Since the Chefs arrived one of the things that has been hard for me is cooking every night. When it was just the hubby and I often I would just say- "Sorry- cereal tonight". But in general that doesn't go over that well for kids- sure they would like it- but I really need to get some good nutrition in them.
Every family probably has go-to recipes that are fairly easy and use ingredients they have on hand. One of mine is Shepherd's Pie since it's just basically potatoes, meat and vegetables.
The last time I made it I tried something new. I had wanted to do this for a long time but was a bit afraid to...
hide cauliflower in the mashed potatoes.
Now I have never really liked cauliflower- I am not a big veggie lover in general. But I do try to reduce the starch carbs in my diet and kept hearing how you could successfully substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potato and save a ton of carbs - still I was scared.
Even so, I picked up a bag of frozen cauliflower and went for it. Now I didn't want all cauliflower so I decided on trying 1/2 and 1/2. And in all honesty, it was a great success. I told my husband after he ate it that there was cauliflower in the potatoes and he didn't even know it. I did know- and I still thought it was good. I would say the main difference it is not as fluffy as regular mashed potatoes - since there is less starch- so you have to watch the amount of liquid you add.
I will pretty much always do my mashed potatoes like this from now on. I like the added nutrition and reduced calories- it's a win-win.
As for the Shepherd's Pie, three of us like this recipe- our youngest Chef is fairly picky and it didn't go over as well with her (but not because of the cauliflower potatoes- I think she has a hard time with vegetables that are mixed into food). But overall this is a fairly kid friendly dinner- especially if the mixed vegetables you choose are ones your family likes. (Our family really likes tofu and that is why I gave it as an option below- it's funny because miss picky Chef was trying to pick out and eat only the tofu in the pie.)
Shepherd's Pie- with a healthy, secret twist
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees
1.25 LB Taco Seasoned Turkey Meat (see below for subs) ($2.50)
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (any/all- corn, green beans, peas, carrots, edamame- so can also add as part of this mix up to a cup of diced tofu) ($1.00)
2 1/4 cups water or stock
2 bullion (omit if you use stock) (we love the Trader Joe's Savory Broth Liquid Concentrate- as it is gluten free and a natural product- and tasty!!) (.50)
1 tsp soy sauce (we use the gluten free variety) (.10)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (.05)
1/2 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (free from my tree or about .05 from the store)
5 medium baking potatoes (.50)
10 oz of frozen cauliflower (.50)
1 tsp salt (.01)
1/2 cup milk(.10)
1 egg (.15)
2 Tablespoons Butter (.18)
Brown the seasoned turkey on medium in a large skillet that can go into the oven (if possible).
As the turkey is browning you need to start the potatoes (see below)
When the turkey is cooked through and browned slightly add the 2 cups of frozen vegetables and 2 cups of the water, bullion, soy sauce, and lemon juice to the skillet. Make sure to scrape any browned bits from the pan. Mix the two tablespoon of corn starch with the remaining 1/4 cup water and stir to mix. Add the water and cornstarch slurry to the skillet and stir to thicker. Stir periodically until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn off the heat .
While turkey is browning peel the potatoes and cut into small uniform cubes- the smaller they are the faster they will cook. Add the cubes to cold water in a pan. Add the frozen cauliflower (I did a rough chop of the cauliflower so it would be easier to mash in the end) to the water and bring to a boil over high or medium high. When it comes to a boil turn down to medium ad cook until potatoes are soft.
When the potatoes are soft remove from heat and drain in a colander and transfer to a sturdy bowl or stand mixer. And milk, salt, butter and mix on medium until blended (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spoon or scraper). When blended add the egg and mix for 30 seconds or so or until combined. Mixture will seem a bit liquid- but it will firm up in the oven.
Spoon the potato/cauliflower mixture over the filling mixture in the oven proof skillet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Don't worry if some of the gravy comes up over the potatoes- this is a rustic dish.
When done let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
We served this with Cinnamon Dusted Apples- (.75)
Total Cost: $5.64 with Apples : $6.39
Seasoned Ground Turkey- You could probably use any ground meat for this: plain ground turkey, ground beef, ground chicken, even ground lamb if that is what your family likes. You will just have to season it to taste for yourself- either with a taco seasoning or just a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic and onion.
Roasted garlic, Parmesan Cheese or Cheddar would all be wonderful additions to the mashed potatoes/cauliflower topping.
Lemon or Lime Juice- This is my secret gravy ingredient. The tongue likes to sense lots of flavor to truly fulfill the palette, not just plain sweet or plain salty or just sour. When you ad a bit of an acid to gravy it just brings it alive- not enough that you can tell that there is citrus- but just to wake it up.
Soy Sauce- another one of my secret ingredients. I add a little to gravies, beans, roasts..all sort of things. If you every think a savory recipe is "missing something" you might want to think about a little soy sauce.