Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recipe #130: [Leftover Lamb and Mashed Potato] Shepherd's Pie

A 9.5 pound leg of lamb equals a lot of meat, even for feeding 7 people.  Mashing an entire bag of potatoes also leads to a good amount of leftovers.  Naturally, the leftovers were destined to make lamb shepherd's pie, but after all that cooking this weekend, I wanted to make it the easy way.  I found the perfect recipe, and it turned out fantastic!  ...although I think we have more leftovers now than we started with...


About a pound/3cups of leftover lamb roast meat, cut into small pieces
About 2-3c of leftover mashed potatoes
A small bag of mixed frozen vegetables (16 oz, if I remember correctly... the "typical" size)
8oz of sliced fresh mushrooms
Seasonings of choice (I used dried rosemary, salt and pepper)
Leftover gravy, if available
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
Shredded cheese (montery jack, marble jack, cheddar, or similar)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat olive oil in a deep pan, or pot.  Add in vegetables and mushrooms, cooking for a few minutes until tender.  Add leftover lamb meat, seasoning with herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Add about a half a cup of gravy, if available, and mix well.  Add the 2 cans of soup, mix well and heat through.

Spray/grease a 9x13 casserole dish and pour lamb mixture into the dish.  Spread mashed potatoes over the top, and sprinkle cheese over the potatoes.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recipes 125-129: The Menu From Foodie Night

I have several foodie friends that love cooking just as much as I do, and we love cooking for each other and being each others' guinea pigs for new recipes, or showing off some favorites.  Some of us decided to collaborate and make a big meal together, and it finally came to fruition at our house last night.  I was excited to set up our dining room all "fancy" and proper, with serving bowls, platters, water pitcher... And man did the house smell awesome!

The menu:

  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Sopa de Ajo/ Garlic Soup (with a side of seedless rye bread and rosemary infused dipping oil)
  • Roast Rosemary Lamb
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Butter Steamed Asparagus
  • Chocolate Covered Bacon  (oh yes, we did)

And of course a bunch of wine, whiskey (bourbon and scotch), beer, and even an interesting round of cognac.

And here's the recipes....

Recipe #125:  Dave & Julie's Sopa de Ajo/ Garlic Soup


3 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large eggs
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp smoked pimenton or paprika (pimenton is a spanish style, hot paprika)
1/4 cup stale bread, cubed, or salad croutons


Heat oil in a smaller pot over medium-high heat. Fry bread in oil until dark and crunchy. Add garlic, pimenton, a pinch of salt, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Saute until softened. De-glaze with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, heat a couple quarts water until simmering. Carefully crack the eggs into the water and poach until whites are set. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Ladle soup into bowls and add the egg. Sprinkle with a little chives for color.

To eat, break the yolk into the soup and mix.  Adjust ingredients according to the number served- about 1 egg per person, proportionally.

Recipe #126:  Roast Rosemary Leg of Lamb (variation)

Note-  I previously posted a roast lamb leg recipe here, so I'll just note my changes:

I intended to get a 6-7lb leg from the store, but they only had ONE left, and it was 9.5 pounds.  I figured eh, what the heck, I'll use the leftovers for lamb shepherd's pie.

This time, I let the leg sit out to come closer to room temperature for several hours before roasting.  I then cut slits into the meat on both sides and put slivers of fresh garlic into the slits.  I peppered both sides, and sprayed it with olive oil before pressing fresh rosemary leaves onto both sides.  I didn't use any butter this time.

I roasted it for 1.5 hours at 325, then turned it over, then roasted it another 45 minutes.  I then mixed a mostly-thawed can of lemonade concentrate with 1 packet of Lipton onion and mushroom soup, and poured it over the roast.  I then roasted it for 45 more minutes.  

This roast came out a bit more done than last time I did it due to timing.  We shut off the oven and let it sit until we were ready for it, after the soup, and I think it kept cooking some.  Even though it was less rare, though, it was still super tender.  So adjust cooking times according to your tastes.  

Recipe #127:  Skin-On Awesome Mashed Potatoes

I found this great recipe on, of course.  Sounds simple but tastes great! 



6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed  (WE LEFT THE SKIN ON!)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 teaspoon salt 
Dash pepper


Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil; cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. Drain well. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper; mash until light and fluffy.  (WE ALSO ADDED CHEESE!)


Recipe #128:  Simple Butter Garlic Asparagus

Simply take as much asparagus as you need to feed everyone, and cut off a few inches from the bottom.  Melt butter into a frying pan on the stove, and add the asparagus.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and stir to coat evenly with seasonings and butter.  Cover, stir occasionally, until tender-crisp, 5-10 minutes. 



Recipe #129:  Tom & Jenny's Chocolate-Covered Bacon

I asked Tom and Jenny how they did this.... I can't give you exact measurements but I think it's pretty straight forward... they melted down some dark chocolate, dipped some cooked bacon in it, and laid them on wax paper to cool.  Tada!!!  There were mixed reviews at both ends of the spectrum on this, so you have to judge yourself.  Personally, I loved the two flavors, but didn't feel that they mixed ever.... I felt at any given bite, I was either tasting chocolate, OR bacon, but not at the same time.  Not that there's anything wrong with either of those ;)



So there you go... you should have seen how many dishes we went through, but it was worth it.  Great food, lots to drink, fun friends.... who could ask for a better night?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Recipe #124: French Onion Soup

I've been wanting to make this for so long because it's by far one of Nick's favorite foods, but it took me forever to remember to get to the store to buy big enough ramekins for the oven-safe broiler part.  Nick approved of the soup and I loved how well the bread held together... can't wait to make this again!  It makes about enough for four people when I used 16oz ramekins, but it would be plenty easy enough to double this recipe for more.


1/2 cup (1 whole stick) unsalted butter
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (I then quartered them so it would be less sloppy)
Salt and ground pepper (I didn't even need pepper)
5 cups brown broth (I used beef)
2 bay leaves
1/2lb Gruyere cheese (I used mozzarella on the soup, and Jarlsberg on top)
4-6 slices french bread, 1/2inch thick, toasted golden brown (I used italian and it was a great texture)


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the onions, season with salt, stir to coat well with the butter.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not yet browned, about 20 minutes.

Uncover, raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions turn a deep caramel brown, about an hour.  Take care to not let them burn.  (I did this for about 45 minutes or so)

Add the stock and bay leaves (I also added less than a cup of red wine!!), raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes longer to blend the flavors.  (I did this for about 20)

Preheat the broiler.

Discard the bay leaves.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.  (I didn't need to!)  Place heavy, flameproof serving crocks or bowls on a rimmed baking sheet.  Ladle the soup into the crocks, and sprinkle a little of the cheese onto the soup.

Top with the bread slices.

Top with the remaining cheese. 

Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, a few minutes.  Serve right away.

Recipe #123: Spinach and Avocado Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette

FINALLY!  New posts!!

Here's a simple to make and very different salad... you must like mustard to enjoy this one!  I really liked the combination of the leafiness, the creaminess of the avocado, and the really different dressing.  Well that pretty much covers the entire recipe...... So here goes!  (adapted to serve 2)


Spinach and spring leafy mix (I found a good 50/50 bag mix at Giant Eagle)
1 medium avocado
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (I used quite a bit more)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard


Wash and dry the leaves if necessary; tear into bite-sized pieces; place into bowls or one large serving bowl.

Peel the avocados and cut into thin slices.  Scatter over the leaves.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan.  Add the sesame seeds and cook over low heat until they just start to turn golden.  Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool slightly.

Add the lemon juice, remaining oil and mustard to the pan and stir to combine.  While still warm, pour over the salad and toss gently to coat leaves.  Salad is best served immediately.