Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shepherd's Pie

I'M BACK. Back and ready. You know how I can tell that it's been a really long time since I last updated this blog? In my last post I had just seen Man of Steel and liked it. Now we're almost three years later, and in the meantime I got a new job, moved to a different part of the country, and both saw and hated the absolute shit out of Batman v. Superman. Amazing how things change. 

But food. Food never changes. 

With that in mind, for whatever reason I had a massive hankering for Shepherd's Pie a few weeks ago. Yeah, I can't explain it either, but it was an itch that had to be scratched. Without further ado...

I didn't eat the speaker. We don't eat music in this household.


For the potatoes: 

- 1 1/4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 2 oz. unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:

- Some olive oil
- 1 chopped yellow onion
- A whole lot of peeled and diced carrots
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lb or so of ground lamb
- Half a tiny can of tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- As much worcestershire sauce as your heart desires
- Some freshly chopped rosemary leaves
- Some thyme leaves
- A bag of frozen corn kernels
- A bag of frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to taste

I, uh, may have forgotten to use the eggs you see in the background.

The Process:

The temptation to get a few bags of those powdered mashed potatoes was strong, but to hell with that. I live for the #content. I firmly grasped my Irish roots and peeled the bejeezus out of about half a bag of potatoes, chopped them up to about a 1/2 inch dice, threw them all in a big pot, covered them with cold water, set the stove to high and waited for it to come to a boil. Once that happened, I covered it, put the heat on low and let them simmer for about 15 minutes or so. 

Yep. Sure looks like potatoes.

While the potatoes are cooking, do whatever you want. It's your life! Actually, don't. This isn't The Purge. I decided to make some filling. If you want to do that too, chop up your veggies.

I like carrots. So should you. That is, unless you're a MONSTER.

Grab a smaller pot, turn the burner up to medium, throw in some olive oil, and then do the same to the lamb. Once that looks all brown and tasty, dump in the veggies. Actually, now is a good time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees as well.

 *extremely Homer Simpson voice* oooooh baby

Whenever those are cooked to your liking, sprinkle in a little bit of flour, let that coat everything and cook for another minute. I'm going to be honest, I have no idea what that does, but it sounded good, right? Toss in the tomato paste, chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme. Sorry not sorry for getting that song stuck in your head just now. You know the one.

That'll do, pig. Lamb. Whatever. You're not the boss of me.

Bring that pot of delicious to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Does that sound familiar? It should! Hey, speaking of which, your potatoes should be done cooking by now. Oh, they're not? That's fine. I'll play the waiting game.

*taps foot impatiently*

Eh, the waiting game sucks. Let's play Hungry Hungry Hippoes!

Dump out your potatoes into a colander and put them back in the saucepan. What now, you ask?

"And Hulk." *GRUNT* "Mash." *GRINS*

Yeah, do that. Do it REAL HARD. Throw in the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and then MASH THE HELL OF IT AGAIN. Y'know, just for the heck of it. 

Yeah, that's more like it.

By now your filling should be about done cooking down. 

Mmmmm. Meat.

Add in the frozen peas and corn kernels, and stir it around. Then ladle the filling out into a waiting 13x9 casserole dish.


Add the potatoes on top and spread them out with the back of a spoon or something. Get creative! Or just use the back of a spoon. Either way it's kind of a pain in the ass, but ooooohhhh my god it is so worth it.

*sinisterly rubs hands together* yesssssssss

I put my dish on top of a pan because I wanted to make sure it didn't boil over and spill everywhere in the oven (no that hasn't happened to me before, why do you ask), but you can do whatever. Put it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. 

And then...

*insert choir of angels singing here*

Well, it's technically still cooking in there, so I guess I should let it sit for about 15 minutes or so and just kick back and rel-OH SHIT FUCK THE SEASON PREMIERE OF GAME OF THRONES IS STARTING IN 90 SECONDS MOVE IT MOVE IT MOVE IT.

The Verdict:

It's good. It's really good. Like really good. Possibly would've been better in the winter, but this seems like it'd be a good move year round. Plus the leftovers lasted me for almost a whole week. Highly recommended. Pairs well with IPAs and shows that regularly feature infanticide.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lentil and Bacon Soup


So this past week, I went to a screening of Man of Steel, and it was about as much goofy fun a I expected (ACTIVATE THE WORLD ENGINE). However, it turns out that staying up really late on a weeknight to see a movie wreaks havoc on me the next day. I felt like garbage and needed something relatively easy to make without needing a ton of stuff from the store. I knew there was a bag of lentils that had been sitting in my pantry for ages, so I googled around for a lentil soup recipe, and lo and behold!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin

6 slices diced turkey bacon
A PHANTOM DRIVE (Note: Not really)


First, dice up all of your veggies. I know the ingredients don't ask for a ton, but in this house we subscribe to the James Franco School of Cooking

Why don't you super size it 

So there we've probably got about five or six carrots, a whole celery heart, and two onions. Perfect. Now, I figured that since the original recipe didn't call for any meat, I'd improvise a little. 3 minutes in the microwave later...

Ahhh, now we're cooking with something akin to gas. Now throw in all of your veggies into a big ol' 6-quart pot and and let them sauté until the onions get translucent.

Then throw in everything else and let it come to a boil.

Cover it with a lid, reduce your heat to low and let it simmer for about 35-40 minutes. I had to hunt down my lid for this pot, and it turned out to be buried underneath a pile of empty grocery bags, and had been for a long time. It was pretty nasty looking, and then of course I turn it over and look at the bottom and OH GOD SPIDERS.

So yeah, had to improvise a bit there and use a lid that was way too big, but had the added benefit of having not been touched by nightmare creatures. After that debacle, it was time to figure out a way to forget about SPIDERFEST 2013. Let's check in with Superman for any ideas.

The man makes a solid point.

So 40 minutes later, let's check up on the soup.

That'll do, pig. If you want, you can blend it a bit with an immersible blender, but I only used it for about three seconds before I realized it'd probably be better without it. Ladle it out into a bowl and crack a little pepper into it (or toss some sriracha in there if you're feeling adventurous), and you're all set to go!


Oh boy, this one is a keeper. One and a half bowls kept me full all night, and the leftovers have made for great lunches for the past five days. It'd probably work even better during the winter. Pairs well with shows about the failings of American institutions.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mediterranean Chicken

Does anyone in this family even know what a chicken tastes like?

Long time no see, folks! Much like Arrested Development, I have returned. Since the last time this blog existed, I graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and made money. So has the crockpot been used since the last time I posted on here? Yeah, a few times, but it's seen better days.

Some melting may have occurred. Long story. ANYHOO, because Arrested Development came back today, I decided to fix up a super easy chicken dish so I could use as many chicken dance gifs as possible.

That's better. On with the show!

Mediterranean Chicken
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 8 or 9 oz package of frozen artichoke hearts
1 cup of chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives or 1/4 cup of capers, drained
1/2 cup dry white whine or chicken broth (I used chicken broth, because I'm cheap like that)
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
Some quinoa because why not

The Process:
Dump the mushrooms, undrained tomatoes, frozen artichoke hearts, chicken broth, onion, olives or capers and wine/broth into the crockpot and stir it around.

And then toss in the tapioca, curry powder, thyme, salt, and pepper. STIR, DAMN YOU.

Finally, throw in the chicken and spoon some of the veggie mixture over them.

Cover it up and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 3.5-4 hours. Go have a productive day! Or do what I did and watch Star Trek movies/Arrested Development episodes. One day you too can be as cool as I am.

Anyway, let's check back on the food!

Oh my, yes. Heat up some quinoa to serve with the chicken aaaaand

The Verdict:

Let's go to noted food critic James Cromwell. James, what do you think?

Agreed. The curry powder and herbs de provence really added a distinctive and delicious flavor, and you guys, there's so many leftovers. Pair with a cop movie because why not.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gourmet Mac and Cheese, with Squash and Four Cheeses

Chances are pretty good that, if you're reading this, you've made plain ol' Mac and Cheese before. The box, the pouch, a little butter and milk and then BOOM. Done. The only problem with that is it's boring. Kenny G-levels of boring. Regular mac and cheese just doesn't do it for me the way it used to, no matter how much I've tried to spice it up. Speaking of which, don't ever get drunk, make mac and cheese and then add a half cup of crushed red peppers for some kick. That way lies madness. Trust me.

Anyway, there was a little get together this weekend, and I said I'd whip something up for it. My mom made this way back when I was high school, and I loooooved it. Whether or not people would go as gaga for it as I did wasn't exactly sure, but I liked my chances. Looking at the recipe, I realized it was pretty easy and cheap, so hey, why not?

Too bad it apparently killed one of my pots.

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Source: From a friend of my parents, so no link today, folks!


One 16 ounce box Elbow Marcaroni
Two 10-oz packages frozen pureed winter squash
2 Cups Lowfat Milk
1 1/3 Cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2/3   Cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 Cup Part Skim Ricotta cheese  
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne powder

2 Tbs plain dry bread crumbs
2 Tbs fresh grated Parmesan or pecorino romano (use whatever you've got)
1 tsp olive oil
Note: I rattled off a bunch of different cheeses, but you can really use any combo you want. Be a mad cheese scientist and experiment! Just be sure not to play god...

The Cooking:

First off, preheat your oven to 375. The recipe I've got says to coat your 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray, but I completely forgot to do that and it turned out ok, so feel free to skip this if you want to.

Then cook up the macaroni, drain it and transfer it to the dish. Look, you guys know how to cook pasta, so I'm not gonna waste your time explaining this part. Cool? Cool.

Ahhh, now for the best part: The sauce. Throw your milk and still frozen-squash into a medium-sized saucepan.

Cook it over low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash occasionally with a spoon until it's defrosted and looks a lot like this.

During this part, I could hear some hissing coming from under the pot, so I took a peek down there. It looked like the bottom was sweating, and it was dripping onto the burner. I figured since I threw in something frozen, the moisture from the frozen squash was making the bottom of the pot sweat and drip water. Turns out that idea was total bunk, but I didn't realize that until I was extremely hungover the next morning.
Ooh, right. The recipe.
When the squash is completely defrosted, crank the heat up to medium and get the mixture to near-boiling. When you start to see steam rise from it, remove the saucepan from the heat and dump in all the cheeses and spices. Stir it around a few times to make sure everything's melted, then ladle it on top of the macaroni in the baking dish.

What you're supposed to do now is throw the topping ingredients into a small bowl, mix them around, sprinkle them on top of the mac and cheese, then put the dish in your oven for about 20 minutes (or until the cheese is bubbly). I didn't do any of that because the sauce took a wee bit longer to make than I expected, and I had to book it to my friends' house to put it in their oven. That also explains the lack of more pictures with this recipe.

How'd it turn out, you ask? People really liked it! Turns out to be pretty delicious potluck/pregame fodder. I have a picture that accurately describes my reaction upon tasting it here somewhere...

No wait, that's not the one.

That's more like it. Anyway, while cleaning up my hellhole of a kitchen in the "Oh god, I'm still drunk" phase during the next morning, I noticed something weird on my stove.

See that yellow spot? The sauce was apparently leaking through the bottom of my pot. This means I'm out a two-quart pot for the time being. Fuck. 
But hey, the sauce was worth it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blues-Bustin' Beef Stew

It's February, which means it's time for the Superb Owl, Valentine's Day, and snow. Lots and lots of snow.  Lots and lots of snow.

There's a car under there somewhere. Damn you, Mr. Freeze. To combat days such as these, my buddy Matt came up with this bangin' beef stew to lift up your spirits, so without further ado...

Blues-Bustin' Beef Stew

Source: Matt's very own recipe blog, where you can find other delicious dishes.

- 1 to 1 1/2 lbs cubed stew beef
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used olive oil)
- Salt and pepper
- Various other veggies (I'll explain later)

The Cooking:

First things first, throw your olive oil onto a 12 inch skillet, and heat it up to medium. Once it gets hot, dump in the beef.

While they're cooking, separate them if you can. This'll make flipping them over less of a hassle. Also toss some salt and pepper on top of them. How much is up to you, but I like my meat with a bit of kick, so I threw on lots and lots and lots of pepper. After about 2-3 minutes, flip them so the browned side faces you.

Close enough. Salt and pepper them again while the other side browns. DON'T cook them the entire way through, just enough to brown 'em. After another 2 minutes or so, throw the beef into your crock pot and drain your skillet of excess fat. Now throw the diced onions into your skillet

We're gonna let 'em brown for about 20 minutes on medium heat. Make sure an eye on them though, lest you want to end up like me and damn near burn the stupid things.

Whatever, they still tasted just fine. When they're sufficiently browned, toss in your garlic and cook for another two to three minutes or until you can smell the garlic. When that's all done, toss it in 'ye olde crock pot. Keep that skillet handy, because now we're going to toss in the diced tomatoes and the cup of red wine.

Blech. I used an extremely cheap Aussie cabernet sauvignon that tasted atrocious, which means it's perfect for cooking! Bring it to a boil, but for fuck's sake don't reduce it! When it's done throw it all into the crock pot.

Mmmmm. Matt said all this looked a little lacking for a hearty stew, and I'm inclined to agree, so I followed his lead and threw in some potatoes, carrots and celery. Make no mistake, you can throw in pretty much any ridiculous veggie you like and it'd probably taste delicious, so do it!

Now that's what I call pod-racing! Give it a quick stir, turn the heat in the pot to low and let it cook for 7-8 hours.


Ohhhhhhh baby.

So tasty. So filling. So easy to make. Comfort food at it's finest, especially when you're fighting off the cold from hell. Great for entertaining or if you just want to feed yourself for the next week with leftovers. You should go make this. Like now.