Comfort Food…Part 2

Yep.  It’s still cold!  So tonight we had shepherd’s pie! Just like stew, i was not always a fan.  At ALL!!  But I was determined to find a recipe we both liked. So after tweaking a few recipes, here’s what I came up with.  It’s pretty simple and really good and another healthier take on an old standy-by…

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Shepherd’s Pie…

For the potatoes:

1lb (-ish) of yukon gold potatoes (basically 6 large or 10 if they are small)

1 cup of low fat buttermilk

pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste

For the meat:

1lb ground sirloin

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup unsalted beef stock

2-3 tablespoons corn starch (I use non-GMO)

2 teaspoons ground pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tsp worcestershire

1/3 cup ketchup

1 cup mild cheddar 2% milk cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and start boiling water in a medium saucepan.  Peel and cut the potatoes and add them to the boiling water.  While the potatoes do their thing, sauté the carrots in a little olive oil and in a separate pan brown the beef with the onion and garlic powders and pepper.  Typically with sirloin there is no grease to drain.  If you use chuck, be sure to drain it.  Add 1/2 cup of stock to the meat and then whisk the cornstarch and remaining stock.  add to beef.  You want it wet with a little extra liquid, but not soupy.  You may need to adjust the amount of stock.  Add the frozen peas, ketchup, worcestershire, and carrots.  Heat on low until it is thick and the peas are thawed.

When tender, drain the potatoes and add the buttermilk and a little pepper and garlic and onion powders.  Mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy.  You may need to add a little more buttermilk.  in a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, add the meat and then top with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is a little crunchy.

The best part? It reheats in the oven in the SAME PAN so no more dishes! And tonight we had it with the leftover salad (see last night’s post).  Yummy, healthy, and tomorrow night I can just pop it back in the oven! ~s

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Happy Fall Y’All!

It’s officially November!  How did that happen??  And it’s officially *chilly*…..and about to get a whole lot worse.  (Sorry, we just got back from a fun weekend in Tucson with friends and it was so sunshine-y and warm and *sigh*).  So in honor of chilly fall weather and also because my handsome hubby asked, we are having beef stew for dinner.

Here’s the thing.  I HATED beef stew.  Tried a ton of recipes and still hated it. But it’s his favorite and I was determined to find a recipe that we both liked.  I mean really, the man is smart, funny, loves me, and puts up with all my crazy. The least I can do is make one of his favorite meals now and then.

I honestly don’t know where this recipe came from but it is a winner!!  So if it is your recipe, or even remotely looks like your recipe, please let me know and I will link to it and give you all the credit.   It’s easy, it’s fresh, it’s healthy, and I can drink the wine instead of putting it in the stew!!

Beef Stew

1.5 pounds lean steak or stew meat

1 32oz box salt free beef stock

3-4 small potatoes, large dice

1 onion (or 1 Tbs dried minced), diced

3 cloves garlic (or 1/2 Tbs dried powder), minced

4 carrots, diced

1 can green beans, drained (I used about a cup of fresh beans in the summer)

1 32oz can crushed tomatoes

1 palm-full of italian seasoning (not the dressing mix)

3 Tbs tapioca beads

1 tsp dried parsley

1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 375.  Brown the meat in 2 Tbs olive oil in a dutch oven pot (or something that can go directly in the oven) on medium low heat, adding a little salt and pepper.

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When brown, add carrots, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and all seasoning.  (If you are using fresh garlic and onion, drain beef and add this to the pot and cook until translucent, then add beef back in and add veggies).  Add 2/3 of the box of beef stock.  I save the rest for reheating leftovers the next day. Add the tapioca and the bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

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Stir, put a lid on it (hey mom, I’ve heard that a few times!!), and then bake for one hour or until thickened and veggies are tender.  Remove from the oven, keep the lid on it, put it on the stove without heat and let it rest while you bake the biscuits.  (See the 2nd post on the blog for “granny’s biscuits”.)

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It is so good that the dog literally camps out in front of the stove while it bakes! It will look exactly like the above picture only a little thicker.  I check it halfway through baking and if it is too thick I thin it out with a little more stock.

Now for the wine that I didn’t have to put in the stew….Happy Fall Y’All ~s

Army Pasta (aka Orecchiette)

According to Wikipedia, the pasta Orecchiette (singular, orecchietta… but really, who eats ONE piece of pasta???), “is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.”

At our house we think they look like little WWII Army helmets.   Little Army helmets of whole wheat pasta yumminess.

One day I will post the real recipe for my bolognese sauce, but tonight I was tired.  So I cheated.  A lot.   No chopping, no dicing, no fresh, no mess, and it was really good nonetheless.

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Homemade Sauce with Little Army Helmets of Love

1 lb ground sirloin

1 pkg Orecchiette pasta (I used the whole wheat Dellalo organic. Grabbed it at Whole Foods this weekend in Chicago, but I think in p-town you can get it at Fresh Market)

1 can (32 oz) san marzano crushed tomatoes

1/2 small can (or 2-3 Tbs in a tube) tomato paste

2 Tbs dried italian herb seasoning

1 Tbs dried onion powder

1 Tbs dried garlic powder

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

Brown the meat until cooked and start the water for the pasta.  When meat is cooked add the tomatoes and the paste and the herbs.   Stir until the paste is cooked then simmer on low and add the pasta to the boiling water.  Once the pasta is cooked and the seasoning is right on the sauce, you are ready to go!

Quick. Easy.  And you can freeze the leftover sauce.

Oh, in case you were wondering, only 33 days until the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is released.  LOVE HER!  And not just because she sent my 89 year old grandma a birthday card.  Really, it happened.  More on that later…

Baked Meatballs and BFFs

This week is my first annual 39th birthday!  Thanking God for our many blessings this past year and praying that the next would bring health, wisdom, and provision for our family.

I am determined to rock 39. And hopefully my skinny jeans once this meal gets worked off!  (But tonight I’m in yoga pants.  Because I can.)

My personal chef, aka Mom, made meatballs and mashed potatoes for my birthday dinner on Sunday. Yum-O. This was comfort food at its best growing up and she made 90 of them for family dinner. That’s right… 90 meatballs. And I didn’t take a picture because I was too busy eating them. So. Darn. Good. Thanks Mom!!

Mom’s Meatballs (makes 20 meatballs)

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/2 c milk

1/4 chopped onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp sage

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 T worchestshire

2 small cans Campbells tomato soup

1 soup can of water

Mix together everything but the soup and the water and form into 1-inch meatballs.  Place in a 9×13 pan and pour tomato soup and water on top.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours (cover for first 30 min) until no longer pink.   If you want it a little thicker just uncover a little faster.  At our house we eat them with mashed potatoes.  Weird I know, but it totally works.  You can also bake them without the tomato sauce on a baking pan and then freeze them for a quick meal during the week. Sometimes mom throws them (pre-cooked) in the crockpot with a bottle of BBQ sauce.

While I recover from my food coma, I’m crazy excited about this weekend: WIUGW14. For those of you not named Kathy, Laura, or Andi, that’s Western Illinois University Girls Weekend 14. Frankly it has nothing to do with WIU other than that’s where I met 3 of my favorite people. We get together for a weekend every fall and this year we are meeting in Chicago.

I. Cannot. Wait.

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Special thanks to my BFF Beth for the super cute birthday card and for not giving up on me all those years I cried through church camp when we were kids.  You deserve a medal.  (And I will use BFF no matter how old I am.  Because we all stay 12 years old in some ways!)