Comfort Food Heaven

BRRRRRR!!!!  It’s getting quite…er…chilly, as of late.  I know, I know, nothing compared to what it will be like in Montana during Christmas break, but still.  I’m cold!  And it’s just this type of cold weather that sends even the most burly and tough looking man looking for a soft, warm, comforting meal.  Not that I fit that description…but still, this cold weather definitely makes any food below 160* seem fairly unappealing.  So with inspiration from a can of pumpkin in my cupboard, I got to work lookin’ for a recipe.

And here is what I found: Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie.  Pumpkin infused potatoes rest over a savory pumpkin-chicken-veggie filling to create…comfort food heaven on a plate.  Warm, dense, not to heavy.  Delicious!

Here’s our team!  Ground chicken, S&P, chicken broth, cornstarch, pumpkin, ketchup, onion, potato and carrot (rosemary missed the picture).  Pretty simple, and a lot of these ingredients are probably in your pantry!

The recipe is as simple as the ingredients:

First, peel and chop a potato, then let it boil while you make the filling.

Sauteé carrots and onions in some cooking spray.

Add the ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer), cornstarch, rosemary and S&P, and let it cook for awhile.

Then, toss in some broth, pumpkin, and ketchup and cook a little longer.

Drain the potato, then add pumpkin, cheese and S&P (and a splash of chicken broth if you should desire).  Bust out your trusty hand mixer and…..

…PULVERIZE!!!!!  Ahem.

Now,carefully pour the hot filling into a pan (I used a loaf pan).

Evenly spread the potatoes on top.

Now at this point, I let the shepherd’s pie sit out for a bit, then put it in the fridge to finish later.  So it works great to do that, or you can continue right along with the process.  If you do finish  the cooking later, place it in a 350* oven for 20 minutes before continuing with the next steps.

After assembling the pie, sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melty and perfect.

Look at that cheesy crust!

Don’t be bashful about adding more cheese on top… 😉

Chicken and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Very Best Baking / Libby’s

The Goods

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/4 cup (+/-) shredded cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooking spray

1 small onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 lb ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer)

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed

1/2 cup + splash reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth

1/2 tsp ketchup, optional

The Plan

1. Place potato chunks in a medium sauce pan and fill with water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil.  Cook over med-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender; drain.  Return potatoes to saucepan and add 1/2 cup pumpkin, a pinch of cheese, S&P to taste, and a splash of chicken broth.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Cover.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet, coated in cooking spray, over med-high heat.  Add onion and carrot, cooking and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until carrot begins to soften.  Add beef, cornstarch, rosemary and some more S&P.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until meat is cooked.  Stir in broth, 1/2 cup pumpkin, and ketchup (if using).  Bring to a boil, cooking for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally), until mixture has thickened slightly.

3. Preheat the broiler or let cool, and refrigerate**

4. Carefully spoon filling into an ungreased, broiler safe, deep pan (loaf pan, pie pan, etc).  Evenly spoon potato mixture over the filling, then sprinkle with cheese.

5. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.

**If placing in the refrigerator: before broiling, bake in a 350* for 20 minutes, or until hot.

Definitely one of the best dinners I’ve made recently.  And it reheats well to boot!

Well folks, the semester is winding down.  Two projects and two finals, and I’m outta here!  There’s undoubtedly an underlying sense of stress, though, and this is when I fight those nasty eating disorder voices the most.  I keep reminding myself that I won’t be able to finish strong if I’m not fueling my body well.  From a mental/emotional perspective, this isn’t always easy to do.  But  Psalm 139:4 came up in my devotional this morning, and I think it’s a perfectly timed reminder:

I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Blessings, friends!