Sunday, April 19, 2009

Root Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

Last Saturday, I experienced my first weekend without school stress! In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. After seeing a post on another blog and knowing I had some ground beef in the freezer, I thought shepherd's pie was worth a try. But I couldn't just do the normal, standard recipe, now could I? Besides, I really just don't like celery and carrots. And thus my solution: create my very own shepherd's pie remix based on root vegetables!

I started with parsnips, turnip, and brown (crimini) mushrooms. I highly recommend brown mushroom, so much more flavor!

Here they are being caramelized (except the mushrooms)...ah so fragrant!

Now I added the mushrooms and some herbs

Peter helped with the beef...I'm not a big fan of touching or getting near raw meat. What a silly face. :)

Here the veggies, beef, and gravy are getting acquainted.

Top it with mashed, seasoned potatoes, bake, and:

Voila! Cauliflower! Just kidding. More like a giant delicious potato topping!

So what was the result of my experiment? Good, but not amazing. But I think the lack of amazingness is easily remedied. First, cut the amount of parsnip in half, second, use more mushrooms, and third, season more heavily. I've adjusted the recipe accordingly. I am proud to say, however, that the potato topping came out quite nicely. :) One can also add more flavor by topping it with shredded cheese. And I suppose if you do like celery but want to stick with the root theme, you could try some celery root.

Let me know if you try it!


1 parsnip, cleaned and diced (no need to peel if scrubbed well)

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

5 tbl butter

dried thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste (I sprinkle and smell)

1 lb ground beef

3-4 splashes Worcestershire sauce

3 tbl flour

1 3/4 cup beef broth (or less for a thicker gravy)

1 cup frozen peas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and caramelize parsnip, turnip, and onion in butter (about 10 min). Add mushrooms and seasonings, stir together for about 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

3. In another skillet, cook the beef; if there is a lot of fat leftover, partially drain. Do not drain completely. Add Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. While at medium heat, add the flour, stirring contantly, and cook a couple of minutes. Add peas and slowly pour in broth and bring to a simmer, stirring occaisionally. Simmer until thickened.

4. Combine veggie and meat mixture in a 2 quart casserole dish. Add mashed potato mixture (recipe below). Place on a baking sheet in case of spills and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until mashed potatoes nice and puffy with golden tips.

For the mashed potatoes:

Boil in salted water until fork tender 5-6 red potatoes, peeled and chopped. Drain, then transfer to a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle until smooth. Add 2 tbl cream, 2 tbl milk, 2 tbl butter, 1 egg, and salt and pepper. Cream together. Adjust liquid if necessary.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stuffed Florentine Shells

This is a delicous Pampered Chef Recipe. It's meatless, and if you're like me and can't stomach melted cheese, you can easily make the stuffing with just the spinach, ricotta cheese, seasonings, and half and half.
  • 18 jumbo pasta shells (you can also substitute manicotti shells)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part skim Ricotta
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach chopped, thawed, and drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup half and half (divided)
  • 1 garlic clove pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350, cook pasta according to directions, drain, then drizzle with Olive oil so the shells don't stick.

Mix ricotta, spinach, 1&1/2 cups of Italian cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of half and half. Press in garlic and seasonings. Mix well. In another bowl whisk the rest of spaghetti sauce with remaining half and half. Pour some of sauce mix on bottom of cooking pan. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture (one scoop) I usually use my cookie dropper. Arrange filled shells in baking pan. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil, bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, top dish with remaining 1/2 cup of Italian cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 5 min. Let cool for 10 min. before serving.

I'm sorry to say I forgot to take pictures so you'll have to make do with a photoless post.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 3

I hope no one was waiting in anxious anticipation for the conclusion of my series on pickled red onions! It's been incredibly busy around here, what with having been working and going to school full time. But that story is for my other blog...

Here is part 3 of the amazing pickled red onion! Again, forgive my lack of precise ingredients. See this less as a recipe and more as a guide or an inspiration. Let me know if you try the pickled onion and what you do with it!

Escarole tuna wraps with pickled red onion and almonds

Make a filling with 1 can of tuna (preferably in oil), finely ground almonds, mayo, some pickling juice, and finely chopped pickled red onion. Scoop filling onto a large escarole leaf. Wrap it all together and there you have it!