no-recipe quick shepherd’s pie

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An easy way to use up leftover roast chicken or pork tenderloin is to re-purpose them into a shepherd’s pie. Use whatever vegetables are on hand: carrots, green peas, onions, and peppers went into tonight’s dinner. Other vegetables that can go into the pie include corn kernels, chopped broccoli, mushrooms, and chopped asparagus spears. Add in up to 2 cups chopped or shredded chicken or pork tenderloin,  and 1 1/2 cups brown gravy. You can also add fresh herbs such as thyme and minced rosemary. Top with mashed potatoes and bake on 400˚F/200˚C for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and browned. And that’s it!

lentil shepherd’s pie

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Andy and I are making the transition to a vegetarian diet, a lacto-ovarian vegetarian diet. So I made this recipe using cow’s milk instead of a non-dairy milk. I also lightened the salt by using just 2 tablespoons soy sauce. The pie came out hearty and filling, with just the right amount of seasoning. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from Melanie McDonald)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 ½ teaspoons dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, marjoram or mixed herbs or Italian herbs)
190 g or 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils, green or brown*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
240 ml or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
240 ml or 1 cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1000 g or 6 cups diced raw potato
80 ml or 1/3 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened
1-2 tablespoons vegan butter, optional

Preheat oven 400˚F/200˚C. Boil water in a large pot. Prepare a 9 inch deep-dish pie dish by spraying the inside with cooking spray. Set aside.

Put the diced potatoes in the pot of boiling water. Add a generous pinch of salt, cover and bring to the boil again. Simmer 15 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain then return to the pan. Add milk and butter if using, and mash very well. Set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, warm another pan over medium heat.

Sauté onions, garlic, and carrot until the onions start to go golden brown. You can use oil to sauté or a teaspoon or two of vegetable stock. Add the dried herbs and cooked and drained lentils. Make a slurry out of water and cornstarch, and add it to the pot. Stir well to distribute the cornstarch mixture. Add the tamari or soy sauce and tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the stock and stir well. As soon as the mixture is hot and is starting to bubble, remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the lentil mixture into the dish. Top with mashed potato. Spread the potato evenly on top, one spoonful at a time, and drag a fork through the top to create a pattern. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. If additional browning is desired, put the dish under the broiler until the top is golden brown. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*To cook lentils:
3 cups water
1 cup lentils
Using a large Dutch pot, bring lentils and water to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Yields 2-2 1/2 cups cooked lentils.

south beach shepherd’s pie

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South Beach Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from: South Beach Diet Supercharged)

Topping
4 cups (1 head) cauliflower separated into florets
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1 large egg yolk
seasoning salt to taste (salt in original recipe)
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese

Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb extra lean ground meat
3 cloves garlic, minced, plus extra whole cloves for cauliflower, if desired
1 onion, chopped
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup low salt (chicken or beef) broth, thickened, if desired, with a little tapioca flour or cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce (Worcestershire sauce in original)
pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350˚F.

Make topping. In a large saucepan, boil cauliflower florets and garlic cloves for 10 minutes. Drain. In a food processor, purée cauliflower and garlic. You may need to do this in batches. In a large bowl, whip puréed cauliflower with sour cream and egg yolk. Set aside.

Make filling. Heat olive oil until it shimmers. Sauté onion and garlic. Brown ground meat in onion garlic mixture. Add spinach. Cook, stirring, until bright green. Add the broccoli. Stir. Pour in broth, thickened, if desired. Season with soy sauce. Add pepper to taste. It might look as if there is not enough sauce but during baking, the cauliflower will “spring” more water.

Bake. Pour meat mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish. Spread the mashed cauliflower on top. Sprinkle salt on top. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

little wonton shepherd’s pies

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I’m a copycat, I admit it! I get inspired by other people’s recipes. This one called Petite Wonton Shepherd’s Pies was from Hungry Girl, but I changed it up by using mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potato and ground chicken breast instead of turkey. Since I’m an old hand at making shepherd’s pies I did not follow a recipe but I’ll list the ingredients (roughly speaking). We ate these for a light supper but they will make a great appetizer too.

1 medium head caulflower florets, stem discarded
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon milk
olive oil
1/2 pound ground chicken breast
1 teaspoon fish sauce (nampla)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (e.g. peas and carrots)
1 cup chicken gravy from a packet
1 package square wonton skins

Heat the oven to 400˚F. Brush the inside of a small 12 cup muffin tin with olive oil. Line each cup with a wonton skin. Fold it to fit the cup if necessary. The extra bits of dough will hang over the edge of each cup like a four-point star.

Boil a large pot of water filled 1/3 full. Add the cauliflower florets and cook 4-6 minutes or until tender. Drain and put florets into the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times, adding 1 teaspoon milk to moisten the vegetable. Season to taste.

Cook the frozen vegetables in hot boiling water about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet and cook the ground chicken until it just turns white. Set aside.

To assemble the wonton pies, put a spoonful of vegetable in each cup. Top with a spoonful of meat. Drizzle a spoonful of gravy on top. Generously top with a tablespoon of mashed cauliflower. If desired, sprinkle a little seasoning salt on top. Bake 15 minutes or until the edges of the wonton are crisp and brown. Serve hot.

Variation
I made my own quick and easy chicken gravy! Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a skillet. Remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and whisk to combine. Return to heat and add 1 cup water and 1/2 chicken bouillon cube. Stir often until it begins to bubble. Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs, if desired. Taste, and if desired, add salt. As the gravy gets hotter, it will thicken–no need to add more flour.

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smoky southwest sweet potato shepherd’s pie

smoky southwest sweet potato shepherd's pie

This shepherd’s pie has a delicious balance between salty, savory, and sweet. It really doesn’t need meat and it’s not even missed. This is the second recipe this week that uses chipotle peppers in adobo, and I am becoming a fan of this ingredient for adding a spicy pungent flavor to vegetarian dishes.

Smoky Southwest Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from Vegan on the Cheap)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 x 15.5 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups tomato salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly oil a 9 inch square baking pan and set aside.

Cook’s Note: To make this for 6, use a 9×13 inch pan.

Boil a large pot of water. Add the sweet potatoes until just tender, about 1o-12 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, in a blender or food processor, puree the chilies with the water and set aside.

Mash the steamed potatoes with half the chipotle puree, the butter, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, cover and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, corn, salsa, cumin, and the remaining chipotle puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Transfer the onion-bean mixture to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Drop the mashed sweet potatoes in dollops all over the top of the bean mixture. Spread evenly on top of the bean mixture. Bake until the filling is hot, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.

West Meets East: Krapow Gai Shepherd’s Pie

Thai-Style Chicken with Basil Shepherd’s Pie

Can’t eat white rice on this diet and the South Beach Diet Shepherd’s Pie was just daring to be spiced up. We can’t have it all but… maybe we can! I fused together two recipes to come up with this dish. Truly, very aroy!

Topping
4 cups (1 head) cauliflower
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons 0% Greek style plain yogurt
1 large egg yolk
salt and pepper
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven 350˚F.

Make Topping. In a large saucepan, boil cauliflower and garlic cloves 8-10 minutes. Drain. In a food processor, purée cauliflower and garlic. You may need to do this in batches. In a large bowl, whip puréed cauliflower with yogurt and egg yolk. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Since the filling has to be stronger tasting than usual because it will not be served on a bed of rice, I have increased the amounts of ingredients.

Filling
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
6 green or red Thai chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra for serving (I used a sugar substitute)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast , cut into 2-inch pieces
4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
red pepper flakes, for serving
cilantro and scallion, chopped, for serving

Make Seasoning. In the work bowl of a food processor, put 1 cup basil, garlic, and chilies. Pulse in one-second bursts 6 times. Put a tablespoon of the basil mixture in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar or sugar substitute. Mix together and set aside. Put the remaining seasoning in a large skillet and set that aside. Don’t wash out the work bowl.

Grind the Chicken. In the unwashed work bowl, add the chicken chunks and pulse in one-second bursts 6 times or until the chicken is in  1/4 inch pieces. Blend in remaining tablespoon fish sauce. Put the ground chicken in a medium bowl and refrigerate.

Make the Sauce. To the seasoning in the large skillet, add the shallots and the oil. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic and shallots turn golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. You may need to open a window! Frying chilies can make your eyes sting. Add the ground chicken and cut up the meat as it cooks with a silicone spatula or a potato masher. When the meat is a light pink, add the reserved seasoning and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of basil. Stir-fry until the basil is wilted.

Assemble and Bake. Scrape the filling into a 9-inch square baking dish. Spread it into the corners. Scrape the mashed cauliflower on top and smooth. Sprinkle with fet mot-fresh mozzarella cheese in Thaiand fresh ground black pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove from the oven and let the pie rest 10 minutes before serving.

Serve. Traditionally, krapow gai or Thai-Style Chicken with Basil is served with  a fried “egg hat.” Contrary to myth, eggs aren’t bad for you, and you can reduce the calorie load by frying it in cooking spray. Have a look at these nutrition myths if you don’t believe me! If you wish to spice it up further at table, provide small bowls of fish sauce, vinegar with chopped chilies, sugar, red pepper flakes, and chopped fresh scallion and cilantro for sprinkling.

Thai-Style Chicken with Basil Shepherd’s Pie with Fet Mot