Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hoot, Hoot

I am super, super, super excited to show you what I made for my daughter for Christmas. I sat down and worked like a mad woman on Friday night to get it done. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I had seen the most adorable bag on the Little Birdie Secrets blog back in October and just knew I wanted to make my own version for my daughter. I can't wait to see her carrying it around with all her little treasures inside it. So here is the big unveil.....Ta Da!
Hoot Hoot
He even has a little clump of tail feathers on the back side. Heehee! Love him!

I had a good friend over yesterday for lunch. I love trying out new recipes when we are having guests. I had seen Rachael Ray make a super yummy Shepherd's Pie awhile back on her show, so I dug through her archives, found it and made it. Here is the recipe....

Stretch a Buck Ultimate Holiday Shepherd's Pie
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground sirloin
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Ground black pepper
  • 9 to 10 sprigs (about 2 tablespoons) thyme leaves, removed from stems
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups beef stock, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons paprika

Preheat broiler.

Place potatoes into a medium saucepan with a dash of salt and enough cold water to submerge them completely. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the cooked potatoes and reserve them in the same pan they were cooked in.

While the potatoes are cooking, place a large, cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the ground sirloin to the pan and cook until browned, 5-6 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf and garlic to the pan and season everything with some salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender, 7-8 minutes, and then stir in the thyme leaves.

While the veggies are working, place a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt 3 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk 3 cups of the beef stock into the roux and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Whisk the Worcestershire and Dijon into the gravy. Season with salt and pepper and reserve warm.

When the veggies in the skillet are soft, add the remaining 1 cup of stock to the pan and stir to remove any bits stuck to the bottom and cook away most of that liquid. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the peas. Stir the prepared gravy into the mixture and reserve.

Mash the cooked potatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, milk, about 1 cup shredded Gruyere, chives and horseradish. Stir the egg into the mixture at the very end and stir well to fully incorporate it. Season with salt and lots of pepper.

Slather the mashed potatoes over the mixture in the skillet and top with the remaining Gruyere cheese. Place under the broiler to brown.

Garnish the shepherd's pie with paprika and serve straight from the skillet.

It was super yummy and pretty easy! I couldn't find the Gruyere cheese, so I used Monterey Jack and that worked fine. And I LOVED the horseradish in the mashed potatoes and might have to do that for Christmas. It gave it a yummy zing! I wouldn't add so much beef stock to the veggie/meat mixture next time. The stock didn't cook down like it said it would and it made it a bit soupy...but with the mashed potatoes on top, it was fine. I think you should all make this one soon.

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