Unauthentic Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (lamb is better, but lean beef is acceptable)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (ground up a bit so it’s not big spiky leaf chunks)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 regular potatoes
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 c. frozen peas and carrots (or more if desired)

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.

Begin cooking potatoes.  Pretty much anything works; microwave them like baked potatoes, boil them, whatever you prefer.

Cook ground meat in vegetable oil.  Add onion, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink.

Stir in garlic until thoroughly combined (I love garlic, but not when I get ALL the garlic in one bite).

Stir in flour.  If meat seems excessively greasy, soak up some of it with a paper towel first, but remember that the flour will thicken it.

Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.

Gradually whisk in broth, thyme, rosemary, and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any remaining garlic, tomato, or flour lumps.  Simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in peas and carrots.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add more vegetables if desired.

Pour meat mixture into rectangular casserole dish.  So long as it all fits, the size of the dish isn’t actually terribly important.  If you have an oven-safe skillet to cook in, you can do the whole recipe in that one dish, but I don’t, so…there.

Scrape delicious mushy insides out of potatoes into mixing bowl, and combine thoroughly.  Measure out 4 cups of mixed sweet and regular potatoes.  (Remaining potatoes are now a side dish for some other main; if there’s not much left because you had small potatoes, just use it all on this recipe.  This is not an exact science.)

Using a regular spoon, dollop the potatoes onto the top of the meat mixture. Spread them around as evenly as you can; you are aiming to cover the entire surface with mashed potatoes, sealing the potatoes to the edges.  However, I’ve made this recipe multiple times and I’ve never actually successfully done that and made it look pretty.  There’s got to be a magical trick to it, but I usually murmur “This is not an exact science” over and over until I give up and throw it in the oven.  It’s still tasty, but if you’re serving other people, you might want to put more effort into this step.

Place dish in oven and broil until top is golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  LET COOL and serve (oh god I only made that mistake once; I was just so hungry and it smelled so good I got carried away by my own enthusiasm, but in the end that just meant I couldn’t really taste how good it was until the next day when my tongue wasn’t burnt-numb anymore).


The Best Cheese Tortellini Recipe

…to clarify, this is the best recipe I know of to jazz up the bags of dry cheese tortellini, not the best recipe to make your own cheese tortellini from scratch.  Just in case you were confused.

I used to just boil the tortellini in water, maybe add some peas and garlic butter, and call it a day.  BUT NO LONGER!  This recipe does take more effort than that, but it’s totally worth it. 😀

  • 2 to 4 oz. chopped prosciutto (the original recipe calls for 2 oz. but who doesn’t like more bacon? Also, if “prosciutto” is too fancy for you, substitute bacon.  Or if you have leftover bacon, this is a good recipe to use the last couple of ounces.)
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1.5 c. chicken broth
  • 1.5 c. water
  • 12 oz. dried cheese tortellini of choice
  • 1 (5.3 oz.) package Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese (I thought something this specific would be hard to find, but it really wasn’t, and the texture is super-important – do not substitute anything else for this!  I tried that once…but only once.)
  • 3 cups frozen chopped spinach, or 5 cups fresh baby spinach (I rarely prefer frozen spinach to fresh, but this recipe is the exception.  The fresh leaves were too big and took a while to wilt down, but the frozen spinach took NO prep time to remove stems and whatnot, and it stirred in easily)
  • 2 c. frozen peas
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice (although to be honest I always forget to add this at the end and it’s still good)

Cook prosciutto in large pot over medium heat, 5-7 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Cook chopped fennel and Tbs butter in now-empty pot until lightly browned, 6-9 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, 1.5 c. water, and tortellini.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook at a simmer, stirring often, until tortellini is tender, 6-9 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Stir in baby spinach, peas, and 1/2 c. water until frozen spinach is no longer frozen in clumps, or until fresh spinach is wilted.

Stir in Boursin cheese until it’s completely melted.

Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with crisp prosciutto and serve.  (Honestly, though, I stir the prosciutto in with the peas and spinach because I’d prefer to have it all in one bowl over having nice presentation, because I’m only cooking for myself.  Your call there.)

Pineapple Chicken Bake

This recipe is great with rice, because there’s lots of juicy sauce to soak into the rice! 🙂

  • 1 20-oz. can pineapple bits in juice (NOT IN SYRUP, bleh)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (or, in my case, I was out of soy sauce, but I found some teriyaki sauce with soy sauce as the first ingredient, and it worked juuuuust fine)
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, trimmed, yadda yadda)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbs warm water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. sliced almonds or chopped cashews

Adjust oven rack to top position and preheat oven to 450 F.

Spray 13×9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Drain 1/2 c. pineapple juice from can into medium bowl.  Drain the rest of the juice into a small cup and drink it, because who wastes pineapple juice?  But seriously, you only need 1/2 c. of it for this recipe.

Mix honey, vinegar, soy sauce, and curry powder into reserved pineapple juice.  Simmer, whisking often, about 8 minutes.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.  Lay chicken in prepared baking dish.

Whisk warm water and cornstarch together in small bowl (or the small cup that previously held the excess pineapple juice, if you want to save dishes).  Whisk cornstarch-water into pineapple-curry-honey mixture.  Stir in drained pineapple chunks.  Pour pineapple mixture over chicken, then sprinkle with almonds (or cashews).  Bake 15-20 minutes and serve.

Un-authentic Chicken Tikka Masala

This recipe isn’t authentic because A) it’s not spicy and B) it didn’t take 6 hours to make! 😛

But both of those factors are pluses in my book, so I approve! 😀  This is one of few recipes that I like that’s full of tomatoes, but the other flavors cover up the tomato enough that Tikka Masala always has my stamp of approval (unless it burns my tongue off and I can’t taste anything).

  • 6 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs garam masala
  • 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. plan Greek yogurt (full-fat is best, 2% is okay, but don’t use fat-free)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander (I used ground cardamom instead, because that’s what I had, and it turned out nice!)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, cayenne, or spicer spice if you like that numb-tongue sensation
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

Move oven rack to bottom, or 6 inches from the broiler element and preheat to broil. Set wire rack in aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Combine oil and chopped onion and cook over medium-high heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garam masala, ginger, and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, cover, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Stir in cream, cover, and keep warm.

In medium bowl, combine yogurt, salt, cumin, coriander, and paprika (or other spice).

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Cut into large strips (I cut my chicken breasts in half, and the largest one I cut into thirds) and dip in yogurt mixture.  Chicken should be coated in a thick layer of yogurt; by the last strip, I was using the chicken to wipe yogurt off the sides of the bowl.

Broil chicken 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 7-10 minutes, until lightly charred in spots and chicken registers 160 F (if you have an internal thermometer).  (To be honest, I kept setting the timer in 5-minute increments until it was browned; the total time was probably closer to 30 minutes.)

Cut chicken into bite-size chunks and stir into warm sauce.  Do not simmer chicken in sauce!  Just stir it in and serve.

Apple Pumpkin Butter (Cups)

  • 6 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (one ingredient)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Line bottom of crockpot with apples.

In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Mix well.

Pour pumpkin mixture over apples in crockpot.

Set on low and let cook for 6 hours (or cook on high for 3 hours).

If desired, use immersion blender to make a smooth butter, or just eat it as-is! 🙂


BONUS RECIPE:  Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups!!!

  • Chocolate
    • For lazy people, melt 1 c. chocolate chips in double-boiler
    • For homemade chocolate, whisk together following ingredients:
      • 3 Tbs cocoa powder
      • 1/4 c. virgin coconut oil
      • 1 Tbs sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, etc.)
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • pinch of salt
  • Apple Pumpkin Butter (for filling)

Once chocolate is prepared (either whisked homemade or melted store-bought), line a muffin tray with muffin cup liner thingies.

Spoon chocolate in each muffin liner to fill the bottom.  Using a brush, paint chocolate around the sides and bottom to make a cavity to fill with pumpkin butter.

Place in refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Using small spoonfuls, fill chilled chocolate cups with Apple Pumpkin Butter.

Using remaining melted chocolate, cover the filling so the chocolate touches the sides you “painted” earlier to completely encompass the filling.

Place back in refrigerator for 45-60 minutes until set.

After serving, if any remain, store in ziploc bag or airtight container in the fridge.




This blog also has other fillings you can make, so go check it out!

Almond Butter Banana Cookies

  • 3 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon (or vanilla) extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Blend dates in food processor.

Add bananas, almond butter, egg, and lemon/vanilla extract; blend until (mostly) smooth.

Add nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and pecans.  Blend one final time.

Scoop batter onto parchment paper.  Leave room to spread!

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on bottom (how do you check for that??).

Remove from oven and let cool.

Source: http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/grain-free-goodies/almond-butter-banana-cookies/

Apple Ring Pancakes

  • 2 medium apples, cored
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
    • 1.5 tsp vinegar mixed with 1/2 c. milk works too
  • maple syrup

Slice apples crosswise into 1/8″ rings (yay for owning a mandolin!).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat in egg and buttermilk until just incorporated.

Heat large skillet over med-low heat; grease lightly.

Dip apple rings in batter and allow excess to drip off.  (If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk 1 Tbs at a time, but be careful not to make it too runny.)

Cook apple rings on skillet until golden brown, turning once.  Skillet temperature is key – if it’s too hot, the batter will brown before the apple gets soft.

Serve immediately with maple syrup.

Source: http://www.heatovento350.com/2012/02/vermont-maple-apple-rings.html