A Hundred Thank-yous ☺️ Shepherd’s Pie

 

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It has been a year since I started my blog and have surprisingly reached 100 followers. I started this journey with no expectations except to share my thoughts, experiences and joy of cooking with all of you. I have learned that there is an amazing community of bloggers out there who are kind, interesting and very skilled. To each and every one of you who took the time to read my blog, I thank you for letting me into your homes. It is, however, time for me to move on and try something different. I leave you with a final recipe that I hope you enjoy.

🍐 PREP: 45 minutes

🍐 COOK: 1 hour, approx.

🍐 INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 kg extra lean ground beef
  • 1 small can (156 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 cups frozen peas, carrots, corn
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • hot sauce, dash or two (optional)
  • all purpose flour, as needed
  • 8-10 potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  •  milk, for desired consistency
  • 4 cups brown gravy

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

1. In a deep pan drizzle in olive oil and heat up before adding chopped onions. Sauté for a few minutes.

2.  Add your beef to the pan and brown. Mix in your paste, veggies, stock, hot sauce and adjust measurements to your taste. I do not add many other spices due to the gravy topping.

3.  Cook the beef mixture for several minutes and then drain off excessive oils. This is an important step as you want your meat base to be moist but not too runny. If you find the mixture too thin, add 1 Tbsp of flour to thicken.

4.  Place meat mixture in a large casserole dish and gently flatten mixture down. Put aside.

5. In a large pot of water boil potatoes until soft. Drain when done and then in a bowl begin to mash potatoes. Add butter and milk slowly, obtaining preferred consistency while you mash. I tend to like a more rustic potato texture versus a whipped consistency, but the choice is yours.

6   Drop in mashed potatoes to top of meat base, covering evenly with a one inch topping. Do NOT press in potatoes.

7. In a 350 degree preheated oven, bake the shepherd’s pie for approximately 1 hour. I usually take the lid off the casserole dish 15 minutes prior and let the potato peaks brown a bit.

8. Serve with gravy……..of course. I cheat and just use the gravy packages where you just add water to the mixture and boil until thick.

🍐 MANGIA!

🍐 INSPIRATION: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF💕👋 

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🎄 Christmas Baking, Italian style

 

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PITA PIATA

As a Christmas baby I have always enjoyed two celebrations this time of year.  I  looked forward to my mother’s holiday baking and her homemade Pita Piata. This pastry is a traditional, Italian cake which is popular in Calabria and may have originated from that area. Calabria is a region in southern Italy and was home to both my parents prior to immigration. The Pita Piata has a cinnamon, raisin and nut filling topped with a drizzle of honey. The preparation of this dessert is truly a labour of love as it can take up to 3 hours to make. Each step reminds me of my cultural roots and family traditions. Mostly, it reminds me of my mother who always found time to make my birthday special in her own loving way.  To all of you reading this may your holiday celebrations, whatever they may be, bring you joy and remind you of what really matters in life— 💕💕💕

Orange 🍊 Lavender Scones

1928DD6A-67A8-4BBA-94EA-78B3B20BD3C0.jpegThis post is for all those amazing mothers out there—we should love and cherish them always. If you are still looking for that special gift, I suggest you consider making these equally amazing lavender scones for breakfast or brunch. Many of the traditional scone recipes tend to incorporate lemon flavours but I thought I would try something new. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 💐 🌺 🌸

PREP: 30 min

BAKE: 5 min at 425 degrees, approx. 15 min. @ 350.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp *culinary lavender
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp orange rind
  • pinch salt to enhance flavours
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (save 1/4 cup for glaze)
  • 1/4 Tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 Tbsp crystallized sugar for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven, prepare baking sheet (I use parchment paper) and set aside.
  2. Measure out all your ingredients before you begin. This will also ensure you are not running out for ingredients in the middle of baking 😬.
  3. In large bowl, sift flour. Add dried lavender flowers but first crush them with your fingers to release the scent.
  4. Mix together sugar and orange rind and then add to flour mixture, along with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Incorporate butter (preferably cold) into the flour by using a pastry blender to cut in.
  6. In a glass measuring cup add 1 cup buttermilk,  peppermint extract and stir.
  7. Add liquids to flour and gradually combine by mixing and turning, but do not over mix or scones will come out dense.
  8. On flat surface, gently mold dough into a 7 inch round disc shape, approximately one inch thick.
  9. Divide and cut disc into 8 equal parts so that sections will cook evenly. It helps to start by marking  the dough disc into quarters with a pastry scraper and then in eighths.
  10. Cut out the triangle sections and place on lined cookie sheet with small spatula.
  11. With brush, cover top of scone with thin layer of buttermilk and top with sprinkles of crystallized sugar.
  12. Bake in preheated oven and take out when scones are light golden brown in color. Cool on rack. The aroma will be divine.

*TIP: Make sure you use culinary lavender. You might have some luck finding it in local organic/herbal stores, but it is readily available on  the internet. I bought 1/2 lb and it’s lasted over a year!

MANGIA! (8 scones)

Homemade Croutons

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Homemade croutons made from leftover bread are a great way to elevate a simple Caesar salad.

PREP TIME: 10 min

COOK TIME: 10 min

🍐 INGREDIENTS:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Baguette (or any left over bread)

🍐 DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut up Bread into cubes and then place in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add Oil and Spices to bag and shake , allowing bread to be coated evenly.
  3. Spread onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until bread is golden brown.
  4. Add to favourite salad as topping.

MANGIA!

🍐 INSPIRATION:

Sometimes even small changes can have a big impact.

 

 

Favorite Dish

CA7BD60C-58E0-4738-8D16-5204BB3463DDDo you have a favorite meal? Mine is Pasta & Fagioli. The type of food we are drawn to can hint to our ethnic roots. Now that is not to say that we don’t enjoy foods from other cultures—I love wonton soup and on occasion crave Indian food.  I do, however, find myself drawn to the smells I grew up with as they often remind me of my childhood experiences—like fresh basil or oregano, especially on the top of homemade pizza (hungry yet?). This week I will try and post my daughter’s favorite dish, stuffed pasta shells with ricotta. When I asked her why she loves it so much she said “ It has the perfect blend of cheese and pasta and nothing is more Italian than that”.

🍐Inspire: Make someone their favorite dish when they least expect it.

I would love to hear what you made, why and the reaction.

Continue reading “Favorite Dish”