In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: Mexican Shepard’s Pie

Sunday night we had tacos for dinner. Kevin browned up the ground beef, while I warmed up Spanish rice and refried beans. We also cooked up some black beans, corn and diced tomatoes to enjoy as another side dish. And well, we had a few left overs. It wasn’t quite enough to have tacos another night, but I didn’t want to toss any of it out either. Then I  had a wonderful, brilliant idea.  We make Shepard’s Pie with leftovers, so what was stopping us this time? I realized I could create a Mexican inspired Shepard’s Pie.


A Mexican take on Shepard's Pie....

A Mexican take on Shepard’s Pie….

So, I grabbed two ramekins and layered the left over hamburger, the black-beans, rice and then the refried beans. I topped them both with shredded cheddar cheese and warmed them up in a 350 degree oven for dinner last night. The result was amazing. Kevin is still patting me on the back for the save.

I’d love to say there was some special recipe associated, but honestly there isn’t.  It was just a smart way to use up just a little leftover taco fixin’s.

Colcannon – An Irish Tradition

Like most Americans my husband and I can trace our roots back to Ireland.  While our affection for St. Patrick’s Day is shared by many, we are perhaps one of the few families that has no use for it as a day of drinking and debauchery. St. Patrick’s Day was always a religious holiday with the pubs in Ireland closed for the day until the 1970’s.  It was the Irish in  America that turned it into an excuse to drink green beer and at times to excess.

We opt to celebrate the day a bit more mildly. We do enjoy a Guinness or two, and love to listen to the Irish pub songs, but we keep it simple.  Our favorite tradition is to make colcannon. We started doing this a few years ago and look forward to it each year.   Colcannon is  a creamy mix of mashed potatoes, green cabbage and diced ham.  As far as comfort food goes, it’s the best.


To make it at home you will need the following:

Four good sized Russet potatoes or Yukon Gold

A head of green cabbage

Pre-cooked ham steaks, diced to bite size pieces

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tbsp of butter ( we use Kerry Gold)

1/2 cup milk or heavy cream ( depending on how rich you want it)

1/2 shredded cheddar (optional)

Peel and dice the potatoes. Boil until fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, slice the cabbage and cook it until  its bright green.  Once the potatoes are done, place them in a stand mixer or food processor with the milk,  butter salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.  Drain the cabbage and then add to the mashed potatoes.  Next, stir in the ham.  Pour all of it into a casserole dish and warm it in the oven at 300, or on the stove top on low.

I kicked ours up a little by stirring in 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar.  Cheese is not traditional to the recipe, but it does add a little extra to the dish.

A Review (and giveaway) of TLC’s Cookbook

I will admit it. One of my guilty pleasures is watching TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and The Little Couple.  Jen and Bill are adorable to watch together and seriously, who doesn’t love Randy. Even Honey Boo Boo begins to grow on you after a while, doesn’t she?  Capitalizing the popularity of their stars, TLC collaborated with Parragon books to publish a cookbook from a gathered collection of family recipes from its stars.


Imagine my delight when I was offered a chance to review the new cookbook. The book TLC Kitchen- 120 Timeless Recipes from Our Family to Yours arrived late last week and I was immediately impressed. It features 254 pages of recipes and photos from TLC’s favorites like Buddy Valastro, Marissa Lopez and June Shannon. Randy Fenoli offers up a fabulous recipe for Cranberry Orange scones that I can’t wait to try!

The book is available in hard cover or e-book formats. It has color photographs of each recipe, and step-by-step instructions to make creating these TLC family favorites a snap for your family.

“This cookbook is our way of inviting fans and families to bring a taste of TLC into their own kitchens, and the familiar faces that contributed recipes to this cookbook know that good food can bring families closer together,” said Elizabeth Bakacs, Vice President of TLC Licensing.  “Through this partnership with Parragon, we look forward to expanding your recipe collection to include TLC’s family favorites.”

Well, I don’t have to be the only one with a complimentary copy. They shipped me two copies!  I’ll be giving away one to a lucky reader!  For a chance to win, comment with your favorite TLC show, “like” us on Facebook and follow on Twitter.  I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday using a random number generator.

Paying Homage to National Peanut Butter Month….


This house loves its peanut butter. It’s slathered on toast instead of butter every Sunday with breakfast. My husband still loves a childhood favorite – PB&J sandwiches. Chocolate and peanut butter are a treasured combination too. So I would be very remiss not to pay homage to the pantry staple.


Peanuts can trace their roots back 3,500 years to the area of South America. They were discovered by the Spanish and exported to Europe and then onto to Asia. In the 1800’s the peanut became a commercially grown crop in Virginia for use as oil and feed for livestock.  It wasn’t until the St.Louis World’s Fair that Peanut butter was introduced.  Today, it’s available on any grocery store shelf in an array of varieties, from organic to creamy or extra crunchy.

peanut butter cookies

peanut butter cookies

Peanut Butter isn’t just for sandwich spreads.  It’s a rich creamy treat found in cookies, fudge, brownies and candy bars.  Our quick and easy go to cookie recipe is a version of Paula Deen’s Peanut butter cookies.  Kevin will request these after a tough week at the office or just as a treat on a Sunday afternoon.




Celebrate: The Last Weekend of Summer

The last weekend is summer is a bit of crazy concept in a region where the temps will remain summer like for another two months or so. Still, Labor Day weekend has long been a weekend to hang with family and friends to reflect on the adventures of summer and celebrate one last time.

This weekend we may catch up with friends down by the beach, or have friends over. Regardless, I’ll be kick starting the weekend with apple slices, brie cheese, asiago cheese bread and a good red wine. IMG_0525

I recently gave Concannon Vineyards a try. They have been around for 130 years, and yet I had never heard of them. I’m not usually a fan of red wines on their own, but their Conservancy Red Table Wine was pretty good. It had an oaky flavor without being too heavy or too bitter. I would definitely buy it again.  I think it would be better in sangria, though.


My recipe for sangria is super easy.

1 bottle of red wine

1 bottle of ginger ale

1/2 cup of Triple Sec or another orange liqueur

1/2 cup of vodka

a sliced orange, lemon and lime

Pour everything into a pitcher, stir well and let it sit over night.

If you want you can add cinnamon sticks or a couple shots of a cinnamon liqueur for an extra kick.

This sangria is great to serve at a backyard BBQ, or a casual dinner with friends.

* this post was sponsored by Bzz Agent on behalf of Concannon Vineyards. I was mailed a $5.00 coupon to try the wine.