Category Archives: Recipes

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

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 $$. 

Ramen, a Slurpy Soup

So, I love soups.  I would eat them every day.  I love broth ones, porridge ones, creamy ones.  In a box with a fox, in a house with a mouse.

My wonderful, long-suffering Italian husband… he’ll eat them. He’s a good sport. But he doesn’t love them.

I love Asian food.  I’m a military brat who spent a total of 6 years of her childhood on Okinawa (and some other random places, too). I grew up in a home that appreciated this “ethnic” food, and we ate it frequently.

My wonderful, long-suffering Italian husband… he’ll eat it. He’s a good sport.  But he doesn’t love it.

UNTIL.

Homemade ramen soup.

Ramen, A Slurpy Soup - Foodies Gone Real

He actually asks for this. I’m not entirely convinced it’s because it has a pasta-like carb in it ;-) but for us… happy medium when I’m craving Asian and he’s not feeling so tolerable to my other dishes. Like cabbage stir-fry or fried rice.

Now, my disclaimer is this: there is probably going to be some ramen purist out there that will claim I didn’t do this the correct way.  You’re probably right.  There’s likely many restaurants out there that could make this more authentically.  However… this foodie is on a budget. With legit health concerns over the food I eat. So I think this is a balanced compromise.

We start this soup like any other soup or stew-like food, like my chicken soup, chili, or even stroganoff – frying the onions in butter. You can create no better base than this!

INGREDIENTS:

butter, for sauteing
1 small onion, or about 1 c. chopped
1 medium carrot
1 pound of ground pork… as best sourced as you can afford
1 clove garlic (or two!)
1/2 c. san-j soy sauce (I can’t recommend any other brand)
1 tsp. ground ginger
dash red pepper flakes
ground pepper to test
5 cups water (or broth)
1 cup frozen peas, optional (but delicious!)

Note on the veggies: by all means… feel free to increase them. I often do, to increase vegetable intake

Other items:
ramen noodles
hard-boiled egg, at least 1/2 per person
chopped scallions or chives
diced carrots, mushrooms… lots of topping ideas. We usually stick to green onions, but if you know you have a favorite asian topping, I promise you can add it and it will be fine!
And… I recommend chopsticks :)

DIRECTIONS:

Do your thing with the butter, onions and carrots.  I would recommend using a big pot or dutch oven.  Also, side note, this smells like heaven. If you were slightly hungry before starting, now you’re likely salivating.

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Remove the vegetables (I use a slotted spoon) once they are softened (they don’t have to be mushy… you’re going to boil it later) and brown the the ground pork.  DO NOT SALT IT. If you’re a home cook and you’ve done browning meat any length of time, a lot of recipes call for salting it.  You will regret it because of that soy sauce that’s coming on later.  However, feel free to go nuts with the pepper. The soup can be as spicy or peppery as you want, so do this as what you feel is appropriate for your tastes.

Ramen, A Slurpy Soup - Foodies Gone Real

Now that the pork is browned, add the veggies back in.  Sprinkle on the ginger and red pepper flakes.  Stir and let it saute for just a minute.  Now you may add the soy sauce.

Use the soy sauce to scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot … this is also called deglazing.  You want the brown bits because it adds flavor. I promise it’s true, because the depth is not as great if you tried to clean it off (and not use it) and then continue cooking with a clean pot.

Add your water.  You could use broth… wouldn’t hurt.  However, if it’s salted you might run into issues make the soup too salty.

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Throw in your peas if you’re using … and begin the boil.

Now while this is boiling, I recommend doing the following:

  1. get your hard-boiled eggs ready, if necessary
  2. get your ramen noodles ready
  3. chop your garnish

I know there are guides out there for how to boil eggs. I just use this sucker (check it out here). Love it. Had it for years and it was a cheapy kitchen spontaneous buy.

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You want to boil the soup for about 10 minutes, (this is about cooking the veggies the rest of the way), then let it simmer for another 15 minutes or so.  Just honestly, you could rush this. Or draw it out.  Whatever you are working with in time. I wouldn’t recommend letting it simmer for an hour or anything… I think the peas and carrots would go to mush. Unless you like that kind of thing… then knock yourself out.

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Now here’s how it’s going to vary… prepping whatever ramen you’re using. I use gluten-free ramen noodles. I’m still not over this… my ITALIAN HUSBAND LOVES THESE THINGS. 1) They’re Asian and 2) they’re rice (not wheat). My noodles call for me to boil them for a very short amount of time, then run then under cold water. I just have to tell you… if you buy them and they say to run it under cold water…. DON’T SKIP IT. It prevents them from cooking further and not turning gross and mushy. The benefit of the soup still simmering is that once I drop the noodles in, it rewarms them! It works beautifully.

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Because I have to limit my carb intake, I do not put 4 servings of ramen noodles in the big pot once they’re done.  I ladle out the soup into individual bowls then put in the cooked pasta as per our carb preferences.  (You can buy a big pack of these noodles here.)

And then… top it.  That egg, y’all. THAT EGG. And those scallions. I really wouldn’t skip these garnishes!

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Isn’t this soup great and forgiving? it really is what you want it to be. Maybe that’s why my Italian husband loves it, too.

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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 $$.

July & The Plan

So, I’m trying something new.  Well, I’ve tried it once before, but I think I failed to have the proper plan in place or resources to pull it off.

I’m planning for about one month’s worth of meals.

Now, I’ll be the first to say, this isn’t for everyone.  First off, if you get paid on a weekly or biweekly basis, pulling off “large” “for the month” kind of purchases can be tricky or down-right impossible.  I have loads, and loads, and LOADS of weekly meal plans, so please peruse them here! We get paid twice a month … and this is a different animal.

So how did I come to the conclusion it was time to try this again?

First off, I had a great conversation on the facebook page with a follower about what it takes to do a monthly meal plan.  That got the wheels turning.  I sat down and calculated – how many pounds of ground beef do I typically go through in a month? How about chickens?

Then, I started thinking about how the other needs come into the house.  I buy bulk grains like Einkorn from Jovial, and rolled oats and steel-cut oats in bulk from Wholeshare.  (Wholeshare is unique for New York state, but there are loads and loads of options per locality/state!) I participate in a CSA, and shares are distributing… I don’t have control over what I get, and I pay for it throughout the year. (Just an FYI – my annual CSA fees reduce my monthly food budget as I often freeze/preserve the share to use later in the year, but obviously there are some things that I eat up fresh, like lettuce.) So I’m getting regular vegetables.  Even my grass-fed cow’s butter from Kriemhild is bought in bulk (5# buckets, baby!) So why not try to come up with a plan for how much we eat in a month and then order and shop according to that?

So, I did it.  I wrote out what I expect we’ll consume for the month.  As someone who lives on a grocery budget, it wasn’t all that hard because I’m usually thinking forward and trying to anticipate how to get through the whole month anyway.  If you don’t ever pay attention to what and how much you consume, I would start there before trying to do any sort of monthly meal plan.  Primarily because you wouldn’t know where to start!  Start the first couple of months just keeping small notes on what you did and how much you spent. (For example, how many loaves of bread did you need? Pounds of butter?)  I’ll write up another post sometime on how to create a workable food budget, but for now ;-) that should help you get started.

A couple of notes here:  obviously, there are not 30 options listed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Realfoodists MUST DO LEFTOVERS. There’s no way around it.  Unless you are going to cook from scratch in tiny portions 3 times a day (not very practical if you’ve got other stuff to do)… you have to expect to eat some things twice.  If you’ve been preparing food for your family for any length of time, you know what keeps well and what doesn’t.  What does your family like on day #2 or gets shoved to the back of the fridge to become a science experiment (not that it EVER happens to ANY of us, right? *sarcasm*).

So, off we go on the monthly meal plan!

BREAKFAST:

Breakfast Breadish:
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Einkorn Cinnamon Muffins (no link here as it’s from a cookbook)
Sprouted Blueberry Muffins from Holistic Squid
Soaked Flour Biscuits from The Elliott Homestead
Gluten-Free Biscuits
Einkorn Waffles
Soaked English Muffins from The Elliott Homestead
Toast
Homemade Granola + Yogurt
French Toast (no recipe, just some common sense!)
Coconut Flour Pancakes from Ditch the Wheat
Cereal

Breakfast Meats: eggs (3xs a week), (1-2xs a week)bacon, (1xs a week) cottage bacon, (1-2xs a week) Homemade Breakfast Sausage from The Prairie Homestead (make it in bulk, freeze in smaller bags, thaw when you need it!)

Breakfast Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. We also will use onions, garlic scapes, tomatoes and other veggies we get in CSA sometimes in our eggs

LUNCH:

A lot of dinner leftovers. Very few things are made just for lunch, it’s often a pull from something already made.  I make a loaf of bread per week (at least).

Tuna Salad
Egg Salad
Cobb Salad from The Elliott Homestead
Grain-Free Sandwich Wraps from Real Food Outlaws (used for sandwiches and quesadillas!)
Homemade yogurt
Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwiches (mostly for the girls, I’m a whimp and don’t buy much GF breads! I usually just smear some Peanut Butter on an apple and call it)
Macaroni & Cheese.  Sometimes homemade, sometimes from a box (but when it’s from a box, it’s as clean as we can find!). And this is why you don’t get any judgment from me on convenience foods.  Friends, we all lllooooovvvveee them and have a few we aren’t really willing to give up.  This is mine.  I grew up on boxed stuff!
Hot dogs (nitrite/nitrate free!)
Other leftover breadish stuff from breakfasts

I make this bread at least once a week: Soaked Bread from The Elliott Homestead (It is NOT gluten-free. I do not indulge.)

Lunch Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. Whatever fresh veggies we get on share from CSA.  We eat loads of cucumbers and carrots for lunches, too. (About 1-2#s of baby carrots a week!)

DINNER:

Meats:
Grilled Steak
Skirt Steak for Fajitas
Cube or Thin Sliced Steak for Paleo Fried Steaks (no recipe. Maybe someday!)
Spicy Honey  ChickenThighs
Chicken Thighs Cooked in Italian Sauce (twice)
Shredded BBQ Chicken (will use Chicken legs, with this BBQ Sauce)
Grilled Chicken Breast (not sure on marinade yet)
Grilled chicken and Shrimp kebobs (not sure on marinade yet… will probably depend on what types of onions we get in CSA)
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Hamburgers (twice)
Italian Meatballs (homemade. someday, I’ll post!)
Beef Skillet with Potatoes and Greens from The Elliott Homestead
Sloppy Joes
Korean Beef from The Elliott Homestead
Italian Sausage (1/2 #, cooked in red sauce… will do this twice)
Ham Steak – 2xs
Hot dogs
Salmon
Hot dogs or other Sausage
Bacon (breakfast for dinner)

Dinner Side Dishes (Breadish)
Side of fresh bread/garlic bread/butter bread
Gluten-Free Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (still working on the recipe!)
Baked/mashed potatoes
Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potato casserole from The Hollywood Homestead
Roasted potatoes (cooked like roasted carrots)
Sauteed potatoes 
Al dente pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil
Gluten-Free pasta cooked with red sauce
Fried Rice
Butter + rice
Macaroni & Cheese
Beans + Rice

Dinner Side Dishes (Veggies-Ish)
Cabbage Stir Fry
Roasted Carrots
Side Salads – Cobb, or Blue Cheese + dried cranberry + pecan
Steamed veggies (frozen mostly broccoli, cauliflower, green beans)
Fresh carrots + cucumbers
Sauteed peppers and onions
Roasted Tomatoes + mozzarella
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

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