Improv Challenge: Peas and Carrots (Shepherd’s Pie)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are peas and carrots. So far, I’ve shared:

For this month’s Improv Challenge, I made Shepherd’s Pie! When I heard the challenge ingredients were peas and carrots, I knew exactly what I would be making (It happens to be one of Bryan’s favourite meals). I changed up the recipe a bit from the usual… I added some crimini mushrooms and cut the amount of mashed potatoes in half. The mushrooms were a great addition. I missed the extra potatoes (Bryan seemed to enjoy it more this way)! If you love mashed potatoes… DOUBLE the amount called for in this recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 onions, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch (9 small) carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 250 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 pounds learn ground beef – approximate cost $9.00
  • 2 284 milliliter cans of beef broth (+ 2 cans of water) – approximate cost $2.40
  • 500 grams green peas – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 pounds potatoes, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons paprika – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup milk – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup butter – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Prepare the meat and vegetable mixture.
    1. Preheat the grapeseed oil in a large pot over medium heat.
    2. Add the onion slices.
    3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
    4. Add the minced garlic.
    5. Cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
    6. Remove the onion and garlic mixture and set aside in a mixing bowl.
    7. Add the ground beef to the cooking pot.
    8. Brown the ground beef.
    9. Use a wooden spoon to break the ground beef into small pieces.
    10. Return the onion and garlic mixture to the pot.
    11. Add the carrot, mushrooms, and green peas.
    12. Mix well.
    13. Add the beef broth and water.
    14. Bring the pot to a boil.
    15. Cook for about 5 minutes.
    16. Add the paprika, rosemary, and black pepper.
    17. Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup cold water.
    18. Stir the cornstarch into the broth slowly.
    19. Stir frequently until thickened.
  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes.
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
    2. Optional: Peel the potatoes. (We dice them right away, leaving the skin on)
    3. Dice the potatoes.
    4. Boil the potatoes until tender (about 10-15 minutes).
    5. Drain the potatoes.
    6. Add the milk and butter to the potatoes.
    7. Use a potatoes masher to mash the potatoes.
  3. Put it all together!
    1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Divide the meat and vegetable mixture evenly between two 9×13 baking dishes.
    3. Top with an even layer of mashed potatoes.
    4. Bake the Shepherd’s Pie for about an hour and a half.
  4. Remove the shepherd’s pie from the oven.
  5. Let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy! (Makes fantastic leftovers)

Makes 16 servings (approximate cost: $1.58 per serving).



Advertisements

Venison Stew

Over the last month, there have been many new additions to my little kitchen that I’ve been waiting to share with you.

We got a few new plates for Christmas! We broke a few dinner plates over the last year. We had three plates left around October. I began to worry how we were going to have friends over for meals if we didn’t even own enough plates to eat said dinner on. I love having a full set again, even if they aren’t an exact match.

I also got a lovely, pre-seasoned, cast iron dutch oven as a Christmas gift. Actually, it’s what I used to cook this lovely stew. I love it as well! I’ve read through the instruction manual and am fairly confident I will be able to take care of it. Any tips for maintaining cast iron cookware?

Finally, I splurged after the holiday… but it’s totally worth it! A department store in the area is going out of business (actually, I think the final day was over the weekend). I went in looking for a potato masher. And once I found this small appliance, I completely forgot about the potato masher and contemplated a bigger purchase… a KitchenAid Stand Mixer! The pros: It was half price and worked. The cons: No package or instruction manual and there’s a missing screw, so the KitchenAid decal does not fasten to the front of the mixer. I’m pretty excited about this purchase and have already used it to make breakfast (potato pancakes) and am planning some banana bread for later this week.

Venison Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided – approximate cost $0.10
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) bacon, chopped – approximate cost $3.00
  • 575 grams (about 1 1/4 pounds) venison stewing meat (chopped into approximately 1/2 inch cubes) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 5 small carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 large sweet onions, roughly chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 220 grams (about 1/2 pound) crimini mushrooms, quartered – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups red wine (I used Catastrophe Red, made by Cattail Creek Winery) – approximate cost $6.00
  • 4 cups beef broth – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 156ml can of tomato paste – approximate cost $0.60
  • 8 small potatoes, quartered (I used Klondike Gold Dust potatoes) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy.
  3. Remove and set aside.
  4. Brown the venison meat
  5. Remove and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a large pot.
  7. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften and brown (about 5-7 minutes).
  8. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  9. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned (about 5 minutes).
  10. Add the bacon and venison back into the pot.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Add the carrots and mix in.
  13. Add the red wine, beef broth, rosemary, and thyme.
  14. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  15. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours.
  16. Prepare the potatoes about half way through cooking the stew.
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Place the potato pieces in baking dish.
    3. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and salt.
    4. Roast for about 40 minutes (or until potatoes are browned and tender).
  17. Stir the tomato paste into the stew, stirring constantly until it is mixed in.
  18. Add the potatoes and mix well.
  19. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $5.24 per serving).

Wednesday Link Parties

Cast Party Wednesday

White Lights on Wednesdays

Spicy, Slow-Cooked Beef Chili

Things have been crazy busy since I returned to school. Between readings, projects, group meetings, scholarship applications, and whatnot, I feel like I’ve barely had time to cook. To address this, I make big meals on Sunday evening and pack it up into portions that we enjoy throughout the week for lunch and dinner.

One of my go-to favourites is chili. I love chili because it’s hearty, because it’s so versatile, and because I can put it in the slow cooker and come home to a delicious warm meal. I can add just about everything in my pantry and it will still be a yummy chili. Last winter, I made what Bryan calls Texas-style chili. To me, it’s just chili. For the Improv Challenge in August, I made a soup with tomatoes and Anaheim chile peppers, this is more along the lines of what Bryan thinks of as chile. Despite our differing definitions, we both very much enjoy chili (despite that I always slip some chickpeas into the mix, one of Bryan’s least favourite foods, he never complains, what a great guy.).

I went a bit overboard when making chili the other week. I had forgotten just how many servings it makes and added wayyy more herbs and spices than usual. I wanted something different from my usual chili. Unfortunately, our freezer is very full, so there was no rooms to save the leftovers for later. So we ate chili, at least once per day, for nearly a week. Next time, I’ll cut this recipe in half. Or make sure I have plenty of freezer space to save some for another time.

What’s your favourite meal to make in the slow-cooker during the fall months?

Spicy, Slow-Cooked Beef Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 cups beef stock – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 12 ounce can of tomato paste – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, diced and liquid reserved – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup dried white kidney beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas beans – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $0.75
  • 400 grams crimini mushrooms, chopped – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cumin – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon paprika – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (less if you want to tone down the spiciness) – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (about 1/4 cup to top each serving) – approximate cost $1.50
  • Baguette (for serving) – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Soak the dried beans.
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
    2. Add dried beans.
    3. Let cook for 5 minutes.
    4. Turn the stove off.
    5. Put a lid on the pot.
    6. Remove pot from the burner.
    7. Allow the beans soak for at least 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the beef, garlic, and onion.
    1. Heat the grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
    2. Sautee the minced garlic for 1 minute.
    3. Add the onion to the frying pan and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. or until the onion softens.
    4. Add the stewing beef and cook until browned.
  3. Putting it all together in the slow cooker.
    1. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes (and liquid), chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, Italian Seasoning, cilantro, sea salt, black pepper to the slow cooker first.
    2. Stir well so the flavours mix well with the liquid.
    3. Add the browned stewing beef mixture, soaked beans, crimini mushrooms.
    4. Mix again.
    5. There should be enough liquid to cover the chili. If not, add more beef stock.
    6. Cook at low temperature for about 6 hours (or high temperature for about 4 hours).
  4. Serve topped with shredded cheese and baguette on the side.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.83 per serving).

Monday Link Parties

Photobucket

mop it up mondays


Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Valentine’s Day was as fantastic as we planned. Not everything went according to plan (I made numerous last minute changes to our menu), but we had a wonderful evening together nonetheless. The evening began with a romantic round of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in which we battled our favourite video game characters for an hour or so while dinner was cooking. We played on a team against two computer-controlled characters. See… we did something co-operative, that’s romantic and coupley, right? Whether or not this is your ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we very much enjoyed the night in together, away from overly-crowded restaurants and prices that make us think we might need to drop out of school to pay for our dinner (Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the price of eating out once in a while).

The dinner, however, was one to remember for a while. Rib-eye steaks, roasted potatoes and carrots, and asparagus with a miso sauce. By the time we got half way through dinner, we decided that dessert (red velvet cheesecake) would have to wait until another day.

Rib-eye steaks au jus

These were some of the best steaks we have ever had at home. We don’t have a barbecue, so we tend to avoid making steak at home and prefer to enjoy it when visiting friends and family. The steaks were a bit on the expensive side, but I don’t regret splurging on an occasion! Also, the steaks were large enough that we enjoyed them over two meals.

The au jus recipe is adapted from a recipe at Steamy Kitchen. Despite making a few changes… it was so flavourful! I enjoyed the au jus more so that that which you would get at a typical pub. I wish I made more. For dipping with bread. For hot beef sandwiches. One of us may or may not have licked our plate clean before cleaning up the meal. I want more…

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eye steaks (bone in) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 carrots, sliced into quarters – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into quaters (leave the skin on) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 cup of butter– approximate cost $.63
  • 1/2 cup red wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Freeze the steaks (Yes, seriously, I was trying out a tip from The Kitchn).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and sear the frozen steaks (approximately 4 minutes per side).
  4. Combine beef bouillon and water in a bowl, stir until well-combined.
  5. In a large roasting pan, combine seared steaks, onion, carrots, garlic, and beef bouillon mixture.
  6. Bake for 1 hour (steaks will be medium to medium-well)
  7. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let stand while you prepare the jus.
  8. Strain the roast mixture into a pot, discarding the vegetables and keeping the liquid.
  9. Heat until the liquid boils and add the red wine.
  10. Boil jus mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  11. Pour jus over steaks and serve.
Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.47 per serving).

Potatoes and carrots roasted with thyme

Yummy, yummy, yummy! These roasted vegetables were great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a 9×13 roasting pan.
  3. Toss until the potatoes and carrots are well coated with thyme, sea salt, and oil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables once after about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

Asparagus with miso sauce

Another recipe I am saving. I’ll be making this again when asparagus is in season in June. There’s nothing like buying asparagus fresh from a local farm. It is one of my very favourite vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving).

Red velvet cheesecake

This cheesecake is very sweet and very rich. I had three bites and that was enough for me. Bryan’s first words after taking a bite were “Mmmmm this is fantastic!” If you like cheesecake and sweets, this recipe is a keeper. Make sure to plan ahead, there is a long period of time in which the cheesecake must cool.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.28 per serving).

Not Quite Authentic Pho

We love Pho. There’s a restaurant close to our regular Laundromat that serves it at very reasonable price, so we haven’t (until now) tried making this at home. At $7-$8 per bowl that is filled with plenty of noodles and beef, we weren’t sure we could make our own for less.

But I just had to know… how long does it take to make myself and how much do the servings cost? Is it actually practical to eat out every time I want Pho?

I started with a recipe from a Vietnamese cookbook that I received as a gift from a friend a few years ago. Honestly, it looked like a lot of work. There were more ingredients than I had anticipated. I felt a bit discouraged and set the recipe aside for a month or so before I again thought “I really should try making this at home.”

When I got to the store, I encountered more hurdles. I couldn’t find beef bones to make my own stock and had to settle for a prepared beef broth. Where are the noodles? There was lots of pasta to choose from, but nothing in the way of a rice noodle. I had somen, wheat noodles, at home and it would have to do this time. Star anise was nowhere to be found. So I decided to skip that too. At this point, I was becoming skeptical that my soup would taste like Pho at all.

However, after I got home and made the soup with what was available to me, it turned out ok. One the first bite, I was very disappointed. It was flavourless. So I added some hoisin sauce to the bowl, which is just what it needed. It wasn’t exactly like the soup at the restaurant, but it was tasty good.

Here’s my very much modified recipe for homemade Pho (and a breakdown of the cost to compare it with eating out).

Not Quite Authentic Pho

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dD0SQmE6Gqw/TmzIKSqZYtI/AAAAAAAAC90/EVfmwF2CLLw/DSC_0835.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 box of prepared beef stock (approximately 2 ½ cups) – approximate cost $2.75
  • 200 grams of thin beef slices – approximate cost $3.50
  • 400 grams of tripe (sliced into strips if it doesn’t come pre-sliced) – approximate cost $5.50
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 bunches of somen noodles (about ½ of a package) – approximate cost $0.60
  • Hoisin sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 ½ cups of water

Method

  1. In a large pot, cook the tripe and ginger at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add beef stock and water on high heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add somen noodles and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  5. Add beef slices and cilantro and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Serve in large soup bowls with a side of hoisin sauce.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.35 per serving)

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the cost to make this myself. I’ll try this recipe again when I can find the ingredients for which I needed to make substitutions, including those for the broth myself and rice noodles.

Have you made Pho at home? If so, how do you prepare it?

%d bloggers like this: