This weekend it actually felt like spring.  I did my Sunday housework in shorts and a tank top, while spying this little beauty of a shadow up in a corner.


I also knew spring had officially arrived earlier this week, thanks to the resurgence of arachnid activity in the house.  I’m really not a helpless little girl when it comes to disposing of the creepy crawlies, I’m just not good at it.  So, I tend to let Luke take point on all matters involving bug removal.


Case in point, one morning I was in the bathroom just after getting up (so it’s like 5:15 am) and there’s a spider crawling up the wall, right next to the bathroom mirror.  Luke’s still asleep, and I felt guilty waking him up, so I took a stab at killing the thing myself.  It ended with a bottle of Windex crashing on the bathroom floor and a box of tissues in the toilet.  Like, in the toilet, not on top-in the water bowl part.  Yeah, so, I guess the universe is telling me to let my husband take care of those types of things from now on.  Fine by me.


Anyway, the bugs and the weather might be in spring-time mode, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet in the kitchen.  I’m still excited about soups and stews and other such meals best served hot.



This was my first attempt at making shepherd’s pie, though I’ve always enjoyed the concept.  A layer of creamy mashed potatoes over a meat/vegetable filling, it’s basically pot pie with mashed potatoes (which is good for me, since I’m not into pie crust).  I added harissa, a North African spice paste to the mashed potatoes for a little extra kick.  If you can’t find harissa, maybe try a little curry paste or just go for the classic (salt & pepper).  Any way you flavor it, this dish comes together with relative ease, and totally impresses dinner guests.

One Year Ago: German Chocolate Tarts

Shepherd’s Pie with Harissa Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6


  • 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes (make sure they’re Russets)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/4 cup harissa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into a 1” dice or so. Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with a fork, about 10-15 minutes. (While the potatoes are cooking, you can start making the filling, see instructions below.) Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and add the butter, milk, and harissa, and continue mashing until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and set the saucepan aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Add the olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots, onions, and mushrooms and sauté just until the onions begin to take on color and the mushrooms begin to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and scallions and stir to combine. Add your ground meat, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, broth, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9” square baking dish and top with the potatoes, making sure to spread in to the edges to create a seal. Bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

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