This recipe deviates quite a bit from my usual emphasis on fresh ingredients. I now find myself hosting a super-picky autistic teenager every other weekend, and there's nothing short of violating the Geneva Convention that's going to make him eat eggplant. But then I'm certaintly not into forcing anyone to eat something they don't like. I am, however, on a sort of mission to sneak some fruits and vegetables into this kid, because I don't think he gets any at his other home.
His pickiness, as explained by JD, is based on food familiarity. He'll try something that looks like something he's tried and liked before. If I serve a strawberry banana yogurt smoothie in a fancy glass, he won't even taste it. If I put it in a McDonald's cup, he'll drink it without even blinking.
So the downside of this recipe is that because of short time and guesswork as to how fancy I could go, I faked out a lot of ingredients. The upside is that because of faked out ingredients, this is a quick weekday kind of main dish that looks like it's more work than it is, or a great Sunday-night dinner that will make lunches all week. It turned out to be a bust in the sense that the teenager wouldn't touch it (not familiar enough), but a success in that it made about four meals for JD and I throughout the weekend. Feel free, of course, to substitute scratch or fresh elements for the ones listed.
Quick and Easy Beef Stew Pot Pie
2 refrigerated pie crusts (bring to room temperature)
2 cups beef stew (leftover or canned)
1 package instant mashed potatoes (2-3 cups prepared) preferably herbed or flavored
4 cups frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, broccoli, corn, etc.)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4-1/2 cup all purpose flour (can be white or wheat)
Use a 9" deep dish pie pan for preference, glass if possible. I used a round ceramic tart dish with straight sides and it worked perfectly.
Prepare the instant potatoes per the package directions. If you're using the plain kind or fresh potatoes, you can spice them up with a teaspoon of onion powder, half a teaspoon garlic powder, and a teaspoon of fresh or dried parsley.
Pre-heat the oven to 375
dust the bottom of the dish with flour. The easiest way to dust a dish evenly is to put a few tablespoons of flour in a wire mesh strainer. Hold the strainer over the dish and gently tap the side of the strainer with a spoon or finger. You should get a nice even dusting. This works well with decorative powdered sugar on desserts as well.
lay one layer of room-temperature pie crust in the bottom of the dish. If any hang over the end, cut it away to about 1/4" over the top of the dish.
Dust the bottom of the crust with flour
Add a layer of beef stew, followed by a layer of frozen vegetables, followed by a layer of cheese, then spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Depending on the size of your dish, you may have leftovers. It's ok to heap the ingredients up above the edges as long as the top pie crust can be laid over it all and still meet the edge of the pan.
Lay the top crust over the potatoes. Crimp the edges of the top and bottom crust together with your fingers to create a seal, and cut away any extra crust.
Use a sharp knife to make five cuts in the top of the crust, at least three inches long. This will allow steam to vent so that your crust doesn't puff up over the potatoes.
If you're feeling fancy and want one of those nice shiny glazed crusts, beat an egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it over the top crust.
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Since the ingredients are pre-cooked, your only concern is that the crust become nice and toasty brown. Put a sheet of aluminum foil or a baking sheet under the dish to catch drips in case it bubbles out the seams.
Let stand 10 minutes or so to cool, cut into slices and serve.
Skip the beef stew, add an additional 1 cup vegetables.
heat 1 cup of vegetable broth with 1 tablespoon corn starch over medium heat in a saucepan until the thickness of gravy.
Pour over frozen vegetables on bottom layer of pie, then assemble and prepare as usual.
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