Cottage Pie

January 27, 2009

This recipe is one of C’s favourites (which is saying a lot since he can be a picky eater!). I made it up last year when I decided that I should have a good shepherd’s pie recipe in my repertoire. I cobbled together several different recipes and played with the ingredients and amounts until I got something that had a few, on-hand ingredients and was relatively healthy. Since then I have made it a lot. It can be a bit time consuming, so I usually double the recipe and make two pies, one of which I freeze for later. Two meals for the time of one – works for me! It is also good for leftovers; it tastes just as good reheated the next day. I like mine served with a squirt of ketchup on top.

Note: It is called Cottage Pie rather than Shepherd’s Pie because traditionally the latter only uses lamb. (Something I discovered in my research in putting together this recipe).


Cottage Pie

Yield: 6 servings

2 lbs. potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef
2 carrots
1 onion
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons thyme
2 teaspoons pepper
2 cups frozen green peas
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth, fat-free, low-sodium

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Mash potatoes with milk, butter and yolk until potatoes are almost smooth.

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef to the hot skillet with a bit of water. Season with salt, pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Brown and crumble the meat for about 5 minutes.

Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook  for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook butter and flour together for 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken until it reaches a gravy-like consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add gravy to meat and vegetable mixture. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole dish with the meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon the potatoes over the top evenly. Top the potatoes with the paprika. Broil until the potato topping is evenly browned. Serve.

(8 P)


Quick Beer Bread

January 27, 2009

Yesterday morning, I was feeling a little restless and wondering what I would have for lunch. I didn’t really feel like any of the soups I had kicking around. I looked in the fridge about a dozen times, hoping that something tasty would appear. A half empty beer that C had opened the night before caught my eye. The beer hadn’t been particularly good and I would probably end up throwing it out in a week or two, so I decided to try it as a beer bread.

The recipe came together really quickly as it is a no-yeast, no-knead bread (which was good since I started it about an hour and 15 minutes before I had to go to class). The crust on the bread was surprisingly crispy which I really liked, however the weird taste of the beer that had caused it to remain un-imbibed in the fridge also gave the bread a somewhat weird taste. So while I would make this recipe again, I would use a beer that I actually enjoyed drinking as well.


Quick Beer Bread

Adapted from A Year in Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups beer (I used Howe Sound Brewing’s Father John Winter Ale)

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Spoon the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (This bread can be frozen).

Steak Fajitas

January 26, 2009

This is a great recipe because you can make 3 meals in one go. One batch for the night that you are making it on and two batches for another day in the freezer. Easy and quick. Perfect for the days when you want a good dinner with minimal effort.

Steak Fajitas

Adapted from Real Simple, June 2008
Yield: 2 serving per batch; 3 batches

3 marinating steaks, medium sized
2 onions, sliced
4-6 coloured bell peppers, sliced
2 jalapenos, sliced
3 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons hot sauce
olive oil
flour tortillas
salsa (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Chop up the steak, onions, bell peppers and jalapeno. Split into 3 batches – I put two in freezer bags and one into the skillet. Put a teaspoon of chili powder and hot sauce in each batch (sometimes I also add a package of fajita seasonings between the 3 batches). Put the 2 bagged batches into the freezer.

Put the skillet over high heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

Serve with the tortillas and the salsa and sour cream, if desired.

(For the frozen batches: Heat oil in a skillet. Empty the frozen batch into the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the meat is cooked and the onions and peppers are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Serve as above.)

(5 P)

Sour Cream Fruit Dip

January 25, 2009

I am trying to eat healthier in the new year, but I really like to have something sweet after dinner. So tonight I whipped up a quick, healthy dessert – sour cream dip with apples and bananas.

Sour Cream Fruit Dip

Yield: 1 serving (enough for dipping one apple and one banana)

1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with sliced fruit.

(1 P)

Plain-Old Scones

January 24, 2009

I woke up this morning and stumbled into the kitchen for my usual breakfast of coffee and cereal only to find an empty box. I am a big fan of relaxed weekend breakfasts, so this just wouldn’t do. I did a quick survey of my pantry and decided to make scones. I have wanted to make Everybody Like Sandwiches‘s Blackberry Scones for awhile, so I brought up the recipe on my laptop. I thought I would use the last of my raspberries from a berry picking expedition this summer, but apparently I already had, so I just made plain old scones. They were delicious – crumbly and golden with just the right amount of sweetness. I ate mine with a pat of butter and some blackberry jam that I picked up at the Farmer’s Market last Saturday. Mmm-mm!


Plain-Old Scones

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Yield: 8 scones

1/2 cup skim milk
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cold, cubed
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425F. Whisk the milk and the egg together until frothy and then set aside. In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and blend the mixture with a pastry cutter. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg mixture slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Leave any remaining egg mixture to brush on as glaze.

On a lightly floured counter, shape the dough into a round about half an inch thick.  Be careful not to overwork the dough. Cut into 8 wedges.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the remaining egg mixure over the wedges. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

(4 P)

No-Chicken Butter Chicken

January 24, 2009

I hate chicken. I really, really don’t like it. This causes me to miss out on some tasty dishes like butter chicken (such good sauce!).  Thankfully, my friend, Jen, introduced me to this recipe, which uses potatoes and chickpeas instead of chicken. She made it at our slumber party last weekend and it was so good that I badgered her until she gave me the recipe.

I made it last night to good reviews by C. It is very easy, if not that quick – give yourself about an hour and a half to prepare and cook.

(This recipe was featured on Tastespotting – hello to all the readers from there!)


No-Chicken Butter Chicken

Adapted from Smenny
Yield: 6 servings

1 onion, medium, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas
3 potatoes, medium, cubed (make sure that the cubes are quite small, or else they will take forever to cook)
1 jar (~22 oz) Ragu Original
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup half & half cream

Saute onion, garlic, ginger and cinnamon in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and stir occasionally until potatoes are soft, approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Turn off stove and stir in cream.

Serve over a bed of basmati rice.

(6 P)


January 22, 2009

This Saturday I made a big effort to plan out our meals for the week. I went to the Winter Farmer’s Market in the morning and got some fresh fruits and vegetables, followed by a trip to Save-On for the rest of the groceries. With my running clinic twice a week and C’s evening classes on the other nights, if we want to eat together at all during the week I need to have something on the go before I head out running. On Monday, I put a big pot of chili on the stove before I went for my run. Tonight, I made Cioppino in the crockpot.

Cioppino is a tomato-based fish stew. It was concocted by Italian fishermen in San Francisco in the late 1800’s using whatever they brought back on their boats that day. I have wanted to try cooking cioppino for a while, so when I saw this recipe on yumsugar a couple of weeks ago, I decided to finally give it a go. The use of the crockpot in this recipe made it perfect for my make-ahead needs during the week. I was really pleased with how it turned out. I love seafood, so I really liked this and even C, who isn’t a big tomato, seafood, or hot liquid fan, finished all of his (although he did admit that I would probably be eating all the leftovers).


Adapted from yumsugar
Yield: 8 Servings

2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can clam nectar
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine (I used cooking wine)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 pound firm-textured white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 can baby clams with juice, undrained
1 can crabmeat, drained
Parsley, chopped

Mix all ingredients except fish, shrimp, clams, crabmeat and parsley in the crockpot.

Cover. Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours.

Stir in fish, shrimp, clams and crabmeat. Reduce heat to Low. Cover; cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork. Remove bay leaf. Stir in parsley.

Serve with thick crusty bread. (I used Terra Breads Organic Multigrain)

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 210 (Calories from Fat 35); Total Fat 3 1/2g (Saturated Fat 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 120mg; Sodium 570mg; Total Carbohydrate 14g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 7g); Protein 28g

(4 P)