I may not finish in 30 minutes but I make every effort to make it quick, delicious, and nutritious. Most of the time, I cook as many one dish meals as possible, preferring to spend my free moments with M, rather than in the kitchen. Here I am keeping M occupied while I cook. My secret? I give him a carrot to feed to his lovey, Cracker.
Recently, I made this dish that M really loves. I guess he's a meat and potatoes kind of guy. My secret to making this dish quickly is to combine cooking at the stove with cooking in the microwave and using a packet of brown gravy mix.
Easy Shepherd's Pie
(Actually, it's Cottage Pie because Shepherd's pie is traditionally filled with lamb.)
2 lbs ground round beef
1 onion, rougly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups frozen vegetables: carrots, corn, peas, or whatever frozen vegetables you have. (I used frozen spinach and chopped fresh carrots in this recipe. I always add closer to three or so cups of vegetables.)
2 chopped fresh zuchini
1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 large; add more if you want leftovers)
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup chicken broth (You can also substitute beef broth, but I think chicken broth makes it a little lighter.)
1 packet brown gravy mix
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of your choice
1) Peel and quarter potatoes. Microwave until softened.
2) While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons butter (1/4 a stick) in a large dutch oven.
3) Over medium heat, sauté onions in butter for about 10 minutes. Add fresh carrots and minced garlic. I chop the carrots into big chunks because it is much faster and cook them partially in the microwave. (Steaming the carrots in the microwave also allows me to be able to use the water from the steaming process later if I decide to. I feel better knowing that I am not throwing anything "nutritious" away.)
4) Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add the packet of brown gravy mix. Add in frozen vegetables and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 5 minutes, adding more broth as necessary to keep the mixture moist.
5) Mash potatoes in a bowl with the remaining butter and a bit of chicken broth. I microwave the chopped zuchinni and mash or use your immersion blender to mix in with the potatoes as well. (M will undoubtedly grow up thinking that all mashed potoes should be green.) Season to taste.
6) Spread the mashed potatoes over the beef and vegetable mixture. If you want more crispiness on top, use the fork to scratch the surface to create more surface area for crispy peaks.
7) Cook at 400 degrees until bubbling and brown (about 15-20 minutes). Broil for the last few minutes if necessary to brown.
We love this comforting and homey dish. Give it a try.