Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keeping me guessing, aka Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I never know what's going to be a hit with the boys.  I think I know, then it usually flops.  Other times I make something that may or may not work and the gobble it up and demand more.  Tonight was one of those nights.  My friend Sheri over a Pork Cracklins posted this recipe for Shepherd's Pie and it planted a seed.  Later when I was looking for dinner ideas in my cookbooks, I found a recipe for a vegetarian version in the Vegetarian Family Cookbook.  I decided to put it on the menu.  I started from that recipe, but made some adjustments. These are captured below.

Modified Shepherd's Pie

6 medium sized russet potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (I used a sweet onion because I do love them so, but a plain onion would be fine too)
2 medium carrots (I approximated with baby carrots since I have them on hand at all times)
1/2 medium cauliflower (I used a bag of cauliflower florets from Trader Joe's because that's how I roll)
1 cup frozen corn
8 oz vegetarian ground "meat" (from Trader Joe's, where else)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp Vegetable Better than Bullion
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Peel and cube the potatoes then boil until tender.  Once they are tender, drain and mash with butter and milk until fluffy.  Add the shredded cheese to the mashed potatoes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Finely chop the onion and slice the carrots and add them to the pan.  Cook until the onions start to turn golden.  Finely chop the cauliflower and add it to the pan.  Cook until it starts to become tender.  Add the frozen corn and the soy meat and the Better than Bullion (in the paste form, don't add water).  Cook until heated through.  Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Add about 1/2 cup of the mashed potatoes and stir until mixed in.

Put the vegetables into the bottom a a casserole and top with the mashed potatoes.  Smooth the mashed potatoes on top into an even layer.  I like to use a fork to make a nice texture on top of the potatoes, but you don't have to do that if you don't feel like it.

Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes until it is bubbling around the edges and the potatoes have begun to turn golden brown on top (at least along the textured ridges if you took that step).

Eat and enjoy. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lunchbox #7

The sushi lunch was a big hit with Big Dog.  He asked for an immediate repeat, but he did tell me to "go easy on the sushi" since apparently a 9 piece lunch is too much for him.  Right-sized, this lunch went over well the next day.

Avocado sushi rolls and baked tofu
Freeze dried strawberries
Sliced mango
Dark chocolate square

Lunchbox #5 and #6

Little Dog has been tricky to pack lunch for lately.  He shuns all sandwiches other than his beloved peanut butter and jelly.  He won't help me with ideas about what he might like to be eating, so I'm guessing.  Over the weekend the boys helped me make a roast chicken inspired by Fanny at Chez Pannise and they couldn't get enough of it.  I decided to try packing that for lunch and sure thing, it was a big hit.

Little Dog has asked for a repeat so I did a second lunch working with the same theme

Lunchbox #5
Roast chicken and jasmine rice
Snap Peas
Sliced gala apple
Yogurt tube
chocolate chips

watermelon chunks in snack container.

Lunchbox #6
Porkchop and jasmine rice
Sliced mango
Freeze dried strawberries
Dark chocolate

Lunchbox #4

The night before, I'd been out to dinner for a work function.  Mr. Dog took the boys out to dinner as well.  Big Dog wanted sushi, as usual.  Little Dog wanted to go to Bick's, mainly for the "Mousse in a Mug" dessert, but because Big Dog chose last time, it was Little Dog's turn to choose.  After feasting on smoked duck quesidillas, a hamburger and mousse in a mug, Big Dog was no longer complaining, but it did give me an idea for their lunch.  I got up early to make sushi rice and gave them a lunchbox surprise.

Avocado sushi rolls
baked tofu (from Trader Joe's)
sliced pear
white chocolate chips