Low-carb adventures: A new spin on Shepherd’s Pie (sweet potato-style!)

A bowl full of Shepherd's Pie made with ground chicken and sweet potatoI come from an English-Irish upbringing. Shepherd’s Pie was a bit of a staple in our house when I was growing up. You know, that English-Irish-Scottish-whatever type of casserole designed to use up leftovers? I’m not talking about the traditional one that’s done with a lamb mince.

I’m talking about the kind that your mom would whip up with the leftover mashed potatoes and veggies from the night before with some seasoned ground beef because it was a) economical and b) the only way she’d get the kids (you) to eat leftovers. 😉

Needless to say, I love Shepherd’s Pie, or at least the North American version of it. The only problem is, I don’t make it too often because we try to limit how often we’re eating red meat (especially of the ground persuasion) and with the starchy potatoes, it’s not exactly the healthiest of dishes.

Not wanting to give it up entirely in my quest to eat healthy, I had a bit of an epiphany. I had some sweet potatoes in the cupboard and ground chicken in the fridge that needed to be cooked up; why not do some substitutions? I had no idea how it would turn out, but here’s what I did.

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Christmas leftovers stew

A bowl of stew with a spoon sticking in it.We all end up with leftovers at Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!), don’t we? I know I do. Not only did we have leftover chicken from our Christmas-Day-at-home this year, but also turkey that Mom sent home with us the night before.  We had an entire veggie tray that was just going to waste, too. So, I put  on my thinking cap, set my big stew pot on the stove and started to clean out the fridge. Here’s what I did…

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Easy Friday Night Meal: open-face hot chicken sammies

A plate holds a couple of open-faced hot chicken sandwiches on hamburg bun halves.Friday night used to mean ‘big meal night’, but with hubby’s shifts being changed a year ago, he has to work Friday night, which leaves me to eat by myself. I don’t mind! This is how it is all week. Occasionally, I’ll make a big meal up but mostly I just fend for myself and do up a big meal the next night when we can share it together.

Tonight, I was craving comfort food, again. In truth, I was craving poutine, but that wasn’t going to happen tonight. But I had some chicken breasts cut up into small bite sized pieces in the fridge that just needed to be cooked up and I had an inspiration. This one doesn’t even deserve a recipe, it’s so simple.

I just quickly fried up the chicken pieces in a little bit of olive oil and butter, sprinkled with some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Then I drained this really well. Meanwhile, as the chicken cooked, I quickly whipped up a Club House gravy packet. I could have just as easily pulled some leftover homemade gravy out of the freezer, but I was really hungry and couldn’t wait for it to thaw.

While all this cooked, I tossed two small hamburger buns into the toaster (if they were large, I would have just toasted one). All that was left was to assemble the hot chicken sandwiches. I made them into open-faced sandwiches, spooning the gravy over the chicken. Very filling. Very comforting. Very tasty! Next time, I’d probably cut back on one of the buns and make a salad on the side to balance it or make up some soup for a side to balance it better, or even just steam up some asparagus. But I am now content. 🙂

I’d be interested in hearing what others do for Friday nights, especially if they spend it alone. If you make a healthy meal, good for you (please share)! If you order in, what’s your go-to food? Or if you go for a good comforting meal, please share! I want to hear what everyone’s favourite ‘fall back’ meals are, when they’re just cooking for themselves or curling up for a quiet night! What’s quick and simple for you?

Fries & Gravy – Comfort Food of the Gods

A close-up on a plate of homemade French fries with gravy drizzled over top of them.When I visited some friends in Texas a few years back, they looked at me funny when I said I enjoyed gravy on my fries. In fact, they looked at me as though I had three heads! Being a Canadian girl, I was raised to love certain foods, and while I’m not certain how Nation-wide fries and gravy might be, I know that it’s a pretty popular dish in my neck of the woods.

Comfort. Food. Two words which describe how I feel about a good-sized plate of fries and gravy. Sure, it’s one of those ‘heart attack on a plate’ type of things. It’s one of those things that I also don’t have very often because of that.

And heck, if you add cheese curds and make me a bowl of Poutine — you will be my new best friend. Muwahah!

Tonight, I peeled and sliced up some potatoes, double-fried them (yes, fry them once, drain them and fry them again to get crispy fries), then slathered them with gravy (Club House low-sodium turkey packaged mix). That was my dinner.

Was it balanced? Good gods, no. Was it healthy? Nuh uh, no way. Was it tasty and satisfying and worth it? Hell yes! 🙂

Easy Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

It’s now half a week past Christmas: are we tired of leftover turkey yet?? I’m not, but I like to re-jig leftovers so that I don’t get tired of the ingredients.

A rectangular white plate sits atop a blue striped tea towel. Upon it rests a serving of turkey pot pie made with leftovers, with a fork.What better way to reuse turkey dinner leftovers than to slap it all into a pot pie?

Here’s how I did it: Continue reading

Bacon-wrapped stuffed turkey breasts w/twice-cooked garlic mashed potatoes

A white plate painted with green ivy holds two slices of bacon-wrapped stuffed turkey breasts, peas, additional stuffing, Yorkshire Puddings and twice-cooked garlic mashed potatoesI have a tiny little kitchen. It’s an apartment or galley kitchen. It’s larger than some I’ve seen, but there really is only (just barely) room for me to move back and forth in. Whenever poor hubby comes to get a drink while I’m in there, he hears an apprehensive, almost warning voice emanate from me, asking, “What… do… you… need?” I don’t like other people coming into  the kitchen while I’m there. After accidentally bumping into the oven too many times to count due to having another human being in the kitchen with me, perhaps my hesitation can be a little understandable.

Despite this, I wanted to make us a special dinner for  Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to get a turkey for just the two of us, so I snagged a couple of turkey breasts from the grocery store a couple of days ago. Sure, I could have just baked them off, but I wanted something fancy.

Inspired by a couple of Food Network Christmas shows (namely the ones with Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey in them), I decided I wanted to stuff and roll these turkey breasts. Continue reading

Chicken, veggies & rice foil-bundle dinners

The finished product: chicken, veggies, rice and gravy cooked in a foil packetA few nights ago, I was in the mood for a ‘one dish meal’. I didn’t want a lot of clean-up for my poor hubby (yes, I cook, he cleans) and yet I didn’t want a traditional casserole. Poking around the internet, I found quite a few recipe sites that had great suggestions for the ingredients that I had, but it was a series of sites suggesting an old campfire method of cooking food that intrigued me the  most.

These sites suggested “meal bundles” wrapped in foil packs. Continue reading