I wish I could say it was a man making “the earth move under my feet, but it does appear to be mother nature shaking my world these days. Compared to the monsters in Chile recently, the earthquakes we’ve been having here in Los Angeles are thankfully small, but…

Jewels with old flame Michael

Jewels with old flame Michael

I am inundated with painters repairing cracks and painting none the less. It’s just a fact of life when you live in a 90 year old home with plaster walls. On the positive side, what better time to do a little redecorating?

2013 recipes and food photos

2013 recipes and food photos

Most of my food photos are shot in the dining room, because the southern exposure gives me plenty of lovely indirect light. However, I’ve been battling the hue that the red walls tend to throw for ages. I welcome a change, but I keep vacillating between painting them all a warm white, or perhaps a pale taupe color.

Lightening up the red dining room

Lightening up the red dining room

The room is large, with very high ceilings, so it can handle a little color, and I’m into neutrals at the moment. I do want to lighten it up, though. Which would you choose? I thought you might like to munch on this recipe while you help me decide…

Jewels Shepherd's Pie

Jewels Shepherd’s Pie

In America we tend to confuse shepherd’s pie with cottage pie. The easy way to remember which is which is to think about the title – shepherds tend to sheep, so shepherd’s pie is the one with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef. Use this same recipe to make a cottage pie by simply substituting beef for the lamb.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


Meat and vegetable filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the mashed potato topping

  • 2 pounds potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


Meat and vegetable filling

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened and onion is transparent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lamb, bay leaf, thyme, diced tomatoes, and salt and pepper, stirring well, breaking up the lamb with the back of the spoon, until browned all over, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce, and peas. Deglaze pan by scraping up the gooey bits on the bottom, and stirring constantly until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove bay leaf and pour into a casserole dish.

For the mashed potato topping

  1. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft when pierced with a fork, 10-12 minutes, drain. Add milk, butter, egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste, and mash until smooth. Spread potatoes over meat mixture in casserole dish and mark with spatula. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs if desired. If not eating right away, I generally cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer at this point.
  2. Place in 400° F preheated oven and bake until hot and bubbly, and the surface and golden brown.

Serving Suggestions

This is really a one dish meal in itself, but you could add more vegetables on the side or a green salad if you desire.

Heat To Eat

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake the shepherd's pie in the preheated oven until hot and bubbly, and the surface and golden brown.


Use ground beef instead of lamb to make a cottage pie, or be adventurous and try your own mixture of meat, poultry, and vegetables - for instance I make a delicious turkey-mushroom cottage pie.

Click the video below for more about how the Personal Chef Approach works, and save both time and money while resting assured a healthy home cooked dinner will be on the table for your family to enjoy on busy weekday nights!

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  • April 8, 2014
    6:13 am

    Not every restaurant follows that rule, we ate at Raglan Road (an authentic Irish restaurant at Downtown Disney, supposedly) and I thought I was safe ordering the Cottage Pie since I’m not a fan of lamb. As soon as the dish passed in front of me I knew it had lamb in it. They use a mix of beef/lamb. Your recipe sounds delicious, I’ll be trying it soon, with beef of course.
    My large dining room has a chair rail molding so I recently painted the top half Navajo White and the bottom half a deep navy blue. I also revovered my cream colored chairs with a bright watermelon pink to add a pop of color. Love it!! Good luck.

    • April 8, 2014
      12:32 pm

      Sounds pretty!

  • April 8, 2014
    11:18 am

    Ugh, I feel your pain with the lath & plaster, my house was built by the original owner by hand in 1906…but you just can’t get that “charm” from modern homes, right? 😉 My living room is a very light lavender with off white trim on the moldings…it’s light and looks very elegant!

    • April 8, 2014
      12:31 pm

      The other advantages of laith and plaster is I don’t hear the outside noise, and the walls keep the air cool in summer, and warmer in winter.

  • April 10, 2014
    11:56 am

    Honey, I wish I was there to do it for you! My advice is get yourself down to Nova Paints on La Cienega and Blackwelder (nr Toys R Us) and have a look at their amazing, unique paints. Choose something fabulous, glam and diva to live up to yourself. Go for it!