Scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, Tieghan Gerard's food photography is instantly recognizable. All the recipes she posts on her blog, Half Baked Harvest, are just so colorful and lush. I mean, peach and burrata pizza! Orzo-stuffed pesto zucchini! You're basically forced into cooking whatever she has on her site.
Gerard has been blogging about food for over five years now, but she's been cooking for her large family (she's one of seven kids!) since she was 15 years old. She says she gets a lot of her recipe inspiration from her family members (one of whom is an Olympic snowboarding champion), traveling, and the seasons (read: she loves vegetables). She recently came out with her first cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, where she shares even more gorgeous recipes created in her barn in Colorado.
On a recent visit to New York, Gerard stopped by Kitchn's office to talk about the Instant Pot, her go-to recipes for feeding her family, and how food blogging has changed in the last five years.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I would say I cook simple, mostly healthy-ish everyday recipes. I'm not personally restricted in anything I eat, and I want to appeal to as many people as possible.
What do you eat?
I eat everything I make. But if I wasn't cooking every day, I would probably eat tons of vegetables, lots of pasta, and cheese.
What's your favorite cheese?
People have said I use too much burrata, but there's no such thing. I also like funky cheese a lot that smell — the stuff that nobody likes. I'm also really loving Manchego right now.
Peach Ricotta Layer Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream. Favorite cake of the summer….hands down. 3 layers of fluffy cake, filled with bourbon peach jam, raspberry jam, and the most delicious browned butter buttercream. It doesn't really get more summery or more delicious. You need this cake. The sooner the better. Let's make it happen this weekend. K? Cool. Recipe link in profile. Enjoy and happy Friday! #imsomartha #eeeeeats #howisummer #peaches #bourbon #feedfeed #f52grams #summerrecipes
How has food blogging changed in the last five years?
It's changed so much. There are so many more food bloggers now. A lot of people would tell you there are too many, but I think everyone has something different to offer. Food blogging is so much more a part of our world now, which is great. It's much more of an accepted thing.
Your food images are very distinct and recognizable. Who taught you photography and styling?
I'm totally self-taught. I've never taken any kind of class. I mostly just Googled everything. I learned by photographing every single day and cooking every single day and styling food every single day. And I learned what I liked and what I didn't like and I developed my style from there.
What are your go-to dinner recipes for your (giant) family?
If it's a holiday, which is when we have the most amount of people around, the first night I'll make a few different lasagnas. You can make those completely ahead of time and just put them in the oven before everyone comes over.
In the summer I like to do pizzas because people can choose their own toppings. Quick pastas are really great, and also roast chicken. Whatever I end up making, I always have a big salad with the main dish. It makes everything prettier.
What other cooking sites and bloggers are you inspired by right now?
Right now I'm really loving Bon Appétit, but honestly I don't follow a ton of food bloggers or cooking sites. I get inspired by my friends and family and traveling. I'm mostly inspired by the seasons. I'll make a curry, for example, and throw in a ton of summer vegetables.
Chipotle Shrimp Cobb Salad with Jalapeño Corn Vinaigrette. goal in life? Never another boring salad —> Spicy chipotle shrimp, cherry tomatoes, bacon, summer nectarines, avocado, and the most delicious sweet corn vinaigrette. If you are going to do salad, do it up good. Grab the recipe for this one on HBH today (link in profile) #eeeeeats #feedfeed #howisummer #summerrecipes #buzzfeast #imsomartha #CLkitchen
Do you have any picky eaters in your family?
So many picky eaters. I'm slowly trying to change them. One of my younger brothers hates fruit. And a bunch of my family isn't into all the "color" I use in my recipes. So, I have to slowly introduce them to things or, like, sneak it in there. Sometimes I'll shred zucchini or cauliflower and I'll stir it into things.
What are your favorite ingredients to cook with right now?
I'm obsessed with tomatoes. I love a good heirloom cherry tomato — I'm so much more of a cherry tomato person than beefsteak person. I have so much fun with them — bursting them in a skillet or roasting them in the oven.
Also peaches. I love using fruit in unexpected ways in my recipes, like in savory dishes. Some people are OK with this, and some people are not.
I'm not a fan of eggplant.
Do you have a favorite grocery store?
I live in the middle of the mountains, so my options are limited. Does Amazon count? I get so much from Amazon it's not even funny.
Where do you stand on the Instant Pot?
I was so against it for a while. Like, why the heck do I need another appliance? But I'm all for it now — I've actually been using it so much this summer. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy to work with. I've never had a dry chicken. It cooks short ribs in an hour versus four hours. It's nice.
I should say I don't love the air fryer.
Skillet burst cherry tomato summer pasta with lemony breadcrumbs. Simple summer pastas are my favorite and today's is hands down a new go-to recipe. Burst cherry tomatoes, garden herbs, a little white wine, bucatini pasta, lemony bread crumbs and a ball or two of fresh burrata. Perfection on a plate. Bonus? it's made in 1 skillet and in under 30 minutes. YES. Grab the recipe on halfbakedharvest.com today (link in profile). #buzzfeast #imsomartha #eeeeeats #howisummer #burrata #feedfeed #f52grams
What's your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
I love sweet breakfasts, but I don't like them in the morning — I like that for lunch or dinner. For actual breakfast, I'm kinda simple and boring. I want toast, or a lot of times I'll make a salad with eggs in it. When I'm on the go I'll eat yogurt and fruit.
What's your favorite recipe you've made recently?
I love all the recipes I make; I don't post something I don't love. I made a really pretty burst cherry tomato pasta that I loved, and also this blackberry lavender cake, which was not only pretty, but also really good. I love the peach pizza recipe I posted recently, and there's a shrimp salad I love. All of the things!
Interview has been edited for clarity.