It’s Saturday! In these parts, that means relaxation in the form of being a bachelorette. While Bobby is attending a bachelor party this weekend – not his quite yet, but one of his friends – I am looking forward to some fun in the city with girlfriends. You know me – the ultimate party animal.
I’m really excited about today’s post. A few weeks – OK, more than a month – ago, I had the opportunity to work with the great people from NAKANO . I’m long overdue for sharing all of this with you, but then again, life has been a bit crazy lately, if you couldn’t tell!
Having not used rice vinegar for many recipes before, I was interested in finding out more about NAKANO. You may remember that I used it to create the Tofu with Peanut-Ginger Sauce when Sarah came to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor it added to the dish!
My friend Kate also connected me with Holly Clegg , a cookbook author and foodie known for her “trim&Terrific” line of cookbooks. I hope you enjoy the interview below – and stick around for the giveaway at the end of this post!
Q&A with Holly Clegg
Thanks for chatting with me today! I’d love to hear all about your new cookbook.
It’s called Too Hot In the Kitchen – Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age and is from my trim&Terrific line. With these recipes, you have all of the ingredients in your house. It’s very pantry friendly, user friendly and time friendly. It’s a woman’s lifestyle book that is fun and whimsical and follows my philosophy. I believe it’s so easy to eat healthier and include good foods with anything you’re making.
Can you talk a little bit about how you found your love of food?
The most important thing about my background is that I love to eat and, as a result, I love to cook. When I was young, my parents and I went to a lake house with friends and I remember being upset that the food wasn’t in my cabin. I’ve always loved to cook, I went to Tulane and took advantage of cooking classes, then went to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.
Is all of this what led to your desire to write cookbooks?
Yes! I’ve been around for a long time – I do all of my own recipe testing and make sure it works. I always call myself a cookbook author, not a chef. I like to be personable, like your next door neighbor. I’m not an icon that you strive to be, I want to be real and something that everyone can do.
What are your favorite ways to use rice vinegars?
I think rice vinegars are very multi-functional. A lot of people think about them only in one way. They’re as good in a marinade as they are on a salad dressing or on fresh fruit. I love the variety of flavors, but sometimes the plain is great, too.
I have worked with many products in the past and the great thing about all of them is that they become staples in my kitchen. When you use vinegars in a recipe, it really makes it pop. I love the red pepper and roasted garlic varieties from NAKANO . I also just made a watermelon salad last night and sprinkled on the natural one. Absolutely no oil and it tasted so good.
I think what people don’t realize is that especially with summer here and all of the fresh produce, you can really intensify the flavors. Take roasted vegetables, for example – just add the garlic version on top and it adds flavor without making it heavy, so you can still really enjoy the taste of the vegetable itself. I use it a lot on my salads – it kicks it up a notch. You can even use the garlic instead of minced garlic itself – a great lazy way out. I use them in marinades and for overall flavoring without the fat.
Speaking of summer, what are tips for entertaining guests when the weather is hot?
I always say keep it simple. Take fresh ingredients and add convenience and it’s still homemade. If you’re making a dessert trifle, for example, I just throw all of the ingredients in because I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to make it look perfect. If you don’t have an ingredient, just leave it out – you don’t have to go back to the grocery store.
You can always take shortcuts, too. Any time a recipe calls for a wine, you could always substitute chicken broth. Sour creams and yogurts are interchangeable. In the summer, I love rotisserie chicken – I love to grill chicken breast. Use a jar of marinara sauce instead of creating sauce from scratch. You don’t have to have fresh garlic, you can used minced garlic. The list goes on and on.
I think the secret to 30-minute cooking is keeping it easy, making it affordable and having a well-stocked pantry. If you stock your pantry with options that stay for long periods of time, you will always have what you need on hand for dinner.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I often look at websites and then try to recreate something myself. I may also be at the store and looking at ingredients and come up with something to put together. Sometimes if I’m at a restaurant, I’ll find a great combination. Or I might be at a party and see a recipe and then tell them I’m going to adapt it and make it trim&Terrific. I’m fortunate that cooking is my passion.
In my world, I don’t think you should ever have to eat something that’s not trim&Terrific because you can make anything taste good and have it be good for you, too. From appetizers to desserts, just because you’re entertaining doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice health.
Anything else we should know about you?
My books are great for graduates, newlyweds and people on the go. We also have a mobile app called Mobile Rush Hour Recipes where you can create a grocery list for yourself – and I have a blog called The Healthy Cooking Blog that is more recipe driven.
Now I have three precious kids and have been married almost 31 years, but I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. I used to be the queen of whipping cream and butter. I didn’t want to sacrifice good food, so I trimmed the recipes down and kept them terrific. I love to surround myself with good products, good people and good food.
Thanks so much to Holly and the NAKANO team for allowing me to share such a fun interview with my readers! I hope you found it as interesting as I did.
Guess what? NAKANO has offered to give away 2 bottles of product, a coupon booklet and a $25 Visa/AMEX gift card to TWO of you! I am so excited about this giveaway because I really think you will enjoy the recipes – and the gift card is just plain fun.
There are several ways to enter, so you can pick and choose what works for you:
Sign up for the NAKANO SPLASH Recipe Club to receive a free monthly e-newsletter featuring great recipes and tips – and leave a comment letting me know that you did: http://bit.ly/b0lUKc