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Ontario Gas BBQ Recipe Challenge | Mara Shapiro

In celebrating the BBQ season, 5 food-savvy bloggers have been selected from the Toronto GTA region to compete in a recipe challenge using Ontario Gas BBQ (OGB) grilling tools. Each blogger (Challenger) will create 5 original recipes, one of which will be selected to be part of a fan (YOU!) vote to compete against the other Challengers.

The Challengers
Charmian Christie of The Messy Baker - @charmian_c
Stephanie Caruso of Kitchen Frolic - @kirchenfrolic
Jennifer Maloney of Seasons and Suppers - @SeasonsSuppers
Mara Shapiro of Be Nice or Leave Thanks - @ChickyMara
Steve Cylka of The Black Peppercorn - @blackpeppercrn

But TODAY! I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Mara Shapiro of Be Nice or Leave Thanks  - one of the BBQ Recipe Challengers. I'm all about girl power and when it comes to barbecuing, hells ya we can do that and Mara truly embodies that vision. Her tip for first time female BBQers is "Don't be afraid to take the grill back! The BBQ doesn't have to be a man's domain. I'm proud to be a Chick Who Grills."

Coined as 'Social Media Miss Fancypants' on Twitter, you could say Mara was a picky eater as a child only eating cheese melted on toast (sounds like me!) but it was growing up and her father's passion for cooking, that inspired her to experiment with creating recipes and learning to make some of her restaurant favourites at home.

"Those were the best times and so the connections between family, food, and love became integral to my passion for cooking (and eating)."

The most important answer we're truly seeking is where did Mara learn how to barbecue for the first time - drum roll please! Her good ol' dad was the king of his BBQ (aren't they the best!) and through his creativity on the grill, her wealth of knowledge grew along with her ability to have fun and trusting her instincts using the power of her senses. Dishes stand out when you put your own personal stamp on them and that's exactly what Mara did, "As soon as you let go of the need to follow instructions and ingredients to the teaspoon...you'll become a better and more relaxed cook. Seriously, what's the worst that could happen?"

With that in mind, it is summer and obviously the perfect time to be grilling but do you have trouble coming up with inspiration or nothing on Pinterest tickles your fancy? Mara gets hers from foods that she's tasted elsewhere and loved. Her particular favourites are mediterranean, ethnic and asian cuisine which can be seen in the dishes she whipped up for this challenge but at times it's off the cuff, "I have a vivid imagination so sometimes I'll just be in the grocery store and I 'see' what I want to make with it. I just envision what I want to cook, how I want the dish to look, how I want people to feel when they see it and taste it." Making her family or guests feel good about themselves and seeing smiles light up as she feeds them truly sparks Mara's creativity and curiosity towards her BBQ dishes.

Being a Challenger, Mara had to create 5 unique dishes using Ontario Gas BBQ (OGB) grilling tools and she did so quite seamlessly. Incorporating the maple wraps within her Grilled Maple Sausage Breakfast Hash dish made the sausages taste spectacular while the fish basket she utilized
 for the Thai Grilled Salmon with Coconut Lemongrass Sauce dish was most versatile.

During the process of concocting all these mouth watering dishes during the challenge, the Mole Turkey Tacos with Jicama Slaw was Mara's favourite to prepare - "Smoking the turkey and making the mole bbq sauce was quite a feather in my cap. I was pretty darn proud of myself." Though the easiest dish was the Maple Sausage Breakfast Hash as it was one she could prepare over and over on the fly. It's always a tough call trying to decide which of your dishes is your favourite but Mara executed all hers to a tee and her food photography was exceptional.

Good luck Mara!

Mara's Challenge Recipes:

Day 1: Thai Grilled Salmon with Coconut Lemongrass Sauce

Day 2: Inspired Gado Gado Lettuce Wraps with Roasted Garlic Peanut Dressing

Day 3: Mole Turkey Tacos with Jicama Slaw

Day 4: Grilled Maple Sausage Breakfast Hash

Day 5: Sweet Potato and Fig Salad

Now where do you as a public viewer come into play?

You have the opportunity to head over to the BBQ Recipe Challenge page to vote for your favourite mouth watering dish until July 31st. Each vote will be entered to win one of five $100 Ontario Gas BBQ Gift cards!

To see Mara’s recipes or any of the other 4 challengers, visit:

Images from Be Nice Or Leave Thanks.


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Rosalyn Gambhir
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[name=Rosalyn Gambhir] [img=https://i.imgur.com/9rNiMGU.jpg] [description=Rosalyn Gambhir is the gal behind the blog The Staycationer. Whether it's exploring the local food scene with her foodie partner-in-crime or taking in the view from her favourite cafe, Rosalyn is always a tourist, looking for the next exciting adventure within Kingston, Ontario and beyond. The Staycationer allows you to rediscover hidden gems in your very own backyard.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/thestaycationer) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rosalyngambhir) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/rosalyngambhir/)

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