There are cards to write, presents to wrap, and friends stopping by. When you're swept up in the holiday whirl, getting a weeknight meal on the table can be a challenge. The solution: Cook the components of this hearty shepherd's pie up to five days in advance, and then assemble and bake -- in batches big and small -- whenever the joyous chaos allows.
There are two cheeses in this gratin: smoked Gouda in the sauce and salty aged Gouda sprinkled on top. Other melting cheeses, such as Gruyere and fontina, won't have the same smoky flavor but are good alternatives to the smoked Gouda; on top, try freshly grated Parmesan.
Flavor aside, kale holds its own among fellow members of the Brassica family, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi. The low-calorie
green provides an excellent source of both vitamins A (as beta-carotene) and C, along with a decent amount of fiber. Kale also delivers vitamin B6, which helps maintain healthy nervous and immune systems, as well as iron and calcium.
Smoked mushrooms are the heart of this rich, custardlike stuffing dish, adapted from chef Emeril Lagasse's "From Emeril's Kitchen" cookbook. For a complete holiday meal, serve with his Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herbs and Roasted Carrots with Fresh Thyme.
These sandwiches were cooked on a grill, but a skillet would work just as well. Choose your favorite kind of cheese. We prefer a variety that melts easily, such as Gouda or Swiss, but cheddar is also good.