3 December 2014

Warm Up to Winter with English Cottage Pie and the Virtual Supper Club

English Cottage Pie
As we flip over the calendar to December our thoughts quickly move to the holidays. Kitchens burst into action as we prepare for the "food fest" that is Christmas. Throughout the month of December our thoughts dwell on warm, toe curling comfort foods that delight us inside and out. Here in the valley with the temperatures dropping well below the seasonal norm we hit the "I don't want to leave the house stage." What better way to virtually wrap you in a warm blanket by having our team here at the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club create a menu based on warm winter foods. Warm bacon-spinach salads, hearty soups, slow roasting, self-saucing puddings, and mulled wine come to mind.

We welcome you back to this months Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club where we continue our celebration of delicious food on the "lighter" side. We always appreciate you joining us for this event where we get together on the first Wednesday of every month to create a delicious meal from appetizers to dessert with a theme in mind. Ultimately our love of food, blogging and our commitment to a health conscious lifestyle is what has brought us all together. 

Coming up on its 6th year this is a team effort where we continue to share a love for healthy eating and living. The faces may have changed since our groups birth in 2009 but we have always had a love for Cooking Light magazine with its emphasis on healthy eating and living. We look forward each month to strengthening our bonds, and enjoying each others company virtually.

This months theme "Warm Up to Winter" was chosen by yours truly. With the holidays coming this is the perfect time of year to pump up our kitchens into high gear! During the holiday season we are faced with an overwhelming variety of tasty dishes. Let's face it eating is a central part of the holidays. Whether you're serving two or 20, lightened up dishes make sure your dinner will be delicious as well as healthy. Let's see what the team brought to the table this month.

Susan of The Spice Garden starts us off with a classic and heart warming lightened up version of Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip. 

Sarah of All Our Fingers in the Pie warms us from head to toe with one of my favourites Roasted Garlic and Shallot Potato Soup with Cheesy Croutons. 

I brought along a version of one of my favourite comfort foods perfect for sitting around the table with family or entertaining... English Cottage Pie.

Jerry of A Life Lived  warms our cockles with Warm Gingerbread with Lemon Glaze. 

Our Wild Card this month was Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking who heats up the house with a Red Wine Marinated Beef Stew. 
"Food is not about impressing people. 
It's about making them feel comfortable."

- Ina Garten


Now on to the recipe. 

Leftover mashed potatoes are mixed with piquant white cheddar cheese to form the top crust for this British pub-food staple. What better way to use those leftover mashed potatoes during the holidays! Ground beef is traditionally used in a cottage pie, but lean ground turkey or chicken will work just as well. As the recipe suggests brown the potato topping under the broiler for a minute or two for a stellar version of this classic dish.

**English Cottage Pie**
from Maureen Callahan 2010, Cooking Light

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon butter, softened
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 (8-ounce) package cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
Paprika (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine flour and butter, stir well. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot; saut√© 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; saut√© for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove vegetables from skillet. 

Add beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in broth and pepper. Return vegetables to pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in parsley, thyme, and salt. Add flour mixture, and cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.

Spoon meat mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading evenly. Combine the potatoes and half of cheese; spread the potato mixture evenly over meat mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 6

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I always enjoy your Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club posts because we try to eat deliciously on the light side too. Your English cottage pie looks warm and comforting with it's mashed potato topping and just right for a chilly evening.

  2. So comforting and scrumptious! I love cottage pies and yours looks fantastic.



  3. Everything sounds delicious and you"pie" is a standout. Hugs and blessings...Mary

  4. A classic, always comforting and welcomed in cold weather days.

  5. Great inspiration for a satisfying winter meal. I actually used this idea already as I quoted on a little catering gig.

  6. Looks so comforting..snowing as I type here...
    I would love this to be in my oven right now.

  7. Why is it that I forget about a cottage pie? That is the perfect gluten-free substitute!
    Great for a cold winter's night.
    Thanks for bringing it to the table. ;-)

  8. Your virtual suppers are always fun to read, Val.
    I saw your cottage pie on Facebook and was drooling then. Have always found them so comforting, especially in cold weather!

  9. Cottage pie and shepherd's pie are very popular here in New England and this sounds like a delicious version.

  10. I love Cooking Light magazine, love this recipe and your presentation is very nice.

  11. If this won't help us all "warm up to winter" nothing will. I know because I made a similar version with LO T-Gives turkey! GREG

  12. Love love love cottage pie, this is the most comforting cozy menu ever!

  13. This is one of my favorite winter foods of all time. Absolutely love it, and the entire menu.


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