She's a blogger who loves to connect with her family in the kitchen. Heirloom recipes are part of her blog focusing on comfort food. Carrian Cheney, 29, of Lehi, has contributed to a first-ever, free comfort food e-cookbook with the National Pork Board. Download "Cooking For Comfort" at wschi.com/homecooking/index.html.

Carrian (pronounced Carrie Ann) is featured among some cooking notables sharing recipes in the e-cookbook. They include Michelle Bernstein, who is a James Beard award-winning chef, and Ray Lampe, a barbecue expert/TV personality, plus nine more leading food bloggers.

"It was a natural fit for me to talk about how passing on stories from family with their recipes -- to make even after they are gone," says Carrian, "is a great comfort. You find out who you are as you discover who you came from."

She loves e-books because they don't take up space. Plus, "You always have them with you on your iPad or device. It's so easy to open up the e-book in the kitchen without pulling out books and digging through recipe boxes."

Her food blog is ohsweetbasil.com. The name definitely has a back story. Carrian and her husband, Cade, ventured off on a quick weekend getaway to San Francisco where they had "the best, fresh margarita pizza with fresh basil and mozzarella."

The couple loved everything about it and decided to explore using fresh basil. So the basil did two things for the Cheneys: It hooked them on getting back into the kitchen to discover food and then helped them name a food blog!

Cade, Carrian and their two daughters, ages 3 and 7 cook together at least once a day. "I'm a big believer that everything is connected," says Carrian. "The more we spend time cooking and eating together as a family and friends, the more we start to care about others, their lives and their stories.

"When we take the time to connect, we really do find ourselves happier. You can try it yourself, prepare a meal by yourself and have the family quickly come and eat. The next day, slow down, invite the family to help by creating a favorite meal and giving everyone a job.

"And then talk. Laugh. And mostly listen. You'll find that connecting with others is an essential part of life, and the more we connect, the better we feel inside."

The Cheneys love to travel as well as do local things to get to know Utah better. "We love to head up to Deer Valley where we are all learning to ski during the winter and eat at all the amazing restaurants or go hiking and playing at the pool during the summers," says Carrian. "We love to stay fit, see movies and find fun ways to learn like museums and farms."

The mom/wife/food blogger shares a comfort food with a potato base. "Comfort food is anything that is good for the soul and not just food for the body," she says. "A recipe that helps you to settle in, get cozy, reminisce or just makes you feel at home is a good comfort food. It's whatever invokes that peaceful feeling within you."

Cheesy Ham and Potato Bacon Casserole

Serves 4-6

  • 6 red potatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups cooked ham, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped, steamed
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-by-9-inch baking pan.

Fill pot with water and heat over medium heat; add potatoes and boil until tender when pierced with a knife (about 8 minutes). Drain potatoes and set aside.

Over medium heat saute onion in butter until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Dump onion and butter into pot with potatoes. Add broccoli, ham, cream cheese. Stir to combine. Don't worry about spreading the cream cheese; it should be left in clumps.

Dump all into the baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until heated through. Top with bacon the last minute and serve.