Welcome to 1-800-Bakery’s interview series, “The Baker & The Blogger.” Each week we’ll be sharing an interview with one of our favorite bloggers. Enjoy!
Name: Amanda Hardin
Blog Name: High Heels to Hot Wheels
How long have you been blogging?
I started my blog on May 2nd 2012, so I am about to have my one-year blogiversary!!!! I can’t believe how much it has grown in what seems like such a short amount of time.
What are some of your favorite food-related memories from your childhood?
I come from a family that cooks together, so many of my favorite childhood memories revolve around food and cooking with my dad. I used to always watch my dad in awe as he came up with the most delicious and creative meals. When my parents would have dinner parties, he would finish off the meal with a special presentation of his crepes suzette and we would all stand around and applaud him as the pan went up in flames.
What is your all-time favorite dessert?
Probably Crepes Suzette, although I have yet to attempt it myself. I managed to make homemade crepes, but I think I want my dad around to oversee the suzette part so that our house doesn’t go up in flames!!
Here is the link for my Sweet Balsamic Tomato Crepes.
Do you have a signature dish? If so, what is it?
I was asked for a monthly contest on Pop Sugar’s Circle of Moms to put the essence of my blog on a plate. I came up with a Shrimp & Asparagus Quinoa with Goat Cheese for my dish. I would say that it is pretty much my signature dish, not in that I make it all the time or am known for it, but because it sums up my cooking style. I like to create food that is uncomplicated gourmet. I love to use fresh, healthy ingredients and layer in flavors with fresh herbs and spices. I am definitely not a carb-aholic, but want my food to be filling, so I use whole grains and seeds such as quinoa or brown rice. I AM a goat cheese-aholic, so you will find goat cheese in a lot of my dishes. It adds a little creaminess, but doesn’t take away from the dish. Some people aren’t fans of the flavor, but not me! You will always find it in my fridge.
If you have children, how do you get them involved in the kitchen?
I have a four year old little boy named Hunter, but he also goes by Hunter Bear, Bear Bear, Boogeyman and his least favorite nickname “Stinky”. He is very curious about cooking and I try to involve him with the tasks that are kid-friendly, but with most little kids his interest comes and goes. In all honesty he would be happiest cleaning the sink with the scrub brush while I cook, but I love to have him in there and I hope that he becomes more and more interested in cooking as he gets older.
Please share 5 of your favorite recipes and tell us why you love them.
~ Sweet Potato Hashbrowns with Ketchup & Chive Aioli – I never met a hashbrown I didn’t like and I like this one even better because it is lightened up a bit!!!
~ The For Real, Friel” Tomato Sandwich – This recipe is so special to me because it pays homage to my grandfather, who was such an inspiration to be me in so many ways. It is loaded with fresh ingredients from our garden all piled onto homemade herbed focaccia bread!! I won a special Honorable Mention for this sandwich at the 2012 Tomato Art Fest tomato sandwich recipe contest.
~ Cheesy Enchilada Soup – This recipe has been repinned on Pinterest an innumerable amount of times and is by far the most viewed post on my blog to date. The funniest thing about this recipe is that I literally pulled cans from the pantry on a cold day to make lunch for my husband, grabbed my camera and blogged about it. Never did I dream it would have been such a hit!!
~ Caprese Stack with Pesto - There are two things that make their way on my plate at nearly every meal in the summer – tomatoes and pesto! This recipe is a combination of both. I am so excited for fresh, ripe tomatoes and the constant hum of my food processor making pesto with fresh basil!!
~ Mint Chocolate Cheesecake – This is what I’m known for in my family, so I guess it is somewhat of my “signature dish”. I overcame my fear of the cheesecake many years ago and happily make upon request for every family Christmas dinner. It is like mint chocolate chip ice cream in a sugar cone…..DELICIOUS!!
Do you prefer cooking or baking? Why?
I think I like a good blend of both. It’s the analytical/creative pull in me. I’m a CPA by day and I am very task/project-oriented, so I like the preciseness that baking requires, but the creative side of me loves to cook and create new recipes. I definitely think baking requires lots of creativity, but I like that there are certain measurements that are required for the success of the dish. I love using fresh ingredients when I cook and I really enjoy playing around with flavors of fresh herbs and spices.
Do you have any memories of bakeries that you visited as a child or on a special vacation? Tell us about one or two of those.
Becker’s Bakery in Nashville is a mainstay. They make the most delicious and enormous petit fors you have ever seen. One time I ordered them for a bunco party and they made them look like dice. It was so cute and creative and they really work with the customers to make whatever you need.
My family favorite, though, is Sweet 16th in East Nashville. We used to stroll over on Saturday mornings for their Breakfast Sandwich, which is to die for. We have lived away from Nashville for four years until this month, so we haven’t been as often as we like, but last year for Father’s Day, I picked up a breakfast sandwich, which is my husband’s favorite and hid it in the fridge and surprised him with it for breakfast and he was thrilled!!