When Kalyn Denny was a student at Bountiful High School, she won the title of “Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow.”
Today, there’s no doubt, she was the right person for the award.
The 63-year-old former public school teacher has helped hundreds of thousands of cooks through her popular food blog, Kalyn’s Kitchen. The blog, which gets 50,000 to 60,000 hits every day, offers gourmet recipes that fit the South Beach Diet. Denny, who lives and writes from her home office in Salt Lake City, is modest about the success.
“I was lucky to pick the niche I picked,” she said during a recent interview. “I believed in it.”
It’s personal • In 2004, Denny lost more than 40 pounds following the South Beach eating plan, which emphasizes lean proteins and “good carbs” such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. Denny believed in the diet so much that she began writing down favorite recipes and sharing them with her family and friends. Eventually, she became overwhelmed by requests, and her brother suggested that she start a blog where she would digitally stockpile all of her recipes.
At the time — 2005 — Denny didn’t really know what a blog was.
She soon learned and began sharing recipes several times a day. Denny became so prolific that in 2006 BlogHer, a popular blogging network, hired her to be a writer. Later that year, a writer at Women’s World magazine mentioned her blog, and Denny started getting 2,000 hits a day.
“I was amazed,” she said.
Her exposure grew and in 2009, she retired from education so she could devote herself to the blog.
“You’re not retired,” her friend Bonnie Welch told her recently. “You just have a new job.” For the record, Murray has lost 30 pounds following the diet and Denny’s recipes.
Financial success • While there are thousands of food bloggers on the Web, Denny is one of the few who actually makes a living from her blog. While she wouldn’t disclose her annual salary, she did say it’s more than she made after 30 years as a teacher in the Davis School District; and it’s more than she made serving as president of the Davis Education Association or as a board member of the Utah Education Association and the National Education Association.
“I’m supposed to be retired, but I’m as busy as I ever was,” Denny said. In addition to Kalyn’s Kitchen (kalynskitchen.com), Denny recently started a second blog, Slow Cooker From Scratch (slowcookerfromscratch.com).
One of the reasons Kalyn’s Kitchen has become so popular is that the super-organized Denny keeps her recipes relatively easy, takes frequent and high-quality photographs, and her site is searched easily, says Lydia Walshin, who writes the The Perfect Pantry and Soup Chick blog from Rhode Island.
Plus, Walshin said, the recipes “will never say to you that this is diet food.”
Welch agreed. “The food [Denny] makes is so healthy, and it’s gourmet cooking.”
Despite being an advocate for a low-carb diet, Denny admits to cheating once in awhile. “I have to have popcorn when I go to the movies,” she said.
And for Christmas, Denny gives each of her 39 nieces and nephews a gift certificate to Hires Big H Drive-in, with one condition: They must take Denny with them so she can enjoy her favorite indulgence — french fries.
Fortunately, a few of them forget to redeem their gifts.
Shredded chicken salad with olives, celery, and onions
2 to 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded into bite-sized pieces*
1 cup diced celery, about 3 stalks
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup large green olives with pimento, sliced into crosswise slices
1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
1⁄3 cup light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons green olive brine (liquid from the jar)
2 teaspoon fresh or frozen lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a medium-sized bowl, combine chicken pieces, diced celery and sliced green onions.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the regular and light mayonnaise, olive brine, lemon juice, mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper.
Stir in enough dressing to moisten the chicken, celery and onions. You may not need all the dressing.
Gently fold in green olives, mixing just enough to distribute them among the other ingredients. Serve immediately or chill slightly.
This will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
* To cook chicken, trim all fat and tendons from two chicken breasts. Put them in a small pan with enough water to cover. Bring to a low simmer and cook about 15 minutes, or until chicken feels firm to the touch. Let chicken cool in the water, then drain. Use your fingers to shred
Servings • 6
Source: Kalyn Denny
Herbed black bean, rice and cilantro salad
4 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups Uncle Ben’s Converted rice or basmati rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well (or 2 cups cooked beans)
2 red peppers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 green pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup, or more, finely chopped cilantro
1⁄3 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Spike seasoning
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
In heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid, bring chicken stock and lemon juice to a boil, stir in rice, bring back to a boil, then cover and cook on low heat for 25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. (Don’t lift the lid). When there is no stock remaining in the bottom of the pan, stir the rice, turn off heat and let rice sit about 10 minutes. Remove lid and let rice come to room temperature before proceeding with recipe. (It can be cooled in refrigerator if you’re in a hurry.)
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cooled rice, beans, peppers, green onions and cilatnro. Add dressing and toss to combine. Chill 1-2 hours before serving.
Servings • 8 to 10
Source: Kayln Denny