Not So Traditional Shepherd’s Pie….

Because I don’t like lamb.  Did you know Shepherd’s Pie is supposed to be made with lamb?  I think technically what this is is Cottage Pie.  But would anyone search for that?  Or would you know what it was if I called a recipe that?  Me either.

This recipe is not hard, but it is time consuming.  It’s also not in the top ten for my healthiest editions to this blog, nor is is low calorie.  But it’s a great comfort food type family meal – perfect for a Sunday.


  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 LB lean ground beef
  • 1 c chopped yellow onions
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 1/8 c + 2 tsp  all-purpose flour
  • 1 c beef stock or broth
  • 1/2 c of red wine (or more broth if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for the potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the potatoes
  • 2 c of frozen mixed veggies, defrosted
  • 2 LB russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 3/4 c half and half
  • 1/2 c grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Place potatoes in a large sauce pan, and add water to cover.  Add salt to your personal taste preferences.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, in a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onions, and celery and cook until the beef is browned and the vegetables are softened.
  4. Add the flour and stir until the mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the beef stock or broth and wine, if using. Stir until completely combined, then stir in the thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  6. Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and bubbling.
  7. Stir in the mixed vegetables and set aside.
  8. Heat the half-and-half in a small sauce pan until it is hot, but not boiling.
  9. Butter a deep dish 9-inch pie plate or a casserole dish (whatever size you have that this fits well in!) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone liner).
  10. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
  11. With an electric mixer, beat the potatoes on low speed, slowly adding the hot half-and-half, the cheeses, and salt and pepper to taste, until the ingredients mixed thoroughly.
  12. Place the beef mixture in the pie plate or casserole dish. Top the beef mixture with the mashed potatoes. Scatter the butter pieces on top. Sprinkle with paprika.
  13. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned and the filling is heated completely through.

Makes 4 (very generous) to 6 servings.


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Easy Chicken Parmesan (Oven Baked)

This is a crowd pleaser at my house – and much healthier than some of the deep fried versions available when eating out.  I find a mixture of regular bread crumbs with Panko gives the chicken coating a crispier texture, but you can use all regular breadcrumbs as well.  If you can’t find the Italian seasoned variety, just add a tsp or so of Italian seasoning blend to plain bread crumbs.  I will have to add some pictures at a later date!  I completely forgot to take any last time I made this.


  •  4-6 (6 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces, pounded thin
  • 1/2 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush cookie sheet
  • 1-2 c of jarred or homemade marinara sauce (or more if you serve with pasta!)
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the parchment lightly with olive oil.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
  4. Place 2 TB olive oil in a small bowl.
  5. Lightly brush the olive oil onto a piece of the chicken, then dip into breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove from oven, spoon 1-2 tbsp sauce over each piece of chicken, then top each with 1-2 TB shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. Return chicken to oven and cook until cheese is melted, around 5 minutes.
  9. My kids like this over pasta, I like it with a salad on the side, or sometimes over spaghetti squash.
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2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 12 (March 12 through 18)

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually on vacation this week.  So this is our meal plan for an upcoming week when we are back at home!  But hopefully it helps you with some ideas!



Make Ahead Denver Omelet Muffins


Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad in a Mason Jar


Monday –  Sante Fe Chicken with brown rice.  You can make this on the stove or in the slow cooker/crockpot.

Tuesday – BBQ legs (simply grilled, with sauce at the end), brown rice and green beans.

Wednesday – Leftovers/out or takeout.

Thursday –  Cheeseburger casserole, veggie tray and dip.

Friday – Leftovers, out or takeout.

Saturday – Beef Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with salad.

Sunday – Leftovers, out our takeout.



Posted in Baked Pasta, Breakfast, casserole, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Mason Jar Meals, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast, salad, Slow Cooker, Southwestern | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 11 (March 5 through 11)

Week 11 already.  This week’s plan will be light for 2 reasons.  1.  I am struggling to come up with some ideas.  So if you have any, send them my way!  2.  We leave for vacation on Friday so I’m trying to use up what we have and not create a bunch of leftovers that won’t get eaten.  🙂

Weekly Meal Plan PDF: HERE.


I made my breakfast partway ahead this week, prepping and cooking the potatoes for this Roasted Vegetable and Egg hash – Breakfast: Roasted Vegetable and Egg Hash.


In anticipation of leaving for vacation, I am grabbing lunches from the freezer this week (also, my freezer is stuffed, so I need to eat some of it….here’s what I have!

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

Pressure Cooker Lentil and Chicken Soup


Monday – Crockpot Chicken For Tacos, Taco Salads, Nachos and more!  Because it’s easy.  And everyone can then build their own dinner.

Tuesday – My Take on Korean Rice Bowls

Wednesday – Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker), brown rice, green beans.

Thursday – Clean out the leftovers night!

Friday – Dinner on the road…some kind of quick stop as we head out of town.

Saturday – We have a reservation at our destination for dinner out.

Sunday – BBQ grilled chicken, potatoes and roasted or grilled vegetables.

Posted in Breakfast, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Korean, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast, Repurposed Leftovers, Slow Cooker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast: Roasted Vegetable and Egg Hash

This week my breakfasts are basically 2/3 of the way made ahead.  When I make a fried egg, I’m not a fan of reheating it, so I’ve cooked all the veggies and each morning I just reheat them briefly in a pan, and cook an egg or two on top.  So this one requires a little work in the morning….but not much!

Roasted Vegetable and Egg Hash (Makes 6-8 servings)


  • 1.5 lbs of red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1.5 lbs of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 3 TB avocado oil
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2-3 regular bell peppers or 8-10 mini sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1 c. sliced green onions
  • Eggs (1-2 per serving)
  • Salt and pepper (and maybe hot sauce if you like), to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Toss potatoes with oil and dried spices in a large bowl.
  4. Spread potatoes in a single layer on lined cookie sheets and roast for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Although potatoes to cool, and divide among containers.  Divide peppers and onions.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  6. When ready to use, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and dump the potato mixture on it.  When heated, top with 1-2 eggs and cook until desired doneness.  Add salt and pepper and/or hot sauce and eat!
Posted in Breakfast, Easy Breakfast, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 10 (February 26 through March 4)

Oh good, it’s March.  Well basically.  Because I’m not even used to it being February yet.  So tomorrow is practically Christmas, best I can tell?  Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the tree down…….

Little league practices have kicked in, football is ongoing, etc.  I hope to spend some time in the kitchen this week, but I am already a day behind, doing all my Sunday prep on Monday!  I’m thinking 4 home cooked dinners is ambitious, so there’s 3 nights of eating out or leftovers this week (AGAIN!)

Here’s the PDF plan for the week with links:  MEAL PLAN WEEK 10.

Or, read on…..


Oatmeal, a hard boiled egg and fruit Monday through Friday, and avocado toast with eggs on the weekend.


Making a batch of Pressure Cooker Lentil and Chicken Soup to eat all week, and will supplement as needed with leftovers.


Monday – Black Bean, White Bean and Beef Taco Chili, cornbread muffins and a veggie tray.

Tuesday – Skinny Taste Sweet Potato Topped Shepherd’s Pie, salad.

Wednesday –  Leftover night.

Thursday – No Boil Chicken Sausage and Pasta Casserole

Friday – Leftovers or take out for a family movie or game night.  If we survive until then.

Saturday –  Chicken Chow Mein from Dinner at the Zoo, everyone loved this so much a couple weeks ago, it has been requested again!

Sunday –  Leftovers or takeout.


Posted in Baked Pasta, Breakfast, casserole, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Instant Pot, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 9 (February 19-25)

It’s going to be a busy week, we’ve got some serious dental work for one kid, football practices, baseball practices, t-ball practices…a full day training for me….so all the prep and planning are required!

Breakfasts –

I’m in a taco kind of mood after having a taco bar for dinner on Saturday, so continuing on that theme, I’ll prep veggies for these and throw them together each morning.

Egg White Breakfast Tacos

Lunches –

I made ahead four lunches this week and will supplement with leftovers.

Skinny Taste Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Dinners –

Monday – My Take on Korean Rice Bowls, cucumber salad.

Tuesday –  White Chicken Chili, cornbread, veggie tray.

Wednesday – Leftovers/Out/Takeout night.

Thursday – One of the small Koreans is obsessed with Panera Macaroni and Cheese.  So I promised I would try to make it at home.  I found a few recipes online, and am going to start with this one:  Copy Kat Panera Mac and Cheese.  I’ll let you know what I end up doing differently.   Because you know I always end up off recipe.  I’ll grill some chicken and cook some veggies with.

Friday – Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (serves 4-6), veggie tray.

Saturday – Leftovers/Out/Takeout night.

Sunday –  Leftovers/Out/Takeout night.

Here’s a PDF with links if you prefer to visualize that way!



Posted in Breakfast, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Korean, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Quick Breakfast, Slow Cooker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (serves 4-6)

The chicken will cook in 4-6 hours on low for this one (usually within 4 with my slow cooker), but make sure you allow for around 60 minutes of prep time (mostly passive) right before eating for the vegetables to heat and the dumplings to cook!



  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 onion, white or yellow, finely chopped
  • 2-3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 c flour (whole wheat or all purpose)
  • 1/4 c white wine (or chicken broth if you prefer)
  • 10 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted
  • 2.5 c chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1 2/3 c flour (I use whole wheat, but all-purpose is fine)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c milk (whole)
  • 2 TB unsalted butter


  1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken lightly on both sides, 5-8 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Heat remaining oil in pan and add onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste and thyme.  Cook until vegetables are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in wine or broth, scrape up any browned bits.  Whisk in one cup of broth and smooth out any lumps.  Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir remaining broth and bay leaf into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.
  4. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, and shred into bite sized pieces.  Discard bay leaf.
  5. Stir shredded chicken and defrosted vegetables into stew.  Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth, if needed.  Cover and cook on high until simmering (20-30 minutes).
  6. While the stew is returning to a simmer, make dumplings: whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a large boil.  Microwave milk and butter together until warm (don’t overheat!) (around 1 minute), then stir to melt butter.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just incorporated.  Drop golf ball sized dumplings on top of simmer stew.  Cover and cook until they have doubled in size, around 30 minutes.
  7. Serve!


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2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 8 (February 12-18)

Here we go again, another Monday.  Another shot at a week of well planned eating.  I feel the need to confess that although I come up with these plans weekly, I consider it a success if we have 80% compliance.  For example, last week?  I cooked all the things on the plan, but the order got switched, one cooking night became a takeout night and so on….but, I ate all the healthy breakfasts and packed good lunches for the kids all week, so I’m giving myself a gold star.  Really, I am.  I’m putting a gold star on last week in my planner (yeah, I use a paper planner, it’s so 1998 of me).  I even have a little sticker on it each week where I write the dinner for that night.  I can’t help it, I like fun pens, colorful stickers and paper.  Every time I try to go solely electronic it doesn’t work for me!

Breakfasts –

Some standbys this week.  I have been in the mood for yogurt, so parfaits again – this time with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries along with honey and almonds.  I also have some burritos in the freezer to pull out on the other days.  And on the weekend, my fave, avocado toast with eggs.

Blueberry and Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Make Ahead and Freeze Black Bean and Cheese Burritos

Lunches –

I made these lentil bowls for the week.  I will add the avocado, egg and cholula right before eating.

Skinnytaste Lentil Bowls with Avocado, Hard Boiled Egg and Cholula.

Dinners –

Monday –  Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker), brown rice and green beans.

Tuesday – leftover Slow Cooker Italian Beef turned into sandwiches with peppers and provolone, with a veggie tray on the side.

Wednesday – Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.

Thursday – Pork Fried Rice using the leftover Soy Ginger Pork Roast (Crock Pot/Slow Cooker) from Monday.

Friday – Takeout/out or leftovers.

Saturday – We have a football game at 4, plus it’s a monthly extended family dinner, so for ease of prep and cooking it will be a make your own taco bar!  I’ll do ground beef and Crockpot Chicken For Tacos, Taco Salads, Nachos and more! and we will have tortillas, chips, salsas etc. to top it all with!

Sunday – Takeout/out or leftovers.

Here is a printable PDF of the plan with links as well, if you prefer to see this all on one page!


Posted in Breakfast, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, pork, Quick Breakfast, Repurposed Leftovers, Slow Cooker, Southwestern | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Monday Meal Plan: Week 7 (February 5-11)

I’m still having trouble with the fact that it’s already February – anyone else?  That cheesy saying about the days being long but the years being short….it is oddly true.

New format for this week, in addition to the blog post here, I’ve got a PDF of the week’s plan for you, in case you like something you can print for quick reference.  I also have a blank one HERE, if you like to print and make your own meal plan.

Breakfasts –

  1. Monday through Friday – Blueberry and Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits and hard boiled eggs
  2. Weekend – Avocado toast with fried eggs

Lunches –

My freezer is overflowing, so I pulled some leftovers out for this week and will supplement with leftovers.  Leftovers:

  1. Chicken and Corn Chowder (CrockPot/Slow Cooker)
  2. Pressure Cooker Lentil and Chicken Soup

Dinners –

Monday – Balsamic Chicken Thighs from Sugar Free Mom, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday – Chicken Chow Mein from Dinner at the Zoo (what a great blog name!).

Wednesday – Turkey Taco Bowls.

Thursday – No Boil Chicken Sausage and Pasta Casserole.

Friday – Leftovers, takeout or dinner out!

Saturday – Leftovers, takeout or dinner out!

Sunday – Slow Cooker Italian Beef.

Meal Plan PDF: Click HERE.

Posted in Baked Pasta, Breakfast, casserole, chicken, Dinner, Easy Breakfast, Easy Lunch, Freezer meals, Leftovers, Lunch, Make Ahead, Meal Plans, meal prep, Slow Cooker | Tagged , , | Leave a comment