Behind the Recipes: Cooking with Coleen
If you like to cook, you may think Coleen Martin has the world’s best job. As a recipe consultant for Pyrex® glassware and others, she develops, tastes and tests hundreds of new recipes a year. Here, she dishes on what inspires her to keep creating the meals your family will love.
You know a lot about food. Why is that?
I’ve always had a passion for food. When I was young, I’d help my mom, who was single and working, get dinner on the table. Although I was the second youngest of six children, I loved taking charge of dessert. And I still have a big sweet tooth!
After getting my degree in food service administration, I landed a job with Taste of Home magazine as food editor. For years, my duties included overseeing the test kitchen, managing a massive recipe database, styling food for photography, developing cover recipes and managing food content read and made by millions.
Now I freelance and dream up recipes using Pyrex® glassware products. It’s a lot fun.
How would you characterize your cooking?
To me, cooking is about family. It brings people together and represents your love for them. I’m not a gourmet chef. I cook as your mom would cook. I cook for family, wellness and comfort.
What’s special about the recipes you’ve created here?
These recipes are truly and fully tested, so you can’t go wrong making them. Knowing that should help alleviate any fear when it comes to trying something new.
Where do you find your inspiration?
When creating a recipe, I keep in mind two things. What fresh seasonal ingredients are available? And how can I save time?
Both of your kids like to cook. Did they get it from you?
My 16-year-old daughter, Sara, loves helping me create recipes. My son, David, who’s 19, enjoys cooking, too, but would rather eat whatever we make!
My advice to parents who want to get their kids in the kitchen? Don’t worry about the mess. One of my favorite family photos is a picture of David when he was little, helping me make chocolate chip cookies. He wanted to feel the batter, so I let him mix it with his hands. You know flour is going to go everywhere, but memories you make are worth it.
Fill in the blank. I am the queen of….
Leftovers! And with all my Pyrex® glassware, nothing goes to waste. Generally, when I’m cooking dinner early in the week, I prepare more than I need. I use the leftovers later in the week, but it’s never in the form of how I originally served it. I love mixing up ingredients and flavors, as well as the cost-saving challenge of using what I have on hand.
Your go-to summertime ingredient?
Fresh basil. We have a huge herb garden, and I make a ton of homemade pesto this time of year. I freeze it in Pyrex® 2-cup Storage Rounds (LINK) and throw it into almost anything—pasta salad, scrambled eggs, dips, grilled pizza.
What’s the biggest consideration when developing recipes for today’s families?
Convenience. Everybody’s busy. And no one wants to spend all of his or her free time cooking and cleaning. That’s what I love about the Berry French Toast Casserole (LINK) recipe. It can be made in advance, then baked when you’re ready for it. I’m all about doing what you can ahead of time. Also, I always encourage people to utilize convenience products, such as the store-bought frozen pastry crust that I use in the Summer Tomato Pie (LINK) recipe.
Your fave piece of Pyrex® glassware?
The dishes from Pyrex® glassware’s Easy Grab™ line (LINK). Love those! The dishes have these large accessible handles, and the plastic cover extends out over the dish and snaps into place when I refrigerate it. No more plastic wrap.
What surprises you most about cooking with Pyrex®?
How easy it can go from refrigerator to oven to table. Whether I’m at home feeding my family or taking a special dish to a friend’s house, Pyrex’s® simple designs really work with a variety of personal styles.