Joel's Cottage Pie

Our family has been savoring “Shepherd’s Pies” and “Cottage Pies” ever since we first started visiting England years ago, and our son Joel has really perfected his rendition, so I’ve asked if I could share it with you today. It’s the perfect “comfort food” for a cold winter’s night!

Cottage Pie can really be a meal-in-one, although we normally serve it with some sides (such as you see here, from the last time he served it at home). Last Wednesday he made it again as his offering for a fellowship dinner with his church “life group” (prayer meeting; small group . . .) However you cut it, it’s always a hit!

Joel’s Savory Cottage Pie
(8-12 Servings)

Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
Preheat oven to 400F.

1.5 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed and cut into pieces. Boil until tender.
Brown 1 pound of ground beef in skillet.
Chop 1 onion, 1 carrot, and 4 oz mushrooms. Add to browned beef. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add 1 cup frozen peas.
Lower heat. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to meat/vegetables, stirring until thickened.
3/4 cup beef stock (or 1 bouillon cube + 3/4 cup water)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Pinch of allspice to the meat/vegetables. Stir until combined.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mash potatoes with 2–4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup half and half.
Put meat/vegetables in the bottom of a casserole pan. Cover completely with mashed potatoes. Use a fork to give the potatoes texture.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F. on top rack until the potatoes start to brown on top.

Now, the only difference between “Cottage Pie” and “Shepherds Pie” is that Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb rather than ground beef. We’ve found that ground lamb is a rarer commodity in America, so we usually make cottage pie, but if you can find ground lamb and want to be more authentically English, try it with lamb too sometime for a special occasion. Both ways taste really delicious! 🙂

Individual serving of Shepherd’s Pie on a ship cruising the North Atlantic

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). Have you listened to Handel’s Messiah yet this Christmas? We just attended it last weekend. The Messiah is a majestic, musical retelling of the story of Jesus, the great Shepherd who died for all of us and wants us to become part of his flock. How? Simply by asking. By praying something like this: “Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world. I know that I have sinned and need a savior. I am sorry for all the ways in which I have failed in the past—and for the times I still selfishly choose evil over good. Please forgive me, save me, and become my Lord and my Savior. Thank you for being willing to save me and make me your child. Please lead me in the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Amen.”

Chocolate Cream Roll

No matter how marvelous dinner is when we get together with friends, Alan and I always look forward to dessert. Are you the same?

In our “Dinner Club,” we always know that dessert (which is provided by someone other than the hostess) is going to be just as special as the dinner.

Chocolate Cream Roll

This last dinner party was as memorable as always, and the dessert (provided by Brenda) was—if possible—even lighter and more sumptuous than ever! It’s an old recipe of her mother’s, hand-written and with no notations as to origin, but it’s too good not to be passed along to the rest of us for succeeding generations of deliciousness!

Chocolate Cream Roll
(Serves 6)

List of ingredients:
5 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whipping cream for filling and to serve on top
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°F. Beat eggs whites until stiff, but not dry.  Set aside.  Beat egg  yolks.  Sift next three ingredients and beat into egg yolks.  Fold in egg whites.  Add vanilla.  Pour into 9 x 13 pan lined with wax paper or parchment paper.  Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes.  Peel off paper and roll in towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Cool completely. Whip cream, add a little vanilla.  Unroll cake and spread with cream.  Re-roll and frost with chocolate powdered sugar frosting.  (If you’re looking for a recipe for the chocolate frosting, you can find mine here: )

This dessert is so light and fluffy that it’s guaranteed to melt in your mouth, and as far as I know it has no calories, so it’s completely guilt free! 🙂 (Maybe . . . ?)

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:4-5). (Well, maybe it could serve 8 in a pinch.)

Hors d’oeuvres: Punchy Pepperoni Minis

With visions of Thanksgiving dinner still floating through our brains, and the Christmas holiday season upon us, I wanted to share a simple but very flavorful idea for you to consider making the next time you’re invited to a party and are supposed to bring some hors d’oeuvres to share. The only limitation of this recipe is that they are best warm, so if you have to travel 4 hours in the snow, cover them with aluminum foil and wait to toast them until you get to your venue!

Pepperoni, Swiss, and Pickle Hors d’ouevres
(Makes 24)

Ingredient list:
1 fresh, long loaf of French or Italian bread
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Pepperoni slices
(about 6 oz)
Swiss cheese slices (6-8 oz package)
Mustard (regular, spicy, or your favorite)
Pickles (dill, or your favorite)

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Line your largest cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Slice a fresh, long loaf of French or Italian bread into 24 pieces and arrange on the cookie sheet. Butter well and then sprinkle heavily with garlic powder, onion powder, and lightly with salt and pepper. Next, add a layer of Swiss cheese, then a couple of slices of pepperoni, a dab of mustard, and a pickle.

If the party is at your house, be sure to toast them in the oven immediately before serving them. It will only take about 5-7 minutes, until they start to brown and bubble. (Use the top rack to make them brown quicker.) They’re tasty even when they’re warm, but they’re really delicious piping hot! If you’re going to a friend’s home or a church/other venue, you can toast them and then cover them with aluminum foil and wrap them in towels to keep them warm, but if you have access to an oven, ask the hostess if you can reheat them for just a couple of minutes before serving.

P.S. This also works well if you’re not very hungry and just need a little snack at home!

Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter” (Psalm 74:17). But, I really do enjoy the seasonal changes. Do you? In the Amazon, we were told there were just two seasons: Hot and hotter. Winter has it’s bright, white side! 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Here’s a new recipe I created since it was my turn to bring treats for our Sunday school class last week. The entire pan was eaten, and several people asked me for the recipe, so here it is:

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Pie Bars
(Makes 40 medium-small servings)

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a mixer, add:
1 yellow cake mix (any regular size; I used Duncan Hines, but suit yourself)
2 eggs
1 twelve-ounce can evaporated milk
1 fifteen-ounce can pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice

Spread evenly onto a large cookie sheet pan (mine is 17″ by 11″) and bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes (or until the cake springs back when touched lightly).

Cool and frost with:

Frosted Pumpkin Pie Bars

Cream Cheese Frosting

In a large mixer, add:
8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
5/8 cup milk

Beat until smooth. Spoon gently into middle of the pan and spread from the middle out toward the edges, making sure not to lift your spatula so that it lifts the frosting off the cake.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100).

Fresh Broccoli Salad

Recently I enjoyed a wonderful luncheon at my friend Mary Lou Bredeweg’s home in conjunction with a seminar where I was sharing on the “Precious Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Our fellowship was sweet and the food was exceptional! I particularly fell in love with Mary Lou’s fresh broccoli salad, so I asked if I could share the recipe with you. She said it had been passed down to her by a dear friend who is no longer living, so she doesn’t know where it came from (other than her girl friend, Helen). So, I can only thank Mary Lou and Helen. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Broccoli Luncheon Salad
(feeds about 8; in this photo, the recipe was doubled)

In a large bowl, place:
4± cups fresh broccoli, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound bacon fried and broken into small pieces

Toss this together with a dressing made from:
1 cup miracle whip or mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Mix dressing with the broccoli mix until just moistened (You may not need all the dressing; don’t over-do it)

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality ” (Romans 12:5-13).

Homemade Glazed Donuts

Every autumn, at least once, our family likes to make homemade donuts, and I’ve found a super simple way to make them so you can make 12-36 without much fuss, so even if we have a lot of our kids home, I’m not slaving for hours over homemade yeast bread, kneading it, punching it down, and letting it rise for hours.

Simple and Yummy Homemade Glazed Donuts
(feeds about 4-6 per loaf)

Start by defrosting enough frozen bread dough to suit your needs. (I defrost it on a well buttered pan covered with saran or other wrap to keep it from drying out.) One 1-pound loaf will make 12 donuts and 12 donut holes, but if you love donuts as much as we do, that really only feeds about 4-6 people. 🙂

Once the bread has completely thawed (about three hours), roll or press it out until it’s as thin as you can easily make it. Taking a donut-press, cut out 12 donuts and 12 donut holes, and line them up on well buttered cookie sheets with ample separation between them so they can rise without touching each other. Cover with waxed paper or press-n-seal wrap to keep them from drying out while they rise.

Let them rise for about an hour before frying them. This is a good time to make the glaze. For 2 pounds of bread dough (24 donuts and 24 donut holes):

Glaze for Homemade Donuts

In your mixer, combine:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick (4 oz.) melted butter
3/4 cup milk. Beat together until completely smooth. It will be quite thin.

I use my biggest frying pan filled with about 1.5 inches of cooking oil (I use canola). Heat the oil until it sizzles if you flick a drop of water into it. When it’s sufficiently hot, gently add the donuts one at a time until your pan is full. It will really only take about 1-2 minutes per side to fry the donuts, so you need to work fast and consider this a full-time job!

Frying homemade donuts

As soon as the donuts are golden on one side, flip them over (using big spoons; don’t pop the bubbles!) and fry them on the other side.

Once they’re done, take them out and lay them on cookie sheets lined with towel paper to absorb the extra grease.

Making donuts can be a family affair, although the grease and fresh donuts are dangerously hot, so I often conscript adult help for the frying and glazing. Little ones can help with cutting out the donuts, although they might end up a little misshapen. (But, who cares??)

My number # right hand man keeping the kids
happily occupied while the donuts fried

Our grand kids were busy playing Mouse Trap and Codenames, so they were content to let their parents help me in the kitchen, ’cause if you want everything to turn out “hot and now!” then it’s really ideal to have two people working: One to fry and the other to glaze.

To glaze the donuts, drop them one at a time into the bowl of glaze, make sure they’re covered on both sides, and then immediately lift them out and place them on a fresh cookie sheet (no towel paper, and no additional butter or grease).

The glaze will drip off the sides of the donuts, but that doesn’t matter!

The important thing is to serve them while they’re still warm and sticky.

Fried Donut Holes

The only down side is that they go down like popcorn, so take that into account when you’re figuring out when to make them.

We made ours late in the afternoon after having no dessert with our Sunday dinner. Actually, we didn’t need a lot of supper that night, either! 🙂

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great;
thou art clothed with honour and majesty” (Psalm 104:1).

Savory Beef Stew

One of the true comfort foods on chilly nights is a good, hearty stew, and I think our family’s favorite it probably beef stew. Most everybody makes it, but just in case you haven’t “discovered” this tasty dish yet, here’s our family recipe:

Savory Beef Stew

In a large skillet, saute together until tender (about 5-7 minutes):
1 small onion
3 small potatoes cubed
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons butter (or other oil)
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon Montreal Steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

When the root veggies are tender, add:
4 oz mushrooms chopped (about 1 chop)
1/2 red pepper
, chopped, and continue frying until tender (about 4 minutes)

Finally, add:
8-12 oz. cubed steak
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup peas

Simmer covered until heated through and the flour thickens (about 5-10 minutes). Stir occasionally to keep the bottom from sticking.

Savory Beef Stew Simmering on the Stove

If you need to wait long before serving it, turn off the heat and keep it covered, but reheat at the last minute, and you may want to add a little more water to keep the consistency from becoming too thick. Salt to taste!

Serve with fresh bread or rolls and fruit.

These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.”
(Psalm 104:27)