Engaging stories of love, joy, comfort and friendship with proven scrumptious, healthy recipes, we celebrate LOVE as the secret ingredient for wonderful food!

Subscription Box, Spring 2015 Revealed

Subscription box, MARY's secret ingredients, Spring  2015.MARY’s secret ingredients subscription box, spring 2015, revealed!!

We had so much fun!! It is so interesting to research and find new companies and products, do the testing :), and then pick the best for you! This box has products from Italy and Scotland, spice mixes influenced by the foods of South America, a delicious new form of low calorie pasta that’s really made of vegetables but you’d never know it, an amazing kitchen tool, the BEST cheese straws and the most flavorful and wonderful tasting pho. If you ordered a box, you won’t be disappointed. And I’ve got some knockout recipes coming up, using all of these products as ingredients, giving all the ready-to-eat items a whole new usage.

In doing this, we hope to inspire you with new recipes to take the doldrums out of the daily question, “What’s for dinner?” Please email us any recipes you create using these products as we are planning on developing a community cookbook with the whole collection at the end of the year. Won’t that make a great holiday gift?

And by buying a box, you’ve just helped in our efforts and partnership with Feed The Children to eradicate worldwide childhood hunger. Thank you for joining in on our big hairy audacious goal.

Please take a look at our super cute video put together by our amazing team – it’s worth the one minute!! (who knew products could dance?)

Our June summer box ships on June 25th! You can order that here.


Chef’s Planet Cit-TreaseChef's Planet Cit-Trease.

Chef’s Planet makes life in the kitchen easier by offering unique, cleverly designed gadgets to fit your active lifestyle. They are constantly thinking of new ways to make cooking simpler and more enjoyable! This clever tool makes it easy to remove citrus from the peel so you can enjoy fresh fruit cut up in a bowl or juiced in a juicer. Simply score the citrus in a complete rotation by placing the blade teeth at the edge of the peel. Continue rotating the citrus and move the Cit-Trease handle in a perpendicular position to the face of the fruit until it pulls away from the peel. Getting juiced was never so easy & healthy!

– Stainless steel blade will not rust or tarnish
– Great for preparing citrus and other “scoopable” foods like avocados and squash
– Dishwasher safe (top shelf)
– Patent pending

Chelsea Market Baskets - Reids of Caithness Oatie Bites.

Chelsea Market Basket – Their founder’s passion for inspired specialty food and thoughtfully designed gifts led to the creation of Chelsea Market Baskets in 1993. Owner, David Porat continues to search the world for distinctly high quality, unique, innovative products with a certain indescribable charm. Chelsea Market Baskets aims to delight customers through their retail shop in NYC, mail order gift business and wholesale imports.

Reids of Caithness Oaties – Product of Scotland

Donald Reid started this family-run bakery located in Thurso, Scotland in 1966 using his grandmother’s over 100 year-old recipes. He uses the same locally grown oats from the same mills that his grandmother used to bake her delicious biscuits and cakes. The recipes are unchanged and their award winning, buttery, crisp cookies have stood the test of time. We can see why!

Delta Bred Cheese Straws.


Delta Bred Cheese Straws

We are excited to share with you one of their most treasured family recipes. These cheese straws are made in small batches and use 100% real cheddar cheese. They are perfect for anyone looking for fine taste at fine times! Whether you enjoy your cheese straws with sweet tea or mint juleps, we can assure you will experience the mighty fine taste of Delta Bred!



Harvest Foods Shirataki Harvest Noodles MarinaraHarvest Noodles Shirataki Marinara.

Made from Konjac Yam Root, this secret weight loss food enjoyed in Asia is now available to you in a vibrant marinara sauce of blended tomatoes, onions, basil and sea salt to delight your taste buds. Healthy and convenient, Shirataki Noodles are vegan and low calorie, making them perfect for anyone trying to be mindful of their weight.

Skinny and easy never tasted so good!

Loacker Cremkakao chocolate bar;
Loacker Cremkakao Chocolate Bar
– Product of Italy 

Nine – count ’em nine – bite-size pieces make up Loacker‘s velvety chocolate bar with cream-filled centers and their signature light and crispy wafers. They make them easy to break apart so each bar-within-the-bar is a treat unto itself to savor and linger over. Cremkakao is a milk chocolate bar.

So easy, yet at the same time, so hard to share. 

Samba Flavor Chimichurri Dry Mix.

Samba Flavor Chimichurri Dry Mix

This is your chimichurri on the go! Created with gourmet quality herbs and spices for the chimichurri lover, this is very easy to prepare. You can mix it with wine, vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil. Adjust to your preferred acidity and taste! 

Enjoy the best flavors of South America!


Savory Creations Veggie Authentic Pho.


Savory Choice Authentic Veggie Pho

Made with traditional flavors and aromatics, infused in a rich broth, this pho contains no artificial flavors or coloring and is made with natural ingredients. Add your choice of protein or veggies, cooked rice noodles and garnish with your choice of condiments to create the perfect pho dish in minutes. Each stick pouch of liquid broth concentrate is reconstituted with 2 cups (16 oz) of hot water.

Savor the homemade flavor!



MARY’s secret ingredients Fall Box Revealed

fallbox_front We really are having such a grand time with MARY’s secret ingredients! The fall box shipped out on schedule on September 25th so everyone should have theirs by now. We hope that all of you who ordered one were just as excited as we were with the mix of ingredients this season. This box is full of wonderful things to spice up your cooking and make preparing a gourmet meal a breeze with all the interesting flavors and the two very exciting new tools enclosed.

A very big thank you to all of you who purchased, as every box sold adds to a contribution to Feed The Children. We will donate 10% of all profits to that global organization at the end of this year. No one should go hungry.

And now our lovely Marie, who will be performing in the premiere of a new opera in November here in NYC, (we’re so excited!) introduces the products to the tune, HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING from the musical “Rich, Young, and Pretty”, written by Cahn & Brodzky, and made famous by Dean Martin and Helen O’Connell.    

We’re having so much fun!




Calphalon is a leading manufacturer of professional quality cookware, cutlery, bakeware, kitchen electrics and accessories for the home cook. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Calphalon is a part of Newell Rubbermaid’s global portfolio of leading brands.

Nylon Solid Turner: This spatula is smartly designed with a unique serrated edge to cut food, and the low-profile head is angled to slide under food for easy turning. Crafted with heat-resistant soft-touch silicone accents, this utensil gives you a perfect balance of comfort and control.  Dishwasher safe, heat resistant to 400° F, and won’t scratch nonstick cookware. Full lifetime warranty!  




Falksalt sea salt flakes are extracted from pure, clean Mediterranean Sea water using traditional methods. It’s harvested in Cyprus and sold by Swedish Salinity Food with 180 years experience in trading salt. It’s a 100% natural product with no chemicals, no anticaking agents and all natural additives. Falksalt offers a wide range of natural and flavored sea salt flakes.

Falksalt Crystal Flakes Citron: These light flakes add a burst of bright lemon flavor to everything from fish and vegetables to ice cream and chocolate. Bake, cook or just top off your favorite dish before serving. Be daring!





Harmonian is a Greek brand established in June 2013. The company’s aim is to bring a new un­derstanding of “healthy and taste conscious” food to the market.

Kalamata PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil : Olive Oil is the true “juice of life” and is a secret shared by people at the Mediterranean basin for ages. The land of Messenia, at the southwestern end of Peloponnese in Greece, produces the fine oil of the “Koroneiki” olive variety. Harmonian selects only its top quality crops and embottles their most precious extracts with the utmost care. This oil is silky in texture, keen in flavor and rich in aroma, extra virgin, high quality. It can be enjoyed both raw and cooked.   



KIND® was launched in 2004 with the aim of inspiring people to do the kind thing for your body, your taste buds, & your world. From its delicious foods made from ingredients you can see and pronounce to its commitment to social entrepreneurship, KIND® is focused on making the world a little kinder one act (and snack) at a time.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond bar: A brand new flavor! Dark roast coffee and whole almonds blended with honey and drizzled in dark chocolate to form a bar that, with just 5g of sugar, only tastes indulgent.

Smoulder seasoning.


Their founder’s passion for inspired specialty foods, and thoughtfully designed gifts, led to the creation of Chelsea Market Baskets in 1993. Owner David Porat continues to search the world for innovative products that are distinctly high quality, fresh, unique, and have a certain indescribable charm. Chelsea Market Baskets’ ultimate goal is to delight their customers through their Chelsea Market retail shop in New York City, their mail order gift business, and their wholesale imports. They believe in product integrity and a high level of customer service. Their mission is to heighten each and every customer’s experience with these core values.

Smoulder Spice Grinder – Elements Of Spice By Kalk Bay Food : Warning: Smoking Is Addictive! A few grinds of this mix will conjure up barbeque fun. Everyone’s favorite spices, artisanally cold smoked over beech chips, make the perfect seasoning for meat on the braai. Kalk Bay Food, based in Capetown, South Africa, blends spices from around the globe into unique and delicious combinations. They are known for the quality and freshness of their products.
From rare single-origin salts to inventive spice blends, Kalk Bay Food will enhance the flavor of whatever is on the dinner table.



Founded in 2010, The Pantry Club is part of a family business established by Matt and Alicia Webb. It offers ten gourmet-quality dip mix flavors that are made from natural ingredients, are MSG-free, nitrate-free and are gluten-free (with the exception of Bacon Cheddar which has gluten in it). The dip mixes can be made with the classic recipe, or they can be used to create a wide variety of meal ideas; for sauces, soups and marinades – creating hassle-free cooking that is simply delicious.

Spinach Mix Dip (Gluten Free): This special combination of seasonings not only has incredible taste, but it is a delightful complement to fresh vegetables, crackers, baked potatoes, seafood or pasta salad, or use dry as a seasoning.  


Tovolo believes time spent cooking should be fun, and they are honored to be a part of this experience in your home. They challenge themselves to improve the performance, function and appearance of kitchen tools. They obsess over every detail to ensure their product will out-perform expectations. However, performance alone is not enough; they want to put a smile on their customer’s face as well. They strive to add a colorful element of fun to each of their items.

The Perfect Poach: Finally, a solution to make a perfect, delicious poached egg EVERY SINGLE TIME without oil or butter! These handy bags take the guesswork and mess out of poaching eggs. Simply crack an egg into the pouch—use one pouch for each egg—immerse in simmering water, and remove after four to six minutes. Slide your perfectly poached egg onto a plate and enjoy. Bags can only be used once but they are recyclable, biodegradable, and non-stick.

Calphalon Skillet Giveaway!

Calphalon non stick dishwasher safe skillet.Calphalon was the cookware I chose for my bridal registry — some 33 years ago!!! (yikes!) I still have and use every single pan I received as a gift – about eight different ones. So, when the Calphalon people asked me to review their new, non-stick, 13” deep skillet with a beautiful glass lid (I love glass lids – so you can see what the heck is going on in there – besides, they’re pretty), I said, “Sure!”. I also added in that I could do a Calphalon Skillet Giveaway so that one of you, lucky readers, would be able to share in my joy of cooking! A major selling point with this skillet is that it is dishwasher safe, something my husband loves, since that’s his job. That’s our agreement. I cook, he cleans. (Thank the good Lord!)

Calphalon skillet browning chicken breasts.

I wanted to put the skillet through its paces. First – basic – browning chicken skin. Last Friday night, I made this chicken breast recipe that Steve picked out from a food magazine. Of course I had to make it my own. I just can’t help myself. I know interior designers who have to rearrange hotel rooms or who just can’t help but to fluff and rearrange pillows. I am like that with recipes. This recipe didn’t call for any browning, but how can you not do that with chicken breasts that have skin on? Besides, I wanted to render that fat out and get some crispness going. You can see the beautiful job the skillet did in just 5 minutes. The recipe, eh – was just okay. It wasn’t worthy enough to share with you as it used too much butter and was too sweet from the maple syrup.

Calphalon skillet browning garlic.

Next was making my garlic soft and golden to sauté with kale from my garden. It was beautiful and my kale with just garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper turned out amazingly delicious! This skillet is so non-stick that rather than using my customary 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I only used one!

Calphalon skillet with kale.

Here, with the kale in it, you can see just how large the skillet is. This amount of kale fed five people and there’s ample room for more.Calphalon skillet with catfish frying.

My final test was last night. I fried catfish (again – second time this summer!) with a simple breading of only Old Bay and flour, no egg or cornmeal this time. (I am on this Old Bay kick – it’s so good and makes it so easy to add a lot of flavor.) To me, frying is the ultimate test of a skillet.

The catfish turned out beautiful and delicious! It was crisp, nicely browned, with moist fish inside, and it took no time for the oil to heat up.

This skillet is great for everything so it will be great for fast, one-skillet meals with an easy clean-up to boot!

What is your favorite one-dish meal to cook in a skillet? Comment and answer below  to be entered into a random drawing to win one of these beautiful, 13 inch, non-stick, dishwasher safe, Calphalon skillets! Good luck!!!

One entry per person, please.

Shout out your favorite one-skillet meal.

Winners will be announced next Thursday.

Calphalon will mail the skillet directly to you.

Giveaway sponsored by LOVE – the secret ingredient.

Chef’s Planet Nonstick Toaster Ovenliner

THIS is a really handy, dandy thing, this Chef’s Planet Nonstick Toaster Ovenliner, which was included in our MARY’s secret ingredients summer box. You know when your husband or kids just make total messes in your toaster oven? Or when you decide to get clever and not use your big oven because you don’t want to heat up the whole house in the summertime, and you roast a chicken or bake a blueberry or peach pie and you know the mess it’s going to make but you do it anyway?

Well Chef’s Planet is this nifty company and is here to save the day. Their whole mission in life, their entire reason for existence, is to make your life easier in the kitchen. We like them. We really like them!

Toaster oven tray pulled out.

Here’s my toaster oven tray from just toasting some bread.

Toaster oven tray with an ovenliner.

And look at it now with my new ovenliner. And I can just take that baby out and wipe it clean (it’s nonstick, remember) or even throw it in the dishwasher, woo hoo!!! Thank you Chef’s Planet!

Visit their site and take a look at their other great products. They even make a full size ovenliner, which is next on my list. Be liberated and throw away that tinfoil I know you have down there now. The good folks at Chef’s Planet actually wanted to include a full oven-sized liner, but it wouldn’t fit in our box. :( Maybe next year we’ll grow bigger boxes!

Our Gluten-Free summer MARY’s secret ingredients Box!

Our summer MARY’s secret ingredients box was mailed last Wednesday, so all of you who ordered should have received it by now. We love these products and as it turns out, they are ALL gluten-free, even the toaster oven liner! And a big thank you to all of you for supporting our mission to eradicate worldwide hunger, as your purchase helps to support Feed The Children.

We have great items to eat and drink, just as they are, at any of your upcoming picnics or BBQ’s, and as I did with the spring box, I will provide inspiration and recipes using all of the ingredients here on this blog over the next two weeks, so please stay tuned.  

Check out the video below of our lovely Marie opening a box to the Frank Sinatra tune of HOW ABOUT YOU.

LOVE, Mary  

Or you can check it out on youtube here.



ZUKALI MEXICAN GOURMET  Big taste, small beginnings. Zukali Mexican Gourmet was born out of a passion for making food and salsas at cookouts with friends and family in their hometown of McKinney, Texas. At Zukali, flavor is foremost.

Cilantro Pineapple Salsa: Inspired by tacos al pastor, this tangy love story of cilantro & pineapple is sure to arouse your tastebuds. We roast fresh peppers over an open flame, we toss in pineapple, and steep it all in a special blend of spices to bathe your mouth in salsa bliss.  


Community Spice Company was founded by nurse Janis Callon in 2010. She comes from a family of foodies. Her father, Stanley, was an executive with Del Monte and her mother, Donna, was a registered dietician. Distressed by the poor quality and the outrageously salty spice blends typically found in the stores, she became adamant to make a healthy low sodium flavored spice blend line that used premium ingredients with realistic labeling for serving sizes.

Community Spices

barbi Q: A perky spice blend that is Community Spice Company’s signature flavor! It is fun, friendly, and the life of the party. Perfect on steak, salmon, ribs, burgers, chicken and home fries.

ka Bobbii: Light and luscious. Lemony with a stimulating twist. 
Perfect pick up to fish, chicken, couscous, lentils, & quinoa.

SNP 400: Flexible blend with national appeal. Fantastic with roast chicken, burgers, soups & chili.

mz. Curri: Exotic and confident. This blend takes no prisoners nor will you! Great on veggies, chicken, pork, prawns, fish and onions!



SIMPLY7  The idea behind Simply7 was born because most of the food you are eating everyday is made with ingredients that most people don’t recognize and can’t even pronounce. Simply7 decided to make sure that every ingredient in their products is not only natural but is SIMPLE. Everyone should be able to identify the raw vegetable, fruit, grain, or legume used as ingredients in their products.

Sea Salt Quinoa Chips: All of Simply7 Quinoa Chip flavors are designed to deliver all the flavor and nutrients of the ancient super grain, quinoa. Sea salt is our “original” flavor and truly brings out the slightly nutty flavor of quinoa. You might expect sea salt to be similar to the flavors of other basic salted snacks but it is so much more. The unique flavor of quinoa and the light dusting of sea salt makes for a snacking experience that will keep you reaching for more.




CHEF’S PLANET  Chef’s Planet makes life in the kitchen easier. It also offers other innovative, problem-solving kitchenware. They believe you can balance cooking with a busy life, so they are constantly thinking of new ways to make cooking simpler and more enjoyable!

What exactly is an ovenliner? Well, it’s a time saver. A drip and crumb catcher. No need to use chemical cleaners. Chef’s Planet toaster-ovenliner can be easily trimmed to fit on the rack. And, best yet, it’s MADE IN THE USA!  


JAXN’S TWICE-BAKED POTATO STIX®  The Bodacious Food Company, committed to providing fresh, great tasting premium baked products, created Jaxn’s Twice-Baked Potato Stix® in 2009 as their gluten free and all natural baked snack. Jaxn’s introduces a new, unique concept in better-for-you snacking.

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper: Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper is a perfect duo of century-old flavors. Experience our snack’s robust blend of cracked pepper and natural sea salt. We sprinkle our flavorsome spice recipe on each twice-baked stix, providing “ingredient conscious” snacks bite-after-bite. Bye bye fries!  


  Bruce Cost Ginger Ale was founded in 2010 by Bruce Cost, author of an award-winning cookbook, a chef and a ginger lover. The original recipe was first created as part of a medicinal dinner. Several years later, after amassing a cult following for the beverage, Cost began bottling it with his partners, entrepreneurs Joseph and Terry Tang. In 2014, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale opened its very own factory, bringing the brewing process to Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Ginger Ale Original: Proud descendent of the first soft drink, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is delicious, sparking and rich with whole ginger. Made with only fresh ginger (no extracts or oils) and pure cane sugar, this is a fundamentally simple, delicious and spicy beverage. Unfiltered with rich ginger particles, it provides iron and a little vitamin C as well as refreshment. MADE IN BROOKLYN

CLEAN, LEAN AND SEXY Summer_box_Products__0003_CleanLeanSexy
Clean, Lean and Sexy was inspired by a mother’s mission to transform her daughter’s health. Suzie Carpenter, a Certified Nutrition and Peak Health Coach founded Clean, Lean and Sexy to provide great-tasting whole food energy products in the form of simple, gluten-free healthy snacks.

Coconut Cashew All Natural Whole Food Energy Bar: Healthy snacks without hidden ingredients are hard to find. Clean, Lean and Sexy Whole Food Energy Bars are made with only pure, all natural, recognizable ingredients; and they taste great! They are made with real coconut and without gluten, corn, soy or dairy ingredients. There are also no processed sugars or artificial sweeteners. Indulge, enjoy and be free (now that’s sexy)! It’s a No Grainer! 




 Please note: Mortar and pestle are a part of MARY’s secret ingredients trademark and are not items included in the box.

Best Pancakes on a Great Griddle!

Pancakes cooking on a griddle. Well they say that summer is here – heh heh – I wore a silk shawl and a raincoat on Thursday. Did you hear that – a COAT – in mid-June. Who ever heard of such a thing! But truly, it is the grilling season and the good folks at Wilton Armetale wanted to send me a griddle to try out. I said, “SURE, I know that brand well!” When my husband and I got married some 33 years ago (eee gads!), we received so many Wilton Armetale pieces – several different sizes of platters, bowls, and other serving dishes. At the time, we had never heard of them. (what did we know?) They must have had a marketing initiative and became all the rage. They were pretty – looked like pewter but no need to polish. We still use those same pieces today. Pancakes cooking on a griddle.

So now, I guess they figured out that the material is a great conductor of heat and are positioning this griddle as a “cook and serve” piece. For cooking it is terrific, but I personally don’t see the need to bring a hot grill pan to the table. No matter, this is an excellent griddle. I love the size – it spans two burners so you can cook six big pancakes at a time! Which is exactly what I did the first time out. You can also use this on your outdoor grill for things like asparagus and other vegetables. The smooth surface is a nice alternative rather than having grill marks, when you don’t want them.

I’d like to share with you this pancake recipe from AllRecipes.com. I looked for an easy one as I’m not about to be whipping egg whites and folding them in on a Sunday morning, as my brother Steve does. He LOVES making breakfast, and we get to be the lucky receivers/eaters when we are all together. I love to eat a great breakfast without spending too much time making it and then get on with the day filled with an already too big list of things I need to do on a weekend, if you know what I mean. This recipe produced super light and fluffy cakes – give it a go tomorrow morning and let me know how it works for you!

My mother always served us our pancakes with melted butter and warmed maple syrup. She would say, “Well how can you put a cold pat of butter on your pancakes – it’ll take some time to melt and then everything will get cold. You need warm melted butter and warm syrup – not cold syrup from the refrigerator.”

I know, we were spoiled, and I have kept up that tradition. :)
Pancakes on a plate.

GOOD OLD FASHIONED PANCAKES – serves 4 – adapted from AllRecipes.com (they say this serves 8, but I think not)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten 
3 tbs. butter, melted

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk and melted butter. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the liquid mixture; mix until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes to let the baking powder activate.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.