Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shepherd's Pie {Halloween Style}

I, for one, think Shepherd's Pie gets a bad reputation a lot. Most people think it is a smorgasbord of ingredients and pass it by with their nose in the air.

The first time I had Shepherd's Pie was at Cheesecake Factory. Theirs swims in a really rich gravy and is full of tons of veggies, like carrots, zucchini and onions. On top is creamy parmesan mashed potatoes. It was delicious.

The second time I made it was out of a slow cooker cookbook and although I liked it, it was missing something special. And the veggies were mushy and just, uh, blah. But I've continued to make that recipe because I always have the ingredients on hand.

So I decided to kind of make up my own one night, without the slow cooker. It was super easy, and it's a recipe you can change up depending on what you have in your fridge. I wish I had some zucchini, because I think that would have been super good!

I saw on the Kraft website once this idea of using mashed potatoes as ghosts on a stew recipe, so I used that idea for the Shepherd's Pie and it was a hit!

Cute, right?

So, here's how it goes:

First you are going to brown your meat, along with any veggies that would normally take longer to cook (onions, carrots, etc). Add in your salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. After they are all browned and slightly softened, add in garlic, corn, green beans, and/or any other vegetables that you want. Combine for one minute, then add in your tomato soup and barbecue sauce.

After you've baked it for about 25 minutes, add your cheese. Put it back in the oven for a few minutes...
And let it get gooey and melty. Now, normally, your mashed potatoes would have been on top of the veggies, and then you would add your cheese, but we're changing it up a little for Halloween!
Put your warm (NOT hot) potatoes in a ziploc bag and cut off the tip, about 1/2 inch or so wide.
Swirl your potatoes into little "ghosts". The thicker your potatoes, the better these little guys will stand up, and hot potatoes won't stand up either. You want the potatoes still warm, but let them cool a little before you put them in the ziploc.

Aww... a little ghost family!

Put on two peas for eyes (or whatever you have on hand, like corn, black beans, cut up carrots, etc)

Huh... they are cuter than they are scary :)
Plate them up! If you want (and I wish I kinda did), plate up the pie and then swirl on the ghosts individually on each plate. It was a little tricky to get the ghosts just right while trying to dish them up, but they turned out cute anyway.

Shepherd's Pie
by Carissa @ Girls in Aprons

1 lb hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can French cut green beans, drained
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 zucchini, chopped (optional)
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 Tablespoons barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's recommended)
2 cups mashed potatoes, prepared (use your favorite recipe, or the one below)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, add hamburger, onion and carrots. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and brown up the hamburger, drain. Add garlic, green beans, corn and zucchini and combine well. Stir in tomato soup and barbecue sauce until completely blended. Put into a large casserole dish. Carefully spoon on the mashed potatoes and spread evenly across the dish. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle on your cheese, then put it back into the oven until the cheese is melted, about two or three minutes. Serve. (HALLOWEEN RECIPE BELOW!!!)

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes:
courtesy Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa

3 lbs potatoes, peeled
Salt (I also add pepper)
1 1/2 cups milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp pepper

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add enough salt so the water tastes quite salty. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

As soon as the potatoes are tender, start mashing them. (Ina uses a potato mill, I use my Kitchenaid). Once they are mashed, add in the sour cream, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper and combine well. Slowly add in your butter mixture until the right consistancy is achieved. Taste for seasonings and serve.

** Note- this makes way more than 2 cups, so you can half the recipe if you want, or you can use the rest for another dinner the following evening. Or if you are me, you'll just eat it all because it's so good.

{Halloween Shepherd's Pie}
Follow the directions up to the point where you add the vegetable mixture to the casserole dish. Put it into the oven for 20-25 minutes. While your pie is in the oven, take your warm potatoes and put them into a Ziploc bag (or pastry bag if you want). Take the Shepherd's Pie out of the oven and add your cheese. Once the cheese has melted, take it out of the oven and add your potatoes. Swirl the potatoes as high as you want onto the pie, starting from the center and working your way out until the dish is covered. Add your eyes (thawed frozen peas or corn, carrots, beans, etc). Serve.


  1. That is just the cutest thing going! My family will be here after halloween but think we definitely need to have your adorable idea. I wonder if you could put the potatoes on before baking and maybe they'd get enough of a crust to be a bit more stable?

  2. this makes me sad my kids won't eat mashed potatoes

  3. They're scary if you don't like peas...but I think they're cute.
    And Jen, are you serious?! I've never met a kid who doesn't eat mashed potatoes!