Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie with Fresh Herbs

A tasty twist on the classic comfort food, Shepherd’s Pie gets a fall makeover with the addition of pumpkin and the season’s best fresh herbs.

This Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie with Fresh Herbs puts a fall twist on the classic comfort food. It's an easy weeknight meal and kid-friendly!

If there’s one thing that never fails to get me in the mood for fall and the impending holiday season, it’s our annual #virtualpumpkinparty! This is my third consecutive year participating in the virtual get-together and, let me tell you, it’s something worth getting excited about. Our count has now grown to over 60 bloggers and each one of us has a tasty pumpkin recipe (both sweet AND savory) that we’re sharing with you today. You can find the entire list of pumpkin recipes here, but I’ve got to tell you all about what is probably my newest fall comfort food obsession – Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie with Fresh Herbs!

Do you ever have a meal that you just love to eat but have never taken on the task of making yourself? That’s what Shepherd’s Pie was to me – well, up until a couple of weeks ago. For someone who grew up eating a lot of meat and potatoes, I sure don’t make ‘em a lot these days. But whenever someone would make me this one dish creation that happens to have meat, potatoes and veggies in one, I would be surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was about time I tried making it myself, but of course not without my own little twist!

And let me tell you, this twist just makes my version of Shepherd’s Pie over-the-top delicious. Not only did I add mashed fresh pumpkin to the potato topping, but I also cubed up some of that same fresh pumpkin and added it to the ground beef and pea filling. Oh, and we can’t forget the fresh herbs – there’s nothing like some fresh sage and thyme to make a dish REALLY feel like fall!

This Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie with Fresh Herbs puts a fall twist on the classic comfort food. It's an easy weeknight meal and kid-friendly!

Now I know you’re already dying to whip up this Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie for dinner, but let me make the decision even easier for you. This is a TWO-pot meal, folks. You’ll use one large pot to boil the potatoes and pumpkin for your topping, and a cast iron skillet to assemble all the pieces together and broil under the oven for a few minutes. So easy!

Oh, and hey! Where my mamas at? Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie is also a GREAT dish for baby-led weaning and for kids in general! For the little babes, I’d say just be careful with the peas. Either omit them completely or you can pick them out for your littlest ones if you just can’t give them up 😉

Okay friends, I’m going to keep this short and sweet today because, I mean, I have about 60 other pumpkin recipes to try my hand at, but I’ll tell ya – you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t give this Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie a shot. And be sure YOU also check out all of the other fun recipes for our 2018 #virtualpumpkinparty!

This Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie with Fresh Herbs puts a fall twist on the classic comfort food. It's an easy weeknight meal and kid-friendly!

Easy Double Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A tasty twist on the classic comfort food, Shepherd’s Pie gets a fall makeover with the addition of pumpkin and the season’s best fresh herbs. 

Course: Main Course
Keyword: beef, comfort food, dinner, entree, kid-friendly, main dish, potatoes, pumpkin, weeknight
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 620 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 whole sugar pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into large cubes plus ¼ of a second sugar pie pumpkin peeled, seeded and cut into a small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh sage and thyme
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup beef broth or stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add large pumpkin chunks and potatoes. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until pieces can be pierced easily with a fork. Strain out water and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and small cubed pumpkin and saute until onions are translucent and fragrant, 5-10 minutes. Add beef, brown slightly, and then toss in fresh herbs. 

  3. Add flour, beef stock and frozen peas and stir to combine. Let cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer bright pink.

  4. While beef mixture is cooking, mash your pumpkin and potatoes. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and heavy cream to the pot where the pumpkin and potatoes have been cooling. Using a hand mixer or immersion blender, cream everything together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Once beef mixture is cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Turn off the burner your cast iron skillet has been cooking over and preheat your oven’s broiler (on high.)

  6. Spread the mashed pumpkin and potato mixture evenly over the beef in the cast iron skillet. Top with grated Parmesan and place under the broiler until the top has a lovely golden hue, which can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it as it is under the broiler as things can take a turn towards burnt very easily!

  7. Serve pie by scooping the mixture out into bowls while it’s still warm. 

Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins (Baby- and Kid-Friendly!)

An easy-to-make muffin loaded with pumpkin puree and shredded carrots. Naturally sweetened with applesauce, these muffins are perfect for kids, babies and adults. A great on-the-go snack!

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

If you’re looking for a simple, healthier snack for fall, these Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are for you! In fact not just for you, but for your kids, babies, kids’ friends, neighbors, babysitters…Well, you get the idea. They’re sure to please even the pickiest eaters and, since they’re only sweetened with applesauce, you don’t have to worry when your kids keep on going back for more.

As I mentioned in this Healthy Carrot Cake Pancake Recipe post, we opted to do baby-led weaning with our little one and she has shown no sensitivities to eggs, other dairy, gluten, etc. If your little one HAS shown sensitivities to any of these, obviously use your best judgment. Again, mother always knows best!

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

Since these Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are SUPER easy, and since we’re in Texas busy getting ready for my sis-in-law’s wedding tomorrow, I’m going to keep things short and sweet today. I mean, if you know how to stir a spoon and you know how to operate an oven, you’re in pretty good shape.

These muffins also happen to freeze well, so if you have a minute to bake some up this weekend, you’ll have the perfect treat for your whole family for the next week (if you’re lucky.)

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

Read on for the recipe!

Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins (Baby- and Kid-Friendly!)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

An easy-to-make muffin loaded with pumpkin puree and shredded carrots. Naturally sweetened with applesauce, these muffins are perfect for kids, babies and adults. A great on-the-go snack!

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Keyword: after-school, baby-friendly, breakfast, carrot, freezer-friendly, kid-friendly, muffin, naturally sweetened, pumpkin, snack
Servings: 12 muffins
Calories: 100 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup spiralized or grated carrot
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. 

  3. Add eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, milk and orange zest and stir until combined. Stir in carrot.

  4. Scoop batter evenly into prepared muffin tins and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  5. Cool in muffin tins for 5-10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly bars have a honey roasted peanut and oat crust and a jammy strawberry filling. The gluten-free treat is sure to please adults and kids alike!

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Is there any combo more classic or delicious than good ol’ PB&J? I don’t think so. And if you beg to differ, these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are here to show you what’s up.

To all my fellow Trader Joe’s fans, I know you won’t blame me when I say one of their kitschy products inspired me to make this totally addicting, no-bake recipe. Sure, I’d enjoyed my share of honey roasted peanuts back in the day when my dad would take down that classic Planter’s can from the kitchen shelf after a long day at work, but my indulgence in those sweet and salty goobers stopped as soon as I was responsible for buying my own groceries. It’s not that I didn’t like them, it just never crossed my mind to throw them in the shopping cart.

That all changed, of course, when I saw a gleaming bag of Honey Roasted Peanuts staring back at me from the “What’s New” section of my local TJ’s (anyone else ALWAYS get sucked in by that section?) Let’s just say they’re now a regular item on the hubs’ and my weekly shopping list, and we enjoy them almost daily in the same way my dad always did – as a little late afternoon nibble to hold us over until dinnertime.

I’d been racking my brain trying to figure out some delicious way to work them into a recipe when my Instagram feed was suddenly filled with all my friends’ kids starting their first days of school, holding up those cute letter boards saying what they wanted to be when they grow up, showing off their cute new back-to-school clothes. Almost immediately, I realized the perfect recipe would be something easy and semi-healthy that all these mamas and papas could make as a treat for their little ones after a long day in the classroom.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

We all know that PB&J is a quintessential back-to-school combo, and I was going to make it into something special that these kiddos would look forward to coming home to. Hence, these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars were born!

I’m all for a little indulgent treat now and then, but I also believe that there are tonnnnns of delicious healthier options we can all choose from every day. So in creating this recipe, I wanted to find the balance between indulgent treat and healthy sweet. The recipe is also extremely easy and requires no baking, so you can make it at any time during the day (or even the night before) and it will be ready to be enjoyed by your hungry little ones as soon as that dismissal bell rings.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Everything for these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars comes together in just a couple of easy steps.

First, you’ll want to make a strawberry “jam” that will serve as the top layer of the bars. This is an easy, stovetop process that takes only 20 minutes or so (mostly unattended) so don’t stress because I mentioned the word “jam.” Once you’ve simmered some strawberries, maple syrup and water until everything is broken down and combined, you’ll simply stir in some chia seeds to help it all thicken up and not make TOO big of a mess when you go to cut into everything.

Strawberries simmer over the stove to make a delicious jam for Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

While your jam is simmering, combine those OG honey roasted peanuts, oats, butter and some dates quickly in a food processor to make a crumb mixture that is then pressed into a baking dish to form the crust. Spread the “jam” over top, pop everything in the refrigerator and, voila! You’ll have these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars sliced and ready to feed some very hungry little mouths.

A honey roasted peanut and oat crust makes up the base of these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned the kids gobbling these up, but be sure to set aside a few for yourself. You’re not going to want to miss them. Plus, they’re gluten-free! Even more reason for every single person in your family to enjoy them.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Read on for the recipe!

Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Prep Time
30 mins
Refrigerator time
2 hrs
Total Time
30 mins
 

A tasty, no-bake bar with a honey roasted peanut and oat crust and a jammy strawberry filling, this gluten-free treat is sure to please adults and kids alike!

Course: Dessert
Keyword: after-school, dessert, gluten-free, jelly, kid-friendly, no-bake, peanut butter, snack
Servings: 12 bars
Calories: 200 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the jam:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds OR 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
For the crust:
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 dates, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving enough on each side to assist you in pulling the bars out. Set aside.

  2. Combine the strawberries, maple syrup and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until fruit is broken down and forms a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let cool slightly. 

  3. While the strawberries are simmering, make the crust. Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles the texture of wet sand. Dump contents of food processor into prepared baking dish and use your fingers to press it evenly along the bottom. 

  4. Spoon cooled strawberry jam on top of the crust and spread evenly. Cover and chill for at least two hours, if not longer. 

  5. Cut into 12 bars and enjoy!

Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote

A dairy-free, protein-packed breakfast with no sugar added, this Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote will satisfy every member of the family!

This Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry-Orange Compote is grain- and dairy-free with no sugar added. The perfect healthy breakfast for everyone in the family!

Are you a creature of habit or a fan of change? This is a big debate in our family – the hubby likes to keep things consistent while I’m more of a fan of shaking things up. Take, for example, breakfast. As much as I love the consistent healthiness factor in our daily Power Protein Smoothie, I sometimes long for some other healthy dish such as this Slow Cooker Cherry Pie Oatmeal or this Mediterranean Smashed Avocado Toast.

But even though mom and dad may be sticking to the same old breakfast every morning (and honestly, most often for convenience’s sake) I’ve been really focusing on mixing things up for the little one so she is introduced to a wide variety of flavors and nutrients. I originally made this Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote for her to enjoy, but after tasting it I couldn’t help scooping up a big bowl for myself!

This Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote is the perfect meal prep breakfast that doesn't even need to be heated up to enjoy!

As I mentioned in my Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes post, we’re following the baby-led weaning method for introducing Raia to food, and have already tested her on dairy, wheat and nuts/nut butters with no adverse reactions. However, this recipe doesn’t contain ANY of those potential allergens, so even if you aren’t doing BLW (or your child has shown some sort of adverse reaction to any of the above) this is the perfect healthy recipe to keep in your arsenal.

Did I mention it’s so delicious you’ll probably even want to make it if you DON’T have any kids?

This Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Compote is the perfect make-ahead recipe for baby-led weaning, but it's delicious enough for the entire family to enjoy!

As all chia puddings do, this recipe does need to be started a day or two in advance, but aside from that the preparation is sooo easy. If you’re any sort of meal prepper, this recipe is for you. You’ll want to get the chia pudding started at least one night before you want to eat it, but I found it got even better with a couple of days in the refrigerator to set up.

As far as the compote, I recommend making it the day before as well since I’m not so sure how a warm compote would taste on the chilled pudding (could be good, though!) You can also use this compote as a no-sugar-added way to make a delicious PB&J for your little ones. Because we all know that’s another go-to for all us busy moms!

I can promise you this – once you taste this Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote, you won’t want to stop making it. It’s tasty, nutritious and, once it’s prepped, takes no time at all to serve. It’s the perfect breakfast for these last few summer days and still a great option once school starts up again in a couple of weeks.

This Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote is the perfect make-ahead back-to-school meal for the entire family to enjoy!

Here’s to easy, healthy, family-friendly meals!

Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote (Baby-Friendly!)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 min
Resting Time
12 hrs
Total Time
16 mins
 

A dairy-free, protein-packed breakfast with no sugar added, this Oat Milk Chia Pudding with Blueberry Orange Compote will satisfy every member of the family!

Course: Breakfast
Keyword: baby-friendly, breakfast, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, healthy, kid-friendly, make-ahead, meal prep
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 90 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the pudding:
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup oat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the compote:
  • 6 ounces blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
Instructions
  1. Combine the chia seeds, oat milk and vanilla extract or paste in a Mason jar with a lid. Shake to combine and place in refrigerator for at least 12 and up to 36 hours.

  2. To make the compote, combine blueberries, water and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking until blueberries break down and mixture is reduced to a jam-like texture. Let cool completely before serving with chia pudding. 

  3. To serve, scoop some chia pudding into a bowl and top with compote.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken

Winner winner chicken dinner!

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.

You heard me. Today I’m bringing you the ultimate in chicken dinners, perfect for you to whip together in these first few days of fall when we’re craving comfort food but not quite ready to pull out the Crockpot. Artichoke dip lovers, you’ve been warned.

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is basically my excuse to take a favorite appetizer and turn it into a full-fledged meal. It’s high-protein and also happens to help meet your daily quota of healthy veggies. You can also easily enjoy it alone as a light meal, or if you’re a carb-lover like me you can serve it atop a bed of bowtie pasta tossed in a simple lemon, butter and pine nut sauce with even more spinach thrown in for good measure.

Have I convinced you yet that this needs to happen for dinner tonight?

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken served over a simple bowtie pasta for the perfect kid-friendly weeknight dinner.

What if I told you this Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken has the revered appetizer spread both inside the chicken roll-ups AND slathered all over the top? Yea, thought that might win you over.

There are a couple of things that I absolutely love about this recipe that I just MUST bring to your attention:

First, it makes plenty of spinach-artichoke dip, so rest assured that you will have plenty to snack on while your main course is cooking or for your next Sunday football get-together. You don’t even have to bake it if you don’t want to, totally up to you!

Second, this is a “set it and forget it” meal, meaning once you’ve constructed your cute little chicken roll-ups, all that’s left to do is pop them in the oven and worry about whatever you’re going to serve with them (if anything.) That’s a functional fall meal if you ask me.

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is creamy, delicious and sure to please the pickiest of palates. In fact, I’m pretty sure any kids you have with a mind of their own about what they will and will not eat will gobble this up faster than you can say “eat your vegetables.”

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is a protein- and vegetable-packed dinner that's incredibly easy to make.

I love baking sweet treats and mixing up cocktails for y’all, but as we move into comfort food season I also want to make sure you have plenty of healthier comfort food choices on hand for just any weeknight dinner. If you have anything you’d like to see me make, or any parameters for a recipe you’d like me to stick to (i.e. sheet pan dinners, Crockpot cooking, etc.) please tell me in the comments below!

I’m working hard to get a ton of stuff queued up for you guys for when I’m out on “maternity leave,” so now’s the time to put in your requests!

In the meantime, here are a few of my other “healthy” comfort food dinners that would be perfect for you to start whipping up this fall:

Bruschetta, White Bean and Pancetta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Champagne Roast Chicken with Grapes and Shallots

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp

I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with the most delicious food! Xo

A plate of Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken served over a bed of spinach and pine nut bowtie pasta.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

The classic appetizer dip is rolled inside and slathered on top of lean chicken breasts to make the perfect weeknight dinner that even the kids will love!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
Instructions
  1. Combine cream cheese, yogurt, garlic, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic powder in a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can make this up to a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator if you’d like. 

  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a glass or ceramic baking dish large enough to hold your chicken roll-ups with cooking spray. Set aside. 

  3. Spread the flattened chicken breasts out on a large cutting board and season both sides of the breasts with salt and pepper. Place a couple of tablespoons of the prepared spinach-artichoke dip on each breast, then roll up the breasts and secure with a toothpick or two (you could also wrap with kitchen twine if you’d prefer.)

  4. Place the chicken roll-ups in the prepared baking dish and place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. 

  5. Remove roll-ups from oven and turn broiler on high. Spread more of the spinach-artichoke dip over top of each roll-up and return to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the spread on top is slightly browned and bubbly.

Recipe Notes

Serving suggestion: Cook up some bowtie pasta and toss it with some more fresh spinach, toasted pine nuts, butter and lemon juice. Place chicken roll-ups over top of pasta for serving.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken | CaliGirlCooking.com