Shepherd’s Potato Pie

In case you didn’t already know, I happen to be a big fan of shepherd’s pie and I’m always looking out for new and exciting ways to reinvent this classic dish. Between you and me, I’ve toyed around with the idea of a handheld portable version, that of which I’m still working on. The concept of eating shepherd’s pie on the go just sounds so appealing to me. One day I’ll get it right. If you’re looking for a more traditional shepherd’s pie however—and I use the term “traditional” loosely as I’m not an expert on this dish at all—then you might want to take a look at this Shepherd’s Pie, it was on the site a year or two ago, when I first started out. I guess, it’s more of a cottage pie since it’s made with ground beef and not lamb. For this one though, I decided to be more classic with the filling, so I did make it with lamb. I have to confess that I’ve always had a fear of cooking and eating lamb for some reason. Even now, I actually don’t eat it often. In fact, the only time I do is when I go to my all time favorite Indian restaurant. They make a spicy lamb curry that is to die for. Served over basmati rice and garlic naan for dipping, I could die happy then and there. But anyhow, like I was saying, that’s as far as my experience with lamb goes, so this is a nice step out of my comfort zone.

I love how in cooking or baking—it’s the same with most things in life actually—we get into these comfort zones which become difficult for us to step out of. We end up making the same dishes over and over again, utilizing the same recipes again and again, because we’re used to them. Because we know they won’t turn out bad (for the most part). They’re reliable and safe. I’m all about feeling safe and reliable in the kitchen, which is why Taco Tuesdays and Pizza Fridays is a thing at my house. I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s okay to shake things up a bit and explore new ingredients and dishes from around the world. It’s perfectly acceptable to be adventurous when it comes to food. In fact, it’s necessary. I sincerely believe that it makes you a better cook and/or baker and it expands your horizons.  And that’s always nice. 

So what does this all have to do with a potato pie, you might ask? Well, it’s a freaking shepherd’s potato pie for crying out loud! I don’t think I need to say anything more, but I will. A flaky, buttery pie crust filled with lamb and veggies in a light gravy and topped with thinly sliced potatoes and sprinkled with cheese and fresh thyme. It’s a new take on one of my favorite dishes and it’s out there, right in front of your face looking to tempt you. Looking to make you a shepherd’s pie believer. So won’t you just bite the bullet and make this pie along with me? I promise you won’t regret it.

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Spinach, Garlic and Chicken Chardonnay White Pizza

We’re beginning to settle into our new place just nicely these days. I’m starting to cook a lot more, once again, and even getting back into the rhythm of creating new recipes for the site. I’ve been away far too long if you ask me. The very first thing we bought for our new home was a pizza stone, even before we got some of the more important things like a lamp or dining table. I wanted to make sure we had our pizza nights locked in. This is actually the first pizza stone I’ve ever owned. As a matter of fact, someone on instagram recommended it to me a long time ago and I immediately thought about their comment when I picked it up at the store. They were absolutely right, pizzas are 100 times better when cooked on this round ceramic pizza cooking contraption. It’s like magic. Like the future. It makes it so easy to achieve that artisan pizza taste and texture. (The following has been a PSA for Pizza Stones of America. Is that an actual thing? It totally should be).

Moving and unpacking has taught me that we’re all looking for quick and easy recipes that require little to no time in the kitchen. Sometimes we’re just too tired to whip up something fancy during the week, or we simply don’t have the time to devote ourselves to a meal that takes way too long to make. That’s okay. Instead of reaching for that take-out menu, though, we should be focusing on creating simple recipes that taste just as good (if not better) as the restaurant version. I’m always trying to come up with new and exciting ways to incorporate pizza into my daily life. If I had it my way, we’d be eating pizza every single night. Oh, different kinds of course. I mean I do have some standards. Pizza everyday for dinner just sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? 

One easy way to turn a drab meal into something fun and exciting is by incorporating wine into the dish. Sure, wine is great to drink with dinner, but it’s also great to cook with! I’ve partnered up with Barefoot Wine to bring you this delicious Spinach, Garlic and Chicken Chardonnay White Pizza. It’ll change the way you think about pizza and wine forever! Get ready to eat the entire pizza by yourself, especially with the creamy white garlic sauce that gets slathered on top of it underneath all of that cheese and tasty toppings. Are you rethinking that “pizza every night” thing we talked about earlier? You should be. 

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The Classics: Bacon Cheeseburger

Here we are again! The Classics are back; bigger and better than ever! This time around I’m taunting you with this crazy awesome cheeseburger. The cheeseburger to end all cheeseburgers. If you remember correctly, the last classic was this insanely good Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and if for some reason you don’t remember, I took the liberty of linking it for you. You can thank me later. I’ve gone ahead and added bacon to the mix because as I’m sure you’ve heard, everything is better with bacon. Just in case you didn’t know, I invented that saying. Okay, maybe I didn’t (but let’s pretend I did). Bacon just takes everything over the edge. You always want to invite bacon to any gathering, it’s basically the life of any and every party. You can quote me on that, although I’m sure you’ve already experienced it for yourself. 

I know what you must be thinking, “Jonathan, burgers are so SIMPLE to make. Why are you sharing this easy recipe with us?!” Okay, so burgers are easy to make, I’ll give you that. But I’ve actually been told a few times that burgers are somewhat daunting to people. Actual homemade burgers, that is. I think it’s the whole mixing of the meat and shaping of the patties that scares people away. It shouldn’t be frightening at all, though. Not in the slightest. These posts are meant to bring you those classic recipes without all of the complicated steps and hassle of spending hours in the kitchen, remember? So that’s why I’m sharing my favorite cheeseburger recipe with you. Perhaps you’ll even learn a new tip or trick that you didn’t know before. Maybe, it’ll just inspire you to go out and make your favorite burger, that’s okay too. That just means I did my job well, and that’s all that counts. 

The most important thing is that I’m not ready to let summer go—just for the food, the heat can go away—so I’m still cooking and grilling as if summer is in full swing. Although, it does feel like summer just started over here in Los Angeles. The heat has been insane. I figured why fight it? I might as well embrace it. Hence, burgers in late September. I’m okay with that though because cheeseburgers are everything to me. Especially if they’re mini cheeseburgers. Well, that’s a whole other topic. These? These aren’t mini cheeseburgers, no. But I will tell you what they are. They’re 100% awesome and bigger than life itself, and that’s a fact. 

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The Classics: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I’ve recently been told by a few people that many of my recipes on the site seem to be a little too demanding or time consuming to make. Some of you have even mentioned that during the week it’s impossible to try out the recipes because you have so many other things going on. You’ve asked for more quick and effortless recipes. I really do appreciate the feedback and have been listening intently because it helps me grow as a food blogger. The main reason why I run this site is so that you try out the recipes for yourself. I want you to fall in love with these dishes and make them over and over again, the way that I do, without feeling overwhelmed about it. So if you’re looking for more simple and delicious recipes, without all of the fluff, simple and delicious recipes you shall get.  

In honor of this revelation, I’m starting a new series on the site called, “The Classics.” It’s pretty much what you might think it is. For the past few weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of creating and sharing easy recipes of classic dishes we all know and love. Recipes with straightforward ingredients and easy-to-follow, uncomplicated steps. I sometimes take for granted how great it is to get into the kitchen and make really simple dishes. It’s therapeutic almost, to not have to think too much and just cook because it’s soothing. Because it’s fun. It’s so easy to get lost in the marvels of the internet with all these delicious recipes popping up, the kind that combine a couple different dishes into one mega dish. I’m all for those recipes, don’t get me wrong. I mean, you have seen my creations on here, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the classic dishes we grew up with.

I’ll be sharing “The Classics” in installments every few weeks (mixed in with my regular posts) so keep an eye out for them. If you happen to have any suggestions or are dying to see a particular classic on here, let me know by dropping a comment down below. Also, if you try out one of the recipes be sure to hashtag them with (#TCAclassics) on FB, instagram or twitter. (I want to see them!) I’ll keep track of that tag and share the photos as they come in. That’s exciting right? Not as exciting as fried chicken I’m afraid. Speaking of, as you can see, the first installment happens to be fried chicken. The king of all classic dishes, and one of my all-time favorites. 

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Sausage and Pickled Jalapeño Pizza: An Ode to San Francisco

I was recently in San Francisco for a few days, with my better half and I have to admit that I’m still on vacation mode. It’s so hard for me to return from any sort of trip, whether it’s a week long or just a day, and get back into the right mindset to work. Does that happen to you guys as well? Please tell me it does, that way I don’t feel totally guilty for feeling this way. This laziness to be an adult is hard to shake off, especially after a great getaway.

San Francisco is one of those places where I can actually see myself living in (if it wasn’t so darn expensive). The best thing it has going for itself—aside from the calmness and laid back people—is the amazing weather. Can we talk about how it always seems to be just the right amount of sun and warmth mixed in with the perfect amount of fog and coolness? Los Angeles has too much sun for my taste. I can say that, I was born and raised here. Too much sun and too much heat, at times. Do we even have any cool bridges here? Incidentally, one day we overheard a tourist confuse the Bay Bridge for the Golden Gate Bridge, telling anyone who would listen, to snap a picture in front of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but that’s okay because SF does have a lot of bridges. I don’t blame you, tourist. I do blame our hotel room view for making me want to do nothing but stay in bed all day long and just peer out into the beautiful city, adding to my laziness. 

I wasn’t really allowed to lay around on the trip though, because we had a lot scheduled in such a little amount of time. We took a twenty plus mile bike ride—through the Golden Gate Bridge (the real one) and up north to some Old Mill town—that was insanely beautiful but at the same time, it was insanely tiring. We got way too much sun (one of us more than the other) and saw some killer red woods which sort of made it all worth it. The beers at the end of the bike ride though, that’s what got me through the end. I did almost get blown away by some gusty winds on the bridge, but that’s a story for another time. 

The most important part of the trip was the food, of course. We pretty much ate our way through the city and I don’t regret a thing. There are an unbelievable amount of restaurants throughout SF, it’s kind of insane. Everywhere you turn there’s something delicious calling out your name. We devoured an entire tray of fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and some mussels and fries and one too many baskets of bread. But who’s counting? Certainly not me. Julian took me to a tiki bar one night, called the Tonga Room which I swear I can live in for the rest of my life. Did I mention there’s indoor rain and tiki huts with little lights involved? Well there is, and it’s awesome.

I gulped down so many watermelon beers at 21st Amendment Brewery, that I lost count. (Sorry mom!) It’s my new favorite beer, that’s all you need to know. My favorite fruit mixed into beer? Yes please. A million times yes. 

The most memorable meal we had, however, was actually on our first night, at a restaurant in Russian Hill called Gioia Pizzeria. We gorged on a simple arugula salad, a spring pesto pasta dish, and the best pizza I’ve ever had. Said pizza was just the right amount of thin crusty dough, sprinkled with house made sausage and pickled jalapeños. We both sort of looked at each other after that first bite and telepathically communicated to one another just how amazing it was. We came back home rather depressed that we had to leave, but I knew that I needed to recreate that meal anyway I could. So here I am now, going on and on, talking your ears off  about my trip. Reminiscing about the delicious food and fun times. This super long intro was basically to say I fell in love with this pizza and that’s why I made it for you guys. 

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Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders

I’m on a mission in life to become the Slider King of America. I don’t really know if that’s an actual thing, but it sounds really cool. I can totally see myself being King of the Sliders, too. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have on my resume. If anything, it’ll make me well known by millions, right? At the very least, it’ll grant me some free sliders whenever I want. Which is always. Sliders everyday of my life sounds even better than being king. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be king. Give me a slider kingdom to rule where all anyone ever eats are sliders. Where sliders just rain down from the skies above. Sounds like a dream come true, if you ask me. I’d walk down the streets of my kingdom pointing at people, screaming, “You get a slider. You get a slider. And you get a slider. And you get a slider!”

Last week I decided to torment you guys by putting up a recipe for Mini Challah Rolls—have you checked it out already?—with a promise to post a delicious slider recipe the following week. Well, guess what?! It’s the following week already, and here I am with the promised delicious slider recipe. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something, and aren’t familiar with the fact that I’ve had some great sliders on this blog before, I’ll refresh your memory.

This one time I got all kinds of crazy and made a big batch of pot roast in a slow cooker and put together some killer Pot Roast Sliders that I’m still day-dreaming about. I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. If you like crispy onion rings and avocado and sriracha, then you’ll love those sliders. Then I decided to one up myself and I created these BLT Biscuit Sliders which is everything right in the world. Biscuits with jam and heirloom tomatoes and lots of crispy bacon and of course, avocado and lettuce. If all of that has you thinking, “Oh no he didn’t!” Well then just sit down and hold on tight because I’m about to blow your mind! I’m now bringing you these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders. I couldn’t just use the same rolls I used before or even those biscuits, so I made some new buns. Challah buns. And I’m piling it high with a cajun remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp, lettuce and pickles. It’s an explosion of delicious flavor upon delicious flavor. I don’t know what else to do right now, other than to go to a tall place and yell out “I’M KING OF THE SLIDERS!”

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