Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa Heart Cookies

Who says that hearts are just for Valentine’s Day? When turned upside down, a heart can also be a Santa face. While I’m sure there is no shortage of Santa cookie cutters this time of year, hearts are always in season—you may even have a heart in your collection already. This is a cute and creative way to transform plain old sugar cookies into sweet, smiling versions of the jolly old elf we all know and love.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes with Chorizo

Everybody already knows that you can’t go wrong with anything that is potato. Put two favorite potato side dishes like potato skins and mashed potatoes together and it’s just double amazing. Topped with crispy chorizo and chopped chives, these mini twice baked potatoes are a pass around snack that no one will want to pass up.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Polenta Triangles with Brown Butter Mushrooms, Sage & Goat Cheese

I love polenta. It’s simple peasant food and it’s very versatile. It can be dressed up or dressed down, slopped onto a plate, or chilled and cut into various shapes for a pretty presentation. One of my favorite ways to enjoy polenta is grilled. It’s an easy way to incorporate flavor as the char and smokiness pair naturally well with cornmeal. I planned on grilling these but ended up sprinkling the tops with grated parmigiano reggiano and hitting them with a flame from above, broiling them instead. Which, BTW, loosely translates to, “It was too cold outside to grill.” Grill them if you please, but the golden, crispy, cheese crust that results from broiling is a pretty delicious alternative.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pop Rocks Truffles

Though these white chocolate truffles sparkle like gems, they act more like firecrackers. One bite into the smooth, delicate white chocolate ganache and you are quickly surprised with the familiar snap, crackle, and pop of Pop Rocks candy. Like bubbles of champagne, this sweet indulgence is fit for a celebration, which works perfectly because it just so happens to be my birthday this weekend.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Italian Stuffed Cherry Peppers

These spicy stuffed cherry peppers are a revisit from one of the first posts I ever wrote for my blog Cook’s Book. They and all of the things they are composed of—provolone, spicy sopressata, garlic—are truly among my absolute favorite things. Inspired by an Italian deli counter staple I have enjoyed for ages, to me they are a perfect food, which is why I believe they deserve another chance in the spotlight.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whiskey Caramel Popcorn

Drunken Cracker Jacks. That is the best way to describe this mixture of spiked caramel coated popcorn and peanuts. It’s like the sailor on the Cracker Jack box had a little too much to drink and the prize is that he was drinking whiskey.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crispy Fried Pierogi

If there was ever a way to make pierogi better, this is it. Pieorgi, half moon-shaped potato dumplings, are a perfect comfort food; with a little browned butter sauce and a little sour cream on top, you’re set with a meal that tastes like it’s straight out of somebody’s grandmother’s kitchen. Panko breading and deep-frying add even more “comfort” to the traditional recipe, transforming the dumplings into crispy hand pies that are great for snacking and sharing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fava Bean Bruschetta

I’ve been on the lookout for fava beans just to make this bruschetta recipe, so when I finally spotted the massive pods at the store I scooped them up as fast as I could.  I had a vision of bright healthy green beans piled on a crostini and simply no other bean would do. Favas deliver an idyllic blend of nutty taste, buttery texture, and beautiful lime green color that requires very little doctoring. But favas are not the kind of bean you can just pop out of the pod and into your mouth; some work is required to get to the prize inside.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Apple Cider Beignets

Fall is officially upon us, which means that it’s all pumpkin everything from here until the last turkey is carved. Yes, there will be plenty of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin beers, and pumpkin whoopie pies to get excited about, but let’s not forget about everyone’s other favorite fall food—apples! While many can’t wait to get their hands on the first pumpkin latte of the season, I look forward to the sweet flavor and mulled spice aroma of warm apple cider.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sriracha-Lime Sweet Potato Chips

For those who love spicy, sriracha is an amazing and limitless condiment. The Thai red chili and garlic sauce has an addictive quality to it, starting off sweet then quickly sneaking up on you with its signature spice. It’s great on everything from eggs, to noodles, to fish and meat. It can be used in a marinade, added to a broth, whisked into a dressing, or mixed with mayonnaise for a delicious spread. Just like any other hot sauce, the possibilities are endless; but with a following of dedicated fans, sriracha has taken on a life all its own.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eggplant Chickpea Meatballs with Tangy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

A so-called meatball should probably have some meat in it, but I’d say eggplant is like the meat of the vegetable world. Eggplant is versatile, hearty and substantial—it’s meaty. It’s one of the only vegetables that can stand alone as an entire meal for non-vegetarians like me. Grilled, fried, layered in eggplant parmesan, rolled up neatly for eggplant rollatini, or presented in the wonderfully dippable ways of babaganoush and caponata, aubergine is the star of so many of my favorite dishes and snacks. And I’ve just added these eggplant chickpea meatballs to the list.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tomato and Corn Grilled Flatbread

Flatbread is pretty much another way of saying thin crust pizza. There’s traditional flatbread like pita and Indian naan, and then there is the flatbread that many of the restaurants are serving these days, which is dough that’s (usually) baked with different toppings. Now what would you call that? It looks like pizza, it’s made like pizza, it even kind of tastes like pizza. Well, apparently it’s flatbread. The main difference that I can justify is that one is a meal and the other is smaller and thought of as more of an appetizer.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Balsamic Grilled Figs

There’s this funny thing that happens whenever people find out that I went to culinary school or that I like to cook; they always ask, “What’s your specialty?” and I never have a straight answer to give. I think about that answer often because I really do feel stupid when I can’t come up with something better than a rambling of one or two cuisines and some random dishes. Really, I just like to cook. Honest. I’ll cook anything.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Welcome to The Picky Stuff. I don’t mean picky as in choosy, I’m talking about the fun little snacks that everyone loves to pick on. From chips and dips to sliders and miniature meals stacked on skewers and toothpicks, this blog is dedicated to all of the bite-sized samples of deliciousness that keep us coming back for seconds and thirds. Whether you call them hors d’oeuvres, meze, tapas, cicchetti, amuse bouche, or cocktail party snacks, it’s all picky stuff to me.

I’m a cook with formal training from the Culinary Institute of America. I love to write and share my recipes, but most of all I like to have fun in the kitchen—and what could be more fun than picky stuff? Creating big flavors and petite presentations make it exciting to both eat and prepare. If you ask me, the picky stuff is the best part of a meal, if not an entire awesome picky meal in itself. 

If it’s perfect for picking, you’ll find it here. Consider it our virtual cocktail party. You bring the cocktails and I’ll bring the food.



For more, non-picky recipes, please visit my blog Cook’s Book