Starter Recipe: Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

I have been making some version of “Shepherd’s Pie” for ages, but I wanted to try and make something that would be a simple recipe for others to duplicate.  This recipe is pretty healthy, has lots of “hidden vegetables”, and tastes absolutely divine… a perfect comfort food dish for those who are just learning to cook and those who are proficient.  HealthyShepherdsPie

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • Coconut oil – I used about a Tablespoon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 handful of baby carrots, diced
  • 1/2 sweet pepper, diced (I used 2 small yellow peppers)
  • 3 mushrooms, diced fine minus stems (I was trying to hide them)
  • 1 handful of frozen peas (added at the very end)
  • red wine (I like the flavor when added to ground turkey)
  • granulated garlic (or use fresh, if you have it)
  • salt/pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dollop ketchup
  • flour (use as a thickener – I just sprinkled some over the pan)
  • mashed potatoes (I used a batch of leftover potatoes, but use what you’ve got… if you don’t have any on hand, just boil two or three potatoes and mash with milk/butter)

Directions:

  1. Brown onion and carrots in coconut oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.  I then added the peppers and mushrooms but feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  This is a great way to use up things in your fridge!
  2. Once veggies are cooked, add the ground turkey and brown thoroughly.  I use a potato masher to get all the meat separated so it browns evenly.
  3. You’re now going to flavor your dish.  I always use red wine when I’m cooking ground turkey – I feel it adds a depth of flavor to the turkey and gives it a more “full” taste.  Once the wine was incorporated, I sprinkled granulated garlic, added salt and pepper, and flavored things with the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.  I like to add the ketchup in something like this because it adds a touch of sweetness without getting a cloyingly sweet/sugar taste.
  4. When the flavors are balanced, I sprinkled on some flour to thicken the dish and tossed in the frozen peas.  Stir all to combine and put into your serving dish.
  5. Top your dish with mashed potatoes.  I love to use this dish when I have leftover mashed potatoes but it’s not difficult to make a small batch of mashed potatoes if necessary.
  6. Bake this dish for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, in a 350 degree oven.  I love to serve this with garlic toasts (made from sliced ciabatta rolls, this is a simple side that can add a lot to the meal).

I hope you find this to be an easy recipe that makes your winter a little “warmer”.  Comfort food that doesn’t take hours to make is something that makes me very happy!  If you have any questions, as always you are welcome to message me and I’ll do my best to help walk you through the process.  Cooking should be fun and enjoyable… don’t stress over making it too “perfect”… it’s simply food and you’re feeding the ones you love.

Enjoy the process!

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Cheesy Red Chicken Enchiladas

In case I’ve never mentioned this, you should know that I love rotisserie chickens.  I take advantage of any chance I get, to pick one up and throw it into my freezer for use at another time.  It truly calms me to know that I can pull one out to make dinner on any given day.  I’m not sure when that started, but a full freezer and pantry can make me feel ready to tackle any obstacle that life may throw at me.  Maybe that’s why I love heading off to Sam’s Club or the local grocery store… but I digress… I want to share a great, easy recipe for chicken enchiladas that can be made from a rotisserie chicken and some staples from the pantry/fridge.  Doesn’t this look delicious??CheesyRedChickenEnchiladas (1)

Here are the ingredients:

  • a chicken from the freezer
  • dry red wine (use what you like or have on hand)
  • one can of pinto beans (or refried beans, your choice)
  • your favorite salsa – one jar
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt/pepper
  • flour tortillas (regular size, your favorite type)
  • cheese (I used an entire bag of 2% milk shredded sharp cheddar)

I pulled one of my frozen chickens out of the fridge and popped it into a large saucepan.  I added about an inch of water and about the same amount of red wine and let the liquid simmer around the chicken (flipping the bird over once or twice) until the meat was warmed and the liquid was nicely seasoned from the chicken.  I then lifted the chicken out of the liquid and allowed it to cool a bit before picking/shredding all the meat off the bones and poured the (now) broth into a measuring up for later use. NOTE: You can also use leftover chicken for this recipe.

I began to make the chicken mixture for inside the enchiladas.  Since I didn’t have a can of refried beans, I popped a can of pinto beans into a small chopper and pulverized the beans until they were *mostly* smooth. Since I had already used the large saucepan to cook the chicken (and so I didn’t have another pan/bowl to wash), I put all the shredded chicken back into the pan. I then added the smashed beans, some salsa, a little of the reserved broth mixture, and seasonings to complete the mixture for inside the enchiladas.

To assemble the dish, I put a bit of salsa and broth mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish to keep the enchiladas from sticking.  Put a heaping 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of a flour tortilla, fold the close end over the mixture and pull it back to make a “roll”.  Fold each side in, toward the center, and then roll the enchilada over to enclose the filling.  Place the enchilada, seam-side down, in the coated baking dish and repeat until all the chicken mixture is used and the baking dish is full.  I was able to make a total of 6 enchiladas with this amount of chicken/bean filling, but much will depend on how much you want to put inside each enchilada.  Once all the individual enchiladas are in the baking dish, coat lightly with salsa and sprinkle with lots of cheese (I used an entire bag of shredded cheddar).

You can pop this dish in the freezer at this point if you’d like.  I made this dinner in the morning and my family popped it into the oven so they had a hot dinner while I was at work.  You’ll pop this dish into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes… cover with foil to bake and remove foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese a bit.

You can serve this dish with a side salad, if you like.  My guys prefer to simply eat the enchiladas by themselves, so they each ate two, while I ate one when I got home.  It was great to have a home-cooked meal after work and I was so glad to have taken the time to put things together.  If you have the time, feel free to make this dinner in two separate dishes and pop one into the freezer for cooking later.  I’ve done this often and it’s a huge help to have a meal available for those days when you don’t feel like cooking or if you want to share a meal with a friend or neighbor.

Remember… I’m never far away if you’re having trouble with one of my recipes.  You can message me on Facebook (From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle) or via Twitter (@alisportshots) and I’ll get back to you asap!  Enjoy!

Red Turkey Lasagna

I have a confession to make…. I love lasagna.  Rarely will I order it in a restaurant because I know that I love the taste of this recipe and can’t imagine ordering something *out* that I can make myself.  I’m sure that there are tons of variations on this recipe… with or without meat, red sauce vs white sauce, cooked noodles vs the no-bake noodles… but this is my favorite “go to” recipe to use if I’m being honest.  It originally came from a Weight Watchers cookbook but, as with most anything I make, it’s been altered and adjusted to fit our unique tastes.  Here’s how I make it:RedTurkeyLasagna (1)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Dry red wine, about 1/2-3/4 cup
  • Spinach leaves (I used about 1 1/2 cups and sliced them fairly thin)
  • 1 large can pasta sauce (use your favorite… I like a basic meat sauce)
  • 1 16-oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon or so… I simply shake it on until it “looks right”)
  • freshly grated nutmeg (don’t go crazy on this… you just want a hint)
  • 1 package lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire package… I typically use about 9 or 10)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium high setting.  Brown ground turkey, using a potato masher to break up the meat into small pieces.  NOTE:This is the BEST way to brown meat, in my humble opinion. Add onion and red wine to the meat and cook until the wine is thoroughly incorporated.  Add spinach (or any other vegetables you care to add), cook until spinach wilts, then add pasta sauce and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Boil noodles, as directed on package, or immerse them in boiling water until softened.  Drain and set aside.
  • Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg whites, Italian seasoning, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Begin to layer your lasagna together. NOTE: I used a 9×9 pan and a 9×3 pan – normally, I’d simply use a single 9×13 pan.  This is where your noodle amounts may vary.  I used 11-12 noodles to cover these two pans, but the rest of the ingredients remained the same.  I also vary the direction of the noodle placement with each subsequent layer so the finished lasagna holds together well.  
  • Start by spooning a bit of the sauce to lightly cover the bottom of your pan(s). Place noodles over the bottom in a single layer.  Top with 1/3 sauce mixture, then dollop half of the cheese mixture over the sauce.  Repeat noodle, sauce, and cheese layers.  Top with noodles and final third of the sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan.  NOTE: If making ahead or freezing lasagna, this is the place to stop.  Cover with foil and pop in fridge or freezer, then allow dish to thaw overnight before continuing.
  • Cover and bake lasagna for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake until lasagna is bubbling and cheese is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to set for 5 minutes before serving.

As I mentioned, this is my favorite lasagna recipe.  Not only is it easy to make, it has delicious flavor and is a simple way of getting vegetables into your meal without much effort.  I like to add a side of garlic toasts to accompany this dish.

NOTE: To make garlic toasts, I start with a roll from the freezer (Ciabatta rolls work well for this, as do sub rolls).  Slice the frozen roll into bite sized slices and lay them on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray the slices with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic salt.  When you remove the lasagna from the oven, turn oven off and pop the baking sheet into the hot oven.  The toasts will crisp as the oven cools and be ready to eat by the time you finish plating the lasagna.  I put the garlic toasts into a wooden serving bowl and pitch the foil… no messy cleanup!

I hope you’ll try this lasagna recipe sometime… it makes an amazing dinner and is always appreciated by my neighbors if I am able to share.  Enjoy!