In October 2023, I was interviewed by The Fresh Market and featured in their November 2023 magazine (page 24).
Here is the interview, which I think is something fun and interesting and I wanted to share it with my readers because it may help you get to know me a bit more. I know I always like learning some “behind the scenes” info and trivia about my favorite bloggers and chefs!
By Chef Averie Sunshine
Cook Like A Chef With Averie Sunshine
Named one of the Ten Best Food Bloggers by The Huffington Post, Averie Sunshine began blogging in 2009. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart’s Martha’s Circle, Gourmet Live, Glamour and Better Homes and Gardens, as well as several other popular magazines. With two published cookbooks under her belt, Averie continues to share new recipes on both her website and social media. Her recipes are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just delicious dishes everyone loves. In her free time, she enjoys working out, running, yoga and traveling.
Q: You pride yourself on keeping recipes simple and approachable. What made you choose this direction?
Many of my readers are working mothers. The last thing that they want to do after coming home is tackle a long and complicated dinner recipe or baking project. Nope! Keeping things simple with dinner recipes that are ready in 30 minutes and baking recipes even novice bakers can tackle is also important because I want people to make my recipes, not just “think about” making them one day. Incorporating basic fridge and pantry ingredients is essential, too, so that people don’t overspend or spent time making a bunch of grocery store stops.
Q: What do you enjoy about baking and cooking?
I love seeing the look on my family’s face when they’re eating something I’ve made, and the appreciative smiles of friends and neighbors when I give them one of my latest creations. For me, sharing with others is hugely important. I also love the creative outlet that cooking and baking provide.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your pumpkin cinnamon rolls casserole? What do you love about this recipe?
I love cinnamon rolls––the moist and dense kind dripping with icing that are sold in food courts at malls and airports. The difference with homemade cinnamon rolls or pumpkin cinnamon rolls, however, is that scratch dough takes a long time to make and the process of making cinnamon rolls is, well, a process. This recipe uses a convenience product to shave off hours of time and effort, and resulting pumpkin cinnamon roll casserole is wonderfully decadent!
Q: What gave you the idea to start your blog in 2009?
I was a mother with a toddler, and I wasn’t happy with the restaurant bar job I had at the time. I wanted a work-from-home position with flexible hours so I could spend more time with my daughter. I started making recipes, taking pictures of them and putting them up on my blog. Everything was very simplistic and basic but that’s how blogs started back then.
Q: Every month, your website receives more than 4 million unique views, and your Pinterest page gets 30 million impressions. What inspires you to create so much engaging content each month?
I try to post recipes that most people want. I don’t have recipes for ultra-fancy French food or intricate desserts because if the thought of making those dishes sounds daunting to me, then for the most people it’s a hard no. People generally want easy recipes their family will eat––including even the pickiest member––are quick to make, don’t use a ton of ingredients, and don’t dirty 12 pots and pans in the process. Above all, it must taste amazing! So, when I am developing recipes, there must be a total “Wow!” for it to be published on my site.
Q: How did you get your start on social media and how do you stay relevant?
When I first started blogging, there was very little social media. Facebook was in its infancy, and Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok, and all the others did not exist. It was truly grassroots growth. I grew my audience by going to other bloggers’ sites and commenting on their posts. My blog was linked to my name so that other people could find me. The blogging community was kind and welcoming, overall, and the comments on my blogs were nice. Those early readers told their mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends which helped get the word out about me. But it was my recipes and the success those readers had with them that kept them coming back.
Q: Do you have advice for those looking to become content creators or grow a following as influencers via blogs or social media?
Don’t be afraid of hard work because you will work tirelessly and for free, especially in the beginning. Keep producing amazing content and do it in a dedicated and intentional way. Content is king! Work on your photography and make sure your photos look like photos that you could envision on the cover of a food magazine or in an online magazine food article. If they don’t, keep practicing! Don’t obsess about what everyone else is doing or their follower count. Because you don’t know if their three zillion followers on name-a-social-platform actually create and drive traffic to their website, which is where content creators make money because of ads. Learn about SEO, learn everything you can on it and what you need to do to get your posts to get good rankings without paying for them
Learn to write properly and well. Your writing needs to be good enough that Google shows your site in search results, and engaging enough that readers stay, come back and tell their friends and family about your site. Learn about AI, about website accessibility, about privacy policies, about all those things that have nothing to do with food (or your niche) but they matter. Work your tail off and don’t stop!
Q: Do you and your family have any special Thanksgiving traditions or meals? If so, what are they and what’s memorable about them?
My family and I celebrate the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I made dinner then. We travel over Thanksgiving, and again for Christmas New Year’s, to Mexico for warm weather and sunny beaches. For Thanksgiving, I make turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, carrots and my famous Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce.
Q: Do you have any Thanksgiving cooking or baking hacks or special techniques?
Don’t underestimate the power of being prepared and well organized, and that means double or triple checking your list. You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need, especially if you don’t cook a lot and your pantry isn’t super well stocked because there is nothing worse than realizing you need fresh rosemary when you accidentally grabbed fresh thyme. Or that you’re making one of my pumpkin desserts and all you have on hand is pumpkin pie filling rather than pure pumpkin puree. Do as much as you can beforehand. Anything you can make a day or more in advance like the cranberry sauce or drying out your bread cubes for homemade stuffing, do it!
Traditional Thanksgiving recipes:
- Fool Proof Roasted Turkey
- Easy Perfect Gravy
- Herb Roasted Tri-Colored Carrots
- Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce
Thanksgiving fan favorites:
Q: Friendsgiving–– typically shared among friends and coworkers––is a new, trending take on the traditional holiday of Thanksgiving. What are the best dishes to make or bring to the gathering?
Yes, it’s a huge emerging trend! For celebrations where you are bringing food, if you can bring something that doesn’t need to be reheated, that’s the best. Bonus points for not needing refrigeration for a couple of hours, either. And don’t forget pre-dinner snacks to keep people occupied until you’re ready to serve the epic turkey.
Friendsgiving recipe recommendations:
- Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce
- Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- Honey Dinner Rolls
- Cheese Ball Wreath
- 5-Minute Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix
Q: What are the key kitchen staples in your refrigerator and pantry?
I always have dry goods for baking, like flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated, brown and confectioners’ sugar, as well as vanilla. With that you can make 99% of the dessert recipes on my website and in most cookbooks. Add a stick of butter or oil and you’re set to make the majority of them. For savory dishes, I have basic olive oil and canola oils, and vinegars including balsamic and rice vinegar. I also have chicken and vegetable broth for soups and chili, an array of spices and seasonings, and things like mustard and mayo are always in the fridge. When I’m not eating cake, I try to eat simply and cleanly, so my fridge is stocked with lots of vegetables, salads and fresh produce.
Q: Is there another chef or cook that you look up to, follow in the footsteps of?
Long before I had a food blog, I used to watch every episode I could of Ina Garten, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay and Emeril. Those pioneering TV chefs captivated me, and I still love watching shows like Top Chef. I like being entertained by what they do and learning little tips and tricks along the way.
Original interview granted by Averie Sunshine and published by The Fresh Market