We love celebrating birthdays in our family! Since my kids were old enough to make choices, I have always let them dictate the menu for their birthday meal. And they have had some doozies!

  • Chicken Nuggets and Fries
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Bacon Mac and Cheese
  • Tachos (Tater Tot Nachos)
  • Chorizo Queso and Chips
  • Coconut Pancakes with Pineapple Compote (birthday breakfast)

I always try to make whatever the birthday boy or girl asks for. It’s a special day! It should be a celebration!

Christopher has been dating a really sweet girl for almost a year now. We just adore her. She fits right in with our crazy household. She was actually friends with Elizabeth before she and Christopher started dating. AND…remember when I posted about Christopher going on a mission trip to Hawaii? Yeah, she was on that trip, too!

So when Christopher asked me if I minded cooking a birthday lunch for Muriel. I was SO excited! I love cooking for people I love!

First I asked her to tell me her favorite meal. She instantly said “Shepherd’s Pie.” I’ve never made Shepherd’s Pie, but I was really excited to learn how to make it! A few days later, Christopher called me to tell me that Muriel also LOVES cornbread muffins. Do cornbread muffins GO with Shepherd’s Pie?

They do now!

I got started by ordering special dishes to bake individual Shepherd’s pie and even ordered cork trivets so the hot dishes could go straight from the oven to the table without scorching the tabletop. I ordered a new mini-muffin pan in which to bake the cornbread muffins and new bread baskets to serve them on the table. (If you like any of those items, click on the image to find the Amazon link for each.)

And then I started researching LOTS of different recipes for Shepherd’s Pie. I wanted it to be as perfect as possible.

This recipe is NOT a difficult one! But, man! It is delicious! Savory and hearty. It was amazing!

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of white all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 32-ounce box of beef broth
  • Mashed potatoes (recipe included)
  • Chives, chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Drizzle the oil into a large skillet over high heat. Add the ground beef and use a spatula to separate the meat as it browns. Add the salt and pepper now.
  2. LEAVE THE MEAT ALONE! Seriously, just leave it alone for 3-4 minutes before you stir it. Let it brown! Brown = flavor.
  3. Once the meat is brown, drain it if there is a lot of grease in the skillet. Add the garlic, onions, and peas and carrots and cook and stir until the onions are soft (2-3 minutes).
  4. Sprinkle the flour all over the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir to combine and continue to stir for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.
  5. Add the tomato paste and continue to stir for another couple of minutes until you can smell a roasted tomato scent.
  6. Pour in about a cup of the beef broth and stir to loosen the flour/meat/veggie mixture. Stir for about a minute, using your spatula to scrape any yummy bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  7. Pour in the rest of the broth, about a cup at a time, waiting until the mixture thickens before adding another cup.
  8. Remove the mixture from the heat and ladle into baking dishes (1 big casserole dish or 6 individual ones). Be sure to place whatever dish you use onto a large cookie sheet to catch any drips.
  9. LET THE MIXTURE COOL COMPLETELY!
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Make the mashed potatoes (recipe below).
  12. Once the meat mixture is cooled, top with mashed potatoes, completely sealing the meat mixture inside.
  13. Place the pan(s) into the oven and bake for 45 minutes – or until the potatoes start to slightly brown.
  14. Sprinkle on chopped chives and serve warm.

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds of Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed clean and rinsed.
  • 1 8-package of cream cheese
  • 1 stick of salted butter, cut into slices
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Cut the potatoes into chunks (about the size of golf balls) and place into a large stock pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water – just enough to cover the potatoes.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Cook on high for 15-20 minutes – until potatoes are fork-tender.
  5. Remove from the heat and drain as completely as possible.
  6. Use a potato masher and mash the potatoes completely.
  7. Add cream cheese and butter and use a hand mixer to combine. Mix until cream cheese and butter are fully melted and incorporated.
  8. Add the cheese and whipping cream and beat until everything is completely combined.
  9. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Well Duh #1: I know that traditional Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. Not happening.

Well Duh #2: Mashed potatoes are my love language. I really love making them! I use Yukon Gold and I do not peel them. You can do the same with red-skinned potatoes. But if you use russets, YOU HAVE TO PEEL THEM!

Well Duh #3: Please put your dishes (whichever you use) on a cookie sheet to bake them. They may bubble over and the cookie sheet will keep those drips from messing up your oven.

This was SO good! I was so happy to make something for Muriel that she really enjoyed! We each had our own little dish of Shepherd’s pie and everybody enjoyed it! The filling has a really rich and meaty flavor that just hits the spot!

When I set the table, I put the little cork trivets down and also put out little rectangular plate for each place to serve as the bread plate and a holder for the utensils. Yeah, I know. Unconventional. But it worked for us!

We also had a cookie cake (Muriel really doesn’t like cake or chocolate or buttercream frosting). Christopher asked me if I could draw a little frosting turtle on it and I did. The fact that there’s no picture of that cake tells you how awesome my turtle was. I really didn’t want any historical evidence of it!

After everybody had napped in the living room because…Sundays are for afternoon naps!, Christopher and Muriel left with leftover cake and muffins. I think the meal was a success!

This was a fun meal and I am so glad that I learned how to really make a dish that I’ve always wanted to make! It definitely won’t be the last time I make it!

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