Sunday, April 1, 2012

Guinness Shepherd's Pie

Maybe it’s the lack of Irish in me.. but I’m two weeks late to the St. Patrick’s Day party. Whoops! In all honesty, I had full intentions of cooking a delish Irish meal for some friends on St. Patricks Day.. but I got lazy and plans fell through. We ended up dining at an incredible little place in Downtown Charleston called Cru CafĂ©, so all was not lost.

Yep, you read it correctly. I have red (auburn) hair but I am NOT Irish. NOPE, not even a tiny little bit. In fact, 3 of my 4 grandparents can trace their lineage directly to the Mayflower. I’m 13 generations removed from Bradford, Brewster and Carver. No Irish at all. Not sure where this red (auburn) hair came from.

Can you tell I hate when people tell me I have red hair?

(it’s auburn…). 

Our unobserved Irish holiday (and a few extra cans of Guinness in the fridge) gave me the perfect excuse to experiment with one of my childhood favs, Shepherd’s Pie. Mmmmm I love Shepherd’s Pie. However, when I was growing up my mom’s Shepherd’s Pie was a lot more simple: Ground beef (usually turkey, actually), a layer of corn, and a layer of leftover potatoes. I’d smother it in garlic powder while the rest of the family enjoyed it bland. Guess I’ve always been a spice lover.

This recipe puts my mama’s to shame. (Sorry, Mom).

Guinness Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from
Serves 6

Mashed potato top:
1 1/2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform chunks
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and pepper

Meat filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil for your pan
6 medium carrots, chopped
1 cup red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, miced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoons ketchup
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cup Guinness beer
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn

Cut your potatoes into medium sized, uniform chunks. Place them in a pot and cover them with water. The water should only cover the tops of the potato chunks about a half inch. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Remove, drain, and mash your potatoes. Add the milk, butter, sour cream and some salt & pepper to your mashed potatoes. Continue to mash until smooth. Taste frequently (both for your enjoyment and to check flavor). Set aside.

Saute the carrots, onions, and garlic with a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Saute for 5-10 minutes until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften. 

Add the ground beef to the vegetable mixture and cook through. Then, add peas and corn and cook for a minute or so.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the meat mixture. Stir. Then, add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, and beer. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the liquid thickens and resembles a thick gravy.

Put the meat filling in an 11x7 inch Pyrex pan or round baker. Carefully spread the potatoes over the meat filling. Place your pan on a baking sheet (it WILL bubble over and cake to the bottom of your oven if you aren’t careful) and cook at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating.. unless you've developed a tolerance for eating molten lava. 


Lemon Pepper Shrimp

This shrimp recipe is a keeper. It’s light, lemony, and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. 

When you’re tired of the 2 week chicken/red meat rotation, I suggest trying this little baby out. Paired with some fresh veggies or roasted broccoli, it promises to satisfy even the hungriest of husbands (or roommates, or kids, or ..whatever).

Lemon Pepper Shrimp
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined uncooked jumbo shrimp
1 cup uncooked orzo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves)
Juice of one whole lemon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a bowl. Add a little bit of butter or olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. Stir in chopped parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover with foil and keep warm.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. You may need to do this in two batches depending on how large your shrimp are and how many shrimp fit in your pan. Remove shrimp from pan and place on a plate.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Then, stir in shrimp, lemon juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are cooked through. Serve over orzo. Enjoy!!

Roasted Broccoli

I love the thrill of a good deal. So, when I found a gigantic (3 lb?) bag of broccoli at COSTCO I just had to have it.

It turns out it’s pretty hard to use 3lbs of broccoli when you’re only feeding two people. I learned my lesson, and we ate so much broccoli that we almost turned green*.

*not really.

I vowed to use every broccoli floret in that bag and I DID. Triumph!

In an attempt to lazily use the last ¼ of the bag I came up with this quick recipe. I roast a lot of vegetables so it wasn’t that much different than anything I’ve done before. Roasted broccoli tastes A LOT different than raw or steamed broccoli. It’s nutty and juicy… And well, just plain delicious.

Rob loved it. I loved it. We ate the whole darn pan of it in one sitting.

Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4, (or two Block family members)

3/4lb broccoli florets & stems (cut the stems small if you’re using them)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

**other additions you might like: red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 450°.

Combine broccoli, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in an oven-safe baking dish.

Roast broccoli about 20 minutes, or until you can pierce stems with a fork. Your broccoli will be very slightly browned and wilted. Enjoy!!