Is it Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

There are food purists out there that will argue you on this, though… and here’s the real titles, as far as my research shows:

COTTAGE Pie= beef

SHEPHERD Pie = lamb

FYI… This is cottage pie.

This is common fare for us in the winter, and especially in the month of March around St. Patrick’s Day.  I know, I know… shouldn’t it have been corned beef and hash? Alas, this is probably where the other parts of my genetic make-up take over. Can’t stand corned beef.  So I this is a classic dish, British-Isles-Ish, that I feel good about eating on March 17th.

And yes, I’m late posting it. But I’m making it again in a week or so… so see. You don’t have to only eat it for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
  2. You can definitely “take it up a notch.”

I would argue that “taking it up a notch” doesn’t really keep true to its roots in the British Isles, BUT, it does seem to better appease our American taste buds.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds Ground Beef
Potatoes – about 4-6 russet potatoes, preferably, peeled and chopped
2 tbl butter, 1/2 c milk (for making mashed potatoes)
2-3 tbl Butter (for saute veggies, as needed)
Sprinkle of ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1 Onion (small), chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups Peas
Splash of whiskey (for deglazing, but you could use additional broth instead)
1/4 c broth (or water)
Salt/Pepper

TAKIN’ IT UP A NOTCH…

One small can of tomato paste
Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/2 cup

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400*.

Brown your beef and chop your veggies.  This is almost always my first step, because I like to use the fat leftover from your beef to saute the veggies… I’m big into waste not, want not.

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While your beef is browning, bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes.  Once it’s boiling, drop in your peeled chopped potatoes.  You are making mashed potatoes to top off the pie.

After the beef is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove.  If you can do it quickly, you don’t need to reduce to heat (keep the fat simmering).  Then, plop in your onions, carrots, sage, and thyme.  You may need to add more butter to prevent sticking.

After they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously, but if you plan to use salted broth for deglazing and/or later in the recipe, just go easy if you don’t like things over salted.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the onions and carrots are tender, put the beef back in with the onion, carrots and herbs, and splash your whiskey (you can use broth if no whiskey).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of your pan.  This makes the food divine.  I do not joke. Do not skip this step of deglazing!

I like to think using whiskey makes it more authentic. I mean, we ARE trying to tie ourselves to Irish, roots, aye?

Now add your peas. Fry up for a few minutes until they start to thaw.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Add your meat and broth (or water) Bring to a boil and you want to ensure your peas are cooked all the way through if you’re using frozen (which is pretty much what I always do).  If you used canned you probably don’t want to cook as long as they don’t turn to complete mush.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the liquid is reduced some, peas are cooked, dump your veggie beef mix in the largest pan you have.

Now, about this time, those potatoes are tender and falling apart in your pot.  Strain them, mash ’em up with butter and milk.

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This is the only tricky part to the recipe: Dollup the potatoes around the beef and then spread it out, as if frosting a cake.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Cover your dish and cook for about 20 minutes.  Peek at it.  If you’re using a clear glass dish, you should see the liquid boiling inside.  This is a good sign.

Uncover the dish, and put it back in the oven.  Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is really for however crispy/browned you want your mashed potatoes.  (The good news of course is that all the ingredients are actually cooked before you put it in the oven.  It’s entirely safe to eat, if you like.  This is just more about “melding the flavors.”)

TAKING IT UP A NOTCH:

Right before putting your beef+veggie mix into the pan, mix in one can of tomato paste.  Probably not authentically Irish, but I llllooovvveeee the flavor it adds.

After you’ve spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

For THIS time, I added the cheese.  We can’t go wrong with cheese in this house.

This is what it looks like, pulled out of the oven after a total of 25 minutes (5 uncovered).

fter you've spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

This is what it looks like served, and about to be devoured, like the true Irish woman I am. I adore potatoes (check out this and this and this if you don’t believe me). I love them sooooo much.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

Beast Burger

It’s a beast because it performs consistently well and WOWs.

Now, sure… you can buy the pre-made patties, throw them on the grill this weekend and call it a day.  I’m not beyond convenience.

But for an extra 2-5 minutes (no really, that’s it!) you can take burgers to a melt-in-your-mouth level.  Not to mention it’s almost always cheaper to buy ground beef as ground beef than a pre-made patty.  (Regardless if you’re buying it from the farmer or the store!)

Here’s my story: my children have been resistant to trying burgers (again).  We deal with some legitimate texture aversion so I haven’t pushed it.  The last time I asked my kids to try it, I got a “thank-you” bite out of it, but that was it.  You should know it was plain ole hamburger.  I didn’t make those burgers.

I made these burgers – with these few minor extra steps as detailed below – my texture-averted kid actually asked for a SECOND.  It’s a huge deal for her, because I know she’s not a big fan of the ground meat texture.  This tells me the flavor was ON POINT.

You see my thoughts?

Without further ado, here’s how you do it:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbl dried minced onion
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Dump all ingredients in bowl and mix well.  Y’all, hands work best.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Work into patties.  Personally, I usually make 1 pound into about five burgers. You could easily make it into quarter-pounders if you preferred. Also… note how easy this would be to double or triple to suite the size and needs of your family or feast!

Note that the burgers do not have to be perfect. This is not about perfect looking burgers. This is about perfect tasting burgers.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Grill to your preferred doneness.

Enjoy that beast burger.

Beast Burgers - Foodies Gone Real

Favorite Ways to Save Kitchen Bucks

So there are really only a handful of ways you can make real food work in a kitchen:

  1. Save money by making a lot of it from scratch, but it will cost you time
  2. Save time by buying real-food shortcuts, but it will cost you money
  3. Somewhere in-between the first two options, using both as you can (this is me, although I tend towards option #1)

I recognize this can feel daunting. And as someone who’s been at this for Y-E-A-R-S there are seasons in life – due to schedules, motivation, health, etc… that sometimes, this real-food-thing doesn’t seem possible, effective, profitable.

I am not above vacillating. We’ll go backwards. I’ll allow just enough cheats and junk in the house… and y’all, we FEEL it. Colds we can’t kick. Digestive issues that are awful. And of course, hormonal imbalances and weight gain. So while I, just like the rest of this planet, falls into it… I’m here to say a) give yourself some grace and forgiveness (and let’s not forget this is not about rules, y’all! So when there’s freedom from rules…) and b) encourage you and give you a few tools in the toolbelt.

Because sometimes, this wavering is because of money and schedules and not just laziness. (Disclaimer: sometimes mine is just laziness, so no judgment here.) You’re not sure how you can get this done and it just feels better to cheat. And cheat frequently. There are some basic skills that I feel keep me away from full-out junk diets AND still save money and don’t cost an exorbitant amount of time.

So…. If you’re wanting some easy ways to cut your costs in your kitchen and still get nutritious food in, here’s some suggestions….

Easiest ways (assuming you own a VERY basic slow cooker):

Cook your own beans. Buy them dried, and let them soak/cook in a slow cooker. After they’ve cooked and cooled, I freeze them in tupperware to thaw as needed.  I recommend this method as shared by fellow blogger and as I discussed in my recipe for Cajun beans ‘n’ rice.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Oatmeal. Soak it and then cook in your slow cooker.  I detail my method over in my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal… I wrote up how to do it for plain oatmeal, and then tacked on how I made it with pumpkin (which is really just added flavor at the end).  I usually make a huge batch, then once it’s cooled, keep in the refrigerator to reheat throughout the week. It’s super cheap and easy, filling food in the mornings. I don’t do pumpkin all the time (maybe only a 1/10th of a time?). Mostly, it’s just cinnamon + sweetener because that’s cheapest and easiest.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make your own broth. Of all my slow cooker methods, this is my favorite. Because most people just throw away chicken skin and bones and vegetable peelings… and this is using something you would ordinarily throw out! It’s like better than free! Haha. Shaye at The Elliott Homestead explains it best! I use this method ALL the time. I haven’t bought broth in probably over five years.

Make granola. Okay, so this obviously does not require a slow cooker, but an oven at minimum.  It’s easiest, though with a dehydrator (but please, oh please, don’t let that deter you!).  Method and recipe can be found here.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

If you have more time and/or right tools:

Make bread. I used to do this EVERY week. I now do this not out of obligation but for fun, and we buy our bread. This is a prime example of choosing to spend more money on something so that’s healthy so I don’t have to spend my time on it.  There’s loads and loads of great recipes out there, but due to my own gut/dietary needs, I rely heavily on Jovial Foods Einkorn Cookbook (check it out here… I raved about it in this post… and I still can’t say enough about it.)  It can be SUCH a rewarding experience, and there’s no taste or texture comparable purchased in the store.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make yogurt. This feels like a science experiment or chemistry lab every time.  It’s a pretty fascinating experience learning about how bacteria grows (or doesn’t).  I learned a great deal from The Prairie Homestead here.  I use a dehydrator, now, for this – but you can do without it. It does take some time and patience… BUT WILL SAVE YOU GOBS.

Make your own bars. Granola, larabars, fruit-n-nut, etc. I will confess I’m still learning this… in that I haven’t done as many.  Granted, it’s still cheaper to buy generic store brand granola bars… but don’t look at the ingredient list if you do. If you do, and want a cleaner option… then you’ll likely end up with an option that is closer to $1 (if not over) each.  I’ve collected quite a few recipes at my pinterest board here.  My current favorite are these blueberry bliss bars.  YUMMO.

Make waffles. This is no surprise to you, right? I’ve raved about waffles and the Einkorn recipe posted here is a top sought post. It obviously requires a waffle iron (special tool)… but you can get them inexpensively.  I usually double (sometimes triple!) the recipe and freeze 7-10 in bags so I can pull them out as needed, akin to the waffles you can buy at the store. I promise… THIS SAVES MONEY. Serious money.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

There are other options, too, for overall savings.

Overall stewardship of resources can make money spent in the kitchen possible, too.  (More info on that concept here.)  Here’s some other ways I save money:

Swagbucks. I earn swagbucks points on Swagbucks that converts into gift cards, which in turn gets used mostly for Christmas shopping.  Check it out here. I combine those gift cards with Black Friday savings (and other deals around that time of year) and make out like a bandit. No joke. With swagbucks and deal-hunting, the net worth of those gifts is often quadruple the amount of money I actually spent. I do not lie, I can show you the spreadsheets for proof! :)

Cleaning Supplies. I buy very, very little cleaning supplies. I have managed this between baking soda, vinegar, and Norwex.  Norwex products are mostly cloth-based and you combine them with water, clean whatever it is that needs it… and done. Yes, that simple. You wash the cloth and do it all over again. I use Norwex for dusting, wood, glass, toilet bowl, make-up removing, floors, just to name a few. Those are all areas of my home I’m not longer spending money on products that get consumed and I have to repurchase.  This isn’t even touching on the issue that there’s no chemicals and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.  Check out Norwex here.

Laundry Detergent.  I make my own … recipe forthcoming.  It’s a basic combination of washing soda, borax, dye-free oxiclean, bar soap (that’s been shredded).  There are loads of other options online.  I still buy some detergent, too… because we only have so much time. Sometimes, I need to buy it because I just don’t have time to make it and I’m running low.  However, it’s much cheaper to make it than buy a clean/green detergent… so it’s back to that basic choice of money versus time.

Reusable Bags for Snacks & Sandwiches.  I love, love, love these things.  They save money on the plastic bags, I’m no longer buying a consumable. I’m not contributing to the plastic-consumer-driven economy, either. They wash well with dishsoap.

 

So….

What do you do? How do you balance your time and money?

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

The title.

So as this blog evolves, it’s much more than a foodie sharing how she eats, or saves money on what she eats, or the grace on how she eats.

It’s turned into a breathing blog, where I ramble about disease and suffering, ticks and farm stuff. So I’m not sure… is it fair to still be called, “Foodies Gone Real”?

As I begin the ground work to make this a fully functioning website, what are your thoughts? Weigh in! Vote on the poll, comment here on the post or comment on the blog.

And by all means… if you have an idea… pass it on!

Cinnamon Granola a.k.a. Best Granola of Your Life

We love cereal in this house.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

But I am faced… EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ MONTH making the same choices everyone else makes: spend less on food and eat ingredients that aren’t as beneficial, or spend more on food and sacrifice something else.  Sometimes, I don’t have a choice. Medical bills from ongoing issues (story here), car repairs you don’t expect, the vacuum cleaner breaks. You know, life. And then it means we have to eat cheap because if I don’t have the money, I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY.

And you all know what I’m talkin’ about.

Now, I have my methods around this. First off, Aldi’s, y’all. ALDI’S. This store saves me. In the perfect world I would be a perfect locavore. But… when it feels like everything breaks in your home at the same time and the family still has to eat… Aldi’s. I’ve told you all before how this store makes up for my imperfect life.

So back to my cereal… the ingredient lists are mostly disheartening.  And if the ingredient list is not disheartening, then the price tag is… I can guarantee it. Do I sacrifice ingredients or my money?

My work around: granola.

Oats are CHEAP. I throw in nuts when I have them (a.k.a. can afford them) but you can easily sub in more oats instead. Run out of milk already? Sub in more water. I use coconut oil (back to finding something awesome at Aldi’s!) but you can put in whatever oil/butter you have on hand.  You can make this what you want and as expensive OR cheap as you desire.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Cups of Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup of Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup of Melted Coconut Oil
  • 4 Cups of Warm Water (just not ice cold…. does funky stuff to that oil)
  • 1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1.5 Cups of Sweetener of Choice
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbl Cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie Spice is great, too!)
  • Good Dash of Salt

TOOLS:

  • Large Bowl for Mix, one that you can seal up for several hours (cling wrap is fine)
  • Dehydrator OR You can use the oven (see instructions further down on this)

DIRECTIONS:

Okay, so are you ready for this: MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS THOROUGHLY.  Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for about 7-8 hours. (You can let it sit for longer if you need to!)

YES.

You read that right.  That’s all you gotta do before the cooking.

I recommend covering it… but really just to ward of bugs and hands who want to taste it early.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

Now onto the cooking part:  You’ll need to cook this one of two ways:  either a dehydrator on its highest setting or an oven.   I’ve made it both ways, my preference is a dehydrator.  I own this dehydrator and L-O-V-E it.  You can buy it new, you can also buy it used. I mean… I am talking about saving money here. I asked for one for Christmas a few years ago and my dear, sweet husband who knows his wife’s heart found a used one, in good condition, on ebay.  You do what you gotta do.

1) You can leave it in a dehydrator for days and it won’t go bad.  Don’t have time to deal with it right then? It’s fine.  Leave it (you’ll just keep using electricity).
2) It doesn’t burn.
3) No stirring required or watching.
4) It takes about 6 hours at the highest temperature on the dehydrator.

If you use an oven, preheat to 350* and spread it as thin as you can across at least two cookie sheets. You have to watch it, take it out and stir frequently. (And taste frequently!) This method will work, it’s just more time intensive.  You can’t put it in and walk away like you can with the dehydrator… you need to stir it about every 15 minutes until it’s just starting to crunch when you taste-test it.  In my experience this can take an about an hour, but will depend on how thin you spread your granola across baking sheets.

You can store your in an airtight container… for a couple of weeks.

Here’s how I usually do it: I start the granola in the morning sometime.  In the evening, I put it on the dehydrator.  The next morning… viola. Breakfast ready.

No yucky ingredients.  I mean, you know exactly what’s in it.  You’ve got around 12 cups of crunchy goodness for breakfast. Depending on appetites and family size, this can carry you for quite some time!

We eat it like cereal… but is great with the traditional yogurt, too. Enjoy your money-saving treat as we do.  My girls say it’s the best granola of their life.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

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