Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and what better way to celebrate this Irish holiday than with some traditional Irish fare.  And you can’t get any more “traditional Irish” than Shepherd’s Pie.  Originally called “Cottage Pie” this hearty dish was a means to use up roasted meat of any kind.  The Shepherd part didn’t come into play until 1877, and is generally used when the meat is lamb (mutton).

However, I am not a fan of mutton, plus it’s super expensive, so I opted for a more economical, typically American choice: ground turkey.  Affordable, lean, and easy to find in any grocery store, ground turkey can be a great substitute in many recipes that call for ground lamb, wild game, or beef.  The mild flavor is like a blank canvas with so many possibilities to please your palate.  If you prefer to go the traditional route, you can use mutton or beef, or even a mixture of the two, in place of the turkey.

There are quite a few steps that take you back and forth so don’t forget to read the recipe through first!  There’s a lot going on, but all the steps are oh, so worth it!  I hope you enjoy my spin on this dish.  Enjoy!  ~Joanie

Ingredients:

Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 Medium potatoes, peeled
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 cup full fat sour cream
Salt to taste

Pie Filling:
1 lb Ground Turkey
1 1/2 Cups fresh or frozen corn
5 Tbs butter, divided
1 Cup onion, diced
3 Celery stalks, chopped
3 Large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Cups turkey or vegetable broth
4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tsp ground thyme
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen English peas
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
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Directions:

Peel and quarter potatoes.  Fill a large stock pot with water, add the potatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once potatoes are tender, drain and set aside.

In a deep skillet or sauce pan, brown meat.  Remove the cooked meat from the pan and set aside.  Keep the pan and drippings for a later step.  (If you’re using ground beef or lamb, you may want to drain it, as these meats are much fattier than turkey.)

While the meat is browning, you should have time to caramelize the corn.  Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the corn to a skillet and cook on medium-high heat until you see it start to turn dark golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Caramelizing the corn brings out the sugar and adds a really yummy layer of flavor.  Adjust the heat accordingly if it starts to scorch, you don’t want burned corn ruining your yummy dinner!  Caramelized Corn.jpg

In the pan you browned the turkey in, add 2 Tbs of the butter and let it sizzle on med-high heat for about 1 minute.  Don’t let it burn.  Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the carrots and celery all at once, reduce heat to medium and let it all cook together for about 5 minutes.Trinity.jpg

Make a well in the middle of the veggie pan and add 2 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoon of flour and whisk together to form a roux.  When the roux is golden in color, slowly begin to add about 1/2 the turkey stock, whisking as you go.  Roux.jpg

Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the rest of the stock, the fresh rosemary sprigs (whole, you’ll fish them out later), the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, English peas and salt & pepper.  Let this all cook together on medium heat for about 10 minutes.Rosemary.jpg

Now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Back to the potatoes: Add the butter, garlic powder, sour cream and salt to the potatoes and whip with a hand mixer on medium speed until just creamy.  Fill your piping bag/tool using a large star tip, if using, and set aside…you’re almost there.

Remove the spent rosemary sprigs from the vegetable filling.  Make sure you get all the woody stems, those are no fun to chomp down on!  Add the browned turkey and the caramelized corn to the vegetable filling.  Filling.jpg

Transfer mixture to an oven safe baking dish, making sure to leave about an inch of clearance from the top.  I used a 2 quart round dish.  This would also be really cute in individual-sized cast iron pans, but I don’t have those.  Yet.
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Pipe the potatoes onto the top of the filling.  If you don’t have a piping bag, smooth individual spoonfuls of potatoes onto the filling mixture, starting around the edges and working your way to the center.  Whether you’re using the piping or spooning method, make sure the potatoes create a good seal over the filling.
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Into your 400 degree oven it goes, MAKE SURE to put a cookie sheet or piece of foil under it because it will most likely drip…mine does every time.  =)
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Bake for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.  If it’s bubbling around the edges but the potatoes aren’t the color you want, you can broil it for 1-2 minutes but watch it very, very, very carefully!

The insides will be scorching hot, so let it cool and set up for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Dish up and enjoy!  This one makes great leftovers too!
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Six Pepper Chili

I love chili! Probably partly because I like spicy food and I put a lot of kick into my chili.  In our house, when Joanie and I were kids, chili was a staple and it was always homemade. Sometimes we would even make moose chili but that’s a whole other blog!

Over the years I’ve tried many different chili styles adding this or that, making it spicy or mild, or trying different meat or beans.  I even made it cheesy a time or two, which essentially turned out to be a chili dip that went perfectly with nacho cheese Doritos!  I finally perfected this chili on a crisp autumn evening up at our cabin in the mountains.  I also recently used it to win a chili cook-off!  One thing I would change in this recipe is I would fire roast all of the peppers to bring out all of the flavors in the different varieties.  This one is a little spicy, fair warning.  If you don’t want as much spice, omit the cayenne pepper and jalapeno.  ~Janna

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage
10-12oz of pearl onions, whole (or 1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
2 Serrano peppers, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
12 oz bottle of beer
2 cans 15oz tomato sauce
1 can 12oz tomato paste
1 can, 14.5oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cans 15.25oz each of dark kidney beans, drained but not rinsed
Cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbs sugar
black pepper
salt to taste

Method:

Brown pork in a skillet on med/high heat.

In large stock pot, sauté onions and all peppers. Once tender, (about 5-7 minutes) add the bottle of beer and stir a couple of minutes.

Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and beans, stir to combine and bring back to a simmer.

Add the pork without draining (unless there is tons of grease) and all of the spices.  Stir to combine and Simmer at least 1 hour.  Salt to taste and enjoy on a cold winter evening!6 Pepper Chili with Title

Hearty Beef Stew

This beef stew is the best beef stew you will ever have!  It’s loaded with delicious meat potatoes, veggies and fresh herbs. It’s slow simmered to get a thick, silky broth that is perfect for sopping up with a crusty piece of French bread with homemade butter.  This is one of those times when I wish I still lived in a cabin in the woods in Alaska.  I’m sure fresh moose steak or caribou would be fabulous in this stew.  I can just imagine the stew simmering away all day while I’m out shoveling snow or bringing in fire wood.  I envision my husband’s soggy coat and gloves hanging by the wood stove to dry after a hard days work.  The sun is going down, making way for a frosty evening, the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of hearty stew.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is.

Beef Stew Ingredients

Ingredients:

1lb Stew beef chunks or any beef steak cut into bite sized chunks
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of pearl onions, or any onion
1 cup of chopped celery
2 cups of chopped carrot
3 cups of marble potatoes or any potatoes cut into bite sized chunks
4 cups of beef stock
1 cup red wine (I used syrah)
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

Method:

Brown beef in a skillet.
Beef Stew Beef

In a large stew pot, melt butter on low heat, when melted add the flour a little at a time and whisk until you make a paste called a roux.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, bay leaves and cook on low for a few minutes.
Beef Stew Roux

Add the beef stock, cooked beef, potatoes, wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer on low/med heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  If stew isn’t as thick as you like, make a thickener by whisking 1/2 cup of cold water with 2 Tbs flour, pour into soup and stir.
Beef Stew in Crock

Ladle into bowls, serve with crusty bread slathered with homemade butter and enjoy!
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Roasted Chicken Breast with Balsamic Cream

A foody friend of mine gave me this recipe for a balsamic cream sauce and it sounded so delicious and simple that I tried it that very night with a roasted chicken breast. I was not disappointed.  In fact, that rich, creamy sauce immediately landed among my favorite recipes, not only because it is delicious, but also because the ingredients are ones that I generally have on hand, and preparation is incredibly simple.  And, although I have this paired with chicken, I think it would go incredibly well with any cut of steak or a pasta dish.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 chicken breast halves, bone in
2 Tbs butter, divided
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Balsamic Cream Sauce:
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
¼ cup minced sweet onion (Mayan or Vidalia work well)
1 Cup heavy Cream
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
½ Cup grated parmesan cheese (the kind in the can works best)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Gently loosen the skin to create a pocket, but don’t pull it off.  Cut the butter into 8 chunks and slip it under the chicken skin, 4 chunks for each breast.  Season the skin of the chicken well with salt and pepper and any additional herbs you prefer.  Place breasts in an oven-safe dish and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches a safe 165 degrees.
While the chicken is roasting, heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir in the minced onion and cook until it has caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the bouillon and cream.  Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.

Note: I used fresh parmesan in this picture, which tasted great but left the sauce a little chunky.  For a smoother sauce, use the pre-grated parm in a can, the stuff you sprinkle over spaghetti.

When the chicken is done roasting, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  Serve it whole or slice it up, but either way, be sure to serve with a generous portion of the balsamic cream.  I LOVE this combination with Oven Roasted Potatoes.  Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Aside from coffee, potatoes are probably my biggest weakness in life.  Put a potato in front of me in any form and I have a hard time resisting.  I have a weakness for french fries and potato chips (especially salt & vinegar flavored!) but I would take these savory roasted potatoes over those any day!
The sweet onions compliment the potato perfectly and the garlic adds a nutty flavor that completes the dish.  The simple preparation and inexpensive ingredients make this a fantastic addition to your dinner repertoire.
This method is really delicious with sweet potatoes as well.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 lbs medium red potatoes OR white sweet potatoes
1 sweet onion, wedged
10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, snipped into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dried parsley
3 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper


Directions
:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub and quarter potatoes, or if using sweets, chop into approx 2×2 in chunks.  Try to make the size as uniform as possible.

Place potatoes and all other ingredients in a bowl or a large seal-able bag and toss to combine.

Spread out in one layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan.  I recommend using a baking stone for this as it reduces the chances of burning.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Carefully remove rosemary stems.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sesame Soy Green Beans

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, fresh green beans are in abundance in the markets.  But we wanted to give you more options than just the typical American green bean casserole.  Although green bean casserole can be DELICIOUS when it’s made from scratch (no canned beans or soup here!), sometimes it’s nice to have an option that’s a little lighter.  Yes, this recipe has soy sauce which is high in sodium, but you are using fresh ingredients which makes a huge health and flavor difference.  And when you think about all the sodium and preservatives in canned green beans and condensed cream of mushroom soup, well, is it really an issue?  However, you can still cut down the sodium by using a low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos.  Now, let’s get to it!
**Note:  Because of the chili paste, this recipe does have a little heat to it!**

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh green beans
2 Tbs sesame oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced or about ½ lb of      frozen  pearl onions
1 tsp chili paste
¼ cup soy sauce or liquid              aminos
¼ cup water
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)


Directions
:

Blanching Green Beans:  Rinse green beans well and trim off the stem ends.  Fill a large stock pot with water, about 8 cups.  Add 1 tsp salt and bring water to a rolling boil.  Add the green beans to the water and allow to boil until tender and bright green, about 2-4 minutes (I like mine soft, so I go the full 4 minutes).  Remove beans from water and immediately rinse with cold water or plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Set cooled beans aside.
**Note:  You can blanch the beans ahead of time (we recommend no more than a day ahead) and store them in the refrigerator until they’re ready for use.**

In a heavy bottomed saute pan, add the sesame oil and garlic.  Saute garlic on medium-high heat until golden brown, but be very careful not to burn as garlic cooks quickly.

Add the onions, saute them for about 1 minute, then turn the heat down to medium-low.

Add the soy sauce, chili paste and water and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced by about half.    

Add the green beans to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until beans are heated through.  Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.  Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

IMG_3747You’ve carved your pumpkin, now don’t throw out those seeds!  Pumpkin seeds are a great, healthy snack as they’re full of zinc, vitamin E, and healthy fats.  They are simply delicious with just a little salt, or you can get creative and try some different herbs and spices.

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil
Salt and/or Desired Seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven on to 300 degrees.

Remove the seeds from the flesh and wash thoroughly.  Lay them out on a clean towel and pat dry.  They will stick to your towel…this is okay.  Spread seeds out evenly on a lightly greased (or sprayed) baking sheet and roast them plain for 30 minutes.

Remove roasted seeds and toss them in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and/or whatever seasonings you have chosen.  Put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes.  Enjoy!  (See variations below.)

Variations:

The sky is the limit with flavor combinations!  In addition to standard salted seeds, here’s what I used:

1.  1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 Tbs Cinnamon Sugar
2.  1 Tbs Olive Oil, ½ tsp Garlic Powder, ½ tsp Oregano, 1 Tbs Grated Parmesan, ½ tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
3.  1 Tbs Sesame Oil, tiny pinch of Cumin, ½ tsp Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Our pumpkin masterpieces:

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

BisqueThere are two main varieties of sweet potato here in the U.S.  Many people mistakenly refer to them as “yams” but sweet potatoes are actually not even related to the yam.  The first (and my favorite of the two) has a golden skin and white flesh.  The second is that deep copper -colored tuber with the softer, bright orange flesh, commonly used in the traditional holiday dish “candied yams.”  

Either variety, or even a mix, will do nicely for this recipe.  This bisque is not an original idea.  I found it years ago in a magazine (which magazine, I can’t remember) and have made it many times since, with a few of my own adjustments.

The beauty of this soup is that it is NOT sweet.  The potatoes offer a subtly sweet base, but the ginger, lime and chipotle really take the forefront to create a savory soup that can be as spicy as you want it.  

 Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry vermouth
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (you can find this in a can in the hispanic section of
your grocery store) OR 1 tsp chipotle powder (more if desired)
2 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
Zest and juice from 1 lime

*Serves about 10*

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

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Add sugar, sweet potatoes, stock, vermouth, chipotle and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth with a stick blender (you can use a traditional blender, but I find the stick blender makes much less of a mess).
Return soup to a simmer, add heavy cream, lime juice and zest.  Salt and pepper to taste. A sprinkle of chopped pistachios would make an excellent garnish.


Bisque

Zucchini Latkas

Every August there is an abundance of zucchini in my father in law’s garden.  I get tired of the same ol sautéed or oven roasted zucchini so I thought I would try something different.  I came up with zucchini latkas.  Latkas are a traditional Jewish dish made from mashed or grated potatoes, flour and egg.  I substituted zucchini for potatoes and added some parmesan cheese and a few spices.  They turned out amazing and it’s basically a full meal in itself!  You won’t be able to eat just one!  Try your own variation!  ~Janna

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Ingredients:

4 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk (beaten)1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray

Method:

In a large mixing bowl combine shredded zucchini, eggs, parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mix to combine.  Heat an electric skillet to 325 degrees and spray with cooking spray.  Using your hands measure out about 1/2 cup of the mixture and press it into a patty squeezing some of the liquid out.  Cook on skillet until golden brown, flip to brown other side (about 4-5 minutes on each side).  Be careful flipping because these are delicate and will break apart if your not careful.  After they are cooked sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese if desired. Makes approx. 6 latkas.  Enjoy!!

*One variation I’ve tried and found amazing is topping the latka with a slice of fresh garden tomato and a pinch of sea salt from oldcitysalts.com

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Vegetable Stuffed Portobello’s

I’ve been trying to cook lighter lately, and sometimes that can be challenging when cooking for a man too.  Both John and I love mushrooms, but they are usually “in” something.  This time, I decided to make them the star.  This dish is incredibly simple, with fresh, clean ingredients.  The meaty mushrooms are hearty and filling, and the fact that this dish is primarily vegetables is pleasing to the health-conscious individual.
I’ve included directions for a simple garlic pasta, but there are many things that would pair well with these mushrooms, or even use younger crimini mushrooms and serve as an appetizer.
By the way, these are delicious for lunch the next day!  🙂

Ingredients:

Mushrooms:
●10 (or so) 3-inch portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
1 zucchini, chopped
●1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
●1 6-oz jar of artichokes in brine, drained and chopped
●1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups mozzarella
●1 tsp dried oregano
●sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Garlic Pasta:
●Angel Hair Pasta (about 4-5 servings)
●3 cloves of garlic, minced
●3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Arrange mushroom caps upside down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.    

Mound the filling into the mushroom caps, distributing evenly.  Try to use all the filling, it will cook down quite a bit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown.

Meanwhile…

Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions.  In a saute pan, cook garlic in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown.  Toss pasta and garlic oil together and salt to taste.  Serve immediately with hot mushrooms.