Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FNCCC Assignment #1 - Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Welcome Everyone! I'm so happy that you are joining me for the FIRST Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge assignment. Go HERE to see some more of the schedule for the challenge.

I was pleased that Aaron McCargo, Jr. has lots of recipes to choose from, especially for this first challenge. Everyone should have been able to find something pretty comfortable to make. I chose the Mini Shepherd's Pie. I was very tempted by the 14 Layer Bars but didn't have anywhere to take them - and I would have eaten entirely too many myself!

Mini Shepherd's Pies
I made a few adjustments.....(IN PARENTHESIS AND CAPS)

Cooking spray
1 can biscuits (12) (recommended: Grands) (I MADE MY OWN ~ HERE IS THE RECIPE)
2 tablespoons olive oil (DIDN'T USE)
1 pound ground beef (USED GROUND CHICKEN)
1/2 onion, minced (DIDN'T ADD BECAUSE I WAS OUT)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper (I DIDN'T EVEN USE A TEASPOON, IT SEEMED LIKE A LOT)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup beef stock (I USED CHICKEN BROTH)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder (FORGOT TO ADD)
2 tablespoons granulated onion powder (FORGOT TO ADD)
2 cups shredded Cheddar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Spray a 12-count muffin pan with cooking spray. Mold biscuits to the shape of each muffin cup. Par-bake biscuits for 6 to 8 minutes until light golden. Remove from oven and set aside. (THE BISCUIT PUFFED UP SO MUCH THERE WAS NO LONGER AN INDENTATION. I USED A TART PRESS AND SMASHED THEM DOWN SO THERE WAS SOMEWHERE TO PUT THE TOPPINGS).
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown. Stir in the onions, salt, pepper and garlic and allow to cook together for a couple of minutes.

Mix flour into the meat mixture and stir until a paste consistency is reached. Add beef stock to pan and stir in vegetables and herbs, the last few minutes, until combined.
Reheat mashed potatoes in a microwave for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in granulated garlic and onion powder (FORGOT, ALTHOUGH MY MASHED POTATOES WERE SEASONED WELL).
Spoon equal amounts (approximately 2 tablespoons) of warm potatoes on the bottoms of each par-baked biscuit. Then top with equal amounts of beef mixture (approximately 2 tablespoons). Finally top with equal amounts of Cheddar. (THERE IS NO WAY THAT THAT MUCH TOPPING WOULD FIT IN MY MUFFIN CUPS. YOU WOULD NEED JUMBO CUPS. I MADE A BIG SHEPHERD'S PIE IN A 4x6 PYREX DISH WITH THE LEFT OVER INGREDIENTS)

Return to oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before popping individual pies out with a knife.
Photography (especially of food) is not a strong point of mine. I debated even adding the picture because it looks so bad. Check out the picture on FN that goes with the recipe. Any food photo tips for me :)

VERDICT: I loved them because of the biscuits and the full flavor. I didn't even add all of the spices, when I am usually adding more than it calls for. I'm excited for the leftovers. My husband thought they were pretty good. My 6 year old ate two (that is a victory) but said she wouldn't want to eat them every week and my 4 year old didn't like it (although to be fair, she only eats fruit and sweets willingly). The muffin cup shape was a plus for them. They liked that they could eat it with their fingers. The biggest surprise was that the baby couldn't get enough of the ground chicken filling. She is not a meat eater so this was a nice change. Looks like I'll be cooking with ground poultry more often. I will definitely be making the biscuit cups again as there are endless possibilities for fillings, even if it is just a dab of butter and jam.

So what did you make?? Post your link to Mr. Linky below. I'm so excited to see the different entries!
Next week's chef is Aida Mollenkamp from the show Ask Aida.


  1. I also choose the mini shepard's pie recipe. Thanks for hosting this challenge, I really had a great time and I can't wait to see what everyone else cooked.

  2. awesome!! looks tasty to me. I'm glad you included the photo -- I've found that photographing food requires using the macro feature and turning off the flash. You'll have lots of weeks of practice :)

    Thanks for hosting this -- it's really fun and I'm excited to see and find many new recipes.

  3. Yum! That looks great. I'll definitely be storing this away for the future.

  4. I made the Oven-Baked Seasoned Fries. I don't have a blog but I posted a link to my facebook. The album discription links back to this blog:)

  5. Hi Sarah,

    I just added my link to the Mr. Linky. I chose to do Aaron's Inside and Out burgers. They were wonderful--first ever burgers I made from scratch, too. Check them out everyone!