Day 305 – fun in the kitchen

Today was a real treat. Not only did I (we) create an awesome dinner, but I got to spend time with my dad in the kitchen. He’s a fantastic chef and I am so glad we got to do this! We started out with a basic “Shepherds Pie” recipe and went crazy in a good way! We used lean ground beef and added veggies to the mix, the usual onions and peas but also, finely chopped broccoli. Then, for the mashed potato layer, we added pumpkin! It was easy to stir in and added not only more nutrients but a creamier and deeper flavor.
I can give you the recipe in a nutshell, but we seemed to have more fun creating as we went along; a couple spoons of Italian bread crumbs here, a dash of flavor there.

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The basics:

1.5 lb ground beef
1 onion finely chopped
1.5 c finely chopped broccoli
1 bag frozen peas
8 c mashed potatoes (homemade are best but a box mix would work. If using boxed flakes, be sure to double the amount since it’s less dense than real potatoes and tends to shrink up, not sure why!)
1.5 c pureed pumpkin (mix in the next 3 ingredients with the potatoes when mashed)
4 oz cream cheese
6 tb butter
salt and pepper to taste and anything else you want to add to spice it up! Sage, rosemary, thyme would all be good.
Brown the meat, onion and broccoli. Drain off if it’s too sloppy or too oily.
Spread in a baking dish, spoon on some bread crumbs-evenly distributing. Then, add a layer of the peas. Next comes the layer of mashed potatoes. Be sure to spread like you’re frosting a cake and if you don’t have a good inch layer, you will need more.
Top with crunchy onion toppers or some finely shredded cheese and bake for about 30 min at 350 degrees.

Like I said, it wasn’t an exact recipe, but this is close. I hope you can enjoy time with your family in the kitchen. It’s such a wonderful bonding experience. I’m sure many of you have good memories of licking the beaters for the chocolate cake you baked with your grandma or the time you hit “mix” on the blender without the top on and your son got the giggles so hard that you soon forgot the huge mess and just treasured that brief moment in time.
It was special for us today and it doesn’t happen nearly enough. I’m hoping for more fun in the kitchen soon with dad!

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