Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rug Hooking and Eating - a Natural Combination

No hook-in is complete without some wonderful muchies, right?  When we gathered on New Year's Day (see the blog posting for January 6th) we had a pot luck and I made the main dish.  I wasn't sure how this dish would go over with the ladies, but there was very little of it left over by the end of the day.  Normally the ladies eat light, but I was surprised and delighted to see many of them return for seconds on this modification of Shepherd's Pie.  This version uses butternut squash instead of mashed potatoes as the topper.  The butternut squash gives it such a yummy taste.  Even for those skeptical of squash, you will be saying "Yummmmm!!!" with this recipe.  It is hard to stop eating it!

I reviewed several on-line recipies and concocted this mixture by mixing ingredients from a few recipies.  This might become one of your favorite comfort foods.  By minimizing the oil, butter and heavy cream, it makes the grade as a very healthy dish for the diet conscious. 
Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie
Butternut Squash Topping
1 medium sized butternut squash (2-3 pounds)
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
A dash of salt and white pepper

1) Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2) Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place two halves on a baking sheet.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until squash is tender when a knife is inserted.  Let cool.  (Note:  many grocery stores now carry pre-cut butternut squash in the produce section, or if you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they carry both one and two pound bags of pre-cut squash)

3) Scoop flesh out of the butternut squash and place in a food processor with butter, cream, salt and pepper.  Pulse the mixture until smooth.  Or you could do this by hand since the squash will be nice and soft.
Pie Filling
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 large leeks, thinly sliced, use only the white (or about 1 cup)
2 - 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 1/2"
2 - 4 stalks celery, chopped 1/2"
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 1/4 pounds of either ground turkey and/or ground beef, or equal parts mixed together
1 large clove garlic chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped or a good pinch of dried rosemary crumbled
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dry crumbled
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (these seem to be optional, but I think they help to wick moisture from the squash topping as it cooks) 
1)    In a large skillet add olive oil, leeks, carrots and celery and cook on medium low for 10 minutes until softened.
2)  Turn heat up a little and add ground turkey, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper and cook until turkey is browned.
3)  Add flour and chicken stock and cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.
4)  Place meat and vegetable mixture in a casserole dish and top with butternut squash topping.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
5) Bake in a Pyrex baking dish (large 9" x 13" casserole size) at 375 degree F oven for 45-55 minutes until top is nicely browned and mixture is bubbling hot. (Note:  I place foil over the topping after about the first 20 minutes to keep it from browning too much)
Serves 10 as a main dish

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