Posted on by Cleverona Kitchen

Featured Food Blogger of the Week: Wendi Spraker of Loaves and Dishes

Wendi Spraker is the creative force behind Loaves and Dishes. Despite being a working mom and busy life, she wants to serve the best meals to her family. She wants to see her kids licking their plates clean.

Her food blogger journey started with her learning cooking in depth, reading magazines, devouring cookbooks, and following cooking authorities.

Her food blog is designed to share her knowledge and recipes. She wants her readers to feel the pride of feeding their families real tasty food. She wants her readers to be culinary rockstars.

Do you want to learn how to cook like Wendi? Subscribe to her newsletter to get her free eBook.

1. You're a mom, a nurse, a town councilman, a blogger - how do you find the time to cook delicious meals? Do you do meal planning?

pantry system

While I am fairly busy, I find that it takes as much time to prepare a yucky meal as it does a delicious meal - so why not prepare something tasty? I have developed a pantry system (more or less) in which I always keep certain ingredients on hand and from those ingredients I have a great number of dishes that I can prepare - this makes things very simple and easy. In addition, I do meal planning as well. There are always new dishes that I am wanting to try or experiment with - and so, those go on the plan.

2. Do you often make your own recipes? How do you come up with new ideas?

Loaves and Dishes recipes

I make my own recipes daily. In fact, if you opened my fridge right now and looked at the available leftovers you would probably recognize nearly all of them from the website. New ideas just seem to come to me - but I also have a cookbook habit (obsession). It's a fun and harmless addiction (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Sometimes, I get ideas from old recipes that I rejuvenate and remake into a modern "Loaves and Dishes" recipe.

3. Name your favorite ingredient you think people should be using more in their cooking at home.

Wow - this is a hard question! I have MANY favorite ingredients. My mind immediately goes to spices and flavorings - I love to use Cumin in many meat dishes to give the umami flavors a POP! (Most people only use Cumin in their middle eastern dishes - but it is wonderful in so many other things). You will find Cumin as a surprise ingredient in many of my recipes.

Another favorite ingredient is espresso powder - I've been using it in chocolate baked items for years - it really brings out the richness of the chocolate. I've recently found that it also works in beef dishes in a similar way. SURPRISE!

Garlic is probably my favorite ingredient though and if I could champion any ingredient that we need more of - its garlic. Honestly, garlic improves the taste of almost anything and is so versatile. It has its bright GREEN sharp flavor when it is raw. It is sweet and deep when roasted. It imparts a hint of flavor when used to perfume dishes. Wow - can you tell that I LOVE garlic?

loaves and dishes ingredients

4. Describe the single best food experience you’ve ever had...and the worst.

So funny you should mention this - because there are so many, it is hard to choose. I expect that you are anticipating that I will tell you about a delicious dinner I shared with someone famous or about a time we visited a 5 star restaurant. While those are wonderful experiences, instead, the single BEST experience has to be my annual weekend with my college girlfriends.

There are about 10 of us who gather each year at a cabin in the mountains. One of the other ladies, Heidi, likes to cook just as much as I do and we do most of the cooking for the weekend. It is SO FUN to plan the dishes, talk about cooking methods, go shopping and then finally cook an enjoyable meal for our friends. We learn from each other and feed off of each other (so to speak). Does it turn out perfect each time? Uh, no. But, honestly, I have never had such an enjoyable time in the kitchen as when we are cooking together. It is wonderful.

And.... the worst....

I think it happened this past weekend. I was AT this girls weekend and was sitting at the table snacking on some chocolate cake. I WAS NOT wearing my glasses. I looked down and saw that I had dropped a larger piece of cake crumb on my leg. I quickly popped it in my mouth before it could fall to the floor. The problem? It wasn't cake crumb at all - it was a STINK BUG! EWWWW... that was absolutely the worst. I spit it out immediately - but the taste lasts a long long long time. I WILL NEVER eat anything again without wearing my glasses so that I can see what I am eating.

5. What three recipes from your site best represent your cooking principle?

I wish I could tell you that my most popular recipes are what represents my cooking. However, my prominent dishes like Yum Yum Sauce, Cowboy Lasagna and Pumpkin Praline Cake while trendy and tasty, are not exactly my style of cooking.

loaves and dishes best recipes

I love to cook old classic dishes, things that are a real act of love to prepare. My favorites will almost make you tear up with memories. For example, my Chicken and Dumplings and my Sausage Gravy remind me of my grandmother. Another example would be my Butterscotch Pie and Sugar Cream Pie which remind me of visiting a special restaurant on Sunday afternoons with my mom and dad when I was small. If you ask my children which of my recipes are most like home, they would probably say, "THE" Chocolate Cake (they request it every birthday and holiday - except my daughter, Sarah, who would say, "Your roasted Thanksgiving Turkey - and I want one for my birthday in July").

So, you asked for three recipes that represent my cooking principle and I gave 6 PLUS three of the most popular from my site. I suppose I am not the best at following directions.

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