Chicken Shepherds Pie…

After having made a delightful roast chicken (check out my roast chicken in a cast iron skillet recipe) I was faced with how to use the leftovers. Quite often I make a simple chicken salad consisting of cut up chicken, scallions, grapes, mayo and seasonings, but this time I wanted to do something different.

I’ve always liked the concept of shepherds pie. You basically take your leftover meat and mashed potatoes and create a pie that is oh so good – the true definition of comfort food. Most recipes I’ve seen suggest using frozen vegetables and if you’re in a hurry that will certainly work. But I like to use fresh vegetables whenever I can so I decided to do that instead. I also did not have any left over mashed potatoes so I just whipped up a batch. I’ve tried shepherds pies with store bought pre-prepared mashed potatoes or with instant mashed potatoes but I didn’t think the consistency was as good as when you use homemade mashed potatoes. But you can still use them if you want to.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is the beauty of this recipe is you can make it as simple or as intricate as you like. I still think taking the time to use fresh ingredients and home made mashed potatoes produces the best results. But the choice is yours.

So let’s talk chicken shepherds pie…

Sauteed vegetablesLesson Learned 1 – Use whatever vegetables you want or have on hand: This time I used the “trinity”, onions, celery and carrots along with some frozen peas. But really you can use anything you have. You just have to make sure that you sauté the vegetables to crisp tender before putting them into the pie dish. Next time I’m going to try using some broccoli and cauliflower heads chopped on the smaller side along with onions and carrots. I may even try adding pearl onions instead of chopped onions. It is important to cut the carrots small as they will take the longest to soften. I halved my carrots lengthwise and then halved them again before chopping them. That way they softened right along with the celery and onions. And if you’re using frozen peas (which I did) don’t add them until the very end. They thaw very quickly.

Lesson Learned 2 – Add the chicken at the very end: The chicken you use in this recipe is already cooked so your goal is to warm it through and not cook it to the point that you dry it out. All you really need to do is mix the chicken with the vegetables and then put the mixture into the dish(es) you will be using. The time the pie spends in the oven will be more than enough to warm the chicken through. You might want to take the chicken out of the refrigerator about a half hour before using it in the recipe. That way you will get the chill off of it and it will warm nicely in the oven.

Shepherds Pie FillingLesson Learned 3 – You can use individual pie pans or one 9 inch pie pan: I prefer giving everyone there own little pie but you can certainly bake this as one big pie as well and spoon out individual servings. Either way will work.

Lesson Learned 4 – Put the pie(s) on a foil lined baking sheet before placing them in the oven: I guarantee you, the pie filling WILL LEAK OUT of the pie dish. In order to avoid the filling dripping all over the bottom of your oven make sure the pans are resting on a foiled lined rimmed baking sheet. That way you’ll save yourself a lot of mess and clean up time.

Lesson Learned 5 – Use russet potatoes when making mashed potatoes: Russet potatoes have a lot more starch in them and hold up better in the baking process than other types of potatoes (at least that’s my opinion). Use russet potatoes and don’t make them too runny. Although I will write out some ingredients for making the potatoes use common sense when making them. If they already appear very soft after you mash them add very little liquid to them. If they are stiff, add a little bit of liquid at a time and see how they turn out when you mix them. Remember you can always add more of an ingredient if you need to. I think you get the best results when the potatoes have a slightly firmer consistency. If they’re too soft they will get even runnier in the oven, and you don’t want that.

Also another trick I learned is to add an egg yolk at the end of the mashing process. That gives the potatoes a richer color and more depth of flavor. Just make sure your potatoes are not hot to the point that they scramble the egg yolk. Chances are that will not be the case.

Also if you want to be fancy you can use a pastry bag and pipe the potatoes on the top of the pie. I chose not to. I used a frosting knife and after I dolloped some potatoes on top smoothed them over the vegetables. Try to create some peaks with your potatoes. The peaks are what will brown in the oven and give the eye pleasing look as seen in the second picture below.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

This recipe is the epitome of comfort food. Try it and tell me what you think… Enjoy!


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cup of carrots, chopped small

4 cloves of garlic, divided: 2 whole and 2 minced

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided

3 Tbs. flour

1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, cubed or shredded

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 cups loosely packed emmenthaler cheese (a good melting swiss)

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tsps. dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the potatoes and two peeled cloves of garlic in a large pot and cover them with cold water (the water should be about an inch over the potatoes. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender about 20-25 minutes (the cooking time will vary depending on how large or small your cut the potatoes). The potatoes are done when they are fork tender.

Meanwhile in a large skillet melt 3 Tbs. of butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until crisp tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir for about a minute to remove any “floury” taste. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook until the liquid thickens about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and oregano and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste the mixture and add any additional salt and pepper as needed. Add the chicken and peas. Stir to combine. Turn off the heat and let stand.

Drain the potatoes and put them back into the pot. Add 1 Tbs. of butter and cover for a few minutes until the butter is melted. Using a hand masher or electric hand mixer, mash the potatoes until most of the lumps are gone. Add the heavy cream (you may want to add it incrementally instead of all at once so that the potatoes don’t wind up to runny) and finish mashing. Separate an egg and put only the yolk into the mashed potatoes. Stir until completely combined. Add any additional salt as needed.

Place the vegetables mixture into the pan(s). Top with the mash potatoes. Smooth the potatoes over the top of the vegetables until they are completely covered. Place the pan(s) on a foil lined rimmed backing sheet. Bake until the potatoes are lightly browned and the vegetable mixture is warm and bubbly, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Chicken Shepherds Pie

Chicken Shepherds Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Leftovers…

Happy Thanksgiving to all. And as you begin to wonder what you’ll do with the mound of turkey leftovers you’ll soon have in the refrigerator, think about making Shepherd’s Pie Turkey style(click on the red colored link for the recipe and lessons learned). 

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style...

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style…

I am thankful for everyone who takes the time to read this blog. Hopefully my lessons learned have helped you become more adept in the kitchen. Have a great Thanksgiving Day and thanks again for following this blog. It means a lot!

Soon I will venture into my holiday cookie baking ritual. Much more to come. Please feel free to share your favorite holiday recipes with me. I’d love to try some of them. Happy Thanksgiving!

And don’t forget:




Shepherds Pie Turkey Style…

I’ve always liked the concept of Shepherds Pie, it’s a great way to use leftover pot roast – but what about using poultry as the main protein? A grocery store near my home often features fresh half turkey breasts on the bone and I love them. Because of their smaller size, it’s a great way to have turkey more often than just during the holidays, it’s easy to cook and you still get great turkey leftovers to boot. The only difference is that now I don’t have all of the other holiday side dishes to serve with the leftover turkey, and I wanted to try something a little different than just a turkey pot pie.

Spread The Turkey Over The Bottom of the Dish

Spread The Turkey Over The Bottom of the Dish

I’m beginning to wonder what I would do without Pinterest. What great way to find recipes from sites I would probably never find otherwise. My blog now also links to my and there you can find a compilation of tons of recipes from a variety of different food blogs. I’ve just started connecting with that site and if you want to find my recipes (and there are only a few of them featured right now but there will be more to come) just type in “jan geden” in the search engine and my recipes will pop up.

But this time I found a recipe on Pinterest that I adapted and to my surprise it turned out great. I am now becoming a little more sure of myself in the kitchen with a better understanding of what will and will not work, especially in high altitude. And although this was adapted from a recipe called turkey potato casserole from all, it is my version of it with several changes I made based on what I had in my refrigerator at the time. So, here are my lessons learned and recipe rating.

Saute the Veggies...

Saute the Veggies…

RATING: A+ – I wish I could give it a few more pluses but the only drawback was the casserole did not get as hot as I would have liked it even with the time I added on to the original recipe. Next time I will bake it longer and at a slightly higher temperature. Otherwise it was very flavorful and definitely a great way to use leftovers in a casserole.

Lesson Learned 1: COOKING TIME – and once again as I’ve stated several times before, things take longer to cook in high altitude. The original recipe called for the casserole to bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. 350 to me automatically means at least 365-375. I baked it for 50 minutes at 365 and it was warm, but this recipe needs to be served piping hot. Next time I will do 375 for an hour and I bet it will be perfect.

Layer The Veggies Over The Turkey

Layer The Veggies Over The Turkey

Lesson Learned 2: ADAPTABILITY – I love this recipe because it is easily adaptable. The original recipe called for adding only onion and frozen green beans. When I read the reviews, someone suggested that they used peas instead of the beans. I liked that idea better. I also had some mushrooms (don’t I always) and a lot of carrots in my refrigerator. I chopped the onions and carrots, sliced the mushrooms and sautéed them until the carrots were softened and added them to the mixture along with some frozen peas. The next time I might even add a little chopped celery. The vegetable medley really added to the flavor of the dish in my opinion.

Lesson Learned 3: PRE-MADE MASHED POTATOES – what a time saver they were. The pre- made mashed potatoes that you can get now in the grocery stores are really very good. I think I got a tub of Country Crock garlic mashed potatoes, but any brand will do. All I did was microwave them for about 3 minutes, stir them and spread them on top of the casserole. It worked out perfectly.

Spread Soup Mixture On Top Of Veggies

Spread Soup Mixture On Top Of Veggies

Lesson Learned 4: CHEESE – the recipe called for cheddar cheese to be mixed with the cream of mushroom soup and the mashed potatoes. I decided to get a three cheese blend and I only mixed it with the soup and not the mashed potatoes. That way you save a little on the calorie side and the cheese blend, in my opinion, melted better than just using cheddar cheese alone.

Lesson Learned 5: LEFTOVERS – this also makes great leftovers and warms up very nicely after a few minutes in the microwave.

On average I’ve found that although casseroles have the appeal of a one pot meal, they generally take some work to put them together. And although this version involves some chopping and sautéing, the finished product is well worth the time and effort. I plan on making this one often it was that good. Enjoy!

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style…

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 cups diced cooked turkey meat

1 onion chopped

1 large clove of garlic chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup carrots diced small

4 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 can cream of mushroom soup

6 ounces shredded three cheese blend

3 TBS butter

1 tub (28 oz) pre-made mashed potatoes (or you can use leftover fresh mashed potatoes)


Preheat oven to 375. Dice turkey and put in the bottom of a 8×8 casserole dish. In a large pan, melt  the butter and sauté the onions and carrots for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Continue to sauté until onions are translucent and carrots have started to soften. During the last minute of cooking add the garlic until the garlic becomes fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Microwave the mashed potatoes for approximately 3 minutes. While potatoes are in the microwave, mix the cheese and the soup together in a small bowl. After 3 minutes, take the potatoes out of the microwave and stir to soften.

Put the vegetable mixture over the turkey and spread the soup and cheese mixture on top of it. Spoon the softened mashed potatoes over the soup mixture and spread out evenly to cover the entire casserole.

Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style...

Shepherds Pie Turkey Style…