10 Most Common Mistakes of First-Time Restaurateurs

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Opening a restaurant comes with complex challenges and difficult decisions. If you’re a first-time restaurateur, you can expect to make hundreds of decisions before you ever even open for business. With so many decisions to make, you won’t always be right. The key is to make good decisions on important issues to avoid making the big mistakes that can cripple a restaurant. Here are the 10 most common mistakes to look out for.

1. If you build it, they will NOT come.

The foodservice industry is no Field of Dreams. It’s a complex and nuanced business that can frustrate even the most seasoned entrepreneur. Just because you hung your shingle, people aren’t going to flock to you. Leave nothing to chance. Use your launch to build a raving fan base so when the doors finally do open customers will be lining up to get in.

2. You didn’t do your menu math homework.

Have you ever been out to dinner and wondered how much the meal you just had cost the restaurant to make? I’m going to let you in on a little secret: They probably couldn’t tell you! In most restaurants, the menus are developed by cooks who focus on how dishes look and taste, not on what they cost to produce. When I opened my first restaurant, I sold a salmon dish that was an absolute hit with customers at a loss for almost six months because I never mapped out the recipe and calculated my cost. If you don’t know what your dishes cost to produce, your food costs will quickly get away from you. That can be the kiss of death for a new restaurant.

3. Not enough cooks in the kitchen.

When first staffing a restaurant your inclination will be to hire only as many people as you absolutely think you need because — let’s face it — who wants to pay people to stand around, right? Wrong! Early on, you need to hire significantly more people than you think you need. Three times more people, in fact! Here’s why: A third of the people you hire up front will likely bail on you within the first two weeks. Another third you’ll realize aren’t worth keeping around in that same two weeks. Fire those people immediately! The remaining third will form your core team and stay on. You may think you did a great job screening people, but in this business the flake factor is extremely high. Trust me, you are not immune.

4. You have “Superhero Syndrome.”

So you’re the modern day Clark Kent. You’re faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but guess what? You still cannot run a restaurant by yourself. And if you try, as so many of us do initially, I guarantee you that at some point you’ll burn out and your restaurant will suffer. Focus on ownership issues that require your direct involvement and tasks that suit your particular skill set. Find someone trustworthy to delegate everything else to.

5. You’re an absentee owner.

On the other hand, you can’t just rely on someone else to run your restaurant for you while you sit back and reap the rewards. The restaurant business doesn’t lend itself well to absentee ownership unless you’re a celebrity chef with a huge team of rock stars. Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsay may be able to successfully open restaurants with little or no direct involvement, but even they toiled in the kitchen early in their careers. When you first open your restaurant, you must obsess about learning and understanding everything about how it operates. Over time, as your skills evolve and your understanding of the business grows, you can begin to delegate and automate. All too often, first-time restaurateurs take the learning curve for granted and don’t commit the time up front that’s necessary to succeed.

6. You don’t have systems in place.

The system is the solution! If you don’t develop and document operational systems for your employees to follow and your managers to enforce, be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Systems provide direction and accountability for staff, which in turn free you up to focus on bigger-picture tasks. The goal of every restaurateur is to work in their business, not on their business. But until solid systems are developed and implemented, that can’t happen.

7. You lack focus.

The ability to Follow One Course Until Success (FOCUS) is a critical skill first-time restaurateurs need to develop to be successful. The restaurant business is ever evolving and has so many moving parts that falling victim to distraction is easy. You must approach every task decisively and with an end goal in mind or risk burrowing down endless rabbit holes. I was a victim of Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) when I opened my first restaurant, constantly looking at more modern equipment or trendier packaging, things that at the time had little or no bearing on the actual operational needs of my business. It’s hard to do but you have to FOCUS.

8. A not-so-grand opening.

You know the saying, you only get one chance to make a first impression? Well, in the restaurant business, where competition is intense and the customer is increasingly fickle, that saying couldn’t be truer. You may think you’re ready for everything, but believe me, until you have your first service you really don’t know anything. Do yourself a favor and have a soft opening for friends and family first to stress test your kitchen and staff. As a first-time restaurateur it’s extremely difficult to come back from early bad reviews. I opened my first restaurant to friends and family a week before I opened to the public and boy was I happy I did. Our first service was chaotic and highlighted a dozen or so things we needed to address before officially opening.

9. You’re trying to be everything to everyone.

In most circumstances the old adage “the customer is always right.” still applies, but sometimes in food service you need to just say NO. If a customer wants his steak cooked to death or his greens plated separately you should do it. But when requests become unreasonable and put undue stress on your staff and impact the experience of other customers, there’s nothing wrong with politely declining to accommodate them. If you try to be everything to everyone you’ll soon find yourself catering to the ridiculous whims of people who have no regard for you or your business.

10. You’re focusing too much on what YOU like.

Restaurants exist to provide pleasurable dining experiences for customers, not stroke the egos of their owners. You may like loud music and spicy food, but if those things aren’t aligned with your concept and overall brand they have no place in your restaurant. Remember, it’s a consistent, pleasurable experience that keeps your customers coming back.

The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” is more applicable to the restaurant industry than any other. Try to avoid these mistakes and you’ll be one step closer on your journey to restaurant riches.

Gabe Gabe DaSilva is the founder of My First Restaurant an online community where new and aspiring restaurateurs can access the tools and training they need to successfully open and operate their first restaurant.

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Food Fetish: Dutch Baby

A few weeks ago I hit the culinary tool jackpot when I scored a vintage cast iron skillet at a local market. Since then I’ve been obsessed with testing out recipes that specifically call for one of these beauties. And although the relationship is fresh, I can already tell that we’re going to have a deep and lasting love affair.

One particular reason I’m smitten with this seemingly simple pan can be explained in just two words: Dutch Baby.

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This puff of deliciousness is exactly the kind brunch staple I’ve been looking for; it’s easy, impressive and doesn’t require a ton of prep or babysitting when what I really want to be doing on a Sunday morning is enjoying the company of my guests with a fizzy flute of mimosa.

So what is it, exactly? Well, it’s a fluffy, eggy, Yorkshire pudding/pancake hybrid that’s at once soft and chewy and buttery and warm and reminds me of a dense croissant. It’s wonderful. And carb-y. It’s also surprisingly simple to make and is guaranteed to wow your kids, boyfriend, grandma, best friend or neighbour when you present it (because presenting it is exactly the pomp it deserves) as the centrepiece of the brunch table or the grand finale at a dinner party.

Yes, it’s that good. Serve it with a generous sprinkle of the orange sugar concoction, which transforms regular sugar into a crystallized, crunchy, citrusy addition you definitely don’t want to skip.

Just be warned: you will be tempted to eat it by the spoonful. But I won’t judge.

Dutch Baby with Orange Sugar (adapted from Joy The Baker)

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup sugar
Zest of one small well-scrubbed orange
3 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons (about 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

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Directions:

  1. Put skillet on middle rack of oven and preheat to 450°F.
  2. Stir together sugar and zest in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat eggs with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and frothy, then add the milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and continue to beat for about one minute.
  4. Add butter to the hot skillet and melt, swirling to coat. Add batter and immediately return skillet to oven.
  5. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 17-20 minutes.
  6. Top with orange sugar and serve immediately.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s Food Fetish column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca.

Related:

7 Kitchen Must-Haves Giveaway: Week 3

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So far we’ve given away a Weber Charcoal Kettle Grill, and a John Boos Wooden Cutting Board – this week we’re giving away (drum roll please)… Cuisinart Prep Plus CFP-11PCBC 11-cup Food Processor with Blade & Disc Holder, Silver. You need one of these to make hummus, mayonnaise, pie dough and so much more — much more practical in my humble opinion than onion goggles (Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s fave gadget) or a knuckle pounder (Bitchin’ Kitchen’s Nadia G’s fave tool – not surprisingly).

The answer to last week’s question was: unnecessary calories, sugar, sodium and fat. Those are icky thing store-bought condiments are full of which is why you should make your own. Congrats Kristy Milland! Your John Boos Wooden Cutting Board is on its way.

To win this week’s must-have kitchen gadget all you have do for a chance to win is send an email to giveaways@foodnetwork.ca with the subject line ‘Kitchen Gadgets #3‘, the answer to the following question:

Question: Which challenge did Top Chef Canada Season 4 Winner, Rene Rodriguez, find the most challenging?

Hint: The answer can be found here.

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Come back each Wednesday until the end of August for your chance to win a new must-have kitchen gadget!

Giveaway Rules

The following are the giveaway rules (“Rules”) for the 7 Must-Have Kitchen Gadget Giveaway (the “Giveaway”) being administered by Shaw Media (“Shaw”).

RULE 1. HOW TO ENTER

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, entrants must answer the question posted above correctly, as determined by a Shaw representative. The Giveaway shall run until 5 pm on August 5 2014, after which time no answers will be considered for week three.

RULE 2. SELECTION OF WINNER

Upon completion of the Giveaway, a Shaw representative shall review the answers submitted by each entrant to determine which entrant answered the question correctly. From the entrants that correctly answered the question, Shaw will randomly select the prize winner (“Winner”) and provide the prize to the winner. For the purposes of this Giveaway and the awarding of prize, these Rules shall govern in all respects and the decision of any Shaw representatives shall be final.

RULE 3. PRIZE

There are seven prizes available to be won, which consist of (“Prize”).

RULE 4. GENERAL

By participating in this Giveaway, you agree to abide by these Rules and the decisions of Shaw in awarding the Prize, which decisions shall be final and binding upon all entrants. Entrants who have not complied with these Rules are subject to disqualification. Shaw reserves the right to modify the Rules, before or during the Giveaway, in its sole discretion, in any way at any time it deems necessary or appropriate without materially affecting the terms and conditions of this Giveaway. Interpretation of these Giveaway rules by Shaw shall be final.
Personal information collected during the course of this Giveaway shall be used by Shaw and its authorized representatives solely for the purposes of conducting the Giveaway and awarding prizes, and will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose unless required by law.
The Prize is not transferable and not redeemable for cash, will not be extended under any circumstances and must be accepted as offered without substitution.
Employees of Shaw and its affiliates, subsidiaries, related companies, advertising and promotional agencies and the household members of any of the above, are not eligible to participate in this Giveaway.
By participating in this Giveaway, the Winner agrees that his/her name may be used in any and all forms of media, without any further compensation by Shaw and waives all rights (including moral rights) with respect to printed, broadcast and other forms of publicity.
In the event of a dispute as to who submitted an electronic entry, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by anInternet access provider, on-line service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.
Notwithstanding the defined Contest Period, Shaw reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate the Giveaway, in whole or part, and/or modify, amend or suspend the Giveaway, and/or these Rules in any way, at any time, for any reason without prior notice. Interpretation of these Giveaway Rules by Shaw shall be final.

The Giveaway is subject to all applicable laws of the province of Ontario and the laws of Canada applicable therein.

Related:

18 Irresistible Cheesecake Recipes with a Twist

Cheesecake is such a delectable dessert and so versatile! Whether you bake it, freeze it or deep-fry it—cheesecake is impossible to resist.

Indulge in one or more (we won’t judge) of these mouth-watering cheesecake recipes this long weekend!

Cakes

cakes

Mini Cakes/Bites

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Pies/Baked Goods

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Squares

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No-Bake 

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Pops/Doughnuts

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Deconstructed

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Related:

HYCS – Toronto Heat Recap

As the clock ticked towards the two-hour mark, tensions and temperatures ran high at the end of the east coast heat of the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship competition, held on a hot summer’s day at George Brown College, Toronto this June.

Now in its second year, the young chef challenge was founded in 2013 by Chef David Hawksworth to offer emerging culinary talent the chance to shine in front of a panel of celebrated chef judges.

Joining us at the east coast heat were Food Network Canada Chefs Anna Olson and Lynn Crawford, who assisted in judging the competition alongside Hawksworth Restaurant’s Chef David Hawksworth and Chef Kristian Eligh. Shangri-la’s Executive Chef Damon Campbell and Buca’s Chef Rob Gentile helped select the four best young chefs who will go on to a national final in Vancouver this September.

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With just 120 minutes on the clock to create a winning dish, the eight hopefuls battled it out for a chance to win $10,000 presented by the Chefs’ Table of BC and a stage at an international restaurant of their choosing.

Michael Dolente (Shangri-La, Toronto), Alex Nacinovich (Canoe, Toronto), Nehemiah Lim (Jump, Toronto) and Solomon Chau (Stock, Toronto) all won over the judges during the heat and will head to the west coast this fall.

Michael Dolente, originally from Nova Scotia, won first place honours with his warm chickefn terrine and a crispy potato cylinder with carrot puree – a judge favourite that bagged him a set of Le Creuset’s Stainless Steel Pans and round-trip airfare to Vancouver.

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The national final will take place at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver on September 28 and eight finalists will create a dish from the Freybe Mystery Black Box ingredients to compete for the top prize – visit the website or follow the scholarship on Twitter @HawkScholarship for more information.

Related:

Top 14 Lasagna Recipes

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On July 29th we celebrate National Lasagna Day—an entire day dedicated to the layers of tender pasta, hearty meat and lots of cheese, all baked to perfection. There are many variations of this indulgent comfort food; whether it’s a classic pasta-filled dish, or a healthy, vegetarian version, pick your favourite and get cooking tonight!

Butter Chicken Lasagna & Autumn Lasagna with Chicken, Squash and Sage

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Lasagna Grilled Cheese & Gluten-Free Spinach Lasagna

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Homestyle Mushroom Lasagna & Lobster Lasagna Di Carnevale

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Blue Cheese Lasagna & Chicken Fajita Lasagna

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Lasagna Roll-Ups & Bolognese Lasagna

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Vegetable Lasagna with Homemade Pasta and Jalapeno Bechamel & Creamy Seafood Lasagna with Herbs from DFC

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Prairie Harvest Lasagna & Pasta-less Eggplant Lasagna

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Celebrity Chefs at Savour Stratford Culinary Festival

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Hungry crowds descended on Stratford for the Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival recently. Stratford has become a popular destination for food lovers, thanks to the world-renowned Stratford Chefs School, currently celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Savour Stratford visitors could participate in a range of activities including:

  • Visits with local farmers
  • Sampling goods from artisans across Ontario
  • Attend “tutored talks & tastings” on topics like fermentation, wild edibles, mead, preserving fish and the taste profile “bitter”
  • Children’s workshops such as making vegetable “noodles”, worm composting, watercolour painting with edibles like beets & blueberries and a petting zoo

The culinary ­curious could get more than their fill at the Grand Tasting, an event to celebrate the partnerships between the local producers in the agricultural community and local culinary talent.?Contenders presented a dish (or beverage) for a chance to win an award for best meat dish, vegetarian dish, dessert, beverage, beverage with alcohol as well as most creative and people’s choice. (see some of winners in the gallery below)

One of the highlights of the festival was the Toronto Star Culinary Stage which brought chefs from Newfoundland to the N.W.T. to B.C. for interactive demonstrations. The presenters would walk the audience through the creation of a dish (classic souffle, walleye lake fish with lentils, or presskof croquettes for example) and answer any questions. I sat down with five of the chefs and asked them what is unique about the region that they represent.

Chefs

Quebec’s Derek Dammann of Montreal’s Maison Publique

“Quebec, compared to anywhere in Europe ­ like France, Spain, Italy ­ it is just as regional in terms of cuisine. People don’t realize that. It is one of the only places in Canada where that can be said about the cuisine. (At Maison Publique) We do Canadian food. Not just because we use Canadian ingredients, Canada as a whole gets a bad stereotype. (People say) “Ooh Canada Eh, Poutine, back bacon, donuts.” but it is more than that.

(Montreal is) Extremely multicultural, everybody came this way. What is fortunate about where we are now is that we can draw from Portuguese, from Indian, from every kind of asian you can possibly imagine.. It is a melting pot of cultures and everything is up for grabs. What I think is the most unique is the way people dine. They are open for anything; excited to go out and eat… it is the style of life. People go out and they enjoy, they have fun ­ it is a lifestyle to go have a beautiful bottle of wine, have a conversation and enjoy themselves. It is part of the culture.”

Saskatchewan’s Dale MacKay, owner of Ayden Kitchen and Bar, Saskatoon and Canada’s first Top Chef

“I have always been known for fine dining, and doing more formal food. The last two years I have done a lot more casual food and going back to my roots. I?moved back to Saskatoon, and opened a new restaurant named after my son about nine months ago and it?is going really well. We set up shop in a beautiful heritage building and it is a large restaurant, about 110 seats.

Saskatchewan is amazing in terms of what we actually have in the province. I have been serving lentils whenever I can, different things -­ very Saskatchewan grown things. We have been talking a lot about chanterelles. The best in the world come from Saskatchewan.

Talking directly to farmers, it is going to take a little more time since small farming is only starting to get big there. We do have people growing specifically for us; artichokes and asparagus, and the best hard­core farming families are there.”

Newfoundland’s Todd Perrin of Mallard Cottage, Quidi Vidi Village, St. John’s

“(At Mallard Cottage) We have a small historic building and we do Newfoundland product in non­traditional ways. We take Newfoundland ingredients and put a twist on them that no one has seen before.

(In Newfoundland) We have a lot of wild game and things that we are able to access, and of course we are on the ocean, so tremendous amount of seafood. We are that wild corner of the country that people don’t really know about. We have that advantage of a certain amount of mystery to people. Newfoundland is a very rural part of the country, we don’t have huge population, or a lot of factories so the air is clean. So all of our resources, the natural abundance is all pristine. The quality of it is all very good.”

Ontario’s Carl Heinrich, winner of Top Chef Season Two, and chef and in­-house butcher, Ryan Donovan, of Toronto’s critically acclaimed Richmond Station

Carl: “Knowing the people that you buy food from is so important. If you have two tomatoes in your hand and one is from 5000 km away and it was picked while it was green and you don’t know who touched it and in your other hand you have one from your neighbor, or you grew it yourself and picked it when it was ripe, which one is going to taste better, it is a no brainer right? But it is the same thing for corn, it is the same for mushrooms and it is certainly the same with fish, but for us it is the same with all of the food we buy, we want to make an effort to know where our food comes from and that is the core philosophy behind our cuisine.

We talk about this more and more now. The way we cook food and the way our restaurant runs is a really big political statement. If our business buys say $700 000 worth of food a year, and you put $500 000 back into southern Ontario, that is a massive statement. A lot of the food that we buy comes from Perth county and the Stratford area. A lot of the food we buy comes from north, Creemore area and Grey Bruce.”

Ryan: “You need to get that ingredient in and make sure it is the best but it is not enough to stop there and say ‘now the hard work is done’. You still have to apply the right technique to it. It might be looking at something that you would normally sous vide and say, ‘no this should be braised’, or ‘it needs to be brined first’ or ‘maybe it should be salted and then rinsed an hour later, just a little bit of salt.’ ‘It needs to cure but not for long’. Then you must always be revisiting the things you are making and eating and saying ‘that could be better.”

JenJennifer Myers Chua is an art director, Asian-food enthusiast, and all-around creative type. Obsessed with culinary pursuits and whitespace, Jennifer spends her days working as a freelance designer and contributing blogger. She spends her nights deconstructing recipes in her mostly all-white loft with her mostly all-white French bulldog. You can check out more of what she does at www.jennifermyerschua.com.

Related:

10 Mouth-Watering Recipes for National Milk Chocolate Day

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It’s National Milk Chocolate Day (not to be confused with Chocolate Day or Chocolate Milk Day—as a few of us were) and we thought what better way to celebrate our favourite, melt-in-your-mouth ingredient but with delicious bars, snacks and baked goods!

Check out these chocolate-filled recipes:

S’Mores Bark & Chocolate Milk

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Marshmallow Crispie Bars & Milk Chocolate Pistachio Cheesecake

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Warm Bitter Chocolate Souffle with Fresh Berries and Milk Chocolate Glaze & Minted Milk Chocolate Semifreddo

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Mascarpone Charlotte & Malted Milk Chocolate Cakes

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Milk Chocolate Semifreddo & Cranberry and Coriander Infused Milk Chocolate Truffles

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Related:

Tips for a Fun Hot Dog Bar on a Budget

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There are some things that are just sort of obligatory in the summertime. Kinda like getting a giant beer at the baseball game, chasing down the ice cream trunk at the first sound of the jingle, and having hot dogs on the menu at every afternoon barbeque.

So, we have an idea for you: Why not make hot dogs the theme of your next party, and create your own hot dog toppings bar?

Taking inspiration from the blog Life with Fingerprints, we’ve put together an easy guide to help you plan your bash…on a total budget, of course.

From the 10 simple groceries you need, to easy décor tips and product suggestions, we have everything you need to help you save your loonies, try some fun DIYs, and make your next get-together a total hit.

*Shop Walmart’s Red and White Striped Table Cover, $4 and Etsy’s Printable Triangle Banner, $8.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

11 Awesome Campfire Cooking Ideas

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Ho hum about hot dogs? Sick of s’mores? Camping is all about enjoying the outdoors without fussy cooking or clean-up hassles. Maybe you just don’t feel like packing an array of utensils and pans, or you haven’t been camping since you were 10 and don’t know what to cook over a fire. But a camper can’t live on trail mix alone. Cozy up to the campfire and be inspired by these simple and creative ideas.

1. Orange Peel Omelette
Start the day with a breakfast that will impress your fellow campers. Cut an orange in half and scoop out the flesh, saving it to snack on while you’re cooking. Crack one egg into each half of the orange peel. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Place peel
and egg mixture onto a camping grill over the fire. Using a grill helps keep the orange peel from burning. The egg will cook in 10-15 minutes (depending on the heat) with a fresh hint of citrus flavour. Try sprinkling a few dried cranberries on top.

2. Make-Ahead Muffins
Muffins made at home with fresh, nutritious ingredients are an easy camping breakfast or snack. Try Anna’s Blueberry Muffins or Michael Smith’s Spiced Banana Muffins.

3. Foil Packet Dinners
This campfire dinner is all about the ingredient pairings, which can be as simple or sophisticated as you want. Use either a foil loaf pan or a double layer of heavy-duty foil for each serving (lay your ingredients in the middle). Cut up your ingredients at home and bring them in bags or the foil pans. Try pieces of cooked kielbasa, bacon or sausage with potatoes, peppers and onions. To retain moisture you can add a small amount of water, stock or apple juice. Seal the pans or the edges of the foil into packets, and set them on a grill over the fire for about 40 minutes depending on the heat. Rotate the packets frequently to avoid burning. Be sure to let them cool before eating, they will be hot! Packets can be made ahead and frozen, just thaw them in the cooler over a day or so. Veggie-only packets don’t need to be kept as cold if they’re used by at least the second day.

Try this: Fennel Stuffed Fish in Foil.

4. Picnic Potato Salad
If you’re packing condiments like mayonnaise, relish or mustard for burgers and dogs, they can also be combined into a quick dressing for a side potato salad. Salads can also be made ahead and kept chilled in the cooler.

Check out our Potato Salad Recipes.

5. Vegetable Kebabs
Wash and cut up a variety of veggies such as peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, red onion and eggplant, and pack them in containers or sealed plastic bags along with wooden skewers. Soak the skewers for 30 minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning. Everyone, including the kids, can load skewers with the veggies of their choice. Turn kebabs frequently until veggies are tender, 10-15 minutes. Bring a jar of pizza sauce or pesto for dipping, or better yet, make your own!

Try one of these 7 Healthy Homemade Condiments.

6. Catch of the Day

Freshly caught grilled fish, bursting with flavour makes for a memorable family feast!

Try one of Food Network Canada Faves: Grilled Fish.

7. Caramel Apple

Partially core one apple, and fill the center with a pat of butter and a few individually-wrapped caramels. Wrap the apple in foil and heat it over the fire and there you have ooey, gooey Caramel Apple Dip.

8. Ants on a Log or Bumps on a Log
This is a camping classic and a snack that kids can make themselves. Spread peanut butter over washed and cut celery stalks, and sprinkle with raisins.

Try this Ants on a Log or Bumps on a Log recipe.

9. Cream Puffs

All you need for these bite-sized delicacies is a container of store-bought biscuit dough and a bag of marshmallows. Flatten out a portion of biscuit dough and wrap it around a marshmallow. Pierce it on the end of a camping fork or stick and roast over the fire until the dough is golden. I dare you to stop at one.

10. Campfire Banana Splits

Spray sheets of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap around a banana, with cooking spray. Strip the peel back on a banana, leaving it attached. Slice the banana lengthwise and fill with chocolate chips. Fold the banana peel back over, wrap it in foil, and set it on a grill for about 5 minutes to let the chocolate melt. Unwrap the banana and eat with a spoon.

Indulge in some Grilled Banana Splits for dessert.

11. Easy Egg and Veggie Scramble

Cook eggs and veggies in a freezer bag in boiling water for delicious scrambled eggs.

 

Related:

12 Fully-Loaded Potato Salad Recipes

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Everyone loves the classic potato salad; it’s the perfect side for picnics and summer get-togethers. But it’s time to kick it up a notch and dress up the humble potato salad with the help of some unexpected ingredients.

 

Try one (or a few) of these unique and mouth-watering potato salads:

Octopus and Potato Salad & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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Grilled Herb & Garlic Triple Potato Salad & Mexican Red Potato Salad with Avocado and Red Pepper

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Potato Salad with Avocado and Grilled Scampi & Roasted Corn & Pepper Potato Salad

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Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad & Warm Sausage and Potato Salad

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Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon and Dill & Indian Potato Salad

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Edamame Potato Salad & Warm Potato Salad with Crab and Swiss Cheese

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Related:

3 Frozen Desserts with a Twist

July is here! Not only does that mean sun, vacations, beaches and patios, it also means ice cream month! That’s right, a whole month dedicated to enjoying the creamy delicacy that’s a summer time classic.

Here are three recipes from Double Chocolate Fountain that add a unique tea and cordial-infused twist to your beloved ice cream.

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  1. Crushed Strawberry, Pomegranate and Elderflower Cordial Sorbet
  2. Forever Nuts Rocky Road Ice Cream
  3. Cookies N’ Organic Cream of Earl Grey Ice Cream

 

Related:

How to Make Rainbow Freezies

I’m loving simple, no-fuss desserts. This dessert is a little bit of a cheat, but it’s so tasty that no one will care.

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Rainbow Freezies

Ingredients:
8 (each) x Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red Freezies (frozen)
4 freezer-proof jars, with lids
4 spoons

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Directions:
1. Thaw frozen freezies for 3-4 minutes until malleable.
2. Begin layering the freezies in the order listed above, approximately 2 Tbsp per layer. This isn’t an exact science, so go with your heart.
3. Once you’re done, freeze or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

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3 Must-Try Vanilla Ice Cream Topping Combos

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When it comes to ice cream sundaes, we’re pretty easy going. Hot fudge, caramel, strawberry, we don’t care, just give it to us. And the truth is, we don’t really get tired of them. They’re classic, just like your morning cup of coffee or Friday pizza nights.

But what if we told you your typical at-home vanilla ice cream sundae can get a huge, upgrade? We’re not talking about a little whipped cream and maybe some sprinkles. We mean an haute restaurant-worthy makeover.

We’ve put together three recipes of tasty toppings to take that plain dessert to a whole new level. And what better time to test out these toppings than on National Vanilla Ice Cream Day? (That’s today!)

One: Baileys, Caramel & Chocolate Chip Cookie Chunks

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Ingredients:

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 shot Baileys
Caramel sauce
Chocolate chip cookie, broken into pieces
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherry

Directions:

  1. Scoop the ice cream, add the Baileys, caramel sauce and then the chocolate chip cookie pieces. Finish with the whipped cream and the maraschino cherry.

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Two: Strawberry Rhubarb &Shortbread Cookie Crumble

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Ingredients:

Vanilla ice cream
1 cup strawberries
½ cup rhubarb, chopped in ½ inch pieces
¼ cup sugar
Shortbread cookie

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and 1 tablespoon of water to a simmer. Cook and stir occasionally until rhubarb breaks down.
  2. Let cool, then scoop ice cream into a bowl, pour on the strawberry rhubarb, and crumble the shortbread cookie on top.

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Three: Hot Fudge & Peanut Fried Banana Split

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Ingredients: 

Vanilla ice cream
1 banana, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. sugar
Chopped roasted and lightly salted peanuts
Hot fudge sauce
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherry

Directions:

  1. On high heat, melt the butter in a frying pan and then place the banana halves on top. Sprinkle sugar on them, and after about 2-3 minutes, flip the bananas over carefully to cook the other side, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top.
  2. Carefully transfer the banana halves to the bowl, scoop ice cream on top, drizzle on the chocolate sauce, sprinkle on the peanuts, and finish with the whipped cream and maraschino cherry.

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headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

Related:

7 Kitchen Must-Haves Giveaway: Week 2

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Wowzers… we had almost 1000 entries for our first week of the Must-Have Kitchen Gadget Giveaway!

The answer to last week’s question—Chef Lynn Crawford makes an unusual cake out of this summer fruit—was Watermelon!

And the winner of the Weber Charcoal Kettle Grill and chimney starter is (insert drum roll here) Susan Ross! Congrats Susan and your prizes are on the way.

 The first giveaway question, I think was waaaay too easy. So for this second round, I’m making it a tad more difficult. But the giveaway is just as exceptional as the first; John Boos 20-by-15-Inch Reversible Maple Cutting Board. I have two (I’m spoiled I know) and can attest to their amazing-ness.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Bobby Flay, who’s also a fan.

All you have to do for a chance to win is send an email to Giveaways@foodnetwork.ca with the subject line ‘Kitchen Gadgets #2‘, the answer to the following question:

Question: Store-bought condiments are full of these four unwanted and unnecessary things, which is why we recommend making them yourself. What are four icky things we can do without?

Hint: The answer can be found here.

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Come back each Wednesday until the end of August for your chance to win a new must-have kitchen gadget!

Giveaway Rules

The following are the giveaway rules (“Rules”) for the 7 Must-Have Kitchen Gadget Giveaway (the “Giveaway”) being administered by Shaw Media (“Shaw”).

RULE 1. HOW TO ENTER

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, entrants must answer the question posted above correctly, as determined by a Shaw representative. The Giveaway shall run until 5 pm on July 29 2014, after which time no answers will be considered for week two.

RULE 2. SELECTION OF WINNER

Upon completion of the Giveaway, a Shaw representative shall review the answers submitted by each entrant to determine which entrant answered the question correctly. From the entrants that correctly answered the question, Shaw will randomly select the prize winner (“Winner”) and provide the prize to the winner. For the purposes of this Giveaway and the awarding of prize, these Rules shall govern in all respects and the decision of any Shaw representatives shall be final.

RULE 3. PRIZE

There are seven prizes available to be won, which consist of (“Prize”).

RULE 4. GENERAL

By participating in this Giveaway, you agree to abide by these Rules and the decisions of Shaw in awarding the Prize, which decisions shall be final and binding upon all entrants. Entrants who have not complied with these Rules are subject to disqualification. Shaw reserves the right to modify the Rules, before or during the Giveaway, in its sole discretion, in any way at any time it deems necessary or appropriate without materially affecting the terms and conditions of this Giveaway. Interpretation of these Giveaway rules by Shaw shall be final.
Personal information collected during the course of this Giveaway shall be used by Shaw and its authorized representatives solely for the purposes of conducting the Giveaway and awarding prizes, and will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose unless required by law.
The Prize is not transferable and not redeemable for cash, will not be extended under any circumstances and must be accepted as offered without substitution.
Employees of Shaw and its affiliates, subsidiaries, related companies, advertising and promotional agencies and the household members of any of the above, are not eligible to participate in this Giveaway.
By participating in this Giveaway, the Winner agrees that his/her name may be used in any and all forms of media, without any further compensation by Shaw and waives all rights (including moral rights) with respect to printed, broadcast and other forms of publicity.
In the event of a dispute as to who submitted an electronic entry, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by anInternet access provider, on-line service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.
Notwithstanding the defined Contest Period, Shaw reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate the Giveaway, in whole or part, and/or modify, amend or suspend the Giveaway, and/or these Rules in any way, at any time, for any reason without prior notice. Interpretation of these Giveaway Rules by Shaw shall be final.

The Giveaway is subject to all applicable laws of the province of Ontario and the laws of Canada applicable therein.

Related:

Top 4 Hot Dogs from Fancy Franks

Happy National Hot Dog Day everyone!

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Whether at the ball park or enjoyed with family and friends on the patio, hot dogs have been a North-American staple for decades. Invented in Frankfurt, Germany, originally as a fork-and-knife dish, the sausage soon found its home in a bun throughout 1930s America and the classic hot dog was born.

Usually dressed with ketchup and mustard (the bright yellow kind), Toronto-based hot dog connoisseur Fancy Franks offers a more elevated hot dog experience. They use preservative-free meats from local butchers, buns from local bakeries, and fresh toppings from nearby Kensington market in Toronto to create unexpected sausage and topping combinations.

To celebrate National Hot Dog Day, head for the grill and try experimenting with summer’s favourite food with these great flavour combos.

Frank of Denmark (left) combines bread and butter pickles, and pairs them with fresh smoked Farmer’s sausage, raw onions, fried dried onions and yellow mustard.

The Fancy Britt (right) is inspired by the UK’s classic home-cooked favourite, Sheppard’s Pie, this smoked turkey sausage comes topped with mashed potatoes, smashed peas, shredded cheddar cheese and beef gravy.

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The Chi-Town Fancy (left), an all-American, Chicago-style hot dog, is topped with spicy pork Andouille sausage, sweet green relish, sliced tomatoes, dill pickles, raw onions, pepperoncini, yellow mustard and celery salt.

Here’s a recent experiment using Barilla pasta to create a Food Network exclusive, the Frankie Wanna Meatball? (right). Inspired by a family meatball recipe, this all-beef hot dog blends the best of both worlds—delicious street food and home-cooked comfort food—topped with four mini beef meatballs, fresh tomato sauce, sliced Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and Barilla Spaghetti.

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Photos by: pomoBoho Media

Ditch the conventional and start experimenting with your favourite dishes to create something new and exciting. Bring out those unexpected toppings and invite your guests to get creative…there’s no limit to what the hot dog can be!

And don’t forget to visit Fancy Franks today from 12-7 pm for a free hot dog! Details here.

Related:

Veggie Spotlight: What the Heck is Kohlrabi?

kohlrabi

Take a look in any healthy foodie’s kitchen and you are guaranteed to see this veggie: kale-ho, hum. Well, step aside kale because there’s a new vegetable in town, just in time for summer—kohlrabi.

This green spherical octopus looking vegetable is packed with nutrients and flavour. A native to Eastern Europe and India, kohlrabi is a part of the brassica family and looks like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

It can be deep purple or light green; it is delectable when eaten raw or cooked. Don’t be afraid of the way it looks because you will be pleasantly surprised with the crunchy texture and mild sweetness, not to mention its immense vitamin C content. Unlike most brassica veggies, kohlrabi does not have the same deep bitter taste, making it extra delicious!

Look out for it at farmer’s markets, CSAs and grocery stores that carry local produce, this is the time of year where kohlrabi makes its appearance. Since it is a part of the brassica family it has many of the same benefits that kale, broccoli and cabbage have.

Its sulfuric content, in the form of “isothiocyanates,” helps to kick cancer’s butt by eliminating carcinogens from the body and suppressing tumor proteins. The sulfur component also promotes the liver’s detoxification process, so if you’re in need of a detox, start getting kohlrabi on your plate now!

Help! How Do I Use It?

Trying out new vegetables can be daunting, especially if they look like this one. Start by chopping off the stems and leaves. If they are still looking vibrant, sauté these up with a little garlic. Peel the outside of the kohlrabi sphere and depending on what dish you are making you can chop, slice, dice, or even julienne it.

Kohlrabi Slaw

Ingredients:

1 kohlrabi
½ purple cabbage, sliced
1 carrot, grated
½ cup spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
Small handful cashews

Dressing

Ingredients:

¼ cup creamy tahini
2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
½ inch piece of ginger, minced

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems and leave from the kohlrabi sphere. Peel the kohlrabi, cut in half and then begin slicing into bigger matchsticks.
  2. Slice the cabbage, grate the carrot and chop the spinach.
  3. Add all veggies into a bowl and mix up the dressing.
  4. Place the dressing over the slaw and top with black sesame seeds, cashews and cilantro.

Kohlrabi “Fries”

Ingredients:

1 kohlrabi
½ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1-2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Remove stems and peel the kohlrabi. Cut in half and slice into fry-like shape.
  3. Place them in a bowl and toss with oil, Italian seasoning and sea salt.
  4. Put a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay out the seasoned kohlrabi fries. Do not crowd the baking sheet!
  5. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Mashed Kohlrabi

Ingredients:

1 kohlrabi
2 Tablespoons almond milk
1 Tablespoon ghee, organic butter or coconut oil
Pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems and peel the kohlrabi. Cut it into four pieces and place in a steamer. Steam for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Once the kohlrabi is soft, in bowl or a food processor begin to mash or puree. Add almond milk and ghee or butter or coconut oil and sea salt.
  3. Enjoy!

tamara-green-living-kitchen Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.

Related:

Recipes to Celebrate National Hotdog Day

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Hot dogs may be one of the world’s most popular food inventions—they make a quick lunch or late-night snack, not to mention they’re easy on your wallet.

So in anticipation of National Hot Dog Day (it’s actually tomorrow, but we can’t wait), we have some killer recipes for you to try, not to mention where you can get FREE hot dogs and other great promotions!

Try one of these hot diggity dogs:

Roger Mooking’s Mango Curry Lamb Dogs & Hot Southern Mess

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Curried Pork and Cheddar Hot Dogs & Deer Hot Dog

dogs2

Pork’n Beans with Classic Corn Dog & Triple Cheese Chili Dogs

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Cap’n Dog & The Rico

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FREE hot dogs and more:

Fancy Franks – In support of SickKids charities, each guest will receive one FREE hot dog tomorrow, between 12-7 pm on the patio.

7-Eleven – Participating stores are offering $1 Quarter-Pound Big Bite® all-beef hot dogs while supplies last.

Dempster’s – Enter the Feed Your Summer Contest for a chance to WIN $25,000 worth of prizes. Go the Dempster’s Facebook page to find out more.

Maple Leaf Foods – For the Hot Dog Hero Challenge, create a unique hot dog recipe on Appehtite and you’ll be entered to WIN a $1,000 gift card.

 

Related:

Chef Lynn Crawford Cookbook Review & Giveaway

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Title: At Home with Lynn Crawford: 200 of My Favourite Easy Recipes
Price: $32.00
Pages: 320
Availability: Major book retailers

The goods:

Lynn Crawford is a celebrity chef, Food Network Star (Pitchin’ In, Restaurant Makeover, Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters), and a restaurateur. Known for her love of fresh ingredients and adventure, Chef Lynn is as comfortable in the kitchen at her popular Toronto eatery Ruby Watchco, as she is fishing for chinook salmon off the coast of Vancouver.

Chef Lynn is a veteran in the industry, with over 25 years of experience. At Ruby Watchco, all meals are served table d’hôte—fixed menu at a fixed price, served family style.

Each week, the menu is posted outside the restaurant (and on the website) allowing diners to choose an evening that best suits their palate. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients from local purveyors, non­fussy preparations and a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

At Home with Lynn Crawford: 200 of My Favourite Easy Recipes emulates the feeling of the restaurant and the laid­back personality of Chef Lynn. Perfect for at­home entertaining, the recipes are fun, no pressure, and easy to follow.

The book’s jacket speaks to Chef Lynn’s inspiration behind the book. She was influenced by the people that she has known, places she has visited and the food she as enjoyed with her loved ones.

The recipes range from smoothies to cocktails, brunch favourites, salads, leisurely lunch dishes, party nibbles and one­pot comfort foods. This book is all about crowd­pleasing home cooking.

Selected recipes & chapters include:

Bananas Foster Pancakes with Caramel Sauce.
Creamy Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna,
Rib Roast with Horseradish Salt Crust,
Heirloom Carrots with Honey Thyme Butter
Sparkling Pineapple Orange Sangria
Blueberry Buckle
Hazelnut Pear Tart

This book has a good range of recipes, all fairly simple that use ingredients you can find easily at your local market. There is nothing worse than scrambling to find some exotic ingredient the day of your dinner party.

What I liked best were the brunch recipes—fresh juices and smoothies, homemade granolas, jams, jellies, spreads, infused honeys and butters add a special twist your brunch standards.
There are a number of straightforward baking recipes, easy enough to entice even the most novice of baker (like myself) and some fun and inventive ways to prepare eggs.

At Home with Lynn Crawford: 200 of My Favourite Easy Recipes has basic recipes to appease any dinner guest, with just enough ethnic influence to entice interest. A chapter on one-pot comfort foods takes the stress out of preparation and for the party inexperienced— classics like devilled eggs and dips. The desserts are uncomplicated as well (I am making the Cheesecake in a Jar tonight!)

Bonus: Besides the infused honeys and preserves, Chef Lynn shares some of her recipes for rubs and flavoured salts, all of which make fun hostess gifts or party favours. There’s also a recipe for “Ninja Dog Treats” for your canine friends.

This book is meant for:

People that love to entertain at home, and prefer non-­fussy, family-style fare, anyone who wants a really well-rounded cookbook that they will actually use, and fan’s of Chef Lynn or Ruby Watchco.

JenJennifer Myers Chua is an art director, Asian-food enthusiast, and all-around creative type. Obsessed with culinary pursuits and whitespace, Jennifer spends her days working as a freelance designer and contributing blogger. She spends her nights deconstructing recipes in her mostly all-white loft with her mostly all-white French bulldog. You can check out more of what she does at www.jennifermyerschua.com.

 

Giveaway information:

All you have to do is send an email to Giveaways@foodnetwork.ca with the subject line ‘Lynn Crawford Cookbook Giveaway’, the answer to the following question:

Question: How many seasons of Pitchin’ In have aired on Food Network Canada?

Hint: You can find the answer here.

RULE 1. HOW TO ENTER
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, entrants must answer the question posted above correctly, as determined by a Shaw representative. The Giveaway shall run until July 27 2014 at 5:00 PM, after which time no answers will be considered.

RULE 2. SELECTION OF WINNER
Upon completion of the Giveaway, a Shaw representative shall review the answers submitted by each entrant to determine which entrant answered the question correctly. From the entrants that correctly answered the question, Shaw will randomly select the prize winner (“Winner”) and provide the prize to the winner. For the purposes of this Giveaway and the awarding of prize, these Rules shall govern in all respects and the decision of any Shaw representatives shall be final.

RULE 3. PRIZE
There are 15 prizes available to be won, which consists of At Home with Lynn Crawford: 200 of My Favourite Easy Recipes (“Prize”). The approximate value of each ticket for the Prize is thirty two dollars Canadian (CDN $32).

RULE 4. GENERAL
By participating in this Giveaway, you agree to abide by these Rules and the decisions of Shaw in awarding the Prize, which decisions shall be final and binding upon all entrants. Entrants who have not complied with these Rules are subject to disqualification. Shaw reserves the right to modify the Rules, before or during the Giveaway, in its sole discretion, in any way at any time it deems necessary or appropriate without materially affecting the terms and conditions of this Giveaway. Interpretation of these Giveaway rules by Shaw shall be final.
Personal information collected during the course of this Giveaway shall be used by Shaw and its authorized representatives solely for the purposes of conducting the Giveaway and awarding prizes, and will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose unless required by law.
The Prize is not transferable and not redeemable for cash, will not be extended under any circumstances and must be accepted as offered without substitution.
Employees of Shaw and its affiliates, subsidiaries, related companies, advertising and promotional agencies and the household members of any of the above, are not eligible to participate in this Giveaway.
By participating in this Giveaway, the Winner agrees that his/her name may be used in any and all forms of media, without any further compensation by Shaw and waives all rights (including moral rights) with respect to printed, broadcast and other forms of publicity.

In the event of a dispute as to who submitted an electronic entry, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, on-line service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.
Notwithstanding the defined Contest Period, Shaw reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate the Giveaway, in whole or part, and/or modify, amend or suspend the Giveaway, and/or these Rules in any way, at any time, for any reason without prior notice. Interpretation of these Giveaway

Rules by Shaw shall be final.
The Giveaway is subject to all applicable laws of the province of Ontario and the laws of Canada applicable therein.

Related:

10 Recipes for Healthy Junk Food Alternatives

Did you know today is National Junk Food Day? To celebrate a day very close to our hearts (who doesn’t love junk food), we’ve decided to be good to our hearts and “healthify” some of our favourite guilty treats.

Check out these leaner, lighter versions, and thank us later.

Chips ? Chili Kale Chips

chips

Fries ? Easy Sweet Potato Fries

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Cookies ? Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

Candy ? Fruit Cashew Mix

candy

Cupcakes ? Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

cupcakes

Ice cream ? Lemon Frozen Yogurt

ice-cream

Beer nuts ? Garlic Parmesan Pumpkin Seeds

beer-nuts

Doughnuts ? Low-Fat Cinnamon Apple Baked Doughnuts

Doughnuts

Soft pretzels ? Whole Grain Focaccia

pretzels

Caramel corn ? Chocolate Cinnamon Popcorn

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Related: