“Meet the Neighbors” with Melanie Mendelson
Welcome to our “Meet the Neighbors” feature! Sometimes it’s just nice to reach across the fence and shake the hand of someone you’ve never met before. And each week I love to highlight a different food blogger to let you meet someone new and enjoy his or her unique recipes and food/photography style. Today’s talented food blogger is Melanie Mendelson. Melanie is a hard-working wife and Mom with an infectious smile and a love for recipes that are quick and easy to throw together for supper, but also taste incredible. Come on! I can’t wait for you to meet her!
You can find Melanie on her blog, Melanie Cooks, as well as on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. So pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s meet the lovely and talented Melanie! 🙂
What is your name, and where are you located? (Hint: if you live in Hawaii, I am packing my bags as we speak 😉
Hi! My name is Melanie Mendelson– even though sometimes people think that my last name is “Cooks” because my blog name is “Melanie Cooks.” 🙂 I live in the suburbs of Chicago with my husband and our three children.
Tell us a little bit about yourself– what is the name of your blog, and how did you get started?
My blog name is Melanie Cooks, and I started it in 2008 as a hobby when I was pregnant with our youngest child. I’ve always loved to cook, and I thought the blog would be a great place to post my recipes and food pictures. For many years, I treated my food blog purely as a hobby– I never promoted it, and only posted recipes whenever I felt like it. One day I noticed in my web stats that somehow my food blog was getting over 2,000 visitors a day! People from all over the world were discovering my blog through search engines and making my recipes, which was surreal! Over all these years, I’ve had several business ventures that were completely unrelated to the food blog, while keeping Melanie Cooks as a hobby. Until about six months ago I realized that while many of my interests changed, the thing that always remained constant was my love of good food and the passion for sharing it. And there is definitely a demand for it, as I keep getting e-mails from my blog visitors about how much they love my easy recipes! I eventually realized that what I was meant to do was staring me right in the face all this time, and I was finally able to see it. I am now focusing my efforts on growing the Melanie Cooks website by posting several new recipes per week and a free weekly meal plan every Monday. “What’s for Dinner” has always been a big dilemma for the typical home cook, and every Monday I give people a menu plan with 5 easy dinner recipes and a printable shopping list to make them! There are many paid meal planning services out there, but mine is completely free, which gives people a reason to come back to my website week after week!
What is your favorite food? And what is your least favorite food?
My favorite food is chocolate, especially dark! And chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a plant, and that makes chocolate a vegetable, right? I wish 🙂 My least favorite food is tofu, so you won’t find any tofu recipes on my blog!
What advice would you give someone who is just starting to cook?
Get organized before you start cooking. Put all your ingredients on a counter in front of you. Get out all the equipment you need (pots, pans, measuring cups and spoons, etc.). Read the recipe directions to make sure you understand them and aren’t missing any necessary tools and ingredients. After you’ve done all this, just follow the recipe directions and cooking will be a breeze! Believe it or not, I’m a naturally messy person– you should see my desk (NOT)! But when it comes to cooking, I know first hand that being disorganized is the root cause of cooking mistakes and unnecessary stress. Who wants to run around the kitchen looking for a missing ingredient while the food is getting burned on the stove? These type of kitchen disasters are completely preventable simply by staying organized before cooking. The focus of my website is easy recipes– I simplify each recipe without sacrificing flavor, so on Melanie Cooks I have the easiest recipe versions you will ever find. Just pick any of the recipes on my site, organize your ingredients and kitchen tools and simply follow the instructions– and I guarantee your cooking will be a success!
What keeps you going, every day? Who are your greatest cheerleaders/supporters?
What keeps me going every day is logging into my website statistics program and seeing how thousands of people visit my website every day and keep coming back to it. Also, I love receiving all the positive feedback from my website visitors via e-mail, web comments, and social media. My blog allows me to reach as many people in one day as I wouldn’t have been able to reach in a lifetime, otherwise! The mere fact that there are over a million people every year from all over the world who are making my recipes is enough to keep me going. My greatest supporters are my family– the people that I share my life with. My husband and our three children eat all the food that I make for us every day, so they are the best taste testers, food reviewers, supporters, and cheerleaders that I could ever hope for! My parents and my husband’s parents also live in the area, so there is always plenty of love and food to go around!
Melanie was kind enough to share one “SWEEEEET” recipe with us– her recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate cake, which can be found on her website, here. I don’t know about you guys, but just from me, personally . . . I could almost reach up here and lick the screen. This cake looks absolutely incredible. And since I often cook gluten free, for friends and family, I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe! Melanie tells us,
“I would like to share with your readers my famous Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe. When people taste this amazing cake, they ask for a recipe every single time! It tastes better than any flourless chocolate cake from a bakery or restaurant. This cake is naturally gluten-free– the flour would distract from the rich smooth deep chocolate flavor. 🙂 Best of all, it’s extremely easy to make– this is the easiest flourless chocolate cake recipe that you’ll ever find! Easy and yummy– just the way I like it!”
Thanks, Melanie! I can’t wait to try this yummy cake . . . once for practice, and twice to eat. And I’ll be thinking of a third reason, too. And a fourth . . . and a fifth . . .
Thanks for spending some time with us today, Melanie, and we can’t wait to see more of your delicious recipes! 🙂
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which just means that we get a few pennies if you purchase through our link. I never recommend products that I don't personally use and love. Thanks!