When I was reading a “Tasty Thursday” thread on a stepmom friend’s facebook page, I saw a post by a woman who had made mini shepherd’s pies in a muffin pan. Ingenious! I decided I would make that for St. Patrick’s Day because then I could tailor it to each person (some for the beef eaters in the family and some for the pescatarians in the family). Why hadn’t I thought of that before?
Hubby and younger B (age 9) love to eat meat, red or extra fatty meats especially. B has been know to say (frequently), “I have to have bacon.” The older E (age 11), however, has always leaned towards the vegetarian lifestyle. When I had to turn pescatarian for health reasons, she enthusiastically embraced it. She’ll still eat turkey and chicken, and an occasional cheeseburger, but she loves it when I cook pescatarian or vegetarian foods.
I quit making shepherd’s pie when I could no longer have beef. Mushroom versions just didn’t do it for me, maybe since I don’t care much for mushrooms. Determined to make a vegetarian shepherd’s pie I liked, I decided to make mine and E’s with crumbled tofu. I gave E the choice, as always, of the beef or tofu version, and as always, her response was, “yay tofu!” She loves the stuff.
The woman who made the mini pies used crescent roll dough, shaped it into the muffin tins, filled with meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes, and topped with cheese (if I remember correctly) and baked. I decided I wanted to make Irish soda bread, which led me to leave out the crescent roll portion. I made the bread first and while it baked, I made the fillings for the shepherd’s pies.
WHOLE WHEAT IRISH SODA BREAD:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar in to 2 1/4 cups unsweetened soy milk, and set aside for a few minutes to allow to curdle.
- In a large bowl, sift together 4 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
- Pour in the curdled soy milk and 4 Tablespoons honey.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine all ingredients, adding more flour if necessary.
- Once the dough forms a smooth ball, turn out onto the parchment paper, shaping into a round.
- Bake for about 50 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit on the counter for 30 – 40 minutes. The center will continue to cook through as it cools.
SHEPHERD’S PIE, TWO WAYS:
- NOTE: for sake of ease, since I’m not a true vegetarian, I used beef broth for both the beef and tofu versions. If you want a truly vegetarian version, use a good quality low sodium vegetable broth. Fat free beef broth does not hurt my tummy – it’s the fat and heaviness of the meat itself that does.
- In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups low sodium, fat free beef broth to a boil.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk 6 Tablespoons flour into 1/2 cup beef broth.
- Pour the flour mixture into the boiling beef broth and whisk while the mixture returns to a boil and thickens. Cook for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally, while making the fillings.
- To deepen the flavor, I added a few shakes of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to the sauce, or you could add low sodium soy sauce. The liquid aminos add a rich, salty flavor without adding a ton of sodium. My grocer sells it near the vinegars.
- In a medium, deep skillet, brown up to 1 pound ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Add about 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, or more if you like, and heat through.
- Drain the grease, pour the beef/corn filling into a bowl and set aside.
- Wipe the skillet and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
- Crumble 8 ounces drained tofu (and squeezed of excess liquid) into hot skillet.
- Season with steak seasoning mix (this adds a “meatier” flavor) and brown the tofu.
- Add 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, or more if you like, and heat through.
ASSEMBLE & BAKE:
- Mix desired amount of sauce into each filling.
- Spoon fillings into ramekins. I used 7-ounce ramekins for the girls’ portions and 16-ounce Corningware bowls for the adult portions (though I could have used a 7-ounce portion since the other half of mine is in the refrigerator and will be tomorrow’s lunch). I got one extra ramekin of the beef filling that B will happily devour for lunch tomorrow.
- You can either make your own mashed potatoes or do what I did – I heated two packages of Alexis brand mashed red potatoes, found in the frozen section of the grocery store – and pile them on top of the filling.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Remove, top with shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled goat cheese and fresh chopped chives.
- Serve with slices of wheat Irish soda bread.
B devoured her portion, bread and all, as did Hubby. E and I both loved the tofu version! It was so full of flavor with the steak seasoning and the sauce (again, for a truly vegetarian version use vegetable broth to make the sauce). And the bread was perfect for dipping into the individual pies. The girls thought it looked fancy in their own ramekin dishes with slices of bread on the side. We’ll definitely be making this again! With the shamrock shortbread cookies for dessert, this was a perfect St. Patrick’s Day dinner.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~