Antoni Porowski Dishes on Being Canadian in the Kitchen (And What He Always Cooks on a First Date)

Antoni Porowski. You likely know him as the affable “food and wine” guy on the reality series Queer Eye, who lights up screens everywhere with his puckish smile and easy-to-prepare recipes (he practically invented guacamole). But the Montreal native is no kitchen novice. In fact, it’s his ability to elevate ordinary dishes in a way that’s still achievable for the average home cook that makes his recipes so appealing (and has us lusting after every dish he posts on Instagram). His newly-released first cookbook, Antoni In The Kitchen,  serves as further, drool-worthy proof.

Born and raised in Montreal with Polish roots, Antoni’s culinary creations are a nod to the food traditions of his past, from the perfect French omelette to “Polish Hangover Soup” (Zurek). He also speaks fondly of growing up to his mom’s Saturday platters spilling with kielbasa slices, sauerkraut and Polish mustard, coupled with his dad’s famous cheese boards.

“Every weekend I’m home, I make the obligatory cheese and charcuterie board, whether I’m solo or have guests coming,” he says. “It’s a tradition I plan to keep for as long as I can make it.”


Get the recipe for Antoni’s French Omelette with Cheese and Chives 

At 14, the Canadian food guru began hosting dinner parties for friends, slathering baguette pieces with fragrant, roasted garlic and Parmesan, eventually graduating to the likes of grilled chicken with raspberry BBQ sauce.

“I tried the sauce at a country club once. I think it was served over spareribs, and I wanted to have it at home, so I took a classic barbecue sauce recipe and added raspberries and peppercorns,” says Antoni. “There’s a lot I don’t remember that I probably should, but dishes I’ve loved stick with me for some reason.”

Whether it’s the influences of his heritage or a new food pairing that sets off his taste buds, Antoni has an intrepid curiosity that he brings to every dish he consumes and creates, modifying what’s known into something even better.


Get the recipe for Antoni’s Polish Hangover Soup

But it’s also about balance, a delicate cuisine equilibrium of sorts. His fast-casual Manhattan eatery, The Village Den, where he is part owner, focuses on more wholesome fare, free from gluten, soy, red meat and processed sugars. “Bourdain said it best with ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’,” quotes Antoni. “I eat pretty healthy during the week, but on the weekend, I tend to go nuts. That said, on a rainy Wednesday night, it’s grilled cheese for sure.”

And when it comes to arming the everyday cook with confidence, Antoni says it all boils down to finding joy in the process. “Maybe it’s a chance for solo time and self-care, or maybe it’s an opportunity for you to invite a friend or two and create together,” he says. “Don’t stress about the finished product as much. This is not unlike general life advice I’ve heard from a mentor or two.” Wise words worth pocketing away for a rainy day spent in the kitchen.

Recipes excerpted from Antoni In The Kitchen © 2019 by Antoni Porowski. Photography © 2019 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Anna Olson's Easy Cupcake Decorating Guide for Beginners

Anna Olson’s Easy Cupcake Decorating Guide for Beginners

Cupcakes are the ideal way to jump into the world of baking, or to make a fun afternoon activity with kids…after all, who can resist a cupcake?

So let’s keep things really simple, and get you started:

Tools

  • Only a muffin tin, paper liners, basic mixing bowls and electric beaters are needed to make delicious cupcakes
  • Foil-lined cupcake liners retain their colour, where the pattern on a regular paper one can disappear once the cupcake is baked (especially if you’re baking chocolate cupcakes)
  • If you think you are going to get serious about cupcake baking, then invest in a mechanical ice cream scoop – this is the best tool for precise and tidy portioning

Ingredients

  • Butter, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder and milk or buttermilk are the basics needed
  • For the frosting, you just need butter, icing sugar and a little milk
  • Keep in mind that cupcake recipes are designed to be baked as cupcakes.

Tip: Not all cake recipes can bake into a cupcake, and may frustrate you because the wet batter spills over the edge of the paper liner, or when you peel the paper liner, half of the cake comes away with it.  For a tasty classic cupcake, try my recipe for Lemon Coconut Cupcakes.

For even more delicious options, check out Anna Olson’s Very Best Cupcake Recipes.

Now let’s get to the real reason we love cupcakes: frosting!

Buttercream cupcake frosting is the easiest style to make — you simply whip butter and icing sugar together with a touch of milk until it is light and fluffy.  Then you are ready to dollop, pipe or get fancy with you cupcake décor like with this rainbow cupcake frosting.

Whether kids are involved in this process or not, I usually make sure there are plenty of sprinkles around. With such a selection of colourful sprinkle now available, you can really express your sweet side when decorating cupcakes, no matter your skill level.

Cupcakes are a universal, year-round treat, and your décor can suit any occasion.  I love to make these “I Want my Mummy” ghoulish little cupcakes for Halloween, Mummy Mini Chocolate Cupcakes.

I hope I’ve inspired you to jump into the kitchen and play!

For more sweet tips, check out Anna Olson’s Top Tips for Icing and Assembling Cakes and watch Anna Olson guest judge on The Big Bake: Halloween.

How to Make Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread)

Khachapuri is a Georgian pizza-like, cheese-filled bread usually topped with a tender, sunny egg — and it’s easier than it looks to pull off at home, especially if you start with store-bought dough. This how-to recipe is ultra-comforting, made for the cooler months when we’re looking for a little more warm bread and melted cheese in our lives. Like pizza, khachapuri can be made with your favourite toppings, like tomato sauce and gruyere, spinach and feta, bacon and egg or apple and cheddar — the sky’s the limit. Here, it’s bursting with kale, mozzarella, feta, garlic, lemon and dill. It’s a fresh way to approach “pizza” night, with a fun twist. 

Khachapuri with Kale, Lemon and Dill  (Georgian Cheese Bread)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

2 cups shredded kale
2 cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup crumbled feta
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
Pinch, kosher salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
650g pizza dough, homemade or store-bought, room temperature
Flour, to dust, as needed
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh dill fronds
1 lemon, sliced 

Directions:

1. Arrange the oven racks to accommodate two trays with good airflow. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

2. For the filling, in a large bowl, mix well to combine kale, mozzarella, feta, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. 

3. Flour two pieces of parchment paper and divide pizza dough in half, one on each piece of parchment paper. Stretch each half lengthwise to create a rectangle measuring approximately 14 inches by 7 inches. Add filling down the centre of each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border around all sides.

4. Tuck in the border to encase the filling, and bring to a twist at the ends. You should now have two “boat” shapes. Carefully transfer the “boats” to two separate large baking sheets. 

5. Bake for 6 minutes, rotate baking sheets (up goes down, down goes up) and bake for another 6 minutes. Remove both baking sheets from the oven and create a small well in the centre of each khachapuri, and then crack one egg into each. Return to the oven and bake until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny, the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 6 to 10 minutes. 

6. Transfer to a cutting board to slice or present whole on a serving platter. Garnish with dill, lemon slices and a drizzle of additional olive oil. Serve immediately.

Check out 10 more ways to transform that ball of pizza dough, and 30 creative ways to cook with eggs.

Stained-Glass-Cookies-on-plate

These Stained Glass Cookies Will Bring the Sparkle to Your Cookie Swap

These stained glass sugar cookies will literally sparkle and shine at your holiday cookies exchange. Made from your favourite sugar cookie dough and a handful of hard candies, these festive treats look just like stained glass! No need to spend hours making icing or decorating cookies – the magic here happens while the cookies are baking. We like punching polka dots out of classic Christmas tree cookies using a piping tip (genius, right?) to create jewel-toned ornaments, but feel free to use whatever cookie cutters and shapes you have on hand and get creative with your cut-outs.

hand-holding-stained-glass-cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookie Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 9 to 12 minutes
Total Time: 120 minutes
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 recipe sugar cookie dough
1 198 g bag hard candies (like Jolly Ranchers)

Directions:
1. Prepare the cookie dough as directed. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2. When ready, roll out one half of the cookie dough at a time to about ¼-inch thick on a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Using a decorative cookie cutter, cut out shapes of dough.

3. Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking pan, spaced about an inch apart. Use a smaller cutter or the end of a round piping tip to punch out holes. Chill the cookies (on the baking pan) for at least 30 minutes.

filling-stained-glass-cookies-with-candy

4. Stack the cookie dough scraps and cut-outs and re-roll. Repeat with the remaining dough. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

5. Grind the hard candies into a powder using a food processor, one color at a time. The powder will begin to clump and harden if left out, so use immediately.

6. Using a small spoon, carefully fill the holes of the cookies with different colors of ground candy. Fill the holes completely. Try to prevent the candy from spilling onto the surface of the cookie. Brush away any excess candy.

stained-glass-cookies-on-tray

7. Bake the cookies in the pre-heated oven for 9 to 12 minutes. If at 9 minutes the candy-filled holes seem thin, very carefully spoon in a little bit more candy and continue to bake just until melted.

8. When done, place the baking sheet on a wire rack. Allow cookies to completely cool before carefully removing the cookies with a metal or rubber spatula. The melted candy will be very hot. Please take caution and do not touch until cookies have cooled.

9. Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container.

Stained-Glass-sugar-Cookies-on-plate

Looking for more sweet inspiration? Try our Best Classic  Christmas Cookie Recipes.

The Big Bake Halloween judges reveal their favourite Halloween memories

The Big Bake Stars Reveal Their Favourite Halloween Memories

There’s no denying that the talented competitors on The Big Bake: Halloween have been simultaneously wowing us with their masterful creations while also putting us in a spooky state of mind with their ghoulish cakes. So, while the bakers continue to think outside the box when it comes to concocting jaw-dropping and scrumptious cakes as they vie for the $10,000 prize, we took the opportunity to catch up with host Brad Smith and resident judges Harry Eastwood and Eddie Jackson to ask them about their favourite childhood Halloween experiences.

Related: 50 Killer Recipes for Your Halloween Party

What are your favourite food memories around Halloween?

Brad Smith: “I’m a candy-holic. It was all about going out and getting as much candy as I could. But my mom, who is [usually] one of the worst cooks ever, used to do this pumpkin cheesecake for Halloween every year and it was just the best thing ever.”

Harry Eastwood: “I have a really great story! I grew up in France and we definitely didn’t have Halloween. England barely has it, but France absolutely did not have it in the 1990s, which is when I was a kid growing up there. But my grandmother, who was a very old-fashioned English woman, loved ghost stories. So she used to throw her own Halloween parties for just my sister and me and a couple of our school friends. Basically, she would do things like peel grapes and put them in buckets and turn the lights off so we’d dive in with our hands. She’d say, ‘Oh, those are eyeballs!’ She also used to make cookies with ketchup on them [for blood]. It was fairly basic and definitely not sophisticated but it was a lot of fun.”

Eddie Jackson: “First and foremost, I think pumpkin. Any type of pumpkin reminds me of Halloween because me and my dad would carve [them together]. I remember growing up, we used to do a lot of old school treats, like candy apples and things like that.”

Related: 45 Perfect Pumpkin Desserts to Make Your Fall Menu Sweeter

Growing up, what was your favourite Halloween costume? 

Brad Smith: “You know what’s funny? I’m allergic to cats but my mom used to dress me up in the family’s go-to hand-me-down cat costume. I wore that for four straight years, even when I outgrew it. It was a black leotard with a tail.”

Harry Eastwood: “I was never keen on anything ghoulish or zombie-like. I actually get really creeped out by those things, Any excuse I got, I would turn up at parties in a Tinkerbell outfit – basically [I loved] anything that involved pink and bells that jangled when I walked. I was all up in that.”

Eddie Jackson: “Growing up, I would throw a bedsheet over my head and call myself Casper the ghost. That costume is probably the one that stands out.”

Eddie isn’t the only one who loves a good DIY Halloween costume. If your kids are stuck on ideas this year, try one of these last-minute budget-friendly Halloween costumes using everyday household items.

Easy One-Pan Crispy Chicken and Rice, 3 Delicious Ways

A cold-weather favourite, crispy chicken and rice delivers as a complete meal in one. Juicy chicken thighs are seared and then finish cooking in the oven on top of flavour-infused rice. The variations below take notes from cuisines around the world, using what’s fresh, in season or in the pantry. You can choose your own adventure once you get a feel for the formula, substituting what’s available or appealing to you and your family. These cozy recipes can even transmute from busy weeknights to casual entertaining on the weekend.   

One-Pan Chicken and Squash Risotto

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 (1½ lb) kabocha, buttercup or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup arborio rice
2 ½ cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Handful fresh basil, to serve
Handful grated Parmesan, to serve  

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large high-sided pan (preferably with a lid), heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the skin side of chicken with ½ tsp salt and place in the hot oil skin-side down and sear for 8 to 10 minutes, until chicken releases easily from the pan and skin is golden. Sear on the second side for 2 minutes and then transfer to a plate. 

2. Reduce heat to medium and add squash, thyme, remaining 1 tsp salt and pepper. Sauté for 8 minutes, until squash is beginning to soften, then stir in garlic and cook for another 1 minute. Stir in rice followed by stock and vinegar. Place chicken skin-side up on top of rice mixture; the chicken should be submerged in the broth with the skin visible. 

3. Cover with lid or tight fitting foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove lid or foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to lightly crisp up the chicken skin again and finish cooking the risotto. Garnish with basil and Parmesan, and serve immediately. 

One-Pan Chicken, Rice and Barley with Capers, Olives and Arugula

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 4


Ingredients: 

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 clove garlic
½ cup green olives such as Castelvetrano, pitted and halved
3 Tbsp capers, drained
½ cup pearl barley
½ cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp ground black pepper, plus more to serve
1 lemon, halved, divided
2 cups baby arugula 

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large high-sided pan (preferably with a lid), heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the skin side of chicken with ½ tsp salt and place in the hot oil skin-side down and sear for 8 to 10 minutes, until chicken releases easily from the pan and skin is golden. Sear on the second side for 2 minutes and then transfer to a plate. 

2. Reduce heat to medium and then stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in capers and olives followed by remaining 1 tsp salt, barley, rice, broth and pepper. Squeeze over the juice of half of the lemon. Place chicken skin-side up on top of rice mixture; the chicken should be submerged in the broth with the skin visible. 

3. Cover with lid or tight fitting foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove lid or foil and bake for another 5 minutes to lightly crisp up the chicken skin again and finish cooking the grains. Slice the remaining lemon and use to decorate the top of the dish along with arugula and additional black pepper. Serve immediately. 

One-Pan Indian Chicken and Rice with Raisins, Yogurt and Lemon

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
1 clove garlic
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
⅓ cup sultana raisins
2 cups chicken broth
1 lemon, halved, divided
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup whole-milk yogurt
Handful cilantro leaves
½ tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)  

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large high-sided pan (preferably with a lid), heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the skin side of chicken with ½ tsp salt and place in the hot oil skin-side down and sear for 8 to 10 minutes, until chicken releases easily from the pan and skin is golden. Sear on the second side for 2 minutes and then transfer to a plate. 

2. Reduce heat to medium and then stir in garam masala, cumin, turmeric and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring for 1 minute, until spices are fragrant and toasted. Stir in garlic followed by rice, raisins and broth. Squeeze over the juice of half of the lemon. Place chicken skin-side up on top of rice mixture; the chicken should be submerged in the broth with the skin visible. 

3. Cover with lid or tight-fitting foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, remove lid or foil and sprinkle over frozen peas and then transfer back to oven with the lid or foil off. Bake for another 5 minutes to lightly crisp up the chicken skin again and finish cooking the rice and peas. Slice the remaining lemon into wedges and use to decorate the top of the dish. Dollop over yogurt and sprinkle with cilantro and nigella seeds. Serve immediately. 

We have even more comforting one-pot recipes to choose from, plus 15 one-pot chicken dinners ready in 30 minutes or less.

How I Cooked for My Family of 4 for a Week on Less Than $100

Let’s be real — if you buy in bulk and stick to a budget, it shouldn’t be hard to feed a family of four for a week, right? Right. Except that’s without considering any of the things life throws at you. I’m talking about picky toddlers, a packed schedule, and those nights where the last thing you want to do is putter around in the kitchen soaking your own beans, despite your inherent love for culinary adventures. Or is that just me?

Regardless, as a working mom with a husband who travels and two toddlers that would be content eating nothing but bread and cheese for the rest of their days, I decided to purge the fridge and cupboards to start fresh for a week. The goal? Feeding the entire family three nutritious meals a day (plus snacks) without breaking the bank. Here’s how it went.

The Overall Plan

Full disclosure: I love grocery shopping. There’s something calming about walking up and down the aisles and planning what I’m going to create next. Unfortunately, when you’re cooking on a budget, that doesn’t necessarily translate.

Instead, I used a grocery app to determine the best deals of the week, and then created a meal plan based on what was on sale. I started with dinners, because that’s where the bulk of my budget was going (we like leftovers, y’all), and then I went to a store that price-matched. We eat meat in our house, so I wanted to include some animal protein, but we also try to include healthy plant-based dinners at least two-to-three nights a week.

The other thing I had to consider was stocking up on staples. I was in good shape for things like olive oil and nutritional yeast (more on that below) but I needed some basics like flour, rice and quinoa. In the end, I thought it was going to take hours gouging my eyes out with an excel sheet, but it was actually pretty painless. I’d say 30 minutes of planning, tops.

Cost Savings Vs. Convenience

When I’m feeling rich, I’ll buy pre-washed, boxed spinach or mixed greens, because I absolutely hate running salad greens one by one under the faucet and then drying them. Not hate, loathe. I loathe it. But I’m obsessed with doing it properly, because let’s just say I’ve had plenty of experience accidentally ingesting “extra protein” in the past. For this experiment, however, I got four times as much fresh spinach and lettuce for less than a box would have cost me. So I was okay with it.

Then there are the beans. Usually I’ll buy dried beans for less and stock the pantry, but because I wanted to prep once for the entire week, I didn’t want to pressure cook beans and then have them sit there for seven days. It was a lot easier (and not that much more expensive) to buy the canned stuff, so I splurged a bit in that department.

The Grocery List

You probably want to get to the goods, right? Without further ado, here’s everything I bought to stock up the fridge and pantry.

Produce

● Broccoli, $1.27
● Cauliflower, $1.99
● Bagged carrots, $1.49
● Bagged onions, $1.49
● Grape tomatoes, $2
● Bagged beets, $1.97
● 2 bunches spinach, $4
● 2 bunches red leaf lettuce, $3
● Garlic, $1.49
● 2 cucumbers, $4
● 6 bananas, $1.63
● Bag of apples, $4
● Strawberries, $2.5
● Bagged peppers, $2.98
● Bagged mandarins, $2.97
● Celery, $3
● Frozen peas, $0.99

Meat, Dairy & Deli

● Fresh olives, $5.12
● Bagged milk, $3.97
● Brick marble cheese, $3.97
● 18 eggs, $2.99
● Ground turkey, $2
● 2 fresh, whole chickens, $13.62

Pantry & Bakery

● Brown rice, $1.27
● Pasta (my daughter picked “little shells”), $0.88
● Yeast packets, $1.97
● Peanut butter, $3.77
● Flour, $3.99
● Quinoa, $3.47
● 2 cans salt-free chickpeas, $1.58
● 2 cans salt-free black beans, $1.58
● 2 cans diced tomatoes, $1.96
● Tomato paste, $0.59

Total: $93.50

 

Meal Prepping

If you love devoting an entire Sunday afternoon to meal-prepping, raise your hand. What, no one? I’m shocked. While meal-prepping often feels daunting, I’ve discovered several ways to make it less painful over the years. Sometimes I’ll get my kids to help out and we make it a family affair. Other times, I consider it “me time” and I’ll put on a TV show or listen to a podcast. The bottom line is that I consider it a necessary evil if I want to save time during the week and still eat healthy, so I try to find a positive spin.

For this particular menu, my meal-prepping included:

● Hard-boiling eight eggs
● Washing and drying lots of lettuce and spinach
● Cooking a batch of quinoa
● Roasting beets (to add to salads)
● “Ricing” cauliflower in a food processor
● Peeling and cutting carrots
● Washing and cutting celery
● Making a giant vat of homemade tomato sauce
● Roasting both chickens, cooling them and removing the meat
● Making stock from chicken bones (once this was simmering, it pretty much made itself over the course of the night).

Was this work? Very much so. But it saved me so much time during the week on lunch and dinner, as you’ll see below. I should also note that I added nutritional yeast (instead of Parmesan, which I didn’t buy) to the tomato sauce for an extra hit of cheesy, vegan fibre and protein. I also threw in an entire pepper and a few handfuls of spinach, before blending it up with my immersion blender so my kids would never know. I then froze half the sauce, which means sometime in the near future, I’ll have instant tomato sauce for pasta, lazy cabbage rolls or even pizza.

The Meal Planned Menu

Breakfast: I wanted to leave breakfasts fairly neutral, since my kids and husband are perfectly content with toast and fruit, or eggs. On busier mornings, we’ll whip up peanut butter banana smoothies (with spinach thrown in there), which my kids can drink in the car. I also bought English muffins so that we could make egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches on Saturday morning before we all ran out the door to dance class, and I planned for our lazier, traditional Sunday morning pancake breakfast, too.


Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Lunches: I figured a combination of leftovers, salads and sandwiches would do. The kids love peanut butter and jam sandwiches or a plate of cut up veggies, cheese and fruit, while my husband and I are happy to concoct a variety of salads with different proteins in them, like beans, a scoop of quinoa or hard-boiled eggs. Because I found chicken on sale, I also factored in leftover chicken to make a multitude of dishes.

Snacks: We’re trying to get away from sugar-laden and expensive pre-bought snacks, so that’s why I stocked up on apples, mandarins, carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumber. I thought about making hummus with one of the cans of chickpeas (I have some tahini still in my cupboard), but ultimately passed because sometimes it’s so much easier to pair produce with a pre-bought healthy dip, peanut butter or even cheese. At least it is with my kids.

And that brings us to…

Dinners

Sunday: Roasted Chicken and Broccoli with Rice

Because I was already roasting the chicken, I figured it would make for a good Sunday night family dinner. I paired that with steamed broccoli in the microwave, which my kids either love or hate depending on the day. This particular night, the dog seemed to eat more of it than the kids thanks to their scheming, but that’s why I feed the dog last. I also cooked a big batch of brown rice (factoring in leftovers), and both kids devoured that.

Monday: Cauliflower Fried Rice

We’re typically out the door by 5:30pm on Monday nights to make the kids’ activities, so I needed something simple. Enter cauliflower fried rice! While the “healthy” me would prefer to just have cauliflower, that’s not possible with kids. Instead, I masked the cauliflower rice by adding in actual leftover rice from the night before. I stir-fried it with onions, garlic, egg, soy sauce and mushroom oyster sauce, which I bought about six months ago at an Asian food store for a couple of bucks. I also added frozen peas, but I wish I hadn’t, because both kids basically threw them at each other. Everything else was eaten, so I’ll take that win.

Tuesday: Pasta with Ground Turkey

This quick dinner was super simple thanks to the pre-made sauce, and I could have made it vegetarian, except I found that amazing $2 deal on ground turkey. So I cooked that up quickly on the stove as the pasta boiled, and then threw it all together for a veggie-filled dinner that my kids devoured. Yes, I did a devious happy dance, and maybe even high-fived my husband as we did the dishes afterwards.

Wednesday: Grainy Salad

 My daughter is a weirdo like me and she loves cold beans. My son hates beans, but likes the texture of quinoa, which my daughter doesn’t. So I succumbed to motherhood heck and gave her beans on the green plate and him quinoa on the blue plate, with some cut up peppers, cucumbers, cheese cubes and tomatoes. My husband and I essentially ate an adult version of this (quinoa with roasted beets, cucumbers and peppers) mixed together and dressed with a concoction of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. It would have been even better with feta cheese, but it was still pretty hearty and satisfying. And, thanks to the pre-made quinoa, the whole thing took about 10 minutes to whip up.

Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup

Once again, my meal-prepping proved to be an amazing decision because I was able to throw chicken stock, carrots, celery, leftover chicken and leftover pasta shells into a pot, heat it up and dole it out into bowls. It was rich, low in sodium and perfect for that day’s colder weather, and there was only one bowl leftover at the end of the night. Oh, and for those keeping track, my daughter ate the carrots, my son ate the chicken, they both ate the pasta and then they asked me for some cheese.

Friday: Pizza Night

Does anyone ever want to cook on a Friday night? There’s no better way to usher in the weekend than with pizza, which is why we tend to order them at least every other week. The thing is though, making homemade dough is super easy. I also happen to have pizza stones, which I find give the crust a nice crispiness. So I planned ahead to whip up the crust after work, then I used the leftover secret-veggie tomato sauce as a base and added olives as a topping, which both my kids freakishly love. There wasn’t a single slice left, and I wasn’t out 20 bucks with the delivery person. Win, win.


Get the recipe for Roger Mooking’s Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

The best part about “cooking” all week was that I had ample food leftover for customized dinners on Saturday night. My husband wanted the soup, while the kids clamoured for pasta. Meanwhile, I was craving a lighter salad after the pizza the night before, which I was able to quickly cobble together with the remaining veggies and hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

The Results:

This entire experiment definitely required planning and a whole whack of prepping, but in the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The kids ended up eating fairly well, and we didn’t turn to takeout pizza or chicken nuggets once, which is a serious feat for our household.

Would I do this every week? No, but I’m definitely going to try and keep up when I can, because on those lazier weekends where we’re not running around trying to fit everything in, getting a jump on feeding the family turns out to be an amazing time- and money-saver… with only a small number of peas and broccoli on the floor.

Looking for more meal planning inspiration? Here’s how a nutritionist meal preps every Sunday, plus 20 healthy meal prep ideas to get you through the week.

Make-Ahead Gory White Chocolate Truffles for Your Halloween Bash

Playfully gory, these adorable crafty treats are just a cake box away from impressing your Halloween enthusiasts, with just the right amount of fun and horror. Make these bite-sized desserts ahead and freeze them for up to one week. You have the choice of serving them cold with a crunchy coating, or at room temperature for a soft, cakey texture. That’s what we call frightful meets delightful!

Make-Ahead Gory White Chocolate Halloween Truffles

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour + 45 minutes (includes cooling, rolling, dipping, decorating and refrigeration times)
Servings: 48 cake pop truffles

Ingredients:

1 box yellow or white cake mix, prepared according to package directions in a 9-by-13-inch cake pan and cooled
3/4 cup prepared vanilla frosting (approx)
48 candied cherries (optional)
450g (16 oz) white chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil (optional)
1 tube red decorating gel
Red food colouring or paste (optional)
Mini royal icing decorative knives (optional)

Directions:

1. Divide the cake into six equal portions. Working with one portion, finely crumble cake into a large bowl (large bits will give you lumpy cake truffles). Repeat with remaining cake.

2. Add frosting and stir into cake using the back of a spoon until evenly combined. Don’t be tempted to add more frosting, it will be too soft to shape into balls.

3. Using a generous tablespoon for each, shape the cake batter into rounds and place on a baking sheet to give you 48 portions. Gently roll each to form balls. If using cherries, open the centre to add, then cover with cake, rolling to shape. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 25-30 seconds, stir in coconut oil (if using). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Working with a fork, dip each cake ball into chocolate, tapping fork on edge of bowl to remove excess; transfer to prepared pan. Repeat with remaining cake balls (refrigerating cake if softening and reheating chocolate if firming up to evenly coat). Refrigerate truffles until chocolate is hardened, about 15 minutes.

Tip: The melted white chocolate will coat and firm up without the addition of coconut oil, but will not be as solid.

5. For the bloody decoration, gently squeeze decorating gel on top of truffle and spread using toothpick. For a deeper red colour, stir decorating gel with red food colouring to desired tint and decorate using toothpick. If using royal icing knives, poke top of truffle with tip of paring knife and gently wedge in cleaver.

For more fang-tastic desserts, make these easy chocolate witches’ cauldron cupcakes and get inspired by these 50 killer Halloween party recipes.

These Witches’ Cauldron Halloween Cupcakes Are Wicked Delicious

Looking for a fun and spooky treat to make this Halloween? Look no further! These witches’ cauldron cupcakes are as eye-catching as they are delicious. I used my favourite one-bowl chocolate cake batter as the base, and topped each with a fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting. 

The addition of handmade witches legs also add a little trick to the treat. To make the legs, all you need is black card stock and striped paper straws. Simply cut out 48 black booties using the card stock, cut each straw into thirds and glue the boot upside down to the top of each straw. What else are you brewing up this Halloween season?

Witches’ Cauldron Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Base
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk (can substitute equal parts dairy-free milk)
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine salt
1 cup boiling water

Cupcake Frosting
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, or to taste
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
20 drops green food colouring
¼ cup whipping cream, cold
24 gummy fang teeth candy, halved
24 neon worms candy, halved
48 googley candy eyes, for topping
Halloween sprinkles, for topping
24 sets of witches legs (see headnote)

Directions:

Cupcake Base
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-tin cupcake trays with cupcake liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, butter, eggs and vanilla extract until fluffy. Stir in the milk until combined.
3. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Beat until batter is smooth.

4. Slowly whisk in the boiling water until well blended.
5. Evenly divide batter amongst prepared cupcake trays. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops bounce back to touch. Let cook completely before frosting.

Cupcake Frosting
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 8 minutes.
2. Scrape down the edges of the bowl. Add the vanilla and food colouring. Beat until colour is evenly blended. Add the whipping cream and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
3. Transfer frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe as desired.

4. Top each cupcake with the fang teeth, neon worms, googley eyes and sprinkles. Finish with a set of witches legs.

Don’t let the scary fun stop there! We’ve got 25+ spook-tacular halloween desserts, plus more frightening cake and cupcake ideas!

These Comforting Fried Mashed Potato Balls Make Leftovers the Star

Who doesn’t love creamy mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? A classic favourite, this delicious side dish is usually one that leaves you with leftovers to repurpose. Instead of simply reheating them (not recommended), get creative in the kitchen with this ultra-tasty and easy appetizer idea that’s great for entertaining. Use whatever cheese and fun add-ins you have in your fridge to change up the flavours and suit your mood!

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 18 balls (approx.)

Ingredients:

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
¾ cup shredded old cheddar cheese
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp salt, divided
½ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped chives
¼ tsp pepper
Oil, for frying

Directions:

1. Stir together mashed potatoes, cheese and bacon in a medium bowl. Portion into 1-inch balls.
2. Mix panko with ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl. Roll potato balls in panko mixture, pressing lightly to adhere.

3. Heat 1-1/2 -inches oil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack. Fry potato balls in batches of 4 or 5 until golden. Set aside, and continue frying remaining batches.
4. Stir sour cream with chives, remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve with warm croquettes.

Don’t stop reimagining your leftovers there! Here are 12 turkey soup and stew recipes, plus tips on how long you can actually eat your Thanksgiving leftovers. Also, this braised turkey sandwich is worthy of becoming a new holiday tradition.

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Cauliflower is the Vegetarian Pasta to Beat

Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a classic Italian pasta dish that’s packed with the salty, umami flavours of capers, olives, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. For this spin on a staple, we add dimension with golden, lightly crispy roasted cauliflower and the sweetness of roasted tomatoes, making for a filling, delicious vegetarian main that’s simple, hearty and healthy. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Puttanesca

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

4 cups (2 pints) halved cherry tomatoes
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper, divided
450g long pasta, such as spaghetti, bucatini or linguini
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup torn basil
½ cup shaved Parmesan

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place tomatoes on one half of a rimmed baking sheet, and the cauliflower on the other.
3. Whisk together 3 Tbsp oil, vinegar, salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over vegetables; stir to coat (keeping the veggies separate will allow the cauliflower to crisp up when cooking despite the juicy tomatoes). Roast until cauliflower is golden and tender, about 25 minutes.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of generously salted water. Reserve ½ cup pasta water. Drain and set aside.
5. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
6. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, tomatoes (and any juice), olives, capers, parsley, remaining pepper, pasta and pasta water; toss to coat.
7. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil and parmesan.

Craving more veg-friendly dinner ideas?  We’ve culled our 50 all-time best vegetarian recipes and 20 satisfying vegetarian casseroles.

No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Latte Pretzel Pie (No Pastry Skills Required!)

For those who avoid making pie dough at all costs, this cream pie-style “PSL” is just the ticket. A no-bake, salty-sweet pretzel crust holds a stove top pumpkin-coffee filling, all topped with maple whipped cream. It’s a taste of fall’s famous café beverage in delicious dessert form, and perfect for autumnal entertaining this Thanksgiving and beyond.

No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Latte Pretzel Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Makes: 1, 9-inch pie

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pudding
1¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1½ Tbsp ground coffee (regular or decaf), plus more to garnish
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup cornstarch
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pretzel Crust
20 pretzel twists (from a 200g bag, about 1/3 bag)
16 square or 8 sheets (150g, 1 sleeve) graham crackers
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Topping
1 cup fridge-cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp fridge-cold maple syrup

Directions:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pudding
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk to combine milk, pumpkin and coffee. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking often, until steaming.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk to combine brown sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and salt; whisk in the egg yolks.
3.
Temper the egg mixture by pouring in one-third of the hot milk mixture while whisking constantly. Return tempered egg and milk mixture to the pot and continue to whisk constantly for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened considerably. Make sure a few large bubbles pop in the centre – this ensures an enzyme in the egg breaks down so your pudding will stay firm, not loosen once cool.

4. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Press through a fine mesh sieve over a large clean bowl, discard any coffee solids in the sieve and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.
5. Cool to almost room temperature, and then refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Pretzel Crust
1. In a food processor or blender, pulse pretzels, graham crackers, brown sugar and salt until pulverized.
2. Tip into a large bowl and stir in melted butter until fully combined and mixture holds together when pressed between two fingers (if it won’t hold its shape, add more melted butter or plain water, 1 tablespoon at time until it does).
3. Firmly press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
4. Refrigerate the crust to firm up while you wait for the pudding to cool down.

Assembly
1. Once the pudding mixture has cooled and the crust is chilled, spread the cold, thick pudding evenly over the crust using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to help.

2. Place the same piece of plastic wrap over the pudding portion of the pie again and refrigerate to firm up and come together, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days (before topping with whipped cream).

Topping
1. Right before serving, whip the cream to medium-stiff peaks, adding the maple syrup when it’s almost reached its full volume.

2. Remove plastic wrap from pie and dollop or pipe over whipped cream, swooshing haphazardly or being neat and tidy. Sprinkle with a touch of additional ground coffee. Slice and serve.

Here are 50 more creative recipes to use up the rest of that can of pumpkin purée, plus 45 perfect pumpkin desserts and 30 delicious ways to get your pumpkin spice fix.

Savoury Pumpkin, Feta & Sage Muffins You’ll Crave More Than Cornbread

It’s fall, so you know what that means: cue pumpkin everything! But instead of opting for all the sweet treats, think savoury for a change. We wanted to make a muffin that would stand up to its cornbread contender and taste equally full-flavoured with hints of sweetness. The marriage of pumpkin, feta and sage makes for a sweet, salty and earthy flavour that achieves just that. A quick tip: when buying pumpkin puree, grab the unsweetened, sugar-free stuff. And, if you like a little extra texture, you can always dice up about 1 cups’ worth of pumpkin or butternut squash, roast it and fold it into the batter along with the feta and sage for extra bite. Slather some butter on these when warmed, or eat them as is – either way, they make for the perfect addition to your autumn menu.

Savoury Pumpkin, Feta & Sage Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9 muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
½ cup + 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp almond milk
1 tsp maple syrup
½ cup crumbled feta
2 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, milk and maple syrup). Then pour the dry ingredients into the wet bowl and mix to combine. Fold in the feta and sage.

4. Oil a muffin tin or add liners to them, pour about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin hole.

5. Top the muffins with pumpkin seeds and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Ensure the muffin tray is placed on the top rack of the oven to prevent the bottoms from burning.

We’re here to keep you salivating with these 20 perfect pumpkin recipes that aren’t dessert. Still craving sweets? Try these 30+ warm and cozy fall treats.