Colcannon Cottage Pie

Colcannon Cottage Pie for Dinner

I enjoy serving something special for holidays, birthdays, Wednesdays…I admit it, I like to cook.  Cottage Pie sounded like a perfect fit for St. Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to add a unique touch to distinguish it from my usual Cottage Pie.  In case you are wondering why it is named Cottage Pie rather than Shepherd’s Pie:  the name Shepherd’s Pie is a reference to the protein source which is sheep.  If the protein source is beef, I don’t think we would want to call it Cow’s Pie.  Cottage Pie seems more like comfort food and less like fertilizer.  I muse about these things sometimes.

To make it special, I used Colcannon instead of mashed potatoes.  Colcannon is an Irish version of mashed potatoes with greens mixed in.  It is traditionally served at Halloween, but it works nicely with Cottage Pie.  I then took it a step further by giving it an Appel Farms touch with Bacon Cheddar.  Everything is better with cheese and bacon.

Here’s a song  to get you in a festive mood for making this dish:

Did you ever eat colcannon,
Made with lovely pickled cream.
With the greens & scallions mingled
Like a picture in a dream
Did you ever make a hole on top
To hold the melting flake
Or the creamy flavored butter
That your mother used to make

Yes you did, so you did
So did he and so did I
And the more I think about it
Sure the nearer I’m to cry
Oh wasn’t it the happy days
When troubles we had not
And our mothers made colcannon
In the little skillet pot.

Colcannon Cottage Pie

Prepare the filling:

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  Drain any excess fat if necessary.

Brown the ground beef for the filling

Add the onion to the beef.  Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add the onions to the ground beef and continue to cook

Add the corn, peas, and carrots, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add butter and stir until the butter is melted.  Stir in the flour, thyme, and garlic.  Stir for one minute.  Turn up the heat and add the beef broth.  Cook and stir until the broth thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.

Add the vegetables, butter, flour, and herbs

 

colcannon cottage pie filling

Prepare the Colcannon

Put the potatoes in a medium pot.  Cover with cold water by at least an inch.  Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil.  Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain.

 

Melt the butter in a medium skillet.  Add the kale and saute until it starts to wilt, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the green onions and cook another minute.  The word of the day is smaragdine.  That’s the name of the vibrant green color that kale turns when you saute it.  Your life is now complete because you know that.

Wilt the Kale for the Colcannon

Mash the potatoes with the milk.  Fold in the kale, onions, and cheese, add salt and pepper to taste.

Fold in the Bacon Cheddar and Kale

If you ever want to serve the Colcannon on it’s own, it’s lovely with a big dollop of butter on top.

Colcannon

Spread the colcannon evenly over the beef and veggie mixture.

Colcannon Cottage Pie ready to bake

 

Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until the colcannon is golden brown and crispy on top.  Serve and enjoy.

Here’s a printable version for your convenience.

Colcannon Cottage Pie

 

 

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer and Basmati Rice

They say that you eat with your eyes first.  I totally get that!  If something looks good, you expect it to taste good, and vice versa.  Unfortunately, to a lot of people this dish does not look good.  In fact, it can look a little bit slimy.  Don’t be fooled, it’s totally yummy!  The fragrant spices, mild spinach, tangy yogurt, and creamy Paneer are a heavenly combination.  Saag Paneer is a traditional East Indian dish with a balance of flavors.

Paneer is the go-to cheese for weekly vegetarian nights at our house.  It is so versatile, I can use it in all types of dishes from Asian stir fry to sandwiches ( I will have to share that with you sometime).

Saag Paneer

Cut the Paneer in one inch cubes and place it in a seal-able bag.

Cut up paneer cheese

Mix the turmeric, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk in 3 tablespoons of oil.

Indian spices and salt

Pour the marinade in the bag with the Paneer and gently massage the bag to evenly distribute the marinade.  Let that marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.

Marinate the Paneer Cheese

Lightly saute the Paneer until it just begins to brown.  YUM!

Saute paneer cheese

Set the Paneer aside, then add more oil to the same pan and saute the onions and chile.

Saute onions

Keep sauteing the onions until they are well caramelized.  They should be a lovely toffee color.  This brings out the sweetness in the onions.  Once the onions reach a golden color, add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, and cumin.  Saute 3-5 minutes.  Add water as needed to keep it from drying out and the spices from burning.

Cook onions until well caramelized

Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the yogurt.

Add spinach and yogurt to onions

Mix spinach, onions, and yogurt in saucepan

Add the Paneer back in and cook for another 5 minutes or until heated through.

Add Paneer to spinach mixture

ENJOY!

Saag Paneer and Basmati Rice

For your convenience, here’s a printable version.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe by one of my favorite Food Network cooks: Aarti Sequeira

Low Carb Chicken Divan

Low Carb Chicken Divan

 

In the middle of all the craziness of the last few months, I was asked to write an article for a Low Carb Magazine and share a recipe with their readers.  I was very honored and more than a bit intimidated, but since cheese is naturally low carb and since I have stacks and stacks of cheese recipes, I decided to do it.  As I was sorting through my recipes I realized that I love carbs. I really love carbs. My recipes have a lot of carbs! Did I mention that I am prediabetic and should watch my carbs?  Writing the article was convicting.

Things have been a bit crazy starting in September with lots of little things going on. We remodeling the room over the garage.  Elizabeth (my blogging cohort) left to focus on her own business.  My daughter got married.  Our new creamery opened.  Little things like that. Okay, those aren’t little, those are big!  Then the holidays hit so my one month break from blogging stretched into four months.

I missed this so much.  Testing and tasting and sharing are so gratifying.  Writing the article reminded me of why I love sharing.  I’m really happy to be back and I have a bunch of new ideas for recipes that I think you will love!

Because of the article and my pangs of guilt, I was inspired to share a low carb recipe today.  It may be the only one and I will go back to eating lots of carbs, but I’m still basking in the enthusiasm of my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier.  Recipes like this make eating healthy a whole lot easier.

Chicken Divan

Prep the ingredients:

First, cook some chicken and cut it into bite size chunks.  I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, but chicken thighs would be good too.

Cut up chicken

Steam some broccoli.  It will cook more later so don’t overcook it!

Steamed broccoli

Put the broccoli and chicken in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Chicken and broccoli

Make the Bechamel:

Bechamel sounds so much richer than cream sauce, doesn’t it?  Start by melting some butter in a skillet.Melted Butter

Once the butter is completely melted and most of the water is cooked out*, add the flour.  Yes, I said this is a low carb recipe, not no carb.  Please forgive me, I’m doing my best.

*Most butter in the US contains 15-17% percent water, generic brands have the most.    European butter has significantly less.

Cook the flour and butter until the raw flour taste is cooked out.  It only takes a couple of minutes, but it makes a world of difference in the flavor.

Roux

Stir in some half and half.  You can use lowfat milk if you want, I won’t stop you.

Add half and half to the roux

Cook, stirring continually, until the bechamel starts to thicken.  Add the Maasdammer a little bit at a time.  Maasdammer is in the Swiss family and has a lovely flavor that is creamy and sweet, making it perfect for a sauce.

Maasdammer

Grate on a little bit of fresh nutmeg.  This is optional, but highly recommended.

Nutmeg

Put it all together:

Add the sauce to the chicken and broccoli.

Cheese sauce

Mix together.  Doesn’t that look luscious!

Chicken Divan

Grate some Parmesan.  The Parmesan adds a sharp nutty flavor to the divan.

Grated Parmesan

Spread the chicken and broccoli mixture into an oven proof casserole dish and sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

Parmesan

Make that LOTS of Parmesan.

Chicken Divan

Bake until bubbly and golden brown.  Enjoy!

Low Carb Chicken Divan

For your convenience, here’s a printable version.

 

Fresh Curd Pizza

Fresh Curd Pizza

I am always looking for new and creative ways to cook with cheese.  The opportunities seem to be endless for this wonderful food.  Once in a while though, a new idea simply blows my mind.  I am continually in awe of the wonderful creativity people have in cooking, and art, and life.  Sometimes these ideas can be so simple and delightful that I wonder why I never heard of it before.

John brought an idea to my attention recently that was ingenious in it’s simplicity.  One of the guys working on some construction here at the farm asked for a couple of pounds of Squeaky Cheese so that he could make pizza crust.  John’s reaction was “Pizza crust? Are you kidding?  Ruth needs to try this!”  So John ran over to tell me about it.  My reaction was, “Pizza crust? Are you kidding me?  I need to try this!”  You can tell we’ve been married a long time.

Fresh Curd Pizza

Heath came to our little kitchen at the Cheese Shop and made Fresh Curd Pizza for us. Heath is the tallest person ever to be in our kitchen.  I had a difficult time paying attention to his cooking because I was focused on making sure he didn’t hit his head on the oven hood.  He just laughed at me as I fussed like a mother hen.

Heath cooking fresh curd pizza
Heath is focused on the cheese frying while I am worrying about how close his head is to that oven hood.

He never did hit is head, and he made a delightful pizza.  An added benefit for those who are watching their gluten intake, it’s gluten free.

Fresh Curd Pizza

Recipe compliments of Heath’s wife Fawnda!

  • 1 lb squeaky cheese (more or less depending on the size of your pan)
  • Pizza toppings of your choice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the cheese curds in an even layer in a nonstick pan, break up the larger pieces if necessary.  Cook on medium high heat until the bottom is golden brown and the curds are starting to meld together.
  3. CAREFULLY flip the cheese over and continue to cook until both sides are a deep golden brown.
  4. Slide the cheese onto a pizza stone and cover with sauce and toppings of your choice.
  5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the toppings are done.

A couple of tips to help with a successful pizza experience:

  • Cheese curds, at their freshest, have a higher melting point so they take longer to cook.  I found that 3 to 5 days old was optimal for melting.
  • For even melting, use a nonstick pan that is smaller than the burner.
  • Blotting off the excess oil with a paper towel keeps the pizza from being greasy.
  • Eat it while it’s still warm.  It becomes chewy as it cools.
Melting cheese curds
Make sure that the cheese cooks evenly, all the way to the edges.

Low Carb Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

Elizabeth shared about how cheese is an excellent part of a healthy diet for diabetics.  This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and my pancreas.  Type 2 diabetes is a big problem in my extended family and I am considered “borderline.”  So far, my A1C has been under control with diet and exercise, but sometimes it’s hard. Have you ever noticed that your desire for a food grows in direct proportion to how strictly you are to avoid said item? Thankfully, carbs are a part of a healthy diet as long as we are smart about it, which pretty much excludes donuts.

Chicken enchiladas with coleslaw

Low Carb Chicken Enchiladas

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
  • salt and popper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 4 ounce can green chilies
  • 1 – 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 12 low carb flour tortillas (I used Mission brand)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups Jalapeno Gouda, shredded (or 1 cup each Jalapeno Gouda and Sharp Cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Season the chicken breasts with, pepper, cumin seed, and chili powder.  Cool the chicken over medium heat, approximately 7 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

Saute the onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender.  Add the flour and cook for one more minute.  Add the green chilies and crushed tomatoes.  Stir well to combine and cook for one minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips.  mix the shredded chicken into the tomato mixture and heat through.

Shredded Chicken Breast

Coat the bottom of a 9×13 pan with 1/4 of the enchilada sauce.  Using a pie plate or shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat.  Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla.  Fold the sides over and place seam side down in the pan.  Top with remaining enchilada sauce and the Jalapeno Gouda.

Shredded Jalapeno Gouda

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese melts.

Serve garnished with cilantro, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, and/or avocado.

chicken enchiladas-5

I also served the enchiladas with a light coleslaw made with yogurt instead of mayonnaise.

Low Carb Chicken Enchiladas

 

 

 

 

 

Tikka Masala Soup

Potlucks are such a wonderful invention.  It’s a time for connecting with old friends and making new friends.  It’s a time for sharing and laughing and eating.  Lots of eating.  I love that I get to try so many wonderful food that people bring.  People bring dishes that are favorites or have special meaning.  That’s the case here, a friend brought a marvelous soup in a slow cooker.  When she lifted the lid, the tantalizing smell brought me straight over.   It’s the first thing I tried and I begged her for the recipe so I could share it with you.  This soup is fabulous, but her story behind it was even better.

Tikka Masala Soup in the slow cooker

She and her husband spent some time visiting their daughter who is a Bible translator in Bangladesh.  While they were there, they visited some privately run schools.  The public school system in Bangladesh is free, but the students are required to purchase their own books and school uniforms.  Some children are so poor, that they cannot attend school simply because they cannot afford these basic requirements.  A charitable organization opened schools that are available to these poverty stricken children.   They run the schools on a shoestring and the teacher is paid a monthly salary of $10.  That’s all it takes to give these kids an excellent education and pave the road to a better life.  Can you even imagine what a blessing that is for these kids and their families?

This soup was inspired by the flavors and culture that they experienced in Bangladesh.

Tikka Masala Soup

 

 

Tikka Masala Soup

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon  paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup broth
  • 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup ( 5 oz.) coconut milk

Saute the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, curry, garam masala, and paprika. Continue to saute for 5 more minutes. Move to a crockpot and add the chicken broth, rice, and tomatoes. Mix all together and cook on low for 3-5 hours.
3 tablespoons oil

  • 1 pound Paneer
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the spices and toss the Paneer in the spice blend. Heat the oil until medium high. Add the Paneer and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
Add the Paneer to the crockpot and cook on low one hour.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and yogurt.

Tikka Masala Soup

Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

On the farm, we tend to make due with whatever we have.  Things are often held up with bailing twine, and that includes a baggy pair of jeans.  When I started doing farm chores, one thing that we were making due with was the lack of brakes on the tractor.  In order to stop, you had to release the scraper blade that was attached to the back of the tractor.  The blade would slam down onto the ground and drag the tractor to a stop. This method worked fine for me because I was painfully slow at driving a tractor. I never got much momentum going so stopping was pretty easy. More often than not, I would stop short of where I wanted to be and had to back up and try again.

After I was too pregnant to comfortably sit on a tractor seat, John and Rich hired a young man to take over for me.  Within a week, they had the tractor in the shop, getting the brakes fixed.  I still wonder about the timing on that. Was a compliment for my excellent tractor driving skill or an acknowledgement of my lack of ability to work at a speed worth worrying about? John pretends that he doesn’t remember, then avoids eye contact. I take that as a positive sign.

StuffedChicken (21 of 51)Baconandfetastuffedchickenbreast-

fetacrumbled-9669

fetastuffedchicken-

Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 4 ounces Appel Farms Feta
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine feta, bacon, and garlic.  Make a pocket in the chicken breast by holding the chicken flat with the palm of one hand, then make an incision in the thicker side of each breast.  Carefully rotate the knife to create a deep pocket, keeping the side of the chicken breast intact.   Stuff the feta mixture into the pockets, dividing evenly.  Secure opening with a toothpick if needed.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.  Place the chicken breasts in a 9×13 baking dish.  Brush olive oil mixture over chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

Bacon and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

Smoky Mashed Cauliflower

As we are getting older, John and I need to watch our diets more closely than we had to in the past.  It’s a part of life that is difficult for us.  One of us loves to make desserts and the other loves to eat them.  I won’t tell you which of us is which, I will let you guess.

One thing that we both need to cut back on are simple carbs.  Cauliflower is a serendipitous solution!  Cauliflower is a starchy vegetable that is low in carbs so it’s a perfect substitution for the higher carb vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and corn.  When mashed, cauliflower has a wonderful texture and the Smoked Gouda gives it a robust flavor that adds vitality to the dish.

smokycauliflower (1 of 1)

smokycauliflower (1 of 1)

 Smoky Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower, finely chopped (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded Smoked Gouda
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Fresh chives, chopped (optional)

 

Add the cauliflower to a medium-sized saucepan along with the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the roasted garlic and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the milk and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Mix in the cheese and taste for seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and garnish with sour cream and chives.

smokycauliflower-27

Paneer Fried Rice

I’m embarrassed to say that my first fried rice recipe consisted of four ingredients: rice, browned hamburger, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce.  Yup, pretty blah.  For years that was what I made and unwittingly called it fried rice.  The fried rice at our favorite restaurant was to me, something unattainable.  I’m thankful that I met an incredible cook who opened my eyes to the secret to making truly delicious fried rice.  She also gave me a bottle of sesame oil, which I immediately used to liberally coat the pan.  She thought I knew better.  I do now.

This recipe is packed full of protein from three different sources: paneer, eggs, and edamame.  It’s a powerhouse of nutrition without being heavy.  I like to change out the vegetables depending on what is in season.  Frozen vegetables can substitute in a pinch.

Paneerfriedrice--4

Paneer Fried Rice

  • 1 lb paneer, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 8 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 – 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Paneerfriedrice--2

Combine the paneer and Sriracha in a gallon ziplock bag.  Gently mix together so that the paneer is coated.  Marinate the paneer in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the brown rice in an oven proof dish and cover with 2 cups boiling water.  Bake covered in the oven for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and fluff the rice with a fork.  Set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in an extra-large non-stick skillet or wok.  Add the edamame, carrots, and ginger.  Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms and stir-fry until tender-crisp.  Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.

Add four more teaspoons of olive oil to the wok and stir-fry the paneer for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer the paneer to the bowl with the vegetables.

Add the last two teaspoons of olive oil to the wok.  Once the oil is heated, add the eggs and lightly scramble, do not overcook.  Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables and paneer.

Add the sesame oil to the wok and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the brown rice.  Cook rice until the grains are coated with oil and warmed.  Add the vegetables, paneer, egg, water chestnuts, and soy sauce.  Heat through.  Top with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Paneerfriedrice--3

 

 

Cashew Butter Paneer

I’m really excited to share this recipe with you today!  This has to be one of my new favorite paneer dishes because of the crispy texture of the paneer and luscious creaminess of the sauce.  It has just the right amount of kick, but that kick is tempered by the yogurt, paneer, and coconut milk.  I am also excited because I found a really good naan at the local Safeway.  I’ve been looking for really good naan because my naan never turns out right.

cashew-butter-paneer-43

Another reason why I love this is that it is so quick, easy, and it includes lots of fresh ingredients for a healthy, satisfying meal.

cashew-butter-paneer-2

 

cashew-butter-paneer-22

cashew-butter-paneer-34

Cashew Butter Paneer

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Appel Farms Paneer, cubed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups roasted cashews (divided)
  • 1 (6 ounce can) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Appel Farms yogurt (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 a small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons spicy curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 cup broccoli florets
  • chopped cilantro, for topping

Instructions

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Once hot, add the cubed paneer and cook about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.

In a food processor or high powered blender, add 3/4 cup cashews and the coconut milk. Blend on high until completely smooth and silky, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, yogurt and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

In the same skillet you fried the paneer, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Once hot, cook the onion about 5-8 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic, ginger, and saute for one minute.  Add the curry powder, thai red curry paste, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Cook one more minute and then stir in the cashew mixture. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and if it seems too thick for your liking, stir in water to thin. Once the sauce is at your desired consistency, stir in the browned paneer and broccoli.  Cook until warmed through and the sauce thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve over a bed of hot basmati or saffron rice (here is my saffron rice recipe) sprinkled with chopped cilantro and 1/4 cup cashews. Top it off with some fresh naan.

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saffron rice

cashew-butter-paneer-41

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest