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stick it

Recipe: caprese sticks

There is a slight dilemma when the weather fines up around here. On the one hand, I want to invite friends up to our place and feed them, because it’s absolutely glorious in the mountains come summertime. On the other hand, I don’t feel like digging into elaborate cooking projects because it’s hot and because I’d much rather spend my hours outside in that glorious mountain summer. A couple of weeks ago I had a small wine and cheese party and planned a few appetizers to go along with the wines and cheeses. As if someone somewhere had read my mind, I received Matt Armendariz’s new book On a Stick! in the post just days before the party.


oh the possibilities



Jeremy rarely if ever takes interest in the cookbooks I receive, but we both spent an hour flipping through Matt’s book together because it is so damn creative and beautiful and cute and fun – just like Matt. Sometimes when I get books for reviewing I feel as if it’s a chore to find a recipe that I really want to make. I’m not the type of person who likes to be told what to cook and when to cook/shoot/post it. Completely different feeling with Matt’s book – I couldn’t wait to make more than half of the 80+ savory and sweet recipes. They’re simple and clever and so appetizing.

these are the fanciest toothpicks i own

sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, pearl mozzarella



Slap these elegant babies together in mere minutes. Seriously. These are especially perfect in summer when you can get your hot little hands on some fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. I mean, if you can stab a tomato with a toothpick, you’ve got the skills necessary to produce this lovely appetizer.

pierce the tomato and basil

top it off with a mozzarella pearl



It’s colorful, fresh, and the flavors dance about in your mouth – mellow, tangy, spicy, tart and sweet. My friends loved them, as did I, as did Jeremy, as did my parents. My mother even said, “I’m going to do this at my next cocktail party!” Leave it to Matt to impress my mom! There’s something in the book for everyone. Kebab-type skewers, fruit skewers, corn dogs (I’m so doing these next), deep fried everything (candy bars, pickles, mac and cheese – holy moly!), doughnut holes, Asian appetizers, lollies, chocolate-covered cheesecake, sangria pops. The recipes are accessible – nothing insanely complicated and they look like fun. I don’t know how to emphasize that enough. Matt is such a sweet, witty, and gifted artist. It really comes through in his book and takes the chore out of cooking for me. And isn’t that what cooking should be? Fun? Thanks for bringing me back to fun, Matt.

drizzle some olive oil

serve to guests before you eat them all yourself!



Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of On a Stick! from Quirk Books.

Caprese Sticks
[print recipe]
from On a Stick! by Matt Armendariz

12 cocktail picks
12 basil leaves
12 cherry tomatoes
12 small fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in half
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Pierce a basil leaf, cherry tomato, sun-dried tomato half, and a mozzarella ball with a toothpick (arrange in whatever order floats your little boat). Repeat until you have 12 Caprese sticks. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over the Caprese sticks. Serves 4.

31 nibbles at “stick it”

  1. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says:

    I just got my copy of Matt’s book last week and after meeting him at the food styling & photography workshop he and Adam hosted a month or two ago..the book is even more special to me.

    And i love caprese salads…great choice for this post :)

  2. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Anything Matt does is bound to be genius–this book sounds like so much fun! I’ll be making those caprese thingys a lot this summer, I can tell!

  3. Snippets of Thyme says:

    Fabulous photo! I could stare at this for a long while!! Love how you caught the oil. Just beautiful!

  4. Ruby says:

    I am a firm believer that some of the best meals come on sticks, a la Cher in the film Mermaids. Simple and delicious – this lets the ingredients speak for themselves. And that penultimate photo is probably the best food photo I’ve ever seen – stunning!

  5. Tricia says:

    I love fun food and these definitely are that. I’ll have to check out this cookbook…sangria pops sound so good.

  6. Michelle says:

    These look wonderful. Matt is so much fun, great book idea.

  7. cory says:

    i love these! i have been making a similar variation for awhile, but i had never thought to add in the sundried tomato – looks gorgeous.

  8. Nicole says:

    I just received my copy last Thursday and made the Fudge Pops this weekend. I brought the book into work on Friday because I thought it was so darn clever and would be a great idea for one of our themed potlucks. Nearly every person in the office wrote down the name of the book and said they are going to order a copy. Your Caprese sticks look so good I want to make them tonight.

  9. Susan @ SGCC says:

    I’ve got hundreds of various kinds of cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine, so I definitely see these caprese sticks in my future. So cute!

    Love the photo with the oil pour! So perfect! Why, oh why do mine never look like that?!?!

  10. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I make these a lot when I cater.

    People absolutely love them!

  11. Mike says:

    Your photography is incredible! Not only is this appetizer amazing, but each photo makes it that much better. What editing software do you use… and offering any lessons? haha

  12. Life Tastes Like Food says:

    Stunning photos!!! And everything about that recipe looks incredible!! Never thought about using sun-dried tomatoes with a caprese dish–must try. Great job!! :)

  13. Helen in CA says:

    And now to wait the loooooooooog wait for tomatos (I’m in Northern Calif and don’t get homegrown tomatos until August, if I’m lucky)

  14. Kristen Hess says:

    These look so good! What a fun and simple Summer appetizer! Must try!

  15. Margie says:

    Those little toothpicks are fancy-schmancy! The recipe is simple and seems perfect for accompanying a sandwich or a chilled summer soup, too.

  16. Manisha says:

    I’m like your mother. (I may have said that before somewhere!) This is what I am going to do for my next party, oh yes! I couldn’t stop eating them!

  17. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    I know Matt’s pics are good but seriously I bet there isn’t a better picture than yours in his book. The pouring olive oil frozen in mid air is fantastic. We all need reminding about simple food now and again and these bit the bill so well.

  18. yumyumyummers says:

    caprese salad is definitely one of my faves. love the addition of the sundried tomatoes here.
    and besides, who can resist food on a stick? :)

  19. lisa says:

    I love this appetizer, not because it is pretty and teasty but one can eat it without dirty the fingers. As Marnisha said that I definitely will have it in my next wine and dine party.

  20. lisa green says:

    it sounds good my basil is begining to grow now. is there anyway to get a free copy of the book in tennessee. i would love to have one but on a very limited bugit

  21. Carla says:

    Those look so yummy and fun. I need that book!!

  22. Mrs Ergül says:

    Indeed a great recipe for summer time! How do you know the photo of the drizzling olive oil, Jen? I tried to do so with the camera on a tripod but its so hard to get the angle and timing and focus right. How do you do it??

  23. Mark says:

    Thank you for this easy, colorful and tasty recipe! I was invited by my girlfriend for dinner at her house for the first time. I offered to bring this appetizer. We had a great time making and eating these things. Be well…

  24. Jill says:

    yummy and beautiful. Love how you caught the olive oil, mid-stream! j

  25. jenyu says:

    Agreed with all of you on how awesome Matt is and how freaking cool his book is!! I *love* that book :)

    cory – the sundried tomato really adds to the whole ensemble. I think it’s my favorite part!

    Susan – beware, you may just find me in your yard picking all of those cherry tomatoes and popping them into my mouth!! :)

    Mike – I edit in Lightroom and Photoshop – depending on the shoot. I do offer lessons. If you’re local, drop a line!

    Manisha – ;)

    Mrs Ergül – I use a tripod, get everything set up (light, props, etc.) and then pour the oil and shoot! :) It does take some practice and it doesn’t always work out.

    Mark – sweet!!

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