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

No Fuss Lunch and last day for a summer box!

No Fuss Lunch.Recently I met this woman I’d like to tell you about. Gaby Wilday is a trailblazer. Based out of Ridgewood, NJ, Gaby is doing something that should be available all across the country. I think she’s aiming for that and I sure hope she achieves it. She’s a mother of 3 children, one 9 year-old and 7 year-old twins. She saw a need for providing truly healthy lunches for her kids and other children in school.
She is a co-founder of No Fuss Lunch where parents and children can go online to choose and order their lunch for the next day, as long as they do it by 8 pm the night before. That is very generous, time-wise. Gaby and her team of 18 people now, create healthy nutritious lunches that contain non-GMO ingredients, no white sugar, no white flour, no high fructose corn syrup and no MSG. The lunches consist of a wholesome entrée, fresh fruit, a vegetable with a dip, a small sweet treat, an antibacterial wipe and a bottle of spring water. She says their “secret ingredient” is their dip because including the dip insures the child will eat the raw vegetables. That’s super smart and a little sneaky too, but hey, that’s okay. However, I’d say their secret ingredient is the love they put into it too!

I remember, when my kids were young, the mornings were very, very hectic. I made homemade cookies almost every Sunday afternoon for the week ahead. Bar cookies were the best and easiest option. On school-day mornings, between flipping pancakes or frying bacon and scrambling eggs, and making the sandwiches for their lunches, while making sure the backpacks had the right homework, not to mention we had a neighbor boy come for breakfast every morning for a little while, I was a bit of a non-stop maniac. So much so, that when my oldest son was in high school, he gave me the book, Take Your Time by Eknath Easwarin, which got me into a meditation practice that I still use today. The book was about focusing on doing one thing at a time because I used to drive my son nuts! But I digress. Those days were crazy and many mothers don’t even go there, with good reason.

However, with No Fuss Lunch, these moms today don’t have to be so crazy in the morning. The lunches are made by other moms, just as concerned about healthy eating, for good bones and good brains. Gaby started with 7 lunches a day in one school. She and her team now serve over 2000 lunches a day in 5 different school districts in NJ. The lunches are made fresh that morning and delivered to the school in time with each child’s name on the bag.

No Fuss Lunch is now even branching out to delivering healthy family meals too! Gaby Wilday.Of course I LOVE Gaby’s philosophy of clean healthy eating and even for her dinner delivery service, she talks about “comfort food, but not the “comfort food” trend of the past several years: fattening, heavy, brain dulling. Modern comfort food is truly taking care of your family with ultra-healthy, intelligent choices, ease, and delightfully delicious options. All of the flavor, none of the FUSS.”

I think Gaby has a great thing going on here – for individuals and for our country as a whole. No Fuss is all about building a healthy future through smarter food.

You are what you eat.

Add a little LOVE, and you’ll be just fine!!

And to add some healthy inspiration to your dinners, order a summer box, up until midnight tonight! This was our spring box and our surprise summer box will be even better. Use the code FOODIESLOVE for 25% off!Subscription box, MARY's secret ingredients, Spring 2015.

The Very Best Way to Cook Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob on a plate ready to eat.It’s the season!! And there are so many ways to cook corn on the cob. Boil it in regular water, water with a little sugar, water with a little milk, place it in boiling water, turn the heat off and let it sit, shuck it and steam it, shuck it and grill it and so on. However, this way, I guarantee will become your favorite. This produces the freshest cooked corn on the cob because you don’t remove it from its natural packaging until you’re ready to eat it. Never, ever water-logged, cooking corn this way turns out so wonderful, (assuming it’s good corn), and so sweet, you won’t even want butter!

Really.

It’s that good.

Plus, you won’t have all that sticky silk all over your kitchen floor because you had to shuck it beforehand. No siree!!

You’re gonna LOVE this!!

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Buy your corn by feeling the heft and weight. Do not peel back the husks and peek. Corn on a baking sheet.

Just remove any dried and damaged outer leaves, trim dark silk ends hanging out at the end with scissors and put all your ears on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, each ear with its full husk on. Corn on the cob out of the oven.When done, remove and peel husks off using hot pad mitts and serve. You don’t even need butter on this corn because what happens here is that the silk melts into the corn and makes it so sweet. Plus, it isn’t water logged so it’s crisp, and you don’t have the awful job of shucking them beforehand with all that silk making a mess. This is great, naked, fresh corn. (and low in calories with no butter needed) Enjoy!! Roast an extra ear or two, shuck and wrap in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator and use another night. Cut the corn off the cob for a salad. Use a serrated knife for best results.

Now here’s the sad part, corn is one of those things, of all vegetables, that is most likely to be genetically modified, so try to buy your corn from a local organic farmer who knows his seeds were not GMO. Ask first. :)

 

Pork Chops, Peaches and Pet Peeves

Pork chops with peaches in a skillet.I don’t know about you, but some things I cannot understand. (now I sound like my mother – hmmm, not necessarily a totally bad thing) Like, why aren’t people at home at dinnertime and sitting down and eating a proper meal? I see kids on the bus eating 6 mini powdered sugar covered doughnuts at dinnertime. Kids running on the street with 2 packs of Milk Duds grasped in their hands. I, for one, happen to hate cocktail parties or small plates the whole night long. At some point, I want to sit down, eat some real food, a real dinner, on a plate. My five brothers and me, we’re all the same. It drives some of my sister-in-laws crazy. I have friends who LOVE cocktail parties/small plates as the whole dinner. I was taught to not spoil your appetite and have a real dinner, so I hardly eat anything at those events, and then if there’s nothing more, I’m in trouble!

Once, when we were kids, we took a family vacation down south. One of my Dad’s close business friends had a daughter getting married. Now at that time in the South, (maybe it’s still true today) they believed that a fancy wedding consisted of an endless champagne fountain (probably of very good champagne), cucumber sandwiches and cake! Well, here we were, 6 kids, and starving for dinner. I remember that EVERYONE got really drunk, except my mother, who didn’t think it was very funny. She was so angry and in her opinion, I remember her saying to my Dad, “John, these children are starving for dinner. Can’t these rich people feed anyone?” and begging him to leave to go anywhere to get some food for all of us. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old but it made such an impression on me.

And here I am, quite the same today. Tomorrow, we will go to a cocktail party benefit at The Apollo Theater, starting at 6:30 and I will want to leave soon after to come home to eat a dinner that I will make – Buttermilk Roast Chicken that has been marinating since Saturday. Easy, if you plan it!

Pork and peaches on a plate with zucchini.Last night I threw together this combo – pork chops with peaches, sweet onions, and shallots with some roasted zucchini. It was delicious. And we were sitting down.

PORK CHOPS WITH PEACHES, SWEET ONIONS AND SHALLOTS – serves 3
3 pork chops with tenderloin section, 3/4” thick
11/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
Mary’s cocoa spice rub on one side of chops, S + P on the other side
1/2 large Vidalia onion, cut in 1/4 “ thick slices
2 small shallots, peeled and cut into 1/4” slices
3 smallish white peaches, washed, cored and cut into 8 slices
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a Vouvrey)
Parsley, chopped for garnish

This spice rub is just terrific to have around for use on pork, duck, or chicken. Use a mini spice grinder and keep it in a tightly closed glass jar or plastic container.

MARY’s COCOA SPICE RUB
1 tbs. raw cocoa nibs/cacao
1.5 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
8 juniper berries
4 whole cloves
Combine everything in a mini spice grinder and pulse until finely ground.

Wash pork chops and dry with a paper towel. Season one side of the chops with a heavy sprinkling of the spice rub.

Melt the butter in the oil in a large skillet on low heat. Add sliced onions and shallots, cover for about 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium high. Add chops, seasoned side down and let cook for 4 – 5 minutes, uncovered.  Salt and pepper the top side, turn the chops and add the peaches all over. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for another 2 -4 minutes, uncovered, until just done, 140 degrees. Remove the chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Pork and peaches - sauce in a skillet.

Keep the sauce and peaches warm on low heat and slightly covered.

Pork and peaches on a platter.After meat has finished resting, pour peaches, onions and juices overall, garnish with chopped parsley and serve with LOVE.

Shirataki Harvest Noodles Marinara with Grilled Chicken

Shirataki Harvest Noodles  with grilled oregano chicken.
I love pasta. Doesn’t everyone? But you know, it is fattening. Well what if there was a “pasta” that was actually low in carbohydrates and calories? That is exactly what this Shirataki Harvest Noodles Marinara with Grilled Chicken dish is all about! I created this entree with the last product from our spring box. Adding grilled chicken to these saucy noodles makes a fully satisfying, delicious meal that is actually low in calories!

Really.

Shirataki Harvest noodles ready to  go in the microwave.This “pasta” noodle is made from konjac yam root flour. Full of fiber, it is a secret weight loss food popular in Asia. This ready-to-eat version from Harvest Foods, is in a delicious, light marinara sauce that is just perfect to pair with the skinless, boneless grilled chicken breasts. Plus, this is super easy to make and ready in a jiffy. For the shirataki noodles, just a couple of minutes in the microwave and you’re ready to go. Additionally, the noodles by themselves are vegan. If you would like to keep it an overall vegan dish, adding some grilled eggplant would be a good substitute for the grilled chicken.

Here’s how I prepared the dish:

SHIRATAKI HARVEST NOODLES MARINARA WITH GRILLED CHICKEN – serves 2

2 packages of Shirataki Harvest Noodles Marinara
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Olive oil spray
Italian parsley or basil for garnish
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano.Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. Season both sides with salt, pepper and a little dried oregano as shown in the picture. Let sit for 30 – 45 minutes on the countertop.

Light a grill or heat up a grill pan on the stovetop. Spray the grill or grill pan with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Grill the breast, turning once, until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 – 160 degrees. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat up the Shirataki noodles for 2 minutes in the microwave, following the package instructions. Be sure to puncture the top cover to let air escape. Pour noodles and sauce into a flat pasta bowl.

Slice the chicken breast on an angle and place in a layer on top of the Shirataki noodles. Grate Parmesan cheese on top, garnish with parsley or basil and serve with LOVE.

Skinny, healthy and easy never tasted so good!

The Shirataki Harvest Noodles Marinara is the last item from our MARY’s secret ingredients spring box. Don’t miss out on the summer box that mails June 25th. You can order that here.

Cheese Straw Cornbread

Pile of Delta Bred cheese straws on a wooden cutting board.

Delta Bred Cheese Straws.

 

The buttery, cheesy, delicious Delta Bred Cheese Straws are totally awesome and addictive on their own or served with cocktails. These were one of the first talked about items in our spring box! Comments have come in like “these cheese straws are to die for” and “where can I buy more?” and “The cheese straws were a big hit and didn’t last long at all.” Break them in half and use them to garnish a gazpacho or add some brightness to any salad. Or, you can make this Cheese Straw Cornbread and go straight to heaven.

Putting the cheese straws directly in the cornbread adds a crunchy, cheesy surprise, elevating the humble bread. I made this for a Sunday morning breakfast and it was just divine. You could put some butter on it but honestly, nothing was needed with the extra punch of these cheesy bits. I know you’ll LOVE this!

 

Cheese straw cornbread on table with newspaper.

CHEESE STRAW CORNBREAD – serves 6 – 9

1 cup medium grind whole grain cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 cup of multi-grain flour (or you could use white flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted 
1 cup Delta Bred cheese straws, each straw cut into 2 or 3 pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter an 8″ square glass baking dish.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk just enough to combine. Then fold in the cheese straw pieces and let the batter sit for 10 minutes to let the baking powder do its thing.

Gently pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Serve warm with LOVE! Enjoy!!

The Delta Bred Cheese Straws were in our MARY’s secret ingredients spring box. The summer box will mail on June 25th. 

Cheese straw cornbread in pan on stove.

Chimichurri-ed Wilted Endives with Walnuts

Chimichurri roasted endive - finished dish.I love endive. I think it’s so elegant. I remember when we traveled to Egypt in the early eighties around Christmas time, we didn’t dare eat any fruits or vegetables for fear of getting really sick due to their fertilization practices. Now I am a huge fan of vegetables and fruit. I typically eat a ton of each everyday, and after being there for about four days, I was not a happy camper. But on Christmas Eve, we were at a party and they had endive on the buffet table. My husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Mary, you can eat this. It’s from Belgium.” And I was in heaven!! This recipe of Chimichurri-ed Wilted Endives with Walnuts, using the Samba Flavor Chimichurri pack from our latest MSI spring box, covers all the bases – different, delicious, elegant and easy. Sautéing the endive mellows the bitterness. I love it being crisp and warm all at the same time. Making the Chimichurri with lemon juice and walnut oil makes it extra special, plus the addition of the chopped walnuts to finish it off, adds texture, flavor and contrast. Make this as a side dish and be prepared for rave reviews.

The SambaFlavor Chimichurri folks are very proud of their spice combination and they should be, as it’s all natural, gluten free and has no MSG. They wanted to create an easy way to replicate dishes from home, (South America) with this pre-made spice and herb combination. With a touch of red chili flakes, this little mix, made just the way they suggest, has a myriad of uses. Dress up some roasted fish, grilled meats, chicken, grilled eggplant or zucchini. I even used it on some boiled Yukon Gold potatoes for a quick warm potato salad and it was delish. Heck it’s probably even good on over-easy eggs. Experiment and have fun! There won’t be a lot that you can’t pSamba Flavor Chimichurri Dry Mix.ut it on to perk up any dish and make it more special.

CHIMMICHURRI-ED WILTED ENDIVES WITH WALNUTS – serves 3 – 6

3 good-size heads of Belgian endive, wiped clean with a wet paper towel, ends trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 Tbs. Olive oil

For the Chimichurri:
3 Tbs. Samba Flavor Chimichurri spice mix
3 Tbs. hot tap water
3 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. walnut oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
Extra chopped walnuts for garnish

SambaFlavor Chimichurri in a bowl.Make the Chimichurri: Combine the Samba Flavor Chimichurri spice mix with the hot tap water and lemon juice and let it soak for 5 minutes. Whisk in the walnut oil.

Chopped walnuts on a wooden cutting board.

Chop the walnuts.

Saute the endives: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place endive halves in the skillet, cut side down. They should not be touching one another. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cover the pan loosely. Cook until golden brown on the cut side, about 5 minutes. Flip over and cook on other side, loosely covered, until crisp tender, about another 4 – 5 minutes.

Chimichurri - sauteed endive.Remove from heat and transfer the endives to a platter, cut side up. Spoon about a tablespoon of Chimichurri on each half. (you will not use all of it – keep remainder in the fridge and use on roasted fish, eggplant, eggs, anything!!) Top with chopped walnuts and drizzle a tiny bit of extra walnut oil on top. Serve with LOVE and enjoy!

The SambaFlavor Chimichurri Dry Mix was in our MARY’s secret ingredients spring box. The summer box will mail on June 25th.