Speedy Shepherd's Pie ~ Perfect for a weeknight meal that tastes like a Sunday dish! ~The Way to His Heart

When I first moved in with my husband he told me he liked Shepherd’s Pie. I had heard of it before but had no clue what was in it. He has a version, which he loves and is on the blog, that consists of ground beef, corn, and mashed potatoes. I could never wrap my head around it since everything I read online told me there should be some sort of a gravy. My husband is not a gravy guy so he continued to make his own and I used those nights as my seafood nights since he wont eat that.

So, imagine my happiness 10 years later when I found a recipe that had a sauce that added just enough moisture and flavor to the beef without being too saucy. My family, and husband, has been more adventurous so I figured I’d give it a try. It was quick, it is on the healthier side, and who knows, maybe we’d have a new dish. My husband was actually home and helped me make this so he saw every ingredient that went into the dish. Typically, he’ll moan a little bit when this happens. Sometimes because he is leery, but mostly to give me a hard time. Carrots? Worcestershire sauce? Dried onion on top of the potatoes? But when it came out and he started eating it I got the head nod and the mumbled, “this is good.” My daughter on the other hand wouldn’t touch it. She’s five so we’ll excuse her from all palate indiscretions for now. My son gobbled it up though and then it was my turn. I had a few bites, then a few more, and realized I loved it. I thought this couldn’t be true, so I looked up at my husband thinking the fates would be against me and he would have changed his mind. He didn’t. He really enjoyed it. We tried to encourage my daughter, telling her Daddy was trying something new and to please like it since we loved it. Nope, not having it, but we’ll keep working on her.

So, I hope you enjoy this as well. Of course you can make your own mashed potatoes, and do your own prep work, but having everything done ahead of time makes this an easy meal to make when you get home on a weeknight. You’ll have super on the table in about 20 minutes! Enjoy.

Speedy Shepherd's Pie ~ Perfect for a weeknight meal that tastes like a Sunday dish! ~The Way to His Heart

Speedy Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1 cup prechopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 cup unsalted beef stock, divided
  • 2 tsp cornstartch
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
  • 1 (24-ounce) package prepared mashed potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp freeze-dried onion
  • 1/2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Place beef in a large skillet over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add carrots, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomato pasta; cook for 30 seconds. Combine 1/4 stock and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk to make a slurry. Add slurry, remaining 3/4 cup stock, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt to pan. Stir in peas. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Place beef mixture in a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Top evenly with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle freeze-dried onions and paprika over potatoes. Bake at 500 F for 5 minutes.

Cooking Light August 2015

 

Vanilla Caramel Gelato ~ This gelato is easy to make and oh so delicous! #gelato #thewaytohisheart

 

It’s a happy Monday morning around these parts today. I’m sure there will be some grumbling as we make our way to the bus stop etc., but I am beyond happy to be sharing this gelato recipe with you, these great dishes I received from Uncommon Goods, and the great giveaway they are hosting to help you pick out some great gifts for everyone for the holidays I’m not sure which I’m the happiest about!

Let’s start with the recipe. I made this one night when we were having dinner guests. Typically, I don’t try out new recipes for guests but I had a hunch this would be good and I had enough time in advance to switch it up if it wasn’t good. We were going with an Italian theme so this Vanilla Caramel Gelato sounded like a great choice and I wasn’t disappointed. We went through the entire batch that night. I decided I wanted to make another immediately to share with you all, and then that batch was eaten as well. It’s so easy and so good that making a third batch to photograph for you all was my pleasure! For those that don’t know the difference between gelato and ice cream, gelato contains less fat and less air. The flavors are also more intense. Typically, a home ice cream maker can not make a good gelato but this recipe seems to adapt for that because it was dense and warmed up to a nice consistency.

Vanilla Caramel Gelato ~ So easy and delicious, you have to make this now! #Uncommongoods #giveaway #thewaytohisheart

Now that you have an amazing gelato recipe, why not go ahead and grab these awesome bowls to serve it in! I am in love with these bowls on so many levels. The soapstone inner bowl is kept in the freezer, just waiting to be put to work. Like a frosty mug, but better. Scoop your ice cream or gelato and put it in and then grab the outer Acacia wood bowls to keep your hands from freezing. I know that is what I’ve always dreamed of when I am enjoying my ice cream. Plus, it doesn’t melt right away, which for an ice cream eater is a plus but for a food photographer taking a picture is a blessing. These pictures here took me twenty minutes (kids and pets like when I work since it requires food!) and as you can see the ice cream didn’t melt at all! Bonus, bake the dishes and keep your warm dips gooey and warm! Woohoo! Bigger bonus, I think they are gorgeous looking. Absolutely stunning. These are more than a great vessel to keep foods cold and hot, but a conversation piece.

Now, a little more about Uncommon Goods. I’ve heard about the company in the past as a few of my friends have mentioned it and always recommend it for great gift ideas. I’ve never really checked it out before but when Uncommon Goods reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing any of their items I grabbed at the chance. When my husband came home he showed me a list of items he had bookmarked from the site. Sorry buddy, I spent the whole day browsing and had a long list myself! I’ll be back for sure, if Santa doesn’t already bring me what I want. Psst, I really love those Soup & Crackers bowls with the space on the side for crackers. Brilliant! They have some great gifts ideas that will please everyone for the upcoming holidays. You can check out some great gifts for the guy in your life here or make your wife happy and check out some of these great gift ideas.

Besides the great items they sell, what I loved about Uncommon Goods is that half of what they sell is handmade. Most are made in the United States and the gifts are created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. They are really a great company to work with and for from what I can tell. They have also donated over one million dollars to some great not-for-profit organizations. I love a company that I can get behind and have the same views. We have a lot of power on how we choose to spend our money and I am choosy with where mine goes.

So, you have a great recipe and I’ve gone on about these bowls. Let’s get to the great part for you all. Uncommon Goods has generously offered to give one lucky reader a $25 gift certificate. Keep it for yourself, give it to a friend, use it towards a great gift as the holidays are nearing. The choice is yours.

All you have to do is enter is comment below on which Uncommon Goods item you would want the most. Maybe you can buy it for yourself or casually leave your computer open for someone to read it :)

***The Giveaway is now over and the winner is Brittany K! ***

 

You can earn extra entries by:

  • Leaving a separate comment stating that you follow me on Instagram
  • Leaving a separate comment stating that you follow me on Facebook
  • Leave a separate comment stating that you subscribe to the blog via email (you can do this by scrolling down the side bar on the right hand side)
  • Leaving a separate comment stating that you follow Uncommon Goods on Facebook

Uncommon Goods provided me with these products and are sponsoring this giveaway, but as always the opinions expressed here are solely my own. This giveaway is for residents of the contingent United States and will end on November 2nd, 12:00pm EST. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator. Winners will need to respond within 48 hours or forfeit the prize. Good luck!

Vanilla Caramel Gelato

Ingredients

For the Gelato:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Combine yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk for 2 minutes, or until thickened; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk and cream and set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture begins to bubble on the sides; remove from heat.

Slowly, whisk the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk until combined.

Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 170 F. About 5 to 7 minutes, or until it leaves a coating on the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Prepare the caramel sauce.

Have all of your ingredients nearby as making caramel is a quick process and it gets very hot very fast!

Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl
the pan a bit if you want, from this point on.

As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that is at least 2-quarts (preferably 3-quarts) big.

Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. (Remember to use pot holders when handling the jar filled with hot caramel
sauce.)

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving. This makes about 1 cup of caramel sauce, whereas the gelato recipe calls for roughly 2 ounces so enjoy the rest with other treats!

Back to the gelato.

Pour the custard into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the last 3 minutes of freezing, and while the ice cream is still churning, pour about 2 ounces of the caramel sauce into the ice cream machine. You can use less or more (always go with more ;)).

When finished, transfer gelato to an airtight container and freeze for 5 hours.

When serving, let sit out for about 5 minutes to soften up a bit like gelato and not ice cream.

Yields 4 cups.

Recipe adapted from Diethood. Caramel sauce from Simply Recipes.

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No matter what the reason, we all want to save a buck and get the most for it. While many people have a tendency to waste food, no one goes out thinking “Hey, I’m going to buy this entire box of peaches and toss all but a few out once they rot!” It’s all about good intentions. There are so many ways you can save when it comes to meals. You can menu plan and budget, coupon, get creative in the kitchen and plan many uses for the items you’ve purchased and simply purchase less expensive items. The best way I’ve found is taking care of what you have. If you can make the items last longer, you’ll have more time to use them. Pretty simple.

I have a much older FoodSaver® that was passed down to me by my mother in law but we only tend to use it when we are freezing meat or when we go fruit picking. We don’t use it on a week to week basis because it seemed like too much of a hassle. I still freeze a lot of items and consider my upright freezer my best bud, but the items still don’t last as long as they could. That’s why when FoodSaver® reached out to me and asked if I’d like to review the FoodSaver® v4865 2-In-1 Vacuum Sealing System I was excited. The machine was larger, looked more appealing, and appeared to do a lot more than the one I had. I was eager to give it a go. While I did a little research, I waited until it arrived to really dig into it’s features. I’m definitely impressed!

My favorite thing about the FoodSaver® v4865 2-In-1 Vacuum Sealing System is it is hands free and has everything you need to get the job done. There’s no more trying to cut straight lines with scissors, there’s a cutter built-in! Push the bag towards the machine and it does the rest. Perfect when I start to do a project and then a yogurt covered boy comes toddling my way. In the older machine I had always wondered if I was doing it right but there are no guessing games here. The machine has lights and tells you the progress. It’s so easy, I don’t need to pass this chore on to my husband now! Which is a good thing because I’ve been vacuum sealing everything!

I’ve finally vacuumed sealed my herbs and spices that I’ve bought in bulk to give them a longer shelf life.

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I’ve gone through my herb garden and sealed and frozen everything since the cold is coming sooner than I’d like it here in Maine!

I’ve vacuum sealed all of those half used bags of chocolate chips and other baking goods.

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More meats have been vacuumed sealed and frozen, and now it comes with a drip tray. Yay!

I’ve vacuumed sealed lettuce in jars to give it a refrigerator life of two weeks. Wait, what? Yes! I’ve used the jar sealer attachment and vacuumed sealed my lettuce in a mason jar. It works, I promise! It’s also easy and you can keep unsealing and resealing as you need more!

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This is another fun and useful thing you can vacuum seal. Ice packs! Whether you making them to fit that Bento lunchbox your kid had so their food doesn’t go warm or for when both kids have bumps and you don’t have enough booboo buddies to pass out.

While you can add marinade and meat in a bag, vacuumed seal and freeze FoodSaver® has a FoodSaver® Quick Marinator that I can’t wait to buy. It marinates meat in 12 minutes! No more smacking my head as lunchtime approaches and I’ve realized that I haven’t marinated tonight’s dinner!

I also can’t wait to try the FoodSaver® Freeze ‘n Steam Cooking Bags. Then I can freeze my garden vegetables in bags that are ready to cook!

Don’t worry though, the FoodSaver® v4865 2-In-1 Vacuum Sealing System comes with plenty to get you started! Check here to see everything that is included.

I only have one complaint regarding the FoodSaver® v4865 2-In-1 Vacuum Sealing System. The power cord is a bit short. This is probably just a specific case problem, but I would like to have the machine be more towards the center of my island and with the short cord it has to be on the edge. It just makes me nervous that my beautiful machine will get knocked right off! It’s not the worst of problems though and it wont stop me from vacuum sealing everything in sight! 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the FoodSaver® Brand through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about the FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealer System, all opinions are my own.

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes ~ The Way to His Heart

There are two dishes that I never liked growing up. Macaroni and Cheese from a box or Sloppy Joes. Thankfully, we never had these at my house but my friend’s did and I would cringe. Sloppy Joes scared me especially. This odd mixture of meat and sauce that was served on a bun. Was it some sort of burger/meatball mutant? Didn’t it belong on pasta? I remember the first and only time I actually ate Sloppy Joes was at my cousin’s house and I managed to get it down enough and feign interest. That was my last encounter and I’ve never looked back.

So, why would I blog about a dish that I avoided for so long? Easy answer, most people love it and I’m looking for anything that my kid will like for at least one meal. When I was reading through The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook one day a few years back I found her recipe for Sloppy Joes and I laughed as I read the intro to the recipe. Probably a little too loud and I nodded my head in agreement. Ree Drummond was also scared of Sloppy Joes! If she could get over it and create something that she liked then I could give these a try.

It took a while to make these since, like most of my recipes, it got stuck on the back burner. I finally made these recently and they were super. We really enjoyed them. I omitted the Tabasco sauce and went lightly with the chili powder and red pepper flakes so the kids could enjoy. Three of us really enjoy them and the five-year old can muster the strength to at least finish it. I’ll take it as a win!

What is really great about this recipe is that it can still be made rather quickly. You aren’t sacrificing a lot of time. I know the whole deal about Sloppy Joes was the ease of emptying a can, but the hardest and longest part of making this recipe is dicing a pepper, onion, and some garlic. Make a double batch and freeze some and you’ll really come out ahead! All in all this still can be made in less than 30 minutes and it’s homemade!

Sloppy Joes ~ The Way to His Heart

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Chili powder (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 red pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional, I omit)
  • Tabasco sauce (optional, to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Kaiser rolls
  • Butter

Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and summer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato pasta, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spread rolls with butter and brown on a grilled or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier