Shepherd's Pie

I promised the shepherd's pie recipe after the last family dinner, and here you have it:

BCS Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)

4 c. potatoes, (peeled or not, depending on your preference) washed and cut into large pieces

2 cups corn kernels (I use frozen corn, organic when there's room in the budget, though you could certainly use fresh or canned as well)

1 clove garlic ( or more to taste)

one packet of vegetarian brown gravy mix (this is what I use. if you have a homemade gravy recipe or a mix that you love, use it!)

about 1/2 cup milk and some butter or margarine for the mashed potatoes

1/2 to 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

salt, pepper to taste

8 ior 9 inch square baking dish

First, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Then put the potatoes in a large pot with enough hot water to cover them and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 10 minutes, then test for softness. You want them really soft so they'll mash easily and evenly.
While they're boiling chop the garlic as finely as you can, then cook it with the beef on high heat all the way through - no pink left anywhere. Season with salt, pepper.
Put the beef in the bottom of your dish.

Prepare the gravy - the kind I use just needs to be whisked with water and brought to a boil. When it's ready, pour it over the beef in the dish and mix around so it's all coated well.

Next, cook the corn in a pan with a little butter or margarine until it's heated through. Don't add salt while it's cooking - it will make the corn tough!
Pour the cooked corn over the beef making a nice layer.

Next, get to work on those mashed potatoes! They should be soft now, so drain them in a colander and put them back in the hot pot. Add your milk, butter or margarine and some salt if you like, then mash away. A masher is easiest, but a large fork or slotted spoon will work as well. Get them as smooth as you can, and taste for seasoning. If they feel stiff or dry, just add a little more milk a bit at a time.

When they're nice and smooth, spoon them over the corn layer in the dish, using a spatula to spread if necessary. When you've covered the corn, sprinkle the cheese all over the top. Use as much or as little as you'd like. I tend to like things cheesy!!

Pop it in the over until the cheese is nice and bubbly - about 10-12 minutes for a dish this size.

This will feed 6 people well, especially with some bread and salad! You can easily double or triple ( or more!) this recipe for a bigger crowd.

Some great variations to try:
Add some cooked carrots or kale or spinach to the beef before layering the corn.
Use mixed veggies instead of just corn for the second layer.
Mix the cheese with the potatoes while mashing instead of sprinkling on top.
It's a casserole! Improvise based on what your family likes!

Family Dinner (and more)

Last week's family dinner was amazing, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First I want to give the new preschoolers their due...with a few pics from the day the mayor came. He didn't visit with the preschoolers, but they enjoyed the lunch just the same. I'm so proud of these kiddos, they are really settling in to their new routine and classrooms, and I'm having so much fun cooking for them. Have a look...

It's a little hard to tell, but that's a mouthful of spinach!

Enjoying the meatloaf!A full table in the kitchen

And I'm so excited about the incredible kitchen area in the Green Preschool

I had some help preparing for the Family Dinner from my new friend and kitchen volunteer Meghan O'Day from Williston. She's working on a challenge project for school that involves learning about a non-profit organization and the work they do around a specific issue. Meghan is interested in childhood obesity, and she's spending some time with me this month learning about the BCS lunch program and how we work to promote good child and family nutrition.
She helped me prep and serve lunch on Tuesday, then came back Thursday afternoon to help get the dinner organized.
The turnout was terrific. We served shepherd's pie, homemade bread, and sliced apples buffet style near the entrance so families could come in, grab a plate, and head to their child's classroom to relax with teachers and other families.
After dinner, the party got a little wild in the preschool, where everyone was excited about the Rube-Goldberg machines the Green Preschoolers have been designing...

It was a chilly fall evening, so the shepherd's pie was perfect to warm us up. It was so popular I put it on the menu this week for lunch, and I'm distributing the recipe to parents as well.
I do love a casserole when it's cold outside!

On the lunch menu this week - grilled cheese and tomato soup, chicken alfredo, pizza, turkey burgers and green salad, yum!

The mayor came for lunch!

Last Thursday we had some very special guests at BCS. Mayor Bob Kiss and two of his co-workers joined our Older Toddlers for meatloaf, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach, and cinnamon apples. They were touring businesses in the Old North End of Burlington (our neighborhood) and made us their lunchtime stop.

I used my Nana's tried and true recipe for meatloaf, the same one I use every time I make it for the kids:
1 pound ground beef
1 egg

1/2 cup bread crumbs
large crushed garlic clove
salt and pepper

cover top with ketchup

(multiply this as many times as you need to - I used 10 pounds of beef!)
bake at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until proper temperature is reached on a meat thermometer.
The more you make the longer you'll need to bake. My "swimming pool sized" loaf - as Sarah likes to call it- takes about 2.5 hours.

It was a hit! I'm pretty sure the mayor asked for seconds. My husband was there taking photos, and captured some great conversations.

This toddler wanted to know if Bob Kiss liked to eat hot peppers.

He does!

And everyone enjoyed the meal. It was my first time serving the kids cooked spinach. I used large leaves and sauteed them with butter and a little salt, pepper and granulated garlic just until they were wilted and a little shiny. I'm happy to say, some of them tried it! And of the kids who tried it, some actually liked it! It was popular with the adults, and a nice new addition to our veggie rotation. I can't wait to make it again.

Notice the photo of the mayor behind his desk hanging on the line on the wall in this photo! Sarah gave it to the toddlers last week when they were preparing for the visit, and wondering what Bob Kiss's office looked like and what he did there.

Then it was time to get ready for nap.
(I love the way our classrooms transition from busy lunch times to quiet cozy napping spaces.)

Thank you Mayor Kiss! Please come back again soon!

p.s. There is so much more to catch up on! But I think I'll wait till the weekend for the rest. I have some wonderful photos of our new preschoolers enjoying lunch on meatloaf day, and of the fantastic kitchen area in our Green Preschool classroom, AND I'll want to report on our Curriculum Night and Family Dinner - happening tomorrow night. In the spirit of these chilly, windy, rainy Fall days we're having shepherd's pie, homemade bread, and applesauce. I'll tell you all about it. If you're part of the BCS family, we'll see you there!