just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

Great Fall Comfort Food- Shepherd’s Pie

Most of the leaves here have fallen, and the air seems just a little crisper. With the cool weather comes my desire for warm, soothing comfort food.

Post surgery, my cousin made Shepherd’s Pie for us. Not sure how my picky eaters were going to handle it, I was astounded that they not only liked it, the loved it! So when I returned to trying to cook, I wanted to with something that would be relatively easy and that my children would like- Shepherd’s Pie.

I looked a couple of different recipes and made my own twists to fit the tastes of my family. In addition, I used instant mashed potatoes. Idaho SpudsTM are a good option if you have never tried instant flakes. Normally I make mashed potatoes from scratch, but on a school night amidst millions of activities, the flakes work pretty well. In an ideal world you would use fresh herbs- they make all the difference in the world. I am fortunate to have them in my garden, so I tend to use fresh herbs whenever possible. They just taste better and only take a few minutes to chop up. But if you don’t have them, dried herbs will work just fine.


For the topping

  • Instant Mashed Potatoes (6-8 servings)


  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (russett or idaho)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter (depends on how buttery you want your potatoes but you can add more)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

For the meat filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or meatloaf mix
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen, fresh or canned)

** we have a legume allergy so I did not add peas. But you could add 1/2 a cup of peas.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

The first step will be to do the prep work. Chop all of the ingredients for the filler. If you are making mashed potatoes from scratch, peel and cut the potatoes into cubes. Place them in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Set aside.



Once the filler ingredients are chopped, add oil to the pan and saute the onions and carrots until the onions are slightly brown and soft- about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mix in. Cook until the garlic is slightly browned.


Add the ground beef (or meatloaf mixture), salt and pepper. Break the meat up and cook until thoroughly browned. Drain excess grease from meat. Toss in the flour and let it coat the meat. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Then add tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme and stir all ingredients together. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for another 10-12 minutes. This will reduce the liquid in the pan and thicken the sauce.



While the filler simmers begin the mashed potatoes. If using instant, follow the directions on the box for 6-8 servings. If making from scratch, boil the potatoes until a fork can pierce them easily. Drain potatoes and return to the saucepan. Add the butter and stir it around the hot potatoes until melted. Then add the milk. Mash the potatoes adding salt and pepper to taste.


Return to the filler and add the corn (and peas if you choose) and blend. It is time to assemble.

Spread the filler mixture evenly into an 11×7 inch glass baking dish. If you don’t have one, a 13×9 inch dish will also do- but your filler will be spread out a bit more. Top the filler with the mashed potatoes so that it completely covers the filler.


Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the mashed potatoes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have it) and place the glass pan onto the baking sheet. Should your dish bubble up, this will prevent spills from ending up all over your oven. Put into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are slightly browned. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.




As a side note, this dish is easy to make and you can involve your children in the process. One of the byproducts of my surgery is that I have had to ask my children for a lot more help than I normally would with day to day activities- cooking being one of them. In some ways it is a blessing, we enjoy the time together and it is forcing me to take the time and begin to teach them valuable skills. My son CJ and I made this recipe and had a blast doing it.


* Lastly I don’t have any relationship with any manufacturer of anything- instant mashed potatoes included. We had received a sample of the Idaho SpudsTM with something that came home from the kid’s school at the beginning of the year. When we made them they tasted good and were free from additional fillers- hence the recommendation



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