Four Years Ago (+ A Giveaway)

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! I loved reading about your first kitchen adventures. Some of you had me laughing (I’ve been there with the disasters) and some of your stories warmed my heart.

The winner of the cookbook giveaway is:

Cece who wrote:

And I remembered to tweet :)!/PicklePicnic/status/160090998872088576

Congratulations, Cece! To redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at! Congratulations!


Four years ago, I started this blog as a challenge to myself. I wanted to be able to do more than boil hot dogs or cook a mean scrambled egg. At the time, I moved back in with my parents after finishing my degree, and I felt that I should contribute more in the house since my parents both worked fairly late.

I wanted to cook dinner.

I remember the day before I started my blog, I went to the Winn-Dixie near my house and purchased everything necessary to make turkey meatballs that evening. I kept thinking that there was no way I’d mess this up. I mean, meatballs. How can you mess up meatballs? And thankfully, I didn’t mess up the meatballs. They were delicious.

The next day, I got a little bolder and bought everything I needed to make biscotti. That evening, those came out without causing the smoke alarms to go off. :-)

I was hooked. So, that evening I started a food blog, because I knew I could do this. I could learn how to cook.

I started watching Food Network more, and bought my first cookbook. I wanted to learn terminology in recipes. What the heck is folding anyway? Saute? Braise? So confusing. To give you an idea of how rough the beginning was, I used to cook my chicken in a layer of water, wondering why it didn’t brown. ::sigh::

At some point, my Mom noticed my efforts in trying to learn, so she gave me hands-on lessons too. I think I learned the most from my Mom. To me, she’s completely a pro. I’ll never forget the time we went to a local craft festival, where they served this amazing crawfish sauce on top of fried eggplant. She replicated it perfectly.

I want to be just like her someday.

After four years of challenging myself in the kitchen, I can safely say that I’m perfectly comfortable with trying almost any recipe. There are still some kitchen fails, but that’s what carry-out pizza is for, right?

It’s been so amazing to watch this little chunk of cyber space grow into a blog that actually comes up when you search it on Google. :-) Google knows I exist. That’s pretty darn cool.

It’s also been wonderful to become friends with so many of you. I haven’t met you in real life, but sometimes I feel like I can tell y’all anything. Not anything like my social security number, but still, I can share a lot with y’all. :-) I want to thank y’all by offering one of you a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks.

Source: Barnes and Noble

These cookbooks are my favorites. Since I’ve been blogging for four years, I figured I’d give you 4 choices. Cheesy, right? I know….

One reader will win a copy of either one of these cookbooks pictured above (your choice). If you’d like a chance to win one of these books, just leave a comment telling me about the first recipe you attempted in the kitchen. I’m not talking about heating up Stouffer’s lasagna or boiling hot dogs (although there’s nothing wrong with those things…love me some Stouffer’s). I want to hear about your first real kitchen adventure. :-)

For an additional giveaway entry, post this on your Twitter and comment back with the Twitter link: “I just entered @niftyfoodie’s 4th Blogiversary Giveaway to win a free cookbook. Enter here: 

You have until Tuesday, January, 24th at 11:59pm to comment.

Just a note: Only continental US readers can enter this giveaway.

FTC Disclosure: These prizes are provided by The Nifty Foodie.

I look forward to sharing more recipes with y’all in the upcoming year. :-) Thanks so much again for reading!


  1. Happy blogiversary!! I would definitely pick Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve heard nothing but outstanding things about that cookbook! My first real recipe was a lemon meringue pie that I made for my husband’s birthday the first year we were married. I thought I was doing everything right, but it came out like soup instead of pie. It was pretty much the best soupy pie I’ve ever tasted, but it was soup nonetheless! I redeemed myself the next year by making it the right way!

  2. amy marantino says:

    i tried to make break pudding for my mom. it was semi-successful… the second attempt was much better.

  3. My mom got me the Gold Medal Flour Alpha Bakery cookbook when I was about 8 years old. The first recipe I made from that was a Mississippi Mud Pie. It didn’t turn out that great, but I was still proud of my accomplishment.

  4. The first recipe I attempted? Oh god I am not sure when the first one I ever did was. May have been pizza dough. Happy 4 years blogging!

  5. My first kitchen adventure? I really have no idea. I didn’t ‘Really’ start cooking until I moved in with my now-husband. It was a lot of casseroles at first. Then, I started to branch out a bit!

  6. I tweeted about the giveaway

  7. Happy 4th Blogiversary!! The first recipe that I attempted in the kitchen was Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roasted Turkey for our annual Friends-giving. I wanted to make the turkey from scratch instead of buying one of those premade ones. Let me tell you that I was scared $hitless about touching that turkey. I screamed and couldn’t bring myself to take the turkey guts out of it’s neck and stomach. It creeped me out, and I hated the texture of it all. My husband made me slap the turkey around to snap me out of my crazy talk, and helped me realized that the turkey was safe to touch and easy to manuever. Oh well, I have made that turkey at least 7 more times, too!

  8. I think my first kitchen adventure was in college making chicken parmesan for Valentine’s Day for some friends. I felt so grown up. My most memorable disaster, though, was making a creme anglaise in my mom’s kitchen one summer, and I put too much hot liquid in the blender and the creme anglaise ended up EVERYWHERE. My mom was not pleased, to say the least!

  9. I’m not entering but just wanted to say congrats on 4yrs!!!! so awesome :) I can’t believe we’ve been blogging so long now….

  10. I remember making chicken fried steak for my boy friend (now husband) in college. It was a huge mess. I still have yet to perfect making gravy.

  11. Congratulations! What an accomplishment! Your blog and cooking skill are fabulous.

    The first recipe I ever tackled on my own were corn fritters from the New Basics Cookbook. I had no idea what I was doing. :) Now I cook holiday meals myself. I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I am trying to learn how to bake now, which is surprisingly intimidating to me. I would love the Baking Illustrated book.

    Congrats again!

  12. My very first recipe was chocolate chip cookies from my girl scout cookbook that I made when I was seven! That had me hooked!

  13. Great giveaway! I think I was about 9 and it was my moms recipe for banana bread. I still use that recipe today. :)

  14. Tweet tweet!

  15. I remember the first time I tried to make Sherried Potatoes Au Gratin. My mother made this dish every holiday & it was my favorite. I read her recipe & didn’t know what parboil meant, so I just skipped that step. As for the white sauce, let’s just say that as a kid I didn’t have the patience to wait for much thickening. The end result was a hot casserole with raw potatoes and separated sauce. NOT a success, but my mother taught me how to make it the right way the next day, and I’ve made it well (and loved cooking) ever since.

  16. I’m pretty sure my first cooking attempt was some sort of cake. Starting around age 8, I was always trying to bake overly complicated things (with sometimes disastrous results!) :)

  17. My first kitchen experience was Blueberry Beignets. I know, so much for trying something easy. I was in 7th grade and had just started watching Food Network. They were a disaster, needless to say, but thankfully I didn’t give up in the kitchen!

  18. Jenna bing says:

    I started young with the Betty crocker boys and girls cookbook. I made the rocket salad that had half a banana vertical in a pineapple slice with a cherry. Fancy food, I thought. But it got me to be the cook I am now.

  19. Happy blogging anniversary! The first recipe I can remember making was chocolate chip cookies. The index card is still taped up on my mom’s cupboard. This reminds me, I need to remember to write it down and add it to my own collection!

  20. Rachael Macry says:

    oh gosh my mouth is watering already just thinking about Naw’lins cooking! So now you know which book I’d pick. :)

    um please don’t hate me but I was a very precocious cook; I made my first peach pie using The Joy Of Cooking when I was 9. Even the crust was scratch. Which, now, impresses me no end! I learned to roll ‘up’ to maintain air in the dough.. Anyway it was a messy, all day long pie making adventure that I still remember clearly. I still refer to The Joy of Cooking, I have several editions including 2 that my grandmother used back in the 40’s and 50’s. I love seeing her notes in them. I am a cookbook lover, for sure.

  21. Congratulations on four years!!

    I remember trying to make what I thought was an easy (Rachel Ray back in the day) recipe for cornbread stuffing using store-bought corn muffins. Except, I accidently bought lemon muffins… you can imagine how that stuffing came out! I still to this day have never made cornbread stuffing again!

  22. To impress my boyfriend’s family our first Thanksgiving together, I attempted some kind of shortbread…it was some kind of seasonal flavored shortbread, I can’t even remember what flavor now! It tasted okay, but it made about six tinnnnnyyy pieces…not so impressive!

  23. Toll House Cookies, age 6

  24. Happy 4th Anniversary!
    The first recipe I attempted (that wasn’t from a box mix) was meatloaf. I was still in high school and it was my dad’s favorite meal.

  25. I wouldn’t know which cookbook to pick.
    I honestly cannot remember the first real thing I cooked. I do remember when I had my first apartment in college I made lasagna and it turned out really well. Maybe that is what hooked me because I have loved to cook ever since.

  26. The first dish I ever cooked from scratch was meat lasagna for my boyfriend, and to my surprise it turned out great!

  27. As a newlywed, I’d never tried to make anything beyond Poptarts. So the first dish I tried out was a Chicken Marsala by Cooks Illustrated (naturally). I dredged. I flipped. I sauteed. The End.

    …Well, not quite. I also melted the damn spatula in the pan. And cried. A lot. (Boo!)

  28. Happy blogiversary!!!

    The very first time I tried to cook something from a cookbook (and not just a family recipe with lots of family supervision), I was in college. I had recently purchased “Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs” (shocker, I know) and I decided that I was going to make the orange chicken from the restaurant at EPCOT’s China. My kitchen became a very honey-coated, orange-scented, sticky mess, but the few pieces that actually made it through the whole process (there were several casualties) were delicious. Cooking has always been a very rewarding experience for me ever since.

  29. Gaye Mathusek says:

    My boyfriend (soon to be fiance) came to visit my Mom for the first time. Mom was so excited because she had a gorgeous elk steak in the fridge. She went out for the evening and left it for me to cook. So I bravely pulled out a skillet, plopped in the elk meat, added an inch of water and sat to watch it boil. True love! He ate it!

  30. Man! I honestly cannot remember my very first. BUT… the first recipe to make me feel legit? Tiramisu!

  31. Probably the first recipe I ever tried was chocolate chip cookies (from the Nestles morsels bag), with my mom as a small child.

  32. I think the first thing I tried making was my mom’s chili. It’s so yummy and comforting.

  33. I am pretty sure my first recipe was a honey cake. I remember that it called for luke warm coffee, and I did not know how to brew it. I must have been about 12.

  34. Happy blogiversary!!!

    My first unassisted cooking adventure was in college. I was a sophomore with a half-sized range/oven. It had only 2 super tiny eyes and I’d only used gas burners previously. My mom makes this noodle casserole that I loved and I decided to try it myself. It involves making a half-bag of egg noodles first…not sure what I was thinking but I dumped the entire bag in this ancient tiny sauce pot I had (because it was the only one that fit on the eye). You can imagine how that turned out…pretty sure I settled for a frozen pizza that night :)

  35. Amy, happy blogiversary! You’ve got a great thing going here :-) I hope I win the giveaway because I’d love to have a copy of Baking Illustrated. I’ve wanted that book for quite some time but have never actually gotten my hands on a copy.

    I now love to bake, but started as a cook. I don’t remember my first recipe because I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen. However, the first thing I remember making was chicken burritos in college. They came out okay, if not completely huge because I had no idea for measurement with meat. I still laugh a bit when I think about it.

  36. I just tweeted about it, too. Happy blogiversary!

  37. Blogging is so fun. Congrats on 4 years! My first adventure in the kitchen, to the best of my recollection, was a lettuce stuffed hardboiled egg (served with texas pete dipping sauce) that my brother and I attempted when we were pretty young!

  38. Lindsey d. says:

    I can’t really remember my first recipe, but I’m definitely still learning.
    I recently made my second roast chicken and it was beautiful! Right until I started trying to carve it, that is… A couple of videos from the internet later and I managed to get all the various parts apart without too much trauma, to me or the bird. I still have lots to learn and would love love love John Besh’s My New Orleans cookbook.

  39. Lindsey d. says:

    Oh, I tweeted the contest too! Woot, two chances to win!

  40. Happy 4th Blogiversary!

    I can’t remember exactly what the first recipe I ever attempted was but I definitely remember cooking with my mom and grandmother when I was a kid.

  41. Anne Riordan says:

    My husband and I lived in an old Midtown neighborhood in Memphis. The 2 guys who lived down the block finally admitted to me that they were a couple. I was such a baby, an innocent. Richard was a fantastic cook and decided one night to teach me something to cook. A can of salmon was the only thing in the pantry so salmon coquettes was it. I was so proud of my accomplishment. When I told my husband ,Steve, he wasted no time picking up the phone and calling for a pizza. I’m a pretty good cook now and he doesn’t even know it. I divorced him in 1980.

  42. 4 years – you are such a rockstar! Congrats on that!

    I don’t know that I remember my first kitchen experience: I joined my mom at such an early age. However, I really started to “get it” when I moved away to college and realized that I woudn’t have her looking over my shoulder or taste testing things along the way. At first, my favorite things to make were turkey chili and various pastas; simple yet delicious!

  43. The first thing I can remember cooking was a cake that my best friend and I baked when we were really young. Maybe 8 or 10? Anyway, we started with a boxed mix and then added in all sorts of things that we felt it needed. I do recall mix-ins involved cinnamon, cocoa powder, and sprinkles. It ended up being inedible, but it was really fun making it!

    Congrats on your blogiversary!

  44. I can’t even remember. The first real recipe I clearly remember making was for Tortilla Espanola. I had to do a cooking demonstration in Spanish class in high school. I was assigned a recipe from spain and made that. I really enjoyed it and my Dad requested it once a week for months.

  45. I think it was a cake, directed instructions from my mom, I think that’s where I got my love for sweets =]

  46. Happy 4th blogiversary, Amy! The first thing I remember making all by myself was something called a “Spring Bonnet Cake”. I was 12 and wanted desperately to enter something in the County Youth Fair. I tweaked the recipe to cut down the fat + sodium, since that was a requirement for the American Heart Association’s “Happy Heart Bake-Off” category… to my surprise, it ended up taking first place! {I’ve been in love with baking ever since!} ❤

Speak Your Mind