Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Book: Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey; The Bite: Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

The Book!
The following Young Adult novel came highly recommended by my fourteen year old daughter; which says a lot considering that she at this stage in her young life thinks that reading is highly overrated...sigh. The book, "Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey" was written by author Margaret Peterson Haddix in 1996, but has since had a slight makeover and re-released in 2011 by publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey: "Everyone has to keep a journal in Mrs. Dunphrey's English class, but the teacher has promised she won't read any entry marked "Do not read this." It's the kind of assignment Tish Bonner, one of the girls with big hair who sit in the back row, usually wouldn't take very seriously. But right now, Tish desperately needs someone to talk to, even if it's only a notebook she doesn't dare let anyone read. 

As Tish's life spins out of control, the entries in her journal become more and more private...and dangerous. Is she risking everything that matters to her by putting the truth on paper? And is she risking more by keeping silent?"

Book Stats:
Genre - Young Adult
Page Count - 132
Target Age Group - 12 and up
Theme(s) - Teenage life, neglect and abuse, teen poverty

The Bite
Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!
Although Tish's character in the novel is employed at a burger joint, I opted not to make plain ol' burgers, but rather cook a dish using hamburger meat. This a-typical "Shepherd's Pie" is bursting with flavor, and cheese; that's why I call it, "Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!" Here is a pictorial step by step guide to make your own. Hope you enjoy!

Here are the ingredients used to make the dish. Note that not all items are pictured; missing from the picture is the beef broth, flour, and vegetables.
Also note that I used ground beef and sausage meats instead of the traditional lamb.


1 lb. ground beef (I used ground chuck)
1 lb. ground sausage (I used Owens brand of sausage)
12 oz. bag of frozen peas, carrots, and corn (defrosted)
2 to 3 pounds of potatoes (about 3 to 4 potatoes--I used Russet potatoes)
1 small onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
about 1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tbsp. ketchup
1 and 2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup + 1/4 cup beef broth
1 tsp. each of salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder (for potatoes)
1/2 tsp. each of pepper and ground marjoram (for potatoes)
eyeball pepper, salt, smoked paprika, onion and garlic powders (for meat mixture)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 cup Jack cheese
Take 12 oz. frozen vegetables and set in bowl of water to defrost.

Peel and cut potatoes for cooking.

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 1 small onion and 3 cloves of garlic.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter, and approx. 1 tbsp olive oil.

Add your meats and onion to pot.

Brown mixture until meat is no longer pink and onions are translucent.
Drain fat.
I used a potato masher to break up the meat into smaller bits.

Add 1/3 cup flour.
Stir flour into meat until coated.
Add seasonings: eyeball pepper, salt, smoked paprika, onion and garlic powders.

Add chopped garlic and 1-1/4 cup beef broth.
Stir until meat is well mixed, garlic is fragrant, and sauce begins to thicken.

Stir in the thawed vegetables and 1 to 2 tbsp. ketchup.
Mix until well blended.

Transfer meat mixture into a 9x13 baking dish.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese over meat mixture.

Drain potatoes and return to pot.

Add 2 tbsp of butter and 1/3 cup cream cheese to the potatoes.

Mix potatoes and add 1/4 cup whipping cream, plus a little extra as needed for desired thickness (or thinness).
Continue to mix and mash potatoes until desired potato consistency.

Add the seasoning to potatoes: 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. ground marjoram, and 1 tsp. salt.
Mix well.

Add in your cheese. I used 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese/Jack cheese blend.
Mash potatoes until well blended.

Spoon potatoes onto meat mixture in baking dish.

Sprinkle top of potatoes with more cheese.

Add a dash of pepper and smoked paprika to top of dish.

Ready for the oven.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Sides should be bubbling and top somewhat browned when done.

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

Time to serve.

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie!