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Mary Helen
Austin, TX
I can Haas Avocado?
Interests: Mary Makes Good is a lifestyle blog featuring whole food recipes, DIY projects, natural beauty, and a parenting diary.
Recent Activity
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I have this friend who goes through couches at an alarming rate. Not only does she have a keen appreciation for a good looking sofa, she also has a soft spot for naughty rescue dogs. The two things put together have her buying a new piece of furniture every few months. She and her husband recently had a beautiful baby boy. I knew from the start that they would be incredible parents. Anyone who can forgive their dog after the tenth or eleventh couch is more than ready to face life with a small child. Kids and pets push your patience to the limit. They destroy your possessions, dirty your floors, and commandeer your time and attention with their constant needs. From the outside looking in someone might wonder why on Earth anyone would ever choose to saddle themselves with anything as troublesome as a child or a puppy. But there is something those on the outside don't know, and may not really be able to understand. That's the deep, soul-quenching joy that comes from living with your family. Whether your family is furry, covered in cheerios, or both, you know that you wouldn't trade them for a clean floor,... Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at Mary Makes Good
This is a heavy one, folks. I debated whether or not to share this story - my story of loss, but after finding comfort in the words of other bloggers I felt that I should try. For those of you who would rather skip the emotional stuff please feel free to scroll on past. If you do want to hear about something very sad, you can read my story after the jump. I didn't plan on getting pregnant but by the time I was twelve weeks along I was more than used to the idea. I was looking forward to meeting my second baby, to sharing him with my son and husband, and getting to know whoever they turned out to be. I was thinking of names and imagining what he or she might look like. The idea of the baby was turning into reality in its slow and steady way - like babies do. After struggling with years of infertility the last thing I expected was to have a surprise pregnancy. It didn't feel like an accident though - it felt more like a miracle. When the bleeding started I held my breath, hoping against reason that it would... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Mary Makes Good
CC has always been an inquisitive child, but lately his curiosity has really taken off. He inspects everything with such scrutiny. When he discovers anything resembling a switch, button, or dial he becomes obsessed. Scott and I decided to create a little busy board for him so that he could push, pull, turn, and jingle to his heart's content. We bought a large circular hunk of wood to use as the base, then filled it up with odds and ends from the hardware store. The hardest part was probably drilling out hollows for the light switches to sit into. Otherwise it was just a matter of drilling small holes and screwing in screws. We cut small pieces of wood to create little doors complete with tiny hinges, knobs, and fasteners. I hid stickers behind the doors to make opening them up a bit more fun. All in all we probably spent too much on the project - around forty dollars. In hindsight, we could have saved a bit of cash by using a plain piece of plywood for the backing or picking up more of the hardware at a dollar store. We did get one portion of the project for... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Mary Makes Good
Definitely check out Rotterdam while you are in the Netherlands. It is very close to Amsterdam and has some really cool architecture. It's just a pretty place to snap photos and wander around. Eat a stroopwaffel for me! I'm not entirely sure how it is spelled but it is basically a caramel sandwich made with two very thin and crispy waffles. My Dad brought them back for us whenever he visited when we were kids. Yum.
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I had never really heard of black eyed peas until I moved to Texas. I guess my childhood in the northeast left my bean horizons sadly unexplored. I'll have to lodge a complaint with my parents for stunting my bean education so badly. Lucky for CC he is growing up in Austin where no variety of produce goes unsung. So what's up with black eyed peas? These starchy little beans hold up quite well in hot weather, making them a staple in gardens throughout the southern states. Even I couldn't kill them! Black eyed peas have a very mild flavor and a pleasantly tender bite, and they are as easy to cook as they are to grow. My favorite way to enjoy black eyed peas is in a simple cold salad called Texas Caviar. It's quite similar in nature to a Three Bean salad - dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette and tossed with veggies. Texas Caviar adds a pinch of heat though, and depending on which family recipe you are using, it often includes an unexpected ingredient like jicama, sweet corn, or in this case, mango. I really love the combination of sweet and spicy flavors in my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Oh my poor abandoned blog. I feel awful for the way I've let the old girl shrivel up lately. It's just that life has been particularly overwhelming these past few months. CC has finally reached the age where getting anything done with him underfoot is totally impossible. I try to cook and he climbs the stove. I try to clean and he commandeers the vacuum cleaner - saddling it like a noisy stallion as he gallops along his path of destruction. In short, he's a handful. So, it was with teary eyes and mixed feelings that I dropped the little tyke off at baby school yesterday morning. He'll only be attending three short days a week but to his mama that eighteen hours feels like an eternity. I came home to an empty house and wondered how I would make it through the day without someone trying to feed me his pre-chewed cheese sticks. I spent most of my freedom worrying about whether or not CC was equally distressed at my absence, but did manage to get some much-needed work done before picking him up in the afternoon. It turned out that he hadn't missed me much at all. In... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
I have two very different classes going on Saturday, August 8th in Austin, Texas. In the morning I'll be leading a free workshop on DIY natural beauty at Whole Foods Domain. Later that day I'll be at Faraday's Kitchen Store teaching a hands-on class on rolling sushi. It's going to be a busy day but I'll be doing what I love best - making beautiful, delicious, and things with my hands. DIY Natural Beauty at Whole Foods Domain 11920 Domain Drive Austin, TX August 8, 11:30 - 1:30 pm This free demonstration-style workshop will include demos on four recipes from my book, The Natural Beauty Solution! Learn to make a healing facial masque, a rich and creamy body lotion, whipped body butter, and a fresh almond yogurt body scrub. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the event. Pick up a copy of the book and ingredients to make your own batches of fresh beauty products at home. This class is free, but seating is limited. Sign up for tickets right away! Hand-Rolled Sushi at Faraday's Kitchen Store 12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 540 Austin, TX August 8, 5:00 - 7:30pm Class will start off with garden salads topped... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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At long last my book has arrived. At this very moment copies of The Natural Beauty Solution are shipping out to all corners of the globe. Today I shipped books to Australia, Spain, Belgium, and the UK! I shipped books to strangers in Montana and friends in Connecticut. Books are making short trips across the city of Austin and long journeys to places like Colorado and California. It's a simultaneously terrifying and marvelous feeling to know that something you've written is about to be read (or at least skimmed) by so many people. I can't thank those of you who placed pre-orders enough for your support over the last year. Each order was like a little vote of confidence - and that momentum carried me through so many moments of self-doubt. I really hope that you will love the book and enjoy the bonus goodies that are headed your way. Now that the book is out there it's time for the fun stuff - demos, book signings, parties. Woo hoo! My release party was rained out so this Saturday I will be doing my first official book promotion at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Austin, Texas. I will be giving a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Do you know what I miss most about growing up in the Northeast? I miss the bread. The bagels, the hard rolls, the pretzels! It's just not the same anywhere else. Actually, I take that back - at least partially. I did encounter the same kind of bread outside of the tri-state (CT, NY, NJ) area once. It was during my trip to Italy - where I often turned a corner to discover a scene that could have been mistaken for my childhood in Yonkers. I'm not Italian by blood, but I am fairly certain my heart was adopted by way of my stomach long ago. Anyway, bread. Oh bread! It's a wonder how the simple combination of flour and water can be transformed into so many amazing variations. It seems like the tiniest variance in recipe or technique results in a completely different product. Take pretzels and bagels for example. They are both simple yeasted breads that are boiled before being baked - yet they are each utterly unique foods. The following recipe uses a soft pretzel to pay homage to its marvelous cousin, the Everything Bagel. (Don't get me started waxing poetic over Everything Bagels. I could go... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The National Honey Board. Oh honey. It's sweet. It's golden. It's a natural gift thanks to its marvelous versatility and seemingly endless list of benefits. When it comes to natural and DIY skin care, honey is an ingredient that I reach for again and again. Honey is a special type of moisturizer called a humectant. Humectants, like honey, draw moisture in and keep it there, which can help enhance almost any homemade beauty recipe. While nutritive oils and butters, like sweet almond oil or shea butter, condition the skin beautifully, pairing them with honey can help lock that moisture in making your natural skin care recipe even better. I learned a lot about honey and its many virtues while touring with the National Honey Board last month. We visited three cities, spreading the joys of honey to local media and honey enthusiasts. During each event I helped guests whip up DIY salt scrubs using honey, fresh grapefruit juice, olive oil, and sea salt. You can check out the recipe that I used for that demo at Honey.com. I thought it might be fun to elaborate on the recipe a little showing how... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Howdy friends! I've been hard at work whipping up bonus goodies for all of the amazing people who have placed pre-orders for The Natural Beauty Solution. Yesterday I wrapped up photos for the bonus recipe booklet and opened a huge box of supplies for making lip balms, craft kits, and ingredient bundles. Here are a few shots that I grabbed with my phone while I was working on preparing the high res picture for the booklet. I'm really happy with the way this booklet is shaping up. It's safe to say that I learned an enormous amount in the time that I spent working with Kimberly Davis. Her photography for The Natural Beauty Solution floors me every time I open the book! I'm counting on it having a similar effect on all of you. ;) Another thing I am excited to share with you all is the addition of Natural Beauty Ingredient Bundles to my Big Cartel Shop. These bundles are modeled after the three recipe chapters in my book and contain everything you need to create everyday recipes for facial care, body care, and hair care. You can pre-order any of these bundles with the option to include a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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I was old enough when I had CC to realize just how fleeting his babyhood would be. Many times over the past year I paused to try and save a moment in time. I tried to freeze it by closing my eyes and telling myself to remember. I can't be sure I got them all, but here are a few that made it. These are the memories that come to mind when I think of the past year. The feeling of his tiny, 5 and a half pound body draped over my shoulder. His entire back encased by the palm of my hand. The still-sporadic rhythm of soft baby breath against my neck. How tiny and shrunken he looked in the newborn-sized clothes we had waiting for him. My surprise at the incredible strength and determination this tiny TINY baby managed to display. The nurse, Renee, called him Mighty Might. Snapping at my mother like a wild animal when she made a harmless remark about his umbilical cord stump. (Post-partum hormones and fresh maternal instincts are an intense combination.) The first time his tiny hand wrapped around one of my fingers while he nursed. That time I reached out to... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Get ready for something amazing! Austin Bakes is throwing yet another epic bake sale in the city of Austin tomorrow. Since 2011 Austin Bakes has raised over $50,000 for natural disaster relief. That's a lot of cupcakes! Tomorrow home bakers, food bloggers, and culinary pros will come together once again to help the people of Nepal. We'll be raising funds for Americares to aid in their relief efforts following two devastating earthquakes that have affected the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. Helping Austin Bakes is simple. You can either make a donation online through the Austin Bakes FirstGiving page or you can make a cash donation at one of the nine citywide bake sale locations listed below: DOWNTOWN Whole Foods Market Lamar, 525 N Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78703 CENTRAL Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, 6610 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78757 NORTH Whole Foods Market Gateway, 9607 Research Blvd., Austin, TX 78759 SOUTH Whole Foods Market Arbor Trails, 4301 W William Cannon Dr., Austin, TX 78749 Crema Bakery & Cafe, 9001 Brodie Lane, Austin, TX 78748 Whip In, 1950 IH35 South Austin Texas 78704 EAST Micklethwait Craft Meats,1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702 Springdale Farm, 755 Springdale... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: I am being compensated for working at The National Honey Board's Benefits of Honey events mentioned below. The first time I saw fruit on a salad I was quite skeptical. Even though I am a big fan of all things sweet and savory it gave me pause. Could that really work? Aren't salads meant to be slathered in fatty accouterments like bacon and cream dressings? How could fruit beat croutons? Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I gave it a shot and discovered that the bursting sweetness of fresh fruit is incredible in salads. I was hooked immediately. It started with cranberries on a waldorf. Then there was my first strawberry spinach salad, and that watermelon feta combination. Before I knew it I was piling fruits of all kinds over beds of lettuce. Grilled peaches? Mandarin segments? Yes please. If you haven't tried making a salad with fruit in it yet, today is the day. This recipe combines tender baby spinach with crisp jicama and juicy raspberries. If you can't find jicama in your local store try substituting a mild apple, like a red delicious, instead. The vinaigrette also includes one rather exotic ingredient - roasted... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Last week we took our first big trip as a family. The flight to Seattle began at CC's usual bedtime so we were hoping that he would sleep through most of the ride. We figured the plane would be dark and quiet with plenty of white noise from the engines. We hadn't considered the fact that our plane would be heading toward the sun - keeping the entire journey locked in a late afternoon glow. Our neighbors weren't particularly cooperative either. It was one of the chattiest flights I've ever been on, in fact. Needless to say, CC didn't sleep a wink. Every second that wasn't spent nursing CC attempted to escape our two-seat prison by climbing the walls and performing baby acrobatics. By the end of the flight my arms and my nipples felt like they might fall off - but it could have been worse. He didn't scream. He didn't cry. He didn't pull anyone's hair (that last one wasn't for lack of trying.) All in all, I'd call it a win. While traveling with a little one isn't exactly easy, it was so much better than I expected. This trip involved more work than it would have... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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It might seem a little late in the year for goal-setting, but you know what? I've never been a slave to tradition so I'm not letting that get in my way. Besides, January is for resolutions and what I'm doing here is setting some achievable goals for myself on the anniversary of having given birth to my first baby. The last year has been a doozy, but I think twelve months is long enough to give myself a pass on getting fit. Now it's time to get back on the right track. 1. Eat a Salad Every Day Not just a side-salad, mind you. I'm challenging myself to replace one full meal (lunch or dinner) with a salad every day of the week. I'm hoping this will be a simple way to reduce my intake of carbs while adding more veggies and greens to my diet. I'm going to do my best to track my progress on Instagram. You can follow #saladaday to see a bazillion other folks on the same mission. 2. Cut Out Added Sugar I have been SO BAD about sugar lately. Every time I turn around I seem to be nibbling on a cookie or stress-gulping... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: I was compensated by Minted.com for sharing a review of their retail site. As always, my words, ideas, opinions, body, soul, etc. are my own. I've discovered that having a child means being surprised on a daily basis - not just by random shrieks or mystery wetness but by how quickly these tiny humans become aware of the world around them. It seems like every day CC does something that I had no idea he could do yet. For example, he began showing an interest in artwork when he was just a few months old. It started with a glossy stare at a colorful print, then later he became so excited by certain pictures or photographs that he would wave his arms and coo or chuckle. These days he can spend minutes (these are like hours in baby time) gazing at a picture in a book, tracing every line on a page and smiling when he finds one that is especially compelling. Our friend, Tara, gave us a painting she made of a chimp before CC was born and it is by far is favorite piece of art in the house. He loves to rub his little hand over... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: I was compensated for sharing this post. As always, my opinions are my own. I love to eat. I like to drink. I wouldn't say that I love running, but there are definitely things that I like about it. For one thing, I like the way that I picture myself running before I actually get out there and do it. There's something downright dreamy about the thought of myself jogging through a tree-lined neighborhood, fleet of feet, smiling bright, with a breeze blowing gently through my artfully tousled hair. It's a nice dream, much nicer than reality where I'm huffing and puffing, hammering away on worn out sneakers that feel like lead and trying to catch my breath as my lungs are smashed down by my wayward knockers. I also like being able to parade around the house with a smug grin because I went running today. Chew on that, husband. Aren't you impressed, cats? Take a good look, dog. I'm a runner! The thing I probably like most about running is the lack of embarrassment when life suddenly throws a sprint up a flight of stairs or across a train platform my way. When I run regularly (even... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: I was compensated by The National Honey Board for working at the events mentioned in this post. Thanks for your support! Do you love honey? Want to learn about how it's made and how you can use it for food, wellness, and beauty? Than you should come out to one of three free upcoming events put on my the National Honey Board! I'll be there - which is reason enough. Don't you think? (Insert winky emoji here.) I will be making fresh batches of Honey Grapefruit Scrub at upcoming events in Seattle, Washington D.C. and Austin on behalf of The National Honey Board! Seattle, WA: May 11 at The Seattle Art Museum Washington D.C.: May 19 at The Loft at 600 F Austin, TX: May 21 at Vuka I hope you'll join us for a fun and educational evening with demonstrations from experts on health, cooking, beekeeping, and of course, natural beauty. Marie Simmons, author of Taste of Honey: The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals , will be there sharing a cooking demonstration. There will also be demos by a professional beekeeper and a registered nurse. I hope to see you there! If you do... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Mother's Day is just around the corner so I took the liberty of buying myself a little something. Some women receive flowers or jewelry on Mother's Day (especially their FIRST) Mother's Day, but my husband isn't really interested in gift giving. Since I come from a family in which gift giving is a primary love language this has caused some turmoil over the course of our relationship, but I'm trying hard to let it go. It's not really the gift I want, after all, it's his love and appreciation. Instead of getting angry at his stinginess I try to remember that I have that - then I go out and buy myself a present. To commemorate my first Mother's Day I bought myself this beautiful print from Spirit & Soul. I plan on matting and framing it once it arrives, then hanging it in my bedroom. If my cash flow were a little more generous at the moment I would also have bought myself a copy of Jade Beall's The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project . Her incredible photography captures the beauty of mamas in all stages, ages, and walks of life - glorious imperfections and all. It's... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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It's true! You can purchase your copy right now in my Big Cartel shop! The book is expected to come out around June 15. Pre-order your book now and it will arrive on your doorstep when the big day comes! According to my publisher, the first print copies of my book (the preview copies) arrived at their office earlier this week. By now a copy should be in the mail and on its way to me. I can barely contain myself as I wait for the mailman to drop it off. The guys at Spring House Press tell me that it looks great! As you can see, the photos in this book are really, really beautiful. Kimberly Davis did an incredible job and I feel really fortunate to have worked with her. Thanks to Kimberly every recipe in this book is accompanied by a gorgeous full-color photograph, most of which are full-page! The everyday recipes are simple, customizable, and use a carefully selected group of ingredients that can be found in most health food stores. The specialty recipes kick things up a notch with a handful of more exotic ingredients which can be added to your collection if you feel... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Rachael Ray's Nutrish brand pet food. I was compensated for creating this post, but my opinions are my own. I grew up in a house full of pets. In fact, I can't remember ever living in a house without animals. From the time I was born I was sharing my life with a parade of goofy Labradors and sassy house cats. It seems like my parents were always coming home with a new friend. One of our first pets, Muffet, was found in a snowbank in Maine when she was just a few hours old. That sweet little kitten was never quite right in the head, but she was loving and patient - the perfect companion for three little girls. Muffy would let us dress her in costumes, take her for rides in doll carriages, and lug her around the house like a teddy bear. I have never met another cat like that! Our first family dog was a spirited yellow lab named Beau. Even though Beau would sometimes snack on our toys we loved him dearly. My parents hadn't planned on getting us a dog. You might say that it was... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that help support Mary Makes Good and mentions a product that I was given samples of for free. We spent last weekend doing one of my favorite things - throwing a party! Our friends Keeley and Kirk are having a baby and we couldn't be happier for them. To celebrate we threw a little Jack n Jill shindig which involved a crawfish boil, tattoo themed baby shower goodies, and a Frito Pie buffet. Needless to say it was pretty rockin' for a baby shower. I'll be sharing a whole post on the party sometime soon. By the way, a friend of mine who works at a certain mega-chain health food grocery store told me that his customers are going bananas over the arrival of an Organic Fritos-style corn chip. This made me chuckle. Texans are very serious about their Frito Pie - even the more health conscious among us. If you are GMO-phobic, you'll be happy to know that Frito alternatives like Sage Valley Organic Corn Chips and Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers are out there for your crunching pleasure. Speaking of food projects, I just received sample swatches from my latest fabric... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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I might have mentioned this before, but I have a lot of sisters. The youngest one is named Caitlin Ariel. She arrived about nine years after the rest of us so my parents decided to make sure she received a warm welcome by naming her after the Little Mermaid. This thrilled us (naturally) but it wasn't really necessary. I'm quite sure we would have loved the little stinker even if she didn't share a name with our favorite Disney princess. Caitlin called me the other day to request a simple recipe for lip scrub. This made me laugh for a moment because it illustrated the different places we are in our lives so well. Keeping my lips smooth and happy isn't really on my radar at the moment. With my little one crawling underfoot all day long I am lucky to wash my hair more than once a week. As far removed as I might be from the glamorous life of a woman in her twenties, I totally get why Caitlin asked for a lip scrub. The feeling of crispy, chapped and flaky lips bugs me too - especially on the rare occasions where I do paint on some colorful... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
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If you are looking for a good excuse to consume way too much butter, a brown butter vegetable dish is a good choice. You've got the virtue of plant-power on your side, which pretty much offers a universal pass to go crazy with ingredients that would otherwise seem indulgent. Broccoli? Cover it in cheese sauce. Asparagus? Bring on the hollandaise! Spinach? Cream that mess. Besides, anything with brown butter in the title sounds fancy, and fancy is almost as good an excuse for gluttony as vegetables. Now that we've got the justification out of the way, let's move on to this post's featured butter sponge, spaghetti squash! This toothsome veggie can vary in texture depending on how you prepare it. My current favorite method is roasting the squash whole, then cutting and shredding it afterwards. This gives you a slightly al dente squash as opposed to the softer bite that can result from steaming it or roasting it in halves. Of course, you can do whatever floats your boat. If you'd like to try it my way, preheat your oven to 375F, poke some holes in the squash using a fork, then roast it on a baking sheet for about... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at Mary Makes Good