Guinness Shepherd’s Pie

Seriously delicious and very comforting!

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St. Partick’s day is just over a week away. On Wednesday I shared my St. Patty’s party fav’s and now I’m sharing the perfect meal to serve at your party! It also has Guinness in it which adds a nice festive twist! Not only is this recipe great if your hosting people for St. Patrick’s day, but it’s also amazing for dinner year round. It’s delicious, filling and comforting.

When I was a kid my mom used to make shepherd’s pie out of leftover roast beef. It’s so good that way but today I’m using ground beef since it’s easy and readily available. Did you know that technically when you use beef you’re making cottage pie. Seriously lamb is traditionally used in shepherd’s pie. It gets it’s name from the shepherd’s who tend to the sheep. But since I know it as shepherd’s pie that’s what we’re going with.

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The first time I made Shepherd’s pie it was a failure. It was dry and tasteless. Since then I’ve discovered a few very important secrets to making a delicious Shepherd’s pie. First things first you need to make a thick flavourful gravy. Nothing is worse than dry filling. Cook down onions, garlic and carrots to create a flavourful base. brown off your ground beef add flour to thicken and then deglaze with Guinness. Seriously this creates an insane amount of deep flavour. Then add beef broth to create a thick luscious gravy.

The other tip I have is to make a super flavourful spreadable mashed potato. You need pretty loose mashed potatoes. You want them to still be soft and smooth when you eat them. Since they have to go in the oven if you dont add enough butter and milk they will really dry out. Also adding parmesan or another cheese can’t hurt either!

This recipe is seriously delicious and a must make for St. Patrick’s day, or any day!

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Guinness Shepherd’s Pie

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 1.5 lbs Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1 Beef Bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn

Mashed Potato

  • 2 lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup Milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup Butter, melted

Topping

  • 3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp Butter, melted

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat warm oil. Add onion, cook for 1 minute. Add carrots, cook for 1 minute until starting to soften and brightening in colour. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Turn heat up to medium high and add ground beef. Break into small pieces and cook until browned.

Add flour, stir and cook for one minute to remove the raw four taste. Add tomato paste, bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and rosemary. Mix seasoning into meat until well distributed. Deglaze the pan with Guinness. Scrape brown its off the bottom of the pan until the beer cooks don and the pan becomes mostly dry again.

Add beef broth to the pan. Continue to scrape the pan to release the brown bits. Bring the mixture to a simmer, turn down the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, string occasionally. A thick gravy will develop. Taste gravy, add additional salt and pepper if desired. Stir in peas and corn. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes to defrost the vegetables.

Cool the mixture and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

Drain potatoes. Leave in the colander to dry for 5-10 minutes. In the mean time melt the butter in the microwave and measure out the milk. Return the potatoes to the pot. Using a potato masher or a hand mixer mash the plain potatoes. Add half the butter and milk to the potatoes, mash together. Check the consistency. The potatoes should be looser then regular mashed potatoes. They should be spreadable but not runny. Continue to add milk and butter until the mashed potatoes reach the desired consistency.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour filling into a 9×11 inch baking pan, spread evenly. Spread mashed potatoes out evenly to cover the filling. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the potatoes evenly. Spoon melted butter evenly over potatoes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes to make serving easier. Serve with peas or a side salad.

Adapted from RecipeTin Eats.

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The Perfect Steak

The first time I ever cooked a steak was for my now husbands 24th birthday. I was 20 years old and we had only been dating about 8 months. I wanted to make his birthday really special. I took on a pretty ambitious menu; steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread and peach cobbler for dessert. I had literally never cooked any of these items before. I’ve always had confidence in the kitchen and after reading many recipes I thought I could do it.

I decided I would make the steak by searing in a fry pan, finishing in the oven and I would top it all off with compound butter. Pretty ambitious. So armed with my list of ingredients I went to the store. Since I was a broke college kid you can imagine that this dinner was costing me quite a bit of money. So when i got to the meat section to pick out my steaks my heart sank. All I could afford was the fast fry steaks… no sirloin or rib eye here. I was disappointed, but figured steak was steak and bought them anyway. It would still be the best steak of his life right?

I hate to spoil the ending, but the steak was not the best he had ever had. It was dry and overcooked. Not my best, but we both had budget pallets so it wasn’t so bad. Ever since then I have been on a mission to cook the perfect steak. 

 

For me the perfect steak is:

  • Top Sirloin, Rib Eye or Fillet
  • Seared in cast iron
  • Medium Rare
  • Seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and garlic

I am obsessed with cooking my steak this way… maybe its all the butter and garlic. Whatever it is I really enjoy it. And my husband defiantly doesn’t miss the days of over cooked, tough fast fry steaks.

The Perfect Steak

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Thick Cut Steaks (Top Sirloin is my fav!)
  • 2 Teaspoons Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • Salt and Pepper

Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub canola oil on both sides of the steak. Set aside to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Place your cast iron pan in the oven to preheat. Once your oven has preheated remove the pan from the oven. Place the pan on your stove over high heat.

Once your skillet is smoking add your steaks. Sear the steaks on he first side (30 seconds – 1 minute). Flip the steak and repeat. Add smashed garlic and butter to the cast iron pan. Place the pan in the oven cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the steak and baste with melted butter. Repeat this process until the steak is cooked to your preference. Personally I cook mine for 4-6 minutes depending on thickness. For accurate cooking I highly recommend an instant read meat thermometer.

Allow steak to rest uncovered for 5-10 minutes before serving. I place garlic cloves and pour basting juices over the steaks while they rest for extra flavour.

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Homemade Lasagna

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If I could eat Italian food for every meal I would. Pasta for breakfast sounds way better then oatmeal or eggs to me. I have always loved Lasagna. My mom would always make it when my grandparents came to visit. It’s such a great crowd pleasing meal that can be made in advance.

Now this recipe is not my mom’s. Her recipe came from the back of the pasta box. Although delicious you wont see me make a lasagna recipe that contains cottage cheese in place of ricotta…. sorry mom! This recipe has, ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta, fresh basil and lots of cheese!! I’ll also share a trick for avoiding soggy noodles. Believe me this recipe is worth the effort.

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So my tips for this recipe are….

  1. Find the biggest pan you can! If you can get a pan thats actually called a lasagna pan that’s the best this to use since this makes a large quantity. I use the deepest 13×9 baking dish I own and always have a little bit left over. SO the bigger the better!
  2. Double or even triple the recipe. Make up a few lasagnas in foil baking dishes and stock your freezer. I wouldn’t call this recipe hard, but it is time consuming so you might as well batch cook.
  3. Throw a parmesan rind into your meet sauce. Now this is totally optional, so if you don’t have one no worries. If you do have a parmesan rind (I freeze my leftover rinds) throw it in to simmer with your sauce it will add incredible flavour.
  4. Either use fresh lasagna noodles or quick soak your dried pasta. Ok so I hate cooking lasagna sheets, they always tear and my largest pot is already being used to simmer the meat sauce. So I have two options for you, the first is using fresh pasta. This stuff cooks so fast you don’t need to boil it! It can be pretty pricy though so I normally opt for option two, quick soaking regular lasagna noodles. I put the noodles in a large pan, cover the noodles with boiling hot water for 2-3 minutes. This will soften the noodles but they will still have a nice structure, and they don’t soak up too much sauce as the lasagna bakes.
  5. My fifth and final tip is that fresh is best! Fresh cheese and fresh basil! Get your self a basil plant, they are the best! Basil is one of the only herbs I refuse to use dried. In my opinion if you only have dried basil you might as well not use any at all. Secondly your cheese should be either deli sliced, or freshly grated by you! Pre grated cheese has a weird powder on it and it impacts the flavour of the cheese so buying a block is best (and cheaper!)

So now you have a fews tip on how I make this lasagna, its really so good!

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Homemade Lasagna

Yields: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage (I use spicy, but sweet is also delicious!)
  • 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 White Onion, finely diced
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • 2 (28 oz) Cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) Cans Tomato Paste
  • 1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine (Chianti and Pino Noir are my favourites)
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese Rind (optional)
  • 1 Pound Lasagna Noodles
  • 16 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Pound Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cups Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated

Directions:

In a large pot or dutch oven brown sausage and ground beef over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent, browning and fragrant (5 minutes). Add red wine to deglaze the pan. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato past and tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer. Add sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and parmesan rind to the pot. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1.5 hours. Remove parmesan rind before using.

In a medium sized bowl combine ricotta, egg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Mix to combine and set aside. Place noodles in a large pan, pour boiling water over the noodles and soak for 2-3 minutes. Remove noodles from the pan, place in a colander and rinse with cold water. Place shredded mozzarella and remaining shredded parmesan together in a bowl, Mix to combine and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 ° F.

Assemble your lasagna. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1 cup of meat sauce. Cover sauce with 6 lasagna noodles. Layer one half of the ricotta mixture, gently spread. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese mixture. Top with 1 1/2 cups of meat  sauce, and sprinkle another layer of cheese. Repeat layers. Top the final layer of noodles with remaining meat sauce and cheese.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from All Recipes.

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Korean BBQ Beef

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My favourite thing to order at our local Korean restaurant is BBQ beef. I love to make it at home because ground beef is cheap, it’s delicious and only takes 20 minutes to make. This recipe has become a weeknight staple in my house.

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The sauce for the beef is made of just a few simple staples. Soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. It seriously could not be simpler. I like to serve this over rice with a side of steamed snap peas.

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Korean Beef

Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Tsp Grated Ginger
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Pound Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 2 Green Onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

In a small bowl mix together sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic. Heat a nonstick fry pan over medium high heat. Brown beef in until cooked through, drain excess fat. Add sauce and green onions to the pan and allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from, Damn Delicious

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