Posts Tagged 'potato'

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes me giggle. Imagine a buffalo shepherd. What would you use for the shepherd’s staff – a 2 x 4 board with a bow on it?  And do they come home, like Bo Peep’s sheep, waging their big shaggy tails behind them?

Shepherd’s Pie is a savory meat pie topped with a mashed potato crust.  Instead of spooning the meat stew over mashed potatoes, you put the mashed potatoes over the meat and bake it.  It dates from the late 18th century, and was a means of using up – and stretching – leftover roasted meat.  Now it typically is made with lamb or mutton, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle (and certainly not buffalo), however this is probably folklore. There are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks – a close friend makes it with ground beef and onion soup mix and puts a layer of peas under the potato topping, another makes it with leftover pot roast.

At any rate, someone passed me this recipe because they knew I liked to cook.  The original had beef and lamb mixed. Naturally, I thought buffalo.  I think it may be a British recipe, because they refer to the meat as being “minced”.   I took a number of liberties with the recipe to make a shepherd’s pie that is very tasty and filling – and still low in fat.  An added benefit to this dish is that it can be made ahead, or in stages.  I made the meat filling one day, and put it in the refrigerator in the baking pan.  When I had more time the next day, I made the potato crust and baked it.  I expect you could assemble it completely and refrigerate it to be baked the next day, but you might have to bake it a few minutes longer.

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

Cooking spray
1 ½ pounds buffalo roast trimmed of all visible fat and gristle, ground (do not use purchased ground buffalo – it is much higher in fat)
2 medium onions, diced fine – I use the food processor
3 carrots, peeled and diced fine
½ pound cremini or button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 can of low sodium, reduced fat beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 Tablespoons light butter
1 cup green onions, finely chopped

If you are making the entire dish to serve immediately, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Otherwise, preheat it to 400 when you reheat the pie.

To make the filling: Spray a large Dutch oven or non-stick pan with cooking spray. Brown the ground meat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until they are limp and just beginning to color – about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, thyme, parsley and cinnamon.  Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour, and then add the wine and beef broth.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.   Return the meat to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to low, simmering  for about 30 minutes.  Remove the filling from the heat, and spread in a 9 x 13 pan coated with cooking spray, smoothing it until even.

To make the crust
: Peel the potatoes and cut them into large, even pieces.  Place in a pot of water and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potatoes thoroughly, add the 2 tablespoons of light butter, and mash until smooth. Mash the green onions into the  potatoes. Spoon the potatoes over the filling and spread evenly to cover the meat.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.  This makes 8 hearty servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: If you wanted to substitute ½ pound of very lean ground lamb for ½ pound of the buffalo, it would have a more “British” feel, and would be about 6 grams of fat/serving.

Hint: I grind my own meat so that I know how much fat is in it.  Store-purchased ground meat tends to be fatty, even the beef that is labeled “extra lean” has almost 5 grams/ounce.  I used to grind eye of round – 1.2 grams/ounce, and now I grind buffalo – .6 grams/ounce.  I usually grind a large amount of meat using the electric grinder on my KitchenAid.  It is a big, all-morning production. I just discovered that it is possible to grind a pound of so of meat by cutting it into medium sized chunks and pulsing it in the food processor.  This has interesting implications for ground chicken and pork, to be experimented with soon.

Hint: Tomato Paste is one of those annoying ingredients that you tend to need a spoonful of, but it doesn’t come in single spoon packages.  I have been freezing the leftover tomato paste in a plastic zip-top bag, and then I can defrost slightly it when I need a bit and refreeze it.

Warning: this pie is very filling.  Every time I eat a slab, I have the overwhelming desire to curl up under a down blanket and take a nap.  Maybe it’s the weather.

Au Gratin Anything

I love cheesy things – no, not that kind of cheesy.  Cheese is one of the best things that can happen to a vegetable.  So when I see the word au gratin or gratin, count me in. Technically, a gratin is a food that consists of thinly sliced potatoes or another ingredient in a cream sauce, usually topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Au gratin actually refers to the technique of cooking in a cheesy sauce.

The problem with most au gratin preparations, much as I love them, is that they are quite high in fat – butter, cheese, cream, and other ingredients that up the fat gram count far beyond my desire to eat cheesy vegetables with some frequency.  This preparation, derived from trial and error (oh yes, lots of error – curdled milk, mushy veggies – ugh), combines a number of techniques that make it possible to have a lovely, creamy dish that is still low in fat.  Even better, you can make it in one pan for serving at an everyday meal, or dress it up for only a few fat grams more by spooning it into a baking dish and topping it with a bit more cheese, and putting it under the broiler for a minute or two. I have made this with potatoes (naturally), cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans, and I think you could try other vegetables as well.

Speaking of cheese, you really need a good sharp cheddar to make this dish.  Most low fat cheddar doesn’t have the flavor to carry this dish without getting lost in the sauce.  I recommend Kerrygold Reduced Fat Irish cheddar.  This cheese has only 4 grams of fat/ounce and a sharp cheddary flavor that makes it great for cooking and a good snack (maybe with a nice apple), too.


Basic Au Gratin Recipe

4 cups of vegetables cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces (or ½ inch slices for potatoes)
1 ½ cups non-fat milk, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (potatoes only need 1 Tablespoon of flour)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)

For the dressed up version, 2 additional ounces of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. You can also sprinkle it with a little paprika for color.

In a large pan bring vegetable, salt, and 1 ¼ cups milk to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  The time will vary depending on the vegetable.  Be sure to check the vegetable while they are simmering – you don’t want mush.  In a small bowl, whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the vegetables, stirring constantly until it  thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in the 2 ounces of cheese, mustard, and pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.  This makes 4 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  This is cauliflower au gratin.


Variation: For the dressed up version, spoon the vegetable mixture into an oven proof pan. Sprinkle with an additional 2 ounces of shredded cheese, and paprika if you want Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts (or if you’re lazy like me, stick the pan in the microwave for a minute to melt the cheese.)  This makes 4 deliciously cheesy servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This is potatoes au gratin.


Double Cheese Twice-Baked Potato

Twice-baked potatoes are a nice side dish.  They dress up a plain piece of chicken or meat, and make it seem a little more festive.  They also can be a meal in themselves, hearty enough to be eaten with a salad or a bowl of soup.  I confess that I primarily made these twice-baked potatoes as something to freeze and take for lunch, reheating them in the office microwave. I’m not much of a sandwich eater, and these potatoes and a piece of fruit will make a nice lunch variation.  I originally planned to make the twice-baked potatoes without the cheddar cheese topping, so here they are with a dusting of paprika ready for their second baking.


But when I tasted my first one, I thought it needed a little something extra, so I added cheese on top.  I froze them without the extra cheese, since I might want to vary things or use a different cheese (like the reduced fat havarti I just bought), but the recipe is for the potatoes with cheddar.  If you don’t use the cheese, you can reduce the overall fat gram count by 2 grams/potato half.

Double Cheese Twice Baked Potato

5 large baking potatoes (about 4 pounds of potatoes)
½ cup non-fat sour cream
½ cup non-fat milk
2 Tablespoons light butter
½ cup reduced fat blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions or chives
4 ounces of reduced fat cheddar cheese

Paprika to sprinkle (optional – it’s only for looks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Bake in the oven until they are tender, about an hour and 15 minutes.  Do not microwave them – microwaved potatoes will have skins too thin to easily withstand scooping and stuffing.  Remove from oven (leave oven on) and allow to cool for about 10 minutes so you can handle them. Cut 4 of the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the insides into a large bowl, leaving about ¼ inch of potato attached to the skin to create a shell. Try to keep the skins intact.  Peel the fifth potato, cut it up, and add it to the bowl. The extra potato will give your potatoes a generous stuffing that will mound above the level of the shell.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the cheddar cheese to the bowl and beat with a mixer until it is the texture that you like.  Some people like their twice-baked potatoes to be very creamy – I prefer a bit of texture.  Stuff the potato shells evenly with the potato cheese mixture, mounding it gently above the shell.  Return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes at 350.  Place ½ ounce of cheddar cheese (shredded or thinly sliced) on top of each potato and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Makes 8 servings with about 4 grams of fat/ half-potato serving (with cheddar).


Variation: if you really want these to be blue-cheesy, use a full cup of reduced fat blue cheese.  This will make the potatoes have 5 rams of fat/serving

Note: Light butter is a handy ingredient, when what you want is the taste of real butter without all the fat.  It is real butter mixed with canola oil, buttermilk, water, etc.  Light butter has 5 grams of fat/tablespoon unlike 11 grams of fat in a tablespoon of butter.  You can’t really use it for baking or sautéing, but it’s good as a spread on a baked potato, and I often use it as a flavoring in place of regular butter.


By the way, it is STILL snowing.   The truck is now completely invisible. There must be at least 4 feet on the ground, and I have been snowblowing twice a day. There is no place left to stack the snow. This is not my idea of exercise.  If anyone sings “Let It Snow” or “White Christmas”, I’m going to throttle them.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

Winter has hit with a vengeance.  Single digit and below zero temperatures. 23 inches of snow in one day.  The snow outside of my garage door was above my shoulders!  Here is my truck after the first snow.  Yes, there is a vehicle under there.  It took me two days to shovel out – and then it started snowing again.  It’s snowing even now.


It is definitely soup weather.  There’s nothing like coming in from shoveling snow, with freezing fingers and a frozen nose, and heating up a bowl of homemade soup you made in anticipation of the worst.  This potato soup is a combination of several recipes.  I made it with most of the potatoes chopped coarsely, but I recommend cutting half of them into 1-2 inch chunks to give the soup more chunky texture.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

3 pounds of potatoes, peeled, half coarsely chopped in the food processor and half cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 leeks (optional), cleaned, white parts and a little green, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions (or one large), coarsely chopped
3 14-ounce cans of non-fat low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup chopped chives (optional)
1 can non-fat evaporated milk
½ cup fat free half and half (optional, but it makes it creamier)

Put all ingredients except the evaporated milk and fat free half and half into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, on high for 3-4 hours.  You may want to check it an hour or so before it is supposed to be done, so it doesn’t burn. One half hour before the soup is done, stir in the evaporated milk and fat free half and half.  You can adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) to your taste after the soup is done.  Since I made this primarily to eat for lunches, I tend to add salt and other flavor enhancements when I reheat individual bowls of soup. This makes 10 servings at about 2.2 grams/fat/serving.


Variations As you can see, I served the soup with a dollop of non-fat sour cream (why is a lump of sour cream always called a dollop?).  I also added a sliced up low fat hot dog one day.  I expect ham would also be good.  Just remember to add the fat grams for these add-ons to your counting.

Hint: Leeks require some special handling.  Soil is mounded up around them while they grow, and you must make certain that all the sand and grit is out of them before you add them to a recipe.  Some people cut them in half lengthwise and soak them, rinsing them several times.  I cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and then into 3 inch pieces.  I put the pieces in a colander and rinse them under running water, stirring with my hand to make sure that the pieces are well-rinsed.

Down Home Buffalo Swiss Steak

There are definitely days when I’m not feeling very gourmet, and the slow cooker is my best buddy.  These are days when you want something hearty and comforting – and frankly that will make good leftovers.  Enter Swiss  Steak, something I remember from diners of my youth (or horrors, was it the school cafeteria?) And why is it Swiss, anyway?  Naturally, I used buffalo to lower the fat count.

Buffalo Swiss Steak

3 pounds of buffalo steak, preferably rump or chuck.  Don’t waste a succulent T-bone on this
1 large onion
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 15 ounce can of stewed tomatoes
1 can of tomato soup concentrate, undiluted

Cut onion in half lengthwise and then slice thinly lengthwise. Put onion in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Mix flour, salt, and pepper on a piece of waxed paper.  Trim buffalo steak of all visible fat, and cut into serving size pieces (6-8 pieces). Dredge both sides of the meat in the flour mixture (This means press them into the mixture so that the flour adheres to the meat.) Put the meat on top of the onions in the slow cooker.  Pour the can of stewed tomatoes and the can of undiluted tomato soup over the meat and onion.  Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours.  This has about 5 grams of fat per hearty 6 ounce serving

I served this with mashed potatoes.  You now how to make fat free mashed potatoes, don’t you – not the kind with cream and butter your mother used to make.  Cut potatoes into eighths. Put them in a pot and cover with fat free chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are tender.  Drain broth, saving it in a cup.  Mash potatoes with a potato masher, adding bits of the broth to moisten the potatoes as you mash.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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