Here’s a comfort food recipe that is ideal for summer. The entire recipe may be cooked on the stove top, but I usually finish it in a glass casserole dish in the microwave. It has the bright flavor of this season’s savory fare, but the potato topping mellows the recipe just enough to give it staying power over the appetite.
Sometimes I make this recipe in the cold of winter to remind me that everything will thaw and rebound again.
Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- dash seasoned salt
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/4 yellow mustard
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 T ketchup
- Dash hot sauce (or to taste)
- 1/4 t garlic powder
- 1/2 t dried thyme
- 1/2 t black pepper
- 1 15.25 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 cups warm mashed potatoes, can be leftovers or the store-ready kind
- 1/4 cup diced green onions
- 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles, for topping
Brown and crumble ground beef with chopped onion and seasoned salt over medium heat in a 10″ or 12″ skillet. Drain fat. Pour in beef broth and bring to a simmer. Mix in mustard, tomato paste, ketchup, hot sauce, garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. When all is well combined and bubbling, stir in the corn. Next add 1/2 cup cheese and stir until melted.
To finish on stove top:
Turn down heat to medium low. Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the green onions. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until all is heated through and cheese is melted.
To finish in microwave:
Empty ground beef mixture into 2 quart microwave-safe casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes over mixture and sprinkle with the remaining half cup cheese and the green onions. Heat in microwave for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.
Both versions are good served with pickles. I’ve made this dish with a bit of crumbled, cooked bacon on top, too. Just about any cheeseburger topping is a festive addition to this recipe at the dinner table.
Adding the tomato paste and ketchup
And the ketchup and thyme
Adding the cheese to the filling
The filling is ready for its mashed potato blanket
Ready for its close up
The finished dish
This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens‘ Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie. I tried that recipe three years ago, and I’ve simplified it a bit more every time I make it. In this house, it has evolved into the version I offer here.
Yesterday my daughter and I made a peanut butter cake for Father’s Day. My dad’s love of peanut butter is a bit legendary. When he was a child, he sliced his tongue in two by licking peanut butter off a knife. This incident did not slow down his preference for peanut butter. At all times, there is a jar of Jif in my parent’s refrigerator that is just for him. It is the only luxury he keeps for himself. He eats it by the tablespoonful.
Last year I made this cake, but its contour looked less like a cake and more like an Appalachian foothill. I’ve been baking cakes and making homemade icing for a long time, but I was somewhat hopeless in leveling and decorating these cakes. The beginner’s cake decorating class that my daughter and I are taking has helped a lot.
Before I close this post in time to bring this cake to my dad, I will share my recipe for peanut butter buttercream.
Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing
Makes enough to ice a 2 layer 8-inch cake, or 18 cupcakes
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup liquid vanilla coffee creamer
- dash salt
Cream butter and peanut butter with a mixer. Sprinkle in salt. Add powdered sugar by the cup, blending well after each addition. Pour in coffee creamer slowly and blend on medium speed until the icing reaches spreading consistency. I’ve found that the amount of liquid or powdered sugar I use in an icing varies by the heat and humidity of the season. During the winter, I usually add a bit more liquid, and summer leads toward the opposite, more powdered sugar.
We’re in the midst of a minor heat wave here in Ohio. Today I was craving some berry pie but didn’t want to heat up my kitchen baking a traditional one. I whipped up some quick no-sugar added pie filling in my microwave and spread it in a graham cracker crust. This pie can also be made with sugar. I used stevia that measures cup for cup like sugar. If stevia is used, this pie has just 5 grams of added sugar per slice from the graham cracker crust.
I used frozen mixed berries because I had some on hand. This pie can also be made with all blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
This recipe has instructions for the microwave. The pie filling step can also be prepared on the stove top by stirring the mixture over medium until the sauce is transparent and bubbling.
No Bake Berry Pie
- 6 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup stevia for baking (the type that measures like sugar; sugar can be used instead in the same amount)
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- dash salt
- 1 t lemon juice
- 9 in graham cracker pie crust
Toss berries, sweetener, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl that is microwave safe. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until transparent and bubbling, stopping every two minutes to stir the mixture. Stir in lemon juice and pour into graham cracker crust. Chill for an hour or until firm enough to slice.
Hummus is easy to make at home. When I whip up a batch in my blender, I skip the olive oil to cut down on fat. Oil does lend that divinely smooth mouth feel to traditional hummus, but I don’t miss its flavor in my homemade batches.
By the way, in my first little draft of this recipe, I accidentally typed “1 glove garlic.” What could be made with a glove of garlic, and it could it double as eternal insurance against vampires?
Yield: 1.5 cups, or 12 2 Tbsp servings
- 1 16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
- 4 T tahini
- 4 T lemon juice
- 5 T water
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients into blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Serve with cut vegetables and crackers.
Today I discovered that simple ice cream can be made from a combination of milk, sweetener, and flavorings. This version is root beer and vanilla flavored. My daughter thinks this treat tastes very much like a root beer float.
Easy Root Beer Ice Cream
Makes 6 1/2 cup servings
3 cups 2% milk (lactose free milk may be used instead)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t root beer flavoring (I used LorAnn brand, available in craft stores)
3/4 t vanilla extract
Whisk all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Since this ice cream is low fat without thickeners, I recommend enjoying it soft-serve style, right after churning is done.
When I think of hummus, one of the few latin phrases I know comes to mind, ne plus ultra: there is nothing greater. To my palate, no other dip approaches the glory of hummus, which I’ve enjoyed for 25 years. The classic combination of garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic tastes so divine that I hesitate to justify a departure from it. I have read so many well-reviewed recipes for variations on hummus that it may be a blank canvas for all sorts of culinary adventures.
Today I tried combining hummus with another of my favorite flavors, refrigerator dill pickles. I’d recommend using a pickle you love. I’ve added pickles to enough recipes to know that it’s best to use a pickle you enjoy by itself. This pickle principle is parallel to the advice of cooking only with wines you like to drink. Otherwise, the finished dish could disappoint your taste buds. I’ve put hummus on sandwiches with pickles often enough that I guessed the combo could work in dip form. It has decent tartness that doesn’t mute the umami of the tahini.
Dill Pickle Hummus
Makes 2 1/2 cups
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
2/3 cup dill pickles, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
2 T pickle brine
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh dill, torn into pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with cut vegetables and crackers.
I continue to experiment with the banana-based ice cream genre so well described at That Clean Life. With summer looming, I highly recommend this technique to anyone who has a blender or food processor and can tolerate bananas. This fruit has an opposite reaction to freezing compared to grapes, whose flavor amplifies with dropping temperature. Frozen pureed bananas have a neutral flavor that fades into the other ingredients mixed with it. Its pectin and fructose can lend the muscle of sugar and fat to an ice cream, and its masquerade is convincing. Deeply frozen, it melts like a full-fat ice cream on the tongue.
In this recipe, I found a tasty purpose for my leftover mint and shredded coconut.
Coconut Mint Ice Cream, Dairy Free with Banana Base
Makes 2 servings
2 medium sliced bananas, frozen
1/3 cup fresh mint
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Put bananas, mint, and vanilla extract in blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of container periodically. Empty into freezer container and stir in coconut. Harden in the freezer for an hour, scoop into bowls, and enjoy.