admin / December 19, 2011

It’s Meatless Monday-Roasted Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

One of my favorite comfort foods is Shepherd’s pie. Sometimes I make it with tofu but the other day I thought about trying a roasted veggie version. Best thing about this is it’s the ideal way to use up leftover vegetables and other items that might be sitting in the fridge and pantry. You don’t have to roast the vegetables for this but I think it makes the flavor more intense and worth it.

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

About one cup of chopped celery

2 medium sized onions, chopped

8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced. I used baby bellas because they were on sale

Place the vegetables in a roasting pan and coat them with oil and some salt and pepper and roast them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until they carmelized. Stir them in the pan a couple of times during cooking.

While the vegetables are roasting make the mashed potatoes for the topping. About one pound of potatoes should be enough, although I didn’t have quite enough to cover all the vegetables. I added about a 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese when I mashed them because I think it compliments the vegetables. Set aside when ready.

When the roasted veggies are almost done

Heat together in a saucepan, 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes and about 2 cups of stock.

Bring to a simmer and add the roasted vegetables and also about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, pepper and some onion powder.

Bring this to a boil then turn it down to a simmer. I added some seasoned flour mixed with water to thicken it and then let it reduce down for about five minutes. I also had some leftover peas that I added.

Pour this into a baking dish you’ve sprayed with cooking spray and then top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and I also like a sprinkling of smoked paprika too.

Heat this in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the vegetable mixture is bubbling and the potatoes are slightly browned.

You can get about eight servings out of this recipe.

It’s Meatless Monday will be back January 9th, 2012

admin / February 16, 2011

Adding Flavor to Everyday Foods

Food prices are creeping upwards again which makes me want to get maximum flavor out of all the foods I prepare. Over the years I’ve been experimenting with a few ideas and simple ingredients that are inexpensive-

Select One Food Over Another

The iceberg variety always seems to be the cheapest lettuce in the produce department. However, once in awhile it’s great to have some variety even if it does cost 20 cents more. Some of my favorites are romaine and red leaf. Another tip is if salad is going to be the main course, go with the lettuce with more flavor. The same goes for parsley. If I’m just using it a couple of teaspoons for seasoning I’ll opt for the curly variety but if it has more of a staring role in the dish, flat leaf is my pick.

Roasting Vegetables

I like roasted vegetables all by themselves but try adding them to soups, stews and even things like homemade bean and vegetable burgers. I’ve been experimenting with making my own veggie burgers and started out using chopped vegetables but I’ve discovered roasting them first gives the burger a richer flavor.

Worchestershire Sauce

One thing I’ve loved to add to foods since I was a teenager is Worchestershire sauce. It’s a staple in my pantry and I use it in soups, stews, sprinkled on top of burgers, shepherd’s pie and also pot pies. Great stuff, not that expensive and a little gives food a big boost.

Make a Switch

Even a simple dish like mac and cheese can become gourmet tasting by using a different cheese like gouda or one of the smoked varieties. I’ve also found if you pick a stronger cheese you use less of it.

Flavored Peppers

Sometimes browsing the spice aisle at the supermarket is just want you need to add some pizzazz to simple dishes. I found this one last year and just like the sauce of the same name I’ve been using it in lots of recipes.

Don’t Throw away the Stock

If you have any leftover stock try using it when you boil rice or potatoes…or any vegetable for that matter. It really gives the dish a richer taste and it’s a great way to use up something you might just pour away.

Grill Mixes

 

The folks at Spice Hunter sent me these awhile back and have to say I’ve used them for everything but grilling. I’ve added the seafood mix to fish chowders, the steak variety to marinade tofu for pot pies. The poultry mix for yes, the roasted vegetables and also homemade stuffing. Find a good grilling blend and try it in some of your favorite dishes instead of salt and pepper.

Smoked Paprika

Another pantry staple I wouldn’t be without is my bottle of smoked paprika.  I had trouble finding it a few years ago but now see it in most stores. It’s more expensive than the regular paprika but gives you more bang for your buck because a little goes a long way. It adds a smoky intense flavor to whatever you add it to and puts a new spin on old favorites. I’ve used mine in everything from soups to the decoration on deviled eggs. And when I make Shepherd’s Pie, I also sprinkle some on the mashed potato topping.

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