Chef and cooking instructor Nikki McGowan spices up traditional shepherd's pie with kid-friendly Mexican seasonings. The pie is simple enough for kids to help cook, too. During the busy school year, McGowan suggests prepping the pie (with the help of the kids) on Sunday, so it's ready to "pop into the oven on a crazy night of homework and after-school activities."
She recommends serving the pie with hot sauce and tortilla chips. "Kids can eat it by scooping it up with the chips," she says. "This makes it more fun!"
Nikki's Mexican Shepherd's Pie
4 medium baking potatoes
Milk or cream (amount varies; just enough to make the potatoes creamy)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
½ cup water
1 package taco seasoning (1.25 ounces)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2 medium tomatoes, diced, with seeds removed and without extra juice
1 small can diced jalapeños
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 Cook the potatoes in the microwave, being sure to poke each potato with a fork several times, creating holes to allow the steam to escape. Cooking will take about 10 minutes (flip from one side to the other after 5 minutes). You'll know they're done when a fork goes in easily when stabbed. Nikki suggests a fun experiment to show why we poke holes in the potatoes before microwaving: Put one in the microwave without the holes to watch it explode. ("Just know that you'll be cleaning up a mess," she says. "Contained, but still a mess!")
3 Allow the potatoes to cool. Cut them in half, and let the kids scoop their contents into a bowl. Nikki likes to let the kids dip the skins in salt and eat them as a snack while prepping the meal.
4 Using a fork or hand mixer, mash the potatoes to get all of the lumps out. Add the milk to make the mixture slightly creamy. Add salt to taste, and mix in a tablespoon of melted butter. Set aside.
5 Place beef, onion and red pepper in a skillet set over medium heat. Cook until the meat is browned and veggies are tender.
6 Drain grease from skillet. Add the water, taco seasoning, corn, peas and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then put on low heat for five minutes. Add jalapeños, and transfer mixture to baking dish.
7 Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.
8 Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
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