Don't miss our latest installment of Ladies Who Laptop

Hey ladies, it’s Anna from Fash Boulevard here with another edition of our Ladies Who Laptop interview series. This month’s spotlight is extra special. Not only is she a successful actress, author, TV host, and a new mommy, but this “Real Girl” also happens to be one of the nicest people on the planet. And she’s not too shabby in the kitchen. Originally from Houston, Texas, Haylie Duff rose to fame with her breakout roles in Napoleon Dynamite and Material Girls, but these days, her sights are set firmly on all things tasty. It all started with a little blog called “The Real Girl’s Kitchen” which soon spawned a book, two Cooking Channel shows, and all the ingredients for a seriously yummy cooking empire. Today, Haylie dishes about family, food, and that time she blew up a microwave. Let’s dive in.

Haylie Duff on her love for cooking

Let’s start from the beginning. What inspired you to branch off from acting and launch The Real Girl’s Kitchen blog?

I grew up surrounded by good food and cooking. Some of my earliest memories are in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother. I wasn’t a big cook until a little later in life. As soon as I got comfortable making some simple recipes I just decided it would be fun to share them and started the blog. I can’t believe that almost five years later, here we are…

Where did your love for food come from?

I think my love for food really started with my family. I have always loved family dinners and dinner parties. I love to bring together my loved ones and share a good meal with them.

The Real Girl's Kitchen by Haylie Duff

What was the best and worst part about writing your first cookbook, “The Real Girl’s Kitchen?”

Writing The Real Girl’s Kitchen cookbook was such a wonderful adventure. It really happened at the perfect time in my life. I moved to Venice, CA to write the book and truly loved putting together the recipes. My goal was for the reader to feel like we were friends by the time they finished, and I think that warmth comes across. Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone say that they loved a certain story or recipe from my book.

How much work goes into creating new and exciting recipes?

Some recipes are easier than others, and sometimes the ones that I think are going to be easy take me by total surprise! The blue tortilla disaster of July 2016 comes to mind!! Ha, I had to just skip it all together. I find a lot of beauty in kitchen mistakes though, and I think that’s why I feel so inspired by what I do. There is always a way to fix everything!

Haylie Duff on her cooking career

What are your cooking inspirations?

I’m definitely inspired by fresh ingredients I find at the farmer’s market! I love using ingredients that are healthy and in-season. I also love taking classic recipes and putting a fun spin on them. I recently did a Skillet Cordon Bleu, skipping all the fancy rolling, and it is one of my favorite recipes…

Do you have any recipe fails?

Definitely! Before I got into cooking I actually blew up three microwaves, once trying to hard-boil an egg and didn’t add water…another time I put in metal…and a third time trying to make Easy Mac without adding water! Now I barely even use a microwave.

See Anna James' interview with Haylie Duff on her love for cooking and how she has made it a part of her life

What’s your favorite recipe from The Real Girl’s Kitchen cookbook?

Oh wow, that is hard! They are all so yummy and have some sort of personal story tied to them. The stuffed mushrooms are really delicious and a great go-to appetizer if you’re having a party. I also love the salads, they are super fresh and filling.

Last year, you and your sister, Hilary, stood up against mom shaming. Since having your daughter, how has mom shaming affected you and how do you deal with the army of opinions?

I’ve just learned that I need to listen to my gut and know that not everyone is going to agree with my parenting decisions. But at the ends of the day, I know what’s best for my daughter. I try to focus on kindness, and try to not be judgmental. Somehow hoping karma brings that back around my way too!

Haylie Duff on how she got her start with a lifestyle career in cooking

What can we expect from your new show, Haylie’s America?

I am really excited about this show and love that I get to bring viewers along to some of my favorite cities. We had a lot of fun shooting this series and I think people will really be able to feel that we genuinely enjoyed the entire process of creating the show. You can expect a lot of fun and delicious food!

What was the best part of filming your new series?

I really love how real and gritty it is. We went with the flow while shooting, whether it means shooting during a thunderstorm in New Orleans or entering a pie-making contest because someone made me even though I am NOT a baker! We just had so much fun while filming. I think viewers are really going to see that.

Anna James chats with Haylie Duff about her cooking career

Congrats on becoming a new mommy! How has motherhood changed your life?

Oh man…it’s changed my life in every way! I love being Ryan’s mom so much and it’s changed my life so much for the better. I didn’t think I could love someone so much!

As a successful entrepreneur that wears so many hats, how do you find a healthy and productive balance? 

Sometimes I don’t do a great job of keeping it all balanced to be honest…and some days are busier than others! I try to make healthy food choices so I have the energy to tackle everything the day brings my way and I make sure to have quality family time as often as possible, without the distraction of cellphones or computers. Park afternoons, or a family swim—those types of moments seem to balance everything out for me.

Haylie Duff on her love for cooking

What has been one of the biggest “pinch me” moments in your career?

Hmmm, that’s tough… One that stands out is definitely when Real Girl’s Kitchen first premiered on The Cooking Channel. When I started the Real Girl’s Kitchen blog, I had no clue it would turn in to what it has. A more recent moment would have been filming the Los Angeles episode of Haylie’s America and cooking in my kitchen with Ryan. To have my daughter on the show after I had been pregnant with her all last season was a pretty surreal moment too!

Dessert via Haylie Duff and a look into her life

Favorite dessert? 

I’m actually not a big sweets person! But when I do go for a dessert, I like to get real down and dirty with it! I recently posted an AMAZING open-faced ice-cream s’mores sandwich it’s pretty delish.

What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?

I was recently invited to a special dinner, prepared by my friend, chef Deuki Hong while he was here in LA. It was a magnificent home right under the Hollywood sign with a group of kind and talented people. The food was phenomenal (duh!), but the coolest part was that no one knew each other before the dinner…by the end, we left feeling like best friends. Magic.

Haylie Duff and Anna James talk careers, food, and life

What advice would you give young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own food blog?

I would say to go for it! Just start it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, you never know what could happen!

Thanks so much, Haylie, for these words of advice. Be sure to check out the Real Girl’s Kitchen here and you can find Haylie on Instagram here. Also be sure to check out Haylie’s America on Cooking Channel, Thursdays at 10pm ET.

Who would you like to see me interview for my next Ladies Who Laptop?

Let me know in the comments below!

Anna James
Fash Boulevard

Photos: Haylie Duff/Real Girl’s Kitchen