Kitchen Sink Shepherd’s Pie

Yesterday afternoon as I was cleaning out the fridge, I realized I had some leftover Comfort Meatballs and half a ziploc baggie full of pulled pork. I was planning on making Shepherd’s Pie, but wanted to somehow use the leftovers so they wouldn’t go bad. I came up with this recipe off the top of my head and it turned out to be absolutely scrumptious. So if you’ve been following my menu, or have leftover meatloaf, meatballs, and some of that pulled pork, here’s a great way to incorporate both into a yummy Kitchen Sink Shepherd’s Pie.

Pour a very small amount of EVOO (olive oil) in 3-4  individual ramekins. If you have tortilla chips on hand, perfect! Crunch them up in your hands and layer on the bottom of each ramekin. You don’t need chips, but I don’t know many people who DON’T have tortilla chips on hand at all times. (The EVOO will help keep your chips crunchy!)

On top of the chips, place a layer of pulled pork. With your leftover meatballs or meatloaf, cut them into small chunks and layer them on top of the pulled pork. Make sure to add any gooey sauce in there, too. (The sauce will add more flavor, so make sure to get as much as possible in there, otherwise mix some ketchup with brown sugar and add over the meat.)

Next layer will be about 1-2 tablespoons of canned or frozen corn–better yet, use any leftover Mexican Street Corn. (If you don’t have leftover Mexi Street Corn, place tiny dollops of mayo on top of corn for a Mexi Street Corn flavor.)

Using instant mashed potatoes, along with the salt, add a pinch of cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and as much pepper as you can muster–not mustard–muster, handle, deal with, tolerate. Once the instant mashed taters are done, spread a layer on top of each ramekin and then top with your favorite shredded cheese that you have on hand. I used Mexican.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes, otherwise you’ll burn your mouth!!

http www justapinch com recipe robyn witte magic…

http://www.justapinch.com/recipe/robyn-witte/magic-crust-custard-pie/quick-easy-pie-2

Oh yes I am!!

Meat Sauce (Chef Boyardee Mom)

I am so incredibly proud of my homemade meat sauce, it always receives amazing rave reviews. One time, though, I used the meat sauce in my lasagna and brought it over to my mom’s for dinner with her and my other son who is 26. Although they enjoyed it, they both thought it tasted a lot like Chef Boyardee sauce. I was insulted, but my son exclaimed, “I LOVE CHEF BOYARDEE!” And since he’s a super picky (finicky) eater, I took it as a HUGE compliment. No one else thinks it tastes like Chef Boyardee, but it’s a running joke now in my family. I’m positive that your family will love it as much as mine does…if they like Chef Boyardee, that is! 😉

IN NEED OF: 2 T olive oil, 4-6 slices bacon

Start by heating about 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan, stock pot or dutch oven. Cut up several pieces of bacon (use as many as you want, the more the better!!) and cook in oil until it starts to get crispy.

IN NEED OF: half an onion, 3 cloves garlic, one carrot, celery (optional)

While the bacon is cooking, cut up half an onion, chop 3 cloves garlic, and shred one carrot (you can also include celery, but I hate the stuff, so I use celery salt instead when I have it). Add the onion to the bacon and saute for about 3-4 minutes, then add the carrots and cook another 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. (Can you smell that!? Mmmm…it smells so yummy when those veggies get married in the pot!)

IN NEED OF: 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1/2 pound ground pork (see below for options)

Now add 1 1/2 pounds ground beef AND 1/2 pound pork (any pork will do, I’ve used Italian Sausage, bulk pork sausage, and ground pork, you could even use ground chicken or turkey!). Brown that up real nice until no longer pink.

IN NEED OF: A bottle of red wine!

Now for the fun stuff: pour yourself a good size glass of red wine, enjoy the bouquet, take a swig… and then pour the rest of the bottle in the pot with the meat mixture. Stir it and then let that reduce in half for about 20-30 minutes. Take your glass of wine out to the living room and flip through a Foodnetwork Magazine.

Or…browse through my other blog, NOTE TO SELF: Daily Reminders from God.

Time to check the sauce! (You can always go back to my other blog when you’re in need of a good recipe for your soul!)

IN NEED OF: 1 small can tomato paste, 28 oz. can tomato puree, 1 cup water, S&P

Add 1 small can of tomato paste and 1 super huge (28 oz.) can of tomato puree (looking for a way to use those tomatoes? Cut them up and puree them in your food processor and then add THAT to your sauce, now you’re REALLY talking homemade!!) plus 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, partially covered. You can stir it now and then (and even sample it if your heart so desires), but you can also just let it do it’s thing and then stir it a couple of times during the last half hour.

This will make approximately 5-7 cups of sauce and should allow you 3-4 meals. We use it in lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, even chili (just reheat and add chili powder!!). We also add it to macaroni and cheese (boxed or homemade).

Since making this sauce a year ago, I REFUSE to buy store bought jar sauce ever again. Chef Boyardee has NOTHING on my sauce!

Making homemade meat sauce today I was blessed…

Making homemade meat sauce today. I was blessed by a friend this weekend with 30 pounds (yes, you read it right!) of venicon (mixed with beef), so I’m using 3 pounds to my famous meat sauce to share with my father-in-law who is ga-ga over the stuff. I’ll share the recipe soon!

LOL I just received an email from Rachael…

LOL!! I just received an email from Rachael Ray, “15 Minute Budget Menu Recipes.” Why am I laughing? It included steak sandwiches and shrimp bowls. I don’t know whose budget she’s referring to, but OUR budget can’t afford steak and shrimp!!

Homemade Applesauce

I was so blessed this weekend at our Proverbs 31 Women’s retreat. We ate like queens!

Unfortunately, they had counted on 25 women to attend and only 15 showed. Their misfortune turned into a fortune for me and my family. We were incredibly blessed with all the extra food they had.

In my bag of goodies, I ended up with 10 Honey Crisp Apples. Yesterday I landed on a recipe for Caramel Apple Cakes, the brainchild of Darla Hill on Just a Pinch Recipe Club.

So today I’m making the homemade applesauce (I added just a pinch of salt to the apples as they cooked) so I can make these scrumptious looking cupcakes!

 

 

 

Amazing how God works.

When you get apples…make applesauce so you can make apple cakes.

What are you cooking this Fall weekend

What are you cooking this Fall weekend?

Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake with Peanut Butter Chips

Chocolate Banana Pudding Bundt Cake with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Chip Bundt Cake

I found the original recipe, Chocolate Bundt Cake, in “Fast Fixes with Mixes,” but realized I didn’t have enough milk. I liked another recipe very similar to this one, but it called for sour cream instead of milk. The original recipe called for 1 ¾ cups milk, I only had 1 cup. So I substituted the ¾ cup with sour cream. I thought I’d doctor it up a bit and used 3 bananas that were in dire need of being used. I also added a handful of Dove Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips that I thought would be a decedent delight to this luscious Chocolate Bundt Cake.  

Be forewarned: the batter is incredibly thick, so much so that it literally made my mixer smoke and eventually die! Upon tasting the batter, I know this cake is going to be a huge hit in our house.

Ingredients:

1          package chocolate cake mix

1          package instant chocolate pudding mix

1          Tablespoon baking cocoa

1          cup milk

¾         cup sour cream

2          eggs

1          cup Peanut Butter Chips

2-3       mashed over ripe bananas

 

Combine all ingredients except chips and bananas. Remember, this batter in THICK!! So beware. Mix well for about 2 minutes. Stir in chips and then lightly fold in bananas. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely. Dust cake with powdered sugar. (Photo to follow soon!) Until then…the verdict is in: the batter rules!

Meat & Potatoes

A few weeks ago I was trying to find budget meals for an entire month. I googled weekly budget meals, monthly budget meals, and so on and so forth. Every meal plan I stumbled upon had at least 4 meals that either didn’t look appealing to me, or just simply would not go over well in my family. Salads are nice, and can be made into meals, but not for less than $2/person. Consider the cost of just iceburg lettuce (the kind everyone says has no nutritional value) at $1.50/head. Then what is your cost for your “additions” that top your salad?

Yes, salads are healthy and refreshing, and so many people are obsessing about obesity. But I beg to differ, so hear me out.

I was raised on meat and potatoes. Period! I ate a lot of cakes, cookies, ice cream…sweets. Never once was I called fat or obese. As a child in the summer, I swam everyday in the community public pool, and not the pools of today’s generation, filled with countless water slides, 1 diving board, a wading pool, and no real room to actually “swim.” As a child some 40 odd years ago, we had to actually get up and make our own entertainment, I walked just about everywhere I went. 

I get tired of the world blaming food for obese children. The real problem lies in this new idea of staying idol. We don’t “move” anymore. Kids are lazy, and so are most parents. They have come to rely on fast food fixes after a long day of work, rather than trying to find ways to be creative with their meals, like using crock pots.

I’ve often observed that fast food has also gotten a bad rap, but they are offering incredibly inexpensive ways to feed a family, and most people can’t resist that urge. I admit, we don’t usually eat out at fast food restaurants, and when we do, it’s usually a major treat and/or event. The $1 menu is an amazing invention by marketing people to lure you into the depths of fast food fantasyland. Most parents on a very tight budget find that irresistable. I’m not blaming fast food joints. I’m blaming parents who don’t make the efforts. Those types of places should be there for “entertainment.” As a way to say, “Hey kids, let’s get out of the house and do something different!” It should never become the norm, and those places should not be our family’s personal chefs.  

So most people who will land on my 31 Budget Meals will discover that most of my meals consist of meat and potatoes. You can look at my grocery list and you won’t find much fresh produce for one reason: we can’t afford to eat too much fresh produce for a well-rounded meal for only $40 a week. Produce is incredibly expensive, and you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck. Keep in mind, we are not talking $10 meals. We are talking $5.71 meals. That’s half the price of what most people consider a “budget meal.” Daily $10 meals is still an awful lot of money for people like us. $10 meals equates to $310 a month. My plan came to $160…a $150 savings!

As I mentioned in my 31 Budget Meals, I shop at GFS. For only $2.99 more, you can buy a huge bag of frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, mixed veggies, etc.). These frozen veggies, once cooked, taste just like fresh and will last MUCH longer than fresh. The shelf life of fresh veggies is not much longer than 5 days. These frozen, fresh-like veggies will last you a month, if not more, depending on your family size. For us, last month I bought 4 bags of veggies: broc, cauli, and 2 varieties of green beans. I still have some left. So if you find that my 31 Budget Meals is lacking on the fresh side, add $10 (TOTAL–not a week) to your budget by adding some of these frozen veggies and add them to the mix. With an extra $10, you now added 3 major veggies to your truly budget meals. Remember, shop GFS if you have a store near you. Frozen veggies at your local grocery store will cost you triple the cost for a quarter of the quantity.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl, and my family is, too. We like our meat. We like our potatoes–we actually LOVE our potatoes. We can get incredibly creative with those two items. Chicken, pork, ground beef, bulk pork and bacon. Add pasta to the mix, and you’ve got a variety of things to do. I always try to add a veggie to our meal, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any veggies in my 31 Budget Meals. The veggies I’m adding aren’t from this month’s budget, so I didn’t include them, but you can…and should.

Look, the meals I suggested are homestyle goodness. They are not hooty tooty, pretentiousness. We do not eat organic, or get froo-froo with our food. You know why? Because we can’t AFFORD to. We eat what’s cheap, but incredibly good. I feed my family real meals that will stick to their bones, and no one EVER complains…or becomes obese.