Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie made the Home Again Podcast short list of freezer meals because it's an all-in-one dish that is also dairy, gluten, and soy-free for the win!

Shepherd’s Pie is on this year’s short list of freezer meals, compliments of Anne. I didn’t eat it growing up or fix it for my kids, but she tasted it somewhere and has been perfecting the recipe ever since. It makes a good, hearty dish with plenty of veggies and makes a complete meal. It’s naturally gluten and dairy-free and can easily be made dairy-free. So Shepherd’s pie for supper means everybody in our family can eat from the same pan. Win-win-win!

Shepherd’s Pie

1 and a half pound of russet potatoes, peeled and cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup uncooked lentils, cooked
whatever herbs float your boat (thyme, sage, and rosemary work well)
1 1/2 pounds frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup butter (or butter substitute)
milk (or milk substitute
1 egg, beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400°. Saute onions and garlic in a dutch oven. When they are transparent, add ground beef and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook ground beef until browned. Sprinkle cornstarch over the browned meat and stir until meat is coated. Add tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, cooked lentils, and whatever herbs you like.  Cook mixture until thickened. Add in frozen vegetables and combine thoroughly.  Spread mixture into bottom of casserole pan. (If you are making a freezer meal, cover the casserole dish with foil. Label and date the casserole and put in freezer once it’s cooled. Wait to cook the potatoes and mash them until an hour and a half before serving the Shepherd’s Pie.)

To prepare the potatoes, add egg and butter to cooked potatoes and mash well. Add milk a quarter cup at a time until the potatoes are the consistency you like. Spread on top of casserole. Bake in oven on 400 for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Dairy-Free Lasagna Rolls

Dairy-Free Lasagna Rolls

These dairy-free lasagna rolls made the short list of our favorite freezer dishes. They are very filling and need only a green salad to make a meal.

These dairy-free lasagna rolls made the Home Again Podcast short list of sanity-saving freezer meals. Anne created this recipe, and the non-dairy ricotta cheese substitute has the creamy texture that makes lasagna lasagna. If your family can eat dairy, just use ricotta in place of the almond/lemon juice/salt substitute. The ricotta freezes well, so no worries about making a double batch so one can go in the deep freeze.

Dairy-Free Lasagna Rolls

 Ricotta Subsitute:
1 lb almonds
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
Soak almonds overnight and slip them all out of their skins. Puree with just enough water to keep your blender blending. (A Vitamix blender works best.) Once nuts are pureed to a smooth consistency, add lemon juice and salt until it tastes like ricotta cheese. Set aside.
Lasagna Rolls:
2 butternut squash
8 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
9 cloves garlic, crushed
salt
3 eggs, beaten
 2 pounds cooked lasagna noodles
3 28 ounce cans of marinara sauce
 Preheat oven to 350°. Cut squash in half the long way and scoop out seeds. Place squash halves, skins sides down on large cookie sheets. Bake in the oven until soft. Scoop out flesh, mash well, and combine with cheese substitute. Add the spinach, garlic, and eggs to the cheese substitute/squash mix. Add salt to taste.
Set out 3 9 x 13 (or smaller) casserole dishes. Spread cheese mix on cooked lasagna noodles and roll them up. Put 8 or 9 lasagna rolls in each casserole dish. Spread a can of marinara sauce over each pan of lasagna rolls. Bake 1 pan at 375° for about 30 minutes. Cover the other pans with foil after labeling the foil with a Sharpie marker.
These rolls are very filling. One pan feeds a family of five with no left overs. Add a green salad, and you have a complete meal!

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Cranberry-Apple Pie

Cranberry-Apple Pie

Cranberry-apple pie adds zing to pie apples that fall a little flat. Lard in the pie crust & butter substitute in the filling makes it dairy free.

Yes, that slice of cranberry-apple pie looks delicious. And as everyone in the Home Again gang can testify, it tasted even better than it looks. Anne and I mentioned this pie in our live Facebook video that showed how to make Grandma Conrad’s Never Fail Pie Crust.

I promised to publish this recipe more than a month ago. But between my broken foot recovery, the men racing to complete a basement remodel project before the baby arrives, Anne’s contractions coming and going for at least a month (and still 3 weeks until her due date), and Tad being 2-and-a-half, our three generation household has been a three ring circus. So Anne and I would like to apologize for the lack of a new podcast episode for the second week of January 2018 and for not completing the promised pie making video on our Patreon page. To be honest, the video probably won’t happen for quite a while and new podcast episodes will be scarce until Anne and the new baby, once she’s born, get into a manageable groove.

However, as we mentioned during our first Facebook live video of 2018, I am walking again. So at least I can share the promised recipe for cranberry-apple pie. We created it after we discovered the pie apples we froze last fall make a rather bland pie. Because we had purchased and frozen extra cranberries when they were on sale at Thanksgiving, we searched the internet for cranberry-apple recipes. But we wanted a simple recipe, and the ones on the internet required oodles of spices, orange zest and more. Once again, I pulled out the 1977 Betty Crocker Cookbook, which was a wedding present from my grandmother and found the simple recipe we wanted. As usual, we used much less sugar since Hiram tries to watch his sugar intake. We replaced the flour in the filling with minute tapioca because we like it better. We also used Earth Balance Buttery Vegan Sticks instead of butter since 3/5 of our household can’t do dairy.

Cranberry-Apple Pie

3 cups peeled, sliced pie apples
2 cups whole cranberries, washed
1/2–3/4 cup sugar, depending on taste
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup minute tapioca
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Vegan Sticks
Cinnamon sugar in a shaker

Preheat oven to 425°. In a bowl combine apples, cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and minute tapioca. Mix thoroughly until fruit is coated. Turn into a 9 inch pastry-lined pie pan. Dot fruit with Earth Balance. Carefully cover with top crust and crimp edges to seal. With a knife trim off any excess pie crust. Cut small air vents in the top crust. Spritz top crust lightly with water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 375° and bake for 45 minutes longer or until the center filling bubbles. If top crust begins to brown early, lightly cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Take out of oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Thai Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Thai Soup

Our family loves Thai soup. So I’m always on the look out for recipes that taste like what I’ve been served at good Thai restaurants. In September, I found and tucked away a slow cooker chicken Thai soup recipe until December and winter arrived. It was an immediate hit for several reasons. First, because of the slow cooker, it was fairly easy to put together. Second, it is gluten, dairy, and soy-free so it required no modifications for our dietary needs. Third, it tasted delicious and received the coveted Hiram seal of approval. And fourth, it can be easily doubled or even tripled to create freezer meal.

My version of the recipe (which I couldn’t find on Parade’s Community Table recipe page) is slightly easier than the original and uses easier-to-find ingredients. Also, I through rice noodles into the mix to make the soup a hearty and complete meal.

Slow Cooker Chicken Thai Soup

2 lemons, zested
3 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/4 cup fish sauce (can use soy sauce)
1 (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated
6 strips lime zest
1 thinly sliced shallot or 2 thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup red curry paste
1 1/2 pounds chicken hindquarters
4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 finely chopped large carrot
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 (16 ounce) package of Thai rice noodles
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 thinly sliced green onion
1 red, yellow, or orange sweet pepper, thinly sliced

Preheat the slow cooker. Place lemon zest, broth, fish sauce (or soy sauce), ginger, lime zest, shallot or green onion, chicken hindquarters, and mushrooms in cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours or on low for 5 hours.

Remove chicken from cooker and cool before picking meat off the bones. Then put it back in the cooker.*

Add coconut milk, chopped carrot, and red curry paste. Cook on high for 30 minutes longer or for 1 hour on low.

20 minutes before serving, prepare the Thai noodles according to package directions. Place them in a large bowl.

Right before serving, stir in lime juice, cilantro, basil, and green onion.

To serve, place rice noodles in the bottom of each soup bowl. Then ladle soup onto the noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced green onions, along with the sweet pepper slices and add some red pepper flakes for heat if that’s your jam.

*If making freezer meals, allow this mixture to cool and place in labeled gallon zipper bags. Proceed with the rest of the recipe when you serve the freezer meal.

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Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Life around here is getting into a making-it-through-fall-with-1-broken-foot-and-a-pregnant-woman groove. Basically, that means we’re always on the hunt for recipes that are tasty, nutritious, easy, and economical. Now that we’ve become one of “those families” with a variety of food allergies–dairy for Jolene, Anne, and Kailen, soy (for sure) and gluten (perhaps) for Tad–the recipes also need to be adaptable to those restrictions.

This slow cooker beef ragu is tasty, easy, nutritious, economical, dairy-free, soy-free, and with the right noodles, it's gluten-free, too.Today’s recipe for beef ragu was found in a free magazines distributed by Hy-Vee, a regional grocery store chain. Made in a slow cooker, it meets the “easy” requirement. The main ingredients listed were nutritious, inexpensive ones like tomatoes and carrots. I substituted an inexpensive chuck roast for the flank steak to make it even more economical. Four of the five of us thought it was mighty tasty. The Man of Steel warmed up to the flavors once he, as our token adult dairy eater, sprinkled it with parmeseon cheese. The only modification made was preparing gluten-free noodles for Tad.

 

The only fail of the night was when the cook forgot to take a picture before she started eating. But I managed to prepare the entire meal and set the table with no help (other than asking someone else to drain the noodles) despite a broken foot, so I’m feeling good. We all agreed this recipe is a keeper that can be doubled or tripled to make freezer meals. So it’ll hit our table again, and I’ll snap a picture then. In the meantime, here’s the recipe:

Slow-Cooker Beef Ragu

1 1/2 pounds chuck steak
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced Italian-style tomatoes with onion and garlic
1/4 cup water
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked and drained

Cut chuck roast into chunks and place in slow cooker. Add tomatoes, water, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning. Stir well. Cover and set cooker on low for 5-6 hours. Discard bay leaves and stir in tomato paste. Serve over cooked noodles and enjoy!

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Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

Whip up this bolognese sauce during late summer when the tomatoes are threatening to take over the kitchen. It's so tasty!Once again, this recipe comes to you courtesy of multi-generational living, via my daughter. During July and August she prepared this bolognese sauce whenever the tomatoes threatened to take the kitchen hostage. The wide variety of vegetables make the sauce a banquet of flavors mingling together. And it’s a good way to clean out the vegetables languishing in the fridge. Just remember that the secret of good sauce is to let it simmer for several hours. So you’ll be wise to start it right after lunch. But be warned–smelling the sauce all afternoon will work up a big appetite. So make plenty!

Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced very fine
2 carrots, diced very fine
2 stalks celery, diced very fine
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons or more olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1/4 cup red or white wine
balsamic vinegar (optional)

In deep, heavy pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. While sautéing the vegetables, add the salt. Add the cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, roughly the size of cooked ground beef.

When the vegetables begin to brown, add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is browned. Add in the garlic, pressed or chopped finely. Add the tomatoes. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer. Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes and the juice reduce and thicken, 2–3 hours.

Once reduced, add wine. Simmer for a bit and taste. Add more salt if needed. Keep in mind that favors will be stronger in the end. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about an hour more. The end product shouldn’t be chunky but not watery, rather than saucy like marinara. The tomato and red wine should stick to the meat and vegetables much like stir fry sauce does. Taste again. The flavor should be rich and savory. If it’s a little weak ,add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir and let cook for 10 more minutes. Serve over spaghetti noodles.