Interview w/ cookbook author Jenny Flake of Picky Palate

So many of my dear friends are working in the food blogging world.
And I love that I get the chance to not only see their dreams of getting published come true,  but also to interview them and see their finished product come to life.
Jenny of the famous family cooking oriented food blog Picky Palate recently published her first cookbook.
I couldn't be happier for her.  How she managed to create this cookbook while pregnant is beyond me.
Jenny is a self-taught home cook and an on the go mom to 3 boys and wife to her high school sweetie. Creating original recipes and capturing food photography is Jenny's passion, and she loves sharing her journey with her readers. Picky Palate has been featured on sites such as Saveur.com, BettyCrocker.com, Finecooking.com and Shine by Yahoo. Jenny was born and raised in AZ but now lives in Southern California with her family.
What is Picky Palate blog all about?
It's a popular food blog that is geared toward parents who need meals in a flash while entertaining those children (adults too!) who have, well, picky palates!
What is The Picky Palate Cookbook about?
All-time favorites from the blog along with nearly 100 exclusive new dishes accompanied by enticing full-color photographs.
About 128 total recipes, both favorites from the blog and brand-new from Jenny's kitchen.
Recipes for your own picky palate, finicky families, and some of the best solutions for dull family meals.

Jenny was also really kind enough to giveaway 3 cookbooks!
See the end of the interview on how to enter.


Jenny, first off congrats on the cookbook.  I loved how its laid out with a binder-like book, easy to turn pages, and the contents are so well laid out with (just like the book says ‘something for everyone’) breakfast, party food ideas, home is where the chicken dinner is, gone fishin, you’ll never miss the beef, sweet tooth, and bake sale ideas! Perfect way to lay out a cookbook when you have fussy eaters in the house.  But what I loved most was the opening line of introduction: “Had no idea I’d become such a foodie!”  Amazing what you learn, grow to love, and want to share once you start a food blog.  And for you, that’s kind of where you started all this?  Was a food blog?

I wanted a place to create recipes after I stopped doing cooking competitions.  Seemed like a perfect transition for me.

What made you do a food blog way back in 2007?
My boys were toddlers, very picky eaters and I LOVED creating recipes since I was doing cooking competitions.  I had no idea what I was doing with the blog, but I didn’t care either, lol!

And what made you start doing the cooking contests?
In 2001 my husband and I moved into our first home in AZ and I realized I didn’t know how to cook anything!  I made it a goal to learn to cook over a year or so and realized in the process that I absolutely loved it.  I started creating my own recipes and decided to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2004.  When I got accepted I continued to enter cooking competitions for about 4 years.  Had so much fun.

Do you still do the cooking contests?
I do not still compete, just enjoy the memories.

Which cooking contests did you win? 
My biggest win was winner in my category of the Southern Living Cook-Off for my Coconut Macadamia Shrimp with Warm Tropical Salsa, $10,000.
Carrot cake loaf with thick cream cheese frosting p.g181
carrot cake loaf with thick cream cheese frosting pg. 181

Did most of your research for the cookbook come from your family?
You have a couple fussy eaters in your family is that right?  Now that they’ve grown are they still fussy eaters?
Yes, the research for my book was from my family and my boys were very picky eaters as toddlers.  As they’ve gotten older they are better, but certainly not perfect, lol!  It’s a process.

Did you find there was a ‘cookbook niche’ for finicky families?  I would imagine so.
Yes, I feel like so many families struggle with finicky eaters.

I love, and I know a lot of parents will love the part in your cookbook: “Ten great tips for feeding picky eaters”.   With tips like games at meal time that include “let’s see who can take more bites or how many different colors of the rainbow can we eat off our plate”.  Excellent idea.
I’m certain this idea came from your own dinner table?
Yes!  I love to incorporate some friendly competition with my boys J

Do you have a favorite recipe?  I know my favorite is the “tilapia tacos w/cilantro-cream sauce’ pg. 117.
I have so many recipes that are my favorite, but I love love love my Soft Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting on Pg 166

Which recipes were a little bit harder to develop?
I honestly didn’t have too many that were too tricky to develop.  I had to make my Homemade Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting at least a dozen times to make sure I got it just right.

Now looking back (they say hindsight is 20/20) are there any chapters you wish you included in the cookbook but didn’t?
Nope J

The nights you don’t feel like cooking, what is your favorite quick and easy meal?
Spaghetti! ….or Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough to make a quick pizza.

What made you become such a foodie?  Did you grow up in a foodie family?  Were parents good cooks?
My Grandmother was such a great cook.  She is French and was a great example to me.  I was always cooking and baking with her.

And the most asked question I got from your fans: how did you come up with the idea of the cookie in a cookie?  The infamous Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookie?
The cookie in a cookie was just one of those light bulb moments I had when I was visiting my mom and dad over Christmas Break a few years ago.  Who would have thought it would be such a sensation, lol!
oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies p.g188
Is there a second cookbook in the works?
Not sure yet about a second cookbook, would love to do a dessert book.

I see in your food blog you write a few posts about eating in and around DisneyLand.
How did this come about? 
When we moved to Southern California 4 years ago, one of my stipulations was that we get season passes so we can go all the time.  Since we went to Disney ALL the time, I figured out all of the fun places to eat and get snacks, so I decided to share my tips with my readers.  

On your food blog, is there a favorite recipe of yours? One that you go to time and time again?
I make my Oreo Stuffed ChocolateChip Cookies almost weekly, so I have to go with that one.

I always love to ask every author I interview what kind of time constraints were placed on you to write and finish this cookbook?
If I remember correctly, I had 4 months to develop the recipes.
Pan-fried baby bacon cheeseburgers with special sauce p.g103
baby bacon cheeseburgers with special sauce pg 103.

What foods do you have a hard time creating new recipes with?
Seafood is not my favorite to develop.  I love to enjoy it at a restaurant, but not so much cooking it at home.

What foods are your favorite to create recipes with?
I LOVE creating cookies.  They are my favorite by far.  I feel like the options are endless.

Favorite place to travel to just for the food?
New York City is my favorite

Any cookbook authors you’d love to hang out with?  why?
Ina Garten.  Love her style and love her home J

Tell us about the cooking segments you are doing on TV with The Cooking Channel.
I did those cooking shows “From The Kitchens Of” a couple years ago in partnership with Pillsbury.
It was so much fun.  They still play the re-runs.

Jenny if you hadn’t started the popular food blog Picky-Palate.com, what do you think you might be doing now?  Possibly something food related?
Good question, I can’t imagine doing anything else.  This is my dream job.  Maybe I’d still be doing Dental Hygiene and Pilates.  I’d probably have a tighter body, lol!

Is there a second cookbook in the works?
Not yet J
Skillet-baked mac and cheese p.g38
skillet-baked mac & cheese pg 38

Jenny thank you so much for the interview.
For a chance to win a copy of her cookbook The Picky Palate,
please leave ONE comment telling us one of your "go to"meals for your fussy eaters?
PLEASE make sure you have a valid email & name in your signature line or in the comment
Anonymous comments will not be counted.
We'll do the drawing on March 15, 2013.

To order Picky Palate click here.


  1. I have a recipe that uses Pillsbury Crescent rolls for the top and bottom layer in a 9x13 pan and in between those layers is a mixture of hamburger, spaghetti sauce and cheese. No one ever turns their nose at that!

  2. One of my go-to meals for fussy eaters is a stir-fry dish. The colors, aroma, and textures of the vegetables, saffron rice, and proteins (usually chicken or shrimp) are loved by all.


  3. my go to meal is pasta with vegetables!

    1. Pizza is always a winner here!

  4. I don't need the book - already have it and love it! Was fortunate enough to see Jenny last week in person and for those who've never met her, she's the sweetest, nicest, most glowing person. Just a total sweetheart! :) And I love her carrot cake and still need to try her yellow butter cake! When I read in her book and now here that she tested it over and over, that means that I HAVE to try it. Wonderful interview, ladies!

  5. Spaghetti is always a winner, here!


    Would LOVE this cookbook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. wonderful - i just met jenny (briefly) at a party recently. well, more i saw her and stood shyly on the sidelines while everyone devoured her. my go-to for picky eaters would be pizza. who doesn't like pizza?!?

  7. My go-to meal for fussy eaters (aka, me), is baked salmon.

  8. Spaghetti or smoothies (not together!) because I can pack in lots of extra veggies & fruits. I love that the picky kids even know what is them, but will eat/drink them anyways :-)

  9. I myself am sort of a fussy eater (vegetarian) and I have to say Mexican usually wins over everyone (and it's easy!)

  10. My picky boys love to eat breakfast foods.

  11. id have to go with mac and cheese!

  12. Tacos always win in our house

  13. My guys aren't too fussy so I'm very fortunate. But on those occasions when they are, we make homemade pizza so everyone can choose their own toppings. Thanks for the fun & informative interview!
    Lucy (capelucy@gmail.com)

  14. For some reason, eggs seem to always work for picky eaters, no matter what time of day! Love Picky Palate!!

  15. Hmmm. My go-to meals for my picky eating family are homemade mac and cheese and homemade chicken with breading. Also, tacos (served as nachos or tacos or even quesadillas!).

    I would love a copy of Jenny's cookbook!!

  16. Maya J. (maya.j.scott@gmail.com)3/4/13, 4:39 PM

    My husband is one of the pickiest eaters I've met! But, tacos and hot wings always seem to make it on the menu almost weekly.

  17. My go to meal are ground turkey tacos! healthy and my son loves them! :)

  18. Even my picky eater loves lasagna!

  19. I go with spaghetti, pasta, or pastina :)

  20. My go-to meal would definitely have to be any form of chicken nuggets- the kids never turn those down!

  21. I love Jenny, and I love this cookbook. One of my favorites on my shelf right now!

  22. My go-to meal, which we just had tonight is breakfast for dinner. Bacon, eggs, and either pancakes, waffles, crepes. We also do nachos about once a week.

  23. Great interview. Love both of you ladies!

    Luckily I don't have picky eaters, but our go-to quick meal is breakfast for dinner!

  24. My boys love tuna noodle casserole, made with frozen egg noodles and Aunt Penny's white sauce...they will gobble that up but won't touch meatloaf, or spaghetti , which most kids eat!

  25. three feathers3/5/13, 8:04 AM

    my husband was a goat in a previous life, he'll eat anything; my boys aren't really picky either, but their friends sure are, so when they sleep-over, my go-to meals are bars. i.e. taco bar or baked potato bar or pizza bar...everyone gets to build their meal with the toppings they like and want; no wasted food anymore :)

  26. Spaghetti - everyone loves that.

  27. everybody love here spaguetti, always I have to do!!
    this book sounds amazing!

  28. Jenny has a great site with tons of tasty recipes! Awesome interview Dawn.

  29. Spaghetti with meat sauce. emilywells10@gmail.com

  30. When my daughter was young she was a very fussy eater eating only one kind of sandwich and one kind of soup. Unbelievably she would eat spanakopita without fail made with spinach and feta cheese...go figure.

  31. Baked mac & cheese! Can't go wrong with the combination of pasta & a variety of cheeses! allisonjunekim@gmail.com

  32. So happy for Jenny! I've loved her blog for years now! My go-to is mac 'n cheese. Yum!!

  33. PB&J with banana and raisins is an absolute fave. All out of PB and it was the end of the world.

  34. My go to for my picky eaters is a baked potato bar. I put out a variety if cheeses, ham, steamed broccoli, diced tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc. basically I clean out the fridge and offer a large variety of toppings for baked potatoes. My picky eaters always find something they like and will even experiment with toppings. Success!


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