Tag Archives: onions

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

 

 

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 $$.

Ancient Grain Lazy Chicken Pot Pie

It’s ancient grain because it uses Einkorn wheat, which is the “original wheat” (no hybridizing or bred for production.  It just is what it is.  And it’s GOOD).  I give quite a bit of information on why I prefer Einkorn in this post – my recipe for waffles.

It’s lazy because I didn’t bother with the crust.

Well, I bothered, but didn’t go crazy.

See what I mean?

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A) I didn’t make it in a pie dish – I actually made the pie right in the cast iron skillet.  So there’s only a top here.

B) I didn’t bother making it perfect looking. And point a) to this is… this was food for my belly, not for presentation.

I’ll add this in now — This recipe =  1/2 green, 1 yellow, 1 red for those on 21 Day Fix. Yes, I did the 21-day fix, and yes, I promise to post my thoughts soon. But for those on the plan now and watching what they eat… there ya go. :)

I grew up on stuff like chicken pot pie.  This time of year I tend to really miss comfort foods. I think, at least here in upstate NY, it’s because we’re inside, and you actually want to cook because there’s the side benefit of warming your home.  You want hot food.  I don’t tend to miss it so much in the summer – for me, this has to do with the amount of grilling I do.

But I digress.  Let’s deal with the weather at hand, and make a clean chicken pot pie.

TOOLS:
Cutting Board
Good Knife
Cast Iron skillet… I would go bigger rather than smaller

NOTE:
I ate a quarter of this in one sitting without guilt. So, if you’re planning on serving this to more than four people, I recommend throwing in some side dishes.

Also, you can cook the chicken and prep the pie crust ahead of time.  No real changes to the latter parts of the recipe are necessary if you choose to do so.

INGREDIENTS:

Pie crust ingredients (you can sub in your own recipe, but I recommend giving Einkorn a chance!) —
1 cup of Einkorn flour
4 tbl salted grass-fed butter
3-4 tbl water
sprinkling of salt

Innards of the pie —
1 1/3 cup chopped cooked chicken (I highly recommend going with dark meat! It will taste better!)
2 cup chopped veggies – what you have around will work
1 tbl salted grass-fed butter
1 cup milk
2 chopped skinned potatoes (about 1 cup)
2 cups chicken broth
lots of salt, rosemary, thyme, sage

DIRECTIONS:

Cook your chicken if you haven’t already done so.  Some families roast a whole bird and then pick off of it for other meals… this is a great option for this recipe.
I sprinkled my chicken with rosemary, thyme, salt and garlic and then roasted it.

I roasted it at 400* for about 35 minutes.  I wasn’t really worried about over-cooking it since I was going to dump it in a creamy-brothy pan later.

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While the chicken is cooking (if you aren’t using leftovers) make your pie crust.

Cut the 4 tablespoons of butter into the flour.  You want the pieces of butter pea-size or smaller. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.

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Then, drizzle 3 tablespoons of water over the butter-flour mixture.  I would recommend using your hands to mix this together.  If you’ve made pie crust before with a food processor, feel free to do so.  I am without a food processor so it’s up to ingenuity to do without. :)

You want to mix it until it comes together in a somewhat dry dough.  Think play-dough.  You may want to add that fourth tablespoon of water if it’s really flaky or you can’t get it to combine.

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Cover it, and put it in the fridge to harden up.

Once chicken is done and cool, chop it up.  I used the breast pictured above and a few other pieces of dark meat.

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Chop up those veggies.  I used a tiny bit of celery, lots of carrots and onions.  I would recommend whatever combination you do with your veggies that you at least involve a little bit of carrot and onion for flavor. Chop up those potatoes too. (*Note: you can do without the potatoes, if you desire, and sub in more veggies. HOWEVER, potatoes help thicken up the “sauce” later, so I would recommend sprinkling a tablespoon of gluten-free, einkorn, sprouted wheat, or rice flour when you’ve combined the milk in a later step).

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Preheat your oven to 400*.

Melt some butter in your cast iron skillet.  A tablespoon will probably be enough if it’s a well-seasoned cast iron pan.  If you are not using cast iron, you’re likely going to need quite a bit more butter to prevent the veggies from sticking.

Add your veggies to the pan of melted butter. Throw a very hearty dash of your spices – I recommend dried rosemary, thyme, sage and salt.  You could add garlic if you feel so inclined.  Fresh is better, but this time of year I have no fresh, so dried it is.

See this picture below and about the amount I added?  Add twice as much.  (If you’re a visual person.)  The veggies and potatoes should be very covered in spices.  The photographer (erm… me) forgot to take the second picture where I added more. :)

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Let these cook until soft, adding more butter if the food starts to stick.

 

Once all vegetables are soft, stir in the two cups of broth and the chicken.  Bring to a rapid boil.

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While your veggies are coming to a boil, bring out your chilled pie crust.  It’s going to take a little bit of elbow grease to roll it out, but if your kitchen is hot like mine, choosing to NOT cool the crust means the butter starts to melt/soften which means a really sloppy and hardly-stick-together crust.

My preferred method of rolling out is between two pieces of parchment paper.  Roll it until it’s so think it’s nearly transparent (but no holes!) Then, once it’s super super super thin, you can slowly peel one of the parchment layers back.  Set this prepped crust aside, leaving it attached to one of the parchment pieces.

Go back to your veggies… by now they are boiling.

What’s going to happen next is this:  because it’s a wide pan, the water is going to boil off fast.  Keep stirring to prevent any sticking, and your potatoes are going to start to fall apart (only a tiny bit).  This is good because this is what’s going to thicken the sauce in the next step.

After it’s been rapid boiling for about 5 minutes and the liquid is reduced, stir in the milk.  Let it boil for another 2 minutes.  DO NOT LET IT BOIL LONGER THAN THIS. It will cause your milk to separate and turn the mixture a funky texture.  How do I know, you ask?  ;-) Let’s just say lots and lots and lots of failure in the kitchen.

Now turn off the heat, and slowly peel off your pie crust on top of the pan.

Remember… this is about appealing to your belly and not the picture.  If it’s sloppy, it’s ok.  This is a lazy pie.

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Slice through the top of the crust to make tiny slits.  This allows the steam to vent as necessary while baking.

Now, you can put your pie in the oven at 400* and let it cook for about 20 minutes.  This is mostly about letting the pie crust golden and the ingredients in the pie have time to stew.

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Next, your house starts to smell like heaven. And comfort. And yumminess. (How on earth do you spell that?)

You’ll know it’s done when the entire crust is golden, and maybe just a tiny bit brown on the edges.

I served mine with my favorite salad – blue cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, and olive oil + balsamic vinegar.

My belly was soooo comforted!

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Changin’ it Up – Onion Peas

At this point in the winter I get so. sick. of. frozen. vegetables.

I will, on occasion, buy fresh ones (and I am a sucker for roasted carrots all winter long!) and eat a salad, too.  However, a) they never last long, and often spoil before I can eat it all and b) are usually MUCH more expensive than in the spring/summer/fall.

Alas, it’s frozen veggies for me.

Need something just a little *different* with your peas?  Try to onion-them-up with this cheap, easy, and fast trick.

Here are the instructions:

Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, adding 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of dried minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.   (You can do this with this with salted butter, just don’t add in any salt.) Mix it well with a fork after melted.

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Stir the butter mixture with 2 cups of already cooked/prepared peas and you have it! Seriously, I could eat the whole two cups on my own! I’m not complaining about eating my peas any longer.

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