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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sharing the kitchen with my daughter and her family has many advantages. One of the greatest advantages is that I am in charge of only half the meals. Another is the opportunity to learn new recipes from the cook who’s in charge of the other half of the meals. Here’s her take on chicken salad. I never would have guessed how much cauliflower can add to this simple dish.
Anne’s Chicken Salad
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 large pickle spears, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Saute cauliflower in olive oil until some pieces begin to brown. Remove from heat.
Combine chicken, onion, celery, pickles, and cauliflower in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving with your favorite bread or on a bed of lettuce.
I’ve been making chicken broth for years by boiling the chicken carcass in a big stock pot. But my daughter recently showed me how to make very flavorful broth in a slow cooker overnight. What could be simpler? Not much as this recipe shows, which works equally well with turkey.
Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
Place the carcass of a roasted or slow cooked chicken carcass, including skin and bones, in the slow cooker. Add pan juices and brown bits scraped from the bottom of the roasting pan. Fill the slow cooker with water. Throw in an onion (quartered), three stalks of celery cut into 3 inch lengths (include the leaves), and 6 garlic cloves (halved). It will look a little gross.
Put the lid on the pot, turn it on low and let it cook overnight. In the morning, run the contents of the slow cooker through a strainer into two large bowls. Allow the broth to cool. Pour into pint freezer bags. Seal and lay the bags flat on cookie sheets. Place cookie sheets in freezer until the broth is solid. Remove bags from cookie sheets, stack and keep in freezer until needed. Makes 8–10 pints of broth.