Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I am all about Beyond Meat!    Click HERE to get a coupon to try some yourself & to use their store locator.  This brand is the absolute best vegan meat on the market – in my opinion.  These beefy crumbles are so delicious that even unapologetic carnivore & hyper-finicky eater, the badass Miles Miller, ate this shepherd’s pie & declared it delicious.  He even went on to rave that he would eat this fake ground beef in pasta or in tacos etc etc.  This is a man that takes the TEENSIEST nibble of remotely questionable foods (like any vegetable or dish that is new to him or anything vegetarian) & often even indulges in a sour expression of distaste to make his displeasure clear.  But not in response to this stuff.  I am convinced that you need not even tell a meat eater that this stuff is fake.  They would be very unlikely to guess.

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That said – shepherd’s pie is pretty hard to photograph.  I even Googled an image search to see how others had pulled it off.  Pretty much everyone leaves it in the pan it was cooked in – because, when plated, it spills out & can just look like chunky mush.  In the interest of full disclosure, I stacked two servings on top of each other to create that deep, lasagna look.  You can do this, too, when serving it – otherwise a single serving looks sorta anemic.

This came together in an hour – start to finish – and is really, really easy.   I would use more sweet potato, in the future, to create a deeper pie but it is full of flavor & has a bit of a kick.  Used random vegetables I had in the house from my Farm Fresh to You delivery but you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 6


for the chipotle sweet potato mash

6+ medium sweet potatoes – peeled & cubed

2 chipotle peppers – minced

1 TBS adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

4 TBS vegan butter

1/3 cup or more almond or soy or rice milk


for the shepherd’s pie

18 oz vegan ground beef

6 small carrots – chopped

2 sunburst or pattypan squash (or zucchini) – chopped

1 bell pepper – chopped

1 serrano pepper – chopped (seeds removed for less heat)

1 small red onion – chopped

2 celery stalks – chopped

2 garlic cloves – chopped

1 chipotle pepper – minced (or more for more heat)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS canned or fresh jalapeno – chopped

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

Handful of cilantro – chopped (and extra for garnish)

Cayenne or chili powder

Extra vegan butter

(other vegetables you could use might be corn, peas, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli)

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until very soft.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and, basically, heat all the shepherd’s pie ingredients until the vegetables are soft.  Season with S&P.  Add more canned jalapeno or chipotle or adobo for more spice.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the milk, butter, chipotle peppers & some S&P.  Taste & season with more chipotle peppers or adobo sauce or S&P.

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I treated a casserole pan with cooking oil & put the meat & veggies in there & then spread the sweet potatoes on top.  Sprinkle some cayenne or chili powder on top & drop a few butter cubes on there, too.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it begins to brown a bit.

Serve with cilantro.

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Vegan Beef and Vegetable (Shepherd’s Pie) Empanadas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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These are easy.  Buy pre-made, raw pie crust dough like those above. (UPDATE- Oh, dear!  I just saw there is LARD in that dough.  So – if you are vegan or vegetarian – buy a dough that fits your diet – or make it.   Yikes!)  Make your favorite mashed potatoes  – just make them drier than usual.  Mix in some veggies & vegan ground beef. Assemble empanadas.  Wash with olive oil or vegan butter and bake for 12 minutes or until they are the color you like.

I used grated Brussels sprouts & some cooked broccoli but corn or peas or anything you want could be used instead.  I used Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles but you could use real meat or no meat at all.  Your call.

The ratio of ingredients is very flexible.  I neglected to measure what I used but I will give you a rough guide.  A lot depends on the size of the potatoes & how thin your dough is, etc.  This is a very forgiving recipe & these guys are really yummy!

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Beef and Vegetable (Shepherd’s Pie) Empanadas – Vegan, Vegetarian or Not

This made about 2 dozen empanadas (quantity depends on the size you make them)


3 boxes pie crust

9 oz vegan beef

6-8 medium potatoes (you might end up with extra mashed potatoes but I will post a recipe to use them – so never fear)

Vegetables of your choice (I used about 10 grated Brussels sprouts & one large head of steamed broccoli chopped small)

Olive oil

Grated vegan cheese of your choice – (optional)

1-4 garlic cloves – minced (optional)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

Vegan butter


Vegan butter or olive oil

Parchment paper

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Got a favorite mashed potato recipe?  Make that but keep it on the dry side.  Or –

Peel the potatoes & cut them up.  Boil until soft & drain.

Mash with just enough milk & butter that they come together like VERY thick mashed potatoes – small lumps are fine.  If these are too wet – you will have soggy empanadas and nobody wants soggy fucking empanadas.  Add the onion & garlic powders & some S&P.  Blend well.

If you are using a hard vegetable – like raw carrots or Brussels sprouts – saute them in a bit of olive oil until tender & add them & the beef to the potatoes.  If using frozen of canned veggies – just drain them & mix them into the potatoes and add the beef.

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Heat the over to 350 degrees.

I made two sizes of empanadas (you can see the two sizes below).  I used that black glass to cut these guys that were about 4″ across but the empanadas ended up very small, mostly pastry & I would have ended up with 4000 of them & arthritic hands – so – I used a bowl to cut bigger rounds & the empanadas had a better ratio of filling to pastry.  This is something you need to play around with yourself – and is why I cannot possibly give you any accurate guess at how many empanadas you will end up with.

Roll the dough out on some flour.  Cut the rounds with a bowl or glass, top with a dollop of filling & a small amount of grated cheese (if you are using cheese) & fold over.  Wet the edge to help seal the edge and pinch the edges together.  Place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.  When you are ready to bake them, brush the empanadas with olive oil or melted vegan butter.

Bake about 12 minutes or until they are a nice golden color.


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Arugula, Ricotta, Cream Cheese and Parmesan Pie with Heirloom Tomatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

I keep throwing softballs like this out there to you kids.  Softballs in that the recipe is easy & the result delicious.  When, oh when, will you trust me & try one?

This one is almost like a quiche but uses no eggs or heavy cream.   I suppose it can be made vegan – if you can find vegan alternatives to the dairy ingredients.    I used three colors of heirloom tomatoes but any tomatoes would work, even cherry tomatoes, I suspect.  I used a packaged, raw pastry dough but you can make your own if your prefer.  HERE is a recipe for dough that I included in my Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie, seen just below.


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The ingredients & instructions lists are short so, if you like tomatoes & arugula & a light but creamy entree – why not give this one a try?
Arugula, Ricotta, Cream Cheese & Parmesan Heirloom Tomato Pie


Pie crust – uncooked

3 heirloom (or other) tomatoes – sliced thin

2 cups fresh arugula

2 cloves garlic

15 oz fresh ricotta – or vegan alternative

4 oz cream cheese – or vegan alternative


1 cup Parmesan – grated  – or vegan alternative

Basil – as garnish

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Press the dough into a greased pie or tart pan.  A traditional pie dish is absolutely OK to use – as is a spring form pan.  Slit the crust at the bottom and par-bake it for 7 minutes.

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Put the sliced tomatoes on paper towels, salt them & press more paper towels on top.  If your tomatoes are very wet & seedy, squeeze some of the seeds out to avoid excess moisture in the pie.  You can see that I did this with my red tomatoes.

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Meanwhile, blend the ricotta, cream cheese, arugula & garlic in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P.

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When the crust has baked 7 minutes, top with the cup of grated Parmesan, the ricotta mix & the drained tomatoes.  Add some S&P.

Bake for 45-60 minutes – or until the ricotta is set.  You might need to wrap the edges of your pie with foil (or one of these cool silicone things – the red thing below – that I got at Bed Bath & Beyond) to prevent the crust from over-browning.

Depending on how deep your crust and/or pan might be – it is possible that you will have leftovers of the ricotta filling.  If you do – hang onto it.  Don’t overfill the crust or you run the risk of the tomatoes slipping off while cooking.   I will post a pizza recipe tomorrow that uses the ricotta filling.

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When the center seems set, allow this to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.  It can be eaten warm or room temperature.

Garnish with basil & eat it up!

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Tomato Pie (Tart) with Not-Fried Green Heirloom Tomatoes & Spicy Remoulade (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

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OK.  This is fucking easy & light & can be vegan if you have a vegan dough recipe.  I used a Pillsbury pie crust which I just discovered has lard in it.  Oops!  I won’t make that mistake again.

Anyway – you can make your own pie crust with vegan butter or use a pre-made thing that is ACCIDENTALLY vegan – like Pillsbury Butter Flake Crescent Rolls.  Check out SO FAKE IT IS VEGAN or PETA’s ACCIDENTALLY VEGAN list for some surprising vegan items.

The fact is – if you are vegan but not on a gluten-free diet – you probably can figure out your pie crust pretty easily.  Gluten-avoiders probably have all their alternative options lined up, too, so I am not going to worry.  I am just gonna post this easy & yummy thing & let you guys work out subbing where you need to sub.

I really LOVE fried green tomatoes but good luck finding genuine green tomatoes in LA.  Yet – often when I squeeze the heirloom selection – the green ones are very hard.  Likely, they would be red ones if left on the vine long enough.  Who cares?  The hard green ones (and a resilient yellow one) worked great in this dish.  And, while it offers most of the pleasures of a fried green tomato recipe, it is not fried at all & comes with far less guilt.

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This spicy remoulade I made is basically spicy Thousand Island dressing.  Or – a tweak on the Delta Dipping Sauce I posted with my Spicy Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips and my “Oh, shit!  I ate too big of a chunk of a pot truffle and now I need to cook my way out of an eighteen hour high” dinner (for THAT story – look here – and read the whole post) – Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese – seen below, respectively.



There are a bunch of ingredients but you just blend them up & go – so don’t be intimidated.



(PS – you can go ALL mayo rather than with yogurt – if the extra calories don’t concern you or if vegan yogurt is hard to find.)

1/2 cup yogurt – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup mayo – or vegan alternative

1/8 cup grain or Dijon mustard

1-3 garlic cloves

1 tsp dill pickle juice

1 cocktail dill pickle

1 tsp capers

1/2 tsp prepared horseradish

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp hot or smoked paprika

1 tsp hot sauce (I used Crystal)


Blend that shit up in a food processor or blender.  Refrigerate.

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Tomato Pie (Tart) with Not-Fried Green Heirloom Tomatoes


Pie crust for the tart shell (I used Pillsbury but I hear there is lard in them – so choose or make your crust with your own dietary restrictions in mind)

4 heirloom tomatoes (color selection not important) – mine were NOT ripe & were rock hard so look for this sort (or the hardest tomatoes you can find)  – sliced very thin

1 small sweet onion – sliced thin

2-4 garlic cloves – chopped


2 TBS butter – or vegan alternative

3/4 cup Panko or other bread crumbs

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Basil or arugula or parsley as garnish (insanely optional)

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

I used a spring form tart pan like this one (photo stolen from Google):


ANY spring form pan or even a traditional pie dish will do – so don’t go buying something you don’t need.

Whatever pan you use – grease it up with cooking spray or olive oil or butter.

Slice the tomatoes & lay them on paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt & press more paper towels on top.  This will remove lots of their moisture so your tart is not soggy.

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Press your crust dough into whatever pan you are using and cut some vent slits in the bottom & bake empty (par-bake) for SEVEN MINUTES.  Take it out of the oven & set aside.

After the tomatoes drain for 15 minutes or more – layer the sliced onions & garlic & tomatoes into your crust.  Add lots of S&P.

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Melt the butter in a pan and add the panko & seasonings.  Spread it on top of the tomatoes.

Wrap tightly in foil (don’t forget the foil or your panko will burn) and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour – erring on the longer oven-time if you want really soft tomatoes.  Remove the foil & bake another five minutes or until the panko turns golden.

Let this sucker rest unmolested for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

Serve with the spicy remoulade & any garnish you feel inspired to use.  Bust out some champagne.  It’s the holidays!   Draw a hot bubble bath & polish off the champagne in the tub – with a copy of my book!!  Makes a great stocking stuffer – assuming the recipients of your stuffed stockings like to read raunchy comedies about drinking too much & regrettable sex.


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Shepherd’s Pie Pizza (Vegetarian – Vegan – or Not)


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



Hey!  Guess what!  I wrote a novel!  Maybe enter a drawing to win one of five copies??  Hmmmmm?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bathing and the Single Girl by Christine Elise McCarthy

Bathing and the Single Girl

by Christine Elise McCarthy

Giveaway ends March 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


You can find out all about it – HERE!

Or – you can listen to me on LA Talk Radio last night on the Sheena Metal Show – HERE.  We talk about 50 Shades of Grey, Girls, my book & things like chocolate & the liability of possessing a vagina!

And – just because they are SO CUTE – I share the faces of my three dogs.





OK – who doesn’t love Shepherd’s pie?  Vegetarians – you might say.  But with all the vegetarian & vegan meat choices out there these days, there is no reason we all cannot still enjoy traditional comfort foods like Shepherd’s pie!

I made a more typical version for the blog & that can be found HERE.


But, if you follow this blog, you know that there are two things I never tire of: cauliflower & pizza. This pizza is just the natural extension of my pizza obsession.  I know that Shepherd’s pie is made with mashed potatoes but mashed potatoes just seemed far too dense to put atop pizza, so I used potatoes sliced very thin on a mandolin.  I used this vegan ground beef:


You can use soyrizo or even real ground beef if you prefer.  I used real cheeses but you can sub them out with a vegan variety, if you choose.  I used peas & carrots but you could use corn or shredded Brussels sprouts or whateverthefuck you might use in your traditional Shepherd’s pie.

OH!  And I used my HOMEGROWN scallions!!!


Check THAT out!  That is about one week’s worth of growth regrown from the ends I typically threw away.  See the romaine in the foreground?  Regrowing – just in WATER.  Learn how (and learn what other grocery items you can regrow) HERE.

With that – let me present:




Shepherd’s Pie Pizza (Vegetarian – Vegan – or Not)

This makes enough topping for AT LEAST two pizzas


Pizza dough (I used THIS)

12 oz Ground beef (vegan or otherwise)

4 ounces mushrooms – sliced (maybe reserve a few slices to top the pizza as garnish)

1/2 onion – chopped

2 carrots – chopped

1/2 cup peas

Potato – sliced very thin (enough to cover your pizza in a single layer)

Cherry tomatoes – halved (optional)

Fresh Thyme – stems removed

Olive oil

Garlic – to taste (I used 4 cloves on one pizza) – sliced very thin

Scallions – chopped

Parsley – chopped

Cheese (or vegan alternative) – I used both sliced fresh mozzarella & some bullshit bagged grated cheese blend





Heat the oven to a very completely reached 450.

Heat a glug or two of olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the mushrooms & onion & carrots & saute until soft.  Add the ground beef (faux or real) & cook til heated through & then add the peas.



Roll the dough out & place it on a greased cooking sheet.

Layer with sliced potato, sliced garlic & thyme.  Drizzle with olive oil.





Top with your meat blend.  See my Memphis praying for me to drop something??



Top with your cheese selection & maybe place a few slices of mushrooms on top.



Last minute, I decided to add the tomatoes – primarily for color.  Then just bake your pizza until the cheese is melted & the crust is as you like it – probable 10-15 minutes depending on a few variable factors like oven temp & pizza density.

Top with parsley & scallions & maybe another drizzle of olive oil.





Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie with a Shortening-free Pie Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



(Photo of the slice of pie above is from Parsley, Sage & Sweet)

I am not much of a baker.  I almost never eat sweets & I live alone so – making a pie or a cake just means 1) I get fatter and 2) lots of whatever I made gets thrown away.  The exceptions to this rule are birthdays & holidays.

Last Christmas, I made a Chocolate Cinnamon Cannoli Tart but if you click that link there you will find out how that tart met a violent & untimely end.


This year, I worked all day on this barely tweaked adaptation of Parsley, Sage & Sweet‘s multi-layered pie & was petrified it would meet a similar fate or that I would drop it getting out of the car or tripping on steps.  I am happy to report that the pie made it all the way to the dessert table but before that happened – this happened:


That is to say, we ate a LOT of food & consumed even more wine so that, by the time we were cutting into the pie, I was holding one eye closed to keep from seeing two of them.  Two pies, that is.  I was pie-eyed when it was pie time and, thus, took exactly zero photos of the pie once it got sliced up.  So, I have no lush portraits of the interior of this baby but I can tell you – it was delicious.

I can also tell you it took a long time to make but that was due to a number of factors.  1) I made the crust from scratch.  You need not do that.  You could use a ready made crust.  2) I roasted my Halloween pumpkin & made the pumpkin pie layer with fresh pumpkin puree.  This is a very easy step to skip.  Just use some unsweetened, canned pumpkin.  Easier still, use canned pumpkin pie mix.  3) each layer needs to chill, even freeze, before the next layer can be added or it will all blend together.  It will all get blended in your mouth when you eat it so taste is not the concern.  But, if the layers blend, it won’t look like what Parsley, Sage & Sweet achieved up there.

You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!


Shortening-free Pie Crust


1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water


In a large bowl, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly.  Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey.  Wrap in plastic wrap & chill while you prepare the pie layers.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish.  Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.  Put this in the freezer & heat your oven to 400 degrees.  From Parsley, Sage & Sweets:

When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.


Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie

Chocolate Layer

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using fresh – simply cut up & seed a pumpkin.  Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender to a fork.  Puree with just as much water as you need to get it blended smooth.)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pecan Pie Topping
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter


Prepare the crust or use a pre-made one.  My crust was a tad under-cooked – as you see in these photos but it cooked up fine when all was said & done.

If making fresh pumpkin puree – follow directions HERE.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler (or a smaller pan set in a larger pan with boiling water in it).  When blended & smooth – pour this into the par baked pie crust.  Put this in the freezer for about 20 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until smooth.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.


In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.


Combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Remove pie from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.


Place pie on the middle rack of your preheated oven.  Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it  to prevent excess browning some time toward the end.  Keep checking every 20 minutes.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 60 to 75 minutes.  It really depends on your oven.  The the pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling a bit.

And – once you’ve done all this work – be sure to get some good photographs of the results before succumbing to your alcoholic desires!  You will want to remember this baby!


Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

1 Comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


This is another creation inspired by existing ingredients, my own laziness & the reality of produce & its shelf life.  That doesn’t mean it is not DELICIOUS.  Delightful.  And even – dare I say it?  Delovely!

I have expressed some frustration recently with my photography but I bought a new $17 toy (a light) & the world has opened up just a bit.  I was beginning to feel a tad sorry for myself as I cannot really compete with folks that are getting paid to blog.  I know they had to work their way there from where I am – but – it is still a bit like me trying to compete for roles with Diane Lane or Julia Roberts.  These folks have their shit together & skills, experience, equipment, financing, maybe even a team – etc.  Here I am – trying to keep my monthly grocery bill down & think of new, affordable things to make and then photograph them using my i-phone & a $4 clamp light.  And I have to photograph them alone – as in – with nobody to hold the fork just “that way” or assist me at all.  Framing a photo & trying to hit the screen (on my i-phone, remember) to focus the image where I want the focus & then adjust to hit the shutter without effecting the focus, all with my NON-dominant left hand while I try to hold the subject matter in place with my right hand – can get really frustrating, lemme tell you!   Then I have to eat the food.  All of it.  I cannot afford to waste it – as it COSTS.  And I live alone & eat 99% of my meals alone.  Then I end up eating some Goddamn lasagna for 6 days & letting the blog lag behind – while my Super King produce wilts & guilts me from the confines of the fridge.  It has begun to feel oppressive & I have been comparing myself very unkindly to the vastly superior food bloggers out there (you know who you are – THUG KITCHEN).

Then – I met Piglet.  I didn’t actually meet her.  I saw her on my friend, Nikki Dogfather’s, Facebook page.  Nikki is a full-time rescuer & she posted Piglet – immediately after she’d been pulled from the shelter – looking like this (photos stolen from Nikki):


She had terribly advanced mange – which is not contagious & HIGHLY curable – and the cure is not expensive.   But these victims of mange look so scary – it is a rare person that dares even investigate.  Nikki is practically a mange fetishist!  I jest, of course, but she is the go-to gal in LA if someone spots a mangy baby in a local shelter.  No case of mange will scare Nikki away!  So – after a single mange dip & twice-daily garlic water baths (and some antibiotics)  – Piglet began to recover.  I am currently fostering her while she completes her recovery.  Here she is two days ago in my house.


Just for some reference – here are two pugs I adopted from Nikki a few years ago.


That is Ella & Grisbi.  Here is how they looked a few months later.


See?  CRAZY transformation.  Tragically, Ella died of a bee sting at 11 months old & Grisbi died last August 16th 2012 – in his sleep – at four years, old for no known reason.  Great, big, gaping scars on my heart.  😦

So, anyway, I fell in love with Piglet ON SIGHT.  I look at lots of rescues – every day.  Facebook is rife with them.  They all give me heart twinges but Piglet was special to me.  I don’t know why.  It was like a recognized her from somewhere.  And now – I am care-taking gorgeous Piglet.  And she is a gift & an amazing example of gratitude & resilience & of living in the moment.  One can never have too many examples of THAT around.

So – a new $17 light for my photography & a new little sprite jumping around the house & a much needed PROFESSIONAL hair salon appointment on Friday (a gal can only self-Feria her color so many times in a row) – and I am feeling rather hopeful.  Plus – the greatest loss I endured last week – RIGHTED itself!  Yay!  No longer broken & sad & no longer riding the scary pot-truffle train I got on last week (read about that HERE) and nice hair right around the corner?  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

And the $17 light?  It is so great – I want to buy 5 more.  That is irrational – because I only NEED the one.  But it has improved my life SO much and for so little.  It reminds me of the time my plumber told me I needed a whole new kitchen tap set thing (and nice ones cost a lot) because the drip was not fixable.  I used a fucking ShamWow for two years behind the sink, under the tap, to catch the dripping & water STILL leaked out – warping my cabinets & damaging the finish.  Then a new plumber suggested I go buy a cheap washer (that the first plumber had declared no longer available) at a local hardware store.  “You might need to buy a whole box – but they shouldn’t cost much,” he said.  I went to my local mom & pop True Value & inquired.  Yes.  They had them.  They were a dollar seventy each.  A FUCKING DOLLAR SEVENTY!  I bought ten – even though I only needed one.  I was so fucking excited that this $1.70 thing was gonna change my life.  I had to have enough to roll around on the bed with – as if they were thousand dollar bills.  And THAT is how I feel about by $17 lamp.


Now – onto food.   I have long made the Sunday’s at Moosewood version of veggie shepherd’s pie – and it is very good.  In fact, I am going to suggest their tofu version of “meat” in this recipe as I cannot begin to tell you (other than Super King!) where you might find the faux meat I used.   Here it is.


It is like weightless Grapenuts.  I am not sure if they are just re-purposing some failed attempt at a new packing material – but I took the bait.  While it says who distributes this shit, it does not say what is in it.  No ingredients list at all.  No calorie count.  Nada.  Could be the scabs from accident-prone paper dolls or the stuffing from padded toilet seats.  I don’t know.  I bought it.  I cooked it.  And I ate it.  And I am here to tell you about it so – well – there.

If you can find it, I recommend using it.  I used half that container in this decent-sized recipe so it is worth its weight in Hamburger Helper.  If you cannot – or would rather not eat mystery food – substitute any faux meat thing of your choice – whether seitan or some pre-made soy version of meat or soyrizo or the stuffing from an old padded toilet seat.  Or – EGADS!  Use ground beef!   Just know that I added over a cup of water to the 4 oz of cardboard scabs to reconstitute them into something more substantial.  So – use closer to 10-12 ounces of your fake meat selection – or more.

OR – use the Sundays at Moosewood version – which is pretty great.  It requires that you freeze tofu (I use two blocks), thaw it, squeeze it completely dry & then shred it into a crumble.

Copied & pasted from elsewhere – I present –

Sundays at Moosewood Shepherd’s Pie Filling


  • 1 block of extra firm tofu that has been frozen, then thawed, and shredded to the appearance of ground meat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce


Sauté the chopped onion in oil with thyme, coriander, and black pepper until onions are translucent.  Add chopped walnuts and shredded tofu.  When heated through, stir in lemon juice and soy sauce.  Remove from heat.


I used Brussels sprouts & carrots and, unexpectedly, a fennel bulb because – yes, you guessed it – I had them.  You could use corn or peas or any other vegetables you like.  I know this one screams out for corn because I made the mashed potatoes with roasted jalapenos – but – am I the only one that gets tired of the traditional pairings?  Like anything pumpkin has to have butter & sage on it?  Or – redheads must wear green?  Or anything with jalapeno needs corn and/or black beans?  This wasn’t a Mexican-themed shepherd’s pie.  It was a “what’s-in-my-fridge-inspired” shepherd’s pie.  You can do it, too!  Do not be intimidated.

Hey!  Did you notice all my photos of this look WAY alike?  Me, too.  Shepherd’s pie can be hard to photograph because it tends to fall apart.  I got a good angle & exploited it.  Apologies for the lack of imagination.  I told you I was a hack.   🙂

One last note – this is genuinely spicy – so keep that in mind when you decide how much jalapeno to add!  And yes – there are several steps to assemble this but all are EASY & this is worth the effort.  DO NOT BE SCARED!


Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes


For the jalapeno mashed potatoes

2 large Russet potatoes

3 jalapeno peppers (or to taste)

4 TBS butter

4 oz cream cheese

S&P to taste

More butter for browning

Parsley – chopped as grnish

For the “meat” filling

4 oz of freeze dried soy protein plus 1 1/3 cup water (or 8-10 oz or more of another meat substitute)

1 small onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 cup walnuts – chopped

olive oil

S&P to taste

OR use the Sundays at Moosewood tofu version noted above for the “meat” filling.

For the vegetable layer

3 carrots – diced

10 Brussels sprouts – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped (very optional)

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (very optional)

olive oil

S&P to taste

For the gravy

3 TBS butter

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp peper




Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the roasted jalapeno mashed potatoes

Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.



Chop & boil the potatoes.  When tender, drain & puree (I used an immersion blender but any mashing or pureeing device would work) with the roasted jalapeno, butter, cream cheese & some salt & pepper.

I added water to thin mine a bit.  I didn’t want them to dry out in the oven.  Set aside.



For the “meat” filling

See the Sundays at Moosewood tofu recipe in the body of text above.  OR-

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the onions until softened.  If using REAL meat – add it here & cook it through.  Add the garlic, walnuts & soy sauce & stir to bend.  Add your faux meat.  If using the kooky stuff I used (freeze dried mystery flakes) – add about one to one & a half cups water.  Heat through.  Add S& P to taste.  Set aside.


For the vegetable layer

Use the faux meat pan & add 1 TBS olive oil.  Saute the fennel (if using), Brussels sprouts & carrots & saute 5 minutes or so – or until tender.  No science here as they will cook more in the oven.

ImageImageImageFor the gravy

Melt the butter over med-high heat & add the flour.  Whisk for about 30 seconds.  The butter should absorb that flour very quickly & become a paste.  Add the soy sauce & then whisk in the stock in increments until you have a gravy.  Thin with water if it gets too thick.  Add pepper.  Set aside.



Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray – or grease it with butter or olive oil.  Layer your “meat” then gravy then veggies & then potatoes.   Apologies – but I actually forgot to get a shot of the veggie layer.  I think you will manage.


Then bake that sucker for a while.  I baked this at 350 for 30 minutes – COVERED.  It came out like this.


As you can see – the back of my oven is far hotter than the front.  At any rate – I did not like the look of this.  So – I swirled the potato all up & added some butter and chopped parsley & baked it at 400 for another 10-15 minutes.  It came out like this.


That is a vast improvement – no?  Despite my unevenly heated oven.

Then just bust out the wine, get a pot holder, use it as a placemat & sit right in front of this casserole dish – hotter than fuck – and eat as much as you possibly can.  Drink too much, too.  Life is short.  And so are hangovers.  Relative to life, that is.