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What's for Lunch?

Avocado toast

Lunch is always a bit of a dilemma for me. I really don't care for a brown bag with an ordinary sandwich.  I like a meal with substance - a hearty salad or some pasta or curry. Although there are days where I'm forced to brown bag it, usually any old lunch just won't do. Most of the time I bring leftovers from the night before, but sometimes I whip something up from scratch like these avocado egg open-faced sandwiches. Yum!  

These are so easy to make and oh-so-delicious at work or at home.  When I make them for work, I mash the avocado with lemon or lime juice to keep it from turning brown. Then I pack it in a container and cover it with Saran Wrap to keep the air out. Nothing says gross like brown avocadoes. 


Open-faced Avocado Sandwiches

8 slices of hearty bread 

1 ripe avocado, cubed or mashed

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (you can also substitute sunflower seeds)

To assemble your sandwiches, place the bread slices on plates and either layer the avocado cubes or spread the mashed avocado on the bread. Top the avocado with the sliced egg, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts or the sunflower seeds. 

Serves 4

Fried Osyters Are Good Eatin'



Not too long ago I made a day trip to the shore just for a plate of fried seafood. Sometimes it's just like that. You have to satisfy the craving. We love the Crab Shack in Emerald Isle. It's nothing fancy but it's got bay views and plates of juicy, perfectly fried oysters, shrimp, scallops and clam strips. The plates are mounded high with quality home cooking and, unless you're greedy, are ample for two. We still can't resist ordering a plate apiece. For those times when you can't get to the shore, you can always pan-fry your own oysters at home. Now that the weather is beginning to cool down at night, we think a plate of oysters sounds just right. 


Pan-fried Oysters

1 pint medium oysters, drained

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup corn meal

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons butter

lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients, minced garlic and chopped parsley. Dredge oysters in mixture and let sit on paper 5 minutes. Heat oil and butter until sizzling hot. Add oysters. Brown lightly 30-40 seconds on each side. Serve immediately with lemon juice or tartar sauce.

Serves 2

Breakfast for Dinner!



One of my favorite meals is breakfast. And one of the best times for breakfast is the dinner hour. Anything eggs is okay by me. Ditto for bacon, ham and sausage. Don't forget the cheesy grits. Throw in some fresh sliced tomatoes and biscuits, then you've got heaven on a plate.  Sometimes we opt for Ihop or Waffle House (or Waffle Crib as we like to call it), but most of the time we do our breakfast for dinner the old school way - at home after a busy work day. Breakfast for dinner is best with a side of cheesy grits. You can't go wrong with grits and we like them as a side or a main meal - think shrimp and grits. 

Cheesy Grits

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup grits

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Put milk, water, and salt into a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal continually stirring. Once all of the cornmeal has been stirred in, decrease the heat to low and cover. Frequently remove lid and stir to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, stirring to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually add the cheese a little at a time. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


One Touch Latte: International Delight

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of coffee. As long as it doesn't taste like battery acid, I'm for it. So imagine my delight when International Delight came out with its One Touch Latte. Yes, it's latte in a can but it's pretty decent latte in a can.  If you can't go to Starbucks everyday, this is a pretty nifty alternative and a darn sight cheaper too.  For about $4 you get 40 lattes. I like to add Nestle's Coffeemate Sweet Italian Cream. I'm not exactly a purist and I'm sure there are coffee fans shuddering at the prospect of canned latte, but I like what I like. Try it. You might like it too.  20170918_121335


Easy School & Work Lunches; Mini Taco Bowl Recipe

You don't have to be Jamie Oliver to know school lunches are far from nutritious at most public school cafeterias

You can wait for change to come in the schools or you can start your own food revolution at home by preparing healthy, kid friendly foods your kids can take to school in eco-friendly lunch boxes.  

I like bento boxes for school (and work lunches too).  They're great for fun and attractive mini-meals.

If you're looking for some easy and appealing recipes the whole family will enjoy, Kraft features recipes from Mini Taco Bowls to Mini Meat Loaves - and everything in between. 

Recipes featuring small versions of our favorite comnfort foods are big hits in our household.  Quick to make, they're fun and tasty to eat.


Mini Taco Bowls

Mini Taco Bowls

modified from


8 flour tortillas (6 inch)

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef or turkey

1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa

1/2 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 cups chopped lettuce

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup KRAFT Ranch Dressing


HEAT oven to 350°F. MICROWAVE tortillas on HIGH 30 sec. Line each of 8 muffin cups with 1 tortilla. Carefully fold back edges of tortillas, leaving opening in centers for filling. BAKE 10 min.

Meanwhile, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in salsa; bring to boil. Simmer on medium-low heat 10 min.

SPOON meat mixture into tortilla bowls; top with remaining ingredients.  


Serve with your favorite fresh fruit.

If desired, substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken for the browned ground beef and sour cream for the dressing.


Learn Food Writing Basics Online

If you've ever wanted to record a memorable food-centric vacation, create a one-of-a-kind  cookbook filled with family recipes as well as family history, learn the mechanics of writing a recipe, or start your own food blog, I can guide you through the process.

Picquant's Mary MacRae Warren now offers six-week on-line writing courses. Learn the basics of food writing while taking online lessons at your own pace.

Formerly a faculty member at Gotham Writer's Workshop, I was a general assignment reporter for over many years.  I specialize in writing for new media and have authored blogs on parenting, travel and food as well as small business and entrepreneurship.

The Dish:     what they're saying about me


"Best writing coach. Ever." - Sheila Y, photographer and former student

 "I'm a beginning writer, but the way the class is set up, any level of writer would benefit from Mary's feedback, comments and the lectures."  - Bonnie K., former student

 Duration: 6 weeks

Cost: $180, includes an individual e-critique of one 500-word article or essay


If you ever wanted to learn the art of Chinese cooking from market to plate, you must take a class with my friend, Kian Lam Kho, the Red Cook.

Your chance is September 9. Details below.

New! Chinatown Market Tour

This fall I will be offering a Chinatown market tour for the first time through the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

Join us at the Chinatown Market Cooking Class on September 9th. You will learn to identify exotic Chinese and Asian produce, meats, fishes as well as other cooking ingredients. We will bring some of these ingredients back to ICE and cook them by utilizing cooking techniques such as stir-frying, braising, steaming, soup making, and rice preparation.

Labor Day Weekend BBQ Classic Rib Recipe

Every Labor Day weekend my family gets together to celebrate family. And the open of dove hunting season.  And pretty much anything else that comes to mind.

One of the highlights of our get together is a BBQ at my aunt and uncle's house.  It's a meatlover's paradise with slow-cooked pork ribs and steaks on the grill.  Of course, there are all the sides - deviled eggs, collard greens, salads - leaf, potato and pasta.  

Here's my uncle's rib recipe.  Try it for melt in your mouth, falling-off-the-bone tender ribs.

Uncle Alex's Babyback Ribs

Serves a whole house full of Warrens

Two large racks of pork ribs, cut up into individual riblets

Soak riblets in salted water overnight in refrigerator (This soaks the blood from the meat and leaves it almost white.)

When you're ready to cook the ribs, rinse them with plenty of fresh water to remove most of the salt. Line pans with aluminum foil, then pat ribs dry and lay in pans. 

Wet down good with  Uncle Alex's special BBQ sauce (see below), lightly salt, cover pan with foil and put in 350 degrees Farenheit oven for about half an hour.  Then turn down to 325 for about another hour. 

After an hour, take ribs out and uncover.  Brush with tomato sauce (see below) and put under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until browned.  Take out and eat. 

Alex Warren's BBQ Sauce

Half gallon vinegar

1 oz powdered cayenne red pepper

12 oz Texas Pete

4 oz Tabasco

Shake well and let stand.

Pick up and shake every now and then for the first couple weeks.


Tomato Sauce

1 cup Ketchup

1 1/2 cup Honey

1/2 cup Texas Pete

Put in small sauce pan and heat, lightly simmer for a while. This doesn't have to be cooked  If the sauce is too sweet or too hot, reduce amount of honey or Texas Pete.  (According to Uncle Alex, this is one of those things you just experiment with.)

Smackdown: Bourdain & Deen in Food Fight

Was that necessary Tony?  Really? Poor Paula.  Good natured good old gal.

In the latest celebrity food fight, Anthony Bourdain slings his peas and carrots at Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed butter queen.

No one is going to mistake Paula for a culinary master.  She's cooking good old girl food for a nation that - well - likes butter as much as she does.  Not that this is a good thing.

Still, it's no surprise that the No Reservations star blasted Deen, known for her Southern home cooking. Bourdain is funny - in an angry kind of way.  

Watch and learn. Watch and learn.



June – October
Third Sundays: August 21, September 18, October 16
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Prospect Park Alliance is working with the NYC Food Truck Association to bring some of New York's best food trucks to Prospect Park on the third Sunday of every month.

Head down to Grand Army Plaza to enjoy the delicious offerings of the City's best food trucks!

Participating trucks (subject to change):

• Bistro Truck • Coolhaus • • Joyride • Kelvin Natural Slush Co.
• Kimchi Taco • Mexicue • Mud Truck • The Red Hook Lobster Pound
• Rickshaw Dumpling Truck • Souvlaki GR • Taïm Mobile
• The Eddie's Pizza Truck • The Treats Truck • Vanleeuwen Ice Cream
• Wafels and Dinges

Food Truck Rally