31 March 2012

New favorite Shepherds Pie

Before last week, I don't think I've ever had a shepherds pie. :) Now, this recipe is in my favorites book. (aka hanging on my fridge- that's where all the good recipes go!)

This recipe was also one of those things where I didn't have what I needed, so I subbed/changed/added whatever. It turned out really yummy!


Olive Oil
Black pepper to taste
1lb ground meat. I used turkey
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
4-5 celery chutes, really finely diced
lots of fresh thyme (or you can use the dried stuff)
2 tablespoons flour
6 oz red wine
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2-3 lbs ish mashed potatoes
8 oz block of gouda cheese, shredded
garlic powder or garlic salt

There are two parts. The meaty vegetable part, and the mashed potato part. :)

Mashed potatoes:
Cut up potatoes with the skin still on, boil them until soft.
Strain potatoes.
Beat with butter, water, garlic salt, pepper, and gouda cheese. Apply butter liberally. :) Taste. Add as much garlic salt and pepper until it is to your liking.

Mashed potatoes are done. You will layer these on top of the meat/veggie mixture.

Meat veggie mixture: This is a little more involved.

In a large pan with olive oil and liberal amounts of thyme, saute the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery until soft. Add the 1 pound of meat. Brown. (THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you use a fatty meat, strain, and substitute the 1 cup water with chicken broth. If you use a non fatty meat, 94% lean and above, do not strain. Use the 1 cup water in the following steps.)

Sprinkle with flour. Stir until mixed well, and no clumps of flour remain.

Add ketchup, wine, and worcestershire sauce. Let this reduce slightly.

Add water. (unless you used fatty meat and strained. Then use 1 cup chicken broth.)

Let this mixture simmer. Reduce until it is a thin gravy consistency. Add garlic salt, pepper, more thyme, rosemary etc... (season to your taste)


Grease a 13x9x2. Pour all the meaty gravy mixture in pan. Then spoon or pipe on the mashed potatoes.

Bake at 400 until the potatoes are slightly browned, about 20 minutes!

My really awesome Chicken recipe

Here's the deal. I saw this Honey Mustard Baked Chicken recipe on Pinterest that I really had to have tonight. I looked at the ingredients. I had the chicken. That was it, so I just made up my own honey mustard baked chicken. It turned out so well that I ate 1 whole chicken breast! That's about 1 pound, and I don't ever eat that much meat.... unless I'm in TN and my dad makes burgers. drool.

Firstly, you will need two LARGE boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then you will dip it in the homemade honey mustard mixture. (recipe below) Lastly,you will dip it in Panko crumbs and bake!

Honey mustard mixture:

**Disclaimer. I dumped and tasted. This is my best guestimation of the volume of each ingredient.

5 tablespoons hellmanns mayo. (don't substitute that Miracle junk)
8 tablespoons brown spicy mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dillweed
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Taste it. Adjust mixture to your liking!

Slice your chicken breasts as thin or thick as you would like, dip in honey mustard mixture, coat with Panko crumbs, put on greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 ish minutes. Your baking time will vary according to the thickness of said chicken strips. ENJOY!

P.S. Don't use all the honey mustard stuff. BEFORE you dip your chicken in there, set some aside and use to dip the cooked chicken!

20 March 2012


Every time I get back from TN people always ask ,"Aren't you glad to be back?" Then I have to do a side stepping game of riding the fence, "UHHH??? Kinda?"

It is very hard to go from NJ to TN and back again in 7 days!

When I am in NJ I do everything by myself. I cook every single day, do the laundry, clean, run all the errands, etc and so forth. Michael works long hours, so I try not to ask him to do household chores after a tiring day. I'm totally independent and have minimal help. It's not good or bad. It is just how it is. I can't go to grandma Bonnie's for lunch during the day or call my parents to hang out with Charlie if I'm going crazy.

Then, I get to TN... It's kind of like a vacation, except I don't consider visiting somewhere I lived for 20 years a real vacation. Maybe a half-vacation?? (A real vacation would involve the beach...... or my toddler in a different state for 24 hours. ;) or BOTH!) My mom cooks and cleans (and sometimes I help... a little. Guilty!!) Best part is that I get to spend lots of time with my stinky brothers and the rents. THE SUPER BEST PART IS.... My dad takes Charlie all around town to do "man stuff." Those are my dad's words, not mine. :) As a side note, I found out what "man stuff" is: riding the razor 4-wheeler thing, mowing the yard, spreading mulch, going to Lowes, and a bunch of other "man stuff." He's a REALLY good grandpa. :) My mom always has a few outfits for Charlie when we get there in one size bigger. That's a super big help. Charlie is always growing out of clothes. It is nice to have some the next size up! BUT there are always a few cons. It isn't our routine, and Charlie LOVES routine! He gets a little fussier than usual when we are there. Also, my hubby is back in NJ working hard, so I can stay home. :) (He's a good hubby!) I miss him a lot when I'm gone for a week.

Then, I leave and have to transition back into NJ life. I go back to eating healthy. (My parents eat healthy too, but my mom and I are AWFUL when we are together. We egg each other on until we've eaten about 3000000 calories a day of wonderful fatty/sweet/salty/cheesy/delicious foods! YUM!!!) I have to start cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc again! It is so hard. :( I usually get a really bad headache the day after I get back. I always think, "JACKPOT! My parents can hang out with Charlie while I sleep in a dark room" Then I remember there are no parents in NJ. :'( So I just toughen up and be a mom! When I do get back, it is nice to be back with Michael. :) Everything just seems so much more cloudy/dirtier/concrete-ier in NJ, and I get depressed for a while. I don't care for concrete and clouds! I love sunshine and grass! I always like getting back to my routine, my friends, my church, my Sunday School kids, my grocery store, etc... I'm a homebody, and I like my routine. (wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, put Charlie down for a morning nap, do errands/run depending on the day, play, afternoon nap, cook dinner/clean, eat dinner, hang out with michael, everybody goes to bed... Yes, I know. I lead a boring life.)

So, next time you want to know if I am glad to be back "home".... I guess the answer really is, "kinda? maybe?" I'm not really sure.