Shepherd’s Pie, easy meal for the freezer or a for a friend

Spring is in full swing! Some days here in New England are 90 degrees and others barely reach 60. Having delicious comfort food meals in the freezer for you, your guests or to bring for a friend in need is very helpful. Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorites. I love it. It is one of the few ways I can get my kids to eat mashed potatoes! They eat many things and eat potatoes in most other forms, but for some reason mashed potatoes are in their mind, a form of torture that I save only for them 😉

Shepherd’s Pie is great to bring to new parents who need a meal or a friend who has just moved or had surgery. It is great to bring to a potluck or serve at a graduation celebration. It is naturally gluten free by using cornstarch instead of flour to thicken the meat sauce. No one will miss the gluten.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 pounds of ground meat (beef, pork or turkey…I often use a mixture of beef and pork)

1 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 sprigs thyme

1 cup of beef stock

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

5 russet potatoes, diced

1 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon of paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat in large high rimmed, oven safe sauté pan.  Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl mix stock, vinegar and cornstarch. Pour into meat mixture. Combine and cook on medium to low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add potatoes and salt to stock pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. When potatoes are soft, drain and add milk and cream cheese, then mash together. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Spoon mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and smooth out with spatula. Top with a sprinkle of paprika and place in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. Serve!

If you plan to freeze or gift the shepherd’s pie, first pour the meat mixture into a foil casserole dish and then smooth potatoes over the top before cooking.

For a fancy twist, you can make baked potatoes and scoop out the insides, make mashed potatoes with the insides and then spoon the meat mixture into the skins. Simply cover with mashed potatoes and bake. Twice baked shepherds pie..mmmm!

What is your favorite meal to freeze? What is your favorite meal you have received in a time of need? Here are some other freezer meals or meals to bring a friend:

Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells

Meatballs

Meatloaf

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-cheese

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

 

 

 

 

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

Comforting, cheesy and delicious. Holidays often involve spending lots of time with family and even more time eating lots of food. Nostalgic comfort food is definitely more welcome at the table than talking about politics, religion or what Aunt Sylvia is wearing.

I have fond memories of my mom making twice baked potatoes and realized recently that I had never made them for my kids. They were even better than I remember.

Twice Baked Potato

twice-baked-potato-side-dish

Ingredients

8 small baked potatoes

2 cups + 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar

4 ounces of cream cheese

1/2 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

foil-wrapped-baked-potatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your potatoes and make 2 to 3 fork pricks into each and wrap each potato with foil. Place foil wrapped potatoes in oven directly on rack for 45 minutes, flipping over half way through. While potatoes are baking, place 2 cups of cheddar, cream cheese, milk, butter and spices in a large bowl. Once the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut each in half and scoop out the insides and add to the bowl. Mash the ingredients in the bowl together using a teaspoon to fill the potato shells. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

twice-baked-potatoes

TIP: You can prep this ahead of time and then reheat at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until heated through.

More holiday side dishes to come next week! Tomorrow, look out for more holiday treat ideas! And as always gluten free, but no one can tell 😉

Holiday side ideas from past posts:

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon?!