Shepherd’s Pie

A good friend is experiencing a dream vacation with her family in Australia and New Zealand right now. Yes, I’m a wee bit jealous, but also can’t wait for her to get back to learn about her amazing trip. Before she left we went out to lunch at a favorite Reno restaurant, the very healthy and divine Great Full Gardens, and our conversation naturally turned to her planned adventures and what types of local cuisine she’ll sample. I confess I have never tasted the notorious vegamite (she had and didn’t care for it), but I remember trying shepherd’s pie made by some Australian students during a fun University of Nevada, Reno event – the Night of All Nations. The event features cuisine, music, dance and other experiences which represent the University’s and Reno’s cultural diversity. The annual event offers a wide sample of global cuisine and attendees can pass from booth to booth filling their plates full of such items as Spanish paella, Indian chicken masala, and Australian shepherd’s pie. Even the Klingon nation was represented, but I don’t recall trying any of their food.

So, inspired by my friend’s trip and what I experienced at Night of All Nations, I decided to make shepherd’s pie in my skillet. Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with lamb or mutton, but more common versions are made with ground beef. I decided to make a heartier version, using steak. I knew this would be a dish my husband would like because it is topped with a mashed potato crust. The following recipe is inspired by one found at simplyrecipes.com, with a few personal tweaks. The recipe also left the herbal seasonings up to the choice of the cook. I used Herbs de Provence because it consists of a nice assortment of herbs and seasonings, including basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, lavender, marjoram, savory, thyme and parsley. All that spicy goodness in one bottle!

Shepherd's PieIngredients
Approximately 1 1/2 lbs. Steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Onion, chopped
1 – 2 cups vegetables such as chopped Carrots and Celery, Fresh Corn sliced from the cob
Approximately 3 large Potatoes
8 Tbsps of Butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup Beef Broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, Pepper, Seasonings of choice (I used Herbs de Provence)

Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes

Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes

Melt 4 Tbsps. of butter in large skillet.

Melt 4 Tbsps. of butter in large skillet.

Saute onion, carrots and celery over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

Saute onion, carrots and celery over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add steak and saute until no longer pink.

Add steak and saute until no longer pink.

Add fresh corn and heat through.

Add fresh corn and heat through.

Add salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence (or your seasonings of choice).

Add salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence (or your seasonings of choice).

Add Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.

Add Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.

Combine everything thoroughly.

Combine everything thoroughly.

Mash cooked potatoes with the remaining butter (4 Tbsps.) and cover the meat mixture. My potatoes are a little on the chunky side - just how I like them!

Mash cooked potatoes with the remaining butter (4 Tbsps.) and cover the meat mixture. My potatoes are a little on the chunky side – just how I like them!

Completely covered with mashed potatoes.

Completely covered with mashed potatoes.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until bubbling and the crust begins to brown, about 30 minutes.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until bubbling and the crust begins to brown, about 30 minutes.

The tasty layers of Shepherd's Pie. Enjoy!

The tasty layers of Shepherd’s Pie.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

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Deep Skillet Chicken Pad Thai

Greetings and Salutations…and Happy New Year to boot!

I hope the holiday season treated all of you well. It seems to have flown by! After a crazy year-end cycle at work, I am trying to get back into a normal routine again…especially when it comes to cooking and devoting more time to this blog. It seems harder and harder to make time for certain things in my life…things that are important but seem to end up on the back burner when juggling professional and personal obligations. I know we all experience it in our lives and try to find a balance. I am looking forward to things slowing down a bit so I can stop and smell the roses…or in this case, the Pad Thai!

So, it’s no secret that Thai food is one of my absolute favorites (I’ve raved about it more than a few times on this blog). One of the most commonly known dishes is Pad Thai, which is basically a stir-fry with rice noodles and other ingredients such as chicken, seafood, vegetables, and eggs. One wintery day a few weeks ago I experienced a mean craving for this delectable dish, but did not want to venture out into the cold to a restaurant. I found a basic recipe online and enhanced it a bit, omitting certain items like bean sprouts and amping up the quantities for the sauce, plus adding a little peanut butter. What I discovered is that Pad Thai is very easy to make and perfect for a cast iron wok or deep skillet. Below is a basic recipe compliments of allrecipes.com, with a few tweaks on my part. I hope you like it!

Deep Skillet Chicken Pad ThaiIngredients
1 (12 – 14 oz.) package Rice Noodles
1 pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps. Canola Oil
4 Eggs
2 Tbsps. White Wine Vinegar
3 – 4 Tbsps. Fish Sauce
6 Tbsps. White Sugar (adjust quantity to taste)
1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
1/8 Tbsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 cup Chopped or Crushed Peanuts
3 Green Onions, chopped

First step, prepare rice noodles according to package directions.

Heat 2 Tbsps. of oil in cast iron skillet or wok.

Next, heat 2 Tbsps. of oil in cast iron skillet or wok.

Add chicken and garlic, saute together until chicken is browned.

Add chicken and garlic, saute together until chicken is browned.

Once browned, remove chicken to from skillet.

Once browned, remove chicken to a plate.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat.

Crack eggs into hot oil and cook until firm, looking almost as if they are scrambled.

Crack eggs into hot oil and cook until firm, looking almost as if they are scrambled.

Cooked eggs.

Cooked eggs.

Return the chicken to the skillet.

Return the chicken to the skillet.

Combine with cooked eggs.

Combine with cooked eggs.

Add the cooked rice noodles.

Add the cooked rice noodles.

Add vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and peanut butter. Combine thoroughly.

Add vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and peanut butter. Combine thoroughly.

Garnish with chopped green onions and peanuts. You are set to start your new year in Thai fashion!

Garnish with chopped green onions and peanuts. You are set to start your new year in Thai fashion!