TUPELO • Lori Robertson had no interest in cooking until she married and began raising a family.

“When I started having children is when I started cooking,” said Robertson, 49. “In the South, cooking is one of the ways we express love. I love to cook for my family and I enjoy watching them enjoy my food.”

Robertson was born in Boston and raised in Germantown, Tennessee. She moved to Tupelo in 2001. She and her husband, Drew, share three children – Mamie, Carson and Audrey.

A longtime Arbonne consultant, Robertson said she learned to cook by reading Cooking Light magazines and cookbooks.

“A friend and I started sharing recipes,” she said. “When you’re a young mom and you’re trying to connect with people, cooking is an easy way to do that.”

Robertson prepares meals with an eye toward health, but says nothing’s off the table.

“I believe in everything in moderation,” she said. “I try to eat more vegetables than anything else and I try to limit sugar and processed foods. I want to provide good things for my kids – model good behavior.”

For a weeknight meal, she might prepare grilled chicken, quinoa salad and a green salad, or baked salmon, brown rice and sauteed zucchini.

“When the whole family is together, I might cook something a little more rich, like poppyseed chicken, green beans with bacon and butterscotch cake for dessert,” she said. “A lot of times, I’ll make pasta for the kids and zucchini squash noodles for Drew and me since we’re older and have slower metabolisms.”

Robertson said she tries new recipes two to three times a week.

“I don’t do the same recipes over and over,” she said. “I don’t repeat a lot of stuff. I tried to keep the recipes I made but it became overwhelming. Now, I cut a few out at a time and cook those and then throw the recipes away.”

About 10 years ago, Robertson joined a cooking club in town. Each year, the group chooses a different cookbook to use for recipes for the gatherings.

“Joanna Gaines’ ‘Magnolia Table’ is the one we’re finishing right now,” she said. “Others we’ve used that I liked were ‘Notably Nashville’ and Elizabeth Heiskell’s ‘What Can I Bring?’ I’ve learned so much from all of them.”

HOMEMADE PROTEIN BARS

2 cups peanut or almond butter

1 3/4 cup honey or brown rice syrup

2 1/4 cups chocolate or vanilla protein powder

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup gluten-free chocolate rice crisps

Combine nut butter and honey in a microwave-safe bowl (use a little less honey or syrup if you don’t like them gooey). Heat for 60 to 90 seconds and mix well. Add protein powder and mix well. Add oats and rice crisps and mix gently. Spread in a 9x13-inch pan for thick bars or a a cookie sheet for thin bars. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into squares.

  • Note: Robertson uses Nature’s Path Organic Chocolate Koala Crisp Cereal. If you can’t find this, you can use an additional cup of rolled oats.

SIMPLE QUICHE

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Dash of pepper

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1 regular unbaked pie shell

Tomato, spinach, ham, turkey or bacon (optional)

Combine eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Place cheese in bottom of unbaked pie crust. Pour egg mixture over cheese. Add optional items. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Note: Suggestions are bacon tomato quiche, spinach tomato quiche and Swiss cheese and ham quiche.

QUINOA AND SWEET

POTATO CHILI

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 (29-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (32-ounce) container vegetable stock

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

Salt and pepper

1 cup dry quinoa

Diced avocado and chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add beans, stock and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, then add quinoa. Continue cooking for 15 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and chili has thickened. Add a bit of water if chili becomes too thick. Garnish with avocado and cilantro, if desired.

MOUNTAIN TOP POTATOES

Baby red potatoes

Butter

Sour cream

Shredded Cheddar cheese

Slice the ends off the potatoes so they’ll sit flat on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until done, 20 to 30 minutes. Scoop out the insides and mix to taste with butter, sour cream and cheese. Spoon mixture back in to potatoes and warm slightly.

Note: Robertson named these “mountain top potatoes” when her kids were young because they look like little mountains.

TURKEY BURGERS

1 pound ground turkey

1 handful of spinach, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Olive oil

Combine turkey, spinach, parsley, rosemary and salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add burgers and cook to desired doneness. Dress as desired.

DO YOU KNOW A GOOD COOK? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can call Ginna at (662) 678-1581 or email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.

ginna.parsons@journalinc.com

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