Jennifer joined our Volunteer Field Editor team in 2013. Her recipes are fun and festive, perfect additions to any celebration. From picnics to Halloween, you’re sure to love her culinary creations as much as we do.
Taste of Home: Tell us a little about you. Where do you live, what do you do when you’re not cooking, and who’s in your family?
Jennifer Gilbert: I live in Brighton, Michigan, with my husband, two teenagers—Jacob and Julianna—and two adorable Papillons. I am the author of the blog What’s Baking, Babycakes?, a freelance writer and a social media lifestyle influencer. When I’m not cooking, I enjoy traveling to Florida and eating a slice (or two!) of Key lime pie, and doing barre fitness workouts to balance out my baking addiction.
TOH: How did your love of cooking get started? Was there someone in your life who taught you?
JG: While growing up, I often baked with my mom during the holidays. This sparked my passion for baking at an early age. After having my own kids, I found inspiration from watching the show Cupcake Wars with my daughter. We binge-watched the show one summer, and I immediately fell in love with the unique flavor combinations the contestants used in their recipes.
(Hey Jennifer, have you watched the Great British Baking Show? It’s a staff fave! We even pulled together copycat recipes from the best episodes.)
TOH: What inspires you to cook?
JG: As a freelance writer, I interviewed a couple business owners who daringly left their jobs in the automotive industry to open their own bakeries. Their dedication to their profession inspired me to get into the kitchen and put my own dreams into motion.
TOH: What recipe do you get asked to make the most?
JG: My husband and my daughter love coconut. My Coconut Cream Pie Trifle, with coconut pudding, coconut milk and toasted coconut, is at the top of their request list.
(That sounds fantastic! Be sure to share the recipe with us.)
TOH: Whom do you love to cook for most?
JG: I love cooking for my family on a regular basis, but I especially love to cook for them on holidays and special occasions. On Thanksgiving, my kids look forward to my pumpkin pie, and my husband can’t get enough of my sage stuffing. I make a spicy beef stew with fresh thyme for Halloween and sweet and sour meatballs for a pregame Super Bowl appetizer. Our family food traditions bring us closer together and make the day more memorable.
TOH: What’s your favorite summer recipe?
JG: No-churn ice cream is my favorite summertime recipe. Heavy whipping cream and condensed milk make for an easy ice cream base. Add espresso powder for a mocha flavor, or fold in mini marshmallows, crushed graham crackers and chocolate chips for s’mores ice cream.
(Our no-churn ice cream guide shows you just how easy it is to make.)
TOH: What activities do you love to do most in summer?
JG: One of my favorite summer activities is picking blueberries with my family at our local orchard. After filling our buckets, we buy cider and donuts, and then sit down on benches for an outdoor picnic. Next, we take a wagon ride to a spacious sunflower patch to take photos and pick sunflowers. Visiting the orchard is one of my favorite things to do in my hometown, and it’s always a highlight of my summer.
(Find the best U-pick farm in every state.)
TOH: What do you enjoy most about being a Volunteer Field Editor?
JG: Being a Volunteer Field Editor has given me the opportunity to try recipes that I normally wouldn’t think to make myself. One of my favorite recipes I’ve reviewed is Sherry Mote’s Cherry Cobbler Smoothies. It has ingredients that I love, but never would have thought to put together in a recipe. I also enjoy reading the stories behind the recipes. Learning things like where the recipe originated and what makes it so special to the author is just as interesting to me as the recipe itself.
(Think you’d like to join our team of Volunteer Field Editors? Find out what it takes.)
TOH: What kitchen appliance is indispensable for you and why?
JG: My KitchenAid is my must-have kitchen appliance. It was originally my mom’s, and she handed it down to me when I started my baking blog. The paddle attachment makes my buttercream frosting silky smooth and the whisk attachment perfectly whips the cream to stiff peaks.
(Did you know you can customize a KitchenAid? It’s so cool!)
TOH: What’s your desert-island meal—the one you could eat over and over again and never get tired of?
JG: I would live off coconut shrimp, mango salsa and pina coladas!
(Psst, Jennifer: Have you tried Air-Fryer Coconut Shrimp? It’s aah-mazing.)