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Indian Summer - Autumn Fare

Posted Oct 09 2009 12:00am
So the weather outside today felt more like summer than autumn but I was still in the mood for my autumnal version of the perennial classic, Shepherd's Pie. I had some acorn squash that I was looking forward to cooking up, and Shepherd's Pie was the perfect use for it.

It's a simple meal, but both my DH and I love Shepherd's Pie. I especially love changing it up a little, as I did tonight. Enjoy!

Autumn Shepherd's Pie
1 lb of potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 acorn squash, cooked
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided
1 lb ground beef
2 TBSP flour
1 cup beef broth
2 TBSP ketchup
3-4 cups vegetables

First, make the mashed potatoes. Boil the potatoes and garlic in water or broth until tender (alternatively, you can just add garlic powder later in the mashed potato mixture). Mash the potatoes together with the cooked squash, yogurt, milk and 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

Brown the ground beef in a large pan. When it's completely browned, sprinkle the flour over it and stir in. Add the broth and ketchup; mix thoroughly. Add the vegetables (note on the veggies: you can use pretty much any veggie you have on hand, but root vegetables work especially well. I used a combination of carrots and acorn squash this time around. Also, frozen veggies work best; if you use fresh, steam them a little to soften them before adding them to the ground beef.) and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Pour the meat mixture into a casserole dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the mashed potato mixture over the meat mixture
Carefully spread the potato mixture over the meat mixture, sealing it in
Cook at 375 F for about 15 minutes or so, then top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until cheese is melted.

This recipe is so flexible: you can get really creative with the vegetables, and the cheese too. Try it also with ground turkey or chicken for different flavors.

Hmmm... QUICK is not the first adjective that comes to mind with this recipe, considering you have to make both a mashed potato mixture AND a ground beef mixture. However, if you think ahead, you can make future meals quick while you're at it: brown 2 lbs of ground beef instead of 1 and freeze it to use later on. Do the same with the mashed potatoes, and you're 2 steps ahead of yourself!

It is EASY, though. Each component is Cooking 101, easy for even the most basic cook.

CHEAP, yes. Potatoes, seasonal vegetables, ground beef... all inexpensive ingredients to make a hearty, satisfying meal-in-a-pot. It's like a casserole, so sides aren't even absolutely necessary, although a nice green salad would make a fine accompaniment.

Of course, it's HEALTHY with all those vegetables! Use your own broth and a non-HFCS ketchup to make it even healthier.

While you're here, take a few seconds and check out my new blog, When Food is Dangerous . It's dedicated to allergen-free recipes and intended to be a resource for parents of food-allergic kids. Only one post so far, but I'm definitely going to be adding more in the days and weeks ahead. Please pass this site along to anyone you know who may be interested and help me spread the word about it! Thanks!

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