Sometimes, I find myself craving comfort foods just like the kind Mom used to make.
Well, not really the kind my Mom used to make, since she isn’t much interested in cooking, is often missing basic ingredients like salt or pepper in her kitchen and has been known to say things like “should this be pink in the middle”?. No, when I crave comfort foods, I always think of June Cleaver.
Except for one dish; my Mom’s specialty: Turkey Meatloaf Cupcakes.
My Mom makes killer turkey meatloaf and those little cupcakes are cute as woof, but it’s not dog-friendly. It’s full of yummy good things like mushrooms, which my dogs hate; bacon, which is fatty and can be dangerous for dogs (hello pancreatitis!) and onions, which are downright toxic. You should never give your dog onions, like ever. I figure that it’s time to give this family favourite recipe a dog friendly makeover.
Cooking for Dogs: all you need is a plan.
I knew that the meatloaf would never taste quite like my home-cooked favourite without all those un-dog-friendly ingredients, so I hatched a plan to make a meatloaf base that was safe to feed pups and people, and then I’d take those illicit ingredients, fry them into a hash and serve them to the humans only with their meatloaf.
You can do that, you know!
Often, when I talk to people about cooking for their pets, I hear that they’d love to try it, but they’re afraid that eating plain, unseasoned food will be bland and boring. Who wants to slave over a hot stove and then be disappointed in the meal?! No one! Creating a dog friendly base that you can serve to the pups plain, then adding a topping people will find delicious is a great way to make everyone happy. As a bonus, these adorable tiny little meatloaf cupcakes are a big hit with those tiny humans. Kids love the whimsy of cupcakes for dinner.
Dog-Friendly Meatloaf Base:
½ lb. ground turkey thigh
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup grated zucchini
½ cup puffed quinoa (or bread crumbs, if you and your dog are grain tolerant)
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
Generous pinch garlic powder
1 large potato for Dog Friendly “Mashed Potato Icing”
Only for People/Never Give It to Your Dogs Topping:
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup sliced onions
3 strips bacon, diced
Making the Dog-Friendly Meatloaf Base:
Preheat oven to 400F and line a mini muffin tray with cupcake liners (I love the reuseable silicone ones because they are so easy to peel off!)
Finely dice the potato, toss it in a pot with some water and place it on the stove to boil over medium high heat. When the potato is fully cooked, remove from heat, drain off water and mash until smooth.
While the potato cooks, mix together ground turkey, carrot, zucchini, egg, puffed quinoa (or bread), parsley & garlic powder. Get messy and use your hands to make sure it is all mixed together and the egg is thoroughly incorporated.
Break the meat into small pieces and fill the cupcake liners slightly too full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked all the way through.
Making the For Humans Only/Never Feed This to Your Dogs Topping:
In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms, bacon and onion. Set aside.
Let’s serve dinner!
Scoop your mashed potatoes into an icing bag or a baggie with the tip cut off. I used an icing bag and I didn’t even put an icing tip on it, just the coupler, since I wanted a really wide opening, but my Mom always did this with a baggie and it worked just fine. Pipe the mashed potato icing onto the meatloaf cupcakes.
Voila! Your dog-friendly meatloaf cupcakes are ready to serve!
Pop one or two into Fido’s bowl over for a tasty treat. Don’t overdo it though: this isn’t a balanced meal, so it’s not meant to replace your dog’s regular kibble.
Once you have given your dog the plain meatloaf & potato cupcakes, you can finish the human version!
Scoop a generous spoonful of the for humans only onion and mushroom onto a plate for each member of your human family. Sit the meat loaf cupcakes on top, garnish with some fresh steamed veggies and serve.
There you go! A dog-friendly meal, a tasty topper that you can serve to the humans only and a meal that your whole family can enjoy! No need to compromise on flavour to get a meal that is safe to share with your canine family.
Meet our Cooking for Dogs Editor Jodi and her dogs Kolchak and Felix
Jodi is a canine nutrition and small animal naturopathy student hailing from beautiful Vancouver, BC. (That’s in Canada, eh?) She loves to experiment in the kitchen, creating tasty (and healthy) treats for her two dogs, Felix & Kolchak and the rest of her family. Jodi’s blog, Kol’s Notes follows the antics of the irrepressible Kolchak as he celebrates good food, good friends and the good life.