Shepherd’s Pie

I realized why I’d been feeling fat lately — I haven’t been doing any cooking! You can’t lose weight unless you control what you eat by making your own meals and choices. And I’ve only posted five recipes so far for all of this year. (I know some of you are saying, “yay!” Shush.) In summer, it’s easier to go out for a good salad than keep and chop all the ingredients yourself, but it’s more fun in colder weather to stay in and cook.

I’d managed to throw a roast into the crockpot, but I needed something else besides hash to make with the leftovers. Then it occurred to me: shepherd’s pie is easy, tasty, and filling. I found a basic recipe and started tweaking it to my taste. (The recipe originally wanted me to mix carrots into the potato crust, yuck, and used ground beef instead.) So here’s my variant:

Take 2-3 tablespoons of the juice/gravy left over from your roast. Heat it in a large skillet over medium heat. Add one small onion, chopped; one garlic clove, minced; and 4-6 ounces of sliced mushrooms. (The package I bought pre-sliced was 6 oz.) Saute them about ten minutes, or until everything’s tender.

During this time, make a package of mashed potatoes following the box instructions.

Stir into the onions and mushrooms your chopped leftover meat, 4 teaspoons of beef bouillon base (you can use granules, or I recommend Penzey’s soup base, which is a thick paste), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. If you like peas in your pie, you can add a cup of them (if frozen, thawed) now, too. I don’t.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle a Tablespoon of flour into the mess and stir constantly for a minute. I found at this point that I needed to add in some more of the leftover gravy, because everything had gotten very dry. If so, cook just a bit longer until everything’s moist but not drippy.

Put the meat mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Spread the mashed potatoes over top. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let stand a few minutes, then serve. Yummy!

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