Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back to Basics

I've found during the hustle and bustle of life in general that menu planning is tremendously helpful. Not only does it alleviate the daily stress of feeding the crazies family, it saves $$ too. Combine that with occasionally making a couple of recipes at the same time, especially when they use the duplicate core ingredients, and the fridge is stocked whether I'm home or away working my fingers to the bone doing what I love.  Here are a couple of kid-friendly favorites - just in case you are among the five people in America who don't already know how to make chili and shepherd's pie (ha!). 

Both recipes begin with:

2 pounds of ground meat

1 onion and 4 cloves garlic

For Shephard's Pie add 2 carrots and 1 stalk celery (chopped)

Brown the beef, drain...

Return to pan and add 2/3 cup flour, stir to combine.

Add to cans of beef broth, 1 tsp. of ground thyme and cook over medium-high heat until thick and bubbly.

Spread the meat mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan

I'm always looking for a way to sneak more veggies in for my two toddlers and while traditional shepherds pie does not include green beans, I sneak a cup of frozen veggies in at this point. Sometimes we use peas or even corn.

You will need six cups of cooked mashed potatoes. I boil them with the skins on, drain, return to the pan with 1/2 cup butter, 2 tsp garlic salt, pepper to taste and one cup cheddar cheese. Mash well. 

Spread potato mixture onto the top of the meat filling...

And bake at 375 until hot and bubbly. I usually place under the broiler for about five minutes at the end just to brown the top a little. 

For the chili - begin with the same three core ingredients: ground meat, onion chopped and four cloves of garlic….

Brown the meat, drain, and add to it: 2 cans chili beans, 2 cans chili-ready tomatoes, 2 cans tomato sauce (do you see a pattern here?) and 1 can dark red kidney beans. Stir together and add 2 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. salt. Cook and simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to combine. 

Happy cooking!!