The Evolution Of A Home Cook--Start To ...It's Never Finished Thanks To Allrecipes! - House of Frolic and Mirth Blog at - 274038

House of Frolic and Mirth

The Evolution of a Home Cook--Start to's never finished thanks to Allrecipes! 
Apr. 28, 2012 5:30 pm 
Updated: May 7, 2012 8:04 pm
Present day
I got married in 1998 at the age of 23, and three years later became an official member of Allrecipes! I couldn't cook much of anything--definitely nothing completely from scratch. Jarred pasta sauce and noodles were my friends, as well as our standing Friday night date with Wendy's (yes, we lived like that for three years). My mother-in-law had always worked hard to cook for her boys, and my husband vowed that "no one" would be able to cook like his mother. I knew I had to do something or else we would both suffer for all of our days.......Game on!
We had just gotten a computer and the internet, and I loved that you could search for anything your heart desired, and some things it didn't. I started searching for recipes, healthy recipes, chicken recipes, vegetarian recipes, chili recipes, any recipe I could think of and somehow landed on a very early version of One of the first recipes I ever made from this site was
I made it so long ago I didn't even rate it. I remember my husband disliking the celery AND the fact that it was vegetarian. He worked out daily so I was trying to feed him something that was healthy and filling, so that's what caught my eye about this recipe. I didn't give up, and this recipe was eventually adapted and changed into my own vegetarian chili, which, by the way, is now my husband's favorite meal. He wouldn't remember where it started, but I do.
I tried more and more, and became increasingly confident in the kitchen to where I began sharing the items I would make. Chocolate chip cheesecake and broccoli salad at a family reunion, cookies and muffins with coworkers, breakfast casseroles with friends, cakes for birthdays, and best of all, the successful meals I was able to create at home ALL come from Allrecipes.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake I
The rating told me whether or not a recipe would be a 5 star winner, and the photos helped as well. I became known as "the dinner invite to get" because whoever was coming knew they would be well-fed and happy. All because of this wonderful site.
I am now responsible for Christmas dinner for the family (including my mother-in-law) and I cherish the planning and execution every year. It takes me weeks to perfect the menu.  No two years are the same, and they don't have to be thanks to the variety of dishes I can now make because of this site. Here is last year's menu, and it may have been the best so far. But, we say that every year ; )

Another perk from using this site (in addition to my cooking ability evolving exponentially over the years thanks to the many foolproof recipes) is that I also discovered a LOVE for food photography. There is something satisfying about creating not only a delicious food, but also beautiful food. It's my favorite hobby! See some of my food pictures below.
**Thank you, Allrecipes--from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my husband's stomach!  Not only have you coached me into the best cook he knows, but you have a fan for life**
Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Dressing
Photo Detail
Cheesecake Pops
Photo Detail
PB&J Pancakes
Photo Detail
Baked-Bottom Nanaimo Bars
Photo Detail
Roasted Broccoli & Crispy Polenta with Roasted Pepper & Asiago Chicken Sausage
Photo Detail
Radish Revival
Photo Detail
Apr. 28, 2012 6:20 pm
Absolutely fabulous pictures, jrbaker! The whole page looks so professional!
Apr. 28, 2012 6:27 pm
Beautiful photos-I just joined AR 6 months ago. Love this site.
Apr. 28, 2012 6:44 pm
You’re a testament to setting your mind on what you want to accomplish, and then pursuing that desire with zeal. Your success should give you strong confidence of being able to repeat this in other areas of your life. Great job . . . great pics . . . and great blog!!
Apr. 28, 2012 6:44 pm
Thanks Bibi! Lela, your life will NEVER be the same ; ). Welcome!
Apr. 28, 2012 6:53 pm
And thanks to you also, Conkyjoe.
Apr. 28, 2012 7:05 pm
Nice blog. I love your pictures. I too love making food as much to take a picture as I do to taste it. Thanks for sharing.
Apr. 28, 2012 7:31 pm
I remember when you made those short ribs! Yum! I need to try those. Very nice blog! I totally understand this venture you've made.
Apr. 29, 2012 4:31 am
Great blog! Admire your tenacity and your developed talents. Wow!
Apr. 29, 2012 7:09 am
Thanks so much! I also should have mentioned the Exchange/Buzz because it helped me so much to have so many others available to answer questions. And I enjoy helping, too.
Apr. 29, 2012 11:30 am
Jr. Baker, That is such a sweet blog! I was the exact same way when we first got married. People used to ask me if I cooked, and I would say "I microwave." Isn't it amazing what you never knew you could do until you try? Those are beautiful pics, too.
Apr. 29, 2012 12:46 pm
I've always been up for a challenge, stick a fork in me! I'm very thankful that this one worked out. Thanks for your kind words, I love these memories ; )
Apr. 29, 2012 1:53 pm
Great blog!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I can't believe you remember the first recipe you made from this site...that's pretty amazing, in itself. I'm thinking that you need to post these more often and I will see you in Seattle in July!
Apr. 29, 2012 7:04 pm
Thanks WW!
Apr. 30, 2012 6:27 am
Excellent blog.. what a treat to see your beautiful pictures and to hear that you are your husbands favorite cook now :) I joined AR in 2000 and haven't looked back!
Apr. 30, 2012 12:49 pm
Great blog and wonderful food fotos! I've made some of those. I sure wish I had allrecipes or even Internet when I first started cooking for my husband 30 years ago, would've saved a lot of food going into the trash heap. :)
Apr. 30, 2012 2:10 pm
Really nice blog! I'm so very impressed with your tenacity as well as your photos. I guess I'm still new & learning - and WISH the family would allow me to branch out some for holiday meals. Thank you for sharing with us!
May 1, 2012 3:16 pm
Thank you!
May 2, 2012 9:23 am
Great blog ~ so much fun to read1
May 3, 2012 6:25 pm
Thank you very much apple.strudel! I loved writing this entry, it brought back some fun memories ; )
May 3, 2012 8:05 pm
love, love, love this blog. what a lovely story. i thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted more when i came to the end! not only can you cook up a storm, but your pics are awesome too:) thankd for an enjoyable time jrbaker :)
May 4, 2012 8:20 pm
Great pics! We're all invited for Christmas dinner, right?
May 4, 2012 10:50 pm
Hi JR- I have seen you on here over the years and really enjoyed reading your post. I liked putting a face to the JR Baker name! Your Christmas dinner menu looked delicious!
May 5, 2012 4:35 pm
Hi weeble, Magnolia Blossom, & Rohnda--I remember you too ; ). Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it.
May 7, 2012 8:04 pm
I enjoyed reading this and getting to know my new AR friend!
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About Me
I LOVE ALLRECIPES! Cooking is one of my passions, and the way I express appreciation and love for my family & friends. They all know me as "the cook" in our circle--if anyone needs a recipe, I'm the one they ask. I've traveled all over the country and love sampling regional foods. I tend to stay away from chain restaurants in favor of local ones, and enjoy the delicious variety each part of the country offers. Food photography is another favorite hobby of mine. I have 2 beautiful girls who like being in the kitchen with their Mama. Please find more of me and what I'm about on my blog:
My favorite things to cook
My absolute favorite recipes are clones from restaurants--it's so much fun to have people ask "did you really make this?" I also enjoy pastas, vegetable dishes, and creating lower fat, healthier recipes from those that aren't so healthy. Packing my two girls' lunchboxes every day is also a fun challenge--we like healthy and fun meals that focus on nutrition.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Every year for my daughters' birthdays, they get their favorite cake or cupcakes (it changes every year). We almost always have their parties at home. At Christmas, I love baking biscotti for gifts and myself; ).
My cooking triumphs
Each Christmas I host dinner for my family, and it's the one time during the year that I get to cook everything for them! I plan the menu for weeks-having a successful meal is the highlight of my year. Also, almost every New Year's Eve, I host a dinner for friends, and they get so excited about being invited--it's great to know that I can cook something they enjoy so much. Lastly, I have coworkers and a boss who LOVE to sample my latest creations! (They'll eat anything......)
My cooking tragedies
I can't make a good gravy. And I'm Southern! Also, I once froze bagged salad that was buy one get one free. I was only 20, and not very savvy about lettuce storage! I learned very quickly that you can't freeze lettuce.......
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