Shepherd's Pie

This is good simple comfort food, perfect for when those white flakes start to fall from the sky and the wind bites.  I've simplified the process further by using frozen mashed potatoes, so now it is a reasonable weeknight dish.  You could make it even quicker by cutting up the vegetables ahead of time.

Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Everyday Food
Prep 30 min; bake 20 min
Serves 6

16 oz frozen mashed potatoes (Trader Joes) (check for gluten ingredients)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tblsp butter
2 Tblsp olive oil
3 carrots, halved and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup flour (use a gluten-free flour such as Trader Joes for a g-free version)
6 oz can tomato paste
1 lb ground beef or lamb
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions, using milk instead of water and adding 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, or another large heavy pot.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and thyme.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Add flour and tomato paste, cook 1 more minute. 

Add the ground meat to the vegetables, stirring and chopping with your cooking spoon until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes.  Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. 

Transfer the meat filling into a 2 1/2 quart casserole, coated with cooking spray.  Drop dollops of mashed potato over the filling and spread to cover evenly.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Bake until the topping is browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.