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Maple syrup on my salad? You betcha!

December 5th, 2013 No Comments

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The other night at a dinner party I was blown away by the salad they served.  Spinach never tasted so good! The reason, it tasted like waffles…with a side of bacon :)  And I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why.  When I asked the chef she spilled her secret: maple syrup!

This salad is sweet with a hint of savory.  Perfect to serve with chicken and butternut squash.  That’s what popped into my mind.  I’m sure you’ll find tons of other combos and additions to make it your own.  Guests will love it because it’s so unexpected and unique.

FALL SALAD WITH MAPLE CIDER DRESSING

Salad

  • Spinach
  • Chopped fuji apples
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Blue cheese
  • avocado
  • Candied walnuts

(I’m not a blue cheese fan so I opted out of that and the walnuts.  Honeslty, I didn’t miss them)

Maple Cider Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Chopped chives to taste
  • Garlic, salt, pepper to taste

 

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6 ways to lighten your load for Thanksgiving

November 14th, 2013 No Comments

For those of you who host family and friends at your house, you must be getting stressed already.  So much to do!  As much as I’m sure you love it (I would), it doesn’t hurt to be efficient and take some of the angst out of the event.

Here are 5 suggestions to hopefully help lift some of the weight off your shoulders:

1.  DELEGATE THE DISHES

People are always asking what they can make or bring.  This year take them up on their offer.  Make a list so everyone brings one dish.  Be prepared to offer a recipe so they don’t feel intimidated by having to hunt for a credible one online.

Here is a list of links to healthy basic recipes I think you’ll love.  Also consider this Whole Wheat Dressing.  Click here to get my recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch.

2.  USE FRESH VEG

Substitue the calorie-killing baked dishes with salads or grilled veg.  People might actually find the greens refreshing combined with the heavier dishes.

Try these hearty salads you can make ahead of time.

3.  ORDER THE BEST PECAN PIES EVER

Even though I’m totally against bringing purchased food to holiday parties, I make an exception for Goode Company Pecan Pies.  Admittedly, they are better than mine.  One bite into it and people’s jaws will be dropping begging for the link to order for Christmas.  Order them NOW so you save on shipping.

4.  LIMIT YOUR PLATES, GLASSES, AND SILVERWARE

People are notorious for just grabbing plates and glasses like they’re disposable.  Inform guests there is one plate and glass per person, and they’re welcome to fill it up as many times as they’d like.  Stick to it!  For dessert, maybe you use nice paper plates.

Also, before the feast begins, make sure the dishwasher is completely empty so you can load it to the brim as people finish eating.

5.  EAT BREAKFAST

If you’re starving yourself to “save room” for the feast, let me fill you in on why that’s a bad idea.  First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism won’t be raring to go when it’s time to dig in.  If you’re hungry, you’ll snack while you wait or double down when you fill your plate. Finally, without a meal, your blood sugar will be low which means you’ll be cranky and irritable.  Thanksgiving is stressful enough without your body working against you.

6.  DO YOUR FLOWERS 2 DAYS AHEAD

When you buy fresh flowers, they need a couple days to open.  If you do them a couple days before the feast, you’ll get the task checked off your list and the arrangements will have time to come to life.

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Are you a big dipper?

October 17th, 2013 No Comments

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I love nothing more than throwing parties: for dinner, football, birthdays, swimming, or just because.

To kick off, I’ve found I really can’t go wrong with homemade chips and fresh veggies to snack on with an array of dips.  I can make make the dips a day ahead and don’t demand attention.

Here’s a list of my favorites.  You’ll find they’re easy to make and satisfying to mingling friends.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tomatoes diced with the seeds scooped out
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt, pepper, squeeze of fresh lime juice

Ranch Dressing

  • 2 cups non-fat greek yogurt
  • package of ranch seasoning (use sparingly to taste)

Pineapple salsa

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallion, green part only
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Ultimate Cheese Dip

  • 6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 4-6 jalapeno’s, chopped and deseeded.  The seeds will make it fiery hot.
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion
  • 1 cup of crushed crackers
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

Prehead oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except last 3 in a baking dish so your dip is about an inch thick. Combine last three ingredients and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 20-30 min until bubbling. (Recipe via Simply Gourmet)

White bean hummus

  • 1 can canneleni beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 4 TBSP
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed garlic
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

Pulse in a food processor until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Homemade Chips

  • Fresh tortillas (wheat, flour, corn, your choice)
  • Canola Oil
  • Paper towels
  • Sea salt

In a large skillet, heat about 1/2 in of oil until hot. Test by wetting your hand and dropping water into the oil.  If it pops, it’s ready.  Cut tortillas in quarters or in eights.  Gently place first batch in oil.  Wait for underside to brown and then flip.  Take one out, let it cool, and test to make sure it’s not chewy.  Remove chips and lay out on paper towels to cool.  Put int a bowl and sprinkle salt.  You have to watch the chips AT ALL TIMES.

 

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Easy and delicious DIY BBQ sauce + Vitamix Giveaway

October 3rd, 2013 1 Comment

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Coming from a Texan, the “delicious” title is an honor for this recipe ;)

I am actually shocked at how rich the flavor is.  You’ll understand why in a second.

Kitty, my BFF from college, just turned Paleo for health reasons so she has to make a lot of condiments herself: ketchup, mayo, etc. She found this BBQ sauce recipe on one of her go-to blogs HomemadeByMommy where Lindsey “makes real food in a fake food world” AND works in the corporate world.  On top of healthy recipes, Lindsey does a monthly giveaway. In October, you can enter to win a Vitamix!  

Back to the sauce.  The ingredients are nothing fancy. All blended in a Vitamix. It came out smooth, smokey, and as I said, surprisingly delicious. Use with ribs or chicken. It will be a staple at my parties when I can’t get my hands on Goode Company sauce.

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  • 4 soft, fresh medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper, or to taste (or cayenne)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional addition: 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ cup gluten-free, low-sodium tamari

Instructions:

Cover the dates with 1 cup of warm water to soak for at least 10 minutes.
While the ribs are parboiling, make the barbecue sauce.
Transfer the dates to a food processor, reserving the soak water.* Pulse briefly to break them up. Add ¾ cup of the soak water and process until a paste begins to form, scraping down the sides frequently. Add the tomato paste, mustard, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and spices through cinnamon and pulse a few times to combine. Scrape down the sides and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. If you like horseradish, stir in a tablespoon. Set aside for the flavors to meld.
Coat meat and save some for dipping!
Yield: 4 servings plus about ¾ cup extra BBQ sauce

 

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How to make almond milk

September 12th, 2013 No Comments

As promised, here’s the DIY video.  It’s a little long, but I feel like the process is less intimidating when you see each step.

What you’ll need:

  • Vitamix blender (or something equally powerful)
  • 1-3 cups of raw almonds
  • Water of your choice (bottled, filtered, etc)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dates (your choice on what kind)
  • Nut Milk Bag
  • Glass jars

Leven shot this for me so she’s got a little cameo comment at the end :)

LMK if you have any questions.  Mary@MoreThanMary.com

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Home-made whipped cream for summer fruit desserts

September 5th, 2013 No Comments

Fruit cobbler

 

 

Now class, what’s my cobbler missing in this picture?  Nope, not ice cream.  Whipped cream!  Better for you and easier to make.

Whether you eat the delicious fruits of summer raw or roasted, a dollop of whipped cream completes the dish by cutting the sweetness.  And why not make it when it’s SOOOO easy?!

In this How-To video I share my two secrets to delicious whipped creme.

As for what you make to go underneath it, I love simply roasted fruits.  This summer I’ve been crazy for peaches so that’s usually what makes it into the pan.

Roasted Peaches

All you need to do to the fruit you’re roasting:

Coat with a little melted butter, sugar of your choice (I use sucanot), cinnamon, vanilla, and a squeeze of fresh lemon if you have it.  Put it into an oven set at 450 and wait until the fruit softens to your liking.  The smaller you cut the fruit, the quicker it will cook.  I cut mine in all different sizes so they have different textures.  (Above, before picture.)

If you want to make an official cobbler, like the one I have above, or a pot de chocolat, to go with your whipped cream, check out my recipes here. 

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Summer substitutions + the benefits of chia seeds

August 29th, 2013 1 Comment

Summer foods

 

I get tired of eating the same things day in and day out.  But! I’m not one to seek out alternatives; they have to be offered on a menu or by a friend for me to try something new.  My short stint in NYC earlier this year gave me plenty of opportunities to eat outside of my box.  I had ramp for the first time (to my knowledge) and I fell in love with chia seed pudding.  Now with the farmer’s market around the corner I’m going nuts with new combos! (See my zucchini recipes here.)

Above are a few of my favorites.  Nothing crazy, just a quick switch to keep me intrigued.

  • Chia seed pudding (my recipe below) instead of yogurt.
  • FRESH mandarin oranges in my salad instead of grapes
  • Blueberries (any fresh berry) instead of jam
  • Chic peas instead of rice or potatoes
  • Delicious yellow tomatoes instead of red
  • Quinoa with roasted peaches instead of oatmeal with blueberries.

Don’t get me wrong, I love jam and potatoes and the rest of it, but I just needed a change.

Chia seed pudding is SUPER simple to make, which is preferable over buying it.   I’ve found that the ones in whole foods have addititves you don’t really need.  So here’s all you need to do to whip up your own.

Chia Seed Pudding

  1. Pour one cup of fresh almond milk in a bowl (my DIY almond milk video coming soon, I promise!)
  2. Add one half of a 1/4 cup of chia seeds, a little vanilla (about 1 tspn), and cinnamon if you feel like it.  Stir.
  3. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.  You’ll find the next day the seeds have created a gel to thicken the milk and it’s a nice little pudding.  If you want it to be thicker (I like mine thin), then add more seeds next time.

There are many benefits to eating chia seeds.  

  • Best source of Omega-3s (even moreso than salmon)
  • Controls blood sugar by slowing conversion of carbs to simply sugars
  • Make you feel fuller faster by forming a gel that is 10x their weight in water
  • Chia gel is hydrating

Some say it helps with weight loss which is due to the fact the seeds make you feel fuller faster.

 

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Can zucchini be the star player in your dish?

August 15th, 2013 No Comments

Zucchini

 

In all honesty, this is my first time to cook, and not cook, with zucchini.  It always seems like filler to me: chunky, bland, with nothing really to bring to table.  Then, I ate at M.A.K.E.,  an all raw restaurant on the top of the Santa Monica mall (terrible location but the food blows my mind).  We ordered the raw lasagna (which I now eat almost weekly) where they used ribboned zucchini instead of noodles. I noticed the zuchinni’s mild flavor and sturdy flesh allows it to support food with bigger personalities.

When I saw the squash at the farmer’s market, I decided to try my hand with it.  Below are two recipes using zuchhini ribbons as “noodles” that were very well received amongst my recent guests, one of which was paleo.  She says the zucchini noodles are the answer to her paleo prayers!

The first I totally made up on the fly; the second is from one of my favorite cookbooks/food-bloggers, Smitten Kitchen.

In both I used a mandolin to get the zucchini into thin slices, but you can also try a regular peeler to make your ribbons.  Just note that a peeler will give you more ribbons without the skin, which makes it sturdy.  So if you have to use peeler, you’ll need to cut cooking time or serve the raw ribbons quickly.

Chicken Basil Bolognese Salad

Chicken Basil Bolognese Salad

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 3/4 lb ground chicken
  • Organicville Tomato and Basil Sauce (Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil, leaves sliced
  • 1 zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Cooked quinoa (not for paleo people!)
  • Garlic
  • Grape seed oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 onion, diced fresh tomatoes, grated parmesean cheese

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Preparation:

  1. Chop up 1/4 of an onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic.  Sautee in a heated pan. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, cook until ALMOST done, but not all the way through. Drain out the juice.
  2. Add 1/2 jar of tomato sauce and set to simmer.
  3. Using a mandolin or peeler, thinly slice zucchini.  If using a mandolin, cut your thick ribbons into smaller “noodles” like above.
  4. Mix cooked quinoa (should be at least at room temp or warm), a little of the sliced basil, salt, and pepper.  Put into the bottom of your bowls.
  5. In a skillet with a little grape seed oil, fill with spinach and quickly wilt, adding a little salt and pepper.  Add to one bowl, repeat for the second.
  6. Add some sliced basil and diced tomatoes to your bolognese sauce that’s simmering.  You might also add a little more tomato sauce to thicken.
  7. In the same skillet, sautee zucchini noodles BARELY, adding a little salt.  Just enough for them to soften.  Divide between bowls.
  8. Spoon bolognese sauce on the top of your bowls.  Add cheese if you want!

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Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto

From Smitten Kitchen cookbook

Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients (serves 4, I got 6 small plates out of it):

  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed (about 4 medium, thin and longer if you can find them)

 Preparation:

  1. Grind almonds, Parmesan, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil and pulse a few times until incorporated. Pour the dressing into a large salad bowl and let it roll up and around the sides. (I only used about 1/4 of what I made and saved the rest in the fridge.)
  2. Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler or mandolin and place zucchini ribbons in the dressing-coated bowl. Toss the ribbons gently (your hands work best – I massaged the pesto into the zucchini) attempting to coat the zucchini as evenly as possible. Serve at room temperature quickly so the zucchini doesn’t lose it’s pretty shape!

 

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