Saturday, September 25, 2010

{Channeling Mary Link}

Mary, David's stepmom, puts loving energy into her food that you can actually taste. She
made amazing dinners for us every single night when we visited them at their cottage in
northern Michigan last month.

There's so much history at the cottage. Her dad built it. Her parents and her sister once
filled it. Mary and D's dad got married just down the road. David and his siblings spent a
lot of time there when they were growing up. It was such a treat to sit around the dining
room table with David's family -- four generations worth -- and share a kindly prepared
meal. The company and the moment made the food extra memorable for me.

As if all Mary's cooking wasn't enough, she created a special menu around Marya's boyfriend,
Dave, and me who are both vegetarians. It was so thoughtful. This week, I recreated two of
the dishes she made for us. (I wish I could remember the name of the cookbook she got the recipes from.) Here's one of them. It was enjoyed by the meat eaters in the family, too.
It would work as a hearty, all-in-one side dish or as a main course. Either way, it seemed
the perfect fit to the first week of fall.

Vegetarian Shepard's Pie

You could use any number of ingredients for this veggie-on-bottom, potato-on-top dish.
Mary cooked it with all fresh ingredients. I went half and half to use up stuff I had on hand.
** I doubled the vegetables but not the potatoes to get more beans and spinach (protein and
iron) and less topping (carbs). The recipe below does not reflect doubling the veg. ** Also, I
used one sweet potato and two yams. I also added a few red pepper flakes to the vegetables.
Otherwise, I followed the recipe for my first time making it. The key ... cooking some garlic
and dried basil into the mashed potatoes. Dried basil. Who knew?

3 small sweet potatoes or yams
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 10-oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 14-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and squeezed
1tsp. Worcestershire
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, or less
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil (I used extra)
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp. salt (I used more)
2-4 Tbl. milk
1/2 to 1 c. of shredded cheddar cheese
paprika for garnish, optional

1) Peel & quarter the potatoes. Boil in salted water for 20-25 mins. Drain & mash.

2) Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and carrot and sauté until tender, not browned. Add corn,
beans, spinach, tomatoes, and any other vegetables you're using. Add Worcestershire. Mix
well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes, if using. Heat 'til bubbly.

3) In saucepan, heat butter up a bit. Add garlic and basil, cooking for 15 seconds. Add
mashed potatoes, salt and enough milk to make potatoes fluffy. Salt & pepper to taste.
Mix well.

4) Pour vegetables into a 8x8x2 pan (if you double veg, use 13x9x2). Top with mounds of
mashed potatoes. (You're supposed to mound them, but I kind of spread them out into a
layer since I used the bigger pan but didn't double the potatoes). Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melty and yummy.
Garnish with paprika, if you'd like.

I've been enjoying the leftovers all week ... in fact, it was my breakfast today. :)

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