Shepherd’s Pie

We really wanted to begin to start our own family traditions when 1 was born. In our first year of marriage, I had a great amount cutting to do, with apron strings, that is. I wanted to have dinner at my mom and dad’s a good 3 times a week. Looking back on it, eeeeks! Our first Christmas Sean wanted to incorporate a family tradition of his. His mom would faithfully make their family Tourtiere, which is a French Canadian double crusted meat pie with a savory beef, onion and spice filling. He made it just like his mom would have on Christmas Eve. I will admit it was hard for me to go along with not having Turkey. The meat pie was not bad. I ended up eating the filling, because the double pastry was very rich. The meat filling sparked gave me an idea. I was going to use it for Shepherd’s pie. Well, a few years have gone by now, we no longer make Tourtiere, but we do make Shepherd’s pie often, whether it be for a care package type meal, a cozy winter, or chilly fall meal, maybe a “what do we do with leftover mashed potatoes?” or perhaps just a fix to a craving. My sister will hands down say this is her favorite meal. When she lived with us, it was a regular weekly request. Now she is making it on her own. It is again, super cozy, probably because it is partly an eastern Canadian recipe and there is something cozy about the east.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat Filling-
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup water
2 small onions, or 1 large onion
1 Tbsp sea salt
1/4 pepper
1 Tsp nutmeg
dash of mace (I shake a bit more than a dash-maybe 5 dashes)
1/4 Tsp of Cayenne
1/4 Tsp celery salt
4 stalks of celery, chopped, including leaves
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, or fresh chopped vegetables of choice
Mashed Potatoes-
4-5 medium Yukon yellow flesh potatoes, peeled and cut
3 Tbsp butter
sea salt
1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

How To Play:
Cook beef in water until no longer pink. Add onions, spices, celery and vegetables. Simmer for close to 2 hours, or until all the vegetables are soft, for those nights when there is little time for simmering. While the meat filling is cooking, begin to boil potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water out, and add butter to the pot, as well as the sea salt. Mash, Mash, Mash. A key to making a good mash potato, is testing it. See if it is according to your taste, I prefer a bit more salt and cheese to my mashed potatoes, so don’t have exact measurements. Mix in Parmesan cheese. When the meat mixture is completely done, test the taste, see if there needs to be any adding of spices, such as salt or celery salt, then place in an oval 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread the mash potatoes evenly over top. My grandmother adds grated cheddar lastly to her Shepherd’s pie, so I do too, because Grandma’s know best. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until nice and bubbly and the potatoes have turned golden.


Home Made Pizza

Today I weighed myself and I am 186.5.  That means, I have 20.5 more pounds to go.  Whoo hoo!  This is a familiar weight, I have been here 3 times now.  Last night I made a vegetarian pizza meets the meat-eater.  The great thing with home made pizza, is one can do whatever they want with whatever they have.  This pizza worked out really well for the family.  I was a bit sneaky and added chopped spinach quite finely, and no one seemed to notice.  The joys of being in the kitchen preparing for the red meat lovers.

Home-made Pizza

preferred dough, whether it be home-made or store-bought (I used TJ’s fresh dough)
3/4 cups preferred pasta sauce (I used TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
parmesan cheese
hand-full of spinach, chopped finely
1/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped finely
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped finely
12 slices of salami, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups of cooked ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

How To Play:
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Grease a baking sheet sprinkled with organic cornmeal. Prepare dough accordingly. When dough is ready, stretch out onto the prepared cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about 5-8 minutes until it begins to cook. Take it out, let it cool for about 3 minutes. Spoon pasta sauce and smear generously onto the pizza base. Sprinkle a fair amount of parmesan cheese onto the pasta sauce. Evenly lay out the spinach, red onion, peppers, and meats. Sprinkle the cheeses all around. Turn the oven down to 475 degrees, cook pizza for 10-15 minutes or until cooked to perfection.


Grump Day

Being that yesterday was Mexican Wednesday, we had Taco Salads. Some call Wednesdays, the hump day, however, for me it was the grump day.  I was so grumpy and it didn’t help that Sean had to work later than normal and we had a freak snow fall that I had to drive in to take 1 to dance.  Even though I took my drivers test in a blizzard, when I was 16, I didn’t care then.  I care now. I don’t like snow!  I had my heart on going for a run, to keep up on this weight loss journey, but I have to be flexible, because life happens and things can get in the way.  For our Connections group last night, I made an old university favorite of mine.  I remember when Ren liked Tim.  I remember when Tim liked Ren.  When all this liking would be going on, I would be in Ren’s parents’ kitchen stuffing my face with the most awesome appetizer in the world, hoping no one would notice the ever decreasing feta cheese spread.  To this day, I make this appetizer often. I am forever grateful to Tim for sharing it with me.  I prepare it with the fondest memories of my university life friends pouring over in my mind of the countless wine and cheese fondues, over eating of fine decadent foods, and deep conversations of not only life’s mysteries, but of God’s too.

Beef Taco Salads

The great thing about Taco salads, is that they can be made in a whole variety of different ways and always taste great.  Most times I use chicken, but in this case, I used ground beef.  When I have jalapenos, believe me, my salad is covered in them, but unfortunately, I had none in my cupboard.


1 pound of ground sirloin beef

3 cups Arugula

1/4 cup Red onion, chopped

1/2 cup red, orange, or yellow pepper, chopped

taco seasoning of choice, I like Trader Joe’s, (sometimes I make my own by adding 2tsp chili powder, 1/2tsp sea salt, 1tsp ground cumin, and 1/2 tsp onion powder)

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup organic roasted corn (or organic corn kernels)

sour cream



1-2 cups grated Monterey Jack and Sharp cheddar cheese

Taco chips (I use Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips)

How To Play:
In a skillet cook beef until no longer pink.  Add seasoning and a bit of water if it looks too dry. While beef is heating, in a small sauce pan, melt butter and add corn, heat thoroughly.  Prepare salad bowls by adding arugula topped with fresh peppers and onions.  Add cooked seasoned beef.  Pour favorite salsa over the beef.  Sprinkle with corn and cheeses.  On one side of the salad bowl add a spoonful of guacamole and sour cream, while the other side has a wall of taco chips.  You can really make it any way you want, it is just the way I like to present it, all that really matters is that it tastes good.

Feta Cheese and Herb Appetizer


1 Block of Feta Cheese (just over a cup)

2-3 Garlic cloves, minced

Fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

2 tbsp Olive oil

How To Play:
Heat oven at 350 degrees. Place feta cheese in tinfoil inside a baking dish.  You can have the minced garlic placed on top or inserted into the feta, either way is fine, then dust feta with ground pepper.  Sprinkle over with basil, oregano, and rosemary, then pour olive oil over top.  Close the tinfoil tightly over the seasoned feta and bake for about 20-25 minutes until really soft.  Serve warm with crackers or prepared baguette.

To Prepare Baguette:
Cut baguette thinly on an angle.  Place onto a baking sheet.  Brush each piece generously with olive  oil and heat in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.