Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the beginning...

I have been planning on starting a blog for the past... year? More for my own benefit than anything else. I like to keep track of things I do for "school time", which is my version of barely structured pre school for my 4 year old son, as well as food I make and things that inspire me. I had planned on starting it with my last birthday, hence the name, so I opened the blog and then never posted. Then I thought I would start when we moved to a new town. Nothing. Maybe we should announce our second pregnancy on here? Nah. So, here I am closer to age 27 than to age 26, 7 months pregnant, and starting with a post about food!

I have been all about using our Thanksgiving leftovers more creatively this year and of all the lunches and dinners we have gotten out of them (we had a lot since we had two Thanksgiving dinners with LOTS of leftovers) my very favorite is what I made for dinner tonight.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie. Honestly, I generally prefer it to have ground beef, but I have been wanting to attempt to recreate the vegetarian pie at The Family Wash in East Nashville. If you live in the area and haven't been there, you should! It is charming and quirky and I have never been disappointed in what I ordered. Even Gwyneth Paltrow mentioned this local treasure and their vegetarian shepherds pie in her blog.
I didn't see any recipes that looked appealing/called for my random leftover ingredients so I took ideas from different recipes and this is what I got... Enjoy!

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients I used:
1.5 cups chicken broth (could easily use water or vegetable broth to make it safe for vegetarians)
about 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and sorted

1 carrot, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
about a teaspoon of minced garlic
butter or oil or more broth for the veggies

3 or 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
about 4 or 5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Do it:
preheat oven to 350degrees
Simmer broth and lentils in sauce pan for about 25 or 30 minutes or until nearly tender
while lentils are simmering, gently cook the chopped vegetables and garlic over medium heat. I used a little butter then added about 1/4 cup broth into the mix after a few minutes just because i had enough left over. When the colors are still bright and they are not too soft, remove from heat and add salt and pepper if you like. mix lentils and veggie blend together and put them in the bottom of a baking dish ( I used a 2qt dish I think). Cover the mix with mashed potatoes and top with shredded cheese.
Bake covered for 20 minutes then uncover and broil for 10 minutes. Voila!

It wasn't exactly like the version at The Family Wash, but it was really satisfying and used up random ingredients i had hanging out in my fridge and pantry. And for the best part? My recently picky 4 year old ate it all! His only complaint was that the "crust" gave him "spice" in his mouth... whatever that means. I am no photographer, but am posting these more to give you an idea of what it looks like. Also because I never even read a recipe if I don't get to see a picture of the finished product.

If any one has ideas or suggestions for variations of shepherd's pie, either vegetarian or not, I would love to see them!