Cooking Superstar

Cooking With Carlee

Cook along with #CookingSuperstar Carlee from Cooking With Carlee

Carlee Scharnhorst
Central Illinois
Environmental Coordinator for my city

When did you first get in to cooking and do you remember the first recipe you tried?

I've loved cooking from the start. My grandma remembers me calling before a visit when I was 2. She asked what I would like for dinner when I was in town. I told her pot roast and then proceeded to give her step by step directions on how to make it. So I have always had an interest in food and how to make it!

What's your kitchen like and how do you keep organized when cooking?

My kitchen is on the smaller side, so I only keep the essentials in there. My pantry, the buffets in my dining room and my basement get the overflow gadgets and pans.

I would like to say I have great tips for keeping organized. However, my 5 year old son is almost always helping me in the kitchen. So sometimes we make a bit of a mess despite our best intentions. We have fun though and that is what matters. We can always clean up later!

I did buy a bunch of bins a couple of years ago and that has really helped keep things better organized. I put like things together and then when I am doing a project, it is easy to grab a bin and go. I have one that is all piping tips and piping bags. There is one that is all cookie scoops, pastry cutters etc. Of course I have a bin of chocolate chips, one of just Christmas sprinkles and one for other sprinkles too!

What tips would you give to someone wanting to become a better cook?

Just go for it. Have fun and give it a try. Cooking doesn't have to be a big production. It shouldn't be scary. Just pick some approachable recipes, grab the ingredients and do it. The more you cook, the easier it will be!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and what would you cook for them?

This is a tough one! I would probably make a fun salad, loaded with all of the good stuff. Then a seasonal risotto and a flavorful roast pork tenderloin or something. That way I wouldn't have to spend the whole dinner party in the kitchen.

Of course there would be plenty of appetizers to nibble on while mingling. Maybe some shrimp salad profiterole, sweet and savory pear and brie flatbread, strawberry bruschetta and a chanterelle tart with rosemary and ricotta.

The desserts would be the hardest for me to narrow down. I love them all! I am a frosting girl at heart, so probably a nice cake. My devilishly good chocolate cake is the one I make the most frequently, but the maple pecan layer cake is a delicious option too!

I would invite Tina Fey, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, Pink and Oprah. Can you imagine what a fun and inspirational group that would be?

Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?

Between work, the blog and keeping up with my kiddo there's not a lot of extra time. I like to do little crafts with my son, but they are usually nothing to write home about. Throwing themed parties is one of our specialties. I like to pick a theme and really go for it. My husband is great and humoring me and my son LOOOOOOOVES to help!

Which cooking blogs do you love to read?

I have so many favorites, it is hard to narrow them down!

I love Andrea from Living on Cloud Nine. She does lots of different kinds of posts, but her Tasty Tuesday posts always look delicious.

Southern Plate is great. My mom has all of her cook books too and we love everything we've tried from Christy's recipe collection.

I love Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies too. Our husbands have similar taste preferences. I've made several recipes from her blog and they have all been winners.

I also love Soulfully Made, Frugal Hausfrau's Blog, 4 Sons R Us, Family Around the Table, Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids and so many more!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I think food memories are the best. There is just something about taking a bite of something your grandma made that transports you right back to her kitchen. Or a taste of something that reminds you of a favorite vacation can bring back those memories so quickly. There is such a primal connection to food and I love how it connects us.

My blog started as a way to preserve favorite recipes from my family but has grown into so much more than that. I treasure all of the opportunities and relationships it has brought to my life.

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Carlee Scharnhorst
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What's your favorite...

TV Show
This is Us
Zac Brown Band
I have a 5 year old, so most of the movies I watch these days are animated
Cook Book
community or church cook books
All of them!
Does frosting count?! Maybe butter
Kitchen Gadget
Stand mixer