I’m so happy to share Everyday Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals: 30 Ridiculously Simple Family Favorite Recipes with you, and the chance to win a copy of your own. But first a love letter to it’s author, Lauren of Lauren’s Latest.
When bloggers connect with their readers by sharing their life through cooking, magic happens. For Lauren Brennan of the food blog Lauren’s Latest, that recipe for success is one that’s propelled her to the top of the foodie blogosphere.
Lauren has a talent not all of us possess by making what she does look effortless. But I know the real deal, what’s behind her rosey glow and beautiful smile that creates an immediate, friend for life connection. I know the real secret to her success: Good, old fashioned, hard work is what’s behind this young wife as one of the web’s most creative content creators and comfort cooking powerhouse.
Like many bloggers, Lauren originally had a different career path in mind. She graduated from college with a Health Science degree and was a Developmental Specialist working with adults and children with developmental delays before becoming a stay at home mom to her newborn, now 4-year-old daughter.
And then the blog was born.
“In 2009, my husband needed to start an online business for a college class and couldn’t think of anything, so he made me a food blog,” Lauren explains. “I had mentioned it to him previously, but never thought he’d get me up and running, but he did.”
After starting her blog as her husband’s class assignment, Lauren posted random recipes when she found time in between taking care of her newborn daughter. She soon realized there were cooking contests that awarded great prizes to their winners and began entering and winning small prizes. Then in December 2010, she won a cooking contest that landed her on a Good Morning America cooking segment with Sandra Lee. After that, her blog grew by leaps and bounds.
I recently had the opportunity of working with Lauren one-on-one when she asked me to help bring her vision for an eCookbook to life, a trove of family treasures she hasn’t really shared on her blog because they are the recipes of her everyday family cooking. Simple recipes for simply extraordinary meals is how she described the idea. And that’s what the title of her book became. Sometimes you just don’t mess with a good thing.
The kicker to this whole plan to launch an eCookbook was that she hatched this idea with an entirely different bun in the oven that had a due date that wouldn’t wait for any delays thanks to an eCookbook. Lauren was set to deliver her second child at the end of April, and actually delivered baby Blake the same day we launched her eCookbook. How’s that for divinity?
All of this could have made the experience of writing and photographing an ebook a bit more harried, a bit more scattered. But for Lauren it simply brought focus to her mission to deliver an ebook that reflected her love for inspiring others to cook simple, healthy meals for their families.
Not only does Everyday Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals: 30 Ridiculously Simple Family Favorite Recipes showcase great recipes but it also gives solid advice on which staples to keep handy in the pantry to create her family favorites, quick weeknight eats and heartier weekend wonders.
When I asked her which are her favorite recipes from Everyday Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals, Lauren replied as any mother would about her beloved children. “Do I only have to pick one? I had a hard time narrowing it down to 30,” Lauren exclaimed. “I’m really proud of my Cinnabon knockoff recipe. I also really love my pizza dough recipe because it’s so versatile. And, my lemon cream tart because it’s so freakin’ delicious. And I’m OBSESSED with lemon.”
Choosing a recipe to feature from her gorgeously photographed ebook was a challenge, especially since I’ve been drooling over them for 2 months. But since I had never made pudding from scratch, and Smudge is always begging for pie, Lauren’s eCookbook-only recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie was beckoning me to fall victim to its chocolateness.
And I was happy to do so. I only hope I do it it justice.
While I was prepping to make the recipe, of course I ran out of milk so I substituted half of the milk for cream since I had that on hand, ready to whip for the topping. It was perfect and heartily Smudge approved and I hope Lauren will be impressed with my substitution.
But before we get to the creamy center, first, a few words from Lauren who I thank for being a verified foodie crush.
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Happy, creative, fun
2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
Probably Ree Drummond! I’ve always wanted to be on the Food Network, plus she lives with real life cowboys! Hellllloooooo chaps.
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
Spoon Fork Bacon–I silently drool over all the recipes and photos!
Edible Perspective– I love Ashley’s photography and her recipe ideas are fantastic.
Kevin and Amanda– Since I’ve gotten to know Kevin and Amanda as friends, I love following their lives! Does that sound stalker-ish? Oh well!! Plus, I love ALL the recipes Amanda posts.
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My really sharp chef’s knife. It cuts like buttuh!
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Right now, I’m working on falafels! I’ve gotten them good, but not great. Still figuring it out…
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you:
I can play the piano.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Really, really good salad. Or warm brownies and ice cream. Or anything involving whipped cream.
9. You new eCookbook shares family favorite recipes that form the base of your weekly menus. Where else do you find your cooking inspiration?
Other blogs, Pinterest, pictures in magazines, new products featured at the grocery store….pretty much anywhere! Sometimes, I dream recipes too. The recipe that landed me on Good Morning America was a recipe I came up with in a dream! Weird, and kind of awesome.
10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Doing what I feel like doing and not caring what other people think. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but now that I’ve had a second baby, I do what works for me. I’m not always on twitter or Facebook and I post two recipes a week. That’s what works for me. If people want to come along for the ride, then great! I’d love to have ya!
To celebrate the release of Lauren’s eCookbook, I’m happy to share a giveaway with you to win your own copy, just check out the widget below for more info on how to enter/rules/all the gist.
Or better yet, buy yourself and your mom your own copies for Mother’s Day, and if you’re a winner, I’ll reimburse you for both copies making mothers everywhere very happy. Please read the complete rules found on the widget. Valid worldwide.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And now for that recipe you’ve been waiting for.
Chocolate Cream Pie
For the filling
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch sifted
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
- 2 cups milk
- 2 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- sweetened whipped cream
- chocolate shavings
1 9-inch pie shell, cooked and cooled
In a small pot, stir sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder together. Whisk in milk and place over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Once hot and thick remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate and vanilla. Pour into pie plate and cover with plastic wrap. Be sure to place the plastic wrap directly on the filling. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until completely chilled and plastic wrap comes off clean.
Cut pie into 8 pieces and top with dollops of cream and chocolate shavings and serve.
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