Grateful for birthdays! We spent the entire day celebrating our seventeen year old son:
- Homemade french toast for breakfast
- Some pretty intense battles via Smashbros
- Our favorite Shepherd’s Pie – recipe below
- Dark Chocolate Cake
- And, cozying up with a cup of tea and “The Imitation Game”
At the end of the day, I could not stop smiling. I love birthdays. Everybody needs a special day to be celebrated because each one of us matters. You matter! I matter! The world needs each one of us!!! Many years ago, I got some wonderful advice from a dear friend. She suggested on my birthday each year, I bake my own birthday cake and share it with others so that no matter what, even if no one else has time to plan a celebration, I will already have the party started. If someone else happens to surprise me with a cake, there is just more joy to share! Over the years I have come to enjoy the ritual of baking my own cake and inviting my dear friends over to celebrate together. And, most of all… I love the ritual of baking a cake for my precious kiddos. I just cannot stop smiling.
I am also grateful for favorite family recipes. One of my favorite Shepherd’s Pie is served at a quaint little British pub, “The Black Lab” in midtown Houston. With some trial and error I think I’ve come pretty close to their recipe. Although, my friends from Britain have assured me that this is actually a “Cottage Pie” because I use beef instead of lamb. Also, my son does not like peas, so I use celery as a substitute. Regardless, the only thing left to say is “YUMMO!”
Our Favorite Shepherd’s Pie (Glutton and Dairy Free)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 3 -4 large carrots, finely diced
- 1 cup peas OR diced celery
- 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb
- 1 tsp. dried thyme (or 3-4 sprigs fresh, finely chopped)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon margarine (Smart Balance is a healthy alternative)
- 1 glass red wine (I prefer Malbec)
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 heaping tsp. “Better than Bouillon” beef base
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato flour
- 1 large quantity mashed potatoes – Boil potatoes for about 45 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool until all of the steam is released (makes them lusciously creamy!). Mash with melted smart balance margarine, chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Estimate about 6 cups, fresh or leftover.
- If dairy is not a concern, 2 cups white cheddar cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Sauté onions in olive oil with a little salt and pepper until tender for about 5-10 minutes. Then add diced carrots and celery to the pan and continue to cook until vegetables are tender 5-10 minutes.
- Add beef to the vegetables and cook until browned. Drain off any excess fat.
- If using peas, add after the meat is browned.
- Add thyme, margarine, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon, and red wine. Stir into the vegetable/meat mixture.
- Add tablespoon of cornstarch to water and stir until combined. Add water/cornstarch mixture to beef.
- Cook mixture until sauce thickens.
- Spray 9 X 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray.
- Spread beef/vegetable mixture over the bottom of the casserole.
- Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the beef mixture.
- If dairy is not a concern, sprinkle 2 cups of white cheddar cheese over the top. My family sprinkles cheese over half the casserole to give family members the option of cheese or non-dairy.
- Bake in over for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted or potatoes are browned on top.
Would love to hear what you are grateful for today!