Shepards Pie

This is a great use the leftovers recipes.  When ever I make mashed potatoes, I always make way to much.  This is a great way to use them.

Everything you need to make Shepards Pie

Everything you need to make Shepards Pie

Ingredients are very simple.  1 pound of ground beef.  2 cans of green beans.  I like the french cut green beans.  Finally left over mashed potatoes.  I’m using butternut squash mashed potatoes here, this is why there orange.  The butternut squash mashed potatoes was an experiment that turned out wonderfully.  I will make sure to take pictures next time so I can post the recipe.

Step 1: Brown the Ground beef

Step 1: Brown the Ground beef

Very simple step, brown the ground beef.  You want to break it up into little pieces and make sure that it is thoroughly cooked.  You don’t want even a hint of pink left, it all needs to be brown.  Drain off the grease when finished browning.  Also, now is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350.

Step 2: A layer of green beans

Step 2: A layer of green beans

Strain the green beans, and put both cans in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Spread them out so cover the entire bottom of the pan.

Step 3: the ground beef layer

Step 3: the ground beef layer

Spread the ground beef over top of the green beans.  It doesn’t need to be perfectly uniform, just not a large pile in the middle.

Step 4: add a layer of mashed potatoes.

Step 4: add a layer of mashed potatoes.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top.  This does take a lot of mashed potatoes, 6-8 cups.  You can do it with a thinner layer, but then it’s hard to spread.

Step 5: bake and serve

Step 5: bake and serve

Bake the shepards pie at 350 for 30-40 min.  While tasty, this dish does fall apart when served.  If you are interested in good presentation, this is best done in the casserole dish, not individual servings.  This will feed 4-6 hungry men by it’s self, so expect left overs.

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Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast on a Bed of Yellow Rice

This is the first recipe that I figured out on my own.  It’s the one that started me cooking and one that is still very good.  The entire recipe is right there in the title.  Marinate chicken breasts and grill them.

Everything you need to make Marinated Grilled chicken on a bed of yellow Rice.

Everything you need to make Marinated Grilled chicken on a bed of yellow Rice.

Chicken, Italian Dressing, and Yellow Rice is everything you need to make Marinated Grilled Chicken on a bed of Yellow rice.  I use the cheapest Italian dressing that I can find.  Zesty Italian is better, but higher quality dressings don’t make a difference.   I cook the chicken on the grill, but you can use a frying pan if you don’t have one.

Step 1: Marinate

Step 1: Marinate

I am a fan of Glad Ware.  I use it a lot.  Put your chicken in a medium to large closeable container.  Add the marinade.  It should just barely cover the chicken.  Adding more is not useful.  Put the lid on, shake it a little and stick it in the fridge.  Marinating anywhere from overnight to 3-4 days produces very flavorful chicken.

Step 2: Start the Yellow Rice.  Just follow the instructions on the packet.  Bring the water to boil and add the rice.

Step 3:Grill the chicken.  It was dark, so my pictures didn’t turn out.  Cook the chicken over low to medium heat.  This will take about 20 min or about the same amount of time as the rice.  You want to turn the chicken over about every 5 min so that they cook evenly, and stir the rice with about the same frequency.

You have some down time here, so it’s a good chance to get caught up on the dishes and keep the kitchen clean.  Working in a messy kitchen is stressful.

The chicken is done when it is white all the way though.  You will need to cut one in half to verify that it’s done.  The rice is done when most of the water is absorbed.  You want the rice to be moist, but not a layer of water sitting on top.

Step 4: Serve

Step 4: Serve

Presentation with this one is important, but very simple.  Put a heap of the yellow rice on the plate.  Then, put the chicken on top of it.  This chicken goes very well with green beans.  I used frozen, but fresh is always better.

You shouldn’t have any left overs with this recipe.  Don’t cook the chicken if you don’t think it will get eaten.  Just leave it sit in the marinade for another day or two till your ready for it.

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Chicken Burritos

This is the Recipe that got me started with the very idea of cheating at cooking.  My cousin showed me this and called it cheating.  I realized most of my recipes where not much harder.  Because of this I started telling people that I cheat at cooking.  So, Kate, thank you for this one and here is how I make chicken burritos.

Everything you need for Chicken burritos.

This is everything you need to make Chicken burritos.  2.5-3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast or tenderloin.  Season Salts, I like Lawry’s but almost any will do.  One 16 oz jar of Salsa and toppings.  I like sour cream and cheese, lettuce is also very popular.

Step 1: Dice the Chicken

When dicing the chicken, aim to make the pieces about half of what would be “bite sized”, or roughly half inch cubes.  They don’t need to be perfect, close is good enough.

 

Step 2: Cook the Chicken

This really is the only step you can mess up, and you almost need to try for that to happen.  Cook the chicken over medium heat , 5 on the dial.  Sprinkle it with season salt.  It will take some time for the chicken to cook, and you do need to stir occasionally.  Also, add some more season salt every time you stir, you want it to lightly coat every side of each piece.  This will take 2-4 tablespoons.  The chicken is done when it’s white all the way though.  When you think it’s getting close split some of the large pieces with your spatula (or other stirring device)  If they are cooked though, everything is cooked though.  Under cooked chicken can make you very sick, and you really need to over cook it for this recipe to dry out.

Step 3: Add the salsa

Once the chicken is cooked, dump in the entire jar of salsa.  Leave the heat on 5 and wait for it to come to a light boil.  That’s it, done.  Take it off the heat, and tell the family that make your own burrito night is ready.  This will make 6-8 burritos depending on how fat you make them.

Dinner is served.

The chicken salsa mix refrigerates well and reheats wonderfully.  It’s no good if you put it in the freezer, so leftovers should be eaten quickly.  If there are any left overs.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Starting off with my newest favorite recipe.  I say newest favorite because this does change often, almost every time I learn a new recipe.  Butternut squash soup is very simple.  Dice, boil, blend.

Tools You will need: A large Sauce pan/soup pan, A knife, a peeler, and a Blender

Ingredients: 1 Butternut Squash, 1 medium to large Onion, 4 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken stock.

Cooking Butternut Squash soup is very easy.

Step 1:Dice the Onion

Step:2 Saute the onion

Note: I’m good at multi-tasking, experienced at cooking, and fast with the dicing.  The time it takes me to prep the Squash is almost perfect for sauteing onion.  If you are not sure of yourself, wait till the squash is prepped before trying to saute.

Step 3: Peel the Squash

The meat of a Butternut Squash is bright orange.  The skin is also quite thick.  I find that it takes two passes with the potato peeler to actually get the skin off.

Step 4: Cut the ends off

Neither the Stem, nor the very bottom are very good.  You only need to cut about 1/4 inch off to clear these.

Step 5: Cut the Squash in half, and clean out the seeds.

The seeds and stringy stuff around them are not good.  Take a spoon and scrape the inside of the cavity to clean out the seeds and string.

Step 6: Dice the Squash

You don’t need bite sized pieces, only ones small enough to fit in the pan.  Splitting the Squash length wise a second time then cutting 1 inch long quarter rounds works well.  This is what I do.

Step 7:Add the squash to the pan.

The onions should be ready by the time you have peeled and diced the Butternut Squash.  If you delayed sauteing the Onion, do so now, then add the Squash.  How you cook the onion will have a real affect on the flavor.  This is one of the things to play around with to find what you like best.  Cooking the onion anywhere from almost raw to blackened will make a tasty soup.

Step 8: Add the broth.

I like my soup thin, so I just add all 4 cups of stock.  This makes it rather thin.  For a much thicker, more traditional Butternut squash soup, only add enough stock to barely cover the Squash.  Once again, something to play with and find what you like.

Step 9: Boil till mush

Only use medium-high heat, 6 or 7 on the dial.  Boil till the squash pieces are very soft.  Test this by trying to cut them with a spoon.  Stir every few minutes and try to cut a few pieces.  If the edge of the spoon does not go right though, it’s not done yet.  This is a great time to do prep-clean up.  While you don’t have many dirty dishes from the prep, staying on top of stuff like the dishes makes the work and workspace much more fun.

Step 10: Blender time

Pour the soup into blender and puree.  Depending on the size of your blender and the size of the squash this may need to be done in several batches.  Just blend, serve, refill.

Step 11:Serve

That’s it You’ve got Butternut Squash soup.  Just pour from the blender into a bowl.  I’ve put some basil as a garnish to add some color.

Step 11:Leftovers.

Butternut Squash Soup freezes amazingly well.  I portion my leftovers into single serving Gladware and freeze it.  Then I’m only minutes away from having Butternut Squash soup when ever I want it.  This recipe makes 4-8 bowls of soup.  Unless you are feeding an army, you will probably have leftovers.

I’ve broken this down into as many simple steps as I could.  It really only has three.  Dice Boil Blend.  The total time start to finish is about an hour.

This is a great base recipe to work from.  It is very simple with wonderful potential.  I’ve thought about adding cheese and leeks.  What do you think would make this better?

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Cheating at Cooking

Cooking is really simple.  This gets lost in trying to make great dishes, not just dinner.  It gets lost with cook books by great chefs.  It gets lost to the ease of going out to dinner.  I’m always trying new things and finding easy ways to cook them.  This blog is to be a record of my experiments in making cooking as easy as possible.

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