15 March 2017

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie (with Vegan Substitutions)

I have to admit, that I'm used to making this pie with meat. However, since my wife can no longer have meat, I made the leap to the "other side" and made it using vegetables. Many recipes you find out there give the proportions for making just one pie, however, I feel if I'm going to go to the trouble of prepping all the veggies, I might as well make several pies instead of just one. The recipe that follows will make 3 (9-inch) pies; you can eat one now and then freeze the others for a later time. This recipe can also be easily converted to a Vegan recipe; I will provide the alternatives throughout. So, since you came here for a recipe and not a story on why I'm making it with vegetables, let's get on with the recipe.

photo of shepherd's pie
Interior of the pie
What you need:



For Potato Topping:
  • 1 bag of potatoes (10-pound bag. I used Russet potatoes) I told you, it will make more than one pie :)
  • 8 Oz's. low fat cream cheese
    • Vegan option:  Tofutti, Follow Your Heart (both made with soy), or GO Veggie!® (made with coconut oil and soy
  • 8 Oz's Buttermilk
    • Vegan option: You'll have to make your own... take 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and add it to 1-cup of soy or almond milk; Stir and let it set for 5-10 minutes
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine (1 stick)
    • Vegan option: Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 1 tsp salt to start. (Add more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper to start. (add more to taste)
  • Cheddar Cheese (optional)
    • Vegan option: Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds, GO Veggie!® Cheddar Cheese Alternative, and Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheddar Cheese

For Veggie Portion:
  • 2 Onions
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 8 carrots
  • 4 cloves of garlic (or 1 tablespoon of minced)
  • 1 packet of mushrooms, about 8 Oz's (I used cremini)
  • 2 cups Lentils
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 2 cups of frozen corn
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp Vegetarian or Vegan Worcestershire sauce (since the regular Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies)
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil (for sautéing veggies) 
  • Salt and pepper
Putting it Together:



For Potato Portion:
  • Peel and quarter potatoes and place in large pot
  • Add enough water to cover potatoes 
  • Add salt or other seasoning you like and boil until fork-tender (about 20-25 minutes)
  • Drain water and put potatoes back into pot
  • Mash potatoes with masher
  • Add salt, pepper, butter/margarine (or Vegan Substitute), cream cheese (or Vegan Substitute), and buttermilk (or Vegan Substitute)
  • Using a hand mixer, whip potatoes until they are nice and fluffy
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly
  • Cover and set aside until needed
For Veggie Portion:
  • Prep all veggies:
    • Dice onions
    • Dice celery
    • Peel and dice carrots  (small, restaurant-style, pieces)
    • Wash and chop mushrooms
  • In large pot, over medium heat, add olive oil
  • When oil is hot, add onions and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes) (be sure to season the onions with salt and pepper)
  • Add garlic, thyme, celery, carrots, and sauté an additional 15 minutes
  • Add mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and sauté and additional 5 minutes
  • Add lentils and broth
  • Cover pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are soft
  • Add tomato paste and stir in well
  • Add peas and corn
  • Mix in well
  • If the broth is still very runny, you have a few options:
    • You can drain the excess broth and then add a few ladles to each pie to keep them moist This is what I did...I know: lazy 😉 )
    • Drain the excess liquid; make a rue to thicken it; then add back to the veggies
Next, divide the veggies between the 3 pie pans and then top with potato mixture. You want to be sure to seal the veggies with the potatoes (kind of like you would do with a meringue). Top with cheese (optional). For pies you will freezing, do not add the cheese. Just Wrap with plastic wrap, foil and freeze.



If Eating Right Away:
  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Once heated, place pie in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted
To Heat from Frozen:
  • Remove from freezer and place pie in cold oven
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Once oven reaches temperature, bake for 35-60 minutes, or until heated through (times can vary depending on how deep the pie plate is. At the 35-minute mark, add cheese or cheese substitute to top (optional). Continue heating until pie is heated-through and the cheese is melted. 
To Thaw and then Heat:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Add cheese or cheese substitute to top (optional) and place thawed pie in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through
Close-up photo of the veggies
The yummy veggies :)


07 December 2016

Making Your Own Hummus

Photo of the ingredients to make hummus
Ingredients to make hummus
Here is the recipe I use to make our own hummus. My wife loves to take this for her lunch. If you pair it with some Naan Bread, you have yourself a delicious meal.


What you need:


  • 1/3 Cup of Tahini (follow this link for the easy recipe)
  • 1 Can of Black beans
  • 1 Can of Garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt (add more if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/4 Cup Olive oil
  • 1 TB Lipton's onion soup mix (Optional)(Follow the link to get the recipe)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese (Optional)
  • Food Processor (note: if you do not have one, you can use a blender instead. Although, it will be a little more difficult making sure all the ingredients get blended smoothly)
Putting it Together:
  • Add tahini to food processor
  • Using a sieve, drain the black beans and rinse them until the water runs clear. Add to food processor
photo of black beans being rinsed and drained
Black beans being rinsed and drained
  • Using a sieve, drain the garbanzo beans and rinse. Add to food processor
  • Add lemon juice, salt, and paprika
  • Process until smooth
  • Slowly add the olive oil until it reaches a smooth consistency or the consistency you prefer
Photo of hummus being processed
Hummus being processed


  • If you are going to add the onion soup mix and/or parmesan cheese, do this first, before adding more salt
  • Taste and add additional salt, soup mix, or parmesan cheese, as per your taste
  • Place in bowl and store in refrigerator
  • The flavors will enhance as it sets
Photo of hummus in the bowl and ready to eat
Hummus in the bowl and ready to eat






01 December 2016

Tahini Recipe


photo of the ingredients used in the tahini recipe
Ingredients for tahini


While there are a variety of uses for tahini, I usually just use it as a base in my hummus recipe. While you can spend $6.50 or more to get 16 ounces of if from the store, you can make your own and customize it to your taste. The recipe that follows is a basic tahini recipe and you can add other flavors to get the taste you desire. for just a fraction of the cost. As with my Lipton Onion Soup Mix recipe, I used items I got from the bulk bin at our grocery store (Winco). The cost of one pound of sesame seeds at Winco was $3.83. For this price,  you get a massive amount, since sesame seeds weight next to nothing. You can easily make this recipe 3 or more times. In addition, if you make your own hamburger buns, the sesame seeds make a great topper to them. Well, enough talk.


What you need:
  • 4 Cups: Sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup: Olive oil


Putting it Together:


The first thing you will want to do is toast the sesame seeds. I find it easiest to first line a cookie pan with parchment paper.
  • Set oven to 350 degrees
  • Add the four cups of sesame seeds to the parchment-lined cookie sheet and spread evenly
Photo of sesame seeds on parchment-lined cookie sheet
Sesame seeds on parchment-lined cookie sheet


  • Put in oven for 5 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, stir the seeds to mix them up
  • Put in oven an additional 5 minutes
  • After a total of 10 minutes in the oven, remove and check the seeds. They should be slightly browned. If not, return to oven and check every 2 minutes or so.
  • Once you begin to smell the sesame seeds, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool


Once cooled, place in food processer (do this slowly, because they like to jump EVERYWHERE!!)
  • Process in food processer until well crushed
  • Slowly begin to add the oil
  • Continue adding the olive oil until the sesame seeds come together to form a paste



Photo of tahini being processed
Tahini coming together


  • Place in a mason jar and store in the refrigerator
Photo of tahini in a jar
Tahini ready for the refrigerator




Note: This is a basic tahini recipe. There are other recipes that have you add 3-5 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and salt. If you desire to try this, then add the garlic and lemon juice before you begin to add the olive oil. Feel free to experiment, adjust this recipe to your own tastes, and have fun!!



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