Friday, December 26, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

I have no idea why this is called shepherd's pie, but it's a great way to use up leftovers from holiday meals. And oh so nice to have on hand when I need a quick dinner! Ingredient amounts are inexact since it all depends on what you have left.

2-4 c. leftover meat, chopped (turkey or ham or even ground beef)
1/2 to 1-1/2 c. leftover veggies (usually corn, peas or beans, if beans, cut them up)
1-2 c. leftover gravy (if using beef, you can also use tomato sauce mixed with some italian seasoning & garlic salt instead)
1-3 c. leftover stuffing
2-4 c. leftover mashed potatoes

In a 9x13 pan, layer as follows:
spread gravy over the top
sprinkle stuffing over
spoon mashed potatoes on top, and spread out so that it's about 1/2" to 1" thick or so.

If you are eating this within a day or two, store in the fridge. Potato layer can be thicker. Reheat in 350 oven for about 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This actually freezes pretty well considering it has potatoes in it. Just don't put on a really thick layer of mashed potatoes. Then when you reheat, I put some chunks of butter on top of the potatoes to help it brown nicely. You'll have to reheat for about an hour and a half in 350 oven. Cover with tinfoil for the first hour or so, then remove foil for last bit.

Gluten free tips: omit stuffing, make gluten free gravy (use arrowroot powder to thicken.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Maple Caramel Candies

These are known in our family as "Knack" (kuh-neck, should be two dots over the "a" but I can't figure out how to do that.) My mom is Swedish and always made these for us every Christmas.

1 c. heavy cream
1 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. sugar
1 TBS butter

Mix all ingredients in a pot. Heat on med -med high and bring it to a boil. Let it bubble for about 1/2 hour. Heat to about 250 degrees (or firm ball stage). You can test the texture by dripping it into a cup of ice water. You want a ball formed without sticking. Pour it into small candy cups while it's still hot and let it cool.

If you prefer, you can make it softer (240 degrees), or hard like toffee (anywhere from 260 to 300). We like the chewiness we get at 250 degrees.

I bet you could also substituted other natural sweeteners for the sugar, I just haven't tested it yet! If you do, let me know the results! I would try no extra sugar, or honey or sucanat.