Food on Friday: It’s Cold Outside edition

The temperature here dropped dramatically. Our high on Tuesday was in the 60s and yesterday was about 18F (plus, there was snow). When the mercury goes down here, my appetite changes to wanting hot, starchy white people food. However, it’s not good for me to only eat starchy things, and especially not good for my waistline. I conceded to my appetite last night, making a somewhat-healthy version of a shepherd’s pie, and boy was it YUMMY. Here, in all its glory, for your viewing pleasure:

MLE’s Healthy-ish Shepherd’s Pie

1/2 pound ground turkey or chicken (substitute veggie crumbles if you’re a veg.)
2 medium russet potatoes
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen green peas or 1/2 cup canned corn (I used peas last night)
1 small can mushroom gravy
seasonings (I used garlic powder, savory, and thyme, plus salt and pepper)
milk (nonfat or soy if you like) and butter (or butter substitute) for potatoes
Oven 350F

Chop veggies. Start potatoes to boilin’ for mashed po’s. I cut my po’s up to decrease cooking time but don’t peel them because I like the skin. Brown the turkey or chicken in a small skillet. Sautee onion, carrot, and celery in a large skillet with a little oil and add seasonings. Add peas or corn. Add mushrooms when other veggies are mostly cooked. Add browned meat (or crumbles if you’re using those instead). Add mushroom gravy and stir everything together, turning the heat down. When potatoes are soft, prepare in whatever way you like best (for 2 potatoes, I use 1 tablespoon of butter, probably 1/4 cup of nonfat milk, and some salt and pepper). Transfer contents of large skillet (veggies plus ground meat) into a coverable casserole dish (I have a 2 quart glass pyrex one). Spread mashed potatoes over the top, cover, and put in oven until everything is heated through and the gravy is bubbling up through the potatoes, 20-30 minutes. Let sit for a few, then serve. Makes 4 dinner-sized servings. I use a kitchamajig to get it out. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add some parmesan cheese to the top of the potatoes for the last couple of minutes, removing the lid of the casserole so the cheese has a chance to brown a little. Last night, I was all about the easy and not feeling fancy, so I opted against.

I forgot to write about all the things I made for Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. I made a pumpkin pie from scratch (starting with a pumpkin), two pear tarts, sweet potato soup, salad with balsamic-carmelized fennel and pomegranate seeds, cranberry sauce with mandarin oranges and pears, and did about half the work on the mashed potatoes. Plus I helped with the fondue setup and making.

The soup was the best version I’ve made yet, so here is the recipe, seasonally appropriate, good for non-meat eaters, and tasty. Nobody in my family likes candied yams/sweet potatoes, so this is a way to use them in a holiday meal in a more savory fashion.

Sweet Potato Soup (scaled down to serve 4 meal portions, I made enough to serve 11 appetizer portions)

2 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks plus the leafy tops, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Seasonings
4 cups veggie broth

Peel and chop veggies. Add to large pot, along with veggie broth (either from a box, made from veggie base, etc. Add whatever seasonings sound good; many herbs could work here, or even red pepper flakes or something to give it some kick. Heat until veggies are soft. Let sit to cool a little, then add half of the veggies and broth to a blender and puree until smooth. Puree the rest of the veggies/broth and mix with the first batch. Reheat in the pot, stirring occasionally so the soup doesn’t stick. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds or sour cream/greek yogurt.

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