2-2-10n8Learn a bit about the Cook

Hello! I’m Erica Lea.


I’m a 20-something Christian with a desire to cook quality food for my amazing husband. Growing up, I got used to cooking for seven people (Dad, Mom, three sisters, one brother, and myself). My Dad was born right here in Northern Minnesota. From him I get my love of different, interesting flavors and the willingness to try something new. My mom’s southern born: Kansas City, Missouri. From her I have learned how to cook simple, comforting food without using a recipe.

In June, 2011, I entered a new adventure: marriage! You’d think that cooking for two would be quite an adjustment, but I hardly had to change the amounts of food I cook at all. My husband’s family warned me to continue “cooking for seven,” and they were right – my husband eats a lot!


To me, quality not only means a dish that’s delicious, but one that is nourishing as well. It is my belief that irresistibly scrumptious and healthy are not mutually exclusive. Admittedly, I sometimes splurge and eat/cook something totally unhealthy. But I try to keep things natural.


What you’ll find on Cooking for Seven

Here on Cooking for Seven I share recipes I have tried & modified and found to be delicious. My main focus is recipes with a healthy touch. You’ll find that I like to substitute whole wheat flour and natural sugars quite often. But you won’t find that I skimp on good, natural fat. Butter > margarine.


The Photography on Cooking for Seven

In my opinion, a good photo is just about as important as a good recipe. I like to see what the finished product will look like before I put my time and effort into preparing a dish. I hope to give you that chance will my recipes!

The camera I use is the wonderful Nikon D7000. I use a 50mm prime lens. When shooting in low light, I try to use a tripod.

All photos before November 2011 were taken with the Nikon D80.

Stop by my personal blog to see more of my work, or click here to see my portfolio.

Purchase prints here.


You may use my photos on your blog or website as long as you provide clear credit and link back to the post where the photo first appeared or to my blog. You may not alter my images in any way without prior permission. Commercial use is prohibited. All unauthorized reproduction of my photos is prohibited.


Comment Policy

Your comments are welcome – I love hearing from my readers. Please note that all crude, profane, or otherwise offensive comments will be edited or deleted according to my standards. And I hate spam. Spam will automatically be deleted when I find it.


040n2Advertising and Reviews

At the moment, I will accept offers for advertising and reviews that meet with my personal standards. To save yourself the trouble of rejection, here are things that will gain you an automatic refusal:

For advertising: I will not accept offers from companies/websites that promote pornographic, crude, profane, or otherwise offensive products or websites. The actual ad must also be “clean” or G rated. Also, the link must be somehow cooking/food related. If you wish to advertise on my blog, email me for details.

For Reviews: I will not promote anything that does not meet the requirements stated above. I will give my honest opinion of your product. Email me for details.

I am also accepting offers for product give-aways. Email me for details.


Where Cooking for Seven has been featured

Food Gawker

Taste Spotting


Tasty Kitchen

Yeast Spotting (100% Whole Wheat Bread)

Joy the Baker (Smoky Barbecue Sauce)

Baking is hot (several posts)

Maple Syrup World (Apple Bread)

SavingsAccount.org (Top 50 Frugal Blogs)

Season with Spice (Cinnamon Bread)

The Kitchn (Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes)

Posts About My Recipes:

Banana Cake from Greedy Gourmand

Apple Muffins from Revamp Boutique

Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal from Little Joys

Whole Wheat Crackers from 27 and Frugal

Maple Apple Pecan Bread from Bumbles and Light

Maple Pecan Banana Cake from Del Sisters Kitchen

Banana Bread from Quiet Life

Apple Bread from Sparkling Ink

Cinnamon Quick Bread from Cook Teen

Pizza Sauce from One Lovely Life

100% Whole Wheat Bread from Salt and Paprika

Cinnamon Roll Cake from Simple Food Everyday

Cinnamon Roll Cake from Catsue. Bless You. Let’s Eat!

Apple Muffins from A Full Measure of Happiness

Sausage & Potato Soup from A Mad Tea Party

Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Soup from project 365 – mom & sisters edition

Links to My Recipes:

Katie Brown Blog


55 thoughts on “About

  1. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog! I do believe I found this site through Tammy’s Recipes. Possibly Tuesday Tips… Do you cook a considerable amount for your family?

    Do you any advice to give to a novice photograher? Our middle son is taking digital photography this year. Right now he is using a point and shoot digital camera (Nikon CoolPix, 10 megapixels, 5x zoom.) My husband just bought his first non-automatic camera. A Nikon D-40 with two lenses but I don’t remember what they are. At present we have 4 out of 5 in our family who are interested in photography but we are all truly novices, to say the least!!

    I just wanted to say thank you and let your know how much we enjoy your site (me for the recipes/photography and my family for the prepared food!)

    Peggy in chilly Alaska

  2. Thank you for your kind comments!

    As of now, my sisters and I take turns preparing the meals for our family. Our system is rather complicated, but it works! Mom still likes to cook sometimes, though.

    I’m still a really new photographer, so I have a lot to learn. Here are a few tips that have really helped me:

    1) Turn off your flash Unless you have the money to set yourself up with professional lighting, it’s a good idea to stick with natural light. On-camera flash is very harsh and unflattering. To learn more, I highly recommend the book Professional Secrets of Natural Light Portrait Photography. I was able to order it from our library.

    2) Be aware of your angle. It’s very tempting to just stay put and shoot away. Move around. Experiment with different angles. The perfect shot could be just a few feet (or even inches) away.

    3) Employ the rule of thirds. It seems natural to center your subject in the middle of the frame. This is not the most dynamic framing, however. Try off-centering your subject. For portraits, it’s a good idea to place your subject’s eyes 1/3 of the way down the frame. To learn more about the rule of thirds, read this article

    There are many great articles on the web for beginning photographers (please note that these sites could lead you to inappropriate content):

    Wikipedia’s Article on Photography

    The Pioneer Woman – some great articles on composition, exposure, and editing. She uses some crude humor, but her articles are very informative.

    VeganYumYum has a very good article on food photography that also applies to other forms of photography.

    Digital Photography School

    Another book I recommend is The Digital Photography Book. He presents his points in clear, easy to understand language.

    I hope this tips will help and inspire you!


  3. Yay, some one like me 🙂 I am the 5th born of 13 children and have been one of the main cooks since I was 14 years old.
    I love your photos and recipes…they all look simply delicious!

    In Christ,

  4. Hi Erica! I found your photography site off your sister Janna’s and then this one from there, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog!! I am a 16 year old Christian girl and I love baking and cooking thing. I’m the 3rd out of 12 kids (the youngest due in may) and share the cooking with my sister and sometimes my brother.

    I bookmarked you and will be coming back!

    In HIS Love,

  5. So far I like your recipes. I am a mom in a family of 7, husband, me, 4 girls and one boy at the tail end. So your blog title caught my eye..

  6. Your blog name grabbed my attention. I am the second oldest of 5 siblings in a family of 7. And I’m so glad I found your blog- it’s wonderful!!! And your photographs are amazing! I’m looking forward to following your blog.

  7. What a wonderful blog! Your recipes and photos are amazing, it’s very impessive especially for someone so young (or at least you look young in your photo, I don’t know!). I also believe in making food that tastes great but is also healthy (with the occasional unhealthy splurge of course). I’m new at this food blogging and I don’t have a very good camera but I’ll have to put that Nikon D80 you mentioned on my wish-list. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow! I’m loving both of your websites! My mom found them and sent me an email, and I’m so glad she did! Your photography is beautiful, and I’m enjoying reading through the posts… Keep up the good work!
    In Christ,

  9. Hello Erica-
    I heard about you on Tasty Kitchen and think you are great! I really like the emphasis on good nutritious ingredients!! Great job

  10. I found your site through tastespotting today and your pictures are gorgeous! I love the clear instructions on your recipes and have already bookmarked your site. Your site is also very easy to navigate. Keep up the great work!

  11. I would like to exchange recipes for our country? we are in Catalonia, España. only condition is that where we will stop our material, mention of it – old popular recipes excellent photos and video. greetings – Edu

  12. Pingback: Yummy Questionnaire: Erica from Cooking for Seven - ThatsSoYummy.com

  13. Hi Erica!

    I recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying it! I too am a young Christian woman who has only just found that I have a great love for cooking and baking (and I regularly experiment with some of your recipes on my family much to their delight) as well as photography.
    I strongly suspect food blogging may be on the horizon for me very soon. Do you have any tips for me on how to get started?

    Thank you so much, and keep up the good work!

    • Hello, Shannon!

      I’m so pleased that you enjoy my blog! It is so nice to hear from fellow Christians.

      My advice for food blogging? Your photos are critically important. Look at professional food photos in magazines & online. I particularly like Martha Stewart. Take your photos in lots of natural light. Side light from a window is wonderful. Never use on-camera flash.

      Keep your settings simple. A white plate/bowl showcases food very well. Do not use wide angles – 35mm or above is good. Shoot lots and lots of photos. If it takes 100 to get your final shot, so be it. Take photos from many different angles. Experiment. Enjoy what you do.

      I highly recommend that you process your photos. If you don’t wish to invest in photo editing software, there are free programs to download that work very well. One online alternative is pixlr. Just make sure you don’t over-process your photos. Keep it natural. A boost in contrast & color correction is usually all you need.

      Read articles about food photography online. This one from VeganYumYum is very good.

      As for your blog itself: I use WordPress, but I have heard many good things about blogger. It’s your choice! Unless you are a designer, I suggest you use a simple layout. Submit your photos to tastespotting and foodgawker. Set up a way for your readers to contact you via email. Write an about page. Reply to any questions your readers ask. Comment on other food-related blogs. Provide your readers with twitter or facebook updates.

      If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I would love to help in any way I can.

  14. I just stumbled across your blog looking for a recipie for a pie, and I found yours. I am a mother of 2 in Scotland a Christian and also an artist. I just wanted to let you know how beautiful your blog is and how amazing your photographs are. God has truely gifted you. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

    May God give you favour in this life.


  15. Hello Erica, i read the blog and it’s great! I’m christian and Am on a cooking site called Allrecipes.com I cook for 10,my family, uncluding myself! Desserts are my fav and I LOVE photogrophy! Your photos are wonderful the blog,again, was great!

    P.s. My Allrecipescom member name is *cozycook*….


  16. I love your blog! Many of my favorite recipes I have gotten from you. I love to cook healthy and I constantly take a recipe and tweak it to make it healthier, and with your recipes, it’s already done for me. Thanks!

  17. Hi ! (;

    I like the way you introduce yourself, about being a Christian young woman and wanting to cook quality food for your family (;

    your blog’s really nice and the photos really make my mouth water! (:
    i look forward to visiting this site again (;

  18. Wow! What a wonderful blog…your photography is simply beautiful! Great job!
    I love to bake and try to make things healthy as much as I can too! 🙂

    Ana W. (from MN too 🙂

  19. Just wanted to leave a note to say how much I enjoy your blogs, Erica! I’ve been reading your food blog for quite a long time now and always love seeing your posts on PW’s Tasty Kitchen. You are such an impressive young woman and I look forward to seeing your recipes and photography develop over the years!

  20. lovely blog! it got my attention with your delicious, flourless recipes. I like cooking for my family too, but haven’t found good healthy recipes before. Thanks! (I found your blog through the pioneerwoman’s site.)

  21. Hi Erica! Just found your blog via Tasty Kitchen and I thought I’d stop in and say hey! I love that you are a Christian – it’s always so encouraging to find other Christians in the blog world! 🙂 And I love that you love cooking for your family so much! What a blessing you are. 🙂

  22. Incredible website and incredible story of who you are! I am looking forward to learning from your website as I develop in the food blogging world (and get more comfortable with my camera). Good luck and keep up the awesome work!

  23. Erica,

    I love reading your blog and I’m looking forward to making many of your recipes. I like substituting ingredients to make healthier dishes that are still delicious but I’m like you… I don’t give up my butter and cream. 🙂 I was wondering, have you tried using agave nectar (or Xagave) instead of processed sugar? It has some great health benefits and it’s easy to work with.

    I think I’m going to make the recipe you have for almond butter right now. I just recently got a bunch of nuts to make nut butter with and now I have a great looking recipe.

    One last thing, I have a Nikon D80 as well and I just love it but my pictures don’t turn out like yours. Thanks and keep up the beautiful work!

  24. Hello Erica!

    Your blog is an absolute refreshment.

    Thank you!

    I am a young wife and mother of one sweet baby, and as time passes I’m further in pursuit of good, whole food. For the longest time I struggled to find the best loaf of 100% whole wheat bread. I’m not certain of how much bread costs where you live, but here in Ontario Canada, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent loaf for under 3.25$. Like most young families, our budget is set. Making bread at home has been somewhat of a failure until I found your ‘Favorite 100% Whole Wheat bread’ post on your old blog.

    I have made three loaves of it, and all three have turned out tasty, lovely, perfect and what’s best–cheap! It works out to about 60 cents a loaf for us here. I’ve been baking it as a oval loaf on a pizza stone with a pan of water beneath for steam. I realize that you’re more than likely busy, but I’d love to share a photo with you.

    As hard as it might to believe, this bread has brought my family together to enjoy good bread. My husband has even started paying attention to how I have been making it 🙂

    Thank you once again,


    • Memie: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comment. I am so happy that I brought this recipe to you! This is what makes blogging worth all the effort. 😀

  25. excuse me but

    this blog is awfully non-secular and backwards.
    that is all.

  26. Your blog is so lovely, and you seem to be a lovely person as well! I am the oldest daughter in a family with 8 children, and also did most of the cooking growing up. I hope you will continue to blog even as you are starting your new life as a wife! Congratulations, and God bless you!

  27. Your recipes look yummy and your photography is lovely. I’m going to try the pizza sauce and dough this weekend.

    Two things:

    Missouri is not in the south.

    Is it ok if non-Christians read your blog?

    • Skidoo: Thank you so much! Haha – I’m born and raised in Minnesota, so Missouri seems like the south to me. 😀 I am happy that anyone reads my blog. My goal is to share healthy and delicious recipes. I also want to bring glory to God in all my work.

  28. Hello! I just found your blog through Pioneer Woman’s website, and I love everything you’re doing here! I’m originally from Georgia so I’m all about southern comfort food!

    I think we’re probably a lot alike. 🙂 It’s nice to meet you!

  29. Just wanted to say that I follow you on Twitter and visit your blog pretty often. I have a family of six and your recipes are a go to for delicious food that’s not overly complicated or expensive.

    I wish you the very best in your marriage, and hope you keep posting all these great recipes.

  30. Hi Erica,

    My name is Tess and I just found your blog through The Pioneer Woman’s website. This is soooooooo cool that you are a young Christian woman. I am also a Christian and reading your blog is so awesome. Thanks so much for doing this =D

  31. Hi Erica! I have enjoyed reading your recipes and look forward to trying them. I do have one question. We are a family of 4. I am interested in making the pizza crust but see that it makes enough for 3 thin crust pizzas. In order to make less, is it OK to just cut the ingredients in half?

    Thanks for your help.


    • Steph: Yes, that would be fine to make half a recipe – you may need to adjust the size of your pizzas, but I’m sure it will work! Also, you could make a full recipe and freeze any of the dough that you do not use. It’s handy to have it made ahead of time!

  32. Yo, I’m from Kansas City- it’s definitely not the South.
    Missouri as a whole has southern influence perhaps, but KC is not what I call the south. I have to defend this position to northeasterners.

  33. Hi Erica,
    I have always loved to cook (5 kids and 3 granddaughters). The way food looks on a plate does add so much to a meal. Even in a busy household with 5 kids, 3 of which were special needs adoptions, I always tried to make sure meals I made looked good. I had a large garden, so having a few extra leafy vegetables, edible pansy’s, squash flowers, radishes, etc to add as a garnish with even a Mac and cheese (homemade most of time!) meal, made the meal look great.

    I’ve worked as a Chef while in High School, a professional photographer, and other occupations along the way. I appreciate your perspective and sharing that with others. I agree 100% with your style of cooking. I will probably read more of your posts, and I will eventually have my own site with my recipes, photography, and advice from the perspective of a Grampy.

    I have a disability now that makes it difficult for me to work (I loved to work!), but had put 100% into everything I did and did not wait “till I was retired” or older to follow my dreams.

    I am also a ‘real life’ Christian.

    I pray for continued success in your work which is service to the One we love.

    Because of Him,
    Grampy Diddly

    • Grampy Diddly: That is such a great idea to garnish the food with greens that you grown. I’m afraid I’m guilty of often just setting the food on the table when I’m super hungry and not paying attention to making it look beautiful. You’ve inspired me to try harder!

      If you do start a site of your own, make sure you send me the link so I can check it out! 🙂

      So nice to hear from a fellow Christian!

      And yes – everything below Minnesota seems southern to me. 😀

      Hope you have a wonderful day!

  34. By the way, I am from Northern WI, and Kansas City, from my perspective is in the south. The south starts right below Minnesota, Wisconsin, Dakota’s, etc.

    I am sure you understand that being from Northern Minnesota!

    Grampy Diddly

  35. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and
    let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very
    happy I came across this during my search for something relating to this.

  36. Just came across your site and I will bookmark it. You are so adorable and I’m particularly blessed that you are forthright about being a Christian. The Lord bless you, your marriage, and future family.

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