DISCLAIMER: Not a picture of my shepherd’s pie. Why not? Explanation at the end. This is a delicious Pixabay stock image (credit: RitaE)
Who wants a food post? I hope you do, because you’re getting one. Yes, this fiction author is blogging about food again. Why? Because making food always leads to stories.
This story is about comfort. I don’t like restaurants OR cooking (or baking, for that matter) but I crave the comfort of a good meal. I crave it most when I least wish to work hard. Like, oh for example, when I’ve just gotten home from a 3-day convention bookended by 6-hour solo road trips. Yeah. Like now.
I have found many ways to make work in the kitchen as painless, practical, and fast as possible. I am big on pan bakes & bar cookies, casseroles, stews, & other pantry put-togethers — things that can be assembled in 10 minutes and then leave to cook on their own….while I go write or something. See? Writing tie-in.
(Plus easily-distracted people are not the best cooks to put in charge of stir-fry, easily-burned sauces, or anything requiring precision measurements or timing. Yeah. Me.)
ANYWAY. Today’s entry in comfort food stories: a meal I call shepherd’s pie even though the only ingredient it shares with the traditional dish is potato. Its main appeal is that it can be thrown together in no time, feeds me & Spouseman for two dinners, and we both love it. The ingredients can be conveniently kept on-hand in cabinets & freezer.
Spouseman makes it for me most times, on Bad Days like when I’ve just gotten home from a road trip and am thoroughly stressed. On other occasions I enjoy the think-free accomplishment of assembling asimple meal.
So here you go. One of my favorites.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- We use a 2 1/2 qt Corning casserole dish. Quantities were based on the dish.
- Dump into the casserole dish:
- 1 16 oz bag frozen vegetarian “meat crumbles.” No, I don’t thaw them. LAZY ME.
- Add enough wine/ketchup/barbecue/soy /Worchestershire/whatever flavors you like in a savory sauce. (Or, in my case, whatever’s in the fridge) Make it fairly soupy.
- Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper to taste.
- Once you have that base stirred together, layer in the following in order
- 1 c frozen corn
- 1 c frozen baby peas (or sub another niblet-sized frozen veggie if you are pea-averse)
- most of an 8 oz bag shredded cheese. Mild cheddar is my fave.
- Make enough instant mashed potatoes to cover the top & load them in. How much? To taste. Depending on how thick you want.
- Shake the remaining cheese over the insta-tater layer.
- Bake for at least 45 min.
Ten steps. I swear it takes longer to read these instructions than to make once you get the hang of it.
- when it comes to choose abrand of “Let’s go vegetarian because too lazy to fry up ground meat and then have to wash the fry pan) crumbles, we’re partial to Morningstar Farms chipotle black bean. Really, any ground meat substitute will do.
- Making mashed taters takes me zero time because we have an on-demand hot water maker. (Best. Gadget. EVER.) Anyway, if you have to boil water, you might want to start it when you preheat the oven. To save time. Because that’s what this is about.
- Like most casseroles, this is excellent/even better after a cool & a second bake. So it’s perfect for make-ahead meal too.
Why no picture? I don’t take good foodie photos. When I attempt casserole imagery the photo ends up looking like something pre-eaten. I don’t find that appealing. VERY NOT.