Guest Post: Ham, Cheddar and Mushroom Muffins by The Brunette Baker

We have a guest in the kitchen! Jenny of The Brunette Baker is back with another family friendly meal that packs the nutrients in. These on-the-go bites will be a life-saver on those busy nights. 


Mealtime with kids can be a stressful feat.

My daughter has loved most vegetables foods since her first bite of proper food - broccoli and spinach being amongst her favourites. She is honestly every parent’s dream at the dinner table. My son, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. His little body runs purely on sugar, carbs, more sugar, and the occasional carrot. Apparently (caramel) apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Lately, when it comes to mushrooms, my daughter refuses to eat them. I’m not sure if it’s become a textural thing, but it is the one vegetable I cannot get down her as is. My husband and I both love them in all forms and I feel they add an integral component to most dishes I make, so I have to get creative and hide them whenever a dish calls for the addition of them.

My latest baking venture proved to be very successful. My daughter enjoyed them packed in her lunchbox with a side of marinara dipping sauce; my son liked them as is. These muffins are packed with delicious goodness and are perfect for snack time, breakfast, or even dinner when they refuse to eat what’s put in front of them.

A parent’s job is hard enough.

Let them eat muffins.


Ham, Cheddar and Mushroom Muffins
Prep Time: 25 minutes | Bake Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons ground flax seeds, optional
3 large eggs
1⅓ cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 cup white button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup diced ham
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Method
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or use cupcake liners.
2. In a frying pan over medium heat, add in one tablespoon of canola oil. Toss in onions and cook until translucent. Remove from pan and add in chopped mushrooms. Cook only until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, and flax seeds.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and butter.  Stir in the chives, mushrooms, onions, ham, and cheese.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix using a wooden spoon until moistened.
6. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin pan (heaping ¼ cup each for unlined muffin pan or scant ¼ cup each for lined.
7. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until the tops are a golden brown. Let the muffins cool in pan for 15 minutes then loosen the edges with a knife (if necessary). Transfer muffins to cooling rack.
8. Muffins will keep in an airtight container for several days. These also freeze beautifully once baked.


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This time of year is busy enough! Quick meals on the go are certainly a time-saving treat. As always, thanks to Jenny for sharing such fun, family favourite ideas.

Be sure to follow along with Jenny at The Brunette Baker, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Guest Post: Vegan Mushroom & Butternut Squash Cottage Pie by The Gouda Life

We have a guest in the kitchen! We're so happy to welcome back Kelly of The Gouda Life. Today, she's brought us a drool-worthy pie that is vegan friendly, but will certainly make everyone at the table hungry. 


Recently, we had a dear friend return home after months of being on the road in Europe with his band. I wanted to make him something hearty and homey. Something to curb the chill in the air and that he may not have been able to get on the road. This cottage pie is vegan, as is our friend, and the mushrooms make it so meaty and rich. The sweetness of the squash make an amazing companion to the mushrooms and the smokey paprika warms the whole dish. If you're not vegan, feel free to add real butter and even a little sprinkle of cheese in (and over) the mashed potato topping.


Vegan Mushroom & Butternut Squash Cottage Pie
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes | Makes: 6 servings

Generally, I don't like to use butter substitutes that aren't olive oil or coconut oil, but these potatoes called for more. A buttery vegan sub-in worked beautifully here but if you aren't worried about dairy, feel free to add the real thing. 

Ingredients
4 large russet potatoes, cubed
sea salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter or non-dairy butter, melted
1/4 cup warm vegetable stock or milk (dairy or non)
2 tbsp olive oil
24oz button mushrooms, rough chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups cubed butternut squash (fresh or frozen), cubed
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
sprig of thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp (tiny pinch) ground cinnamon
1 cup dark beer
1/2 - 1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to garnish

Method
1. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, generously salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and let cook until potatoes are easily pieced with a fork, 10-15 minutes. Add the raw garlic and butter and mash well, Add enough liquid to make them creamy, starting with 2 tbsp and adding the full 1/4 cup if needed. If you want them very creamy, get out your handheld mixer and whip until pillowy.
2. Preheat oven to 375.
3. While your potatoes are boiling, heat up the olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet or dutch oven over med-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let cook untouched for 5-6 minutes. You want the liquid from them to be released so they start to brown and crisp. Mix and let sit for another 5-6 minutes Repeat once more. Add the onions, squash, celery and carrots and cook until onions have softened and are just starting to brown, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cumin and cinnamon and cook until tomato paste has browned lightly and everything is very fragrant, 5-6 minutes. Add the beer and peas and bring to a boil, scraping the stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the 1/2 cup veggie stock and stir everything well. If it seems a bit stodgy, add more stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread or pipe the potatoes over the mushroom mixture, drizzle with olive oil and bake until the top is golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, fresh ground pepper and serve.


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There is nothing better in this crisp, cool weather than comfort food! As always, a big thank you to Kelly for joining us in our kitchen and sharing such delicious eats.

Follow along with Kelly over at The Gouda Life and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

Guest Post: Swedish Mushroom Meatballs by The Yum Yum Factor

We have a guest in the kitchen! We have the lovely Carole of The Yum Yum Factor back with us today, sharing a comforting, vegetarian favourite. With a make-at-home recipe this good, you may be able to skip that shopping trip altogether!!


I always feel sorry for my vegetarian friends when we go to Ikea and they have to watch me chow down on a big plate of Swedish Meatballs with lingonberries while they pick at a salad. It’s bad enough that we know we have to try to find our way through the maze of a store and then face 26 hours of assembly time when we get home, but the one thing that makes all of that feel worthwhile IS my plate of Swedish Meatballs. There is something so comforting about a plate of creamy mashed potatoes supporting those spiced little meatballs drowning in a rich, creamy sauce, don’t you think?

I have been blending and extending my meatballs with finely chopped mushrooms for years but this time, I wanted to do a meatball without any meat at all and really let the mushrooms be the star. Using a bit of breadcrumb and bulgar with egg as a binder, they are a little bit delicate to work with but the rewards are worth it and you won’t even miss the meat when you taste this mushroom version.


Swedish Mushroom Meatballs
Prep Time: 25 mins. | Refrigeration Time: 2 hrs. | Cook Time: 25 mins. | Serves 4-6

Ingredients
Mushroom “meatballs”
1 tables olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tables butter
1 lb white mushrooms, finely chopped (by hand or pulse to a rough chop in a food processor)
3/4 cup bulgar wheat
1 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp allspice
20 grinds of black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

cooking spray oil for cooking

Sauce
6 tbls butter (2 for the mushrooms and 4 for the sauce)
100 grams oyster mushrooms, roughly sliced
150 grams brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
pinch kosher salt
4 tbls flour
3 cups mushroom broth (I used Campbell’s but you can use any vegetable stock you have on hand)
1 tbls grainy mustard
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk
a handful of parsley, chopped

optional garnish: chopped parsley, lingonberry preserves

Method
1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft. Now melt the butter into the pan and add in the chopped mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they have released almost all of their liquid before you stir in the bulgar and mix well.
2. Remove the mushroom mixture to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature before you add in the bread crumbs, parsley and spices. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed and when it’s the way  you like it, add in the beaten egg and mix until well combined. 
Put the bowl in the fridge and let it sit for at least 2 hours - all day is even better.
3. When it’s time to cook, preheat the oven to 400F.
4. Remove the mushroom mixture from the fridge and start rolling out meatballs the size of small golfballs. I like to gently squeeze the mixture in my left palm and then move to my other hand, gently squeezing it back and forth until it’s nice and compacted and round. You should get about 27 balls or so.
5. Use spray oil on your baking tray and place the mushroom meatballs on the tray and spray the tops of the meatballs with a bit of the oil and bake them for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, using a spatula, gently roll them over - the odd one might need a gentle nudge if it’s sticking a bit. Put the pan back in the oven for another 5 minutes. When they are done, take them out and set them aside.
6. While the meatballs are baking, melt 2 tbls  butter in a sauté pan and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of kosher salt until they are nice and brown and then remove them to a bowl and set aside. Melt the remaining 4 tables butter in the same pan and add the flour, cooking, stirring constantly, until the roux gets nice and brown. Slowly start streaming in the stock, whisking as you go to keep it nice and smooth. Once all of the stock is added in and you are sure there are no lumps, stir in the grainy mustard, let it come to a simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the reserved mushrooms and any juices in the bowl and simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes. By now, it will be nice and thick so turn the heat off, stir in the evaporated milk and parsley, place the mushroom meatballs back in the pan with the sauce and leave it on the hot burner for a couple of minutes. To serve, put the meatballs on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes and cover in sauce. 
7. You can scatter some more fresh parsley on if you like and if you really want the Ikea experience, serve them with some lingonberry preserves.


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This is one vegetarian version that even meat-lovers can sink their teeth into! A big thanks to Carole for sharing such a drool-worthy dish. 

Be sure to follow along with Carole at The Yum Yum Factor and on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!