Shepherd's Pie for a snow day

Or any winter day really.  We just got the most snow I've seen in Maryland since moving back home from Colorado almost 3 years ago! I left work early to avoid terrible road conditions and everyone commuting home at the same time, and I had time to prepare this Shepherds Pie for dinner.  It's casserole cooking without all the cheese, and it's warm and hearty without all the guilt!  It gives us some leeway for dessert, which I decided would be s'mores- no fire needed, but definitely would be welcome on this cold and snowy night.

The general idea of this dish is meat in a sort of gravy underneath a layer of mashed potatoes, and baked so that everything gets bubbly together and the mashed potatoes get slightly crispy on top.  This is actually a perfect recipe to sneak in more vegetables!  I added a container of mushrooms (chopped up finely) to the meat mixture, and added mashed cauliflower to the mashed potato top.  It stretches the recipe in a healthy way, and the added veggies aren't discernible. 

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (I used 95/5 to cut as much fat out as possible)
1 8oz container of baby bella mushrooms, diced finely
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 can chicken broth (or beef broth if that's what you have)
2 cups frozen vegetable medley
1 head cauliflower
1 bag frozen diced potatoes (I love the steam and mash potatoes Oreida sells!)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Splash of milk, as needed to bring the mixture together (I didn't need this)
salt & pepper
Oops, forgot to include these in the ingredients picture before!
Don't be scared of the long ingredient list!  This really isn't a huge endeavor- it's easy, I swear!

We'll start with the mashed potato and cauliflower topping- chop up your cauliflower and steam it on the stovetop until tender, about 12 minutes.  Microwave your frozen potatoes as directed on the package.
Add both to a large bowl with your melted butter, salt and pepper, and beat together (using a stand mixer, hand mixer, food processor, whatever you have).  If the mixture is too dry, add some milk to bring it together (I didn't need to add any).  Set aside.
Now for the bottom layer.  Brown your ground beef for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms, onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook until the onions soften and are getting translucent.
Drain the excess fat if there's any, and add the flour- stir it around and cook for one minute.
Next add your tomato paste, soy sauce, and worchestershire sauce.  Add your can of chicken broth.  Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5-6 minutes
Then add in your frozen vegetables and stir them in.
Pour your meat mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish.  I used a 9x13 pyrex.
Evenly spread your mashed potato and cauliflower mixture on top.
You could add some pats of butter to the top right now, but I didn't bother.  I did sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the top though.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is getting brown.  Wait a few minutes before serving.  And you'll definitely want seconds.
Make sure to put some ketchup and hot sauce on the table, for people to add to their portions!
And if you don't stuff yourself full of meat and potatoes, make a quick dessert of s'mores to enjoy.  I don't think you need the recipe, but here you go anyways!
-2 rectangular graham cracker sheets
-1 Hershey's chocolate bar
-24 mini marshmallows (just what I had on hand...)
Turn your oven on to broil.  Break the graham cracker sheets in half and place the 4 squares on a baking sheet.  Break the Hershey's chocolate bar into 1/4ths and place one piece on each graham cracker.  Layer your marshmallows onto the chocolate as you see fit, I happened to put 6 per square.
Carefully (so the marshmallows don't roll everywhere!) put your baking tray into the top of the oven (as close to the broiler as possible) and watch them like a hawk!  Leave your oven door cracked, and literally stand there and watch as the marshmallows slowly expand and then get toasted brown on top.  This won't take more than a minute, but you can determine what level of "done" you like your marshmallows to be.  I just let mine lightly toast before deciding they were done.
It was a perfectly simple dessert to end my snow day with, and I surprisingly didn't get the chocolate and marshmallow all over like I usually seem to do with s'mores.

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