Expert Interview Series: Lisa Kerhin of Blogghetti On Cooking Gourmet Meals Easily

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Lisa Kerhin is the creator of Blogghetti, a website that is dedicated to simple and delicious recipes that anyone can create; no matter their culinary skill level. We sat down with Lisa to discuss her cooking and baking philosophy, learn how cooking can be easy, and hear about her favorite simple recipes.

What was the main reason that you decided to start a blog?

We all have cookbooks that we cherish with well-read pages, bookmarks, and even scraps of paper sticking out of them with other recipes we want to keep. That’s where my blog started. I was tired of keeping the small scraps of papers in the books, and not being able to find the recipes I needed in the many, many well-loved cookbooks in my collection. It was definitely not organized and driving me insane.

So, the blog happened and I never even took pictures of the recipes; I just typed them up in the beginning. I also wanted a place where the recipes would be easily accessible to my family members who live in various places across the country. What better place than the internet where with the click of a mouse, we can have them in sight and get on with the cooking!

From there, the blog has grown to be a source of easy-to-make, get-it-on-the-table-quick recipes that today’s families call for in this fast-paced time.

Why do you think many people are so intimidated by the idea of cooking or baking?

I think many people are intimidated by the idea of cooking or baking because they read the recipe and think it is too complicated or they may have never learned some of the skills needed for cooking or baking. Terms like sauté, braise, or chiffonade can sound like Greek to the novice cook. The many cooking shows on television can also contribute to this fear of cooking. The chefs make it look super simple to whip up a gourmet meal or bake a cheesecake without cracks so we feel we can create this fabulous meal ourselves. Then when we go through the steps and the result is far from that mouth-watering picture of deliciousness, we conclude that cooking or baking is too hard and go back to ordering out or processed boxed foods.

Baking is more of a science with all of the precise measuring and such, so that complicates things, too. Cooking can be a little less strict when it comes to measuring and adapting to one’s tastes or ingredients on hand. I learned to cook and bake from my dad who learned from his mother, and their style of “a pinch of this or that” works for me for the most part. I am still intimidated by some recipes such as cheesecakes, though I am conquering that fear.

Name a food, entrée, or dish that is often perceived as being difficult to make but is actually pretty easy to create.

The very first time I ever made Cream Puffs I was overwhelmed with the directions. The shells for the puffs are super light and airy. They seemed too delicate for me to make – until I did. The dough is the easiest thing ever to make – seriously! The filling is just as easy to make, too.

When you try a new recipe, how can you tell if it didn’t turn out as perfect as you wanted it to?

My family will tell me! They are my toughest critics who will let me know if the new recipe is worth making again or give me their opinion on how to make it better. I also look at the flavor profile and the visual presentation of the dish, and if they aren’t quite what the recipe called for or up to par, I have to figure out how to perfect it for next time.

In your opinion, what makes a recipe “simple?”

For me, a recipe is “simple” not only in the form of fewer steps and ingredients but also in preparation. Prep time needs to be easy just like as the actual cooking or baking of a recipe. I don’t have the time to be prepping longer than the entire recipe takes to cook. Having a well-stocked pantry adds to the simplicity of creating easy meals, too.

Can you provide an example of one of your favorite simple recipes?

I love recipes that can be made in one baking pan or skillet (fewer dishes to wash!). This Roasted Honey Dijon Garlic Chicken with Vegetables is one of those recipes. It’s simple and healthy, and you can easily make this for 4, 8, or more servings by just doubling or tripling the recipe.

Ingredients:

• 3 tbsp olive oil, divided

• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

• 2 tbsp honey

• 2 tbsp brown sugar

• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• ½ tsp dried oregano

• ½ tsp dried basil

• 2 cups baby red potatoes, halved

• 4 – 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

• 3 cups fresh broccoli florets

• 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed

• salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, Dijon, garlic, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

3. Place potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Place chicken on top of potatoes and brush each chicken breast with honey mixture.

5. Place into oven and roast until the chicken is completely cooked through and the potatoes are nearly done about 25-30 minutes.

6. Stir in broccoli and green beans during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Cook until tender-crisp and cooked through.

What are some of your go-to kitchen items and tools when you are cooking or baking?

A good chef’s knife and cutting board are a must to keep prep time to a minimum. Wooden spoons and spatulas are somewhat of an addiction for me, but they make cooking and baking easier and keep my non-stick cookware scratch-free.

Is there a particular machine, gadget, or appliance in your kitchen that really helps simplify cooking for you?

I would be lost without my stand mixer! I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer nearly every day, and it kneads bread dough effortlessly. I also use it to shred chicken for many recipes. My slow-cooker is another item that I use on a regular basis to get meals cooked when I can’t be in the kitchen or it is too hot outside to heat up the kitchen using the oven. It’s all about making it easy in the kitchen so that cooking is enjoyable!

What tends to happen when people discover that cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming?

My readers comment that they love the simple recipes that involve little or no prep and cook time because it gives them more time for other things like spending time with the family or getting extra chores completed. They also mention that the less time-consuming recipes give them the confidence to cook or bake more, and that they get their kids involved. One reader took the time to let me know that a few of my recipes encouraged her to stop wasting money on fast food and eat healthier by cooking more at home. I love my readers!

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