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Cooking Like a Pro with Sunny Anderson

#deliciousproject, Extended Stay America, Food Network, Recipes, Travel

With the holiday season upon us, many are faced with the same dilemma…..not enough hours in the day. Work, school functions, holiday parties, baking and shopping are leaving a lot of us tired and without energy to cook. As a single mom that has been working a lot these last few months, it has been tempting to frequently pick up take-out or dine at local restaurants. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cook more at home and I have a nice collection of recipes to choose from.

Recently, I accepted a tasty challenge from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Sunny Anderson. It became my mission to create tasty , budget-friendly meals that can be prepared in a hotel room. Intrigued, I accepted the challenge and not only did I have a blast preparing some of Sunny’s recipes, I learned that I did not have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare a tasty home-cooked meal. After teaming up with Extended Stay America, which is the largest hotel chain with kitchens in every guest room, Sunny created the “Away From Home Cooking” in-room cookbook filled with her exclusive recipes and expert tips to cook great meals wherever the road may lead. Brilliant! While I do not travel as much as I would like to, I do have a very small kitchen with limited space and was delighted to dive into this delicious project. Using less than eight ingredients and only the equipment found in every Extended Stay America hotel room, I was able to prepare some fantastic dishes in record time. Here is what I was limited to:

Cooking Utensils
Two-quart saucepan with lid
12-inch frying pan with lid
Cutting board
Plastic serving spoon
Plastic spatula
Can opener

Two plates
Two bowls
Two drinking cups
Two coffee mugs

One serrated knife
Two butter knives
Two forks
Two spoons


With lots of tasty recipes to choose from, I let my kids pick a few to share with my readers and the first one they chose is already a favorite in my household: Sunny’s Chocolate-Banana Pancakes with Strawberry-Chocolate Whipped Cream. My son Rocco says they are the best pancakes he has ever had and I must say, I agree! Perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast or even before school during the week, these pancakes will kick-start your morning in high gear and leave you satisfied until lunch. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 pint chopped strawberries
  • 1 packet instant hot chocolate
  • 4 ounces (about 3⁄4 cup) whipped topping
  • 2 cups dry buttermilk pancake mix (just add water version)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or cooking spray
  • 1 banana, sliced (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts (optional) *I used sliced almonds

1. Combine strawberries and chocolate powder in small bowl; stir to coat. Refrigerate until syrup develops, about 30 minutes. Fold in whipped topping; return to refrigerator.


2. Prepare pancake batter according to package directions. Let batter rest 5 minutes.


3. Fold in whipped topping to chocolate-strawberry mixture; return to refrigerator.


3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter, or spray generously with cooking spray, in large skillet over medium heat. Once butter melts, swirl it around pan to coat. Pour ½ cup portions of batter for each pancake allowing room for each to spread without touching. (You may have to do this in batches.) Continue with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and pancake batter.


4. Once bubbles appear on the edges of pancakes, gently top with 3 to 4 banana slices and several chocolate chips, if desired. (I omitted the chocolate chips). Let batter set then flip pancakes to cook until done, about 1 minute more.


The scent of the warm banana pancakes will make you salivate.


5. Place pancakes on a plate and top with reserved whipped topping and sprinkle with walnuts/almonds, if desired. Enjoy!


These pancakes were such a hit and so easy to make. It looks like I found a new breakfast favorite in my household.


Need a quick and healthy lunch that you can prepare in less than thirty minutes? Sunny’s Triple Burger Chili is indeed a winner. Comforting and delicious, I had no idea I could prepare such a tasty bowl of chili in so little time. Here is what you need:

  • 1 triple plain hamburger (purchased from your favorite fast food restaurant)
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) mild salsa
  • 1 can (16 ounces) black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 packet (1.25 ounces) lower sodium chili seasoning mix
  • cheese or toppings of your choice

1. Grab a burger to go from your preferred local restaurant or fast food chain. (I went with EATS! American Grill in South Tampa as they were featured on the Food Network and voted best burger in Tampa Bay)

2. Combine hamburger pieces, salsa, beans and seasoning mix in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chili thickens. You can use the bun from the burger to toast and make croutons as a topping.


3. Once the chili has cooked for about 15 minutes, pour into a bowl and enjoy!




Many of us come home after a long day and dread cooking dinner. Thanks to Sunny Anderson and Extended Stay America, a quick and delicious dinner can be prepared for your family in no time and you will feel like a rock star, even if you are beyond exhausted. After making several of Sunny’s recipes for my kids, we found a favorite that I would love to share with you…..15 Minute Chicken and Broccoli Risotto. As a girl that loves Italian cuisine, risotto is one of my favorite dishes that I enjoy preparing on Sundays. I do not make it often, as it is a delicate dish and being that I need total concentration, my kids are often arguing while I am in the kitchen and asking repeatedly, “when will dinner be ready?” This recipe blew me away with its simplicity and taste. I never thought I could make such a tasty dish in such record time. Here is what you need:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 packages (about 9 ounces each) ready-to-serve yellow rice
  • 2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 package (about 6 ounces) refrigerated fully cooked chicken breast strips, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Sliced almonds (optional)

I have never used ready-serve rice before and I was pleasantly surprised with the fantastic results. My son ate two bowls of this and told me I was the “best cooker ever.” Awwww.  Ready to see how easy this is?

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 3 minutes or until translucent.

2. Knead rice in bag. Add rice, broccoli, chicken and water to skillet. Cover; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Garnish with almonds, if desired and enjoy. (I used almonds since I had them for the pancakes).


I had such a great time recreating Sunny’s recipes that I want to share a cookbook with you.  To enter to win, simply comment on this post and tell me what recipe from Away From Home Cooking you most want to try. I will select twenty winners on December 31st. Cheers and Happy Holidays!


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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer B
    December 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

    That Chicken and Broccoli Risotto looks divine!! I want that, and Sunny’s cookbook. She is one of my favorites to watch on Food Network. 🙂

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