Erin Clarke is the creator of the popular recipe website Well Plated by Erin. She has established herself as a go-to resource for nourishing, yet delicious, meals that are easy enough for an average weeknight, special enough for a date night, and comforting enough to earn picky-eater approval. She is an active runner and a healthy-living enthusiast, and has been known to show up on friends' doorsteps with a pan of enchiladas in one hand and a pitcher of sangria in the other. She lives in downtown Milwaukee with her husband Ben and their lazy, lovable beagle mix Teddy.
How did you start Well Plated?
I've always had a passion for writing and cooking. In 2012, I found myself in a new city where I didn't know anyone, married to a new husband that was spending all of his time in the library as a law student. A friend suggested I start a blog as a creative outlet and (after I figured out what a blog was) I thought "Why not?!" Soon after, another friend texted to tell me she'd made the Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas I posted and asked if I had any more recipes I could share. Nine years—and 1300 recipes + 1 cookbook later—here we are!
What inspired you to publish the cookbook?
My driving passion is making healthy cooking accessible and affordable for busy families. I wanted to create a tangible resource that could be a one-stop shop, not only to inspire but also to make nutritious weeknight cooking easier, more delicious, and less intimidating. As much as I love sharing recipes online, I wanted a physical book of my best work to be a beautiful, lasting as a gift to my readers. I poured every ounce of myself into my book, and I'm proud to say they are the best recipes I've ever created!
What are some of your favorite spices?
Spices are so critical to cooking more healthfully without sacrificing flavor, because they make food taste fab without relying on butter or sugar. A few spices you'll always find in my pantry are smoked paprika, which lends a depth to everything from roasted vegetables to soups to even a simple side of beans, chipotle chile powder, which adds a kick and makes food taste like you spent much longer cooking it than you did, and granulated garlic powder. Mincing garlic is my least favorite kitchen task, so I love to avoid it when I can. Plus, unlike fresh garlic, granulated garlic doesn't run a risk of burning.
What are your favorite recipes from the book?
Honestly? ALL OF THEM! I know that sounds like a cheat answer, but if I (and my recipe testers) didn't truly, truly fall in love with a recipe, it didn't make the book. If you're looking for where to start, the cover recipe Caprese Chicken Skillet has been a fan favorite, the Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken is so tasty I cooked it on Good Morning America, and the Double Trouble Fudge Cookies are so decadent, you'll never suspect they are healthy. The recipe I personally cook the most is probably the 5-Ingredient Maple Dijon Salmon. We eat it almost weekly!