Friday, March 16, 2012

Pie Pilgrimage - St. Patty's Meal - Shepherd's Pie and Shamrock Cookies

Today's post is a trifecta of sorts.  There's a pie recipe to keep in line with my 2012 Pie Pilgrimage and there are two recipes in one post! 

Call it Irish luck.

Or, just call it, I didn't have time to post one of these earlier in the week so you're getting them all at once!

It's that time of the year when everyone is a little bit Irish.  Why is that?  Green has always been my favorite color, so I'm going with that excuse.  And I've often thought I'd like to visit Ireland someday, but I don't think they have palm trees there and I'm kind of partial to places with palm trees.  So, I don't know if that trip will ever happen.

If you're not into getting tipsy on green beer, yet you'd still like to make like a leprechaun, maybe you could make this recipe and feel like you did your part.

This recipe below for Shepherd's Pie was found in "And Stirred With Love," which is a cookbook of  "recipes and reflections shared by the Mary Kay family."  My sister-in-law used to sell Mary Kay Cosmetics and she gave me this cookbook many years ago as a Christmas gift.  Everyone knows I have a small problem with collecting cookbooks and they never fail to help supply the habit!  This particular cookbook is almost like one of those you get from a church group.  All of these talented ladies submitting there very best recipe for this or that and the recipes are written in such a way that you can almost hear them talking to you!

Shepherd's Pie
Here's What You Need:
1 onion, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
5-6 medium potatoes
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
peas, carrots, celery...

Here's What You Do:
First of all, I changed the recipe up just a smidge from how it was listed in the cookbook.  Also, this is a great recipe to make if you have leftover mashed potatoes or cooked veggies from a meal earlier in the week.  You'll see why...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking oil.  Peel, quarter and cook the potatoes in salted water until they are soft enough to mash.  While this is going on, brown the ground beef and add the onion.  You can toss in a tablespoon or two of butter if you like, especially if you used the ground turkey.  After the meat is browned, add the chicken broth and flour and stir over medium heat.  It will begin to thicken just a bit.  Cook any veggies you want to use.  I have a steamer for my microwave, so I tossed some peas and carrots and a little diced celery in there and microwaved until I knew they were just beginning to soften.  I sliced the mushrooms and added them to the meat for just a bit.  Place the meat mixture in the baking pan first.  Pour the steamed veggies on top.  Do not mix!  Mash the potatoes with some milk and butter.  It's okay if there are a few lumps!  It's also okay if you want to add some shredded cheddar cheese here too!  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of everything and pop it in the oven for about one hour. 

This is a very filling meal and you really don't need anything else to go with it except for maybe a salad for some extra veggies.  I guess all of the shepherd's needed to eat something like that before heading out to the pasture to watch over their sheep!  In reality, what I made here is cottage pie.  My research shows that a true Shepherd's Pie has ground lamb/mutton in it but a cottage pie has ground beef.  The rest of the process is the same.  We used to raise sheep when I was a kid and I never liked eating lamb then and I'm sure I wouldn't like eating it now!

And now for part two of this post!

I found the recipe for Shamrock Cookies on a blog I follow called Thirty Handmade Days.  Honestly, these could be called Heart Cookies, or Jack-o-Lantern Cookies.  I'll just call them quick and easy cookies!

I had asked permission from Owen's kindergarten teacher to bring in a fun, green treat to school today.  Knowing I would be busy and wouldn't have a lot of time to spend on it...that and, in reality, 5 and 6 year old kids really aren't impressed with fancy food and inhale it so quickly they probably don't even notice that the cookies are green, let alone that they are in the shape of a shamrock!

Shamrock Cookies
Here's What You Need:
1 box white cake mix
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
green food coloring/gel/paste

Here's What You Do:
Mix up all of the ingredients.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out a medium-sized ball of cookie dough and flatten it on a floured piece of wax paper.  Using a shamrock cookie cutter, cut out a shape and place on a cookie sheet.  Roll out another ball, flatten, etc.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Mine really spread out!  Different sized cookie cutters will likely yield different results. 

I bought two cake mixes thinking I wouldn't get enough from just one batch.  I got a little over 2 dozen and since they spread out into pretty big cookies, I'm just going to give them one cookie each which meant, I only had to bake one batch.  Yah!  Add some fun green punch and you've got a party fit for a 6 year old!

Happy St. Patty's Day to everyone!
(no matter where your family comes from)

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