Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Almost Paleo Shepherd's Pie

There are two dinners that Max asks for every week: chicken tikka masala and shepherd's pie.  He can't have them every week, because I enjoy a bit more variety in my food, but I do indulge him occasionally.

Now, my shepherd's pie has evolved quite a bit since I started making it in college.  I used to make it with many pre-packaged and convenience foods.  I've been trying to eat more real foods and switch my diet to a more paleo way of eating (gluten, grain, legume free, I still eat some dairy).  So, to make Max happy sometimes, I decided to make my shepherd's pie more paleo friendly and made with more real foods.

This turned out really well.  I've tweaked this a few times and this is my favorite version so far. I'm going to break this recipe into the different parts. Enjoy!

Almost Paleo Shepherd's Pie
created by: me!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 huge sweet potatoes, or 5 regular sized ones (You want enough to cover a 13x9 pan)**
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
**I love to use white sweet potatoes for this because it still looks like a traditional shepherd's pie.  The usually have white or purple skin and I get them at a regular grocery store for the same price as a regular sweet potato.
  1. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes.  
  2. Bring the cubed sweet potatoes to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes break apart with a fork easily.
  3. Drain water from pot and put the potatoes back in the pan.  Leave the burner on a low temperature for 3 or so minutes to steam off the extra water.
  4. Add the butter to the pan and start to mash the potatoes.  Add the salt, pepper, half and half, milk, and garlic salt and mash until smooth, or almost smooth, depending on your preference.
Mushrooms, Beef, and Gravy
  • 1 8oz (or more if you really like mushrooms) package of white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1lb grassfed beef (or traditional beef if that's what you have)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (the not really paleo ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon better than bouillon beef stock (again, not really paleo)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Add mushrooms and onion to the pan.  Saute until onions just start to become translucent.
  2. Add beef to pan.  Stir and cook until beef is cooked thoroughly.
  3. Pour in the water and add the bouillon.  Stir and sprinkle the cornstarch over the pan.  Mix this thoroughly to prevent clumping.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes to allow the cornstarch to thicken the "gravy."  Turn off heat.
Completed Shepherd's Pie
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Pour mushroom and beef mixture into a 13x9 pan.
  3. Layer frozen peas on top of beef.
  4. Gently spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top of the peas.
  5. Bake the Shepherd's Pie for 40 minutes.  You may want to put a cookie sheet under the pan because the gravy may bubble over.  The sweet potatoes will have little golden brown bits and some of the gravy might have escaped.  Yum!!
This makes 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are.  There are about 400 calories per serving in case you are counting that type of thing.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gluten Free Quiche

I still love baking and cooking, but I just have to be a bit more creative and have some forethought when doing it.  Max requested quiche for dinner this week and I searched everywhere for a gluten free pie crust.

Now, I don't typically eat any grains, but quiche sounded so good and the crust is small compared to the egg portion.

I was very unsuccessful with my attempts to find a gluten free pie crust until after I made the quiche...of course. I decided to bite the bullet and attempt baking something with the gluten free flour I was given for Christmas.

I found a recipe from King Arthur Flour and it was awesome.  It turned out flaky and tasty, even though I didn't even follow proper pie crust making techniques.  I hope you try this and enjoy!

  • Gluten Free Pie Crust
  • adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar


1) Lightly grease a 9" pie pan.
2) Whisk together the flour or flour blend, xanthan gum, and salt.
3) Cut the cold butter into pats, then work the pats into the flour mixture till it's crumbly, with some larger, pea-sized chunks of butter remaining.
4) Whisk the egg and vinegar or lemon juice together till very foamy. Mix into the dry ingredients. Stir until the mixture holds together, adding 1 to 3 additional tablespoons cold water if necessary.
5) Shape into a ball and chill for an hour, or up to overnight.
6) Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.
7) Roll out on a piece of plastic wrap, on a silicone rolling mat, or in a pie bag that's been heavily sprinkled with gluten-free flour or flour blend. Invert the crust into the prepared pie pan.
8) Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Yield: crust for one 9" single-crust pie.

Quiche Filling
8 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
6oz ham steak (I like Jones because its yummy and gluten free), chopped into small pieces
4oz Cabot Monterey Jack, sliced or shredded
1 frozen package of spinach, thawed and with water squeezed out

1) Whisk the 8 eggs.  Whisk in heavy cream.  Stir in the diced ham, cheese, and spinach.  Make sure the spinach doesn't clump together.
2) Pour the egg mixture into the slightly baked pie crust.  Make sure it only fills the crust to slightly below the top, you don't want the filling to overflow.
3) Bake for about 40 minutes at 350.  The quiche is done baking when the center of the eggs no longer wiggle and are completely set.