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

December 22nd, 2011 by Kelley

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.

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

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.