February 2011

So I was checking out some of the cooking websites the other day, and I got inspired to make Shepherd’s Pie.  This is a combination of at least three recipes, so don’t ask me where any of this came from.  Your basic elements for a shepherd’s pie are:  1 lb meat, 4 cups veggies, a cup of liquid (including gravy), and 2 cups of mashed potatoes for the crust.  After that, you can pretty much make it your own.  And I did!

On to the recipe…


  • 2 cups potatoes (can use instant, but this should be about 2-4 potatoes), roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh, or 1 tsp dried rosemary (If using fresh rosemary, chop it up finely.)
  • ½ cup milk, ¾ cup sour cream, or 4 oz (light) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups frozen mixed veggies
  • ¾ cup beef or chicken broth OR 1 cup beef gravy
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (de-stemmed), or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Paprika for sprinkling
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL:  sliced mushrooms
  • OPTIONAL:  ½ cup red or white wine


  • Preheat your oven to 375.
  • Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, sauté 2 cloves garlic and 1-2 chopped sprigfuls of rosemary in butter.

  • Drain potatoes.  Add dairy products of your choice and butter mixture.

  • Mash the potatoes, and set aside.

  • Brown meat, 1-2 cloves garlic, and onions.  Drain meat.
  • Add veggies and cook until they are thawed.

  • If you are using wine, add wine and reduce for a few minutes.
  • Add broth or beef gravy.

  • Add the rest of the herbs and spices, along with the ketchup/tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir well.  Cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Spoon meat mixture into a casserole dish.  Cover with potatoes.

  • Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  • Add cheese to the top of the casserole, sprinkle with paprika, and bake for 2-5 minutes more (or until the cheese melts.)

Makes 6-8 servings



Last weekend, The JohnnyCakes and I went outlet mall shopping.  And he made the mistake of letting me go into the Le Creuset store…

And after some heavy wheeling, dealing, and discounting, I left the store with THIS:



So for my inaugural dish in this puppy, I knew I had to do something extra super special and yumtastically tasty!

So, what could I cook that required a huge pan and was a huge pain in the butt to make…???

Arroz Con Pollo!


Here are the ingredients:

  • 1- 3 1/2-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 3 1/2 lbs chicken parts of your choosing)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.  (Yes, mine is in a packet from a pizza place.  What, you don’t collect these too?  Why not?)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine*
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth*
  • 3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

*The liquid in this dish should total 3 cups.  So you can use 3 cups chicken broth, or alter the quantities of wine and broth to total 3 cups.  One recipe I saw even used beer for the liquid part!  So the choice is yours…


  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Rinse your chicken really, really well.
  • If necessary, cut up your whole chicken into 8 pieces….  Oh, you don’t know how?  Well here’s a video just for you!

Now, wasn’t that easy?

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add the chicken.

  • Cook the chicken until it is golden brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total.

Your chicken should be browner than this. Just remember that it's not going to get any browner in the oven, and cook accordingly.

  • When the chicken is browned to your liking, transfer it to a plate for later.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan.

  • Reduce heat to medium and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add paprika and wine.  Boil for 2 minutes.

  • Add saffron and rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  • Stir in the broth, white pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and oregano and bring to a simmer.

  • Return the chicken and any juices to the pan.

Your chicken should probably be browner than mine, but after 45 minutes in the oven, it will no longer be hazardous to your health. I promise!

  • Cover the pan, put in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, remove from the oven, and stir in the tomatoes, olives, and frozen peas.  (My olives were left whole.  BIG mistake.  If you chop them up a bit, the flavor will be more subtle in the dish and not quite so, um…shocking? when you eat them.)

  • After stirring in those ingredients, return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  (If you take out the pan and the liquid has already been absorbed, you can add another 1/2 cup or so of liquid if you want.)
  • After 15 minutes, you should get something like THIS: