after such a horrible period of time, while relief is needed, it is hard to transition into normal life easily. Especially when life and death and everything in between is unresolved.

The only thing that kept me sane this week was {hospital} food. Each day {sometimes several times a day} Nick and I were able to sneak down to the first floor cafeteria to enjoy some food, calm conversation and a mini-venting session. Even today I miss those covert meetings in our little corner cafeteria spot.

I missed Thanksgiving Dinner this year. I was pretty excited about making it, too. We had grand plans, but instead I sat in a hospital cafeteria twice on Thanksgiving. The cafeteria had Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy and plenty of other options. I thought I wanted all of that, but instead I took a look at the soup of the day and it was Everything Thanksgiving. It was some of the best soup I have ever had – Nick and I enjoyed two bowls that day. And I will be trying to recreate my version of it soon.

Food kept me sane. I have a problem overeating, especially when I am emotional. I was proud of myself this week because I attempted to control my food intake; I did not want to overeat. I think it would have been virtually impossible to overeat. I was so stressed out most days that when I tried to eat more than I should I got sick.

I am thankful for lots of things, but I am especially thankful for my panda bear, Nick. He is an absolute blessing. It was not until our final day in Florida that he lost his mind in the chaos. To be fair, a person can only take so much chaos, critique, uncertainty and nagging. I don’t blame anybody fully, but this past week sucked the life out of us. While I want to analyze everything and come to terms with what transpired, I also want to put it in the past!

Like I said, food kept us sane. So for today’s post I have a nice and hearty, traditional favorite. Today I have Shepherd’s Pie. {FYI: I hate Shepherd’s Pie.} I made it for Nick because he loves it. I was making this meal the day I found out that my grandmother was critically ill.

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 1/8th
Calories: 296.75
Fat: 12. 1 g
Carbohydrates: 26.3 g
Fiber: 2.25 g
Protein: 18.5 g
Points+:  7

 

Here is what you will need:

Recipe Adapted From Alton Brown's Shepherd's Pie

For the Potatoes:

  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes
  • ¼ cup half & half
  • 4 tablespoons butter {I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!}
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • ½ to ¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

Directions:

  • Wash and dice the potatoes

  • 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, about 15 minutes
  • Place the half and half and butter into a microwave safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 45 seconds
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander and then 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
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling
  • Place the canola oil in a sauté pan and set over medium-high heat
  • Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots. Sauté just until they begin to take on color, about 4 minutes

  • Add the garlic and stir to combine
  • Add the beef, salt and pepper and cool until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes
  • Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continue cooking for another minute or two
  • Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and stir to combine
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly

  • Add the corn to the beef mixture
  • Lightly grease a baking dish
  • Spread the beef mixture evenly into the baking dish
  • Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up

  • Smooth with a rubber spatula
  • Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown
  • Remove and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving

Nick absolutely LOVED this meal. I am glad it was a hit. While I love all of the individual ingredients, I have never liked Shepherd’s Pie. Growing up my mom would make it for her & my dad to eat, but I always opted against it. Don’t ask me why I cannot stomach the combination of these ingredients, but I was glad to surprise Nick. He could not believe I made this for him!

For a winter evening, this is such a great option. You can serve it with some biscuits, crescents, or some other bread derivative. I hope you give it a try!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pie Makin’

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