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



Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for ME!), I will be out of town next Thursday.  My sweetie and I will be in New Orleans (!!!!!) for Thanksgiving.  So to compensate for not giving you your weekly dose of yumminess on the most food-tastic day of the year, I thought I’d give you an extra special recipe today!

This blog entry is about something very near and dear to my heart:  Chicken Fried Steak.  (No, it’s NOT “country fried steak.”  And if you call it that, you need to stop.  NOW.)

The BEST chicken fried steak I’ve ever had, EVER, was at Gennie’s Bishop Grill in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas (Actually Oak Cliff).   The Bishop Grill has been gone now for at least five years, and I still wax nostalgic about her amazing chicken fried steak and soul food.  (COLLARD GREENS!!!!)

So I went nosing around on the old interwebs, and I found her recipe!

It’s a little different from my usual recipe, so I’ll just plagiarize it for you now, courtesy of her daughter:

(She has a cookbook!!!!!   WANT!!!)



4 pieces cube steak
Vegetable shortening
Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2 cups whole milk
Pan gravy (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to lowest setting. Put a couple of the steaks into a zip-top bag.  This is to eliminate grossness flying around your kitchen and getting stuck in the meat mallet… With a meat mallet, tenderize each piece back and front. (Or ask the butcher to run the steak through a mechanical tenderizer again.) Cut steak into individual portions.

Place a cast-iron or other good, heavy skillet over medium flame. Add shortening and start heating. The shortening should be no deeper than ¼ inch. Heat until it’s hot enough to set the breading on the steak when it’s dropped into the skillet. Don’t heat to smoking; this will ruin the shortening.

Meanwhile, combine salt, pepper, cayenne and flour in a large zip-top plastic bag. Mix well. Pour milk into a large bowl. Dip a steak in milk and shake off the excess. Then enclose in bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess. Lay steak in hot fat. Repeat with additional steaks until skillet is full, but not crowded. When each steak sears, the bottom crust is set and it starts sizzling, turn it over and brown the other side. You may need to do this in batches.  Don’t overcrowd the pan, because it will drop the temperature of the oil/fat and will ruin your chances of getting a good, consistent sear on each steak.

Keep steaks warm on a platter in the oven while you cook remaining steaks and make the gravy. Makes 4 servings.

Pan gravy:

In a heavy, 2-quart saucepan, heat 3 cups milk but don’t let it boil.

Using the skillet in which you cooked the steak, pour off excess grease, leaving about 4 or 5 tablespoons in the pan. Over medium flame, heat the drippings and add 3 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue stirring to brown flour.

When brown, hot and bubbling, add hot milk, one cup at a time. Stir or whisk constantly until thick and creamy. Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

RECIPE SOURCE: Gennie’s Bishop Grill Cookbook by Rosemarie Hudson

Mashed Potatoes:


  • 1 lb white potatoes
  • milk
  • butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


Clean potatoes and chop into 1-inch cubes.  Sort of.

Place into large pot, cover with water (an inch or two over the potatoes) and boil the everloving snot out of them.  (15-20 minutes should do it.)

Drain potatoes, put back into pot, and add milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and mash to your little heart’s content.

Plate up the mashed potatoes, add the steak, cover the whole mess with gravy, and add some sort of veggie.  You know…so that it looks like you at least TRIED to make something healthy…


Bonus Round:  How to care for your cast iron skillet

  • DO NOT put your skillet in a dishwasher.  Don’t even use soap to clean it.  Just clean with hot water and something slightly scrubby  (plasticky, not metally).  If you ignore this, the Skillet Gods will incur their wrath upon thee.  You have been warned.
  • If you have a cast iron skillet that is rusty and gross, or you find one at a garage sale or in your grandparents’ attic that is rusty and gross, just take it home, grab a 2-liter bottle of Coca Cola, and let the skillet soak in the Coke overnight.  The sody water will eat the rust off the pan!  After that, clean with hot water and something scrubby, and reseason your pan.  It will be fine.  JUST DON’T PUT IT IN THE DISHWASHER.  Ugh.
  • The nonsticky goodness of cast iron skillets is made of cooked-on crud and grease.  Layers and layers and layers of cooked-on crud and grease.  So yes, it’s kinda gross when you think about it, but think about the FLAVOR!  (Which is why you should use your cast iron skillet to cook BACON!  Always!)
  • Cast Iron Skillet Cleaning Advice From Demigod Alton Brown:  “To clean the skillet, return it to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  Grab a wad of paper towels with your tongs and use them to scrub the salt around the skillet until the salt and the towels are are black and the pan is slick as a mambo band.  Kill the heat.  Dump the salt.  Let the pan cool.  Wipe with clean paper towels and store.  If your skillet has a good cure, odds are you’ll never have to use water on it.”

There.  Now go forth and cook something delicious!

Low carbing is such torture.  No sugar, no candy, no Little Debbie Snack Cakes…  What’s a girl to do when she has a hankering for some starchy, naughty goodness?

Make macaroni and cheese, of course!


No, really!

Thanks to the wonder of modern food engineering, you CAN have low carb pasta.  And today, I’m going to show you how to make my favorite guilty pleasure, full of white trashy goodness and macaroni!

Spamaroni and Cheese.  (With Asparagus)

To make this, you need:

  • 2 cups Dreamfields elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 3/4 lb Velveeta (YES!) — cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used evaporated.  You can use cream, regular milk, soy milk, or whatever you have on hand.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 cups chopped asparagus
  • Spammity Spam.  Cut into cubes.


  • Cook the macaroni.  It is low carb, because (*place deity name here*) is good.  But be sure and don’t cook it for more than 9 minutes, because if you cook it longer than directed, the low-carby goodness goes bye-bye.  You have been warned.
  • While you’re waiting for the water to boil, fry the spam until it is nice and brown.

  • While you’re cooking the macaroni, boil or nuke the asparagus.  (I got mine frozen in a box because I’m lazy, and asparagus is out of season and rather sad-looking at my local grocery store.)
  • When the macaroni is done, drain it and return it to the pan.
  • Add cheese, milk, salt, and pepper.

  • Stir on low heat until everything is nice and melted.  Feel free to throw in some shredded cheddar if you feel like it.  Or even better, GOVERNMENT CHEESE!

  • When the cheesiness has incorporated into the pasta, add the Spam and asparagus and stir.

  • ***OPTIONAL***  Put into a casserole dish, throw some shredded cheese on top, and bake at 350-400 for 20 minutes.
  • Eat.  And best of all, gloat that you’re low carbing AND having yummy pasta!

Leftover Pot Pie!


Did you make a truckload of stew/chicken soup/random meaty substance and can’t stand the thought of having the exact same thing AGAIN for dinner?

Why not make THIS?


  • Leftover stewy substance
  • Frozen mixed veggies.  Or veggies that are in your refrigerator and are about to croak, so you really really need to use them, like, NOW.  But chop them up first…
  • Maybe some cornstarch?  (up to a tablespoon)
  • Frozen Puff Pastry – thawed for 30-40 minutes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Ramekins would be nice.


  1. Throw the leftovers into a pan on the stove.
  2. Heat to dissolve chunks of grease, coagulated animal particles, etc.
  3. Add a bit of cornstarch if you need to thicken the sauce a bit – The best way to do this is to remove a 1/4 cup of sauce, mix with cornstarch, then return the mixture to the pan.  That way, no lumps!
  4. Add the veggies of your choice and warm through.
  5. When the mixture is done, add it to your ramekins.  If you don’t have ramekins, you can probably use one big baking container or ramekin, but what fun is that, really?   Come on.  Go to the CorningWare outlet and pick up some ramekins.  They’re probably STILL on sale. Seriously.
  6. Unroll the puff pastry.  You can either cut the pastry into equal squares, or trace around your containers (with about 1/2 inch extra border) and then cut.  Whatever. 
  7. Break an egg into a small bowl, add 1 tsp water, and mix well.
  8. Brush egg wash onto rim of ramekins. 
  9. Add puff pastry and seal edges.
  10. Brush egg wash on top of pastry.
  11. If you want to get all artsy, add pastry shapes using egg wash as glue, then brush egg wash over those shapes too.
  12. Cut vent holes!  No ‘splosions!
  13. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  14. Bask in the yumminess.

Last night, I made the best short ribs EVER!

They were accompanied by a brie/thyme white polenta.  The recipes are below:

Short Ribs Provençale

Epicurious  | 2003

by Rick Rodgers

The Carefree Cook


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 pounds individual short ribs (not cross-cut flanken)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hearty red wine, such as Zinfandel or Shiraz
  • 1 3/4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces baby-cut carrots
  • 1/2 cup Mediterranean black olives, such as Niçoise, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300°F.

2. Heat the oil in a large (at least 6-quart) Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with the salt and pepper. In batches, without crowding, add the short ribs to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a platter.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Add the onion, chopped carrot, and celery to the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, herbes de Provence, and flour and stir until the garlic gives off its aroma, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the broth, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Return the short ribs, and any juices, to the pot. Add cold water as needed to barely reach the top of the ribs and bring to a boil over high heat.

4. Cover tightly, transfer to the oven, and bake, stirring occasionally to change the position of the ribs, until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender, about 2 1/2 hours. During the last 15 minutes, add the baby carrots.

5. Transfer the short ribs to a deep serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Skim off the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, and discard the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes (the exact time depends on the size of the pot). Add the olives and cook to heat them through, about 3 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

6. Spoon the sauce with the carrots over the ribs, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve hot.

Read More

Polenta with Thyme and Brie


  • 3/4 cup white or yellow corn meal
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz Brie cheese (Can also use goat cheese, fontina, mascarpone, or whatever else floats yer boat.)


  1. Bring stock, garlic, and thyme* to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, and SLOWLY whisk in corn meal.
  3. Keep stirring until the polenta thickens.  This should take about 15 minutes.
  4. Add cheeses, salt, and pepper.
  5. Serve.

*You could probably also use chopped rosemary instead of thyme.  Or whatever tasty herbs you have lying around in your kitchen!


My Aunt is sort of a Granola.  Sort of a Little Miss Sierra Club.  But that’s good, because she keeps me on my toes as far as being conscious of the effect that I have on the world.  Unlike her, I am not exactly a gardener, but what I CAN do is cook.  So I have resigned myself to the fact that the most effective way that I can help out plant life is to make it into something yummy.

My Aunt  also likes to obtain her meat products locally, and as organically produced as possible.  There just so happens to be such a meat place relatively near here, and I always like to accompany her when she goes there.  The main reason for this is that I have found that I don’t handle red meat very well, due to all of the hormones, antibiotics, and other crap that they shoot into the meat.  It most definitely affects my physical and emotional well-being when I eat Abused meat products.  So, when I go to this organic place, I load up on organic meat, and then I strategize for a few months about what to cook with it, while it sits in my freezer.

The lamb used in this recipe was obtained from the meat place that I mentioned above.  So no being locked in a dark box, being fed cardboard, and being shot up with Buddha-Knows-What.  Yes, it’s a baby animal, but I’m sure it had a good life.  And what better tribute could I pay to this poor little creature that gave its life for my dinner, than to make it into something that is entirely, unbelievably awesome?

Yep.  Don’t you love my jacked-up reasoning???

So anyway, here is a completely amazing recipe for Moroccan Lamb Stew, made in my trusty slow-cooker, accompanied by Apricot Couscous. 

Keepin’ it real, baby…

Moroccan Lamb Stew



  • 1-3 lbs lamb, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups cubed peeled yams  and/or carrots (1 inch)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup pitted prunes (Yes, PRUNES.  Now just shut up and throw them in there!  You won’t even be able to tell, I promise!)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz) beef broth
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • (1-2 Tbsp Moroccan spice mix, if you have it.  This mix includes cinnamon, parsley, black/red/white pepper, and spearmint.  Mine is from Pendery’s Spices.)
  • 1 cup red wine  (ONLY cook with wine that you would drink!  Always!)
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey


  1. Put lamb in a 4 to 5 quart (4 to 5 L) slow cooker, and dust with flour.  Stir to cover all pieces. 
  2. Top with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or until meat is tender.
  4. Increase to high heat setting and remove the top for 30 minutes-1 hour if the stew needs to thicken.
  5. In the meantime, bask in the yummy, heavenly scents filling your entire house…!!!


And, to accompany the stew….


Apricot Couscous


  • Couscous of your choice  (Mine was from a box.  If you are using bulk couscous, the couscous/water ratio should be about 1:1.)
  • 6-8 dried apricots
  • OPTIONAL:  Ras-el-hanout spice mix


  1. Soak the dried apricots in very hot/boiling water for one hour.  (This is so that later, when you are eating your couscous, you won’t think that you are gnawing on gummy bears.)
  2. Chop apricots.  I like to get my pieces to the size of raisins.
  3. Add apricots to the water that you will use to make couscous, and boil the water.  Add Ras-el-hanout if you have it.  If not, no biggie.
  4. Stir couscous into water, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve lamb stew over couscous.***


***  My husband said that this stew is one of the TOP TEN things I’ve ever made for him.  EVER!  So I guess it’s pretty good?