Holiday Shepherd’s Pie (Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie)

December 22nd, 2011 by kelley

Holiday Shepherd's Pie

I learned my lesson:  18 pounds of turkey is too much for 10 people even for Thanksgiving.  Even after pawning leftovers (not that it was difficult), I was still drowning in turkey.  What’s a girl to do?  The obvious solution is turkey pot pie, but, ahem, somebody around here thinks that is just gross.

Alas, no turkey pot pie for me, but I did at least get some kind of pie–a turkey twist on shepherd’s pie.  It was different, and delicious, and I’m sharing with you in time for you to make plans with your leftover Christmas turkey.

Holiday Shepherd's Pie

Sweet Potatoes
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 ounces Greek yogurt
nutmeg to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Turkey Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pounds roasted turkey, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 hot pepper, any variety, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
4 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 can niblet corn, drained
1/2 can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Make the sweet potatoes:

  1. Add the potatoes to large pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until potatoes are tender, about 30-35 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and add Greek yogurt, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  3. Mash potatoes with masher or cream with mixer.

Make the turkey chili (while potatoes are boiling):

  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add hot pepper, bell pepper, garlic and turkey to onions.  Stir in the spices.
  3. Once peppers begin to get soft, add black beans, corn, and tomato sauce.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add broth and simmer until it cooks down and thickens, about 10 minutes.

Make the shepherd’s pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Transfer chili to casserole dish.
  3. Spread sweet potatoes over chili.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg and paprika.
  5. Bake shepherd’s pie about 10 minutes to allow sweet potato topping to firm.

Pink Lady Cake

October 31st, 2011 by kelley


As soon as I saw this cake many months ago, I knew exactly who was going to have one.  It had my niece’s name written all over it.  If there is anything she loves as much as pink, it is either cake or strawberries. Combine all three, and she’s in heaven.


Unfortunately, strawberry season had come and gone, and I still hadn’t fabricated an excuse to bake this cake for the little princess who steals everyone’s heart.  Somehow, the stars aligned and I came across not only edible, but delicious fresh strawberries the week of her family birthday dinner.  (You can use frozen strawberries, in fact, the original recipe calls for them since they are reliable year-round, but I was thrilled to use fresh, and have some for decorating, too.)


The cake was a hit.  She loved it.  Pink.  Strawberries. Cake.  Make it for a special lady in your life.  Oh, and perfect for a little girl baby shower.


Pink Lady Cake Recipe

adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of the Sky High recipe

4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
3 drops red food dye

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble strawberry ice cream at this point.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and red food dye to blend. Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition.
  4. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
  5. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.

Make the cream cheese frosting

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
  3. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Frost and assemble the cake

  1. Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Tucking scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake will protect the board or plate from any mess created while frosting the cake.
  2. Spread frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge.
  3. Repeat with the second layer.
  4. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, reserving a small amount if you wish to tint it and pipe a decoration on the cake.  Remove the waxed strips to reveal a neat, clean cake board.

Fresh Tomato Cream Pasta Sauce

September 5th, 2011 by kelley

Fresh Tomato Pasta Cream Sauce

Tis the season of fresh tomatoes, vine-ripened in the garden.  Summer isn’t complete until we’ve had pasta with fresh tomato sauce, and also until the heat and humidity give us a break.  But more importantly, homemade pasta, with fresh from the garden tomatoes.

To make this sauce, I went to my trusted America’s Test Kitchen and read up on their idea of the best recipe.  Unlike the old rule of letting the sauce simmer for hours on end, they claimed that fresh tomato sauce really should only cook for 10 minutes, to keep that fresh garden flavor. What? A great dinner in 10 minutes (except the time prepping the tomatoes)–they were right about that, though I added some more herbs and garlic.  This really does taste garden fresh, so heed the 10 minute recipe.

Fresh Tomato Cream Pasta Sauce Recipe Makes 3 servings

Adapted from The Best Italian Classics

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
pinch salt
cracked black pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium-low heat.
  2. Add  onions and garlic and sauté until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until any liquid given off by the tomatoes evaporates and the tomato pieces lose their shape to form a chunky sauce, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add heavy whipping cream to sauce and simmer until cream thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano.

Blueberry Muffins

June 26th, 2011 by kelley

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins have always been one of my favorite breakfast foods, but like many other things, I’m particular about these, too.  I don’t need anything fancy, and I think that having a streusel top is just extra calories to get between me and the blueberries.  For me, there is no such thing as too many blueberries, so I cram as many into the batter as I can.  In fact, it looks pretty much like blueberries just glued together. Then, I throw a few more blueberries on top after spooning the batter into the muffin cups.  Every bite should be full of blueberries, and if you take this approach, it will be.

If you do like a crumble topping, you can add that on.  Just mix a little softened butter with some brown sugar, and put it on top just before putting the pan into the oven.

Blueberry Muffin

Blueberry Muffins Recipe  Makes 12 large muffins.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in large bowl.
  3. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg in small bowl.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and very gently combine. Having a few lumps and streaks of unmixed flour is ok.
  5. Gently fold in blueberries.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups or muffin pan.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for five minutes.  Then move muffins to cooling rack and allow to cool for an additional five minutes.  Serve warm.

Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup

May 31st, 2011 by kelley

Candied Ginger

I think that homemade candied ginger is so great that everyone should have some.  My family calls me the ginger pusher because I give the ginger and the syrup to everyone as gifts.   My family laughs, but I’ve noticed that they keep asking for more.  Aside from just noshing on this ginger, my favorite thing to do is make these scones, which make it to every brunch I serve.

Ginger Syrup

I like to slice the ginger as thinly as possible, so I use my mandoline.  It makes the work a lot faster and easier, but I have certainly made this ginger many times without one.  Using a thermometer is also helpful, but if you don’t have one, you can just eyeball it.  Once the liquid is the consistency of thin honey, the ginger is ready.  Be sure to save the syrup–it is absolutely delicious on pancakes and waffles.  You can also mix a bit with seltzer water for a homemade ginger ale, or make some homemade granola.

Candied Ginger

Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup Recipe

1 pound ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups sugar, plus additional for coating ginger
4 cups water

  1. Put ginger in a large pot, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Allow ginger to simmer for 20 minutes.  Add more water if necessary to prevent ginger from boiling dry.
  2. Drain ginger.
  3. Combine ginger, sugar, and water in the pot and put over medium high heat.  Cook until temperature of the liquid reaches 225 degrees.
  4. Remove ginger from heat and drain, but keep the syrup.
  5. Toss ginger in sugar to coat, if desired.  Spread into a thin layer and allow to dry overnight.

Spiced Almonds

April 30th, 2011 by kelley

Spiced Almonds

Here is an easy appetizer/dessert/snack.  Toasted almonds, sweetened with a bit of spice.  Sure, it is easy to just open a can of nuts to serve at your next party, but that is ordinary.  Entertain in style in 8 short minutes and 6 ingredients.  These are a tasty, fun treat that fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

Spiced Almonds

Spiced Almonds Recipe

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups skin-on raw almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet o medium-low heat.
  2. Add  almonds, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
  3. Stir often while toasting until fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 8 minutes.

Edamame Dip

March 31st, 2011 by kelley

Edamame Dip

Edamame is delicious and healthy, but did you know that it is also a dip? At least it can be.  Throw a few ingredients in the food processor (or blender) and you’re set.  This dip is a great party food, appetizer, snack, or lunch.  It is also a fun, bright green that looks great in a pretty bowl with some chips or crackers on the side.  And did I say healthy? Seriously, how many dips can say that?

Edamame Dip Recipe

Adapted from Alton Brown

12 ounces shelled, cooked, and cooled edamame
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup parsley, tightly packed
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/4 lime juice
1 tablespoon brown miso
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. Place the edamame, onion, parsley, garlic, lime juice, miso, salt, hot chili sauce and black pepper into bowl of food processor and process for 15 seconds.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for another 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Once all of the oil has been added, stop, scrape down the bowl, and then process another 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning
  6. Serve with pita chips.

Cheese Potato Casserole

February 27th, 2011 by kelley

Cheese Potato Casserole

This is one of my all time favorite recipes.  I have served this to many people, both kids and adults.  It is a standby for an easy side, a last minute dish to take to work parties, a barbecue, or a potluck.  There is never a bite left.  People rave over it.  One avid cook/eater even declared this “the best hash-browns I have ever eaten.”

Cheese Potato Casserole

It is hard to go wrong with cheese and potatoes, especially when the recipe is basically throw a few ingredients in a dish and bake.  The beauty of this dish is that it is customizable.  I have made many variations including adding ham or bacon, but my favorite is to add mushrooms.  Just sauté a few with the onions and this can be a one-dish meal.  AND, this can be served as any meal or part of a meal.  Breakfast?  Yes.  Lunch?  It is great to take to work and just re-heat in the microwave.  Dinner?  As is, this makes a great side, especially with barbecue, but if you throw in some mushrooms, ham, or bacon there is no reason this can be the entrée.

Cheese Potato Casserole

Cheese Potato Casserole Recipe  Makes 5-6 servings

adapted from my mom’s family cookbook Secret Ingredients

1 lb frozen hash-brown shredded potatoes
1 C sour cream
3 T butter
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 small onion, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sauté  onion in butter over medium heat.  Then combine onions with hash-browns in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Fold mixture into hash-browns.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with paprika.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.

Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

January 30th, 2011 by kelley

Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

We had a baby!  More accurately, my brother and sister-in-law had a baby, but why get caught up in the details.  Madelyn was born January 17th, a whopping 8 lbs 3.9 ounces, but she looks so tiny compared to the pictures of her sister as a newborn, who was over 10 lbs at birth.


We knew Madelyn was coming that Monday, and I couldn’t wait to meet her.  How was I to pass the time in the morning before I could visit her in the hospital in the afternoon?  I knew I had to cook something.  I had a hankering for scones, I had some fresh lemons, so lemon scones it was.

Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

Just as we sat at the table to eat them, it occurred to me that this was only the second time I had made lemon scones, the first being for the baby shower last month.  Coincidence, or does little Maddie just scream lemons somehow?

Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze Recipe  Makes 8 scones

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.
  4. Stir in all the lemon zest and the juice of 1 1/2 lemons.
  5. Stir in heavy cream.
  6. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball.
  7. Shape and press the dough into an approximately 8″ circle, like a pizza.  Then cut into eight wedges.
  8. Place wedges on ungreased cookie sheet and bake until tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before eating.
  10. Combine powdered sugar and juice from 1/2 lemon to make glaze.
  11. Drizzle scones with lemon glaze.

Zucchini Bread

December 31st, 2010 by kelley

Zucchini Bread

The weather outside may be frightful, but the zucchini bread is so delightful.  Zucchini bread is great anytime, and I’ve never met a person who didn’t love it.  I like to serve a nice warm loaf to guests for breakfast. The leftovers, if you have any, are great for snack or dessert.

I felt inspired on Christmas to head out to Nashville’s Room in the Inn to volunteer to serve and celebrate with the homeless.  I decided against it, thinking that many others had the same idea and wouldn’t it be better to wait a week or so until the holidays are over and there isn’t a storm of volunteers.  So today, I made zucchini bread, miniature loaves to warm the souls of the homeless who surely would benefit to ending the old year and starting the new year with a little homemade treat.  I hope that sometime in 2011 that you will do the same.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread Recipe  Makes 1 loaf, or 7 miniature loaves

3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 X 5 loaf pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the sugar.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy.
  4. Mix oil and sugar into the eggs.
  5. Mix zucchini and vanilla extract into the egg mixture.
  6. Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture.
  7. Pour batter into pan and bake about 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean.