Shepherds Pie

Well, it has been forever since I last posted! So much has happened I could spend an entire post just on the last year and half. Mark and I welcomed a new addition to our family! Miss Annabeth was born last fall and she has been such a blessing to our family.

Miss Annabeth

Miss Annabeth

Well, I decided to come and post today because I really wanted to share this recipe for Shepherds Pie with you. For years, I was the person who refused to eat Shepherds Pie. Individually I like every ingredient that it takes to make Shepherds Pie; however, every time I saw Shepherds Pie it looked like pig slop. Mark; however, is a huge fan of Shepherds Pie.

I try really hard to make things that Mark likes, specially when I am on the hunt for a new recipe to try at home. This past fall I was on the hunt for a recipe. Something new. Something I had never made before. As I was searching through the hundreds of recipes I have saved in my Pinterest account I kept coming back to this recipe for Shepherds Pie.

The picture alone looked amazing and I was in the mood to try something new. So, I decided to jump in with both feet and make my own Shepherds Pie. As always, I added quite a few of my own tweaks to the recipe to make it “my own” and OMG I could not believe just how good it turned out! We devoured the entire pot in a two day time span.

The original recipe called for making the pies in individual serving dishes; however, a majority of the time I make this I use a large 7 quart cast iron dutch oven and just make one big pot of it. Either way — one big pot or individual serving dishes — works great. (I like the one big pot because it ends up being less dishes to do after dinner is done!!!)

Since then I have made this Shepherds Pie dozens of times throughout the fall and winter. As a note, the leftovers are just as good! Mark and I usually end up fighting over the last little bit of leftovers left.

shepherds-pie

Shepherds Pie

Ingredients:
For the Meat Base:
1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (you can use Ground Turkey if you want)
1 Large Sweet Onion, chopped
2 cups Carrots, chopped
2 cups Cabbage, chopped
2 cups Celery, chopped
1 Head of Garlic, chopped
1 bag Frozen Peas
2-3 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Oregano
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Ketchup
1 Package Concentrated Beef Stock
Salt and Pepper

For the Potatoes:
6 Large Russet Potatoes, skinned, cooked and mashed
3/4 cup Milk
3/4 cup Havarti Cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
3/4 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large 7 quart dutch oven heat 1 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery; and sautee until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 Tbsp of the garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes. Add the cabbage and the frozen peas. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Sautee the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat bring the peeled and diced potatoes to a boil. Boil the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes or until they are fork tender. Once done drain the potatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl. (I start the potatoes at the same time I start cooking the vegetables.)

Using the same dutch over, over medium heat add the ground beef to the pan. Brown the meat until cooked. Once the meat is cooked add the remaining garlic and the fresh Thyme to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and the concentrated beef stock.

Mix the meat mixture with the vegetable mixture and stir until well combined. Spread the meat and vegetable mixture evenly in the bottom of the dutch oven and set aside.

Take the mixing bowl with the potatoes and add in all but 1/2 cup of the cheese and the milk. Mash well until combined.  Spread the potatoes evenly across the meat/vegetable mixture. Garnish the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until the sides are bubbling. If the top has not browned while cooking you can use the broiler on high for 1-2 minutes to brown the top of the potatoes. Be careful not to burn the potatoes using the broiler though!

Remove the pot from from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Try serving with a great side roll like the Cheddar Bay Biscuits!

Source: adapted from STL Cooks

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Isn’t this the most wonderful time of the year?!?  The snow has been falling for a few weeks here in Michigan already — okay, okay — I am honestly NOT excited about that.  This year it seems as though time is just flying.  It seems like just last week it was Thanksgiving and now here we are less than a week away from Christmas.

Christmas is literally my favorite time of the year.  I love the family spirit, baking, gift giving, and most of all — the Christmas decorations.  Oh, the Christmas decorations!!!  Mark cringes when we walk into a store and they are selling Christmas items.  As a women in her late 20’s I already own more Christmas decorations than most people’s Grandmothers do!  I love decorating for Christmas.  I cannot wait until one day Mark and I have a bigger house where I can setup two or three full sized Christmas trees.

This year my Christmas spirit has been lacking a little bit.  Mark and I have had a rough fall/winter and this year I have just been struggling to get into the normal Christmas spirit that I usually have.  I was able to get our Christmas tree up this year and a few of my other decorations, but other than that I’ve done nothing.  I am always girl the who done buying Christmas gifts by Thanksgiving and this year I didn’t start until this past week.  In fact, as shocking as it may sound — I haven’t even done any baking!!

So, today I finally forced myself to get in the kitchen and bake some of my favorite holiday cookies.  I knew that these cookies would be perfect to post today!

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

These cookies taste like Christmas!  What does Christmas taste like — well, like heaven really!  For being a shortbread cookie these cookies are light and moist and the raspberry filling adds just the perfect sweet tang to the cookie.  To top it off the almond flavored icing really brings the whole cookie together.

One thing I love about these cookies is how simple they are to make.  It does not require getting out your stand mixer, lots of ingredients, or a lot of steps.  If your lives are anything similar to mine — then during the holidays being able to make a delicious cookie to share with family and friends but that is easy to make where you are not slaving over the stove all day is amazing.

Mark and I polished off about a dozen of these within an hour of making them.  I know, that means we will both need to run 3-5 miles on the treadmill tomorrow morning but trust me — they are so worth it!  I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do!!

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies
Printer Friendly Version

Ingredients:
For the Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup seedless red raspberry jam
Sugar for sprinkling

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:
In a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer beat the softened butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and almond extract; and mix well on medium speed until well combined.  Make sure to scrap down the side of the bowl once while mixing.  Add 1 cup of flour and mix for about 20-30 seconds on low speed.  Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and mix again for 20-30 seconds on medium-low speed.  The dough will be crumbly at this point.

Using your hands, gently work the dough together to form one large disk.  Cover the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until the dough is easy to handle.

After the dough has chilled, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using the palm of your hand gently press down the ball a little bit; and then using your thumb press an indentation into the center of each ball.  Spoon about ½ teaspoon of the raspberry jam into the center of each cookie and then lightly sprinkle the cookies with sugar.  Bake about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.  Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

While the cookies are cooling in a small bowl add the powered sugar, almond extract and 1-2 teaspoons of the milk.  Stir the powered sugar, slowly adding the milk 1 teaspoon at a time until it reaches a consistency that you can drizzle with.  Drizzle the cookies with the icing and enjoy!

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Source: adapted slightly from Parent Pretty, originally from Better Homes & Garden

Chicken Marbella

Boy things have been busy for Mark and I lately!  Earlier in November we traveled to the Washington D.C. area to watch my younger sister graduate from college and then a week later we took off to Florida for a week to see family over Thanksgiving.  Mark and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  For the first time ever I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my Aunt, Uncle and Grandma from Florida.  Being with my extended family over the holidays is always a great reminder about what is important in life!  I hope each and everyone of you had a great Thanksgiving.

While in Florida we were able to see my Sister-In-Law and her family who live right outside Orlando.  Since we flew into Orlando we decided that we would have dinner and stay the night with then before taking off to the Tampa area for Thanksgiving. We arrived in town around 6:00 pm and as we walked into their house  this amazing smell instantly smacked you right in the face.  With the amazing smells that were coming from the kitchen I could have sworn my sister-in-law had to have been in the kitchen all day long slaving away cooking dinner.

As we sat down to eat she pulled a large baking dish out of the oven that had chicken swimming in a sauce with prunes and olives that she put in the middle of the table.  I sat there almost drooling on myself it smells and looked so good!  After saying grace we dug in and I have to say that this is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.  The chicken is amazingly moist and tender to the point where it just falls apart with your fork.  The sauce — oh the sauce — I was literally spooning the sauce right out of the pan and into my mouth it was that delicious.

Since getting home a little over a week ago I have already made this dish twice.  Yes, I promise you it is that good!  My sister-in-law served this with smashed potatoes but I love serving it with rice.  Spooning the sauce over the rice just gives the rice this amazing flavor that even Mark — who is not a fan of rice — cannot get enough of!

A few notes — make sure you marinate the chicken overnight.  Do not take a short cut and try to make this recipe all in one night.  I promise you it will not taste the same and marinading the chicken is easy and completely worth it!  Plus it means that all you have to do is pull the chicken out, put it in the baking dish and bake for about an hour and — Ta Da — an amazing dinner with basically no effort!  The original recipe calls for using chicken breasts and I know a lot of people use regular chicken thighs or legs; however, Mark does not like chicken with the bone in it and I do not think the chicken breast gets as tender as the boneless thighs while cooking.  If you are going to back this dish with bone-in chicken you will need to add additional cooking time.

I know without a doubt this is coming to become a staple in our monthly meal rotation.  I am already dreaming of the leftovers sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated for dinner tonight!

Enjoy!!!

marbella2

Chicken Marbella
Printer Friendly Version

Ingredients:
10 boneless chicken thighs
1 head of garlic, chopped
¼ cup dried oregano
Salt and pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
¾ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers, with 1-2 tablespoons of the caper juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white wine

Directions:
In a large bowl add the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, prunes, green olives, capers and bay leaves and stir to combine.   Add the chicken thighs and stir to cover the chicken with the marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9×13 pan arrange the chicken in a single layer and spoon the marinade over the chicken evenly.  Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and the pour the white wine over the top of the chicken.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, basting once or twice while baking.  Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, enjoy!

Source: a recipe  by Harrison and Sydney Autebach in a Taste of Home Cooking Cookbook.