One of my favorite quotes from Jessica’s cookbook refers to her cooking philosophy. “There is no exact science as to how I began cooking my own recipes—but that’s just it: I started,” she says. ” If you want to learn how to cook and how to put your own spins on dishes, like anything else you just have to START.”
Well said, Jessica.
Anyone that’s discovered the deliciousness that IS the blog How Sweet It Is is very familiar with it’s creator’s obsession with neon, 80’s pop culture trivia and that all things are better with browned butter, bacon, and sprinkles.
I featured Jessica on my first list of 5 Food Blogs I’m Following Now, and my respect and devotion hasn’t strayed. Known among her legions of fans as an inspiring creator for recipes, beauty and simply all things fun, Jessica Merchant can now add author to that list with the release of her first cookbook, Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food.
Need she say more? I don’t think so. Her book pretty much says it all.
Jessica’s cookbook is jam-packed with family favorites and homages to her grandmother, nicknamed Mother Lovett, with many recipes featuring her inspiration and tutelage and where her love for cooking began—in the kitchen for Sunday dinners.
Most recipes in her book clock in at 20-45 minutes of prep time making time in the kitchen totally doable for newbie cooks to those that want to spend the time but simply don’t have it, including this Obesessed-With-Cheese Mac & Cheese. And you can enter to win a copy of Seriously Delish for your very own at the end of this post.
Behind the Scenes of How Sweet It Is
What inspired you to create a book? Have you always wanted to be a cookbook author?
I definitely haven’t always wanted to be a cookbook author—but I have always wanted to be an author. If you look in my 8th grade yearbook, it’s what I wrote that I hoped I was doing in 15 years. I am much more interested in writing fiction, though. I was mostly inspired to do the cookbook from my readers and the community on my site that wanted a tangible book in their hands. And with how much work I put into the blog, it just seemed like a natural progression.
What was your favorite part about the book, and your favorite part about the process?
Hahaha—um… finishing it? I am definitely someone who is never happy with my own work, so I still struggle to find a favorite part of the book. My favorite part is probably that it is a true extension of me and my blog. When I sat down to write the book, I literally acted as if I was writing 150+ blog posts. This wasn’t a natural feeling at first but it was definitely necessary because it was “me” and what works for the blog so well. Favorite thing about the process? Definitely finishing it. The process was a nightmare and not something I enjoyed at all. It included a TON of self doubt!
What did you discover about yourself while writing it?
That if I’m not given a deadline, I will never ever ever ever ever make a decision. If I didn’t have a deadline for those recipes, I’d still be sending my editor 15 new ones every month to swap out of the book.
How is impending motherhood playing into your expectations on blogging?
I’m trying not to have ANY expectations since it is something totally new to me. Not only am I trying not to verbalize expectations—I’m also trying to not even think about them. I know it’s going to be a huge change and something I have never done before—probably the biggest challenge of my life. I plan on just taking it day by day when the time comes!
You’re on a whirlwind book tour to promote Seriously Delish. Do you have any other goals / direction / events / happenings in the near future besides welcoming your new baby to the fam?
I really don’t! Looking forward to being finished with the book tour so I can get home and NEST!
Jessica and husband Eddie
From Browned Butter Banana Bread to Mushroom, Leek and Brussels Pizza with Fried Eggs, to her 3 Bean Crispy Quinoa Skillet and Mother Lovett’s Obsessed-With-Cheese Mac and Cheese (recipe below) Jessica’s cookbook serves up breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and desserts in signature Jessica style. “If I could cover my entire life in brown butter, I would. Heck, I think I already kinda do.”
I’m truly a fan. Thank you Jessica for taking the time to be our foodie crush. You brown my butter and make everything more funfetti.
And now, my list of 10 Q’s for Jessica.
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
engaging, authentic and… trashed-up?
2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
mandy from lady and pups. she makes the MOST incredible food – and I always want to devour all of it.
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
lovetaza, canyoustayfordinner and designlovefest.
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
My food processor! I use it for EVERYTHING.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Pies and pie crusts. I am getting better at it, but it doesn’t come easy for me and the result never seems to be the same. Plus I just really don’t have the patience.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Pinkberry in an airport. (P.S. get the 50-cent extra toppings of milk chocolate crunch and nutella. WORTH IT.)
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I would necessarily call it a talent, but I have a very real obsession with american history – especially presidential history. Maybe we can consider my excellent memory as a talent? It’s a terrible thing for all of the men in my life.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
With family and friends. (and obviously when the meal includes brown butter.)
9. Your blog started out featuring food and recipes, but has evolved into so much more with fashion, beauty and life musings that are all trashed up or sprinkled with glitter. Your blogging style and tone inspires a devout legion of fans and has become a model that is sometimes imitated and I’m sure that’s flattering, but what advice do you have for other bloggers on how to interject their own personalities into their blog?
I think it’s a matter of being yourself and being consistent – but also being honest with yourself about who you are. Sometimes it takes writing everyday to figure out who you are – some people discover it in their twenties and others not until much later. I can’t imagine the work that would go into trying to emulate someone else and be a different person than you actually are. So I think it’s key to try your hardest to be yourself – and for some people it takes days to gain a following while for other it takes years. Be natural. Stop comparing yourself to others, stop worrying what others are doing! Putting on an act would get old very quick, which is why I think it’s so imperative to put as much of yourself into your own blog. You can never be the same person as someone else, which is actually amazing.
10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
It’s so cliche, but… being myself. I am a very all or nothing person – and while this is not necessarily a good quality – I absolutely cannot and will not do something unless I 500% love it and feel like it’s me. It can’t be an unnatural fit. It’s kind of a blessing for being self employed but a curse in many other aspects. (Like the D’s I got in accounting and economics in college. Oops.)
Win a Copy of Seriously Delish
Seriously Delish is one of those cookbooks you’ll refer to time and again for classic recipes with a twist / healthy favorites / and classic cravings. And with over 150 of those recipes, you’ll be happily cooking in the kitchen for a good long while.
Just fill in the info in the widget below with one or more entries to be entered to win your own copy of Seriously Delish.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Obesessed-With-Cheese Mac & Cheese Recipe
And now to that Mac & Cheese recipe…with soooooo much cheese!
Choosing just one recipe to make from Seriously Delish was a feat upon itself. I finally chose Mother Lovett’s Obesessed-With-Cheese Mac & Cheese. It’s in the section of her book titled, Celebrations: For Times When Calories Don’t Count. This is NOT a light dish, but oh my word, it is heaven on earth.
The aroma of the garlic studded roux that is the base for the sauce is reason enough to make this mac & cheese. Four different cheeses combine to create a thick sauce that clings heartily to the elbow macaroni. Don’t be alarmed if the sauce starts to feel like play dough, it’s meant to be thick. Bacon and panko bread crumbs top the whole creamy dish for an alternate crunch that is the perfect balance.
Jessica’s right. This mac & cheese is truly the best.
Got much cheese?
Obsessed With Cheese Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1 pound elbow noodles
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ stick
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese freshly grated
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese freshly grated
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese freshly grated
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon cooked and crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions, shaving 1 to 2 minutes off the cooking time. Drain the pasta once it's finished and set aside.
- For the cheese sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is sizzling, add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds, then whisk in the flour to create a roux. Stir the roux until it is golden in color and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the milk in slowly and stir constantly until the liquid is slightly thickened, another 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the mascarpone, Gruyere, 6 ounces of the cheddar, 6 ounces of the Fontina and the Parmesan cheese. Stir the sauce constantly with a heatproof spatula until the cheese is melted, then add the pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
- Add the pasta to the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Mix to combine and disperse the sauce throughout the noodles. Cover the top with the remaining cheddar and Fontina cheeses, the bread crumbs, and bacon. Bake until golden and bubbly on top, about 30 minutes.
Find more of Jessica on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. As always, all opinions are my own. Affiliate links my be used in this post.
Are you following me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest? Thanks for reading and subscribe to FoodieCrush to have each post delivered straight to your e-mail box.
There is a reason why I bought a Mac, it was not to be one of the cool kids that wanted the best of the best. No it was because of the music production I do on it. Hours and hours sitting in front of my Mac copying, pasting, moving, deleting, hour after hour just beating on my Mac in a endless assault to get my work done. That is the key part, my work. I work from home, it is great, but even if it is from home it is still work and it still needs to get done. So my Mac, I have it because it is fast, gets the job done and comes back for more.
But what happens when it doesn’t want to do those things anymore?
I move around massive amounts of information and yes even on the almighty Mac this can cause a problem after a while. Things fragment, programs get corrupted issues come up. My light speed Mac slows down to a crawl and all of the sudden I simply can not get any work done. Because I work from home there is no IT guy to call and ask to come fix it. No instead I have to figure out what is wrong. I am lucky, I did, but not after trying everything under the sun first and wasting countless hours looking for one program that can do what I needed instead of ten programs. One program to lead them all….okay that was a lame Lord of the rings reference, but that program was/is Detox My Mac. A simple to use program that did not just fix my issues, it put my Mac on overdrive again. A few clicks and my Mac was clean and ready to rock and roll again.
Read more here:- http://detox-my-mac.com?vhbshygdf398432
I love M & C! Who doesn’t? :D
Gruyere has to be in it, not a Cheddar fan. Need some crunch so like to add
some crispy French fried onoins.
Chicken Bacon Ranch mac and cheese would be fantastic!
Anne Marie B.
Texas style — with green chilis!
Broccoli mac n cheese!
just regular ol mac and cheese! Thanks for the chance, huge fan of both of you!!!
Thank you Rena!
Green Chile Mac and Cheese!
Ahh baked mac and cheese is my favorite… and I love howsweeteats!
I like mine with some chipotle, bacon, and crab. .
This looks SO good — love Jessica & Must get my hands on her book! gah!
I cannot resist mac and cheese with bacon.
My favorite is four-cheese baked mac & cheese, but truly, almost ANY mac & cheese makes me happy. :)
I love original mac and cheese but I do add grilled bacon & onions to mine
Chineka @ Savor The Baking
I loved getting to know this blogger more through this post. My favorite flavor of mac and cheese is lobster mac and cheese.
Just having cheese in the dish makes it my favorite flavor!
Mac and cheese with gruyere and Havarti with a little bit of bacon.
It would have to be Lobster Mac and Cheese!
Yeah! Love Jess!
Classic Mac with American, cheddar, and a little Gouda or fontina. Stovetop only – no baking.
Traditional mac’n’cheese, no fuss no whimsy no new ingredients. That is my favorite, though I’m always up for tasting variations to see if it gets dethroned!
Andrea | Cooking with a Wallflower
Seriously, anything with bacon. =)
Kathy @ Olives and Garlic
I want to win. I never win anything :)
Simi @ Tablewithaviewblog
My favorite will have to be with jalapeño and pancetta. Best combo.
Katie @ Butterlust
i love a good sharp cheddar mac
I make a mean smoked cheddar mac & cheese with crispy onions and bacon on top. It’s easily my favorite.
Baked mac and cheese! with vegetables (including lots of red peppers!!)
Just LOVE Jessica Merchant! Great post!
I’m not even much of a bacon fan (yes, I know) but this looks so tasty.
Jenny @ Honey and Birch
I love lobster mac and cheese, with a healthy crumble of bacon (wait, healthy and bacon in the same sentence?)
Any and all mac and cheese.
Liz @ FloatingKitchen
Great interview. I love Jessica and her blog! My favorite mac and cheese flavor is cheddar with beer!
A favorite of all
loventhe Mac and Cheese recipe! Follow you on FB and Pinterest.
just the classic!
Blue cheese mac n cheese.
Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming
lobster mac & cheese :)
Love love Jessica and hoping to get this mac n cheese into my life soon!
I love cheese!!! I’m good with any flavor of mac and cheese.
Emily @ Life on Food
I love plain old mac and cheese. Definitely baked in the oven. Bread crumb toppings.
In the fall I love adding pumpkin or butternut squash.
the obsessed with cheese mac and cheese looks pretty amazing!
I love it with sharp cheddar and gouda mix.
I looveee truffle mac and cheese. Yum!
This looks so delicious and perfect for these cold days!
This looks amazing! Thanks for hosting this giveaway! Any mac and cheese with bacon is my favorite!
Love her blog! And love any form of Mac and cheese- especially ones with goldfish breadcrumbs!
Bacon mac and cheese!!
I haven’t had the occasion to have Mac & Cheese for a long while, but whatever kind of cheese Panera uses for theirs is wonderful!
I love classic mac n’ cheese with hot dogs cut up in it!
That’s what my mom used to fix us when she and my dad would go out on date night! Still a fave.
I love lobster mac!
Finally! Cheese addicts are going main stream! I’m making that Mac & Cheese. -Ben
Yay! I loved this post on Jessica! My favorite mac n cheese is anything with bacon! Bring on ALL of the cheese please!
There’s an amazing Truffle Mac n Cheese at a local wine bar near me. It is ah-MAZING. I think I’m also a fan of Gouda or Gruyere…one of the G’s :)
Lobster mac and cheese!
My favorite flavor of macaroni and cheese is cheddar and maybe Havarti or Gruyere. I forget which one it was.
Great article, I’ve been following jessica for years!
I really want to make those doughnuts Jessica is holding. =)
I just love traditional thick and creamy mac and cheese! The book looks beautiful!
Bridget @ Champagne Frosting
Love the conversation with Jess!! Her blog (and yours) bring happiness to many boring days in the office! Seriously Delish looks amazing and I can’t wait to buy (or win!) a copy!
I love Jess!! My fav Mac and cheese is just plain! But I do love me some crab Mac and cheese foR when I get fancy.
As long as it’s cheesy, I don’t care which flavor it is! :-)
Mac and Cheese with Edamame and baby grape tomatoes
I love Jessica’s blog and that Mac and Cheese looks amazing on this rainy day!
Mmmmm, that gooey mac n cheese looks great! Perfect comfort food for this very Fall day we are having.
Classic sharp cheddar!
jordan @ the dancing donut
My all-time favorite mac is one with lobster in it! I can’t resist the creamy cheesy seafood combo :)
The cookbook looks awesome, would love to add it to my shelf!
I like my Mac with a Le Gruyere/Manchego/Havarti blend. It has to be a Cavatappi noodle, I love the extra twists. I used to go with a breadcrumb topping, now I just roll with it smooth and creamy. The leftovers (hardly ever happens) are great breaded and fried or cooked on a pizza dough.
Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog
LOVE her book, definitely already got my copy and am cooking my way through it, it’s absolutely amazing and I’d looove to give a copy to my sis (she really needs some cooking love in her life…I should perhaps make a double batch of this mac and cheese and bring her some? best sis ever? yeah, I think so!)
I like my Mac & Cheese in the over with 4 cheeses minimum, then with extra cheese poured on top right before eating. Love mac & cheese.
Growing up my dad used to make a mac and cheese with tuna fish, broccoli, and a little bit of cream of mushroom soup. It’s so comforting. He called it cheese and trees :)
I love a good baked mac and cheese but my guilty pleasure is mac and cheese smothered with ketchup.
Averie @ Averie Cooks
I loved reading every word of this! Thanks for collaborating you two! And I love Seriously Delish! Bravo to an amazing book, Jessica, and that feeling of being done….the best:)
Broccoli mac and cheese. It makes me feel better when I can sneak a few veggies in!
I love this smoked gouda mac and cheese from Brenners on the Bayou in Houston. Yum.
But really any mac and cheese is delish.
Sara @ Cake Over Steak
I LOVE Jessica’s book!! I was lucky enough to meet her at her signing in Philly, and she is just as sweet as I imagined. Sweeter, actually! And her husband Eddie is also adorable and seemed so proud of her, as he should be. Thanks for featuring her on here – she’s the best!
I made a roasted apple, onion, brussels sprout and bacon mac and cheese with a sauce that had sweet potato and smoked gouda in it. It was amazing.
Lately, I’ve been loving butternut squash mac and cheese!
you are amazing. oh how i love you so. THANK YOU!!!!
tomato; both for flavor and color!
Um, any mac & cheese? But I really like it when they have veggies mixed in… like brussels or butternut squash.
Allie @ Sweet Potato Bites
Jessica is one of my favorite bloggers! I’d love a copy of her book and that mac and cheese looks fantastic!
I don’t discriminate when it comes to mac & cheese. As long as there’s no blue cheese involved, it’s all okay in my book!
Green Chilli & Garlic Mac & Cheese! Love the heat and flavour
Ali | Gimme Some Oven
Love this. Love her. Love the book. And lovvvvvvvve your photos of that mac & cheese. (Especially that one with the fork pulling up all of that ooey gooey cheesy heavenly pasta — perfection!)
love your post! got a crush on jessica, too. ah, and her book… i want to hold it in my arms! haha.
btw. my favorite mac and cheese is älplermaggronen – the swiss version, which is being eaten with apple sauce on the side. classic!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
This recipe is on the tippy top of my to make list. Such a stunner!
beer gouda mac and cheese mmm
YAY! Love Jess!