Can you believe I started this blog five years ago? I know I can’t.
It’s easy to look at all the things that haven’t changed in those five years. Hi gross Michigan winters. I feel like I’ve have 2,000 likes on Facebook for most of those years. I get job intermittently and my traffic is steady. I’m still the frustrated writer spending all my time with Mom and Dad.
But when I really look beyond, I see the changes. The progress. I create more of my own recipes and like to think my photographs are better even if they aren’t going to make the cover of Bon Appetit anytime soon.
I have become more adventurous and flexible, trying new restaurants, going to concerts, sporting events, and more. I drop everything on particularly nice days and go out because it’s not like things are getting better chaining myself to the computer when the sun is shining and it’s a perfect 75 out.
I have accepted myself more and become comfortable in my own skin. No one is going to stand up for me, to fight for me, except me, so I had to take a crash course in Laura and I like to think I at least got a B+.
Because I never know when I will get that one yes (that’s all it takes), or what will cause it, and I’m more than ready for it, I wanted and needed a reset for myself. So I am doing a Whole30. I’m not quite a week in and it has been great, even fun and exciting.
The thing that I have loved most about the Whole30 is that while it took away a lot of foods, it gave me freedom to eat others. I typically shy away from potatoes and sweet potatoes thinking they are heavy, but when I take out all the junk, I have found them to be a tasty, satisfying food that feels a little decadent.
I really can’t begin to tell you how good this Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is. It’s one of my favorite meals I have made in a long time, was a hit with everyone, and reheated amazingly well. The base is ground beef and vegetables. I used carrots, onion, and fennel, but feel free to swap them out for vegetables you love and have on hand. Don’t buy beef that is too lean – the fat is where all the flavor and unctuousness comes from.
The top is sweet potatoes – pure and simple. They don’t need much except a little salt and pepper. When roasted for a long time they become soft and a little syrupy. Major yum!
Here’s to the next five years and beyond!
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds ground beef, aim for an 80/20 blend
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bulb of fennel, diced
- 6 medium carrots, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Poke sweet potatoes with a fork or knife several times and place on aluminum foil. Bake for about 1 ½ hours.
- When the potatoes have about half an hour left, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and ground beef. Sauté the beef until it is fully cooked. Transfer the beef to a bowl, leaving the fat in the skillet and add the onion, fennel, and carrots. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the beef back to the vegetables. Season with 1 teaspoon black pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven. Scoop the flesh out of the potatoes and into a bowl. Season with the remaining salt and pepper and mash with a fork or potato masher until mostly smooth. A few lumps are fine – this is a rustic dish.
- Spread the potatoes over the beef and vegetable mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes until very hot. Serve immediately. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat covered in the oven for about 20 minutes or in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes