Eva Longoria Shares Cooking Tips And How You Could Win $50,000 From Pillsbury - Exclusive Interview

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While most of us would recognize the stunning Eva Longoria from her iconic role as Gabrielle on the "Desperate Housewives," the actress has been busy since her time on the hit ABC show. She's earned a masters agree, written a cookbook, started a tequila brand, produced and directed multiple shows, and continues to act. The Golden Globe nominee will also soon appear on CNN's "Searching for Mexico," where she explores the incredible range of cuisine offerings the country has to offer.

Longoria told Mashed in an exclusive interview how important food is to her own family and in helping to bring everyone together, which she said is part of the reason she partnered with Pillsbury. The brand is kicking off its 51st Bake-Off Contest that has a unique twist this year — its challenging participants to submit recipes that don't use the oven. The competition runs through August 14 and the winner will receive $50,000, and can donate the same amount to a charity of their choosing.

The Texas native also shared with us her surprising go-to fast food order, revealed her secret on how to avoid hunger pains during a red carpet, and how she got her son interested in cooking at a young age.

Eva Longoria discusses why she teamed up with Pillsbury

What made you interested in partnering with Pillsbury for its Ovens Off Bake-Off Contest?

It was a natural partnership. I'm always in the kitchen. I grew up with Pillsbury, so I was excited to encourage consumers to take on their own adventures in this Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. They've been doing this for 51 years; I can't believe it. It's a beloved bake-off, but this year we did a fun, new twist and we are telling people to have the ovens stay off.   

Do you have any childhood memories associated with Pillsbury?

I grew up with Pillsbury. It's been a staple in my household forever, specifically the crescent rolls. I actually grew up with the crescent rolls and the cinnamon rolls. To kick things off for this project, I'm submitting two of them. I'm sharing two of my favorite recipes with the crescent roll. [The first one] is the crescent roll quesadilla pockets made in the air fryer, because you know the air fryer is very in style right now.

The second recipe is a cinnamon roll waffle with a cream cheese glaze, and I make them in the waffle iron. It's Santi's favorite, because he likes waffles. I've always loved the cinnamon rolls and that frosting that comes with it. To use the waffle iron, it was so easy, so fast, [and] you feel like you're a gourmet chef.   

That sounds delicious, it's making me hungry! Can you tell me a little bit more about what this competition entails?  

Home cooks are challenged to turn off the oven and whip up their favorite dish using any alternative cooking method like an air fryer or a griddle or a grill or the slow cooker. It's a new way of really celebrating how you prepare meals and you can participate by going to pillsbury.com/bakeoff and you submit your recipe.

As long as you use a Pillsbury product outside of the oven, you have a chance to win $50,000 as a cash prize, as well as $50,000 to donate to a participating charity of your choice. I was like, "Wait, I get to cook and eat and win money and donate money?" It was a win-win-win.

Why Pillsbury is changing the rules for the contest this year

Why was it important to not have baking involved in this particular contest?

Pillsbury saw an increase in demand for recipes made outside the oven, like cinnamon rolls in the air fryer or biscuits on the griddle. If you look at TikTok and the amount of recipes, the creativity is pushing the innovation forward. I love that this year's new twist was [that] the ovens stay off, because people are looking at new methods and new ways to celebrate creativity in the kitchen.

What's your favorite Pillsbury dish to makesounds like it would be the quesadilla and the cinnamon roll waffles?

Those two are my favorite, but I also love using my oven to make crescent rolls. I put cream cheese and strawberry jam, and then you fold it like a strudel. You could also use the air fryer for that one. I bet you it'll come out great. It feels like a really fancy strudel.

I use Pillsbury a lot. I love how convenient it is. Honestly, everybody was making sourdough during the pandemic. I was making croissants and they still don't come out as good as the crescent rolls.

Eva Longoria explains her cooking style and which chef she'd love to have cook her next meal

How would you say your Texas roots have influenced your own cooking style?

My number one go-to dishes are Tex-Mex — enchiladas, chalupas, tacos. In Texas, we have breakfast tacos, which was in the news lately. I've cooked that probably the most for all my friends and family, but most of my friends are like, "What is this in the morning?" I'm like, "It's a breakfast taco." Everybody's always blown away by the Texas breakfast tacos and I feel like they should be a national heritage.

Truly agree. With all the extensive traveling you've done for work, who is the one chef you'd want to cook you dinner?

So many. I just did CNN's "Searching for Mexico," and met some of the most innovative, exciting chefs coming out of the country of Mexico. They are all amazing. I did six different states and each state had these amazing chefs as ambassadors for not only the cuisine of Mexico, but the innovation and diversity. People think Mexico's just tacos and tequila, and it's not only that. It is so much more, and so many chefs.

My number one chef right now is Eduardo García, founder of Máximo Bistrot. "Lalo" is his nickname. He worked with Enrico Vera for a long time in Pujol and then went off to do his own thing. He is really about sourcing, cooking seasonally, farming sustainably. He's so impressive and his story is a beautiful story. He has a beautiful, personal story; you'll see in the show. I would take a meal from Eduardo García any day.

Her favorite fast food meal and what she eats before a red carpet

When you're in a rush, what is your go-to fast food order and at which restaurant?

Wendy's, because I worked at Wendy's my entire life — well, my entire high school life. I worked there for four years, and I love french fries in a frosty.

Ooh, with the French fries dunked into the frosty? That is delicious.

Yeah. Your French fry is your spoon.

Exactly. I did that as a kid, too.

So good.

Do you have a go-to snack or meal before a red carpet or after an event?

Not anymore. I used to eat pizza right before a red carpet because you don't eat for like seven hours. There's no food and you're like, "I'm starving," so I would load up on carbs. Now, I can't do that, because then my dress doesn't fit. Usually I have a Snickers bar or something in my purse to last me through the night.

In your cookbook, "Eva's Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family and Friends," you mentioned that family comes before acting. I have a daughter that's eight months old, so I understand that. Do you think a home-cooked meal helps bring everyone together?

Everything in my family centers around the kitchen, every conversation, every bit of laughter in the house. Every sporting event that's on TV, we always end up at the kitchen TV, which is the smallest TV in the house. It's like, "You guys know we have a theater over there with a big screen," and nope, everybody's in the kitchen, always, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Eva Longoria shares how she got her son interested in cooking

I love the way that food can bring people together, it's really incredible. Is there anything else you want to add or say about any future projects?

No, but I want to say for your baby, I started Santi cooking and getting his hands into things very early. I got him one of those stools. It's like a toddler ladder. You push it up against the counter, so they can get up and be right beside you. It's like a toddler tower, something like that.

That's a good idea. How old was he when you got that? 

He must have been 18 months. He could cut things. I would get him his fruit, it was all his plastic fruit, and he would cut his fruit while I was cutting real fruit. He loves cutting things, and there's these little kid knives that he would start using. Cracking eggs was one of the things I did early with him and I didn't care if he broke a dozen eggs.

Because he was having fun? 

Not only fun, but [teaching him], "This is what happens, and you have to take this shell." Now, he's only four, and he's an expert egg cracker because he's been doing it forever. [He can] throw flour all over the kitchen. I'm not precious about, "No, no, no. Oh, you're going to get dirty. Don't do that."

You've got to be really free with them in the kitchen, so they can have a love for food. That's where it starts. If they start cooking and preparing their own food, their palate expands, because they're like, "Oh, this is where it comes from." As opposed to you setting some broccoli down in front of them and having them eat it, he picks the broccoli at the store. Then we come home, and we wash it, we cut it, we cook it, we season it. We do it all together and he realizes, "I did that."

That's smart. Right now, I have her in a baby carrier, and she watches as I'm cooking.

Yeah, but she's absorbing that and watching that and seeing mom do that, so continue that.

To participate in the Pillsbury Ovens Off Bake-Off Contest you can visit their website. Eva Longoria's cookbook "Eva's Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family and Friends" is available on Amazon.

This interview was edited for clarity.