How did your passion for cooking develop?
As long as I can remember, food has been something that has brought my family together. Whether it was gathering in the kitchen as my mom cooked dinner, eating a pancake feast my dad whipped up on the weekends, or baking cookies with my grandma, cooking was a consistent activity we did together. In addition to those happy memories, I've always loved the creative process that's behind developing recipes and, of course, the result being delicious food to eat!
What are your favorite recipes for family dinners?
I make a lot of roasted chicken because everybody loves it and there's usually leftovers to put in sandwiches or salads the next day. We do salmon probably once a week (because Carson makes it - break for me!) and I'm a huge fan of anything in the slow cooker to make family dinner nights fast and easy.
What are your top recipes for entertaining?
I love customizable recipes, like tacos or the Baked Potato Bar that's in my book, because it allows large groups to build meals around their own preferences. Also, what's better than a big pan of comforting lasagna or casserole that can feed an army?!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Probably greasy, Chinese take-out. Beef and broccoli, crispy egg rolls, fried rice...this is the kind of food I want to eat in my pajamas with control over the television, preferably alone.
What is your favorite family vacation?
Every summer we spend time in Orange County, California, right on the beach, with family and friends. It's the one time of year that Carson and I truly unwind. I read books, paint rocks (truth), play with my kids and cook a lot of seafood. Sometimes we even lock our phones in a drawer! Can you imagine?!
What is your best advice for other Mamas?
No judgment and no comparisons! In this age of social media, it's easy to get distracted with other people and to assume someone's life is better or worse than our own. The truth is, we are all in this together, and we are all trying to do the best we can. It always helps me to remember that I'm not alone, that so many other moms have felt the way I'm feeling in any given situation. And here we go, but I'm going to say it...life goes by so fast! We blink and our kids are grown-ups, so if we can pause a few times each day to take it all in, we'll be better moms for it.
How do your children inspire your cooking?
I'm always searching for healthy, adaptable meals for their growing bodies and picky palates. Nothing is more annoying than being a short order cook, so I try to stick to dinners that can easily be tweaked to please everyone. Sometimes my son comes home and requests certain things, which always helps to pull me out of a food rut!
Are your children picky eaters? What’s your tip for picky eaters?
Um, yes. My younger two are worse than my older one. As he's gotten older, he's willing to try more foods, which makes me ridiculously happy. As for the girls, I just keep trying different things, as well as the same things, over and over and over. Eventually they might change their mind and decide to try it. Even like it?! When that doesn’t work, I'm not above sneaking food into their diets. My Sneaky One-Pot Mexican Pasta is a great recipe for that, as it's loaded with healthy squash (shh, don't tell my kids).
How do you like to spend time as a family?
We love to play games. In fact, almost every night around the dinner table we play either 20 Questions, Concentration or Telephone. We love having "movie nights" where I pop popcorn on the stove (and they smother it with Parmesan cheese). And we love to be outside, particularly when the weather is nice (because cold weather makes me...cold). Golf, hanging at the beach, family walks around the block, etc. Mostly, our family time revolves around big barbecues with friends because, food!
When you go out to eat with the family, what are your favorite restaurants?
Sushi is definitely our go-to as it's my son's favorite food. The girls stick to udon noodles and edamame, but my son loves a lot of sashimi. We also love Mexican restaurants, particularly because we lived in California for so long where we were surrounded by great spots.
Please share your favorite recipes from your new book...
This is a hard question, because I truly love everything, but some of my favorites include the Open-Faced Green Breakfast Sandwich, the Greek Nachos, the Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and the Homemade Girl Scout Cookies.
What values or lessons do you hope to instill in your children?
I hope they value hard work, I hope they are always honest and above all, kind, kind, KIND. Mostly, I want them to be happy, and to be the best versions of themselves.
Check out Siriously Delicious cookbook available now: https://www.amazon.com/Siriously-Delicious-Nutritious-Simple-Recipes/dp/0848755804