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Easy and delicious DIY BBQ sauce + Vitamix Giveaway

October 3rd, 2013 1 Comment


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.


  • 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


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 1 Comment

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 1 Comment



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



  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!



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)


  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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Hearty summer salad

June 6th, 2013 No Comments

Asparagus White Bean Salad Melissa Clark

I can’t make this salad for at least another two weeks, but once I’m in a real kitchen, it will be on the top of my list.  Melissa Clark’s recipes never disappoint!

She states in her NYT article that she had issues with dried beans and that Great Northern canned beans worked just fine. (Yay!)

What I love about this dish is that it’s a departure from most light and citrusy salads that I usually have to eat a mountain of before I feel satisfied.  You can also toss the leftovers in quinoa with fresh basil, tomatoes, and turkey and have a whole new salad.

White Bean Asparagus Salad with Tarragon-Lemon Dressing

By Melissa Clark, New York Times Dining 6/5/2013

Total time: 20 minutes (plus soaking time for dried beans), serves 4-6


  • 8 ounces dried white beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
  • Salt
  • 2 bay leaves, if using dried beans
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


(If using canned beans, drain and rinse. If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water for 6 hours or overnight.)

  1. Drain beans and transfer to a medium pot.  Cover beans by 2 inches with water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Simmer until just tender but not at all mushy, about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending upon what kind of beans you’re using. Drain.
  2. Break off tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch trimmed asparagus for 1 1/2 minutes, or until just cooked through but still firm, then plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Pat dry and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about 1 minute.4.In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.
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The secret ingrendients of spring

May 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Fresh fish at Market Table NYC

One of my favorite parts (at this point in time, one of the ONLY parts) I like about living in NYC is the fresh and inventive food.  It’s no San Fran just-cut-from-the-garden-to-table fare, but the chefs here keep me satisfied.  Last night, we ate at Market Table, a West Village staple from one of my all-time favorite chefs Joey Companaro (of famed Little Owl) and Mike Price.  As always, the food was amazing.  Adventurous, not so much, but seasonal, sensational, and solid.  (Side Note: Campanara and Price have just opened a new joint a few doors down called Fatty ‘Cue which they say is their “effort to bring a little Southeast Asian fermented funkiness and a whole helluva a lot of smoke.”)

As you may or may not be able to tell from the picture above, we ordered “the usual” for a group of girls: fish and chicken.  (Not pictured: Quinoa Hushpuppies with chipotle mayo that blew my mind.) What I loved about these dishes was the use of the seasonal veg I don’t normally use at home: ramps, fava beans, and snap peas.  All are the rage with NYC chefs right now.  Apparently there’s even a ramp festival….wild I’m sure. Asparagus is also in season.

The question then remains, how shall we use these yummy ingredients at home?  I have some ideas of what I would do if I had a functioning, clean kitchen to whip up something tasty.



I had never even heard of a ramp until it was all over the menu at ABC Kitchen the other night.  As you can see they look like leeks and have a powerful onion and garlic flavor.  So, maybe they are more familiar than we think.  Food blog theKitchn says:

“They pair beautifully with eggs, potatoes, and anything creamy (like a cream-based soup). Treat them gently, use both the green and the white part (everything but the nubby root end) and cook them lightly. Butter or olive oil are both fine fats for ramp-cooking, a tablespoon or so for every cup of chopped ramps.”

The season goes by fast so try out a few recipes while you can still grab a bundle.  To get you started:


My food photography just doesn’t hold up to the pro bloggers, but I can tell you the dishes I post taste good.  That’s all that counts, right?!

I know it seems like we see asparagus all year long, but it’s really not appetizing raw until it’s in seasonClick here for Bon Appetit’s breakdown of the many ways you can prepare it.  This raw salad is “Ribboned Asparagus” from SmittenKitchen.  So simple and always a hit at dinner parties.

More recipes:


 Herbed Pea Sauce

I can’t get enough of fresh peas.  I could just eat a whole bag of fresh boiled peas.  No seasoning needed.  But, should you want to spice them up, consider this recipe for Herbed Pea Sauce from Bon Appetit that seems to compliment a lot of our “usual” dishes.

The Big Kahuna

Pea Asparagus Fava Bean Salad

Pea, Asparagus, and Fava Bean Salad

From Bon Appetit, April 2012


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen fava beans, thawed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, stalks peeled if thick
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  • Whisk olive oil, Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Set dressing aside.
  • If using fresh fava beans, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water (do not cook frozen beans). Drain and peel; place in a large bowl.
  • Return water in saucepan to a boil; add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to colander in ice water.
  • If using fresh peas, return water in saucepan to a boil; add peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes (do not cook frozen peas). Drain; transfer to colander in ice water. Drain vegetables. Add to bowl with fava beans.
  • Combine vegetable oil and shallot in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is golden brown and crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer shallot to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add dressing to bowl with vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer salad to a serving platter and top with shallot and bacon.
  • DO AHEAD: Dressing and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.




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Cheese block –> grated cup conversion tip

April 4th, 2013 No Comments
Grated cheese
“When a recipe calls for grated cheese, you might not always know how big a block you should buy. The texture of the cheese makes all the difference, but as a general rule

3 to 4 ounces whole yields 1 cup grated.

To measure grated cheese, put it in a dry measuring cup and tap it against the counter; don’t pack it firmly.”  — Food NetworkGood to know…although, sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra left over :)

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