BYU alumna breaks big with cooking blog

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BYU alumna Mandy Merriman grew up cooking alongside her mother. After years of asking her mother questions about cooking and gathering recipes, she began to write down the recipes and keep them.

Mandy Merriman slices an avocado. Merriman’s food can be featured on her blog. (Baking with Blondie)

Merriman began adding recipes from her mother, her grandmother, websites and cookbooks to her collection, and shoved them in the sheet protectors of a large, pink folder with her name written on the front.

“It was getting full. It was just overflowing, and I decided I needed to get them online,” Merriman said. “What I decided is I needed to get these up on a blog, and eventually it turned more into a business blog. … It grew into something more than just an online recipe book.”

Merriman first began promoting her blog almost unintentionally when people asked for recipes of the food she brought to events.

“At the beginning of promoting my blog, it started off by just word of mouth. I think only my mom was reading it,” Merriman said. “Eventually I would do TV spots on some local TV stations, and I would cook there and they would refer my blog to the people who were watching.”

From there, “Baking with Blondie” was born. The idea of the name came from various mishaps that would take place while Merriman was cooking. One of these included leaving a large pan of beautiful cupcakes on top of her car and driving away, only for them to slide off and be ruined.

Mandy Merriman, whose favorite food to cook is desserts, shows how to make strawberry cupcakes on Studio 5. (Studio 5 via KSL.com)

Merriman and her husband, Ryan, currently live with Bethany Hillary while the couple’s house is being built. Hillary said the mishaps are the most entertaining to her.

“She’s hilarious,” Hillary said about Merriman with a laugh. “She sings while she cooks, and there’s flour flying everywhere, even on her laptop.”

Merriman said mistakes in the kitchen are just one of the time-consuming things about creating a blog post.

“When you do a blog post, there’s a lot to go into it,” Merriman said. “If (the recipe) bombs, you have to start over again, and sometimes you have to try a recipe three or four times before it’s just right.”

Once she completes a recipe, Merriman said it takes a good amount of time to photograph the food and edit the photos to get them ready for the blog.

“I have a lot of pictures of her standing on the countertops trying to get pictures of her food for the blog so that she can get it at the right angle,” Hillary said. “It’s just funny to see how much work goes into it, because you think she just makes it and snaps it and she’s done, but it’s a lot of work.”

Mandy Merriman shows how to make stuffed shells, one of her favorite meals to make for her family, on Studio 5. (Studio 5 via KSL.com)

The ultimate payoff for Merriman is being able to bring families together for dinner. She said she loves getting feedback about how the recipes on her blog have helped parents come up with new meals their children love. Merriman said this has also benefited her own family.

“When I look back on what we typically ate pre-blog and compare it to the past few years, it blows my mind how much she’s picked up,” Ryan Merriman said. “It’s been fun to see how much she’s done with it.”

Mandy Merriman discovered how much she missed blogging when she took a break after having her first child. Now, she plans to continue blogging, creating and trying new recipes.

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