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!

Mother-Daughter Cream of Potato Soup with Dumplings

As a child, I loved my mother’s cream of potato soup. Whenever I was sick, that’s what I wanted to make me feel better, along with a hot cup of tea with cream and sugar. As a child, I didn’t realize how bland my mother’s soup tasted as it was very basic…milk, butter, onions, potatoes and a little seasoning. As I grew up and began to expand my palate, I decided to experiment with her very basic soup and make it my own. Today’s rendition is packed with flavor and lots of goodies like carrots, red onion, turkey sausage, and dumplings. No matter how much I change what I put in her soup, I still keep the basic foundation. And every time I make it, I always remember my childhood cravings and how good my mom’s soup continues to make me feel.

Soup Ingredients
1 Potato, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced Carrots
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
6 – 7 oz. Turkey Sausage, diced
2 1/2 cups Milk (okay to use low-fat to make this a leaner soup)
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsps. Butter
2 Tbsps. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

Dumplings Ingredients
2/3 cups Bisquick baking mix (use the HeartSmart variety)
3 Tbsps. low-fat milk

First, make the roux, which is a thickening agent of equal parts fat and flour.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsps. of butter.

To the melted butter, add 2 Tbsps of flour, the salt and pepper.

Combine to get a thick, bubbly, gooey mixture.

Add 1/2 cup of milk to the roux and stir continuously over low heat until completely combined.

In a Dutch oven, add 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, and the roux mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, but be careful not to scorch the milk.

Once the milky mixture is boiling, add the potatoes, carrots and red onion.

Cover the Dutch oven and let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the turkey sausage in a cast iron skillet until they are slightly brown and heated through.

You also have time to make the dumpling dough by mixing 2/3 cups of Bisquick mix with 3 Tbsps. of milk until a soft dough forms (forgot to take a picture of the dough).

Once the potatoes are cooked, add the turkey sausage to the soup.

Form teaspoon-sized dumplings and drop them into the soup. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a couple of plump dumplings. Invite your mom or daughter to join you…or the whole family for that matter. Enjoy!