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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Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I love all carbs, but noodles are my favourite! I always get cravings for Baked Macaroni and Cheese in the fall and winter. It’s just so comforting. I know the box stuff is convenient but it’s not the same. I have also tried all of those trick for making a single serving in the microwave and I’m sorry but that just wont cut it! Homemade with a roux and cream sauce os the only way!

I have been making homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese since I was a teenager. In high school I used to make it every Monday night for my brother and I to have for dinner before heading off to dance and soccer. I used a recipe out of one of my mom’s well used cookbooks and would top the whole thing with ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs. It was good, but even back then I knew it wasn’t perfect.

It was dry, there wasn’t enough cheesy flavour and the noodles were way too soft. For years I didn’t make Baked Macaroni Cheese. There is a store by my house that sells a decent Baked Macaroni and Cheese, so when I need my fix my husband runs out and grabs some (he knows to keep me well fed!). Since it’s just the two of us it seemed like over kill to make a whole pan. But one morning I was watching cooking videos on Youtube and got inspired to perfect my Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

This recipe it perfect. It solved all the issues I had in the past and I really learned a lot about making Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

  1. Undercook your pasta. Always undercook your pasta when making a Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Then you won’t end up with bloated macaroni
  2. Use the strongest and highest quality cheese you can afford. You want to get the most flavour out of your cheese as possible. Find the best old cheddar cheeses you can find, you wont be disappointed.
  3. Make way more sauce then you think you need. The sauce to noodle ratio should alarm you, you should be terrified that your making soup instead of macaroni and cheese. All kidding aside you need a lot of sauce!

If you can remember those three things your Baked Macaroni and cheese will turn out perfect. I hope that this recipe makes it to your table this fall.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

8 Ounces Elbow Macaroni

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk 
  • 8 Ounces Aged Old White Cheddar (crumbled or grated)
  • 4 Ounces Sharp Orange Cheddar Cheese (crumbled or grated)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt 
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

  • 1 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Directions:

Cook macaroni according to package directions, but reduce the cook time by 2 minutes. You need very al dente pasta for this recipe. Drain pasta and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8 inch baking dish with butter or oil.

In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk milk into the roux. Whisk constantly to combine the mixture and prevent milk from burning. Continue to cook the mixture until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Whisk sauce occasionally.

Once the sauce has thickened reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese to the sauce, stir to combine. Season the sauce with salt, chili and garlic powder.

Fold cooked macaroni to the sauce to coat. Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix together breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden and the macaroni and cheese is bubbling.

Adapted from Seasons and Suppers

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Homemade Lasagna
Chicken Pot Pie

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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Chicken Pot Pie

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My husband has been begging to make Chicken Pot Pie for months now, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make it during the hot summer months. This past Sunday the skies were grey and the air was cold. It seemed like the perfect day to finally make this delicious comfort food. And believe me it did not disappoint, he hasn’t stopped talking about how delicious it was!

Now I know Chicken Pot Pie can be a big intimidating since you have to make the crust, but really just remember to keep your dough cold and I promise you will be fine. Check out my tips for pie in this post.

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This recipe would also be perfect to make use of Thanksgiving leftovers. Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend and using all your leftover turkey in the pot pie would be delicious! It actually might be better then your turkey dinner.

This dish is also perfect when you need to bring someone a homemade meal. It’s perfect to bring a new mom ore someone who needs a little extra love. It’s warm and comforting and bring everyone a bit of joy. I hope you and your family enjoy it too.

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Chicken Pot Pie

Yields: 1 9 inch Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

Crust:

  • 2 2/3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening, cold
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, cold
  • 8 to 12 tablespoons ice water
  • Egg, beaten

Filling:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Carrots, sliced (2 large carrots)
  • 1/2 Cup Celery, sliced (2 stalks)
  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2/3 Cup Milk (I used 2%, but any kind will work)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped

Directions:

In a large bowl mix the flour and salt. Add the cold butter and shortening. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two forks until the chunks of butter and shortening are the size of small peas.

Drizzle in the ice water and stir the mixture to bring the dough together. Continue to add water until the dough starts to clump and form a ball. Form the dough into a ball. Cut dough in half and form each half into discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Set aside to cool.

In a large sauté pan melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onions and garlic to the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season onions and garlic with salt and pepper. Add carrots and celery, cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add flour to the pan to create a roux. Cook the flour for 2-3 minutes to prevent the filling from having a floury taste. Slowly add chicken broth to the roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Once fully combined add the milk to the pan. Simmer the sauce until it become thick and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes.

Chop the cooled chicken breasts. Add the chicken, frozen peas and thyme to the sauce and stir to combine. Set mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove your dough from the fridge. Roll out the pie dough into two discs. Carefully line your pie plate with one of the rolled out halves of dough. Pour the filling into the pie plate. Carefully place the top layer of dough on the filling. Using a fork or your fingers seal the edges of the pie dough. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg.

Bake the pie for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Set the pie aside to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Grandma’s Berry Pie and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

 

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Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I am cookie obsessed! I really don’t think there is anything better than a warm cookie, well maybe pie… or pasta. Ok I’m just obsessed with food. But seriously a homemade cookie is one of the best comfort foods.

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I have tried a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes. Soft, chewy, cakey etc. I have a few favourites, but I think this one is my favourite, at least right now. These cookies are soft, but not doughy or under baked. They also have slightly crispy edges and a slight caramel flavour.

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These cookies use mostly brown sugar which makes the cookies extra flavourful. I also only use egg yolks in this recipe which is why the cookies stay so soft. As for the chocolate, in my house we use a mix of milk and semi sweet chocolate chunks, but you can use your favourite. This recipe also calls for chilling the dough. Chilling the dough will stop the cookies from spreading too much and keep the cookies soft.

What kind of chocolate do you use in your cookies? Dark, milk or semi sweet?

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Servings: 24

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips or Chunks (Dark, milk or semi sweet)

Directions:

Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until just starting to melt. Cream butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat on low until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons to scoop out the dough, space the cookies 2 inches apart. Bake cookies for about 13 – 15 minutes until golden on top.

Adapted from Amanda Frederickson