By now, you probably already know that we’re huge fans of the food blog Half Baked Harvest. Whenever we’re on the hunt for seasonally inspired, fresh, healthy, creative, and approachable recipes to try, this is one of the first places we look. Not only do all the featured dishes look as good as they taste, but the recipes are also written in a super-accessible, easy-to-follow manner so we can cook them at home. As such huge fans, we were incredibly excited to interview the woman behind the blog, Tieghan Gerard, about her gorgeous, renovated workspace, her career advice, and her cooking tips.
And perhaps even more exciting, she also released her first cookbook today—the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook. Before you cook your way through the whole thing, read through our conversation below to hear how she’s grown her food blog into a business, what items she always has in her pantry for an easy and delicious weeknight meal, her favorite fall recipes to try at home, and get a peek inside her gorgeous digs.
The Interior Design Details
MYDOMAINE: Tell us a little bit about the concept and process behind your work space.
TIEGHAN GERARD: A couple of years of ago, I began renovations on an old horse barn. The idea for the space was to be both a living and working space for me and my growing business. I scoured Pinterest for inspiration and envisioned a bright and cozy farm-style house.
The downstairs is almost fully dedicated to the kitchen and pantry. For the kitchen, I wanted it to have a classic but rustic feel. I went with marble for my counters and backsplash, open cabinets, a large farm-style copper sink (which I love), and durable concrete floors. In an effort to warm up the space and make it more inviting, I finished the walls surrounding the kitchen in reclaimed barn wood.
The pantry is where I store my props, photograph my recipes, and stock the food I cook with. It’s the ideal pantry—shelving and a library ladder line two of the walls, a huge sub-zero refrigerator/freezer unit next to a large window line another wall, and sliding barn doors that separate the space from the kitchen, if needed, complete the room. We converted the upstairs hay loft into a small cozy bedroom. It’s my favorite place to go and brainstorm new content ideas and projects.
MD: Did you have any driving design goals or visions while renovating the barn?
TG: The vision behind the space was pretty simple; I needed a working kitchen with a large pantry and plenty of large windows to let in light for photography and video. My goal was not only to create an inspiring space, but it was also to create a cozy space for me to live in.
I wanted to keep as much of the barn’s character in place as possible. Therefore, we left all of the original log walls that the horses have chewed away. I love these walls—they are so much a part of the space. They are a constant reminder that you are living in a barn. They also provide for a good story.
MD: So what’s your favorite part?
TG: My favorite space is the kitchen. It’s a dream kitchen, and I feel so lucky when I am working in it. I designed the kitchen for functionality, and I feel like it is one of the best working kitchens out there.
Career Insight and Advice
MD: You’re obviously passionate about what you do. What’s your relationship with food and sharing meals? Is there one aspect of cooking that feels the most meaningful?
TG: For me, cooking is about creating a meal that makes someone happy. I’ve always loved the reaction on friends’ and family members’ faces when I serve them a meal they love. It’s honestly one of the main reasons I cook; I just love being able to make people happy through food.
MD: Do you have any advice on how to turn your passion into a career?
TG: I always answer this question by saying work harder than anyone else. You have to hustle in order to turn your passion into a career. At the end of the day, you’re the driving force behind everything. No one else is going to care as much about making things happen than you. Be kind and work hard is what my mom always tells me, and I gotta say, it’s great advice.
MD: Who Inspires you most?
TG: I feel like most people might say someone who is inspirational in the world, but if I am being honest, it’s my mom who inspires me most. Her strength and her ability to be so incredibly persistent (or obnoxious, as some may call it) inspire me every day. My mom is the type of woman who, when she wants something done, no matter how big or unrealistic of a task, she is going to get it done and get it done right. She has taught me to go after what I want and never take no for an answer, and for that, I will forever be grateful. She always says the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I’ve found that to be true.
As for people in the industry, I find both Lauren Conrad and Jessica Alba so inspiring. These two women know how to be boss ladies, and I could not be more impressed and inspired by the businesses they have grown.
MD: Did you run into any career roadblocks?
TG: My biggest roadblock in my career has been, without a doubt, myself. Self-doubt and comparing are something I’ve always struggled with, and when I started Half Baked Harvest, it only escalated. Even though it’s something I still struggle with, I’ve learned a few ways to push negative thoughts out of my head.
MD: How did you overcome that?
TG: I remind myself the following…
1. No Negative Thoughts: When I begin to doubt myself, I immediately think to myself, no, stop, don’t go there, and then I try to refocus my thoughts on something positive. I know this may sound senseless, but not allowing my thoughts to sway negatively is hugely helpful.
2. Talk About It: Sometimes what I find most helpful is just talking about what I am stressing or doubting myself on. Most of the time, getting someone else’s opinion or even just having someone listen can make you feel 100 times better.
3. Find Inspiration: A lot of times when I am feeling down, I will search for inspiring quotes and spend five minutes reading through them to find the inspiration I need to keep moving forward. Sometimes reading just one inspiring quote is all I need to kick myself back into gear.
4. Get Outside: If I just can’t seem to stop the negative thoughts, I often head outside for a walk or a hike. The fresh air clears my mind, and the exercise produces feel-good endorphins that help me see more clearly.
5. The Haters: Having a job that heavily revolves around the internet and social media means that I’ve come across my fair share of online bullies. I’ve found that the best way to deal with haters is to use their mean words as fuel to do bigger and better things. Show those haters their words mean nothing to you, and just keep doing your best.
Go-To Recipes On a Busy Day
MD: What are your go-to recipes when you’re in a hurry?
TG: My go-to recipes when in a hurry are either a quick veggie-filled pasta, an avocado grain bowl, a stir-fry … using all the veggies left in the fridge, or some kind of loaded-up toast. Breakfast for dinner is always another great option, especially when I have these freezer-friendly whole grain waffles around. Oh, and sometimes I’ll cook up some fried eggs and serve them with whole grain toast, avocado, burrata cheese, and fresh herbs—it’s so good.
Of course, pizza is always a great last-minute option as well. Just pick up some fresh dough at the store on your way home from work, and then throw on whatever toppings you have on hand. Pizza just can’t turn out bad because anything topped with cheese will almost always be delicious.
Recipes I love on busy nights include this Easy 3-Cup Chicken With Zucchini, which takes about 30 minutes, this Salted Honey Apple and Gouda Toast that comes together in less than 15 minutes, and I also love this Easy Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Souvlaki and Potatoes, which takes about an hour to make, but it’s all oven time.
The Pantry Essentials
MD: What food staples do you always keep on deck in the pantry? Do you have a simple list?
TG: Yes. Always in my pantry, by category…
- Grains: quinoa, brown rice, white rice, polenta, farro, oats, etc.
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnut, pistachios, pecans.
- Seeds: hemp, chia, sesame, pepitas, etc.
- Nut/Seed Butters: almond, tahini, peanut, cashew.
- Chocolate: dark and semi-sweet.
- Flours: all-purpose, whole wheat, bread, pastry, bread self-rising.
- Cooking oils: extra-virgin olive oil, sesame, peanut, coconut oil.
- Canned products: coconut milk, tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, high-quality tuna.
- Jarred products: sun-dried tomatoes, olives, peppers.
- Maca powder.
- Cacao powder.
- Vinegar: balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar.
- Salts: Maldon and Kosher.
- Dried spices.
- Fruit: bananas, pineapple, avocado, dates, etc.
- Veggies: winter squash.
Seasonal Cooking Tips and Kitchen Inspiration
MD: What’s your favorite part about fall, both in and out of the kitchen?
TG: Autumn is without a doubt my favorite season, and for so many reasons. I love the crisp air, the changing colors of the leaves, the golden-hour light, the fall clothes, apple picking, roasting pumpkin seeds, cozying up by the fire with a mug of coffee or cocoa, the Halloween planning, and of course, all the excitement for the upcoming holiday season. To me, it’s such a magical time of the year.
If you ask me, nothing beats autumn cooking. It’s no secret that I love anything cozy, but I especially love cozy foods. Fall is about creating the perfect cozy meal, whether that’s making apple fritters for brunch, cooking up a warm and inviting soup for lunch, roasting a chicken for dinner, or baking up something loaded with cinnamon and pumpkin. Fall’s ingredients and their warming flavors are incomparable to any other season.
MD: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
TG: Some kind of bowl with roasted veggies, a grain like quinoa, avocado, and toasted bread on the side. That bowl has all of my favorites and can be adapted easily to the seasons. Or maybe just a giant plate of cheesy pasta…
MD: And who is your dream chef to cook a meal with?
TG: Ina Garten.
Try Gerard’s three favorite fall recipes below, and don’t forget to shop her cookbook at the end.
FAVORITE FALL RECIPES:
Serving: 6 cups
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups mixed raw nuts (I like a combination of almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios)
1 cup unsweetened ﬂaked coconut
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
On the prepared baking sheet, toss together the oats, quinoa, nuts, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and hemp seeds to combine.
In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup and coconut oil over medium. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Pour the mixture over the oat mixture, and toss well for two to three minutes to fully combine. Spread the granola out in an even layer.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout cooking until the oats smell toasted and are golden brown. Remove the granola from the oven, and let cool for five minutes.
After five minutes, spray the bottom of a ﬂat one-cup measuring cup or a ﬂat-bottomed glass with cooking spray. Press the granola into the baking sheet using the bottom of the measuring cup so you have a ﬂat slab of granola. Let the granola sit for one hour to cool and harden.
Break the granola into clusters. Stir in the dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.
Apple and Brie Soup With Bacon and Pumpkin Seed Granola
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup apple cider
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin (about 1/2 medium)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (I like to use pumpkin beer)
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed, cut into cubes
4 thick-cut bacon slices
2 tbsp. salted butter
1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium. When it shimmers, add the onion, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes until softened. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the cider, and let it cook into the onions. Repeat until all the cider has been added and the onions are caramelized (about 10 minutes total).
Add the apples, squash, and thyme, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened (about eight minutes). Add the beer, three cups of broth, and the cayenne. Increase the heat to high, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the apples and squash are tender.
Meanwhile, make the granola. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, three to four minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. When it’s cool enough to handle, coarsely crumble the bacon.
In the same large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, and cook until just beginning to brown and smell toasted. Add the oats and pumpkin seeds, and cook for one more minute. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the crumbled bacon. Season with salt.
When the apples and squash are tender, transfer the soup to a blender, and pulse until smooth.
Return the soup to the pot, and set over medium heat. Stir in the milk, and then bring the soup to a low boil. Stir in the cheddar and Brie until melted and smooth. Add more broth to thin the soup, if desired. Simmer for about five more minutes or until ready to serve.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the granola.
Healthy Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, plus more as needed
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 to 2 tsp. red curry paste
1/2 sweet onion, ﬁnely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp. salted butter
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for Serving:
Cooked white rice
Chopped toasted almonds
Crushed red pepper ﬂakes
In your slow cooker, stir together the coconut milk, yogurt, tomato paste, curry paste, onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and salt until smooth. Add the chicken, and stir to coat. Add the butter. Cover and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours. I like to stir mine once or twice during cooking, but it’s not essential. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as needed.
Serve over rice with naan alongside. Top with fresh cilantro, chutney, chopped almonds, and red pepper ﬂakes as desired.