Even with the slight delay of plans, along with the saddening fact that guests had to be canceled due to my husband coming down with a cold, by golly I was not going to be held back from this visionary dinner I had imagined and already begun to create! So after my husbands temporary-ingenious invention to cheer-up Bella (that's what I named her; my oven that is), I was ready to cook with her help again whether she was in the mood to or not!
So here's the visionary menu:
Jenny Mini-Shepherd Pies
Autumn Waldorf Salad with Vidalia-Honey Vinaigrette**
Made from scratch Banana Pudding**
I can't take full credit for these Jenny Mini-Shepherd Pies, thank you Jenny (hence the honorary title of the dish), your idea and comment was enlightening. My husband and son thank you as well; I've never seen a meal disappear so quickly! Seriously, when they saw the dinner I had to tell them to calm down, stop hyperventilating, and wait till I at least set down with them.
As I've mentioned before, I bought 2 pounds of ground-turkey for $5 at Mejier. This was the second pound of ground turkey and it was put to good use let me tell ya.
Jenny Mini-Shepherd Pies
Vegetable non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup Panko/plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup roasted chopped tomato garlic-herb marinade*
2 cloves finely, chopped garlic
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of ground turkey (I use lean)
1/2 cup mild shredded cheddar (buy the block; shred it yourself ahead of time. It's cheaper ounce for ounce and tastes better)
*Prepare roasted chopped tomato garlic-herb marinade. This may seem annoying and you may be rolling your eyes just thinking about making your own marinade, instead of buying roasted tomatoes in a jar, but just trust me on this. This is cheaper in the long run because you can make a big batch and keep it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. This is also delicious tossed in pasta, on a pizza, or simply on toasted bread. Make it ahead and save on prep time work, plus the longer the flavors mingle together the more your taste buds will dance happily around and chant, "thank you, thank you!" in a glorious chorus.
For this marinade you'll need:
1 large can of diced tomatoes (a staple in our household)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (also a staple)
1 tbsp garlic (again a staple; I just keep a jar of it in our fridge)
Fresh herbs, chopped-sage, basil, and thyme (yep, staple again, sitting on my window ceil in pots)
salt & pepper (obviously)
This is all you need to do:
Place oven on broil. Drain can of tomatoes and place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on tomatoes and cover in salt and pepper. Broil for 8-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the oven, take out as soon you see a brown bits forming on top . Take out, let cool, and remove any chard skin with a sharp knife. Place in a jar or air-tight container with another drizzle of olive oil, garlic and handful of chopped herbs combined. Add more salt and pepper and another drizzle of olive oil. Cover and shake to combine. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Ok now to the meaty goodness of the recipe.....
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
Grab a large bowl, stir together bread crumbs, tomato marinade, garlic, eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add the turkey and stir gently. I use my hands, I know gross, but their clean and you just have better control on gently combining. Just try it, it's weirdly therapeutic to me. Make sure you don't overwork the meat.
Now it gets really exciting. Grab a handful of the mixture and place in one of the muffin tins. Help it to form the shape of the tin, until it reaches to almost the very top and gently place a thumbprint indention in the middle of each. Repeat this until all or most of the muffin tins are full. This recipe yields about 10-12 depending on how full you make each little meat loaf muffin/pie. Bake for about 45 minutes and keep a close eye on it the last 5 minutes or so. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees. While the meatloaf is cooking prepare your mashed potatoes. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Top with creamy mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Pop back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is just melted.
Serve with Autumn salad-a mix of greens, dried cranberries, and chopped apple with Vidalia-Honey Vinaigrette and rolls. O good golly! You don't even know! And then to top it off with banana pudding for dessert. I didn't even know you could make vanilla pudding from scratch, with basically all staples you have in your pantry! It made my arm a little tired whisking, but it was worth it, plus burned a few calories before adding about a thousand. Made the dessert the night before to let the cookies soften, but after a couple of days make sure the pudding is completely eaten; it's just not as good but for one or two days. But O the bliss of the first two days.
This dinner, especially the Jenny Mini-Shepherd Pies has quickly made it to the #1 spot in the McDougal household. According to my husband it's his favorite meal he's EVER had. Now, he's biased; so let me know what you think.
**These were recipes from www.southernplate.com; check it out. It's part of my inspiration!