Yummy & Easy Shepherd's Pie

martha-stewart-shepherds-pie.jpgI have some friends from the Midwest who joke regularly about the awful (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) casseroles they grew up on, but there is something so wonderfully easy and practical about the concept of one-dish meals that cover the protein, veggie, and starch angles. This week I was on "casserole patrol" duty to help a friend in need and was utterly thrilled with this Shepherd's Pie recipe from Martha Stewart. Easy to knock together (I made it while entertaining Laurel and a friend) and amenable to adjustments, here are a couple of notes about the recipe:
1. This dish needed to serve two adults + two children so I was concerned about including a medley of little frozen vegetable bits the kids might reject. So I swapped in an equivalent amount of frozen corn (I took a gamble since I have yet to meet a kid who isn't OK with corn) and sliced mushrooms (large enough to pick out if necessary).

2. I made a ton of mashed potatoes because Laurel and I love mashed potatoes and my brain wasn't quite up for mentally converting whole potatoes into mashed cup equivalents. For my mashed potatoes, I make them divine with plenty of butter, milk, and magic salt.

3. I doubled the recipe, thinking I would make larger tray for my friend's family and a smaller one for home. Then I was a little concerned when I realized that the recipe is to fit a 2 quart baking dish -- essentially, a glass 9" x 9" baking dish, which seemed a bit small to bring for casserole patrol. But it worked out fine -- perhaps my meat layer was a little shallower, but it definitely seemed enough, the mushrooms added bulk, plus I had extra mashed potatoes to spare to add to the top. I was able to spread the double batch between a 9" x 13" tray for my friend and a 9" x 9" dish for home.

And the a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/shepherds-pie" target="blank">Shepherd's Pie was fantastic -- so simple but so good! My friend's family loved it, as did Jon, who isn't typically a go crazy over casserole sort of guy. We fought for the leftovers the other night; clearly, when I make this again (possibly tonight since it turns out we're having guests...), I need to make a big batch for home!

Image credit: Martha Stewart