Shepard’s Pie and a Roundup

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  Last week was a whirlwind of traveling, visiting, cooking, baking, candy making and sewing.  We logged 23 hours on the road, threw countless tennis balls for the dog and visited my dad’s favorite brewery while we were in Kentucky visiting my parents.  Because of their proximity to the edge of the Eastern Time Zone, the morning light was breathtaking without having to get up super early.  At 8AM their front yard looked like this:

My mom always makes her fresh, pumpkin pie and a sweet potato pie (for my husband) at Thanksgiving.  This year, I added a Gingersnap Pumpkin Tart to the dessert mix.  The recipe was from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and was so good.  It went over so well that my mother kept my tart pan to make one for Christmas and I am planning on making another after I replace my tart pan.  Who would have thought that the combination of gingersnaps, pumpkin, spices and cream cheese would be so tasty?

Since we were guests, we offered to cook some while we were there.  We made cheddar Shepard’s pie (our recipe is below) and potato leek pizza.  For Thanksgiving, we handled the turkey, the apple, cranberry & pecan stuffing and some green beans with a bacon vinaigrette.  Needless to say we ate well and had plenty of leftovers!  Mom helped me make apple cider caramels from Smitten Kitchen and taught me how to make her awesome peanut brittle.

While we cooked, baked and ate we managed to find time to get in some sewing and some fabric shopping.  I’ll show you some of my stash, which includes beautiful chicken feed sacks, next time.

I have so many things crafted and ready to be gifted for the holidays that I cannot wait to show you.  Sadly, that will have to wait until after Christmas so I do not spoil anyone’s surprises!

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As promised here is our Shepard’s Pie recipe:

Shepard’s Pie with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

(recipe adapted from Martha Stewart & Rachael Ray)

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 lbs ground beef

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Olive Oil (for the pan)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tsp Worcestershire

1 tsp paprika

1/2 – 3/4 tsp thyme

1 small can tomato paste

2 tbsp water

1 cup frozen peas, thawed slightly under hot water

1 – 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Milk (eyeball it for a thick mashed potato consistency)

– In a large saucepan, place potatoes covered with an inch of salted water and bring to a boil.  Simmer until potatoes fall off a fork with pierced, about 15 – 20 minutes.

– Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add ground beef, season with salt & pepper and cook until most of the pink is out of the meat.

– Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes.

– Add the Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, tomato paste and water.  Stir to distribute tomato paste evenly and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add peas.  Sprinkle flour as needed a 1/2 tbsp at a time to thicken mixture cooking for 1 minute before adding more.

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees and transfer meat and vegetable mixture to a 9×13″ baking dish.

– Drain potatoes and return to pan.  Mash potatoes with milk and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and mash until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.

– Spoon mashed potatoes on top of meat and vegetables and spread to cover.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

– Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

(This recipe served five adults with some leftovers, you may want to halve it if you have a smaller crowd.)

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