Wednesday, September 29

pie time in tennessee

The weather's gettin' cooler, and I'm wantin' some pie!!!! Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Pot Pie, Butternut and Acorn Squash Pie...any sort of savory sumthin' sounds delicious to me. In an effort to spread the love of all things savory this time of year, I thought I'd share with you the easy steps to deliciousness. I think sometimes we all forget how easy it really is to make these kinds of things, as long as we know the key points to success. Once you've got those down, you can take any recipe and twist it around just a bit to make it your own!

Tonight's Pie: 

Shepherd's Pie.

Ok. First off!

Grocery List:
5-6 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
4-5 Carrots, diced
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups lentils (any variety works, I like to use French)
1 lb ground beef (chuck or round both work well, you can also use   ground lamb if you'd like)
1 apple, cubed (optional) 
  chili powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
(sidenote: this always seems to be a good oven temperature when making a savory pie, because the oven is hot enough to properly roast the vegetables, but not so hot that the crust will get burnt)

Peel Potatoes and cut into equal size cubes. Put in a 4 qt saucepan, covering with water by an inch, and bring water to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. 

so. While those is boilin'...

In a small saucepan, boil 2 cups water. Add the:

1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin

stir occasionally, until most of the water is gone. 

And now for...

The Filling:

Heat in a large skillet 2 tbsps butter. Just as the butter begins to sizzle and brown add:

diced onion 

Once the onion has softened and browned just a little on the edges add:

diced carrots
cubed apple
Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until there is a nice glaze on the carrots and the apples have begun to get slightly soft. 

Ground beef (or lamb)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala (or cumin)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp pepper
Cook until just browned. Then add to the saucepan the cooked lentils(make sure to drain any remaining water out of your lentils before adding the them to the filling.)    
Turn the heat on the stove to low, and simmer while you make your mashed potato topping. 

Mashed Potato Topping:

Drain your boiled potatoes and mash as you normally would. I use a stand mixer. I added into my potatoes:

1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cream (optional)
1/4 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Make sure you've added enough milk to get the potatoes to an easy consistency to spread. You don't want them so dry that they're flaky, but also not so wet that they're potato soup.  

Putting it all together:
If you're not using the skillet you cooked your filling in to bake your pie in, transfer the filling now. Then take the mashed potato topping and
spread it over top of the filling as if it is icing. You should have a good inch of potato over the filling of your pie. If you wanna get really fancy you can do the following:

1 egg (beaten)

Brush this over the top of the mashed potatoes to create a nice golden crust on the top. Then, over the top of that put a light layer of shredded cheese. I recommend a sharp white cheddar (such as Cabot).

Put it in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden, and it is heated throughout. 

Now enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, September 28


It's here!!! Finally!!! It's time to start hiking, biking and triking (for those of us on three wheels).

Here's a list of some great fall day trip ideas:
(click to be magically taken to the corresponding website)

...these are just a few places that I'd much rather be heading towards today.

Monday, September 27

Signs, Yo'uns.

Burnsville, NC
...there's just something I love about finding a perfect diner. That cup of coffee that tastes only as it ever can from a diner, the hot biscuits, the perfect burger...

While this diner wasn't at all perfect (in fact my stomach was aching before I even left the restaurant, leaving me incredibly cranky for the rest of the morning) I did love the sign. It's a pretty unforgettable small-town diner sign. 

Thursday, September 23

Je t'aime français.

Well, one of my favorite assignments of the year, so far, is tonight's french homework. We were told to draw a picture of a bedroom (une chambre) and then label all the items that are in the room with their french names. I had a lot of fun with this, since I do love to draw and all. Here's how it turned out (click on picture to enlarge):
picture was taken with my not quite full quality :)


Working on this project got me really excited about all things French again. My friend Brenda and I are about to begin a small french speaking coffee group to be able to get good practice in even though we are not surrounded by the language. Thinking about café au laits and crepes inevitably led me to start thinking about one of my favorite sandwiches in the world, the croque-monsieur, a french café classic. I thought I'd include a quick recipe for ya from one of my favorites, the always delectable Ina Garten. Enjoy!!

Croque Monsieur


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Monday, September 20

Tests, tests, tests.

My notes, so far, mostly look like this.
Ah, Monday mornings in the fall. The smell of bacon sizzling on the stove, fresh coffee percolating...wait none of these smells await me today. Only the smell of my first test of the year. AHHHH!!!!!!

I've been studying and studying all weekend, and now can do no more! Guess we'll see how well this thirty year old brain retains random names like Pompilius, Gnaeus, Amitor and Superbus later this afternoon.

Well, I better be off to do more studying. Good luck me! AHHHH!!!!

Sunday, September 19

Mountain Times.

The Biltmore, Asheville, NC
This is backtracking a little, but since I never got a chance to post any pictures of the trip my kiddos and I took this summer to North Carolina, I figured now would be a good time. We are really fortunate to be able to go up there quite a bit, since my parents have a little place just a short ways outside of Asheville. 
Burnsville, NC
We'd have loved to be able to stay for the whole summer. However, the need to have an income doesn't really allow that. We were able to stay there for about three weeks, though, which was absolutely amazing.

Bakersville, NC
Western North Carolina is one of my top places in the south to visit. It is stunningly beautiful with small little towns nestled at the bottom of some of the tallest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Roadside diners, farmers markets, waterfalls, milkshakes, swimming and more swimming is all we did for days on end.

I always find it so amazing to see how clear ones head gets when you are able to get away from the stresses and pressures of everyday life for a while. Seems to me to be the best way in the world to spend time and money. About one hour into our car drive I could look into the rearview mirror, and I swear I'd see, one by one, all the tensions of our everyday lives falling off the back of the car onto the interstate. They were immediately squashed by the cars and trucks behind us. Thank you for that, trucks!

That's all the pictures for now. I'm sure more stories will come up soon. You should all try to visit as soon as you can! Fall is beautiful in the mountains. 

Monday, September 13

Back to school!

Well, I've gone back to school. It's taken about ten years, but somehow my life curliqued back around to such an extent that, finally, getting my degree made all the sense in the world.

I've only been back for a few weeks, and while I seem to have a far larger amount of homework than my children (what's that all about?), I'm really loving it.

I'm such a nerd. I love books and reading and learning. SO. Since I've got all sorts of new crazy stories coming my way every day, I thought it'd a good place to start my blog again from.

So. Here we go!

First off, let me just say that there is a Quizno's on campus. Awesome.

....and a Chik-fil-A...kind-of, but fast food is really not the point of me going back to school, is perhaps I should move on???

I'm somewhere between freshman and sophomore, as far as all that goes. That is, of course, thanks to the wonderfully non-accredited "Accredited!" college I had received 50+ hours of credit from, which I have since discovered painfully was not actually accredited(Cue Violins). Therefore!! only 19 or so of my hours will transfer due to this little issue. Yay!!! Oh well.

So...for my first semester back, the favorites of the courses I'm taking are: French, Ancient Roman History and Literature of Jane Austen.

So far I've learned to say, "Bonjour! Je m'appelle Meg. J'ai deux enfants. Je suis trop trop genéreuse et sympathique et trop trop trop belle et mince. Je ne suis pas pénible donc méchante donc laide donc bete donc malheureuse..." That's about it.

So. That's all for now. I'll be updating frequently. There's some other exciting things a-brewin' for me, so check in to see whats up! Thanks for reading!!!