Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sheperd's Pie

The holidays come with lots of turkeys, hams, and green bean casseroles. I love all of these things, but most recently I hosted a Christmas gathering at my cousin's house about two hours away.

I needed a recipe that I could make ahead of time and just pop in the oven at his place when dinner time approached. 

That's when the desire for Shepherd's Pie took over and I knew it would be a hit. I had strong memories of eating this during freshman year of high school for a best friend's birthday. Her mother was a world class cook, so I knew that I had my work cut out for me to duplicate her same flavor.

And as I had hoped, it worked like a charm and I came pretty close to my memory of perching on my knobby knees and eating this off the coffee table as a freshman.

I put it together the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight and packed it in my trunk for the drive. After we arrived I simply placed the whole thing in the oven for a little over an hour to make sure it was hot enough.

While it was baking I got to relax and visit with friends and family instead of working frantically in a foreign kitchen. 

And dinner was a hit. Warm, comforting, and best of all nutritious.

This Shepherd's Pie is a great idea for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day so that you don't have to worry about doing the cooking while your guests are arriving and wanting to visit. Even if the party is at your house, take a load off and make this one dish wonder ahead of time and give yourself permission to set the timer and relax at your own party!

Now on with the delicious recipe!

Shepherd's Pie

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
1 Cup Baby Carrots; Diced
2 Stalks Celery; Diced
4 Cloves Garlic; Minced
Fresh Black Pepper
2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 (10.5 Oz) Can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 cup Low Sodium Beef or Chicken Broth
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Cup Frozen Sweet Corn
Creamy Mashed Potatoes (recipe below)
1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

Mashed Potatoes

6 Large Baking Potatoes
4 Ounces Fat Free Cream Cheese
1 /2 Cup Skim Milk
Fresh Chive; Minced
2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Black Pepper

1. To make the mashed potatoes, peel the baking potatoes and dice into 1 inch cubes. Place in a large pot and cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling allow the potatoes to bubble for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft enough to mash.
2. Drain the water off the potatoes leaving the potatoes in the pot. Add the butter, milk, chives, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes until creamy and smooth using a mixer or a hand masher. Then set the mashed potatoes aside.
3. For the the meat layer of the shepherd's pie, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute for 8-10 minutes. The carrots should soften and the onions become transluscent.
4. Add the ground meat and brown until all pink is gone, approximately 10-12 more minutes. Then stir in the worchestershire sauce, the cream of mushroom soup, and the beef or chicken broth. Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture thickens, another 10-15 minutes. 

5. Add the frozen peas and corn to the mixture. Stir to combine and cook for 2-4 more minutes. Then remove the meat from the heat. 
6. Pour the meat mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 12 baking dish. Spread to make an even layer of meat. Top with the mashed potatoes and spread until the mashed potatoes make a smooth layer. Top with the shredded cheese.

7. Place in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until sides are bubbling, cheese is melted, and middle is hot. Serve with a large spoon and deep bowls!

Servings: 12

Nutritional Skinny:

282.7 calories / 8.8 g fat / 27 g carbohydrates / 3.2 g fiber / 23.4 g protein

Mental Health Benefit: Whatever your plans may be this Christmas, make sure that this year you make yourself and your family and friends the priority. People will remember the food, sure. But, I'd like to guess that they'll remember the conversation with you more. Make sure that whatever dinner plans look like, do as much as possible before hand, let others help you with the cooking and cleaning, and make sure you are having as much fun as everyone else. In short, relax and enjoy. Christmas only comes around once a year. Make sure you savor every moment!

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