Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

One-Skillet Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my ultimate favorite comfort food dishes. This version was fabulous! The use of rotisserie chicken meat in the filling and puff pastry as the crust were wonderful (and delicious) shortcuts.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. I modified the proportions and used rainbow carrots instead of turnips in the filling to add a little color. GREAT.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 5 cups coarsely shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 lb rainbow carrots or turnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 T thyme leaves
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 10 oz bag frozen peas
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 box/8.6 oz), thawed overnight
  1. Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Remove and discard skin from a rotisserie chicken. Using your hands, shred the meat into 1″ pieces until you have 5 cups; set aside. Reserve any leftover meat for another use.
  3. Cut the onions in half through root, trim root ends, then peel. Finely chop onion and transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Peel the carrots (or turnips), then trim off the ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to another medium bowl.
  5. Lightly smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Peel, then coarsely chop. Transfer to bowl with the carrots/turnips.
  6. Add thyme leaves to bowl with carrots/turnips and garlic.
  7. Melt butter in a 12″ oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browned, 5–6 minutes.
  8. Add carrot/turnip mixture, season with 1 tsp salt and 1½ tsp pepper, and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to soften, 3 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until flour begins to stick to bottom of pan, about 30 seconds. The flour is going to help thicken the gravy you’re trying to create.
  10. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, to burn off some of the alcohol, about 1 minute.
  11. Set aside 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Add remaining cream, reserved chicken, peas, and 1½ tsp salt and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cook, tossing occasionally, until warmed through, 3–4 minutes.
  12. Transfer skillet to a rimmed baking sheet, which will prevent any juices that bubble out of the pan from spilling onto your oven floor.
  13. Roll out the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 13″ square (large enough to cover skillet with a bit of overhang). Roll pastry up onto rolling pin. (You could use an empty wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin.) Unfurl pastry from rolling pin, draping it over skillet.
  14. Trim pastry so that there is a 1″ border all around. Fold edge of puff pastry under itself. Crimp edges with a fork (just like you would do when making the top crust of a pie).
  15. Using a pastry brush, brush top of pastry with reserved cream. Cut 5–6 small slits in the center so steam can escape.
  16. Bake pot pie until crust is light golden brown, 22 to 24 minutes.
  17. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, preferably on convection, and continue to bake until filling is bubbling around the edges and crust is well browned, 22 to 35 minutes longer.
  18. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Roasted Carrots with Chimichurri

In addition to serving the Voltaggio brother’s cornbread stuffing last Thanksgiving, I also served this savory-sweet roasted carrot dish from Bryan Voltaggio’s cookbook. I loved that the sauce incorporated the carrot greens and that additional greens were used as a garnish.

The recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I used rainbow carrots and modified the proportions in the sauce. I also found the sauce too coarse to pass through a fine mesh sieve. (I often skip that step anyway!) 😉 It is interesting that his technique is to cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces after they are cooked.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Roasted Carrots:

  • 2 1/3 lbs (1 kg, about 13 medium carrots) carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2 T (28g) olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp (1.5g) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (3g) ground peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 3/4 tsp (4.5g) fine sea salt

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1.8 to 2 oz carrot greens
  • 2 oz (56g) baby spinach or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 1/2 T (35g) olive oil
  • 1 T (14g) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
  • small carrot greens, for garnish

To Roast the Carrots:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Peel and trim the carrots.
  3. Set a large skillet with a lid over high heat and add the olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the carrots and cook, stirring, until they are golden brown and caramelized.
  4. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, and salt; stir to blend.
  5. Cover and transfer to the oven to cook for 35 minutes, or until the carrots are completely tender.

To Make the Chimichurri Sauce:

  1. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Prepare an ice bath.
  3. Blanch the carrot greens for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  4. Blanch the baby spinach (or parsley) for 1 minutes and transfer to the ice bath.
  5. Once cool, squeeze out the spinach and carrot greens and put in a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  6. Add the garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and purée until smooth. Set aside.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Remove the carrots from the oven, cut into bite-sized pieces, and transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Spoon some of the Chimichurri Sauce over the carrots and garnish with small carrot greens.
  3. Serve family-style with reserved sauce on the side.

Easter Carrot Cake

This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. My entire family felt the same way. I’ll never be able to try another version.

When my friend gave me this special cookbook, she mentioned that the carrot cake recipe was wonderful and that it incorporated crushed pineapple. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it! The author notes that this is their most popular cake- and that its sales in the bakery double every year. It really was unbelievably delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I roasted the walnuts, reduced the baking time, and lined the cake pans with parchment paper.

Yield: One 9-inch, 2-layer cake

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 5 to 6 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast the walnuts until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, grease paper and dust pans with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. In another large bowl, mix sugar and oil.
  7. Beat in eggs with an electric mixer. (I used a hand held mixer.)
  8. Stir in carrots, roasted nuts, and pineapple.
  9. Stir in the flour mixture.
  10. Pour into prepared pans. (I use a scale to ensure that the pans hold an equal amount of batter.)
  11. Bake for 35 minutes on convection, or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans.
  13. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

For the Cream-Cheese Icing and To Finish the Cake:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the icing between the 9-inch layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Chill before serving. (I made the cake a day in advance.)

Note: This cake is very moist and keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator; it also freezes perfectly unfrosted.

One Year Ago: French Apple Cake

Two Years Ago: Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Three Years Ago: Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Four Years Ago: Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette and Raspberry Custard Tart

Five Years Ago: Carrot Cupcakes and Cheesecake Brownies

Panko-Crusted Roast Chicken Thighs with Mustard & Thyme

This is a superstar weeknight dinner. I already know that I’m going to make it a million times. 😉 The preparation is actually very similar to my favorite weeknight salmon recipe.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Jenny Rosenstrach. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, and adapted the cooking temperature, method, as well as the cooking time. I roasted the chicken over sliced rainbow carrots and also roasted potatoes and asparagus on separate sheet pans in the same oven. Wonderful!

  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds medium carrots, scrubbed, cut into 4-inch pieces, halved lengthwise if thick (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds tiny gold potatoes, optional
  • 2 pounds asparagus, optional
  1. Place a rack in highest position in oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place carrots on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprigs and roast for 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and set aside. (At this point, I also began roasting the potatoes on a separate sheet pan, for about 30 minutes.)
  3. Place panko in a shallow bowl.
  4. Mash butter, mustard, and thyme leaves in another small bowl with a fork (it will be a little lumpy).
  5. Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange “skin side up” over the partially roasted carrots on the rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Smear mustard-butter all over the top of the thighs.
  7. Working with 1 piece at a time, firmly press chicken, skin side down, into panko so crumbs adhere. Place back on baking sheet, on top of the carrots, with the breadcrumbs facing up.
  8. Roast until carrots are tender and chicken is cooked though, 20-25 minutes. (I cooked the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.) (At this point, I also roasted the asparagus on a separate sheet pan, for about 15 minutes.)
  9. Heat broiler. Broil chicken and carrots just until panko is golden brown and carrots are tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a platter and pour pan juices over top, as desired.
Two Years Ago: Chicken Meunière
Three Years Ago: Chicken with Mustard
Five Years Ago: Chicken in Tomatoes

Spicy Roasted Carrot & Red Lentil Ragout

When a family friend posted a link to this “tried and true” recipe on Facebook, I knew that I was going to make it for sure. Not only is she a wonderful cook, but she also endorsed it by saying that she’s been making it for ten years!

This hearty and healthy stew-like soup is really another wonderful variation of vegetarian chili. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I increased the amount of carrots, omitted the cayenne pepper, and cut the carrots prior to roasting in order to decrease the preparation time.

We ate it as a stew served over brown Basmati rice and topped it with Greek yogurt (others with sour cream) to temper the heat. The author suggested extending the ragout with either coconut milk or stock to give it a soup-like consistency, if desired. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut in half and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast an additional 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender.
  4. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in 1/4-inch dice.
  5. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan. Add the carrot-and-onion mixture, the chili powders and the cayenne pepper, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart.
  7. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with rice, or as a thick soup. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream to temper the heat.

Two Years Ago: 

Three Years Ago: 

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Five Years Ago:

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Parsley & Thyme

It is so important to balance heavier holiday meal side dishes with clean and relatively healthy vegetable sides. I loved the colors in this dish. Our unseasonably warm weather allowed me to incorporate freshly cut parsley and thyme from my herb garden too. Delicious. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. It was inspired by a roasted carrot antipasto the author sampled at Oliveto Cafe in Oakland, California. I doubled the recipe for our Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds carrots, preferably rainbow carrots, peeled quartered or cut into sixths lengthwise depending on the size, then into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
  3. Spread in an even (single) layer in the prepared pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and if the carrots are not yet tender, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes until tender.
  5. Add the parsley, stir gently, and taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
  • Advance preparation: These will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator.
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