Comfort Food...Shepherd's or Cottage Pie

For I know the plans I have for you ‘declares the LORD,’
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future
~~Jeremiah 29:11

Rain Rain go away...10-day forecast of rain since Friday. I am a warm weather gal. Waking up to clear sky, feeling the warmth of a bright, uplifting ray on Friday morning, I was unquestionably alive. It's really a bonus as I got to go hang out with my knitting friends at Barnes & Noble while my kids happily with their friends. Spontaneously, I invited myself and kids over to our new friend Allison's home for the afternoon...which turned into dining at her home until wee hours. Another friend (whom I met only online about 9 months ago) joined us later in the afternoon for some serious pickling experiment (19 pounds of union, garlic, and zucchinis.) Though in the heart of heart, I missed sadly not being at Life is Good Conference again this year (missing an opportunity to meet and hang out with inspiring people like Diana,) this is in fact the good life I was desperately thirty for...baking, cooking, eating, dehydrating bananas and papayas, chatting, cleaning...with friends you adore. We NEVER seem to run outta thangs to talk about...thangs I'm passionate about...reading, writing, laughing, talking, listening, people watching, living!! I am replenishing.

I've been contemplating whether or not to go to the COOL Homeschooling Group annual potluck at Higher Ground...up to the last minute. (Sorry no photo taken as I have been slippin') Rainy day like yesterday--where I'd rather stay in, but chose to be out--just to get all in the elements. I am glad we went to the potluck. COOL families have been my personal motivators. Besides, I'd never hear the end of it from our funniest, smoothest, dearest children if we missed it. It was a rush but I managed to make a cottage pie (and an half.) I used a packet of gravy mix and buffalo ground this time and, to my surprise, my angels love them! Though I was a bit disappointed that only the core group of families were there, I did treasure memorable moments spent with ones there last night. At the potluck, we surprised our friend Jenn with a healing basket of mostly handmade goodies and good wishes while she faces her trials as well as celebrating her son AJ's birthday. God is bigger than anything and everything is possible with Him. May He smoothen Jenn's and her mother's day, calm all forms of storm, keep them grounded and perfectly safe, as they seek His Will as the new day greeted them. May the Lord envelope them with love and compassion. May He bring comfort to their weariness and renew their strength as they rest and their vitality be restored as He wake you up.

My spirit is showin' sign of improvement from mental exhaustion and physical fatigue. THANK YOU, my friends, for your hugs and comforting words while my earthly body is being healed and restored. Victory over the next lapse of my journey is promising. I've been TRULY blessed by the Creator with individuals that have been brought into my life--the funny, smart, entertaining, philosophical, political, wildin' out, etc. cyber friends I've come to know. Peace and great health!

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Do you know the difference between Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie? When the English, who seem to have a national fascination with minced meat pies, combined mashed potatoes with minced meat, a truly remarkable dish was born. For over two hundred years, Shepherd's Pie has been made by cooking chopped-up lamb or mutton, mixed with gravy, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked until a crispy crust forms. When made with beef or elk, the dish is traditionally called Cottage and Hunter Pie, respectively. Here is my hearty version of Cottage Pie--a great basic recipe to tweak. This comfort food casserole is guaranteed to warm you over. I've used an 8oz-can of tomato sauce, Worcester Sauce, and a packet of Lipton onion soup mix instead of salt, pepper and flour mixture; bags of frozen mixed veggies, canned green beans instead of fresh veggies; mashed potatoes with milk, sour cream and mustard...endless alternatives. Be Free to experiment.

8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 T Butter, slivered
2 T Finely Chopped Onion
1 C Shredded Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Colby Cheese (whatever cheese on hand)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb Mixed Corn, Green Beans, Carrots, Peas, Celery and Broccoli Flowerettes (or fresh veggie of your choice)
2 T Safflower Oil (or Oil of your Choice)
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Whole Garlic, chopped (less or omit if you don't care for garlic)
1 lb lean ground bison (or beef; omit and add more vegetables if preferred)
2 T All-Purpose Flour
1 T Ketchup
2 T Worcester Sauce
A packet of Gravy Mix & 1C Water (or 3/4 C beef broth)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain and mash. Mix in butter, finely chopped onion and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° (375° if using non-glass dish.) Mix ground meat, 1T of flour, Worcester Sauce, and ketchup well. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and cook until clear. Add ground meat mixture and cook until well browned. Pour off excess fat and set aside. Saute veggies for 4-5 minutes until tender but still firm, stir in rest of flour, a packet of brown gravy, a cup of water, ketchup and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.
Spread the ground beef in an even layer on the bottom of a 9x13" glass casserole dish. Next, spread a layer of mix veggies. Top with the mashed potato mixture and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Happy healthy cooking!

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