Adventures in Feeding

By Sherry Samuels

For better or worse, the kitchen (and all that goes on in it) has always been one of my favorite places. While curious about everything in life, my curiosity about the goings on in one’s kitchen always excited me. The sights, sounds and smells came together, in my mind, like a well-composed piece of music — just enough to leave you spellbound. 

My first solo culinary composition, if you would call it that, was a boxed Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I remember the pride I felt, taking on this task and creating magic. Mmm… 

Since, I have not stopped creating. In fact, I am regularly expanding my culinary compositions, becoming a little more adventurous by the week. 

Now, one may not think Shepherd’s Pie (aka Cottage Pie) is adventurous, but when dealing with picky palettes, trying anything new or out of the ordinary feels like signing up for an episode of Naked and Afraid. You know, baring all you've got (Naked), unsure of what the outcome will be (Afraid). But I digress. 

Because the flavors are something I enjoy and the meal is relatively quick and easy to put together, I decided to take it on and see what would happen…twice. But, in true Sherry fashion, I did not stick to the standard…

Round 1 - For the meat eater in us all (OK. The meat eater in many of us.) 

  • Base Layer - A mix of ground turkey and sautéed mushrooms
  • Veggie Layer - A nice, heaping helping of sauteed kale, carrots, red bell pepper and peas 
  • Top Layer - A generous (but not too generous) layer of mashed potatoes
Shepherds Pie1(logo).jpg

While I knew I would love it and was mentally prepared to eat each little ramekin of goodness by myself, to my surprise, I did not have to. #winning

Round 2 - For My Favorite Picky Pescatarian

  • Base Layer - A mix of lentils & mushrooms 
  • Veggie Layer - A nice, heaping helping of sauteed kale, carrots and peas
  • Top Layer - A generous layer of mashed potatoes

I will go ahead and confess that this round may have caused me a smidgen of anxiety. The easy thing to do, when I invited a Picky Pescatarian to our home to break bread with us would have been to pick up some fish, bake it and call it a day. But, for better or worse, I LOVE a challenge! And I think that, as Iong as I keep it a secret that there were mushrooms as part of the recipe (she’s not a mushroom fan), this dish will also go down in food history as a winner. I mean, when someone asks for seconds, doesn’t that automatically mean tummy love? #stillwinning

So, I walk away from this experience having learned two lessons. First, when food is made with love, the eaters can't help but enjoy what you've put before them. Second, I'm much rather hang out in my kitchen, even when feeding picky eaters, than tackle an episode of Naked and Afraid! 

Wanna try it? It’s easy! Here are some things to note…

  • A standard Shepherd’s Pie, as I understand it, uses beef or lamb. Ground chicken or turkey, in my opinion, are lovely subs. 
  • To add richness to both the meat-mushroom mixture and the lentil-mushroom mixture, I added Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. How you love on this layer is important. 
  • I cooked my lentils first and then sautéed with the mushrooms.
  • I used frozen peas and tossed them in after my veggies were tender. I added kale because I had a lot on hand and wanted to use it, but you could leave it out. 
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, it might be interesting to add roasted beets. Mmm…
  • I used Yukon Gold potatoes because, to me, they have a natural creaminess. I added butter and almond milk for added creaminess. But, make your taters however you like ‘em.