Your kids will love these cute Halloween ghosts, and you’ll love the vegetables and nourishment packed into this humble Shepherd’s Pie, perfect to fuel trick-or-treaters (and fill their bellies before the temptations of candy!).
- 2 1/2 lb. red potatoes, chunked
- 3 cloves crushed garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder), divided
- 4–6 slices bacon, optional but yummy
- 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
- (note: a great chance to sneak in liver or heart…)
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground thyme
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2–4 carrots, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1–2 c. chopped broccoli, including stems
- 1 c. frozen peas
- 4 Tbs. flour (or arrowroot starch)
- 1 c. chicken or beef stock or broth
- 1 c. plain yogurt, divided
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 1/4 c. cottage cheese
- 1/2–1 tsp. Real Salt, to taste (or other unrefined sea salt)
- 1/2 c.+ shredded cheddar cheese, divided (sharp is best)
- Boil potatoes with a clove or two of crushed garlic and some sea salt and cook on medium-low until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, get busy in another medium-large pot.
- Cook the bacon, drain grease, chop bacon and set aside. In the same pot, brown the ground meat. Drain grease if necessary. [If you’re low on time, you could have the bacon going in a frying pan next to the big pot to speed things up. Or better yet, maybe you are smart and have some already cooked bacon in your freezer!]
- Season meat with paprika, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook about 5 minutes to soften veggies, then add red pepper, broccoli, peas, and remaining crushed garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Put the bacon back in.
- Stir in flour (or starch), and cook and stir 2 minutes (to get rid of the flour taste). Add broth and 1/2 c. yogurt and bring to a low simmer.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. (You can also refrigerate the casserole and bake later if you’d like.)
- When the potatoes are tender, stir a ladle of the cooking water into one beaten egg in a small bowl. Drain the potatoes. You can leave them in the pot a few minutes to dry out a bit if you’re still working on all those veggies in the other pot!
- Smash the potatoes with butter, 1/2 c. yogurt (or sour cream), salt, pepper, and cottage cheese plus 1/4 c. of the shredded cheddar. Add the egg mixture and stir well.
- Pour the meat mixture into an oval or 9×13 casserole dish (usually both, this recipe tends to grow like the loaves and fishes!).
- Top with potatoes and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 c. cheddar cheese on top. You’ll likely need extra cheese if you divided the meal into two pans.
- To make the ghostie potatoes, either get creative with a spoon and fork or load the potatoes into a frosting decorator, or even a plastic food storage bag with the corner cut off, and make a spiral shape as the potatoes come out. Place two peas on top for eyes. Try shredded cheese for hair if you want rock star ghosties!
- Bake 20 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is melted.
*This recipe freezes great once in the pan. To reheat a frozen casserole, thaw completely and bake at 350F 30-40 minutes until bubbly. You may want to leave the shredded cheese off before you freeze, then add it the last 10 minutes of baking. It’s helpful to cover the casserole with an inverted cookie sheet for the first 20-30 minutes so you don’t burn the potatoes.
*The recipe is so huge that I always fill more than one 9×13 pan, which means an 8×8 or oval casserole dish goes into the freezer for an easy meal later…or we can invite other neighborhood zombies to come over for dinner.