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Food trends come and go, but cookbooks aren't going anywhere.

Sales have remained strong at about 20 million cookbooks a year, according to market research. What does fluctuate is the genre of cookbooks. These days, cooks are hungry for one-pan meals, comfort food and simplified mealtime routines.

That's Julie Evink's bread and butter.

The food blogger from Morris, Minn., releases her debut cookbook, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook," May 21 with more than 100 family-friendly recipes. The book is an offshoot of her successful website, Julie's Eats & Treats, which she started in 2010.

"I call myself the grandma of food blogging," she said with a laugh. Evink returned to her hometown after college, newly married with a hotel restaurant management degree and lots of kitchen experience under her belt. She was working in finance when she first came across recipe blogs.

"I thought 'Oh, this is kind of cool,' " she said. "People were always asking me for recipes, and I thought obviously it sounds easier to put them online than to write them down on a recipe card, right? Actually, no. But it sure sounded great."

Evink started the blog as a way to share recipes with friends and family, but it has grown into a robust resource with a global reach that averages nearly 2 million page views a month from cooks looking for accessible recipes from breakfast through dessert.

Julie Evink's new book has more than 100 family-friendly recipes.
Julie Evink's new book has more than 100 family-friendly recipes.

As Evink kept growing Julie's Eats & Treats, the food-blogging industry started to shift — and creators were starting to make money.

"I learned that, and I remember telling my little brother, 'Well, if they can do it, I can do it,' " she said.

Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit that she credits to her parents, Evink taught herself the business and creative sides of running a food website — monetizing, food photography, writing blog posts, analytics. In 2017, Julie's Eats & Treats and the accompanying site Gimme Some Grilling became her full-time job.

We talked to Evink about keeping things real in an Instagram world, her favorite recipes and the one piece of advice all cooks should remember. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What was your first blog post?

I'm pretty sure it was spaghetti pie. It's my mom's recipe.

How have the recipes — and your website — evolved?

At first it was just things I grew up on. In the younger years, I would say we were all focused on making really unique recipes, which when we got to learning more about it wasn't the smartest move because you want to rank on Google. So, what are people searching for? They're not going to be searching for something super unique with a weird name. As the blogging industry developed, it was like, "Oh, wait, I want to make a resource for people" and that's how my mindset shifted. ... I want you to connect with me and say, "I can go to Julie's website and I can find anything that fits her niche and it's going to be good. So I don't need to go to Google. I just go to Julie."

Big-picture-wise, what has changed in the past 14 years?

Your social media. When I started, the only social media was Facebook. Everything has changed. I mean, we didn't even get the concept of someone searching for us on Google. You had it in your head that you just have these 15 people following you, and you're writing for them. You weren't trying to write for the world. In 2024, you're writing to be a resource — how to change the recipe, how to substitute things, how to store it.

How did you bring yourself up to speed with the new technology?

I went to school for management — that's where I thrive. I wouldn't say my personality is necessarily creative. So as new things came up, I would master it. And then if it was something that didn't fill my cup, I would outsource it. There's only so many things I can do, and I wanted my brain space to be free to look for the next trend or to grow my business and not be taking care of all the little things. My motto is, "What doesn't need Julie, Julie doesn't do."

That is a great recipe for sanity.

I could never write a cookbook if I was doing all the other things. I have a team, and it frees me up to do the next thing. I never want people to look at me and think I do it all, because I think that is the biggest frustration on social media right now is you see the highlight reel and you think they're doing it all and being uber-successful. But I have all these talented people that are helping me — it's not just Julie.

How long has the cookbook been in the works?

I said I wanted to do it in January of 2023. And there was a three-month ramp-up of getting the publisher, and I would say I started developing recipes probably last March. But there are 20 exclusive recipes that will never be printed online, and the other recipes are hand-picked from my blog.

What's your favorite recipe in the cookbook?

Seriously?

OK, how about the one you make most often?

But that's not my favorite recipe! OK, I have a sweet tooth, so I'm going to have to go with the Buster Bar dessert. Either that or the One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta (see recipes below).

What is your crown jewel of cooking advice?

This is going to sound horrible, but there's always pizza. That's a joke in our house. Don't be afraid to try anything, and also everyone messes up. There's always frozen pizza in the freezer.

That might be the best answer I've ever heard.

I'm all about being practical, and it's fun to test your recipes, but every once in a while you're gonna hit a bad one. And it was actually my husband's [Jason] joke when I started doing this. He was like, "Well, I guess there's always frozen pizza" and this glob ended up in the garbage. That's where that came from.

Speaking of your husband, you two also have a grilling website?

We started [Gimme Some Grilling] in 2016-ish. It was right when the smokers were getting really popular for backyards, and I saw an opportunity. I tried to take the concept of my main blog and transfer it to backyard recipes, because everything I could find was so overwhelming — like, you needed to stand by your smoker for 24 hours. Everyday families want to have these in their backyard, so how can we make approachable recipes?

Do you both work on the websites?

Yeah, Jason quit his job in 2022 and works full time with me.

What is a typical day or week like for you both?

Management is more what I do now, so actually 90% of my work is at a computer. It's research, it's content, it's proofreading, it's assigning, different things like that. I research all the recipes to see what I want developed, and Jason actually does all the recipe developing now. So he's the one creating all the recipes and researching them. Some people batch-cook and spend a whole day in the kitchen and just make 10 recipes. We don't do it like that. We make them for our family; that's how we feed our family. So we kind of just integrate our jobs into our life.

How often do you create recipes?

Each week we create two new recipes on Julie's Eats & Treats, and one recipe on Gimme Some Grilling.

With so many cookbooks out there, what makes yours stand out?

I designed this cookbook because people were telling me they walk into a bookstore and look at cookbooks and they can never find the "sensible" one. It's always the trendy ones, or you can find healthy, but they're just a little bit too healthy — your kids aren't going to eat it. So I tried to put it all together. There's chicken sheet pan fajitas. That's healthy, but it's easy. It's normal ingredients. It's not overwhelming, it's gonna come together in 30 minutes. You can open my book and you can pick out recipes your kids will eat. There's side dishes, there's main dishes and they all come together easy. I call it an elevated church cookbook. And as Minnesotans, I think you can identify with that.

I already have stains on my copy of your cookbook.

That's what I want! I love it! I want it to be that cookbook. You know the old tattered recipes that have been passed on, and moms use them for 30 years? I want that. I want stains on my cookbook.

How about the blog? How do you stand out in a sea of food blogs?

You have to put yourself out there and you have to make that emotional connection to really be successful. Otherwise, they'll just go to the next one on Google, which is fine if that's how you get your traffic. But I really try to grow the connection.

Is that your personality or did you have to learn to put yourself out there?

No, it's my personality. If you meet me in real life, you'll get exactly what you see. If you have an idea or you need help, I will be the one behind you, cheering you on. I love to see people take their dreams and chase them. I think in this world there's just so much pressure, and I'm so tired of that. ... I'm never gonna be the influencer with the perfect white kitchen. I'm real. I'll tell you my ups and downs. You try to be funny and uplifting on Instagram, but I also try to keep a dose of reality in there. My world is not perfect.

What's next for Julie's Eats & Treats?

I feel so very blessed with where I am in life. My business is super-successful and I have flexibility in my life. So I would say my priorities have shifted a little and it's more about giving back to my community and being there for my children and their friends. If there's an opportunity, I'll try new things. But I also grew this business for that flexibility and I'm trying to really embrace that. I'm in a small town and they've been so amazing to me, they've cheered me on from the start. And now it's my time to give back to them.

One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta is among author Julie Evink's favorite recipes in her new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook."
One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta is among author Julie Evink's favorite recipes in her new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook."

One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta

Serves 6.

This amazing, creamy Cajun pasta is made in one pot for a quick and easy dinner. It combines a creamy sauce, penne pasta and chicken with the perfect amount of Cajun spice. From "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook" by Julie Evink (2024, $34.99).

• 1 lb. skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

• 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning, plus more for garnish

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 c. diced yellow onion

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 4 c. chicken broth

• 2 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1 lb. uncooked penne pasta

• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

• 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced, for garnish

• Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

In a large skillet, toss the chicken, Cajun seasoning and olive oil together. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring to sear the chicken, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the chicken broth, cream and pasta. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. (The sauce will thicken as it stands.)

To serve, top the pasta with the tomatoes, parsley, and additional Cajun seasoning to taste.

Julie Evink's new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook," has more than 100 family-friendly recipes, including Breakfast Enchiladas, a fun twist on an overnight egg bake.
Julie Evink's new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook," has more than 100 family-friendly recipes, including Breakfast Enchiladas, a fun twist on an overnight egg bake.

Breakfast Enchiladas

Serves 8.

This is one of my go-to overnight breakfast casseroles. Tortillas that are stuffed with sausage, cheese and bacon bits, then covered with eggs and baked, are such a fun twist on your traditional breakfast casserole. Note: Enchiladas can be tailored to your tastes — or what's in the fridge. For a recent brunch, we spiced things up and replaced the bacon bits with a 4-ounce can of green chiles. The recipe also works well with egg substitute. From "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook" by Julie Evink (2024, $34.99).

• Nonstick cooking spray

• 1 lb. ground sausage

• 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided

• 1 (3-oz.) pkg. real bacon bits (not the crunchy bits in a jar, but the bacon pieces in a bag), divided

• 8 (8-in.) flour tortillas

• 6 eggs

• 2 c. half-and-half

• 1 tbsp. flour

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• Sliced green onions, optional garnish

Directions

Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat until it's cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off the grease.

In a large bowl, stir together the cooked sausage, 1 cup of the cheese, and half the bacon bits. Spoon some of the mixture down the center of one tortilla. Roll it up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all eight tortillas are filled.

In another large bowl, beat the eggs, half-and-half, flour and salt. Pour over the tortillas in the baking dish. You can bake the casserole immediately, or cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dish and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over the tortillas. Sprinkle the rest of the bacon bits over the cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted.

Buster Bar Dessert is among author Julie Evink's favorite recipes in her new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook."
Buster Bar Dessert is among author Julie Evink's favorite recipes in her new book, "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook."

Buster Bar Dessert

Serves 20.

The perfect ice cream dessert for summer has an Oreo crust, a layer of vanilla ice cream and a topping of homemade fudge and peanuts. Plan ahead when making this recipe; it needs to chill for at least 4 hours. From "Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook" by Julie Evink (2024, $34.99).

• Nonstick cooking spray

• 1 (14.3-oz.) package Oreo cookies, crushed

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) salted butter, melted

• 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

• 1 c. (6 oz,) chocolate chips

• 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) salted butter

• 2 c. powdered sugar

• 1 c. dry-roasted peanuts

Directions

Lightly spray a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the crushed Oreos and the melted butter. Pat the Oreo mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Spread the softened ice cream evenly across the Oreo crust. Place the pan back in the freezer while you prepare the fudge sauce.

In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate chips, evaporated milk, butter and powdered sugar. Stir together and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool until it's completely cold. (Do not pour warm sauce over the ice cream!)

Once the fudge has cooled, spread it evenly over the top of the ice cream. Then sprinkle the peanuts over the top of the fudge sauce. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into bars. (The bars keep for up to a week in the freezer.)

"Julie's Eats & Treats Cookbook" ($34.99) is available in stores starting May 21, but is available for pre-order now through online booksellers.