Taking Matters into Your Own Grinder

The Engineer and I are facing a slight crisis….our supply of ground elk and deer is dwindling dangerously low.  We have plenty of steaks and roasts, but our tubes of ground meat are quickly disappearing!

How are we supposed to make tacos without ground meat!?!

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Accurate depiction of The Engineer and I as I demand avocado on my tacos….except he is a crunchy taco and I am a soft taco!

Now I know that I could make steak tacos….pulled pork tacos…chicken tacos…fish tacos……

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ALL OF THE TACOS!

Trust me, we make tacos a ton and in a wide variety of flavors and styles.  However, some tacos require planning and forethought.  I’m not always the best at taking things out of the freezer to thaw in advance, but a pound of frozen solid ground meat is just easy to toss straight into a frying pan!  Basically, having a reliable stash of ground meat in my house is a requirement.

The Engineer bought me a grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aide for Christmas because I had grand visions of getting into sausage making.  I have yet to make a batch of sausage, and so the grinder had just been waiting patiently in a kitchen cabinet to be used for something delicious.  Last weekend we decided to test out the grinder and tackle our meat issue head on!

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First things first….thaw out a giant roast!  When The Engineer had his elk processed in Canada, it was cheaper to just get it cut into large roasts.  This makes total sense and is fine, except that the two of us don’t necessarily need to cook up a 4-5 pound roast for a nice dinner at home!  Also, don’t worry if the meat isn’t totally thawed.  The colder, even still slightly frozen, the better.  Also, if you’re going to add additional fat into your ground meat….that fat needs to be frozen!

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The little lurker quickly noticed that tasty meat scraps come out of the grinder after every round of processing….there is always a little morsel left in the auger!

 

The grinder worked great!  I had read some questionable reviews so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I had emotionally prepared to spend most of the day fighting and struggling to get the meat processed.  It was such a smooth process I wish we had thawed out more meat and we could have just done it all at once.  We ground the meat twice, once through the coarse blade, and a second time through the fine.  I’m not sure that a second grind is required if you’re just planning on tacos, chili, casseroles, and such with the meat, but it’s the typically recommended procedure.  Between the rounds of grinding I took apart the grinder and cleaned it out.  It had built up a little ring of tendon, fat, and meat right behind the grind plate, but it was easy to just clean out.  Also, once the flow of meat stops moving down the auger, a small chunk was left that couldn’t be pushed through the grind plate….no biggie and Scout really appreciated the snacks!

The only slight issue we had is that no store in town stocked the “Sausage Kit” with the filling nozzles.  Minor setback, and it worked pretty well to just hold the bags and let the ground meat sort of just fall into the bottom.  Actually, once the bags had some meat in them they sort of just sat themselves up.  Easy peasey lemon squeezey!

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4 beautiful little tubes of ground elk all ready for delicious things!

Now, if you’re looking for a tasty way to use up some ground meat….might I suggest Mexican Stuffed Peppers!

Ingredients:

  • Drizzle of olive oil (Only needed for wild game as it is super lean and sticks)
  • 1lb ground meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 can Original Rotel
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin and chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper…or to taste if your spice sensitive
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, plus 2/3 cup additional for topping
  • 3 large bell peppers

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add meat and onion.  Cook over medium until the meat is fully cooked and the onion is soft.  Add the garlic, Rotel, rice, beans, and all spices to the skillet and mix to combine.  Turn heat off and allow to sit to cool and the flavors to meld for a couple minutes.  Divide peppers in half through the stem and remove all seeds.  Immediately before “stuffing”, stir 2/3 of cheese into the meat mixture.

Divide the mixture evenly between all the peppers….don’t worry about being too neat.  They will be large and in charge!  Sprinkle the tops with the additional cheese, if desired, cover with foil, and bake at 370 for about 30-35 minutes.  I like a crispy, brown, cheesy crust so I uncovered them for an additional 5 minutes.  The cooking time will be reduced if you have smaller peppers, just cook until the peppers are soft and tender.

Serve immediately with any of your favorite taco toppings!  I did avocado….OF COURSE!…..and The Engineer likes his with taco sauce and sour cream.

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Tag Soup the Delicious Way……Vegetarian Blizzard Prepping

We’ve basically been sitting around all day waiting for the forecasted blizzard to start.  It was supposed to start early this afternoon and blanket us in snow until sometime tomorrow.  It’s now evening and the snow has yet to start.  Each hour that passes without snow drops my chance of getting an elusive adult snow day tomorrow!!  If you get me all hyped up for 10 inches of snow…..you really need to deliver the 10 inches of snow!

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I was digging back through my posted recipes hoping that I could just repost a link to tonight’s dinner, but I was shocked to discover I’ve never shared the recipe.  The Engineer loves soup, and nothing sounds better when the weather is due to turn crappy than a large pot of soup simmering away on the stove!  My minestrone recipe is fast, easy, and a perfect way to use up any random veggie odds and ends you might have laying around.  Honestly, anything goes so just load it up with whatever you have laying around in the crisper drawer!  I’ll list what I generally toss in, but the amounts vary by how much soup you want to make, how thick and chunky you want it, and how much of everything you have.  I like mine extra thick and loaded up….extra hardy and filling for those cold nights.

It’s extra perfect for us as January draws to a close.  I never had a chance to get back out in the field to fill my fall turkey tag.  Mostly it was a function of the weather swinging from unseasonably warm to mind numbingly cold.  Plus, the added research and learning that nearly impossible to get fall turkeys to come into calls…..they just aren’t that interesting.  I’m not giving up hope on my #operationthunderchicken, just taking a break to hit the range, train, and refocus before the spring season starts.  The whole state is open, and the tags aren’t issued by county which means I’ll be able to go hunting pretty much anywhere we can get permissions or find public land.  Those odds seem much better….and warmer!

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If you don’t fill your tags…..you can always at least make soup!

Minestrone

  • Onion — 1.5 onions, rough chopped
  • Baby Carrots — about 4 Cups, diced
  • Celery — 5 stalks, chopped
  • Garlic — 2-4 cloves, minced
  • Zucchini — 2 medium zucchinis, diced

Sauté with salt and pepper in a few good drizzles of olive oil until the onions start to soften and go translucent.

Add to the veggies…..

  • Red Wine —  anything you’d drink. Part of an old bottle you have open will work just fine, 1-2 Cups
  • Diced Tomatoes — 28oz can
  • Water — fill your tomato can up twice
  • Bouillon Base — I use “Better than Boullion”…..3 heaping tablespoons
  • Spaghetti Sauce — 40oz….doesn’t need to be exact.  That’s the size jar I can get at Costco, but just use your favorite kind.
  • Spices — Thyme, Oregano, and Basil….about a tablespoon each.  Two Bay Leaves and a small dash of Cayenne Pepper.

Let simmer until the carrots and celery are tender and cooked through.  If you’d rather not use jarred sauce feel free to use just tomatoes, you’ll just need to add more spices and cook it longer to get that home-y, slow cooked sorta taste.  Part of what makes this a fast minestrone is my little jarred sauce cheat step!  Also, if you have any stock laying around….chicken, veggie, or beef…..feel free to add that instead of the water and bullion.  Don’t be nervous if it seems too “soupy” at this stage.  It’s going to simmer for awhile and the next step will soak up some of the extra liquid.

10 minutes before serving time…..

  • Kidney Beans — 2 cans
  • Noodes —  Again, just use what you have laying around.  We had half a pound of rotini so that’s what I used tonight.  I’ve used elbows, small shells….honestly just toss in a couple handfuls of whatever you have

Serve….

  • Spinkle a little parmesan cheese on top
  • Bread for soaking up all the spicy, delicious broth

It’s vegetarian and would be easy to make vegan.  I love it because it’s veggies so you can pound down a couple bowls and not feel guilty at the end of dinner.  The Engineer loves it because it’s soup, and soup is always his jam, and because I let him pass off some of his zucchini chunks to me.  We are about as far from being vegetarian as your can get, but meat isn’t something you miss with this meal. A bowl of this, some warm, fresh baked bread, and some good red wine makes for a homey meal that will please even the most carnivorous of palates.

 

Winter Clean Up

It’s been a productive weekend here at Casa (Mis)Happenings!  We cleaned, we lounged, we played my new lego movie video game, we went to Costco…..typical weekend around here really!  Just so everyone knows…..I suck at video games, but I totally beat The Engineer at my new lego game!!  Don’t tell him I told you that though…. 🙂

It’s the end of an era as I parted ways with my faux leather, gold couch that Momma and Dad painted for first college apartment.  I bought it for $10 off a sidewalk sale, and they proceeded to put probably $50 worth of primer, paint, and metallic gold glaze on it!  We’ve had a good run, but there just wasn’t really room in the house for two couches.  Tomorrow after work it will be off to it’s new home and 3 new doggie loungers!  Hopefully it will keep the 3 doggies and their Momma as comfy as it kept me for several years!

Side note……apparently gold couches are a popular item on the Facebook Marketplace.  I had a ton of interested buyers….way more than I expected honestly.

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Gold, squishy, and puppy cuddle approved!

In order to sell the couch…I had to post pictures.  To get pictures….I had to clean 3 years worth of assorted stuff off of it.  It was occupying a prime spot upstairs in the loft, so it had become a storage bench of plenty of junk.  The biggest item was the curtains that I removed from the master bedroom when I repainted.  They had just been draped over the back of my poor couch for years.  So to start off the weekend, the couch got cleaned, and the curtains were hung in the spare bedroom upstairs!

They aren’t the best, but they aren’t the worst and fit nicely with the grey/blue theme I want to eventually do in the guest room.  I have really grand plans, but one thing at a time I suppose!

To cap off the weekend we cleaned the garage, moved the couch into the cleaned out section of the garage….couches and stairs….ughs…..and I started some new chalk painting projects!  I’ll be sure to share pictures when they are done.  It’s a bit cold out in the garage this time of year so I didn’t get past the initial painting phase.  They always look weird to me when they are just flat paint.  Needs some distressing and some waxing and they will be good to go!  Now it’s time for some homemade nachos, and Mexican mule, and a movie with The Engineer and Scout-a-Roo!

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Christmas Break Activities

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  I’ve obviously been slacking a little bit this week on getting a blog posted, but better late than never I suppose.  The Engineer and I travelled all around and had several different Christmas dinners and festivities with our families.  I’m thankful that we had good weather all weekend, but I’m also glad that we finally got a nice snow right before Christmas.  It wasn’t feeling very festive looking out the window at mostly dead grass….

It was my intention last week to write a last update about my holiday prepping, but I didn’t quite get it done.  I did quick whip up something fun and tasty last Friday morning though….MARSHMALLOWS!  I didn’t even get a picture taken of my project, and I intended to get one when I got home from our Christmas’s travels, but the marshmallows didn’t manage to make the trip back home from Nebraska!  I’ve never made a candy for Christmas, but this was actually easy to accomplish.  The worst part is that it’s a bit of a sugary mess, but yea know…..that’s what makes them delicious!  Thanks Alton Brown for the recipe inspiration!  Good science will never fail you in the kitchen!!  I just made plain, vanilla flavored shmallows, but based on your projected used feel free to jazz them up with other flavors.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with these at all….I’ll link the recipe below!

(Side note—-I just used my meat thermometer to cook the sugar and it worked fine, but PLEASE make sure your meat thermometer is capable of going to 240 Fahrenheit!!)

While I was busy working on Christmas craft projects for gifts it occurred to me that I haven’t crafted anything fun for myself in quite awhile.  That’s this week’s plan of attack. The Engineer and I both took the whole week between the holidays off so we’ve been lounging, running errands, and doing some odds and ends that we just never seem to have time to get done….including my crafts!

First up on the crafts to do list this week is a snuggle mat for my Scout-a-Roo girl!  If you don’t know what a snuffle mat is, it’s basically a strategic tangle of fleece that is excellent for hiding treats.  To assemble a snuffle mat for the treat hunter in your life you need 4 supplies.

  • Rubber sink mat with grid holes
  • About 2 yards of fleece…..doesn’t need to be exact or pretty….get the cheap stuff
  • Scissors
  • TIME

You’ll cut the fleece into strips and then loop them through the grid…..that’s really all there is to it!  Based on the current progress I’ve made, I project using about half of the sink mat.  I left my fleece folded, just like it comes off the fabric bolt, and cut approximately 1 inch strips from the fold end through both layers.  I then cut each folded strip into 4 equal-ish length pieces.  Precision isn’t a required trait for this. Fill the grid horizontally and then go back through and fill in the grid vertically.  This will create a nice little puff mat for your pup-a-roo to dig and snort around in after crunches or other small snackies.  The Engineer and I are curled up on the couch watching hunting videos….and I’m slowly working my way through my massive pile of fleece strips!!

My “Just for Me” craft this week is going to be a new scarf!  I found a pattern on Knit Collage, ordered myself some expensive, fun yarns, and I’m getting ready to whip myself up something cozy to start the New Year!  I’ll update you on that next week once I get it done, but I’m pretty excited about it honestly.  With the recent temperature dip into the negatives around here, you simply can not go wrong with a new fluffy scarf!

 

Stags and Scotch

What do you get when you mix a lazy Saturday morning, venison sausage, a hungry me, and my over ambitious ideas?!?!?!!  

Scotch Eggs!!

I had never attempted a scotch egg before, but I have pounds and pounds of breakfast sausage from The Engineer’s deer and eggs are a constant staple in the fridge.  It seemed like a perfectly reasonable breakfast idea!  So, Friday night I googled a quick explanation from Gordon Ramsey and decided that fancy British breakfast was just the thing we needed Saturday morning.  This is exactly the sort of thing that happens when I watch cooking shows.  If Gordon can do it….I obviously can do it!  If I can’t do it as well as Gordon, I can certainly do it better than his stupid contestants on Hell’s Kitchen….but that is a different matter entirely.

If you wanna take a stab at making your own scotch eggs, here’s what I used to make my jazzed up, cheesy version.  They turned out crispy and delicious, although they are a bit of work, so they aren’t going to become an every weekend activity anytime soon even though The Engineer really liked them…

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Ingredients

  • 5 eggs plus one for an egg wash
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage of your choice
  • Flour for dredging
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese
  • Any spices you like….get creative!!!
  • Olive oil for frying

First things first, you must boil the eggs.  Gordon recommend a 4 minute and 30 second dip into already boiling water.  I don’t love super runny eggs, so I opted for an almost 6 minute boil.  Apparently British eggs cook faster?!  My 6 minute eggs were still runnier than I would have liked, and it made them a bit hard to peel and wrap in sausage without breaking open and oozing yoke.  The Engineer likes runny eggs, and I don’t horribly mind them as long as I have plenty of stuff to wipe them up with so we made do.  Next time though….I’ll let them go a couple minutes more.  I was worried that cooking the sausage would cook the egg inside more, but I don’t think that is the case.  Be sure you just cook your eggs to as hard or soft of a boil as you’d like.

While your eggs are boiling it’s time to get creative with your meat!  Our sausage blend is a bit under-spiced so it takes some jazzing up.  If you have a better blend or are just feeling lazy feel free to leave your sausage as it comes.  There aren’t a lot of rules, so add what you’re feeling!  Gordon apparently adds blood sausage and shredded apple to his pork sausage base.  I added cheese!!  The Engineer loves cheese with his eggs and I figured this would be an easy place to add it……plus the following pyramid of spices

1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tablespoon each of Garlic and Onion Powder

2 Tablespoons each of fresh, frozen Thyme and Oregano from my garden

Get everything in your sausage all mixed up, and be sure to get your breading stations set up.  I added some salt and pepper to the flour mixture and a splash of water to the egg so it whipped up nicely.

Once your eggs are cooked, cool them down with some cold water and commence the peeling.  I find that peeling the eggs under a little running water really helps the shells come off easier.  I had one egg not survive the peeling intact, so I did end up just frying some of the sausage as patties…..but that’s our little secret so don’t tell anyone!  The recipe would have made 5 scotch eggs otherwise!

To prep your eggs, squash a “large golfball sized handful” of meat into a very thin patty.  I get that that isn’t a super exact amount….but I guess you’re looking for 5 even sized balls.  Try and keep it as round and thin as you can.  Carefully place your peeled egg in the middle and warp the sausage around it.  A couple times I had to grab a bit more meat mixture to bridge any holes, just make sure to get everything covered in the sausage layer.  I found the rolling and forming them in my hands the way you’d make a snowball was the most effective, although don’t squeeze too hard because if you break your eggs, and you like them a little runny, you’ll end up with exploding yoke everywhere.  Not only will this mean that someone will get a mystery scotch egg with no yolk, but it’s also hard to get everything stuck together with all the yolk oozing around!

Gently roll your delicious meat ball in the seasoned flour….transfer to the egg wash….and then finally roll in breadcrumbs.  If you’re ball has gotten a bit amorphous or wonky by this point don’t worry…..just pick it up carefully and reform it in your hands.  According to Gordon it is helpful to press in the breadcrumbs anyway so don’t worry too much about it.  It’ll be a bit messy….but the good things in life are usually messy anyway.

Scotch eggs are traditionally deep fried, but I don’t have a fryer and I didn’t feel like using that much oil just to fry up 4 egg balls in a large skillet.  So….I broke with tradition slightly and just added a generous drizzle of olive oil to my largest, deepest skillet and let it get hot.  Once hot, carefully place in the scotch eggs and cook until brown and crispy!!!  They get oh so deliciously crispy…..must be the cheese at work!  Once they are cooked on one side, grab carefully with tongs and flip over.  Once the top and bottom were golden and delicious, I set them on their sides and slowly worked them around until they were perfectly cooked little brown orbs of goodness.  You might think that a hefty drizzle in the bottom of the pan won’t be enough oil, but remember that sausage will loose grease as it cooks….use that to your advantage!  The cheese and the fact that you aren’t actually deep frying them does cause them to stick to the pan a tiny bit, so just be gentle when you’re working with them.

Serve piping hot with your choice of breakfast sides and of course some coffee…..mimosas if you have them!  If you like your eggs runny you’ll probably want some toast to help soak up all the deliciousness.  They are a bit heavy….in a good “old school, stick to your ribs, keep you full for a long time” sorta way…so I’d steer clear of anything like pancakes or hash browns.  I eat a ton, but even I think that’s too much to take on.  Some fruit, maybe some tea, and pleasant thoughts of the English countryside should be more than enough to start your day off on the proper foot!

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Glorious lil scotch eggs and some apple butter toast!

 

Making a To Do List Your Bitch

I’m tired, sore, and don’t feel like leaving my couch for a few days…BUT WE GOT SO MUCH DONE THIS WEEKEND!

Momma MisHappenings came up Friday morning and we started the crown molding project in my bedroom.  We decided to put in a three piece crown, because Momma MisHappenings really likes molding and feels like you can’t ever over do the molding.  I also like molding, probably because I grew up in a house filled with nice, homemade moldings.

I don’t have the skills required to create molding from scratch.  I have just enough talent to run a miter saw and a nail gun.  Momma did all the coping…..which is really an advanced maneuver.  The Engineer and I did most of the cutting and installing, atleast on Saturday and Sunday.  Momma and I did all the wall pieces on Friday while The Engineer worked.  Almost none of my home improvement projects have gone as smoothly as this molding did!  All three pieces were cut, coped, and install by noon today!  I originally had visions of getting the bathroom all done too, but A. I didn’t buy enough of the first two pieces of trim and B. There are way too many corners in my bathroom and they take a decent amount of time to get fit nicely!

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The nail holes all still need to be filled and touch up paint needs to happen in several places, but all in all the whole project went pretty well.  Molding is a fairly complicated process, and there are plenty of old world technical skills required.  Most of our issues revolved around the fact that the actual crown pieces came from two different production lots.  They were just slightly different in their angle and profile.  However, slightly different is one thing when the pieces are laying flat.  When you are trying to cope and fit corners evenly and with no gaps…..slightly different quickly changes to a huge pain in the ass.  With some extra sanding and filing we got pretty decent corners all around and I can touch up the small gaps with caulk or spackle before I retouch the paint.

I won’t explain in detail how to do the crown…..mostly because other people can do it much better than me.  Again, I’m rolling with just enough skill to get things done, but my teaching abilities are not really up to par.  If you’re interested in installing molding I’d recommend The Joy of Moldings.  He has an excellent blog that will teach you how to cope corners and how to layout the pattern for your crown.

I’m not as glue happy as The Joy of Moldings guy.  My Dad only ever glued scarf joints….never coped corners and never ever did he use glue to attach moldings to walls and ceilings.  I don’t have the advantage of knowing how my townhouse is constructed, and because I didn’t buy a stud finder until we were 2/3 of the way done with the molding, I did end up adding some panel adhesive onto the cornice pieces on the ceiling.

My Dad also never used a nail gun, but he was faster and more skilled.  I need to make up time somewhere, and shooting in nails works fine in that capacity.  Plus, since I didn’t originally know where the studs were, after we bought the stud finder at Cosco I went around and shot in a bunch of extra nails actually into the studs.  More holes to fill I suppose, but when the nails are that easy to install I suppose you get a bit liberal with them!  However, shooting nails around willy nilly has it’s downfalls, and just like every other time we’ve attempted a project pieces had to be ripped down and nails pulled out.  Nothing has been as bad as the time I nailed my pocket door open…..but still……struggles were had.  It was nice to get the project wrapped up this weekend.  Today is my parent’s wedding anniversary, so it was nice to spend the weekend with my Momma doing something my Dad was so skilled at.

It actually worked out really well having a tube of panel adhesive open.  Saturday morning, the guest bed upstairs broke.  The frame itself was purchased by my Grandma when she was still living at home with my Great Grandama.  So I’m sure it predates her marrying my Grandpa.  My Uncle had added a couple pieces of wood to act as risers for the box spring supports, and one of those old pieces shattered.  Luckily we were able to cut some scraps into new risers and glued the whole thing back into place.  I also used a small amount to reinstall a loose kick plate in the kitchen.  One bedroom of crown molding, a kitchen reinstall, and a bed repair…..not a bad day in the life of a $3 tube of adhesive!

Another item that got checked off the to do list that has been looming for years is the gallery wall in my dining room.  The Bitch Faced Bestie will be so proud!  The frames themselves have only been stacked up on the dining room floor for 3 years…..better late than never I guess.  Realistically I had been waiting to find all the pictures I want for the frames, but I think having them up will remind me to actually look for art to put in them.  I have a general idea of the pictures I want to hang, I’m just having a problem finding what I want.  So, I’m sure I will slowly start collecting art for my gallery, but even just having the frames up is making my dining room area feel much fancier!

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There is one frame missing still from the upper right hand corner, so don’t mind that hole!

Paint and Pie

IT’S FINALLY FALL!

It seemed like cooler, sweater weather would never arrive, but I guess good things come to those who are patient!  With the changing of the seasons comes my deep burning desire to spend time cleaning, organizing, and crafting in my garage.  Things that have been laying around all summer I suddenly have a burning need to organize.

The first craft of the fall was trying out chalk paint on some metal decor.  A few months ago I purchased a metal candle holder from Hobby Lobby.  While I do like the original color of the candle holder, it wasn’t really the right shade of blue for my house.  What better to do than throw some chalk paint on it and see what happens?!

Overall, I would say the mini project went well.  The only thing I would change was maybe the amount of distressing I did before I waxed the piece.  The paint chips off rather easy, so in buffing in the dark wax, several extra chunks of paint went flying off.  I’m not sure that in this case the candle holder could be “over” distressed, and since I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind….all is good in the chalk painting hood!  If you were going for a lighter distressed look, I might actually skip the initial distressing step.  Apply your wax, and then if you feel like you need a little extra maybe distress with sandpaper as a final step.

Another glorious part of the shift in the weather is a change in nightly meal choices!  I’m not one of those people who can eat soup and casseroles with its 100 degrees outside, so as the temperatures have been cooling I’ve been ramping up the oven!  Last night I tried out a new recipe…..shepherd’s pie!  I had never had a shepherd’s pie before, but The Engineer has had them and was having a craving.  Coupled with the fact that we watched Gordon Ramsey make some on Kitchen Nightmare meant that I needed to try my hand.  All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!  Used up a bunch of leftover veggies, and anything with cheesy mashed potatoes is a good life decision!!

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • Onion, chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1ish glass of red wine
  • 6 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-12 oz of water
  • 3 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

While I do understand that this isn’t a traditional shepherd’s pie as it doesn’t contain lamb, I’m pretty confident that this recipe would work with any red meat.  The most important quality of the meat, according to Gordon, is that it’s well drained and free of grease.  Elk, for all intensive purposes, is basically grease free and I have a freezer full of it now, so that’s what I used.  If using any wild game meat, remember that you will probably need to add some olive oil to your pan before adding in the meat.  Brown the meat and toss in all the fresh veggies, onion, and the garlic.  Continue cooking until you’re sure the meat is completely cooked, and the onions have gone slightly translucent.

Dump in the worcestershire, tomato paste, wine, bouillon and water.  You could also use any stock you have laying around the house, I just had the cubes to use.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme.  I used several fresh sprigs from my garden, but dried would also work just fine.

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When you use fresh herbs and your fancy starts showing!

Simmer your meat mixture until the carrots and celery become tender and the mixture thickens….about 45 mins.  Stir often so that the bottom of the mixture doesn’t scorch to the pan.  While that’s simmering, rough cube the potatoes and add them to a pan and boil until fork tender.  Drain and add to a mixing bowl with the butter, cheese, and milk. Basically, just make mashed potatoes the way you always would….only with the addition of cheese.  Maybe you make them with cheese all the time…..I don’t, so that was a little upgrade!

Add your frozen veggies and just let them warm up a couple minutes.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan.  The entire mixture didn’t all fit in my pan, in hindsight it would have, but I made a small, additional baking dish and threw it into the freezer for later.  Top the mixture with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn the broiler on and babysit your pie carefully until the desired level of golden brown is achieved.  Dish up and enjoy your meat, potatoes, and veggies!!

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I raked my potatoes with a fork before baking and topped them with extra black pepper because it’s The Engineer’s favorite!

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PIE!