Saturday, September 29, 2012

Michael’s Theater Tour Shepherd’s Pie

About 200 years ago, I won a collegiate playwriting contest, for which the prize was $1,000.  My ex-wife and I used that money to go on a "Theater Tour" of London and environs ...during which glamorous visit I first tasted old-school Shepherd's Pie.  In those days, it wasn't as easy to find recipes, never mind popping online to find dozens of, when I got home, my ex and I came up with this recipe, which is in my opinion a very tasty replica of the Pub-style working man's Shepherd's Pie we had Over There.

The nutrition facts include the mashed potato recipe below and were created at Calorie Count! This dish will be easy to adjust downward for sodium and fat if you make a simple potato and buttermilk mash-up. Or just use a bit less butter and use your favorite salt substitute.

Michael’s Theater Tour Shepherd’s Pie


3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 pound small crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. brown sugar 
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound lean, trimmed beef, cut into 1” chunks
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Guinness Stout (or canned low sodium beef broth)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups mashed potatoes, Michael’s recipe follows the directions for meat.
3/4 cup grated Cheddar and/or Stilton cheese


Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut the well-trimmed beef into short strips, as you would for stroganoff.  Place the beef into a large, sealable plastic bag with the flour, 1/2 Tbsp. salt and black pepper.  Seal the bag and shake the beef until it is coated with the flour mixture.

Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Place the floured meat in the skillet and brown on all sides.  Remove and set aside to drain.  (If using Guinness, add a splash to the hot skillet and scrape the skillet to loosen the meat residue before adding veggies!)  Add the onion, oregano, garlic, celery and carrots to the skillet and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes.  Add a bit more olive oil if necessary.  Stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar and mushrooms, cooking for about 8 more minutes, until mushrooms are soft and tomato paste has turned brick red.

Stir in the Guinness (or broth), the remaining salt, the Worcestershire, a bit more pepper, and the drained beef, stirring until the alcohol has cooked out of the liquid.  (Discard the remaining flour.)

Transfer the meat and vegetables to a 2-quart oval casserole dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edge.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese, and dot with the remaining butter.  Bake until potatoes brown lightly and the juices bubble around the edge, about 40 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Mashed Potatoes


1-1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered (peels left on if desired)
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 cup whole milk   
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper


Put the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1-inch and add the salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.  At the same time, combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan.  Toss the potatoes over medium heat until dry.  Add the heated milk mixture and mash the potatoes until just slightly chunky, then stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crazypotato98’s Hot and Sour Soup

Colorful and delicious, this is picky husband pleasing soup! The nutrition facts were made at Calorie Count by Crazypotato98 – it’s easy, come on over and join in on the counting!

Hot and Sour Soup 

(Makes 6 servings)

225 g  {white cap mushrooms, sliced}
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oil
6 cups water
66 g  {Knorr chicken bouillon 3 large cubes}
2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili oil
235 g chicken, boneless, skinless, cooked
12 oz rainbow salad
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp cornstarch


Cook mushrooms and garlic in oil for 4 minutes. Stir in broth, vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil; bring to boiling.

Stir in chicken and cabbage/broccoli slaw/rainbow salad (I used rainbow salad for my nutrition analysis).

Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir together cold water and cornstarch and add to soup; simmer 2 minutes or until soup thickens a bit.

Serve in a beautiful bowl.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meganr’s Guinness Cake

It’s fine to enjoy a special high calorie treat every now and then. The great thing is to know the calories and serve a measured amount. Most 8 inch cakes serve 8, so with calorie counters in mind, I've set the nutrition facts for 10 servings. If you make the icing in the photo, you will need to adjust your calories way up! The nutrition facts for this awesome cake were made at Calorie Count!

With icing instead of confectioners sugar
 Meganr’s Guinness Cake


¾ cup Guinness (or other stout)
10 tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 2 tbsp)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large whole egg plus 1 yolk
2/3 cup sour cream
confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter 8 inch round cake pan.  Line with parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.

Bring stout and 10 T butter to a simmer in heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add cocoa; whisk until smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar baking soda and salt in large bowl and mix well; set aside.

Beat egg, yolk and sour cream with electric mixer in another large bowl. 

Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture, and beat to combine.

Add flour mixture and beat 30 seconds on slowest speed. 

Fold batter using rubber spatula until completely combined; pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 50 to 55 minutes or until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Leave the cake in the pan, but place it on a rack to cool 10 minutes.  Run small sharp knife around edge of cake to loosen and turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.

Sift confectioners’ sugar over top, transfer to platter and serve.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meganr's Black Bean Chili with Tempeh and Dark Ale

Meganr created this using a 2009 Vegetarian Times recipe as a starter. The nutrition facts for this outstanding chili were made at Calorie Count!

Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale

(Makes 4 servings)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped fine
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups black beans, cooked or from can
1 1/2 pints dark ale
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup corn
4 ounces tempeh, diced


Heat oil in 3-qt pot over medium heat.

Add chipotles and cumin. Cook 1 minutes, or until fragrant.

Stir in onion, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Stir in beans, beer, tomatoes and corn and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered 45 minutes or until thick.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Michael's Savory Crab Meat Egg Scramble

This morning, Michael got up and did not just automatically reach for that box of cereal. Instead he put on his creative Chefing hat and got to work! The nutrition facts were made at Calorie Count. Enjoy.

Savory Crab Meat Egg Scramble


3 or 4 eggs, beaten for scrambling (or equiv egg substitute)
1/2 cup surimi (faux crabmeat) chopped
1 Tbsp. fat free half-and-half
1 Tbsp. Dijonaisse mustard
1 thick slice onion, minced
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. canola oil
1 spray round the pan with butter-flavored cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste


In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, salt and pepper and half-and-half and blend well.

Add butter spray and oil to a nonstick fry pan.  Add minced onions to the pan and cook over medium heat until the onions become translucent.  

Add the beaten egg mixture.  As the eggs begin to cook, sprinkle them with the parsley flakes.  

Just as the eggs begin to firm up in the pan, stir in the Dijonaisse mustard, then add the chopped faux crabmeat and stir it in as the eggs finish cooking.

Serve with a side of sliced ripe strawberries or a fresh cut melon slice. 

 Makes two generous servings.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stewartp's Helpful Hint for Mashed Potatoes

This simple hint from Stewartp will ramp up the nutrition facts for your mashed potatoes - and give you creamier potatoes with a bit of lovely fall color.

Helpful Hint for Mashed Potatoes

When  cooking mashed potatoes, add a bit of butternut squash or sweet potato to the pot at the same time you add the potatoes.

Mash it all together!

Some of the best hints are so very simple. If you have a helpful hint to share, send an email to

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crazypotato98’s Mulligatawny Soup

This curry soup made with veggies, apples, and chicken is so simple to make and wonderfully flavorful! The nutrition facts were made at Calorie Count!

Crazypotato98’s Mulligatawny Soup

(Makes 6 servings)

1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 and 1/3 cups tart apples, chopped
3 tsp curry powder
6 cups water
18 g  {3 large Knorr bouillon cubes}
14 1/2 oz diced tomatoes, canned
2 cups chicken, boneless, skinless, cooked, chopped


Cook and stir onion and carrots in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes until crisp-tender.

Reduce heat to low; add apples and curry powder. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in water, bouillon cubes and undrained can of tomatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken and simmer for 10 minutes more.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Marie’s Grilled Butternut Squash

Marie decided to experiment with her grill the other day and the result was pure deliciousness. Her family loved it and so will yours! The nutrition facts were designed at Calorie Count.

Marie’s Grilled Butternut Squash


1 Butternut Squash
2 T Vegetable Oil
1/8 Salt, or to taste
¼ t black Pepper, or to taste
1 t Chili Powder, or to taste
1 t Garlic Powder, to taste
1 tsp local honey, or to taste and totally optional

Rinse and slice a bit off the large end of the squash. Remove seeds with a spoon. Peeling is optional – the skin grills up tender and tasty. Slice the squash into ½ inch thick rings (or halves if you like) and put in baggie with everything except the honey - shake until well coated, adjust the liquid if there is not enough to coat all the squash.
Grill on hot grill for approx. 10 minutes. Brush with honey while cooking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crazypotato98’s T-Bone Soup

You bought a great steak yesterday but the grill out was cancelled due to rain. Don’t freeze that steak, turn it into soup!

Use the wonderful Calorie Count Conversion Tool to translate grams into ounces. It’s easy! The nutrition facts were also designed at Calorie Count - the smart place to log your calories.

Crazypotato98’s T-Bone Soup


2 zucchini, chopped
5 red potatoes, diced
5 cups water
27 1/2 grams {2.5 cubes} knorr beef bouillon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
8 oz steak, t-bone, fat trimmed
1poblano pepper, seeds removed, chopped


Put water, bouillon, brown sugar, chili powder, poblano and steak in the crock pot.

Cook on low for one hour.

Add tiny chopped red potatoes and zucchini. Cook on high for at least one-two hours more.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Broccoli Soup with Blue Cheese

Choose a soft blue cheese for this soup, the flavor is mild with just a bit of a bite and the texture very creamy and suitable for soup. The nutrition facts were created at Calorie Count!

Broccoli Soup with Blue Cheese


2 T olive oil
1 head broccoli, cleaned, stems peeled, and chopped (approximately one pound, you can easily sub in frozen)
1 small onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped - leave the skin on, just cut off any rootlets
8 cups vegetable stock, low sodium
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
salt and pepper to taste, but do go easy on the salt
Optional: slivered almonds as a garnish


Put the olive oil in a large pot and heat over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the broccoli, onion, zucchini, carrots, and red potatoes. Stir to coat with oil. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a couple times. Add the stock, return to a simmer, cover and simmer about half an hour or until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and super tender.

Using either an immersion blender or a hand held potato smasher slightly blend the ingredients. You don't want a smooth soup, leave enough chunks to make it interesting. A chunky soup will fill you up better than a smooth soup even though the calories remain the same.

Stir in the blue cheese and simmer until it melts (no boiling please, a gentle simmer). Season with pepper, taste. If you need salt add some, but there is a lot of salt in cheese so you should be fine without it. You might try a few dashes of Tabasco sauce instead of salt.

Serve as is or top with slivered almonds.

Broccoli with Parmesan

Simple and fresh is the way to go with side dishes. Buy the most beautiful head of broccoli you can find - nice tight  buds and no yellowing sections. Don't pitch that delicious stem. It's wonderful and tender if you simply take a minute to peel off the outer darker layer. Enjoy. The nutrition facts below were designed at Calorie Count - a fantastic place to log calories!

Broccoli with Parmesan
nutrition facts


1 large head broccoli
pepper to taste (salt if you must)
1/4 t oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, wedged


Wash broccoli, peel the stems and trim off the tough ends. Cut into bite sized pieces.

Place the broccoli in a steamer basket and position inside a pot with a little water - an inch or two. Not so much that the broccoli stands in the water. That is where vitamins will leach out. Steaming is the healthiest way to cook broccoli.

Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and steam until the broccoli is easily pierced with a fork. Some of you like your broccoli crisp tender. If you like that start testing after five minutes. Broccoli is at this point when it turns a vibrant bright green. If you like your broccoli very tender, start testing after seven minutes. Do not cook to the point where the whole thing turns to mush and turns a not too attractive grey so I do not recommend going beyond 10 minutes.

Remove the strainer from the pot and remove the broccoli to a serving platter or bowl. Sprinkle with the seasonings, drizzle with olive oil, top with cheese, and serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crazypotato98’s Herbed Red Potato and Green Beans, Microwaved

Use the wonderful Calorie Count Conversion Tool to translate those tasty grams into ounces. It’s easy! The nutrition facts were also designed at Calorie Count - the smart place to log your calories.

Herbed Red Potato and Green Beans, Microwaved


312 g red potatoes
250 g green beans, frozen
1 tbsp butter
1 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion powder


Butter the microwaveable dish with the 1 tbsp butter.

Quarter potatoes and toss them in the dish until coated with butter.

Add green beans.

Microwave five minutes.

Add water and bouillon and the rest of the ingredients.

Stir and microwave for an additional 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Serve hot.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vegetable Curry

Short on time? This Vegetable Curry can be made in a jiffy with fresh or thawed from frozen vegetables. If you are a curry newbie, start with one tablespoon of curry, taste, and add more until it is just right. Adore curry already? Head straight to four tablespoons!

Vegetable Curry

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, deseed and chop
4 cups fresh spinach
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
15 ounce tomatoes, diced
30 ounce chickpeas, either freshly cooked or drained and rinsed from cans
1-4 tbs curry powder (to taste)


Chop and saute all the raw vegetables in olive oil until soft.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, drained chickpeas, and curry powder.

Simmer for 20 minutes.