For years, people in Northeast Wisconsin’s media market woke up to Amy Hanten on Green Bay’s WLUK-TV Fox 11 show “Good Day Wisconsin.” One day, when a chef canceled an appearance on the show, Hanten offered to make a family recipe for the segment. Soon she was doing regular cooking demonstrations on the show; During commercial breaks, she left the presenter’s table to chop vegetables and make other preparations for her cooking segments. She eventually got her own live cooking show, Fox 11 Living with Amy, and developed her brand, The Cooking Mom, with a website full of recipes, a blog, cooking tricks and tips, a newsletter, and more.
Hanten’s show is temporarily on hiatus during the pandemic. On St. Patrick’s Day, she began taking her demonstrations to Facebook Live, where she prepared the corned beef and cabbage she planned to cook for the show that day. Every day at 3:30 p.m., she prepares simple and accessible recipes in her own kitchen. She also demonstrates recipes over Skype for viewers of Milwaukee’s morning show WITI Fox 6, “WakeUp”, as well as segments on stations in Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities.
With a passion for making people cook, Hanten creates quick, easy and accessible recipes using common ingredients that can be prepared on a budget. “I’m not a fancy chef. I learn from cooking friends, but I remain authentic. I am a busy lady; I was raising two kids, had a full-time job, and wanted to make putting dinner on the table as easy as possible,” she says. “I have many secrets, tips and tricks.”
Many of the recipes she presents take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Some are family recipes and she’s always testing new recipes with a seasonal twist. As a huge Packers fan, she has plenty of football party dishes and fun meals that can be prepared without having to spend all day in the kitchen. One can find recipes for appetizers such as artichoke bites; slow-cooker favorites like Sloppy Joes; dinners like cone tortellini; as well as breakfast and brunch options; sandwiches; Beverages; and more.
Her tips include suggestions like cooking a beef roast and converting it into different recipes like hot beef sandwiches, burritos, or soups. She notes that many grocery stores are left with hams as social distancing prevented people from hosting big Easter dinners. “You can make this into scalloped potatoes and ham, ham and pea soup, or more,” she advises.
She adjusted her offerings during the pandemic isolation to offer more kid-friendly and budget-conscious recipes with simple ingredients. “Even though we’re stuck indoors, meals and dinners can be delicious,” she says. “I have an easy alfredo sauce recipe or spaghetti carbonara recipe that will wow your family with something that seems fancy but doesn’t last all day.”
There’s a lot of baking going on during the Safer at Home isolation, and Hanten has many dessert recipes, including her family’s favorite banana bread recipe, which requires the batter to be prepared in a blender.
Filming a daily live cooking show from her own kitchen was a learning curve. “My kitchen is properly trained. There is a lot of cooking and a lot of cleaning! A Facebook Live was accidentally shot sideways. But I haven’t burned anything yet and no kitchen fires!” She laughs.
Hanten began directing culinary vacations. Their first, last September, took a group of 35 people to Tuscany, where travelers spent time with Italian mothers in their kitchens and learned how to make pasta and bruschetta. She has planned further trips to Jamaica, Ireland and Germany.
Most of us look forward to summer gatherings in a post-pandemic world. As Hanten receives a lot of positive feedback on her Facebook Live demonstrations, she will continue to do so after the Safer at Home regulation is lifted. So keep an eye out for her summer recipes and grilling techniques.
For more information and to sign up for The Cooking Mom newsletter, visit thecookingmom.com. The Facebook Live cooking videos are shown daily at 3:30 p.m. on facebook.com/thecookingmom.