All posts by Bonnie Mo

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
Chicken tortilla casserole

How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

From must-make recipes to time-saving tips, we’ve got everything you need to know about hosting the ultimate meal swap party . What’s a meal swap party? It’s a chance to meal prep with your friends and family, so you can all stock your freezers with a dinner stash that will last for months. So call up your friends and get ready for one great afternoon of cooking together.

Start with Freezer-Friendly Recipes

Deciding on recipes that freeze like a dream is the key to any successful meal swap party. While we love casseroles, soups and stews for freezing, this is the time to pull out all the stops. If you’ve been dying to try that recipe for cheesy lasagna made with slow-braised beef short ribs and pork belly, instead of regular ground beef, go for it. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort when they finally dig in to their freezer supply.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, start with these 12 Make-Ahead Meals You Can Freeze.

Beef stew and chicken tortilla casserole

Try Ree Drummond’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole or this Stew-Pendous Beef Stew with Biscuits.

Clear Out Space in the Fridge

Before your guests arrive, do an intense fridge and freezer clear out to ensure you’ve got enough space to accommodate all those meals you’re about to whip up. Take the opportunity to use up items you already have on hand, like frozen peas and corn for casseroles, fresh herbs and vegetables and even eggs, cheese and cream.

Have One Person Buy All The Food

Orchestrating a freezer meal swap party takes some next-level organization skills. Keep it as streamlined as possible by having one person do all the grocery shopping. This will minimize
waste and any chance of forgotten ingredients.

Make Work Stations

To run your cooking party with military precision, every recruit will need their own set of tools at their station — think chopping boards, a sharp knife (emphasis on ‘sharp’) and bowls to keep all those pre-chopped ingredients together. It’s also a good idea to ask guests to bring extra cooking vessels like pots and pans, to limit intermittent dishwashing and make the most out of your time.

Strategically Chop Your Veggies

Before you start, comb through each recipe to see how much chopped garlic, onions and fresh herbs you’ll need, and then designate a member of the group to tackle it all at once, making use of appliances like food processors and mandolins. Prepping all the ingredients ahead of time makes cooking and assembly that much faster.


Another scrumptious recipe option is Shepherd’s Pie with “Squashed” Potatoes.

Make Sure You Have Enough Storage Containers

All those meals need to be portable, so ensuring there are sufficient food storage containers is key, especially if you want to maximize the number of meals each person gets to take home. One bonus to meal prep parties is that you often come out with more food than you bargained for, so plan accordingly. If your aim is to cook enough food to stretch into 15 take-home meals per person, it’s a good idea to budget enough containers so that everyone has 20. Also, don’t forget to label your meals clearly and include a simple ingredient list, the date it was made and cooking instructions.

Have Easy Snacks at the Ready

To have a marathon cooking day, you’re going to need sustenance. Ideally, things that don’t need to be cooked and don’t take too much time to prepare. We like the idea of a simple charcuterie board that guests can munch on throughout the afternoon or this idea for a DIY bruschetta bar.

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try our 20 Life-Changing Freezer Hacks.

Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs, Two Ways (Skewers and Sliders!)

Heat up your BBQ menu with a little help from these grilled lamb koftas. These juicy kabobs are made with a ton of fresh herbs and a dash of spice, before being threaded on a skewer and grilled. Serve it as I did here with an unbelievably fresh-tasting tabbouleh salad and you’ve got a pretty stunning summer meal. While I’m aware my variation on this salad may get tabbouleh enthusiasts furling their brow, the addition of torn grilled pitas and crunchy baked chickpeas is beyond worth venturing off the path. You can also use the same lamb mixture and shape into mini patties for a take on the ultimate summer favourite — the almighty slider. Smear on a spoonful of hummus, some thinly sliced cucumber for an open-faced version.


Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs

Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 9 skewers or sliders


1 lbs ground lamb
½ large onion, minced
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp harissa
1 tsp ground cumin
Black pepper


1. In a large bowl, combine ground lamb with the rest of the ingredients. Form ¼ cup-sized portions into an oval shape and thread onto a metal or soaked bamboo skewer. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

2. Cook on a medium-heat BBQ and grill kofta kabobs until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.

Tabbouleh Salad With Baked Chickpeas and Grilled Pita


1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil + extra
1 Tbsp harissa
2 large pieces of pita bread, grilled
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup bulgur
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup mint, chopped
⅓ red onion, minced
¼ cup sliced black olives (optional)
½ cup lemon juice

Related: Healthy Middle Eastern Recipes You’ll Make on Repeat


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse and drain chickpeas and pat dry. Toss with olive oil and harissa and bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring once at halfway point.

2. Brush pita bread with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides until crispy.

3. Combine bulgur and 1 cup warm water in a bowl and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl along with remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Lamb Kofta Sliders



1 lbs ground lamb
½ large onion, minced
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp harissa
1 tsp ground cumin
Black pepper
Mini pitas
½ cup hummus
½ large cucumber, sliced thin

Related: Recipes That Prove Harissa Paste Belongs in All Your Meals

1. In a large bowl, combine ground lamb with onion, parsley, olive oil, harissa, cumin and black pepper. Form into ⅓ cup-sized patties. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

2. Cook on a medium-heat BBQ and grill lamb kofta sliders until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, brush mini pitas with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill until warmed through.

4. Spread pitas with hummus and top with sliced cucumber and lamb. Garnish with more chopped parsley and a sprinkle of harissa.

Published May 27, 2015, Updated May 29, 2018

Avocado Toast With Poached Eggs, Two Ways (One for Meat Lovers + One for Vegetarians!)

Breakfast for dinner just got a whole lot tastier. When I was a kid, there was nothing more exciting than the novelty of having pancakes for dinner. I still get a thrill out of indulging in the occasional meal swap, only now I do it in the form of avocado toast with poached eggs. I topped one with seasonal, peppery pea shoots and the other with salty prosciutto. But the real key here is to get a super-ripe avocado that slashes the need for any added butter and a soft-poached egg that oozes with the slightest pierce of a fork. It’s a simple meal, sure, but when stacked high with all these goodies, it feels quite fancy. And there’s absolutely nothing childish about that.

Avocado Toast With Poached Eggs and Prosciutto
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1

Avocado toast with poached eggs and meat


½ avocado, mashed
2 slices bread, toasted
2 eggs, poached
4 slices prosciutto
4 leaves butter lettuce
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice


1. In a pot of boiling water, add a Tbsp of vinegar and gently swirl the water in one direction. Carefully drop the eggs one at a time and poach for 2-4 minutes or until desired doneness.

2. Meanwhile cut the avocados in half, remove stones and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork and squeeze in fresh lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper.

3. Smear toast with avocado, and top with lettuce, tomatoes, prosciutto and the poached egg. Top with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.

Avocado Toast With Poached Eggs and Pea Tenders

Avocado toast with poached eggs and veggies


½ avocado, mashed
2 slices bread, toasted
2 eggs, poached
12-15 sprigs pea tenders, rinsed and dried
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice


1. In a pot of boiling water, add a Tbsp of vinegar and gently swirl the water in one direction. Carefully drop the eggs one at a time and poach for 2-4 minutes or until desired doneness. Removed with slotted spoon and set to drain on paper towels.

2. Meanwhile cut the avocados in half, remove stones and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork and squeeze in fresh lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper.

3. Smear toast with avocado, and top with pea tenders and the poached egg. Top with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Published April 29, 2015, Updated April 19, 2018

Best-Ever Gravy Recipe

Don’t let your gravy be an afterthought — this killer herb-infused, make-ahead recipe is about to become your secret weapon for winning the holidays.

Never underestimate the power of a good gravy. From its ability to heat up lukewarm mash to its sly way of camouflaging a turkey that’s been cooked a bit too long, gravy is the unsung superhero of holiday cooking that rarely gets the glory it so deserves.


Making it ahead means you can take your time creating the kind of rich and velvety gravy holiday dreams are made of. This one is built on a solid foundation of chicken wings, a gorgeous helping of flavour-packed vegetables, and a seasonal trio of fresh herbs, all slow-roasted to perfection. To really send it over the top, add the juices from your roasted bird the day of for even more depth of flavour. Just try not to guzzle it up all before it hits the table.


8 to 12 chicken wings
2 yellow onions, halved with outer skin in tact
4 to 5 small carrots, peeled, quartered
3 celery stalks, quartered
4 fresh rosemary stems
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
4 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp flour

best ever gravy with mashed potatoes


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place all the ingredients in a large roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for about 75 minutes.
3. Set roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 8 cups of boiling water, scrapping up any brown bits as you stir. Sprinkle in flour and stir to ensure no lumps form. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, smashing with a potato masher every now and again.
4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into another pot. Let cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
*If serving with your holiday turkey, reserve any juices from your bird and add this to your make ahead gravy.

9 Essential Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving for the First Time

Hosting your very first Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be stressful. Thanks to a few tricks, a little planning and a game-day strategy, you’ll be able to keep your cool on the big day. Here are nine essential tips for hosting a holiday party without ever breaking a sweat.


1. Have a Pre-Party Shopping Spree
Don’t save your Thanksgiving shopping list for the day of the party. Whether it’s groceries, wine, flowers, a new tablecloth or a few ornamental gourds, these are the party items that can be ticked off your to-do list well ahead of Turkey Day so that you’re not rushing around snipping stems and washing vases when you should be basting your bird.

2. Make Ahead
From gravy to potatoes to homemade croutons, there are many dishes that will hold up and, in some cases, will actually taste better if you make them in advance! Try: Jamie Oliver’s make-ahead gravy and creamy scalloped potatoes.

3. Get Chopping
Never underestimate the power of a pre-party prep to ensure smooth sailing come game day. Professional chefs call this mise en place, the technique of ‘putting in place’ certain foods to ensure maximum efficiency. By chopping, measuring and washing ingredients for your side dishes the day before, you’ll save valuable time.

4. Hit the Bakery
It would be nice to wow guests with a stunning dessert for this special family occasion, however, sometimes big events aren’t the time to stretch limitations — particularly if you’re a novice baker. When you’re shouldering the entire dinner, cut yourself some slack and buy a few pies or desserts instead and shift your attention to displaying it on your best serving platters.

5. Enlist Help
Attention Thanksgiving newbies: there is no shame in calling on family members to help out with easy tasks, such as making the salad dressing, setting the table and serving drinks. Or take away the pressure of preparing a full menu entirely and get family members to participate in a good old fashioned potluck.

6. Clean Strategically
You wouldn’t dream of hosting Thanksgiving without a sufficient house cleaning, but don’t stress too much about giving the entire place a deep clean. Instead, focus on areas your guests are most likely to take notice like the front entrance and bathroom. Polish the glasses, iron the tablecloth and track down all your best-matching cutlery the night before. And if you have extra time, add those special details such as handwritten place cards, clusters of candles and flower arrangements which will really make your dinner party pop.

7. Stock the Bar Lightly
Don’t bother dusting off that bottle of gin from last Christmas or stocking up on pricey mixers. Keep it simple by serving red and white wine, sparkling grape juice, some local craft beer and have slices of lemon or lime to jazz up chilled water.

8. Make a Cooking Schedule
Most of us only have one stove, so you have to be strategic about what goes in the oven and when. A good rule of thumb is to cook the turkey first and tent it with aluminum foil to rest while you prep the gravy, pop the vegetables in for a roast or reheat mashed potatoes.

9. Don’t Go Rogue
Your fist Thanksgiving hosting gig isn’t the time to test out that new recipe you screen-grabbed on Instagram. The key to pulling off a successful holiday dinner is to stick with what you know. So whether it’s an out-of-this-world salad dressing, a dreamy mac and cheese, or your secret to mashed potato bliss, Thanksgiving is where you want to let your best dishes shine.

10 Quick & Easy Meals with Rotisserie Chicken

Whether you’re craving chicken noodle soup, cheesy chicken quesadillas or a hearty chicken pot pie, stretching your leftover rotisserie chicken is a cinch with these quick and easy recipes.


1. Rachael Ray’s Roast Chicken Enchilada Suizas Stacks Casserole
This crowd-pleasing casserole is loaded with tortillas, chicken, poblano peppers, onion, fresh herbs and Swiss cheese.

2. Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie
A creamy trio of peas, carrots and shredded chicken make for all the comforting flavours of a classic pie. Swap in ready-made crusts and suddenly weeknight pot pie is possible.

3. Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Congee
This easy, savoury rice porridge is slow cooked with leftover rotisserie chicken, then spiced up with slivered ginger, green onions, soy sauce and smoky sesame oil.

4. Michael Smith’s Roast Chicken Noodle Soup
Filled out with carrots, celery, corn, peas and egg noodles, this healthy chicken soup comes together in less than 30 minutes.

5. Rotisserie Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya
Chorizo, rotisserie chicken and bacon fat infuse this jambalaya rice dish with an incredible amount of flavour.

6. Bobby Flay’s Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing
Cold noodle salad is bursting with fresh flavours and a ton of crunchy textures, thanks to carrots, cabbage, cilantro and mint and a homemade sweet and sour fish sauce to bring it all together.

7. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake
While technically not a lasagna, this creamy casserole dish combines a mouthwatering combo of wavy lasagna noodles, rotisserie chicken, peas, Parmesan, creamy butter garlic sauce, breadcrumbs and fresh thyme.

8. Chicken Tostada Salad
These neat and tidy taco cups are the perfect finger food: stuffed with shredded chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and a healthy dose of gooey cheese.

9. Roger Mooking’s Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken is sautéed in a spicy chipotle sauce and combined with smashed white beans, corn salad and tomato-watermelon salsa, cheese and three gooey cheese, all rolled up in a flour tortilla and crisped up in a cast iron pan.

10. Thai Fried Rice
This Thai spin on classic fried rice features red bell peppers, celery and cooked chicken, while a dash of Thai red curry paste, ginger and lime juice make a flavourful sauce.

8 Flavourful Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Fat

Don’t throw the flavour out with the bacon grease. Swimming in all that leftover bacon bit-infused fat is a world of salty, porky goodness you can coax a ton of flavour from. Here are eight ways to use your excess bacon fat in everything from salad to popcorn and even cookies.

888_Insanity Burger

Courtesy of

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger
The trick to getting an out-of-this world flavourful burger is to toast the buns Jamie Oliver-style in bacon fat, until lightly golden and ever so crispy.

888_Maple Bacon Popcorn

Courtesy of

Rachael Ray’s Maple Bacon Popcorn
Stovetop popcorn drizzled in bacon fat, topped with bacon bits and sprinkled with a salty and sweet maple sugar? Um, yes please.


Courtesy of

Curtis Stone’s Peas with Bacon and Mint
Green beans are quick-cooked in bacon grease with sauteed shallots just long enough so they are tender and bright green, giving them a decadent, salty note without adding any extra salt.


Courtesy of

Bacon Fat Cornbread
This savoury skillet cornbread is loaded with crumbled bacon, cheese, fresh corn, green onions and chili flakes, while a splash of bacon fat added to the batter amps up the flavor and helps keep it moist.

888_bacon-roasted-potatoesChuck Hughes’ Bacon Roasted Potatoes
Fingerling potatoes are slow roasted in bacon fat with sea salt, black pepper and sprigs of fresh rosemary for a killer side no matter the occasion.


Courtesy of

The Pioneer Woman’s Spinach Salad
Who says spinach salad has to be boring? This drool-worthy recipe calls for a trifecta of crumbled bacon, warm bacon dressing, and onions and mushrooms that have been sauteed in bacon grease.

888_country-style-omeletteRicardo Larrivée’s Country-Style Omelette
Leftover bacon grease is poured into a hot cast iron skillet and then filled with an egg mixture to create the most golden, puffy and flavourful omelette..


Courtesy of

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps
Need an unexpected reason to hoard your leftover bacon fat? Try these bacon-infused gingersnaps with a smoky-salty undertone to offset the sweetness that sets them apart from your average cookie.

5 Tips for Getting Rid of Cooking Smells

Bacon, fish, onions and fries — all delicious and intoxicating while cooking, but the second the final bite has been swallowed, can quickly turn into stomach-churning odours that need to be nixed, stat. Here are five tips that will help eliminate those pungent cooking smells and ensure your kitchen stays fresh.


1. Turn it Up
Prevention is the best medicine and this holds true when it comes to fighting the battle of kitchen smells. The simple flip of your stove’s overhead fan will get the majority of smells out before they have time to get cozy. This is one small yet mighty step to ensure last night’s fish and chips aren’t lingering in the air while you sip your morning coffee.

2. Open the Windows
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air to help eliminate gnarly cooking odours. If you’ve got a small fan, even better — switch it on and set it near the window to help push out the bad and filter in the fresh.

3. Light a Candle
A candle seems like the obvious quick fix, but when attempting to freshen up the kitchen post bacon-frying, it’s important to take a second look at the label. Competing smells can be tricky, so opt for a fresh scent like citrus or even linen. Covering up evidence of a Sunday morning brunch with strong, musky scents or other food smells can be overbearing and defeat the purpose altogether.

4. Simmer Some Spices
The power of cinnamon sticks, cloves and even star anise to get some serious stink out of your kitchen is quite powerful. To get your own inexpensive, DIY smell fixer, simmer a small pot of water or even apple cider on the stove and plop in a mix of the above spices. This concoction is especially intoxicating at this time of year, when warm, spicy scents wrap you up like a blanket when you come in from the crisp air.

5. Clean Up your Act
Cleaning up the dinner dishes right away is a chore many of us would rather save for later. But those grimy, oily pots and pans is a bad smell breeding ground. Cleaning up right away, or even filling pots and pans with hot, soapy water, will stop the smells from continuing to linger and make the eventual dinner clean up that much easier.

10 Quick Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Don’t skip the most important meal of the day because you’re in a time crunch. Start your day off right with one of these quick breakfast options that are heavy on the nutrition and light on the ingredient list.


1. Caramelized Onion & Bacon Strata Cups
These savoury bread pudding cups are filled with the golden breakfast foursome: bacon, eggs, bread and cheese. Batch-make a bunch on the weekend and simply warm them up throughout the week for a no-fuss brekkie.

2. Banana Dog Bites
A quick, mess-free, portable breakfast you can eat while rushing out the door.

3. Overnight Mango Chia Breakfast Pudding
Mix up a Mason jar filled with chia seeds, frozen chopped mango, coconut milk and almond milk and a little splash of honey or maple syrup and leave it in the fridge overnight: you’ll wake up to a healthy breakfast pudding the kids will love.

4. Strawberry-Beet Smoothie
Popping a bright red beet into your morning smoothie gives it an intense colour and packs some serious nutritional punch. Don’t think you like beets? Once it’s whizzed with strawberries, banana and a little milk and honey, no one will ever believe you snuck one in.

5. 3 Ingredient Energy Bites
Whirl a handful of unsalted peanuts, chocolate chips and unsweetened shredded coconut in the food processor or blender, roll tablespoon-sized portions into a ball and breakfast is sorted.

6. Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups
Like a mini frittata, these muffin-size breakfast bites are full of good-for-you ingredients like cooked quinoa, eggs, egg whites, shredded zucchini, cheddar cheese and diced ham.

7. Avocado Coconut Banana Pops
These cool breakfast pops are jammed with more than just flavour. Made with creamy avocado, banana, frozen pineapple chunks and a mix of coconut yogurt and milk, these sweet morning treats are brimming with vitamins, Omega-3 and potassium.

8. Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie
Frozen bananas, protein-packed peanut butter and Greek yogurt, and fibre-filled oats are blended together to create a thick and creamy peanut butter banana oat smoothie that will keep everyone full until recess.

9. 5 Ingredient Chia Coconut Energy Bites
Combine dates, shredded coconut, chia seeds and chopped nuts with pure honey in a bowl, roll them out and you’re done. Make a bunch in advance and keep in an air-tight container.

10. Nut Butter Crunch Toast with Granola and Honey
This quickie breakfast gets a crunchy boost from a sprinkling of granola, while the nut butter and banana make it substantial enough to keep you feeling full.

Long Weekend Dinner Party Menu

Make the most of summer with this long weekend menu that’s a snap to put together when entertaining for a crowd. From grilled steak served on platters to Mexican corn with a built-in husk handle to party-starting tea cocktails, this backyard dinner party menu sets the mood for a stellar warm weather gathering.

grilled corn

The Appetizers

Mexican Grilled Corn with Cotija Cheese and Lime
Nothing quite marks barbecue season like grilled corn on the cob. This version features fresh and salty cotija cheese and a splash of lime. Warning: this appetizer is highly addictive, so plan to make a lot of it.

Ina Garten’s Watermelon and Feta Salad
Kick off the long weekend with a fruity spin on a classic summer menu opener. Ina’s sweet and cool watermelon salad with salty feta cheese and peppery arugula ticks all the right flavour boxes.

The Cocktails

Charred Pomelo Twist
Grill grapefruit until it’s slightly charred and muddle the juice together with cilantro in a cocktail shaker. Add ready-made lemon tea, plenty of ice and shake until well chilled. Garnish with a smoked salt rim and cilantro leaves and don’t share.

Peach Tea-lini
Peach season is short. Make the most of it by indulging in these fresh and easy tea cocktails. The best part? They can be made ahead of time and garnished with wedges of peach just before serving.

grilled flank steak

The Mains 

Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri
A casually elegant way to stretch steak for a crowd, this grilled flank steak is thinly sliced on the same cutting board it’s served on and paired with a flavour-packed fresh cilantro chimichurri dipper to keep things interesting.

Jamie Oliver Chicken Skewers and Spicy Noodle Salad
We can’t get enough of Jamie’s crowd-friendly, fork-free chicken skewers with a crunchy peanut satay sauce, but it’s this fiery noodle salad that really kicks up the heat.


The Dessert

Anna Olson’s Lemon Berry Cake with Bumbleberry Sauce
There will be no post barbecue dessert slicing flubs when you serve these gorgeously bright, fruity mini meringue cakes with a sweet and citrusy bumbleberry sauce.

Chef’s Battle: Toronto’s Tastiest Dish Is…

The debate is over and the winner is undeniably delicious.

A stunning trio of flame-seared sushi set inside an empty lobster tail, topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, butter-poached lobster and truffles has been named Toronto’s Tastiest Dish.

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi of Miku snapped up the coveted prize at the inaugural Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle on that saw four of the city’s best chefs steam, torch and sear their way through a kitchen stadium-like contest at George Brown College.


Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle

Chefs Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, Cora James of Mamakas Taverna, Hayden Johnston of Richmond Station and Uchigoshi each presented their vision for a dish that best captures Toronto. It’s no easy feat, considering the very question sparks debates among foodies and even divide friendships. Award-winning food journalists and judges Amy Rosen, Lucy Waverman and Mike Ward took their roles seriously, picking a dish that represents the best of Toronto.

From flame-seared sushi to Coca Cola-doused duck tamales to a braised rib-stuffed burger and a sophisticated take on a Greek classic, this year’s contenders prove that Toronto’s food scene is as diverse as it is enticing.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto
Embodying the Aburi rule of “zekkei,” Uchigoshi’s winning creation is as beautiful as delicious. The stunning lobster dish pairs a trio of the restaurant’s signature flamed-seared Temari and Nigiri sushi, topped with butter-poached lobster, Wagyu beef and foie gras. Set inside of an empty lobster shell, each bite is topped with sliced truffle, micro greens and chopped ginger.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos
Duck Carnitas Tamale is a labour of love that starts with the duck bathing in milk and Coca Cola to tenderize and caramelize. After baking for two hours, it is wrapped in corn meal and a banana leaf pocket, and steamed until tender. The final dish is topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa verde, salty cotija cheese and a dollop of creme.

Cora James, Mamakas
Pastry chef Cora James serves up a delicate and sophisticated Greek-inspired dish that starts with a katafi pastry base, topped with white chocolate, custard and whipped cream. A touch of Ontario strawberry jam is layered with lemon cream and a wisp of oregano.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station
Hailed as one of the city’s best, the famed Stn. Burger earned its spot for a reason. Made with a house-cranked ground beef patty that’s stuffed with braised and shredded ribs, it’s then seared in a smoking hot cast iron pan to keep all those juices basting. The burger is enveloped in house-made buttered buns, garlic mayonnaise, pickled onions, beer relish and aged cheddar.

Eager foodies will have a chance to try Chef Uchigoshi’s winning sushi dinner at this year’s Taste of Toronto at Garrison Common at Fort York June 23-26.

Want free tickets to this year’s food fest? Learn how here.

All photos courtesy of Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto.

The Notebook

‘The Notebook’ Inspired Romantic Movie Menu

Bourbon iced tea cocktails, popcorn rock shrimp and a restaurant-worthy crab dish are at the heart of this seafood-heavy Valentine’s Day menu inspired by the seaside town where Noah and Allie’s epic love story unfolds.

Set in the 1940’s this tear-jerker tells the life-long love story of lovers from two different worlds who meet one hot, sun-soaked summer.

The chemistry between Noah and Allie (played by Canadians Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) is what fuels this epic romance that has become one of the most heart-squeezing, tissue-drenching love stories of a generation.

Back Nine Cocktails

Bourbon Iced Tea
A few sips of these sweet tea and bourbon cocktails and you’ll be transported to hazy summer evenings spent watching the sun go down on a wrap-around porch.

Popcorn Rock Shrimp

Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey
Inspired by their first date at the movies, this playful popcorn shrimp appetizer combines the sweetness of honey with a dash of spicy chili flakes and smoked paprika to heat things up.

Beer Steamed Mussels
When Allie shows up after seven years at the big white plantation house that Noah built for her, they catch up over beers and steamed seafood. This sharable beer and mussel dish is infused with lime, chorizo, red pepper and garlic.

Crab Pasta

Fogo Island Crab & Kina Pappardelle with Preserved Lemon

Impress your date with this restaurant-worthy pappardelle pasta and crab dish that’s a nod to the fictional seaside town of Seabrook, South Carolina that serves as the backdrop to their story.

Crepe Cake


Maple Pecan Crêpe Cake

Upon meeting Allie for the first time, Noah’s father whips up a big batch of pancakes. Cap off your romantic meal with breakfast for dessert in the form of this elegant crepe cake drenched with pure maple syrup.

4 Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Tomato Sauce

Take the time to boil and bubble a pot of homemade tomato sauce on Sunday, then reap the delicious benefits all week as you find yourself reaching for that jar of leftovers to deliver an unexpected shot of flavour.

Ricardo's Tomato SauceStart with Ricardo’s 3-Step Tomato Sauce.

Shakshuka with Crumbled Feta

Also known as Eggs in Purgatory, this tomato and egg dish gets a whack of flavour from sautéed onions and red bell peppers stewed in leftover tomato sauce that’s be flavoured with bold cumin and smoked paprika. Simply crack in a few eggs and simmer until set. Serve with a flourish of chopped fresh parsley, crumbled feta and thick wedges of buttered toasted baguette or pita.

Winter Minestrone

Winter Minestrone

Boxed broth combined with a half cup of leftover tomato sauce creates the flavourful base for a super quick, super healthy bowl of belly-warming minestrone. Just mix low sodium beef or vegetable broth and about a cup of your leftover sauce with Giada’s flavour-boosting combination of diced carrot, celery, pancetta, Swiss chard and cannelloni beans and finish with fresh-grated Parmesan.

almond crusted baked eggplant parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Crispy almond crusted baked eggplant casserole gets doused with your best homemade leftover sauce and a generous lid of gooey melted mozzarella. Eat with a side of pasta for a heartier dish or simply serve with a leafy green salad dressed with vinaigrette to help balance out this indulgent winter dish.

Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs with Rice

Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs with Red Rice

Dip your threaded shrimp and chorizo skewers in leftover sauce and then add another splash to make a fast and flavourful rice. This stir-fry like saucy rice dish gets jazzed up thanks to a mash up of red onions, garlic, chili powder and smoked paprika.

Looking for more leftover ideas? We have lots of recipes to help you transform pork tenderloin, meatballs and chicken breast.

1 Meatball Recipe, 4 Mouthwatering Leftover Ideas

No matter which way you roll them, meatballs are a versatile mealtime staple worth hoarding. Whether you chose to make them with classic Italian flavours, Middle Eastern or even vegetarian, here are four ways to turn your little balls of joy into a brand new meal.


Start with Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs.

Italian Wedding Soup

1. Italian Wedding Soup
Soup season dictates that once the temperature dips below the freezing point, a steaming bowl of broth should be consumed at least once a week. Thanks to your stash of leftover meatballs, this quick and easy version of Italian wedding soup comes together in mere minutes. Simmer chicken broth and add the cooked meatballs until heated through. Add roughly one cup of spinach and simmer until just wilted. Ladle hot broth to bowls filled with cooked couscous, or any small pasta like ditalini or orzo and finish with a dusting of grated Parmesan.

Meatball Sub

2. Sandwiches
If you’ve got dinner rolls or a sliced baguette, the time is nigh to create what’s perhaps the most beloved of all the meatball leftovers: the meatball sandwich! Heat cooked meatballs in a saucepan with your favourite tomato sauce, assemble the sandwich and top with any quick-melting cheese like mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is bubbly. Make it fancy by adding fried onions, pepper and even some jalapeño for heat. If your leftover meatballs happen to be flecked with Asian flavours, make a version of Banh Mi by topping your sandwich with pickled carrots and daikon, sprigs of fresh coriander and fiery chilis.

potato hash

3. Make a Breakfast Hash
Who says you can’t have meatballs for breakfast? For this riff on a classic brunch time hash, sauté onions together with peppers until soft. Add cooked potatoes and fry until they become crispy and form those glorious craggy bits and add the chopped meatballs until heated through. Serve with a fried egg on top and a squirt of hot sauce.

4. Meatball Calzones
Hot and gooey melted cheese is the food equivalent of cozy knit throw and a crackling fire. Quickie homemade calzones using store-bought pizza dough and leftover meatballs are your cheese delivery du jour. Divide the dough into roughly eight equal portions and roll each section off into a circle, spreading on tomato sauce before filling with chopped meatballs, shredded cheese and any vegetables you have laying around.

Chicken and Rice Soup

1 Chicken Breast Recipe, 4 Delicious Leftover Ideas

Pan roasted, baked or even poached, there’s nothing quite like the ease and convenience of fast-cooking chicken breast. From Korean lettuce wraps to a nutrition-packed grain bowl, here are four quick ways to make dinner happen in a matter of minutes with your chicken breast leftovers.

Pan Roast Chicken Breast

Start with Pan Roast Chicken Breast with Baby Spinach.

1. Try Korean Style Lettuce Wraps

When constructing these deeply-satisfying butter lettuce wraps, consider gochujang—the fiery red Korean paste—your flavour-boosting glue. Mix one tablespoon of gochujang with an equal amount of white miso paste, a splash of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Then, smear a dab on each leaf, pile on the chicken and garnish with sliced scallions and matchstick cucumbers. Dinner is done!

Naan Bread

2. Make a Homemade Naan Pizza with Chicken

From-scratch pizza dough is definitely doable, but it’s also a time-consuming treat for when you’ve got the time. When you want dinner in 10 minutes, store-bought naan bread makes a great base for pizza in a jiffy. Spread on any tomato or marinara sauce, leftover cooked chopped chicken breast and sliced vegetables like mushrooms or peppers. Top with grated smoked mozzarella or lumps of torn burrata cheese. The best part? The pizza is done when the cheese is bubbly.

3. Make a Fully Loaded Chicken Grain Bowl

Don’t let sad desk lunches happen to you. Perfectly packable and loaded with nutrition, make 2016 all about the grain bowl. Toss leftover chopped chicken with a cooked grain like quinoa, barley, farro or brown rice together with fresh herbs like parsley, mint or basil, some grated carrot or beet and a handful of toasted nuts for crunch. Bring it together with a quick lemon vinaigrette.

Chicken and Rice Soup

4. Put it in a Soup

Long simmered chicken soup is a winter staple but you can still get fast flavours with a little help from leftover chicken, a whack of sautéed veggies and ready-made broth. Start by sautéing the vegetables together with some garlic and onion and toss in the vegetables. Add the broth and bring to a gentle simmer, tossing the chicken near the end and simmering until just heated through. Finish with fresh herbs like dill and lemon wedges, or coriander and hot chilies for some spice. Fill it out with rice, orzo or Asian-style noodles.

8 Ways to Adjust Any Recipe for a Slow Cooker

Embrace slow cooker season by tweaking your favourite recipes for some serious countertop cooking. Here are 8 important tips for perfecting your slow-cooker game and ensuring you get it right.


1. Choose the Right Recipe
If the recipe calls for braising or slow-roasting, consider it a good dinner omen because chances are it’ll be a slam-dunk in the Crockpot. While you can bet that almost any soup or stew will work, don’t forget that recipes for things like pulled pork, chicken thighs and even ribs, all benefit from a slow and low cook time, which means it’s perfect for the slow cooker.

2. Cooking Meat
There’s no hard and fast rule for slow cooking meat, but tough and inexpensive cuts happen to work best, since the tough fibres have time to relax and soften during a low and slow setting. To coax the best flavour out of your meat, take the time to brown it well before putting it in the Crockpot so that you seal in as much moisture and flavour as possible. That being said, meats like a well marbled pork shoulder, chicken thighs and legs, and brisket all trump boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which tend to dry out in the slow cooker.

3. Opt for Fresh
If you’ve got fresh vegetables, use them. While we love frozen vegetables for quick cook recipes, they tend to release more water and steam in the slow cooker, which can add excess liquid and make for soggy vegetables. Also remember to chop all your vegetables roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.

4. Be Mindful of Seasoning
Cooking in the slow cooker doesn’t allow aggressive seasonings and flavours time to meld and mellow the same way they do when simmering on a stove or in the oven. Be careful when using strong seasonings like paprika, chili powder and cumin, which should be used in moderation, and adjusted or added at the end. When it comes to wine, reduce it before adding it to the mix so you can properly cook off the alcohol and leave behind the concentrated flavour.

5. Know When to Add Ingredients
Leave delicate ingredients like herbs for the final 30 minutes, and starchy items like rice or pasta for the end. If the recipe calls for dairy, add it at the end of the cooking time so the fat won’t separate, and when it comes to veggies like green peppers, pop them in about 20 minutes before the timer goes off to keep them from turning bitter.

6. A Rule for Starch
If your recipe calls for cooked pasta, cook it a few minutes before the suggested time on the box, until it’s a bit firmer than your traditional al dente and then add it in near the end. For rice, try converted or long grain versions, and add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid per 1/4 cup of uncooked rice or choose parboiled rice, added about 20 minutes before the dish is done. For longer cooking recipes, add fully cooked rice just before serving.

7. Liquid Remedy
Since cooking liquid doesn’t have anywhere to escape in a slow cooker, it will simply accumulate and make recipes like chili and stew too soupy. A good rule of thumb to follow when adapting a recipe for the slow cooker is to halve all liquids. If you find it’s still too much, transfer the dish to a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer uncovered until it reduces and thickens up.

8. Time it Right
If your recipe calls for 15 to 30 minutes in the oven, it’s going to need roughly 4 to 6 hours on low or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on high. If it says cook for 35 to 45 minutes, set your Crockpot on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. For a recipe with a longer cook time of 1 to 3 hours, set it on high for 4 to 6 hours or leave it on low overnight for 8 to 12 hours.

5 Easy Ways to Turn Tonight’s Dinner into Tomorrow’s Lunch

So you’ve got visions of Pinterest-worthy lunches floating around in your head — join the club. Like anyone who has ever eaten a sad desk lunch knows, good intentions won’t fill you up. Here are five realistic ways to take last night’s dinner, transform it into today’s lunch and brown bag it like a pro.

Become a Sandwich Master
Leftover roasted vegetables, steak or roasted chicken make for the beginnings of a mean sandwich. Simply stack what you’ve got — red peppers, tomatoes, steak or chicken — and line a soft baguette with a little mayo, goat cheese or some hunks of brie, add few fresh sprigs of arugula and you’re all set.

Try: Grilled Steak Sandwich with Onions & Arugula


Undress Your Salad
That big salad at dinner will be a soggy mess after a night in the fridge, so if you plan to take it to work the next day, keep it naked. Give it some heft by adding canned tuna, shredded roast chicken, smoked tofu or even leftover quinoa, and save the dressing until the very last minute to keep it perky and fresh.

Try: Bobby Flay’s Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing


Double Up on Your Sides
Whether it’s brown rice, quinoa, pasta or potatoes, plan to make more than you need. Then, turn those sides into a hearty desk-side salad by adding a simple vinaigrette, a whack of raw or cooked vegetables and some fresh herbs.

Try: Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette


Soup it Up
A hot lunch of leftover soup or stew can warm the biggest office chill, and you can be sure that any soup you’ve got will taste even better while slurping in the staff lunchroom. Make it a main by adding a buttered baguette to dip in chicken stew, some pita wedges for that lentil soup or even a some rice, fresh thyme and and parsley to chicken soup.

Try: The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Rice Soup


Takeout Transformation
Instead of simply nuking your leftovers, give them new life with a few fresh ingredients and a little creativity. Last night’s pad Thai can be today’s cold noodle salad when you add green beans or shelled edamame, while a Chinese delivery of rice, beef or chicken and vegetables can easily be reborn as a quick stir-fry.

Try: Korean Beef Fried Rice


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

Quick and Easy Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi, that gorgeously-pungent, Korean fermented cabbage condiment that’s ridiculously satisfying and so addictive to eat. Thanks to the palate-crushing combo of spicy and sour and just the right amount of crunch, you’ll be looking for ways to add it to just about everything.

In this dish, I take advantage of all that built-in flavour to create a hearty bowl of fried rice that requires almost no added seasonings. With just a few fresh garnishes, leftover rice gets an umami-flavoured adrenaline shot.

Here, I’ve made it two ways. With a sunny egg that’s fried in sesame oil until crispy, and with a quick fry-up of ground chicken infused with garlic and ginger.


3 cups leftover steamed rice (3 cups), or freshly made rice, completely cooled
1 cup chopped kimchi
2-3 Tbsp Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 sheet of roasted seaweed, shredded

1. In a large non-stick pan or wok, heat vegetable oil. Add the kimchi and stir fry for about one minute.
2. Add rice and gochujang and stir frequently with a wood spoon for 5-8 minutes. Add sesame oil and remove from heat.
3. Top with chopped green onion, seaweed and sesame seeds to taste.


Kimchi Fried Rice with a Sesame Fried Egg

4 eggs
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 sheet of roasted seaweed, shredded

1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry eggs one at a time until desired doneness. Remove from heat.
2. Place fried egg over kimchi fried rice and garnish with chopped green onion, seaweed and sesame seeds to taste.


Kimchi Fried Rice with Ginger Chicken

1 pound ground chicken
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 shallots, minced

1. Place garlic, ginger and shallots with 1 Tbsp vegetable in a blender and mix until chopped but still chunky.
2. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet and fry garlic/ginger mixture until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add ground chicken and cook, breaking up chicken with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until browned, about 12-15 minutes.
4. Add chicken to kimchi fried rice and garnish with chopped green onion, seaweed and sesame seeds to taste.

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

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

A giant pot of gooey, stovetop mac and cheese is exactly what we need to get us through the final days winter. With just six simple ingredients, chances are you may already have everything on hand to make this this hearty meal. So go ahead and indulge in this creamy, dreamy dish.

Mac n Cheese recipe

And since everything tastes exponentially better with bacon, I’ve added a generous dose of the salty pork along with some chopped jalapeños for a variation you can’t resist.

Extra cheese mac n cheese recipe

Stovetop Macaron and Cheese

4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/2 Gruyere, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups macaroni noodles or elbow noodles

1. Cook noodles to al dente according to package directions.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cornstarch and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lump-free paste. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes. This will help cook out that raw cornstarch taste.
3. Slowly add milk while whisking constantly. Simmer until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add Gruyere and stir until melted.
4. Add drained cooked noodles to cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bacon Mac N Cheese recipe 1

Bacon Jalapeño Mac and Cheese

4 butter
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/2 Gruyere, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups macaroni noodles or elbow noodles
5 to 6 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 jalapenos, sliced or chopped

1. Cook noodles to al dente according to package directions.
2. Cook bacon until desired tenderness. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cornstarch and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lump-free paste. Continue to stir for a minute or two. This will help cook out that raw cornstarch taste.
4. Slowly add milk while whisking constantly. Simmer until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add gruyere and stir until melted.
5. Add drained cooked noodles to cheese mixture.
6. Stir in bacon and chopped jalapeno. Add salt and pepper to taste.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s 1 Dish, 2 Ways column. She’s also a contributing editor over at For more recipe ideas, visit, or catch her on Instagram @bonniemo

Creamy Homemade Polenta, 2 Ways

Polenta, grits, cornmeal – whatever you choose to call it, there’s a severely underused ingredient lurking in your pantry that’s kicking back, patiently waiting to be infused with just about anything you dare to throw at it. And once you discover it, there will be no more putting that polenta baby in the corner.

This stovetop cheesy polenta with smoky bacon and shrimp is exactly the kind of deceivingly easy meal you pull out for company, acting like it didn’t come together with any more effort than a few strong-armed stirs of the pot and some well-timed fry action.

The good news is that this dish is just as good meatless: Try it topped with sauteed tomatoes, spinach and a fried egg. Because, let’s face it, a fried egg makes everything better.

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Serves: 4



For the polenta:
4 cups water
1 cup polenta
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the shrimp:
12 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice

For the spinach and tomato sauté:
2 cups, spinach
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 glove garlic, minced
Olive oil
4 fried eggs
Kosher salt, cracked black pepper
Tobasco sauce



For the polenta and shrimp:
1. Bring water to a boil and add salt. Slowly whisk in polenta and cook, stirring frequently for 20 minutes, adding more water if it looks too thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
2. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until browned. Set on paper towel to drain. Cook shrimp in bacon grease until they turn pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, green onions, parsley and cooked bacon, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Ladle polenta into individual bowls and top with shrimp and bacon mixture. Serve immediately.

For the spinach and tomato sauté:
1. Heat olive oil a large skillet and add tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and cook until they begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes.
2. Add minced garlic and spinach. Stir and cover, letting the mixture simmer until spinach is wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, fry eggs in screaming hot olive oil until preferred doneness. Set aside.
4. Ladle polenta into individual bowls and top with spinach and tomato mixture. Add fried egg and hot sauce, and serve immediately.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s 1 Dish, 2 Ways column. She’s also a contributing editor over at For more recipe ideas, visit, or catch her on Instagram @bonniemo