July 28, 2014

Skinny Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Mash Topping

Happy 600th recipe post to me!  My first recipe was in February of 2010, and I never would have imagined that my blog would come this far!  Thank you to all who have been following along in this exciting, tasty journey.  

When I was working on this blog post, I wasn't aware that this marked the 600th recipe.  I would have otherwise made something a little more "elaborate" to celebrate.  In any event, this is the one!  This shepherd's pie is "skinny" because I use creamy mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes for the topping.  I also used nonfat Greek yogurt and some of the mashed cauliflower as thickening agents in place of flour.  The savory meat filling is cooked in a skillet, spooned into ramekins, topped with a creamy cauliflower mash topping, and then briefly broiled until bubbly.  Even though it's "skinny", it's delicious, full of flavor, and husband approved! 

Cauliflower Mash Topping:
Serves 3-4

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets  
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste 

Meat Filling:  

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil 
  • 1/2 c onion, minced 
  • 1 c carrots, chopped 
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/4 lb lean ground beef 
  • Splash dry red wine 
  • 1/2 c beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • 1/2 c frozen corn 
  • 1/4 c reserved mashed cauliflower 
  • 6 oz plain fat free Greek yogurt 
  • 2 tbsp mashed cauliflower 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste 


Prepare the cauliflower mash topping.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and boil until soft.  A fork should easily pierce through the cauliflower.  Drain the cauliflower well.  Return the drained cauliflower to the pot.  Add the butter, garlic, and cheddar.  Puree the mixture with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.

Prepare the meat filling.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and carrot and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  Add the beef and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the beef is no longer pink.  Add the wine, beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, and parsley, peas, and corn to the mixture.  Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn the heat down to low.  Stir in 2 tbsp of the mashed cauliflower and Greek yogurt.  Cook for 1 minute longer.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  

Assemble the shepherd's pie.  Spoon the mixture evenly into ramekins (I used three 6-inch ramekins) or a baking dish.  Spread the mashed cauliflower evenly on top.  Sprinkle some additional cheese on top, if desired.

Broil uncovered until the cauliflower topping is heated through and bubbly.  Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before serving.


July 22, 2014

Quick Shrimp & Vegetable Stir Fry with Jasmine Rice

I am obsessed with my griddle.  It was a gift from my lovely mother last Christmas, and I honestly don't know how I survived without it before!  This past spring and summer, I have literally cooked 90% of my meals on it.  I especially enjoy making stir fry on the griddle because there is much more cooking surface to work with.  In this stir fry, I used freshly picked organic zucchini from the garden, and all of the other ingredients used were organic, with exception of the Jasmine rice.  I still have some left in my pantry from before we started switching to organic ingredients.  

This happens to be week 4 of switching to organic ingredients.  I've also made the switch to organic shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, etc., but I'll spare you the details since this is a food blog and all.  I'll admit, there have been times here and there that I've cheated for the sake of convenience.  I can't always drive 20 minutes to Wegmans when I run out of bread and my daughter wants a sandwich stat.  I guess that will all come with better planning on my part.  It has definitely been a fun learning experience.  We also still have more items in our fridge and pantry that we have to use up before we switch those over to organics, but I'm excited to see our progress thus far.  

July 16, 2014

Pan-seared Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi is one of my favorite fish to eat.  It's a hearty, yet delicate, mild-flavored fish with a slight sweetness to it.  In this recipe, I pan-seared it in a little butter and garlic, and then topped it with a fresh and crunchy homemade mango salsa.  Light, healthy, bursting with flavor, and ready in 20 minutes - yet another perfect summer dish!  

July 15, 2014

Our Favorite Guacamole

The first time I introduced my husband to guacamole, he was not a fan of it.  At.  All.  I, on the other hand, am a self-proclaimed guacamoholic.  It's very healthy, but I try hard not to overindulge because of the high calorie count.  A few years back, we fell in love with these beautiful salads at a local Mexican restaurant that included a little side of guacamole.  I don't know if it was because they used less lime than we were used to, but my husband was hooked... and so was my little sous chef!  This recipe is my copycat version, and it's pretty darn close.  It's delicious, creamy, and very easy to make.  We like our guacamole smooth and creamy with a few chunks here and there, but if you prefer it chunky, just mash less.  

July 8, 2014

Skinny Skillet with Turkey Sausage, Summer Vegetables & Gemelli

This savory summer skillet is satisfying, skinny and speedy.  Try saying that 5 times fast!  Turkey sausage is sauteed with fresh summer vegetables and then tossed with a little red wine, fat free milk, Parmesan, and gemelli pasta.  It's a delicious meal that is low in calories, low in fat, and ready in under 30 minutes.  That's pretty perfect for summer!

So, I've been holding fast to cooking with only organic ingredients.  I've also been trying to stick with non-GMO whenever possible.  Thankfully, we have stores like Whole Foods, Landis, and Target nearby that have a great variety of organic ingredients to choose from.  Trader Joe's is next on our list to try, so I'll keep you posted.  It has definitely been a fun and rewarding process.  As if food wasn't already always in the forefront of my mind, it has made me even more conscious about the ingredients that I'm using and the decisions that I'm making.  Yes, I've spent a little extra in grocery money, but I've actually seen some savings in it!  Instead of planning just my meals for the week, I'm also thinking about my husband's lunches.  So, instead of packing my husband the usual two days or so out of the week, I've been packing his lunch 100% of the time.  Ordering out for lunch can be so expensive!  Another savings that I can already see is with not wasting food.  Yes, we would try our hardest to not waste anything, but sometimes we'd find something way in the back of the fridge that would go unnoticed.  If I'm spending the extra cash on organic ingredients, I'll be darned if one crumb of our food goes to waste!

Fun Whole Foods Finds:  The mild turkey sausage used in this recipe is made fresh at Whole Foods.  It's $6.99/lb., but I only use 1/2 pound (two links) of it at a time, so it ended up costing $3.99 for this meal.  It has lovely hints of anise and fennel, and, even though it's labeled "mild", it has a little spicy kick to it that we just love.

July 3, 2014

Bruschetta Chicken

Tomatoes are in season!  There's nothing quite as delicious as a ripe, freshly picked tomato, and I had some lovely organic ones that I wanted to use with dinner.  I decided to make one of my family's favorite meals, bruschetta chicken.  The chicken is incredibly juicy, and the bruschetta topping is light and delicious - a fresh taste of summer!  It's made on the stove top, so you don't have to heat up the oven, and ready in under 30 minutes.  It's the perfect summer meal! 

We've been trying to use organic foods whenever possible. I've used organic ingredients many times in my cooking, but this is one of the first meals that I've made using nothing but organic ingredients.  Switching to cooking with only organic ingredients isn't as easy as I thought it would be.  You have to remember everything right down to the cooking oil that you use.  While I was prepping my ingredients, I realized that I had forgotten to purchase bread crumbs.  Thankfully, I had a loaf of organic, 100% whole wheat bread, so I decided make the bread crumbs myself.  They turned out fantastic!   

Note about homemade bread crumbs:  You can store the bread crumbs at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  You can also freeze the bread crumbs.  To freeze, do not bake them first.  Simply place them in an airtight container and freeze.  When you are ready to use them, allow them to thaw, and then bake them.  

June 27, 2014

Cherry Crumble Bars

Oh, how I love sweet cherries!  They are in season for far too short a time, so I jump on them as soon as I see a good sale.  As a little girl, I remember my Grandmommy putting them in the freezer, pits and all.  Later on in the evening, we would take them out and enjoy them as a frozen treat.  I've carried on that sweet "tradition" with my little sous chef, but I wanted to use them in something special now that she's out of school.  I decided to make crumble bars, and they turned out fantastic!  They are a perfect summer treat for breakfast or dessert!  

A note on pitting cherries:  Once cherries go on sale, I immediately put them in my freezer, without pitting them.  Once I'm ready to use them, I run them under warm water in a colander for a minute or two in order to partially thaw them out.  I then pit them using a pastry tip.  When the cherries are partially frozen, they are easier to pit and the juices don't run everywhere.

June 21, 2014

Asian Salmon Burgers with Orange-Ginger Slaw

School is out and we've been busy enjoying the beautiful weather, so blogging has kind of taken a little backseat these past two weeks.  These salmon burgers are a great summer meal because they're easy, delicious and ready in 15 minutes!  You don't have to spend copious amounts of time prepping and cooking, so you can spend more time with family and friends.  Happy Saturday!

June 9, 2014

Black Plum & Ginger Jam (Without Pectin)

Making your own jam is a great way to preserve any in-season fruits that you may have lying around the house.  This black plum and ginger jam is so easy and is made without pectin.  The ginger gives the jam a wonderful little kick.  It's soft, sweet, slightly tart, and spreads like a dream!  

June 2, 2014

Skillet Mexican Pie with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I'll be dreaming of this Skillet Mexican Pie for a while!  It was a gorgeous, sunny weekend, but we spent the better half of it indoors because my little sous chef came down with a fever.  While she napped, I found myself with a few spare hours to play around in the kitchen.  I had a lot of cilantro, avocado, and tomato, so I used those ingredients to create this Mexican dish.  It packs in intense Mexican flavor in each bite - a fiesta for your mouth!  There's no need to fire up your oven because it's all done on the stovetop in just one skillet.  Multigrain tortillas are layered with an easy & delicious homemade enchilada sauce, seasoned beef and pork, black beans, corn, and cheese!  Garnish it with avocado, cilantro, tomato, and sour cream and you have a little slice of heaven on a plate! 

Note:  To kick up the spice a bit, substitute the mozzarella cheese with pepper jack.  You can also leave the seeds in the jalapeno for an extra punch.  

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