Behind the Scenes at Love & Lemons

Susan S. Johnson

Ever wondered how we come up with recipes? Find out below! I’m answering some of your most common questions in this behind-the-scenes peek.


Phoebe whisking sauce and Jeanine chopping cilantro at the kitchen counter


Hey, happy Tuesday! We post a ton of recipes here, but it’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on our process behind the scenes at Love & Lemons. I thought I’d take today’s post to give you a sneak peek into the Love & Lemons kitchen and answer some of the questions I often get from readers like you!

I started Love & Lemons in 2011 as a place to share seasonal recipes and cooking stories about my husband Jack and me. I did the cooking, and Jack and I would photograph recipes out of our home kitchen, then in Austin, Texas. Flash forward 11(!) years to now, and Love & Lemons has evolved quite a bit. For one, we live in Chicago, and we recently started working with an amazing photographer and food stylist who take photos for the blog and a talented video team who create the recipe videos. I’m also no longer doing all the cooking by myself. Instead, I work with Love & Lemons’ senior editor and recipe developer, Phoebe, to test and perfect each recipe.


Jeanine holding skillet with whole roasted cauliflower and Phoebe stirring pot of soup on the stove


Phoebe has been working with us since 2018, when I was in the middle of writing Love & Lemons Every Day. She started out testing recipes and doing prep for our photoshoots and now works on just about every aspect of Love & Lemons! A few fun facts about her:

  • Phoebe is originally from Wisconsin but now lives in Chicago.
  • She got into seasonal cooking after working for a summer on an organic vegetable farm.
  • Salads and veggie mains are her favorite recipes to develop.
  • But she’ll also never turn down dessert.

Reader Q&A

How do you come up with recipes?
We are always thinking seasonally, and peak-season produce is the starting point for most of our recipes. In the fall, for example, we know we’ll want to feature a few types of squash, as well as apples, Brussels sprouts, and of course pumpkin. We also try to offer recipes that we know readers will find useful at different times of year, like meal prep recipes in September or side dishes before Thanksgiving. (If you ever have a recipe request, let us know!) We get inspiration from restaurant meals too. It’s impossible for me to go to Avec, Lula Café, Kite String Cantina, or Left Coast in Chicago without wanting to experiment with a new dish!

Phoebe and I sit down every couple of months and choose a set of recipes we want to develop. From there, we make a testing schedule and do any necessary research on a dish’s background or ingredients. Finally, we start cooking!

Do you test every recipe?
Yes! Phoebe and I test together most days of the week, and sometimes we also divide and conquer on our own. Some recipes work out after just one or two tests, while others need three or more. We made this green bean casserole maybe five times the year we developed it. Neither of us ate green bean casserole at Thanksgiving that year – we’d had wayyyy too much in the weeks leading up to it! Baking recipes tend to take longer too. We ate a lot of cherry pie this summer and applesauce cake last fall!

What happens to the leftovers?
We eat them! Phoebe shares some leftovers with her boyfriend Alex, and Jack, Ollie, and I eat the rest. As you might expect, the freezer comes in very handy when we’ve had to do a lot of recipe tests. Only on very rare occasions do we have a fail so epic that it ends up getting tossed (looking at you, blender muffins of 2020).


Phoebe stirring pot on the stove and Jeanine chopping mushrooms at the counter


What’s your favorite recipe on the blog?
Jeanine: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Arugula Pesto
Phoebe: Citrus Salad with Fennel & Avocado

If you could only have 3 spices in your kitchen, which would you pick?
Jeanine: Smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander
Phoebe: Za’atar, chili powder, and cinnamon

What’s your favorite fall veggie?
Jeanine: Sweet Potato
Phoebe: Delicata squash

What about a favorite comfort food for fall?
Jeanine: Butternut Squash Soup and this Sweet Potato Salad
Phoebe: Eggplant Parmesan or this creamy squash pasta

Are you writing another cookbook?
Stay tuned!

We hope you look to Love & Lemons for everyday veggie inspiration and that you love cooking our recipes in your home. Thanks for reading!

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