Tag Archives: Sweet potato

Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Shepherd’s Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Growing up, we had Shepherd’s Pie quite a bit! In our house, it was essentially leftover mashed potatoes, frozen or canned corn and ground beef all baked in a dish together.  To be honest, I did not love it.

But now as an adult, I realize that was my mom’s way of using up leftovers and she didn’t get fancy with ingredients because she had 5 kids and at least one of us at any given time was a picky eater.

While I didn’t love the combo of plain beef and corn, I do see the appeal of a one pot dish and a form of Shepherd’s Pie appears in our house at least a couple times a month.  I like to call it Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie.  It’s essentially one part protein, one part assorted cooked vegetables, a little tomato paste, worcestershire and appropriate spices, topped with mashed root vegetable or starch of your choice. This is not really a recipe, but more a loose formula, so go crazy if you like.  It’s a phenomenal way to use up leftovers, it’s full of comfort food, and it’s comprised of whole foods . . .what’s not to like?

The options are endless – almost anything you’ve got in your fridge can work here! I’ve made some really crazy combinations and so far neither John or I have turned up our noses at the result.  When you can’t think of anything to make – make this! The amount of nutrients you can pack into it are endless!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach, celery, onions and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd's Pie!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd’s Pie!

16 – 20 oz protein of choice: try ground turkey, beef, lamb or pork, or sausages (casings removed), thinly sliced chicken breasts or canned beans.

3-4 cups leftover mashed root or starch: try potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, celeriac, turnip, rutabaga, kabocha squash or cooked polenta.  (If I don’t have leftovers, I boil and mash and then stir in 2 tbsp pasture butter or coconut oil to my starch/roots, plus salt and pepper. I usually will leave potato & sweet potato skins on)

3 cups chopped mixed vegetables of your choice: try mushrooms, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, bell peppers, carrots, peas, zucchini, mizuna, cabbage etc.

1 cup diced onion or thinly sliced leeks
1 tbsp pasture butter, olive oil or coconut oil
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried herbs (one or two): try ground sage, savory, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, dill
optional: 1/2 tsp garlic powder, onion powder or smoked paprika
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil (or butter) and saute 3 cups of chopped mixed vegetables and 1 cup of diced onions/leeks until they begin to soften and the onions are almost translucent. Remove the vegetables from the pan and cook your meat (you don’t need to cook canned beans if you are using them), stirring occasionally until cooked through.  Stir the vegetables back into the pan, add the worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, herbs and any optional spices until everything is well blended.  Most meats will yield a small amount of liquid during the cooking process, if you use something that doesn’t and the pan seems dry, feel free to add a couple tbsp of water while working in the tomato paste and other flavorings.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour the meat / bean & vegetable mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish or 9X13 pan.  Top with mashed root or starch and bake for 30 minutes or until warmed through.  Some toppings will brown better than others, if your top doesn’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes (keeping an eye on it as roots brown quickly).

Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.  Makes 4 generous delicious, comfort food servings.

Note: If your mash topping seems soupy (as the case might be with things like butternut squash) stir in a beaten egg before cooking and it will firm right up during cooking!

My favorite combos:
Topping: Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale, leeks & cabbage stirred in)
Filling: Ground Turkey, broccolini & carrots (photo below)

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd's Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd’s Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

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Topping:  Butternut squash
Filling: Sweet Italian Sausage, Kale, Bell peppers, peas

Topping: Smashed Parm Potatoes
Filling: Ground Beef, mushrooms & carrots

Do you make Shepherd’s Pie? What are your favorite filling and toppings? Are you a traditionalist or do you like to veer off and clean out your fridge like me? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear your side of things!

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Mayo

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Olive Oil Mayo

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Olive Oil Mayo

Last weekend, John’s dad was coming over for dinner and I wanted to make an appetizer that was relatively healthy with whatever we had on hand.  After scouring the kitchen for a half hour, I realized I still had a bunch of organic sweet potatoes to use up from our awesome CSA at Middle Branch Farm.  I decided to turn them into baked sweet potato fries and serve them with a homemade olive oil based mayonnaise seasoned with smoked paprika.   The combination was AWESOME.  Everyone liked them.  In fact, it was hard to snap a picture of them without someone’s hand digging in the basket and the pic above is the best I could get. Haha!

If you want your “fries” to stay crispy, don’t pile them all up in a basket when serving like I did.  The smoked paprika mayo is perfect for these and you’ll have plenty of mayo leftover to use for other things during the week (try it on scrambled eggs or steamed kale – OMG!).  Once you start making your own mayo, you’ll never go back to store bought ever again, I swear!  And making it with olive oil is so much better for you than the junk that goes into commercial mayo.

Try these and let me know what you think!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Mayo

For the Fries
4 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes, Scrubbed and Peeled
2 tablespoons 100% olive oil (not Extra Virgin) or melted coconut oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease two large cookie sheets.  Slice sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch thick fries.  It doesn’t have to be exact but you want them to be close to the same thickness so they cook at the same rate.  Toss sweet potatoes in the 2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and then spread the sweet potatoes onto the two prepared cookie sheets but don’t let them touch each other!  The fries need to be spaced apart. You may need to use three cookie sheets to accomplish this.  If the fries are touching, you’ll end up with steamy, soft fries and that’s not what you want!  Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 15 minutes more or until cooked through on the inside and browned on the outside.   Serve with the smoked paprika mayo (below) or ketchup.

For the Smoked Paprika Mayo
1 cup 100% olive oil (not Extra Virgin)
2 egg yolks from organic pastured eggs*
1 & 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp – 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp tarragon leaves
1 shallot, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste
optional: a dash of fresh lemon juice or hot sauce for a little zing!

Whisk the 2 egg yolks with the dijon mustard until they are evenly blended.  Slowly add the olive oil by pouring it down the side of the bowl in a very thin stream and continue whisking the entire time.  Don’t use extra virgin olive oil here because the flavor would over power the mayo.  If you pour the olive oil in too fast, you will break the emulsion so go slow with the pour and whisk like your life depends on it! Pour it slower than you think you need to. Once you’ve whisked in all of the oil and you have a thick creamy mayo, add in your seasonings: shallots, tarragon, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and optional, a little lemon juice or hot sauce.  Make the mayo an hour before serving for best flavor.

*Eating raw egg can pose some health risks to those with compromised immune systems.   Pastured eggs have a lower risk than commercial eggs of carrying salmonella but there is still some risk.  Eat at your own discretion.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 1 of my healthy tip filled campaign called 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More.

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