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I'm a runner with a baking habit.  I'm constantly on the lookout for awesome desserts, freezer friendly recipes to pack in the lunchbox, and quick dinner ideas.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Shepherd's Pie

Continuing from last time when we talked about my love affair with potatoes, I have a soul warming dinner for you tonight.  Before that fateful night in the Irish Pub, I'd never had Shepherd's Pie, and wasn't quite sure what it was. When I saw a plate of tender meat nestled under a cloud of mashed potatoes, it was love at first sight.  Since then, I've tried many recipes, and never met one that I didn't like, but came to love Ellie Krieger's version a little more than all the rest, probably for the extra vegetables.  However, Ellie and I parted ways when it came to the mashed potatoes.  She uses a blend of potatoes and cauliflower, but I stuck with traditional spuds. This is a wonderful thing to take out of the oven on a cold night, and the leftovers are always a welcome thing to pull out of the freezer.

Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Yield: 5 servings

  • For the pie:
    • 1 pound ground beef (I used 96% lean) 
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 cup onion
    • 3 carrots
    • 8 oz mushrooms
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • ½ cup broth
    • 1 cup frozen peas
  • For mashed potatoes:
    • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 2-4 tablespoons sour cream
    • Onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste

Heat the oil on medium.  Cover the pot and cook the carrots and onion for eight minutes.

Peel the potatoes and chop into quarters.

Cover the potatoes with cold water, cover, and heat to boiling.  Once the water comes to a boil, uncover and turn the heat down to medium.

Chop the mushrooms into small pieces.

Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook for a few minutes.

Add the beef.

Cook until the meat is browned and the liquid from the mushrooms is mostly evaporated.

Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes.

Add in the broth and bring to a simmer.  At this point, start preheating the oven to 350° F.

Stir in the peas.  The liquid should be mostly cooked off, but if needed drain off the excess.

Meanwhile, check on the potatoes by poking them with a fork.  When they start to fall apart, they are ready.

Drain the spuds.

Mash in the butter, sour cream, onion powder, and salt.  Adjust quantities as needed for taste and mash until creamy.

Now make the magic happen.

Smooth the spuds over the meat.

And tuck it in the oven for 25 minutes.

And eat it up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Breakfast Potatoes

Once upon a time, a special someone took me to an Irish pub.  Two plates landed on our table: Shepherd's Pie for him and a boxty for me.  I took a first bite of the potato pancake and felt the earth move.  I traded bites with my special someone and was lost in the bliss of mashed potatoes.  And then came a voice in my head, clear and unmistakable.  It said, "you don't eat enough potatoes."

I heeded the voice and set about getting more potatoes into my diet.  Along the way, I tried Budget Bytes's Country Breakfast Bowls, and found the backbone of this recipe: crispy potatoes that can be kept in the freezer and ready to go at a moment's notice. 

(Inspired by Budget Bytes)
Yield: 6 servings
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder to taste


First, let's talk quantity.  The source recipe calls for three pounds of potatoes, which is just the right amount for me to make ahead and get eaten within standard freezer storage time (3 months?)  I really like Yukon Gold potatoes, which are sold in five pound bags, and happen to have a way to use two pounds of potatoes (see above hint about Shepherd's Pie).  But feel free to adjust the quantity based on the amount of potatoes you have on hand.

Preheat the oven to 400° F and scrub the spuds.

Dice into bite size pieces.

Place in a large, sealable container, working in batches if needed (three pounds of potatoes = two batches in my world).  Add a dash of olive oil (the tiniest drop will do) and shake to coat.

Follow up with seasonings.  I use a touch of pepper and garlic powder, a reasonable amount of salt, and a heck of a lot of onion powder.  Shake again until the potatoes are coated.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spread the spuds out.  Bake for one hour, stirring half way through.

The spuds will be golden brown and begging to be eaten.

 Allow to cool before filling your plate.

When completely cool, store the leftovers and place in the freezer.

To reheat the frozen spuds, simply microwave until heated, somewhere around 90 seconds - 2 minutes. 

 As for what to do with the spuds, here are a few ideas.  Option #1: top with scrambled eggs and cheese.

Option#2: make the eggs over easy and dip the spuds in the yolks.

 The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Burrito Bowls

This recipe is healthy.  Vegetarian, could even be vegan depending on the toppings.  It gives you a ton of food for very little effort, a perfect make ahead lunch for the work week.  It's cheap, heck this is straight up rice and beans. 
And it is delicious.

(Recipe adapted from Woman's Day)

For the salad:
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (from ¾ cup uncooked brown rice)
  • 1 can black beans
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots or red onion
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • romaine lettuce
For the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Cheese
  • Salsa

Begin by cooking the rice according to your favorite method, which for me is the microwave.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Drain and rinse the beans.  Now I like things spicy, so I like to add in a little ghost pepper sauce, but this is totally optional.

Slice into a shallot or onion...

...and dice finely.

Halve the tomatoes.

Slice the cilantro into fine pieces.

Juice the limes.

Mix the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper together for the dressing.

Now throw everything together.  First beans into rice...

Then the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and dressing.  Mix well.

Line a salad bowl with romaine.

Top with a hearty serving of the rice and beans, and you will be faced with something that is far too healthy to eat.  So add in some fun stuff to remind you not to take life too seriously.  I like a sprinkling of cheese and avocado.

And eat it up.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bourbon Cake

Between finishing grad school and a busy summer, I've been taking life too seriously.  All work, no play.  On New Year's Eve, I took a step toward having fun again.  Baking for the shear joy of baking. With booze. 

All of the ingredients are kitchen staples, so I was able to dive right in and bake.  By magic, my bourbon bottle had ⅔ cup left in it, exactly the amount needed for the recipe.

(Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)
  • Cake:
    • 3½ cups cake flour
    • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
    • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1¼ teaspoons salt
    • 1¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
    • 5 eggs
    • ⅓ cup bourbon
    • 1¼ cups buttermilk (I used 5 tablespoons powdered buttermilk and 1¼ cups water)
  • Glaze:
    • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup bourbon

I started by greasing and flouring a bundt pan.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.

And then I took care of the boring part, which was measuring out the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and powered buttermilk and whisking together.

Now it was time to have some fun.  Combine the butter and sugars and beat on medium until well combined and fluffy.

There was something about the sight of five eggs that made me giddy.  I had forgotten how much I love baking.  Add them one at a time, beating between additions.  I cannot stress enough that it is a really good idea to crack the eggs into a bowl before adding to the batter.

Combine the bourbon and buttermilk (since I used powdered buttermilk, my combination was bourbon and water).  Alternate three batches of the flour mixture with two batches of the bourbon mixture. 

Beat only enough to incorporate all of the flour, and mix the last batch of flour in with a spatula. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).

Toward the end of the baking time, prepare the glaze.

Heat the bourbon, sugar, and butter, whisking until combined.  Remove from heat.

Remove the cake from the oven and set a on wire rack.  Poke it mercilessly to create holes for the glaze to seep through.  More holes=more alcohol in the cake.

Slowly pour in ¾ of the glaze, adding more holes if needed.  Let the cake sit for 30 minutes to allow the glaze to seep deeply into the cake.

Place the serving plate over the top of the pan, and flip to remove the cake.

The glaze may cool and thicken, so you may need to microwave it for 30 seconds or so to loosen it.

Brush it lavishly and lovingly over the cake.

And start the new year off right!