Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rustic Country Apple Fritter Bread


Oh my goodness! Apples, cinnamon, and sugar all mixed up in a delicious quick bread. So darn good and easy to do.

When I first saw this recipe floating around on the internet last year, I knew it was something I wanted to try and make my own.

There are lots of variations out there, some with nuts (pecans or walnuts), some without, some with a glaze, some without. I honestly think you could do just about anything with this recipe and have it turn out well. The addition of raisins or cranberries would be amazing (and I'll try that next time). You could also make this with most any fruit, such as cherries or pears, for a delicious twist.

1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 farm fresh eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk (full fat)
2 apples, peeled and chopped (any kind), mixed with 2 tbls granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (or 2 mini-loaf pans) and spray with non-stick spray or line with foil and spray with non-stick spray to get out easily for slicing.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract. Combine & whisk flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture and stir until blended. Mix milk into batter until smooth.

Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apple mixture, then half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Lightly push apple mixture into batter.

Pour the remaining batter over apple layer and top with remaining apple mixture, then the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Lightly push apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using knife or spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, approximately 50-60 minutes.

Baking options: For 2 mini loaves bake 30-40 minutes; for muffins bake 15-20 minutes; for large 9" loaf bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (I almost always make 2 mini-loaves, one for now and one for later). Baked bread freezes well. Allow to cool, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in zip-top bag to freeze.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Veggie Cream Cheese {100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous Cookbook Review}


It's a great honor for me to be a "Cookbook Ambassador" for Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food because I support, applaud and embrace her passion for real food ... it's what I try to live by too! Learning about "real food" is the very reason why I support local farms and markets, buy grass-fed pastured meats, avoid processed foods, cook from scratch, and use other wholesome ingredients in my recipes.

When I first found out Lisa was looking for cookbook ambassadors for the launch of her new cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous, I was eager to apply ... yes, apply! I had to submit my information, and my blog for review, before being chosen. You can only imagine how excited I was when I received this email which in part said: "Thank you so much for your interest in being one of my Cookbook Ambassadors! I've reviewed everyone's applications and would love for you to be part of the group. Words cannot express how much I appreciate your excitement around my book - this whole process wouldn't be nearly as much fun if I didn't have others to share it with!" Whoo Hoo!!!  I was doing the happy dance all around the house.

And so began the days waiting to receive my signed copy of her cookbook 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous and once again reviewing (because I had already read this numerous times) the about section on her website and her eye-opening journey which was not always easy.

"Whether you’re brand new to cutting out processed food or you’re a real food veteran, I hope you’ll find some value in the resources on this blog. In the beginning of 2010 I had never before read an ingredient label, never bought anything that was organic (at least not on purpose), nor had I ever stepped foot in a farmers’ market. I am certainly not proud of those things, but that was reality for the first 32 or so years of my life and the most disturbing part is that I had no idea I was doing anything wrong.

After reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan I got the wake up call of my life and felt like our eating habits needed a serious overhaul. Making such drastic changes was not easy at first (it has thankfully become our “new normal” since then), and at the time I struggled to find resources to help me understand exactly how I could apply Pollan’s principles to our everyday lives."

But what exactly is "Real Food?" 

And what will you get in her new cookbook?  

100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous gives Lisa's devoted fans and newcomers exactly what they want, quick and tasty favorites for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even snacks that are a snap to make. Inside you ll find recipes sure to please everyone, from Cinnamon Raisin Scones, Couscous and Tomato Salad, and Corn Muffins to Citrus Salad With Crispy Quinoa, Honeydew Green Smoothie, and Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup to Easy Fish Tacos, Parmesan Crusted Chicken, and Chocolate Banana Pops. While some dishes are blog favorites, seventy-five percent are brand new.

Cinnamon Glazed Bananas

Along with these family-friendly recipes, 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous incorporates ideas for adult, big-kid, and little-kid packed lunches and new seasonal meal plans and shopping lists everything you need for accessible, quick, and real home cooking. Lisa also includes a CliffsNotes -style resource section packed with easy guidelines on how to buy real food, supermarket staples (including her Top 10 Shopping Lists by Store), the truth behind more than a dozen grocery store myths, and other handy kitchen tips (such as food prep guides and storage cheat sheets).

Asian Noodle Salad

Making and enjoying healthy meals the whole family will love doesn't have to be difficult, boring, or expensive. With this essential cookbook, illustrated with color photos for every single recipe, you ll see just how fast and fabulous good home-cooked meals can be.

But now let's get to the recipe! I deliberately chose one very easy to do and extremely versatile. Use as a sandwich spread, make cute little appetizer bites, serve as a dip with fresh veggies or crackers, or top on toasted bagels. So darn good, and easy ... really easy to make. Naturally I purchased the products I used from one of my favorite local produce markets, Camden City Market, who always has the best local veggies, and the 9 grain bread is baked fresh daily at Mulberry Market Bake Shop.

1 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 cucumber, skin on, cut into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 green onion, white and green parts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

In the food processor, combine everything but the cream cheese and pulse until finely chopped.

Drop the cream cheese into the veggie mix and pulse until well combined.

Serve or store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Click here for information on how to pre-order

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© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Balsamic Glazed Chicken


I originally saw this recipe on Delish and thought I wanted to try it, BUT I wanted to use bone in chicken breasts from a local farm, and raw local honey. I also used fresh cut rosemary from our garden. Oh my goodness, it is so good!

This is the BEST Balsamic Glazed Chicken I  have ever made. It's a great Sunday dinner, full of robust flavor from the balsamic vinegar and grainy mustard, with a touch of sweet from the honey.

All ready to roast
I used pasture raised bone-in chicken breasts from Thames Farm in this recipe. They always provide a superior product, and pasture raised chicken from a small family farm is so much better than a commercially produced chicken. No added saline solution here ... just all natural, flavorful chicken. Do yourself a favor, and buy your chicken from a local farm (if possible) ... there is just no comparison.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbls. raw local honey (I use honey from Bell Honey Company)
1 1/2 tbls. whole-grain mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
course ground black pepper
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, split in half
4-5 red potatoes, halved (quartered if large)
1 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
1 long fresh rosemary sprig, cut into 3 pieces (or 1 tbls. dried rosemary leaves)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine balsamic, honey, mustard, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Add chicken and toss until fully coated. Transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for one hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes: In a medium bowl, add potatoes and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until combined. Set aside.

Place chicken, potatoes and rosemary sprigs in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Pour marinade over all. Roast 45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and tender.

Serve chicken and potatoes with pan drippings.

Yield: 4 servings


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer in a Bowl {A Children's Book Review}


It's not everyday I am given the opportunity to review a children's book, in fact this is the first time I've ever done one, but I am thrilled to be able to so ... it's such a fun book!

Joan Leotta, author
First, a bit about the author, Joan Leotta. Including essays, poetry, short stories and young adult fiction, Joan is a versatile and award-winning author, poet, and story performer. She has been playing with words on paper and on stage from the first time she could hold a pen and climb, and gathers inspiration for writing and performing from everyday incidents and objects. She has been a story performer, mostly for children, for more than thirty years--including historic characters and folklore shows. To her credit are four young adult novels, numerous plays and poems, and a picture book called "WHOOSH!"

Joan attended Ohio University and Johns Hopkins, where she concentrated on international relations and economics. Joan grew up in Pittsburgh now lives, and spends a lot of time walking the North Carolina beaches, with her husband Joe. Her motto is "encouraging others through pen and performance."

Joan Leotta crafted this tale from her own memories of gardening and occasionally cooking with her Aunt Mary and the countless times she tired new things and foods at her father's urging. Joan has a strong commitment to using natural foods and to providing wonderful meals for family and friends. Joan writes food articles for the local newspaper and is on the Board of the Waccamaw Slow Food USA Chapter.

Her latest book, Summer in a Bowl is a delightful story about a young girl, Rosa, and her Aunt Mary. Rosa visits one day during the summer months and helps Aunt Mary harvest a few things from their garden, which is then made into this delicious soup. Rosa is hesitant to taste it at first until her father tries a bowl and enjoys it, so Rosa tentatively tries it and likes it. “What do you call this?” Rosa asked.“Summer in a bowl,” Aunt Mary said. “Once the vegetables make friends, they make a soup that tastes like summer.”

It's a sweet story about gardening with children, and teaching them to eat healthy food, without going overboard or being pushy. Rosa is curious to try it because she helped collect the vegetables and helped her Aunt Mary cook them ... sometimes that's all it takes; someone with the wisdom to guide a child, all while making it fun to learn and experience new tastes.

In your new book, Summer in a Bowl, you talk very fondly of Aunt Mary. Who was she and what are your fondest memories of your time spent with her?

So glad to have a chance to spotlight the real Aunt Mary! She was my Uncle Ernie's wife, my mother's sister-in-law and the mother of three of my dear cousins—John, Diane and Ernie. Aunt Mary died of cancer when I was a young woman.

Aunt Mary was an avid gardener, and a wonderful person. She made it possible for me to be a Brownie Scout when my Mom (who worked) was unable to take me to meetings. Aunt Mary did make that soup and my Dad did taste a bowl of it on one memorable afternoon when I was four or five years old.

Aunt Mary with Joan's cousin, Diane

Yes, the day memorialized in the book, really did happen! However, in real life that hot late summer day was not part of a regular babysitting arrangement. Yes, I did help her harvest and I did watch as she made the soup. Years later I remembered that afternoon and how Aunt Mary made "menestre" and began to work on making it myself.

Fast forward another number of years and my cousin Diane and I were talking and she mentioned she did not have her Mom's recipe for soup. The soup in the book, and repeated here, is exactly the same as the one Aunt Mary used to make. I simplified it a bit so it would be easier to make with children. In general the creative process does sometimes need to take a few liberties with reality.

Do you thinking gardening with children, or teaching children where their food comes from, is essential in our world today?

We are in a health crisis in the US ... too much sugar, too much artificial food. Real food is important for everyones health and a good place to start is in childhood, building good habits of eating early makes it easier to have good habits when we are older. Gardening makes that food farm connection, and can be done even in a city! Yep, containers, in apartments, small rectangles of veggies in a tiny house garden –city kids who live in food deserts can have a real food experience of their own with just a bit of thought.

Plus, once they make that connection and once they grow something they are more likely to try it ... though my own heroine, Rosa, needs her Dad's good example to give her the final impetus to try the vegetable soup!

Literacy is vital to all of us. What makes children’s books in particular so vital?

Children's books are the way children become interested n books as a source of ideas. I write books that share a loving (real or almost real) experience of mine, hoping to give children something to identify with ... my family is like that! Or to use as a refuge when their own lives are not so much fun ... I wish my family was like that! Adults often use books in this way as well.

Books teach analysis, order in thought, self-expression. This new book has space for the child who owns it to add in their own ideas. It is my hope that children will come to this book sitting on the lap of a parent or favorite Aunt, reinforcing books as a form of love, while also coming to an interest in gardening and healthy eating.

Joan's soup bowl ready to make Aunt Mary's Summer in a Bowl Soup

Aunt Mary's Summer in a Bowl Soup 
(recipe compliments of Joan Leotta)
Serves four or two and two portions to freeze

6 cups water or low sodium, no-msg, chicken broth
4 tbls olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cups cut up greens of any kind from the garden-combination of kale and baby spinach.
2 fresh tomatoes cut up salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional, 1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini, diced.

Put the large pot on stove. Add olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic together until onion soft, about three minutes. Add celery and carrots sauté, for three minutes. If you are using either or both squashes, add now. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add greens, sauté  for one minute Add water (or non-msg low sodium chicken broth). Add cut up tomatoes (this will make the broth golden colored); Stir well.

Cook on medium heat for at least two hours, stirring every twenty minutes or so. Before serving, taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Serve while hot. Store leftover soup in the refrigerator, or ladle into containers and freeze.

Joan's Tips on Gardening with Children 

The tips below are about using gardening to grow relationships with each other and food rather than about learning the finer points of gardening.

  • Talk with your child about what will fit best in the size of the child’s plot/pot and how long each will take to go from seed to plant.
  • Define all gardening terms for your child.
  • Visit the garden daily. Mark off the visits on a little calendar.
  • Use a combination of seeds and “starter” plants to demonstrate more rapid progress.
  • Write down or draw pictures (for pre-readers) to illustrate the child’s specific daily duties for: feeding, watering, thinning and weeding. Do not use chemicals to weed or feed since these could be harmful to the child.
  • Be sure to supervise thinning and weeding the first few times to avoid errors.
  • When “crops” come in, talk about the uses of that herb or vegetable or flower.
  • Select recipes together and use the item in a meal.
  • If you are growing flowers, pick and give them to someone. Use them to decorate the table.
  • Take photos at each stage to document the experience so the child will be able to enjoy the experience over and over again.

Your state’s agricultural extension service is another good place to find gardening information that is specific to your part of the country.

Summer in a Bowl Book Giveaway! Enter to win a FREE autographed copy for yourself, your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren.

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For more about Joan Leotta
Visit her website
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© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Journey Cakes { a 1775 vintage recipe }


A few weeks ago my friend, Kathy, at Old McCaskill's Farm gave me a bag of Rice Flour form Carolina Plantation Rice because she knew I would use it, make something with it and share the recipe. I guess she knows me pretty well! On the tag on the back of the rice flour was this recipe for Journey Cakes, a circa 1775 recipe from South Carolina. Well right then and there I just knew I had to make them.

What in the world is a Journey Cake?  Legend has it, these cakes would help sustain travelers while they journeyed for long distances, so if you're getting ready to go somewhere, make sure you pack a few of these along! Once I made them I saw this made perfect sense. They are light, nutritious and very portable because they are small. Nowadays they are largely used as a side dish to and grilled or roasted meat.

Carolina Plantation’s White Rice Flour is carefully ground to a fine consistency in our century-old stone-buhr grist mill. We use only our most aromatic rice for this flour to produce a smooth texture and unforgettable taste. Rice flour is a favorite ingredient for gluten-free baking. They also use this flour in our award winning fish fry. 

Carolina Plantation Rice comes to you from the only colonial plantation in the Carolinas to grow rice for commercial sale: Plumfield Plantation on the Great Pee Dee River. This special grain has an aroma and taste that you won't find in any normal grocery store variety. Once you've tasted it, you'll never go back to your current brand. 

Carolina Plantation reintroduced aromatic rice to South Carolina in 1996. With rice once again in her fields, Plumfield Plantation proudly serves a truly distinctive taste of the 18th century southern rice plantations. (source: Carolina Plantation Rice)

2 cups cold cooked Carolina Plantation rice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup Carolina Plantation rice flour
1 1⁄2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400. Stir together rice and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. The batter will be very thin.

Fill greased muffin tins 1/2-3/4 full with batter and bake 18-20 minutes or until brown around edges.

Rosemary-Garlic Journey Cakes: Add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary and 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic to batter - this is the option I baked. I also added some shredded cheddar cheese to a couple for variety.

Tomato, Parmesan, and Kalamata Olive Journey Cakes: Add 1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped; 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese; and 1/4 cup minced Kalamata olives to rice mixture.

You can watch a video here from America's Heartland on the Carolina Plantation Rice and catch a few more recipes!


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sweet Potato Cornbread


I received my friend, Jackie's cookbook, Sweet Potato Love: 60 Recipes for Every Season in the mail as a complete surprise. Oh she told me she wanted to send me something, but I had no idea what it was until it arrived. Such a sweet gesture, and it was even autographed!

Jackie is the popular blogger behind Jackie Garvin's Syrup and Biscuits. I had the pleasure to review her first cookbook last year, "Biscuits -Sweet and Savory Recipes for the All-American Kitchen" which is where I finally learned how to make light, fluffy biscuits ... no joke, only took me about 30 years to learn how to do it right because I'm a northern gal and I never watched anyone bake biscuits until I was well into my adulthood.

Naturally I was super-excited to make a recipe from her new cookbook and couldn't wait to get cooking. I chose her Sweet Potato Cornbread because it has cheese and BACON in it, and she talks about using it as a dressing with some Cornish Hens in another recipe. Seemed like a winner to me, so off I set to make it. Oh my goodness, and I ever glad I did ... it is amazing!!

1 sweet potato, baked and mashed
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (make your own by adding 1 tbls. lemon juice to 2 cups milk)
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups self-rising flour (make your own by adding 3 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sugar (added to heighten the sweetness of the sweet potato and offset the savory of the cheese and bacon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large cast iron fry pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve drippings; set aside.

In a large bowl, place baked, mashed sweet potato; add eggs and buttermilk and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, add self-rising flour, cooked and crumbled bacon, sugar, shredded cheddar cheese and corn meal stirring well to combine.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. If batter is too stiff and just a touch more buttermilk.

Pour reserved bacon drippings into a hot 9-inch cast iron skillet or baking dish. Spoon batter in and bake 45 minutes or until top is browned and cornbread is cooked through.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut into pieces and serve with lots of fresh creamery butter.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake has a very interesting history! It is one of my favorite cakes to make for special occasions, and makes the perfect cake to take to backyard cookouts or gatherings. Serve it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream to really bring it "over the top!"

Did you know? 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake was invented because several other convenience items were developed that gave the housewife time to make a cake pretty as well as delicious

The idea of cooking a cake upside down, is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy for cook to add fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan and a simple cake batter on top and put it over the fire to cook. Then flipping it over onto a plate was a natural way to show the pretty fruit and let it run into the cake as well.

The idea of the pineapple soon after 1911 when one of James Dole's engineer had invented a machine to cut his pineapples into nice rings. Soon the convenient and pretty rings were used in this age old technique of the skillet cake. The invention of the maraschino cherry added the necessary color needed to make this cake stunning.

The first recorded recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake:

According to John Mariani's ( The Dictionary of American Food and Drink , Revised Edition, 1994), "The first mention in print of such a cake was in 1930, and was so listed in the 1936 Sears Roebuck catalog, but the cake is somewhat older." In Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (1995), Sylvia Lovegren traces pineapple upside-down cake to a 1924 Seattle fund-raising cookbook...While rooting around in old women's magazines I found a Gold Medal Flour ad with a full-page, four-color picture of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake--a round cake with six slices of pineapple, candied red cherries, and a brown sugar glaze. The date: November 1925." American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson (p. 432) (source: The Kitchen Project)

1/3 cup Butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 slices Dole pineapple well-drained
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, stems removed (or fresh sweet pitted cherries)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 large farm fresh eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in 9 x 13-inch ungreased baking pan in oven. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar. Spread mixture evenly in pan. Arrange 12 pineapple slices on top. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice, if desired.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl; set aside.

Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup butter in bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Continue beating, adding eggs 1 at a time, until well mixed. Stir in vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture alternately with milk, beating at low speed and scraping bowl often after each addition.

Gently spread batter over pineapple. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Loosen sides of cake from pan by running knife around inside of pan. Invert cake onto serving platter; let stand 5 minutes. Remove pan. Cool completely.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.