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Basic Beef for Bolognese, Calzones, Shepherd’s Pie and More

Shepherd's Pie

I love – LOVE – the ease of food that can do double duty. For instance, a roasted chicken like the one mentioned on the Everyday Food blog today can be Sunday dinner, Monday chicken tacos, Tuesday chicken and rice and Wednesday chicken salad. Talk about a blessing for a busy, harried mom — or any uber busy person.

That’s why I love this beef recipe. It doesn’t take long to throw together and it can feed a family of four for three meals. It’s adapted from a cookbook that I’ve had for several years, but rarely used, called Better Food for Kids. My version makes it a bit fresher and more to my style/taste.

Since you use it in different dishes, we didn’t get bored eating ground beef three times a week. Will and Paige gobbled up the shepherd’s pie and devoured the beefy calzone that I made with this (see below for directions). And the bolognese was a huge hit too.

The recipe makes three cups of beef — three dinners worth. Now, I know, you are wondering how you can stretch three one-cup portions into three full meals for a family. Right? Actually, it’s pretty simple. Just forget the notion that protein needs to be the biggest thing on your plate. Toss that idea completely out.

Done? Okay.

Now, get used to the idea of using more vegetables and some good carbs too. It’s all about keeping meals well-rounded. A trip around the food pyramid, if you will.

So what can you do with this beef?

  • Shepherd’s Pie: Mix one cup basic beef with two cups al dente vegetables in a casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes (garlic mashed, preferably). Cook in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes begin to brown very lightly.
  • Beefy Calzone for Four: Stretch one prepared pizza dough into a large rectangle. Spread one cup of cheese along the center length of the rectangle. Top with a single layer of sliced tomatoes (down the center only) and one cup of beef, then a second layer of 1 cup of beef. Cook in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Bolognese Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine one can of tomato paste with 1/2 cup of water and two large tomatoes, diced. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add one cup of basic beef. Heat through. Serve over pasta with a salad.

Beyond these ideas, you could make beef quesadillas or burritos, serve it with rice and lots of peppers and onions, make sloppy joes . . . the possibilities are only limited with your imagination.


Shepherd's Pie

Basic Beef

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

adapted from Better Food for Kids


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large tomato, , diced
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, , to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef. At the same time, combine the garlic and onion in a food processor and process until chopped to a fine and uniform chop. Add to the beef and cook until the beef is browned. Pour off any excess fat.
  2. Add tomatoes, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper to the beef mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.


Tuesday 9th of September 2008

Sarah, that shepherd's pie looks yummy & makes me very hungry. And who doesn't look double or triple duty cooking?

Be sure to enter my fall contest...


Tuesday 9th of September 2008

Have you ever tried slied potatoes & cheese in your calzone?? I's awesome

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