Archive for April, 2013

The Second Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Brings Kids (and mushrooms) to the Kitchen


Part of the beauty of childhood is the joy that comes from experiencing news flavors, textures and ingredient combinations for the very first time. The memories surrounding these ingredients and dishes are never forgotten, but carried along as we grow into adults. However, parents across the country face the obstacle of getting their kids to take that first bite. The solution is as simple as getting your kids in the kitchen before the meal even begins. In coordination with the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, the USDA, MyPlate, Epicurious and the US Department of Education, the second annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is taking kids beyond the lunch table and placing them in the kitchen.

The contest runs between April 3 – May 12 and is open to children between the ages of 8-12. Contestants are invited to enter their best original lunch recipe inspired by MyPlate. One winner from every state will be invited to a special “Kids’ State Dinner” in Washington D.C. this summer. As an added bonus, a few kids might actually get to see their dishes served during the dinner. Following the MyPlate guidelines, the recipe should feature the five food groups. In addition, fruits and veggies should fill half the plate, along with whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.

Mushrooms’ versatile nature makes them the perfect ingredient to fuel your inspiration for a variety of meals.Their natural texture makes diced mushrooms a perfect ingredient to blend with meat in kids’ favorite dishes, such as Sloppy Joes. More nutrition and delicious flavor is a win with parents and kids alike. The MyPlate Pinterest account is filled with mushroom recipes from Mushroom Stroganoff to Veggie Burritos. Of course, what better guidance could you find than other kids? An entire digital cookbook of last year’s winners can be found here, with winning recipes for a heavenly lunch wrap filled with quinoa, veggie pizza topped with mushrooms and a macaroni casserole.

What are you waiting for? Turn tonight’s dinner into a winning dish!

Mushroom-Meatball Subs

Erin Chase from $5 Dinners stretches two meals from one with her recipe for mushroom meatballs that the entire family loves.

Our family loves meatballs. We love them with pasta and we love them on subs. And these mushroom-meatballs are a perfect way to stretch your regular meatball recipe just a little further.

Here’s what I suggest doing with these mushroom meatballs.

  1. Make the subs as directed in the recipe below.
  2. Save the extra meatballs (because there will be extras, unless you plan on serving a crowd!) and freeze them to use later with your favorite pasta noodle.

This recipe will make 14-15 large meatballs, or 26-30 smaller mini meatballs. Since you’ll only need 8 meatballs for the sandwiches (for a family of 4), plan to repurpose the leftovers with pasta…or you could take them for lunch the next day too.

We devoured the mushroom-meatball subs, and we hope you will too!

Mushroom Meatballs

Mushroom- Meatball Sub Sandwiches

Yield – Makes 4 sandwiches


  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (omit if using seasoned bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup spaghetti sauce
  • 4 sub or bollillo rolls
  • 4 slices cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped mushrooms, ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, Italian seasoning, garlic salt and pepper. Mix well and then form into meatballs. Place the meatballs into a glass baking dish, and then top with a spoonful of spaghetti sauce on each meatball.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until meatballs cook through. Note that cooking time will vary depending on size of the meatballs. If making mini-meatballs, cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, split open the rolls or bread lengthwise and scoop out the bread from the bottom half, so the meatballs can rest inside the bottom piece of the roll.  Break a slice of cheese in half, and then place on top of the meatball. Microwave for 30 seconds, or put in the oven for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
  5. Serve Mushroom-Meatball Subs with side of favorite fresh fruit and chips.


5 Reasons Mushrooms are the Ultimate Spring Ingredient


Meal planning is a process that starts long before you step into the kitchen. Figuring out what’s in season, what everyone in your family wants to eat, and what won’t go to waste sitting in the refrigerator are all questions to ask before you even begin preparing a meal.  With spring weather finally melting the cold veil of winter, it’s time to keep meals fresh, simple and delicious.Mushrooms are a valued ingredient all year long, but when it comes to spring menu planning they’re the perfect resource to turn any meal into a gourmet treat.  Take a look at our suggestions below or visit our featured recipe tab with six recipes that are sure to put a spring in your step this month.

  1. They add a meaty and hearty texture to dishes, while keeping calories low. Allows you to get the flavors you love without ruining your healthy eating plans for summer.
  2. They’re a natural addition to classic spring meals, from stir fry to salads, such as the Farmers Market Mushroom Salad featured above.
  3. Stuffed mushrooms provide the perfect base for spring flavors, herbs and a variety of fillings, making them a delectable go-to for Sunday brunch.
  4. April showers mean you might not be getting Vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Enjoy a healthy duo of mushrooms and eggs to get your natural dose of Vitamin D for the day.
  5. Their umami benefits bring a burst of flavor to any meatless or blended meal.

How are you incorporating mushrooms into your meals this spring?

Mushroom Bhuna

Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen shares an Indian inspired mushroom dish that will make you feel like you took the entire family on a global adventure at the dinner table.

I feel like it’s easy to nestle into a routine with cooking. The same dishes seem to make their way into my mind when I wonder what’s for dinner. Even Google will tell you the top searched recipes are old-familiars…tacos, pizza, and spaghetti.

Yet, as a food-loving mama who desires a globally-inspired (and healthy!) dinner table, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that ignite a sense of excitement, without turning off the picky taste buds I also serve nightly. This recipe for an Indian-inspired Mushroom Bhuna is just one of those recipes! It’s healthy, simple, budget-friendly, and absolutely delicious. Tender mushrooms are drenched in a deep red sauce that is spiced, without being spicy. It’s the perfect recipe in every way, because you’ll love it immediately, and so will your family.

Served over rice, or alongside Curry or Coconut Chicken, this rich and savory side dish is utterly divine! Toss it on your table this week and see how easy it is to go meatless, dine healthy, stay in your budget, and eat global every day!

Mushroom Bhuna

Mushroom Bhuna


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces white mushrooms
  • 3 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, basil, and/or mint, chopped


  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2.  Add garlic, onion, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3.  Add mushrooms, tomatoes, garam masala, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomato sauce is thickened and mushrooms are tender.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, basil and/or mint. Serve immediately.

Pairing Suggestions: This simple, savory mushroom side-dish is perfect when paired with your favorite curry chicken or coconut shrimp recipe, and a side of white wine.

Meatless Monday Inspires Young Chefs

Meatless Monday is a simple phrase that has become a source of inspiration for families across the country, even the youngest members. In coordination with the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) several budding young chefs participated in the 2013 C-Cap Meatless Monday Chili Recipe Contest. C-Cap provides undeserved youth interested in the culinary field the opportunity to achieve scholarships and education that will set the stage for successful career growth. The contest created a window of opportunity for high school seniors to put their creativity to the test, while gaining a stronger knowledge of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

Kung Pao Chili - Winning Recipe

After all was said and done, seven finalists were selected to present their chili dishes to a group of supreme judges in the field of food and nutrition.  While it was a tough competition of smoky flavors and robust vegetable assortments, the top honors went to Lucila Flores and her Kung Pao Chili. Along with adding this culinary success to her name, Lucila is the proud recipient of a $5,000 scholarship.

The chili brought together an assortment of six veggies, including hearty mushrooms, and a variety of spices and oils that created a combination the judges simply couldn’t resist. With hearty ingredients such as mushrooms and beans, it’s almost hard to believe it’s meatless.

Luckily, you can enjoy the flavors of the Kung Pao Chili for yourself with the full recipe below. It might just inspire a new set of chefs within your own family.

Bon Appetit.

Kung Pao Chili

By Lucila Flores of John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, California.

Serves 6


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 8 ounces diced onion
  • 8 ounces diced carrot
  • 8 ounces diced zucchini
  • 1 pound trimmed and diced mixed mushrooms
  • 8 ounces diced bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese-style black bean garlic paste
  • 2-4 tablespoons Vietnamese-style chili garlic paste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
  • 1 (5-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice with 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved into it

For garnish:

  • 3 ounces coarsely chopped, roasted, salted peanuts
  • 6 sliced green onions
  • 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves


  1. In a large pot over medium flame, heat the vegetable and sesame oils. Add the minced garlic and fresh ginger to the oil. Stir until just fragrant, but do not let it burn.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the Chinese Five Spice Powder and continue to cook and stir for 3 minutes more, or until it has become fragrant.
  3. Add the mirin, vinegar, hoisin, black bean and chili pastes to the pan. Stir in the drained beans and water chestnuts. Stir in the orange juice-cornstarch mixture. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 7-10 minutes, or until the chili has thickened. Garnish with peanuts, green onion and cilantro to preference and enjoy!