Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. Happy Birthday, Macy! So in honor of her, I'm posting one of her favorite recipes. She absolutely loves this stuff, and for a dish with such a wide range of typically questionable ingredients, it is actually a favorite for my entire family. Bonus!
This recipe is a lifesaver. Because no one in my family is extremely picky, but everyone is picky about something entirely different. If I had to avoid every item that just one person in my family doesn't care for, the list would become rather long pretty quickly. Shepherd's Pie to the rescue! For 2 reasons, this works well even for the pickiest eaters. 1. There is so much going on in here that you can add small portions of non-favorite ingredients and get away with it since they're not that prominent. (Hush. You know you do it too. What they don't know..., right?) And 2. The recipe is entirely adaptable. You can use just about any combination of meat and veggies your family loves best as long as they are in pretty similar ratios to the recipe posted below. Experiment and see what you come up with!
1 pound meat, ground or shredded (you can even use pre-cooked leftovers)
a good drizzle of olive or coconut oil
2 generous sprinkles of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
6 cups of your favorite combination of vegetables for the filling, chopped (I usually use 2-3 cups onions, 1-1/2-2 cups carrots, 1/2-1 cup mushrooms, and 1 cup or so of petite peas)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, or 1 teaspoon dried (My favorites are basil, rosemary and thyme, but I've used oregano and Italian seasoning too. You may want to vary it depending it on what kind of meat you use.)
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut flour (You could certainly use regular flour here if you prefer. I just like the health benefits of coconut flour.)
1 cup low-sodium broth (Beef adds the richest flavor, but really any kind will work.)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large potatoes* (see note below)
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2/3 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
1. Brown meat with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper in nonstick pan until just cooked through. Drain and set aside. (Obviously skip this step if you're using pre-cooked leftovers, but make sure they're ground or chopped into pretty small pieces.)
2. Heat the oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and any other firm or dense veggies you've chosen, and cook until softened, about 7-10 minutes. Increase heat slightly and add mushrooms and herbs. Cook an additional 7-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated.
3. Return meat to pan and add flour. Incorporate well, and then add broth, 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, being sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir.
4. Add peas if you're using them (or any other tender veggies like spinach, etc.) Season with Tony Chachere's to taste.
5. Pour mixture into 9x12 baking dish.
6. Preheat oven to 350.
7. Peel and coarsely chop potatoes. Steam for 10 minutes. Add cauliflower and steam an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes and cauliflower are easily pierced with a fork.
8. Mash potatoes and cauliflower together until smooth.
9. Heat milk, butter, remaining half teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper and stir into cauliflower mixture. Season with Tony Chachere's to taste.
10. Spread cauliflower mixture over meat mixture and bake 20-30 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned on top.
*Special note about potatoes: Adding a couple potatoes to the cauliflower adds just enough potato flavor and texture for even the pickiest of eaters, but if your family enjoys cauliflower, you can delete the potatoes completely, and the resulting dish is every bit as delicious and even more healthy.
Since there are plenty veggies incorporated right into this dish, it can easily stand alone as a complete meal on a busy family night, but just adding a simple green salad on the side makes it perfectly company-worthy. Also: this is a fantastic meal to prepare ahead and freeze or refrigerate until needed. Just bake it a little longer if it's going into the oven cold or frozen. It's also really fun to make in individual foil containers to keep on hand for families on the go who might need to eat at different times throughout the day or to bring over and stock the freezer of a new Mom who almost definitely won't have time to make this for herself but just might need to pop one into the oven at 2am right after she's nursed a hungry baby and is now starving herself. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!