Marjorie’s daughter, Morgan Hawthorne, has already shared her infectious love of food on the Steve Harvey Show (did you see the German chocolate cake?). This week she’s about to offer us so much mo’ of where that came from. Morgan has launched a new food blog perfectly titled I Need Some Mo, and we had the chance to chat with her about the inspo behind the blog, her passions for all things culinary, and the remarkable feat of balancing motherhood, a blossoming career, and family meals. Warning: Things are about to get way MO delicious.
Tell us a little bit about how your passion for food began?
Morgan: Many people might think my mom is just all about fashion, but she is one of the most amazing cooks I know. She is a beast with her buttery cornbread, spaghetti, german chocolate cake, and she can even hold her own on the grill with some bomb ribs! I definitely learned a lot from her. My grandma, Gran, can fry the mess out of some chicken. Her desserts, like her lemon meringue and strawberry pies, and the punchbowl cakes, actually inspired the dessert section of my blog called Scratch the Scratch Cakes. Basically, my Gran didn’t do much “from scratch,” but you would never be able to tell. I learned how to make boxed cake mixes taste like homemade and some other clever tips that I can’t wait to share. These two incredible ladies really started my love of cooking.
What made you want to start a food blog?
Morgan: After I finished Spelman College, I actually went super unconventional and started culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I came back to Atlanta and worked in catering for a short while. I learned a ton from both of those experiences and was looking for a way to share what I had learned. My friends were constantly asking me for a cooking class, or a recipe idea, or how to cook one thing or the other. It kind of clicked that what comes easily for me in the kitchen, is really daunting and frustrating for so many others. I started to think about how could I make cooking fun, easy to understand, delicious, and practical.
What special niche can followers expect from your blog that they may not find anywhere else?
Morgan: It’s funny because I kept saying to myself, “ Why are so many people hitting me up all the time about recipes? There are a million recipes on the internet.” But what I feel I offer are recipes that fit real life. Most of us want to be relatively healthy on a day-to-day basis. We want to eat something that has great flavor, that is familiar to us, and we want to get it done quickly. That is the “home base” of my blog, a section I call 30 Minute Meals.
Every once in awhile, you may want to try something that is over-the-top decadent, but if people’s lives are anything like mine (a long day of work and getting my toddler settled), I just want healthy, delicious, quick food. I put what I cook for my family everyday on the blog. I’ve also created sections for party appetizers and cocktails, special occasion dishes, a wonderful baby section with great homemade baby food, and formula recipes that my little one loved. There’s even a Kitchen Hacks section where I share favorite seasonings and tips. These are meals that we actually eat everyday. They fit my lifestyle, and I truly believe tons of other people will be able to find joy in cooking.
You come from a large high-profile family. What role does food play in bringing you all close together?
Morgan: We all love to eat, and actually Karli and Brandi are great cooks too! The last time we cooked together we did a really good crab boil, and Brandi made this amazing seafood dip. It’s always fun just because it’s so many of us, and everyone has a big personality, so it’s always interesting and hilarious. The food is just the backdrop to our foolishness.
What is your all-time favorite family recipe?
Morgan: From a nostalgic aspect, I’ll go with my Gran’s strawberry cake. She made it for my birthday every year growing up, and now I make it for my husband too! It’s not on the blog yet, but I’ll be sharing the recipe with all of you for my 30th birthday in May.
Any quick healthy snacks that a food novice could whip up in under 5 minutes?
Morgan: I love green smoothies. Once bananas are too ripe to eat, I dice them and freeze them for smoothies. I also keep other mixed tropical fruits along with a bag of baby spinach in the freezer. When I’m ready for a smoothie, I can use the frozen fruit instead of ice, which dilutes the flavor. I just add in coconut-almond milk. Also, blend the spinach and milk first before adding the fruit so that it’s completely blended in.
What is the one utensil or equipment that you recommend for cooking newbies?
Morgan: Get a great set of knives and cutting board, like Laguiole 5 Piece Kitchen Knife Set ($65) and The Footman Cherry Block Cutting Board ($57). It will change your life. So many of my friends cut everything with a steak knife on a plate. I’m like, “Girl…No.” Different knives serve different purposes, but having the right one on hand cuts your chopping time in half, is much safer, and will get you a better presentation at the end.
As a young wife, mother, and career woman, what advice can you give women with similar profiles who are trying to balance providing “at home” meals with very busy schedules?
Morgan: I make it to the grocery store once a week and buy a variety of fish, meats, veggies, starches, and salad mixes. I know I can always put together a variety of balanced meals throughout the week in about 25 minutes. Most days my schedule is tight, and I always wish I could have more time for everything. I try to shut down my work by about 5:30, pick up my little one by 6pm, and then have dinner on the table by 7:00. That leaves us about an hour of family time after dinner together before we put Elle to sleep. After that, it’s wine or cocktail time with Kareem.
For those who’ve been following you on social media, traveling is a consistent pastime. What is one of your favorite meals from another city?
Morgan: This summer I traveled to Belize and I had so many amazing dishes there. One of my favorites was at this outdoor restaurant with sand floors called Elvi’s Kitchen. They had the best conch fritters served with a habanero tartar sauce. They were so fresh and flavorful.
Beyond the launch of this blog, what is on the horizon for Morgan Hawthorne? Will there be cooking classes, tutorials, a product line, etc.?
Morgan: I love would love to do Mommy and Me cooking classes (or Daddy too!). I’m also going to offer downloadable cookbooks on my website. I have a few segments on SHTV in the works as well, with the ultimate goal of having my own cooking show that serves multi-faceted lives. I just launched my event-planning company called Magiantion Events, and I’m working on my first wedding! One of my specialties is creating an incredible menu to wow the guests at your event.
How can we get some Mo?