Dark Ale and Beef Shepherd’s Pie

This time of year calls for wonderful fall recipes that fill your bellies and souls, like stews and soups. This one was a take on Guinness beef shepherd’s pie. Since we didn’t have Guinness in the fridge, I substituted it for another (local) dark ale.DSCN0453

Start by warming up a large cast iron pot with a little oil in the bottom. DSCN0454

Then, brown your meat. When it’s nice and browned, remove it from the pot. DSCN0456Next, chop up your veggies. I used lots and lots of mushrooms. (I love mushrooms!)


Cook down all your veggies and spices until nice and soft. DSCN0458

Next, time to pop in the beer. I used Flying Monkey Netherworld Dark Cascadian Ale. You can use anything really, but the darker the beer, the more flavour it will have.DSCN0459

Add your stock and beef back into the mix at this time too. DSCN0460

Then, braise it in the oven for and hour and a half with the lid on. Your whole house will smell amazing!DSCN0462

Here’s how it looked when it was all done. It had a deep, rich gravy and had incredible flavour. DSCN0463

Fill your individual ramekins with the tasty stew. DSCN0464

I had company over, so I filled all the ramekins I had. DSCN0465

Then, top the stew with some leftover mashed potatoes. DSCN0466

Then, top it with sharp cheddar cheese. DSCN0467Voila! An amazing individual pie with a full, heaping load of flavour. Make this recipe today. It definitely suits the weather.

Dark Ale and Beef Shepherd’s Pie (Courtesy of pictureperfectmeals)

You will need:

  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more, as needed
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 4 ounces button mushrooms, stems removed and halved
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • one (12-ounce) bottle Guinness or other dark beer
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, crushed
  • 1 recipe mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded aged cheddar, plus more for the top
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
  1. Position the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat the beef dry. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss well to lightly coat all the pieces. In a Dutch oven or large, ovenproof heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high. You want it hot, but not smoking.  Sear the meat, stirring occasionally until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add ½ of the beef stock, onions, garlic, mushrooms and celery. Season with a little more salt and pepper and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes; add the tomato paste, remaining stock, beer, Worcestershire and rosemary. Add the beef, along with any juices in the bowl. Bring to a rapid simmer, cover and transfer to the oven.
  2. Braise until the beef is very tender and the sauce has reduced, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the mashed potatoes, if using. If you have leftover mashed potatoes, lucky you! Go read a book or watch a movie.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven.  Add in the peas. Place the pot of stew on the stove over medium heat. Add the cornstarch slurry, bring to a boil and cook until nicely thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and let cool slightly if using the potato topping.
  5. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Spread the stew into a casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal and to prevent the filling from bubbling up (some will but that’s okay). Sprinkle cheese on top. Place the dish on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until the potatoes just begin to brown and the cheese melts, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Garden Harvest 2014


We were very fortunate to have a great harvest this year. The garden boxes did wonders at keeping the moisture under control in the yard.  DSCN0152

Here was our yield from when we did the full harvest a few weeks ago. DSCN0153

We got a total of 4 squash: 2 buttercup, 1 acorn and 1 hubbard (That’s right! Hubbard survived!!)


The heritage tomato plants my mother-in-law seeded for us produced amazing, bulbous, pink tomatoes that were so sweet and beautiful.  DSCN0157

We also grew a decent stack of fresh carrots as well. DSCN0158

A lot of the tomatoes were not red yet when we picked them, so we let them ripen under a tea towel on the counter. DSCN0161

We had tons of cherry tomatoes as well, and one solitary September strawberry. Beautiful!DSCN0162

We also grew a mammoth zucchini. Any suggestions on what to do with such a beast?DSCN0164

Here are some more beautiful heritage tomatoes. DSCN0168We also snipped all of the mint leaves, so that we can dry them and make tea throughout the winter. It works wonders for colds and just sipping on a chilly evening.

All in all, we had a great gardening year! I can’t wait to expand next year and grow more goodies!

Raspberry Upside Down Cake

I love raspberries! I was so fortunately that Operation Fruit Rescue invited volunteers to pick at a raspberry Upick one evening. My mother-in-law and I picked buckets full of berries, all ready to fill our freezers for the long winter ahead. DSCN0073

This cake was very simple, and filled my kitchen with the amazing smell of baking raspberries.DSCN0075

First things first, melt your butter in the pan you plan on putting the raspberries in. DSCN0076

Add your sugar, then your raspberries. Stir it all around until the sugar is dissolved. DSCN0077

Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. DSCN0078

Then spread it over the raspberries. DSCN0084

Bake until the cake is firm. photo(11)Serve raspberry side up with ice cream or whip cream. Enjoy, a lot!

Raspberry Upside Down Cake

You will need:


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups thawed or fresh raspberries
  • 1 1/4 cups whole grain flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Place 1/4 cup butter in your baking pan. Warm in a 350 degrees oven about 5 minutes or until butter is melted. (Be sure to watch carefully to avoid browning the butter). Remove pan from oven. Add brown sugar, stirring until sugar is completely moistened. Spread sugar mixture evenly in pan. Add raspberries and stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in granulated sugar until well combined. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to beaten butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter evenly over the peaches in the pan.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto a large serving plate (if possible. If not, serve individual pieces upside down). Serve warm with whip cream or ice cream.