A little about my cooking style: I am not trained or terribly skilled. My eight year old has better knife cuts. My husband likes to cook mise en place; he says I like to cook me’s all over the place. He’s a riot. But in all seriousness, I will never have a cooking show, because I am just not that organized and put together. I am, however, an excellent food taster and eater. So I feel that qualifies me to share recipes with you that I think you will love.
Y’all don’t freak out about my measuring now, or lack thereof. It’s gonna be okay. If you are an enneagram type 1, consider this an opportunity to learn to control involuntary eye twitches when people use words like “approximately” and “as much as you want.” I’m here for you.
I love food blogs, but there are a few areas where they leave me wanting more, namely: time management, flexibility, and education about cooking principles. Read on…
Time Management & Cleanup
I’ve always wanted the cooking channels to do a show where they teach you how to maximize your time in the kitchen. They always seem not to care how many pans they use, or who’s going to wash them. Any large family cooks feel me on this? I want to cook, eat, and be done. And I want the eating to be delicious.
There’s nothing worse than getting the kids to bed, and then coming downstairs to a kitchen full of dishes that have to be cleaned. Hard pass. I’d rather be taking a bath than giving the dishes one. So, as I walk you through these recipes, rest assured I have thoughtfully considered your future self who will be cleaning the dishes later. I got you.
When trying a new recipe, often I do not have all that is needed, or I don’t prefer one of the ingredients. I want to know what is imperative to the recipe and what is not. What is the “base” of the flavors? What can I substitute? What can I use from my pantry instead of buying something at the store?
These questions I will address in the notes sprinkled throughout the recipes. If you absolutely don’t care, and are a 1-2-3 rule follower, then you can just ignore my notes and go on with your bad self. You do you.
I am not a chef. I am really not even a good cook. But I have cooked a lot of things a lot of times, and have observed some consistencies in types of recipes. I think it is important to learn something from your experiences in the kitchen, so that eventually you will be able to improvise and create your own recipes with confidence!
With each recipe, there will be noted the techniques and cooking principles used. Braising, deglazing, making a roux, quick-pickling…these and many more will become tools in your culinary toolbox.
So let’s cook something, shall we?
One-Pot Not Your Grandma’s Shepherd’s Pie, with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
This is so good I would eat it out of my kid’s shoe. I know it’s not the most photogenic dish…geez, don’t be so shallow. It has a delicious personality.
There’s so much flavor in the meat, it would make a great lettuce wrap if you are skipping carbs. But the horseradish mashed potatoes make it extraterrestrial. Trust me. Do a few extra burpees and have the potatoes.
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2lbs ground beef
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Garlic powder (a couple shakes? ‘Much as you want hunny)
- Onion powder (same as above. You know what to do)
- 2-3 piquillo peppers, diced (from the olive section at the store)
- 3 cloves fresh chopped garlic
- 1 cup beef broth (or whatever broth you have on hand)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1oz dried oyster mushrooms* (any kind of mushrooms will work really, fresh or dried, but the dried ones absorb so much flavor when they rehydrate. And they last longer on the shelf.)
- 1 cup red wine* (if you are out, or you abstain, you can use beef broth or bone broth for a rich flavor)
- 1 cup frozen peas* (Traditional shepherd’s pie has peas. Some people don’t like them, so if that’s you, just skip them.)
- Feel free to add some diced carrots and/or onions if you have them. Add them both when you add the garlic on Step 4.
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- 2lbs red potatoes, quartered
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 4 Tbsp melted butter (half a stick)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup Sour Cream* (can sub plain yogurt)
- 1” piece of fresh horseradish root, peeled and grated
How to Make It
1. BOILING – Use a large Dutch oven if you have one, or a large pot. Fill it halfway with water, bring to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until soft and tender, 15min or so.*
*WHILE BOILING – Wash all knives, cutting boards, graters, etc. used to prepare the ingredients. Set out a colander, wooden spoon and 2 forks, and pour yourself a beverage. You’re better when you’re hydrated.
2. BROWNING – Drain potatoes into a colander, return pot to stove on med-high heat. Drizzle olive oil in pot, and add ground beef. I use 2 forks to break it apart, I find that a wooden spoon just mashes it together even more and raises my blood pressure unnecessarily.
3. SIMMERING – Once meat is mostly browned, add soy sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and piquillos. Stir and simmer for 5min*, then remove meat to a bowl.
*WHILE SIMMERING – Put away all ingredients used in step 3 except lemon juice. Wash your meat forks. Play some music.
4. DEGLAZING – Crank the heat up a little and add the chopped garlic to the now empty pot. Wait til it looks like it’s just about to burn, then pour in your red wine (or broth if subbing). Should sizzle and release any burned bits from the bottom.
5. SIMMERING AGAIN – Add your dried mushrooms and turn the heat down to a simmer. Wait 5 min, then add broth and peas. Simmer another 5 minutes* until slightly reduced.
*WHILE SIMMERING, add your sour cream, mayo, melted butter, salt and pepper to your slightly cooled potatoes (in a bowl, not in the colander). Lastly, add grated horseradish if using. Stir all ingredients until well combined. Potatoes are DONE. Rinse your colander, dry it and put it away.
6. FINISHING – Add meat back to pot with peas and shrooms. Stir together and add your S&P to taste, and maybe an extra squirt of lemon juice just for good measure. Meat is DONE. *if you like a thicker texture, you can always thicken it with cornstarch as the final step. I think it thickens enough from reducing, so I don’t add anything.)
7. SERVING – Serve a scoop of potatoes on the bottom, with a heaping serving of meat on top. Lick your plate clean, then post a picture of it and tag me :). I’d be so honored.
8. CLEANING – By my calculations, you should only have 1 Dutch oven to clean, and a bowl that the potatoes were in. Winning.