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A Conversation with Sandra Lee

I was so excited to be one of four bloggers chosen to talk with Sandra Lee of the Food Network. This was my first time talking with a celebrity cook. To say that I was nervous is an understatement.

Sandra’s recipes never appealed to me until M was born. I instantly became so busy and was looking for meals that were quick and easy to make.

Sandra was as sweet as can be! Her motto is spending less time in the kitchen and more time with family… hence the semi-homemade theme.

The phone call was part of her satellite media tour. She was in a large kitchen in NYC doing television cooking demos, radio interviews, and blogger interviews.

These other fabulous bloggers took part in the interview as well:

We each took turns asking our questions. Here’s how the interview went…

Q1: What’s your favorite little touch to add on a holiday table?

Sandra: The most important thing is to not get stressed out. I like to use holiday ornaments, & copper cookie cutters to decorate a table.

Q2: What’s a great go to holiday cocktail?

Sandra: Try to buy spirits that are already mixed and ready to serve. Rename drinks: Christmas Cosmo, Mistletoe Mojito, etc…

Q3: What is one ingredient you like to keep on hand during the holidays?

Sandra: I like to go with ingredients that I can use at least 4 ways. Like instant coffee. I use instant coffee as a dry rub on pork chops, steak, and chicken. I use instant coffee in my chocolate chip waffles, and I love making mocha chocolate parfaits. I also like to buy pre-marinated meats. Never throw the marinade away. Put the marinade in a pot, reduce, then add cream of mushroom soup and fresh seasonings like parsley, rosemary, & thyme to make a quick and easy gravy for the meat.

Q4: What themes do like for the holiday season?

Sandra: Never have a sit down dinner… always do a buffet. Offer a ready to serve cocktail and comfort foods (like pigs in a blanket, shrimp, cheese tray’s etc.) That’s what people love the most. No one loves a dip you wanna try out on them.

Q5: What are your suggestions for Turkey day leftovers?

Sandra: Save or freeze your stuffing and use them to stuff mushroom caps for your holiday parties. Turn last nights dinner into your morning omelet.

Q6: What advice do you have for creating a tablescape?

Sandra: Always lay down the base first. A good tablecloth makes a great base. No need to buy anything fancy, get some inexpensive fabric or cover the entire table with construction paper. Lay down some colors and markers for the kiddos. Use fall leaves, pine cones, or mini pumpkins as decor. The tablescape is an accompaniment to who you are.


I had so much fun taking part in this interview. Here are my favorite tips from the interview:

  • Using copper cookie cutters to decorate a table. I love this idea!! I would put a cookie cutter at each place setting with a place card.
  • I’ve never used instant coffee in my cooking. I’m anxious to try it as a dry rub for steak, chicken, and pork chops.
  • I LOVE the idea of using leftover stuffing to stuff mushroom caps. What a clever idea!
  • Sticking with comfort foods for a party is key! Its very true that no one wants to try a dip you’ve made for the first time.
  • I’m a big fan of purchasing pre-marinated meat. Keeping the marinade and making a gravy is a fabulous idea!
  • I love the idea of rolling out construction paper as a table covering. This way the kids can be creative with colors and markers.

Sandra encouraged us to go to her website for more recipe ideas.

Sandra was also sweet enough to give us a copy of her new cookbook to giveaway!! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. A winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Disclosure: All of the opinions I’ve expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this post. A cookbook was given to me for a free giveaway.

25 Responses

  1. Nicole @ Making Good Choices said on November 22, 2010 at 8:36 am

    That is so fun you had this opportunity! I love how she says not to stress, that’s so important!

  2. Coffee and a Book Chick said on November 22, 2010 at 8:36 am

    So very cool! Great advice and so timely for the upcoming holidays! I’ve always enjoyed her insight and love making food quickly sometimes, so her info is greatly helpful!

  3. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday said on November 22, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I’m not a huge Sandra Lee fan myself, but I would like to see her cookbook to check out her recipes for ideas.

  4. Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun said on November 22, 2010 at 9:09 am

    That’s cool you got to talk with her. I became much more appreciative of her style of cooking after kids as well.

  5. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman said on November 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Great interview! I don’t watch her show often, but I could totally see how it’d fit into a busy lifestyle. I mostly make my meals semi-homemade without meaning to.

  6. Mo@MommyRD said on November 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I love the suffing into mushroom caps idea! Brilliant! And I agree, with a little one, semi-homemade is really helpful!

  7. Michele @ Healthy Cultivations said on November 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I so enjoyed reading this interview. Her tablescapes are always STUNNING!!!

  8. Jessica @ How Sweet said on November 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Construction paper idea it too cute! I loved to color on tables when I was a kid!

  9. Lauren at KeepItSweet said on November 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

    that is so fun that you got to talk to her! thanks for sharing:-)

  10. Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries said on November 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Between this and your gig at Sam’s Club, you are totally famous!! I’m so impressed by you lately! Rock on, girl 🙂

  11. Heather (Heather's Dish) said on November 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

    the construction paper is PERFECT for a birthday party for kiddos (or big kids ;)) what a cute idea!

  12. m said on November 22, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I love her!

  13. Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) said on November 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

    That must have been so exciting! Ya gotta love simplicity!

  14. Camille said on November 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Fun stuff! Love the ideas!

  15. Lisa said on November 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I would love to win a copy of this cookbook. Great interview.

  16. Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather said on November 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    What a fun opportunity! Sandra is so cute on her show and always knows how to make an outstanding party table.

  17. patricia said on November 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    omg…I am so excited for you…I absolutely love Sandra Lee..she is so awesome. I received a cookbook two years ago for christmas and have absolutely loved it..her recipes are so easy to follow and delicious. congrats on being part of the interview, maybe you’ll get a chance to be on her show! good job estela!!

  18. Ashley said on November 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I loved all of these tips and ideas…but what I loved the most was how Sandra came up with her motto. Semi-homeade is about “spending less time in the kitchen and more time with family.” That’s truly the key! Family meals are special, no matter how long you spend in the kitchen beforehand. Thanks!

  19. C. said on November 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I heart Sandra Lee. And freezing stuffing for stuffed mushrooms is a great idea. You must have been so super excited! That’s awesome!

  20. Emily @ For Sweets Sake said on November 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    What a great opportunity! and a great giveaway! I love Sandra Lee. and I love the cookie cutter idea for namecards! so cute!

  21. Kim in Minnesota said on November 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Definitely going to use leftover stuffing in mushroom caps! Great interview; thanks for sharing it.

  22. emily (a nutritionist eats) said on November 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    That is so cool!! I love her concept of spending less time in the kitchen and more time with family. Making everything from scratch is great, but just isn’t realistic for everyone!

  23. Sue said on November 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Very interesting ideas! I like the buffet style meal idea!

  24. Trish said on November 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    What a great opportunity. I admire Sandra’s no-nonsense approach to cooking. The leftover stuffing idea is fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  25. sophia said on November 23, 2010 at 12:46 am

    So. I know a lot of people who just love to bash Sandra Lee, but honestly, I think she’s a successful intelligent woman in her own right. I’ve always LOVED her tablescapes, she comes up with the most adorable and brilliant ideas.