Shepherd’s Pie

I was going to start out by saying that even though it is really, REALLY tasty, Shepherd’s Pie is not a “pretty” dish. Whenever I make Shepherd’s Pie, it always turns into a big ol’ mess when I serve it up. It does not photograph well. It tastes great. It is complete meal all in itself (protein, veggie, carb). It is primo comfort food. But it isn’t winning any beauty contests here.

I was going to start off that way, until I did a Google Image search for Shepherd’s Pie and found some quite lovely photographs of this dish. I mean, in reality, those are probably styled and photographed by people who know what they are doing. I have a nice camera that I use occasionally, but for this blog, I tend to use my phone because it is easier. I guess that means I don’t always get the best pictures of some things. I think I do pretty well, though, on most posts. Right?

 

Anyway, back to the food… As I you saw in my last post, I made mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. I really wanted to try that to see how it would work before Thanksgiving, but then I was going to be stuck with a bunch of potatoes. That’s when I decided to make Shepherd’s Pie. It is always a favorite in our house, so I knew it would be a good use of the potatoes.

A little background: Shepherd’s Pie (sometimes known as Cottage Pie, when not made with lamb) is an Irish dish. It dates back to the 18th century and was a way for the poor to use up potatoes and leftover meat (usually beef or lamb) and stretch their food supply.

I usually make mine with ground beef, but in an effort to be healthier, I made this one with ground turkey. My husband said it was still really good, but it did taste a little different with the turkey. I used all the same ingredients otherwise and I didn’t really notice a difference. Bottom line: you can use whatever ground meat you want (or roasted. This would be good with Thanksgiving leftovers).

Shepherd’s Pie

1 pound ground turkey

½ onion, diced

1-2 cloves minced garlic

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

About a cup of frozen peas (eyeball it)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cups beef broth *I’ll explain this in the directions. Also, chicken broth is acceptable, but it will taste MUCH different)

2 pounds of potatoes, mashed

In a skillet, add a little bit of olive oil and brown your turkey. Remove the meat from the skillet.

 

Add a little more oil to the same skillet (if you think you need it) and saute your onions, garlic, and carrots until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add back in the turkey and the peas and cook until the peas thaw out mostly. 


Sprinkle the flour over all of it and stir to coat. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Then slowly add the beef broth until until the sauce forms. You don’t want it too soupy but you don’t want it too thick either. Find a happy medium so it’s like a gravy almost. That’s why I suggest slowly adding the broth until it is at a consistency you like.

Pour everything into a 9×13 baking dish in an even layer. Then top with your mashed potatoes. I made mine with a little butter, a little milk, and some parmesan cheese, but you can do whatever you normally do.

 

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

 

I know my pictures may not look as pretty as some of the others, but I can promise you this tastes really good!

Advertisements

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 

My sweet tooth will be my downfall, dear readers. If there is any candy or chocolate or cookies lying around, I’ll definitely be sneaking nibbles here and there… and here again. Ice cream in the freezer? Forget about it. It’s a wonder I’m not a 500-pound diabetic.

My husband, however, is the opposite. As far as sweets are concerned, he can take ‘em or leave ‘em. He’ll have a bite or two every so often, but his self-control is admirable. And possibly inhuman. I’ll have to check into that.

Since I love sweets and I love to bake, him not really caring one way or the other makes it a bit difficult when I want to make something. Sure the kids can have some too, but I don’t want them scarfing down sweets all the time. Usually, it means my co-workers benefit. I make sweet things, leave them in the breakroom and watch them disappear. Nothing goes to waste and I get my fix of both eating the sweets and making them.

That being said, I did not take this pie to work. It stayed in my fridge while I took bites out of it here and there… and here again. It was so good. Like really, so good. You know what, just try it for yourself. You’ll see. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Chocolate cookie crust (you can make your own, but I bought mine. Still amazing.)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter
1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Remove it from the bowl and set it aside.

Back in the mixer, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until combined and creamy.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. It will now be almost like peanut butter mousse. In fact, that is what it will be called going forward because doesn’t that sound marvelous?!

Pour the peanut butter mousse into the prepared pie crust and smooth out.

Put it in the fridge to set up for about 30 minutes or so.

Now, at this point, I melted half a bag of chocolate chips and poured it over the top. This was big mistake and I felt it as soon as I poured the chocolate. What I should have done was heat up some heavy cream and add some chocolate chips and make a ganache.

How I did it, ended up with a thick, hard, chocolate shell that made it difficult to cut and was way too rich. After the chocolate hardened, I ended up just removing the shell. I just popped right off.

You can always drizzle chocolate over the top or make a real ganache, but honestly, the pie was better after I took the chocolate off the top. The peanut butter mousse filling was heavenly and the chocolate crust was plenty of chocolate to complement the peanut butter.

I’m thinking this mousse would make a really good cake filling too. Or you know, just in a bowl with a spoon….

Chicken Pot Pie 

I’m going to confess something: I made this for dinner a few nights ago and immediately uploaded the pictures. I saved the post as a draft with the full intention of coming back to it later that night after the kids went to bed. Instead, I immediately forgot all about it.

Oops!!  So, I am hoping I remember exactly what I did. I do make this pot pie recipe quite often, which is great when I’m making it, but not always when trying to tell someone the recipe. I tend to make it on auto-pilot so to know what exactly I do requires a lot of concentration.

Chicken pot pie is really a delicious and comforting dish. Perfect for this time of year. And what’s really great is you can make lots of adjustments to make it how you want.  You can change the vegetables around or leave them out if you really want. You can use chicken or leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Or no meat and make it vegetarian. You can use homemade dough or store bought. I’ve even used puff pastry before and that is so yummy (what isn’t yummy with puff pastry?!)

Here it goes…

For the crust:
1-1/2 sticks of cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
5-6 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth (if you are making this vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
3/4 cup milk or cream
about 2-1/2 cups shredded chicken. I used 2 chicken breasts
Vegetables (more on this in the instructions)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, add all the dough ingredients except the vinegar and water. Cut together with a pastry cutter or two knives, if you don’t have a pastry cutter. Make sure the butter is really cold. Cut the butter into the flour until it looks like small peas.

  Add the vinegar and about 4 tablespoons of water to the flour mixture. Stir together until all incorporated. If you need to add more water, do it 1 tablespoon at a time until it all comes together.  Put the dough in the fridge until ready to use. This is for a double crust. If you only want to use a top crust for your pot pie, just divide it half and freeze the half you aren’t using for another time.
  In a pot or large skillet, melt your butter and add your onions. Cook until soft.  Add in your flour and stir together until a paste forms. Let it cook for a couple minutes to get out the raw flour taste.
  Add your chicken broth and stir to incorporate the roux.  Add the milk or cream and let it come to a low boil. The mixture will thicken up. If it is too thick, you can add some more milk or broth. Reduce to a simmer.
Add your chicken and vegetables. More on the vegetables:

My usual combo is potatoes, peas, and carrots.  I forgot to check my veggie supply before I started and all I had on hand was broccoli, so that’s what I used.  It was still really good.

No matter what you use, make sure the veggies are cooked first, especially if you are using potatoes. What’s great about this is you can use frozen veggies and just throw them in the broth mix. They will thaw very quickly.

  Turn off the stove after the veggies have thawed mostly and take your dough out of the fridge. Divide it in two (one for the top crust and one for the bottom). Roll them out to the size of your baking dish.
  Put the bottom crust in your dish. Fill in any gaps with extra dough that may have flapped over the side of the dish. It doesn’t have to look perfect; this isn’t a beauty pageant. It’ll be delicious.  Pour in your filling.
  And top with the rest of your dough. Fold under the excess dough and poke a few holes in the top to let the steam escape.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.  Remember the filling inside is all cooked, so you just really need to cook the crust.
   This is really so yummy! And comfort food at it’s finest. Plus, my kids love it, so that makes it even better :0)

No-bake Lemon Cream & Raspberry pie

Growing up in my family meant eating a lot of pie. We had our share of other desserts, but when it came to special occasions, we did eat a lot of pie. Apple, strawberry, boysenberry, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, coconut cream. You name it, we had it.

 I love all of them, but my favorite pie is chocolate cream. This, however, has led to many a discussion between my sister and me about whether or not this is actually a pie. In her opinion, it is pudding in a crust. I said, by that definition, then strawberry pie is just strawberries in a crust. And what about chicken pot pie and quiche? Where do they fit in? This has turned into a very circular argument, with neither of us willing to cede our opinion.

For the love of sisterhood and pie, we’ve agreed to set our differences aside and agree to disagree.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t make enough pie. I don’t know that there’s a rule for this, but I feel like, as a self-proclaimed food blogger, I should be making more pies. Well, good news for you, my tens of readers. I made a pie last night. It was super yummy, and best of all, really easy!

I may have exaggerated a little bit when I called this a No-Bake lemon pie, because I did bake the graham cracker crust, but you don’t have to. You can just put it in the fridge and use it that way or you can buy a premade one from the grocery store (and then it would be even easier!) Just do whatever your heart desires with your crust.

 For this pie, you will need:

 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 jar of lemon curd (can be found at the grocery store near the jelly/jam)

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup of powdered sugar (more if you want it sweeter)

Frozen raspberries (or really any frozen berry you like)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until it resembles wet sand. Pour into a pie dish and spread out evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes then let cool completely. I put mine in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. Or you can buy a store-bought graham cracker crust and skip all this.   

  

While your crust is cooling, prep your filling. In a mixing bowl, whip your heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. In a medium bowl, dump out the contents of a 10.5 oz jar of lemon curd and add half of the whipped cream. Gently fold the two ingredients together until well combined. Don’t stir because you’ll deflate your whipped cream. Just gently fold. Set aside

  
  

In another bowl, defrost your berries in the microwave. I put them in for about 2 minutes. They were thawed, not warm, and contained a lot of yummy liquid.

Add the berries to a blender and blend well with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Set aside.

  
  

Time to assemble.

Pour the lemon cream filling into the cooled pie crust.  
  

Spoon a circle of the berry puree on top of the lemon.

  
Add the rest of the whipped cream to a ziploc bag (or piping bag, if you have one) and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe the cream around the outer edge of the pie. Or, really, you can put the whipped cream on however you want. It’s your pie.

    
   

After we had our dessert, I actually put the leftover pie in the freezer. It was really good that way too. A little like ice cream pie.

Fair warning, that while this pie is really delicious, it is really tart! I’m sure you could add more sugar to counter-balance the tartness from the lemon curd, but that’s up to you and your tastebuds. I thought it was just right. The hubby and my 2 year old also loved it. (The 5 year old was too busy with Paw Patrol to care.)

I’m sure even my sister would like it, even though she might not classify it as a real pie :0)

Peach Crostata 

It’s summer time and that means you have to make something with peaches. It’s like a law or something. Peach cobbler, peach pie, peach ice cream… it’s all fair game.

A crostata is an Italian pie. It is similar to the French galette. It can also be referred to as a rustic tart. Rustic is the keyword here. I call it a lazy pie because you don’t have to make the crust all pretty. You just roll out the dough in a circle, add the filling and fold the rest of the dough around the center. It’s messy, but you can call it “rustic” and everyone will love it.

Actually, everyone will love it anyway because it is delicious, regardless of what you call it.

Peach Crostata

4 large peaches
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 t cinnamon
¼ t ground ginger
Pie crust (homemade or store bought, whatever your favorite is)

Peel and dice the peaches and place in a large bowl. Add the sugars, cinnamon, and ginger and mix well. Set aside and prepare your crust

Roll out the dough to a large circle about 1/4” thick. Pour your filling in the middle, leaving about an inch or two around the edge. Fold the leftover dough up over the edge of the filling, crimping together as you go around. It will look very rustic. Make sure there aren’t any cracks in the dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and dream of summer nights.