Shepards Pie

When I was a kid, Shepard’s pie was a basic, burger and mash concoction with a can of corn. I loved it, comfort food. Gram or mom would mash the potatoes, add them to the top of the cooked  crumbled burger, smooth out the potatoes and score lines on the top, sprinkle with paprika and bake.  Plain simple and Homey.

Basic Shepard’s pie. , I bake in a  Shallow baking dish, or pie plate

  • 1lb  ground meat
  • 1 small onion or shallot
  • 1 lb of cooked vegetables, corn, peas, mixed etc
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 2lbs potatoes, cut into cubes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup milk, preferably low fat or skim
  • 2 tablespoons butter for mashed, optional

Initial cooking and assembly should take less than a half hour, Baking will be another 25 minutes

  • Brown meat  and diced onion in nonstick pan, crumble fine, Meat should brown without becoming crisp and over cooked. Remove extra fat before moving to baking dish
  • Cube, boil to fork tender and mash potatoes, for a rustic look leave skins on, add salt, pepper, milk and optional butter while mashing
  • vegetables should be precooked if frozen or fresh, canned can be used as is
  • preheat oven to 325 degrees, layer vegetables first, well drained,  ground meat, and then mashed, The potatoes are your crust. Spread potatoes smoothly until they cover meat uniformly. With tines of fork, run lines across the top to decorate. You can make a smiley face for the kids. If  using butter in the mash the top lines will brown on their own,  you can add a spray of cooking spray on top for the same effect, to cut calories and omit butter.
  • bake for 25 minutes, a few extra for a browner top
  • Serve with a side salad for a balanced meal, serves 6-8

Tips to cut the calories & make gourmet

  • Use Ground Turkey Breast, Turkey, Chicken or Buffalo
  • To add Flavor, Saute ground meat with savory herbs, Sage, Tarragon, Rosemary or Oregano
  • Add garlic, Mushrooms,  pearl onions, Spinach or other vegetables to meat during the browning
  • Top with any combination of Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash or mashed Cauliflower in substitution of potatoes.
  • This is a Gluten free recipe, Made with Ground Turkey Breast, Mashed potatoes with skim milk and mixed vegetables is is Weight Watcher Friendly at 4.5 points for 8 servings, 6.1 points for 6 servings, If you’re real hungry  9 points for 4 servings. No guilt.
  • Recipe made with Beef, Butter, Whole milk, would be 8-15 points depending on serving size.

 

Pesto Extravaganza

I love Pesto, that basil,sweet, savory, clingy topping to pasta.  The Hungry Girl, just perked up my appetite with her new Guilt free option, Gluten-free as well. It’s easy to grow your own Basil in the garden or a kitchen herb planter box. Freeze pesto for quick meals. Pesto is a NO-COOK sauce, really convenient, the addition of warm pasta or spaghetti squash releases the yummy savory aroma.

Hungry Girl‘s savory concoction omits most of the oil with Fat free Ricotta Cheese Pesto recipe,  maybe i”ll  try it tonight.

Steffie’s Basic Pesto for Pasta, or Spaghetti squash

  • 2 cups fresh Green Sweet Basil, thoroughly washed, stems removed. towel dried or spun
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil, preferred
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Romano
  • nuts are optional 1/4 cup Pignola(pine), Walnuts or almonds, pulsed or chopped fine
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice, or juice from fresh squeezed. To preserve color
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt optional
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, optional for a twist use a shallot

In a food processor, process basil, garlic, salt and 2 teaspoons of juice into a paste. Add oil and thoroughly blend, it should be thick and smooth. Add nuts and blend, add cheese last, the cheese can heat and melt if it is over processed. For thinner sauce add extra oil.

To serve,  cook your favorite pasta, drain return to pot or serving dish,  stir in desired amount of pesto.  The heat of the pasta will release all the flavors and aroma in the pesto, serve immediately. Serve with Extra grated cheese on the side. For a decadent flair add  1/4 cup of cream to a lb. of hot pasta, before adding the pesto. Reduce cream amount for smaller portions.

Pesto freezes well, to freeze, drizzle lemon juice or oil on top to avoid darkening and freezer burn from exposure to the air. An Ice cube tray works great for single servings. Another great use, the cubes can be added to a pasta sauce, still frozen to give it great Basil flavor.

Options

  • Purple Basil pesto, sub. 1/2 cup of Purple Basil
  • Spicy kick, add spicy Thai basil and a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto,  add 1/4 cup well chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the basil leaves when processing.
  • Mediterranean version, 2 cups  Fresh parsley instead of Basil, 2 tablespoons fresh  Mint and 1 teaspoon dried  oregano,  add 3 tablespoons of lime juice instead of lemon, Feta cheese instead of Grated Italian cheese. Add a few seedless black olives for a variation.

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Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets-adapted-lower calories

Betty Crocker has started developing a line of Gluten Free products,  The GF Chocolate chip cookies are one of the best.  but it’s still second best to my Steffie’s Version of  Bob’s Redmill Recipe made with their pancake mix, delicious, closest thing to Entenman’s.

This is a terrific recipe made with Corn Chex.Their recipe says 25 servings , they mean 25 nuggets@ 25 calories each. This is also great for a salad meal topper! This recipe should serve 4 or more. Rule of thumb 3-4 ounces of raw chicken is an adult serving. This recipe omits 300 calories of butter and 120 calories  from 1 cup of Chex® cereal . The addition of the yogurt is under 70 calories, but they are nonfat dairy,  protein loaded calories. Any WeightWatcher would love!

Steffie has adapted to reduce the calories and spice it up!

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, breasts or tenders, cut into 1×1-inch chunks
  • 2 Cups of Rice or Chex Corn Cereal® cereal
  • 1/2 single size container of Chobani Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese, optional,
  • 2 tsp of chili, cumin or paprika powders and other savory/spicy herbs of preference divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder optional
  • pinch of salt and pepper each

In a nonmetallic bowl combine Chobani or other plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of spice, salt and pepper.  Add cubes of chicken to marinate, coat well. Refrigerate at least one hour. You may marinate up to 24 hours, to enhance flavor and tenderize.  The active ingredients in the yogurt will tenderize the chicken.

Pulse or crush  the Chex® cereal, add grated cheese (optional) and the other teaspoon of spice or herbs. Mix well, store until Chicken has finished marinating.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pre-spray a shallow baking pan or cooking sheet with Nonstick Gluten free spray.

Place Chex® cereal crumb mixture on a plate, Dredge each marinated chunk in mixture, place on cooking tray.

Bake for approx  25 minutes, turn half way thru cooking time. I felt the 400 degree temp  for 17 minutes was a little too high & short in the Betty Crocker Recipe. Chicken should not be pink when cut. Ovens vary in correct readings, I would test at least one for doneness.

If you don’t like yogurt, you can sub two well fork beaten eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute and go right to the cooking process. Chicken Breasts  halves or thighs can be done the same way for a heartier meal, increase the time to 35 minutes. The herb combinations are endless, add oregano for Italian, mint for Mediterranean, Rosemary for savory……

You can also create a dipping/ranch like sauce from another Chobani, with the same herbs and add dehydrated onion or vegetable flakes combined the day before. Even the  Hungry Girl‘ would approve!

Gluten Free book Giveaway

Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s Contest for her VIP GiveAway, this article is pasted from Cheap.com

Facebook entry for getting a chance for her VIP Giveaway
If you don’t win it you can buy it, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. The Cheap household is nearly 100% gluten free, this will be a great addition to avoid the Monotony of  limited commercial options. Free recipes with Gluten free options are available @ Cookmethis.com

This is the last week to enter to win an autographed copy of Elisabeth’s new gluten-free cookbook “Deliciously G-Free”. Visit the “Deliciously G-Free Giveaway” tab on our Facebook page to enter . Be sure to share this with your friends on Facebook and be entered to win a free box of NoGii No Gluten High Protein Bars!

Free is cheap!

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad has endless possibilities

Serve on a Salad or Greens. How about a Sandwich of  Flat Bread,  Flour Tortilla or a Roll. As an appetizer on a cracker.

The Basic mix

  • 2 cups Boneless Chicken, simmered and chilled, or leftovers from a store bought Roasted Chicken, White or dark meat based on preference
  • 1/2 cup of  mayonnaise. Lowfat, reduced fat or fat free are best for the waistline
  • 1/4 cup chopped, celery strings removed
  • Optional, 1/2 cup fresh grape halves or dried fruit such as Dried Cranberries, Golden Raisins, Raisins, plums, cherries etc.
  • Optional, unsalted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds or pignoli (pine) finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste,  fresh or dried herbs to taste, such as Sage, or Tarragon

To assemble

  • Roasted chicken should have all skin and bone remove and chilled before mixing. Home cooked chicken should also be cold before adding mayonnaise. If chicken is simmered in broth do not add salt to salad.

In a nonmetallic bowl mix well

  • Chicken -can be coarsely chopped for a rustic look, diced to 1/4 inch or ground for a smooth spreadable texture.
  • celery, and options of grape halves,dried fruit, nuts
  • Mayonnaise, add less for drier, more for wetter,  conventional ratio is 4:1
  • Salt, pepper and add herbs
  • Refrigerate,  the longer it is chilled the better the flavors are incorporated
  • makes 10 1/2 cup servings

Makes enough for ten sandwiches or salad toppers, used as a cracker spread makes approx. 40 or more.

Sage  mixed with Cranberry gives it a thanksgiving flair. Tarragon has a very savory earthy effect, and is luscious.  The combination of bread  or greens can make it basic or elegant.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing or Croutons

Make recipe for Gluten Free Cornbread,

Two methods, Use Cornbread cubed evenly  in 1/2 cubes or less

  • Air dry on a cookie sheet, until desired dryness.Toss to dry all sides, this may take  a day or more.
  • Set oven on lowest setting in oven, most are 150-170 degrees, slow toast to dry thoroughly. Toss cubes frequently for even toasting or drying. Cubes are ready based on personal preference.
  • Croutons can be sprinkled with you favorite herbs before drying, for salads
  • For stuffing, Sprinkle with Sage or Poultry seasoning before drying.

Store in Sealed container or freeze for future use.

Basic Stuffing,

  • 6 cups cornbread cubes
  • 1/4 cup  butter optional
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 1/2-2 cups broth
  • sage or poultry seasoning to taste

Place croutons in large mixing bowl

Saute  celery and onions in butter until softened, do not caramelize. If omitting butter, use nonstick spray and add several tablespoons of broth to cook.Remove from heat.

Add 1 cup of broth to saute pan, stir, add to mixing bowl, and mix gently with a soft spatula, do not over work or compress. Cover and let stuffing absorb liquid. After 10 minutes test for  moistness, if stuffing is to dry additional stock.

Use as a pan stuffing, bake for 25 minutes @325, or stuff inside fish, poultry or pork.

Savory Squash Soup

There are many twists on a squash soup, Herbs, Broth and  the natural sweetness of a winter squash is what gives it the Savory Umami goodness. Umami is word  coined by the Japanese for the flavor that is both savory and has hints of other sensations, a mix of tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Herbiness gives those sensations an oomph!

The staple in a Sqaush soup is generally Butternut squash, But any big meaty Winter Squash can be used including pumpkin. Canned pumpkin can be used as a substitution, if Squash isn’t readily availble. Frozen Butternut squash can be used.

Squash Soup

  • 1 large squash, peeled seeded and cubes into 1 inch pieces- 4-6 cups (large can of pumpkin as a substitute)
  • 1 Box Broth-Vegetable or Chicken, or 4 bullion cubes with 32 oz water
  • 2 Shallots or onion, diced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, optional, diced small
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1 tbs, Rosemary/Thyme, and other savory herbs to taste
  • **** cloves garlic optional
  • equipment  needed: Large bowl, Shallow roasting pan,  blender or food processor, saute pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

To easy peel squash, make several pircings with a knife or fork,microwave squash for 2 minutes on high. Let set for several minutes, peeling should be much easier

Cube squash into 1″ pieces, uniformity is not important, Toss Squash pieces with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil to coat,  sprinkle  very sparingly with salt and pepper. You can always add salt later,   broth will also add salt. You can never ‘un-salt’ once its done.

Place a single layer of squash on the baking sheet, sprinkle with Dried Spices of choice, If fresh is avaible   use 3 stems of rosemary, 1 tsp of minced thyme. ***  Whole cloves of Fresh garlic can also be roasted with the squash as an option.

Bake squash until fork tender and edges are browned an caramelized, about 30 minutes, The caramelization will sweeten and add to the savoriness.

While the squash is roasting, Saute on low-medium heat, your mirapoix , of chopped celery, shallots, and carrot(optional) in the tsp of olive oil. You may omit the olive oil, and use a cooking spray. Do not allow the veggies to burn,  you may add broth  to the saute pan and cover to soften, it also de-glazes the pan.Once softened allow to cool before blending.

Remove the squash from the oven, and allow to cool before blending, remove the woody stems of rosemary.

In batches, blend the sauteed  vegetables and a cup of cubes at a time with a half cup of broth, add additional  broth if mixture is too thick. After blending pour each batch into a soup pot for further simmering. You will have extra broth leftover, you may need to add to the simmering soup if it is too thick. If  you have  made the soup to thin, you can simmer it longer, it will thicken.

Warm the soup on simmer, the longer it simmers the better it tastes. This is the time to add salt, pepper and additional herbs to taste. Steffie’s rule is, ‘Let the person eating do the salting’!

For a richer soup, add cream to finish and a tablespoon of butter.

Other options, you can add, raw or cooked vegetables, cooked meats, or potatoes to add texture and variety. The possibilities are endless. You can also add other root vegetables to the squash such as Carrot, Fennel Bulb, Parsnips, Celery root, the variations are endless.

You can freeze the finished soup.

Pass the Cranberry

Leftover Open-faced Hot Turkey Sandwiches:

  • 2 slices of a Hearty White or Sour Dough Bread per person
    Turkey cut in slices
  • Slices of cold stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce optional
  • Heated gravy
  • Lay slices of bread on oven proof tray, spread slices with cranberry sauce, optional
  • Layer  bread with turkey and stuffing
  • Heat at 325 for 10 minutes
  • Serve with reheated gravy
  • Dig in

Thanksgiving in a Roll-Hot or Cold

  • Favorite bread or roll
  • Layer Turkey, stuffing and cranberry on bread
  • Mayonnaise or Gravy optional

Turkey Pie

I just picked up a ‘Hotel Turkey Breast’, a Full breast with wings, no legs. Our family it’s the favorite part. I can even Stuff it, or bone and roll. But what to do with all the leftovers.

Turkey Pie:

  •  2 Frozen Pie Crusts, thawed or refrigerated ready to use.***See note for gluten free
  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken, Celery soup, or 1 cup of  leftover Gravy, made with cornstarch for Gluten Free
  • 2 cups of  rough chopped Turkey
  • 1 bag of defrosted Mixed Vegetables or leftover thanksgiving vegetables diced (potatoes, onions, squash etc.
  • In large bowl mix together all ingredients except Pie Crust
  • Fill bottom crust with mixture, top with second crust, pinch crusts together, make 2 inch knife slit in center top crust
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes
  • ****For Gluten Free- Omit crusts, Top with 4- cups of precooked mashed potatoes, sweet Potatoes or Squash as a top ‘Crust’
  • Go to Cheap.com for a full page of cheapskate Turkey dishes

Gobble Gobble! Turkey’s not just for Thanksgiving

Turkey breasts and parts are on sale all year round these days, A Sunday Dinner of a turkey breast is not uncommon. Let’s add some yummy recipes for leftover’s. The longer you simmer the better it tastes. Add your favorite spices and vegetables for your own twist.

Go To cheap.com’s page on Turkey leftovers for more recipes.

Turkey soup:

  • 8 cups Turkey or Chicken Broth, substitute 8 cups Water w/chicken bouillon if you’re really cheap. Or cheaper yet make your own broth.
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  •  4  stalks celery chopped
  • 4 carrots diced    *** substitute with 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • Simmer till tender.
  • Add 2 cups diced cooked turkey, bring back to simmer
  • Add 1 cup orzo or small pastina. (Cooked al dente)
    Turn off heat let sit for 1/2 or 1 Hour
  • Heat and Eat, Freeze or Share
  • Makes approx 12 cups

***To make Gluten free add Quinoa or Alternate Gluten Free Pasta

 

Stock The Kitchen, Day Two

If you’re not prepared, a 15 minute meal can take you hours to prepare. Most meals should take 10 minutes or less to prepare, and then you add cooking time. Also, timing is everything,. If the protein takes 25 minutes, pasta shouldn’t be started at the same time. Timing is essential, as well as multi-tasking. For example, you can whip up a salad, while the other ingredients heat in the oven.

Stock the cupboards with staples, your must haves, Use Steffie’s Pantry for a start.

Always have on hand, your favorite Pasta & Sauce, Frozen(steamable) bag vegetables, Rice, Potatoes, and Salad fixins. If you have all that, you can cook anything, and quick.

Cook Me This Day One!

Welcome to my obsession. Cooking, shopping for the cooking, feeding people, and eating! I learned to cook by osmosis.  My grandmother’s Special Sunday pot roast (rolled Rib Roast, do you believe it!), when I was younger than 10, spurred the passion. Those roasted brown potatoes being lifted from the Stove-top Dutch Oven, then later melting in my mouth. I was hooked, I had to know how it happened. I actually have a picture from that day.

Grilled cheese, hot dogs and anything that can be heated from the can, were my first solo ventures. I graduated to frying in short order, french fries! I still love french fries, but I make them healthier now.

By the time I turned 16, I was making Hungarian Goulash from scratch on a weekly basis, in a Big Orange Creuset Dutch Oven. I was on my way.  During the high school years, I probably cooked most family dinners for my mom, and 3 sisters. No one ever complained, ever. In 1969 I bought that pot for $40, wish I knew where it was now.

I BBQ & make the gravy where ever I go. I think I’m invited just for that reason! “Steffie will do it” is something I hear all the time.

Please feel free to contribute any recipe you would like. With the  help of my genius son, I am  working on an ingredient cookmethis search APP. It will search out a tasty recipe based on the input of ingredients. Such as Balsamic+Chicken+Pasta. It would probably result in ‘Grilled Balsamic Chicken’.

Welcome to my private Kitchen, Steffie

Homemade Taco Seasoning-Gluten Free

For 1 lb of meat

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons GF Ketchup or 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1Tbsp of chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp  dried onion, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt, cumin , pepper
  • 1/2 cup of Gluten free chicken or  beef broth to add as needed

Add Tomato and spices to cooked ground meat, simmer, add chicken broth if mixture is too dry. To thicken simmer longer. Store meat refrigerated until reheating just before serving.

Seasoning can also used as a wet rub for meat as a marinade, Steak, Chicken or Pork  before grilling or roasting.