Jalapeno Corn Dip

I’ve added a new party dip to my repertoire – courtesy of the party-loving Catton family. Let me know what you think!

Lynd’s Jalapeno Corn Dip

  • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) (I would suggest using a little less than 2 sticks, otherwise it can pool at the top of the dip)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 16-oz. can shoepeg white corn (drained)
  • 4 tbs. chopped jalapenos (I used canned so I don’t have to chop them. If you use fresh, be SURE to wear gloves!)

In a saucepan, melt the cream cheese and butter. Stir until blended. Add garlic powder, corn, and jalapenos. Transfer mixture to dish and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve hot with crackers or chips.

A Culinary Journey

Jared and I had dinner at our sister and brother-in-law’s place this week (corned beef and cabbage for an early St. Patty’s day celebration – yum!). My sis Jessica was telling me all about her adventures learning to cook since she got married this past August. When Jared and I got married four years ago (next week!) I didn’t really know how to cook other than the typical choices of baked chicken and mashed potatoes, spaghetti, stir-fry, etc. I slowly learned what flavors tasted good together and how to multitask in the kitchen.

My love for all things culinary dates back to my childhood, however. I can remember being in elementary school and conducting my own “cooking shows” in our kitchen – I would mix together a ridiculous combination of spices and liquids in a large bowl, all while carefully narrating my steps to my “audience.” (Thank goodness no one ever ate it!) I also used to love watching Great Chefs and being mesmerized to see different courses from around the world made right in my living room.

I don’t even need to mention Rachael Ray and 30-Minute Meals. I used to watch her almost every weeknight in high school. Her cookbook was one of the first I ever received🙂 I still watch her show sometimes while I’m cooking – even if I’m not making the same dish she is.

In 2006, I was cast in my church‘s production of Godspell. I had a great time singing, dancing, and performing again. When it was over, however, I was bored! I had been so used to being busy that I needed an activity to fill my time. Ever since, I’ve renewed my love for cooking. I go through phrases where I cook more or cook less, but I always have found it to be a stress reliever. And I love experimenting with new ingredients and flavors.

I’m not sure where the journey will end. Maybe I’ll go to culinary school. Maybe I’ll own a restaurant. Maybe Jared and I will drop everything and move to Paris and eat and drink for a living a la Julia Child. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying learning along the way.

One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it can’t be fixed. (Julia Child, My Life in France)

Moroccan Lemon Cake

Some of our friends had a great idea a few months back to get together once a month for what we call “Country Dinners.” Basically one couple chooses a country and makes a main dish from that region, and everyone else brings a side dish/dessert/appetizer. That way we get to try lots of different cuisines without having to slave away in the kitchen all night. So far we’ve “visited” Macedonia, Italy, and Cuba. Last night was Morocco. I have no experience with Moroccan food, so I turned to Google for dessert ideas. Below is what I found. It was easy to make and turned out delicious!

Moroccan Lemon Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from 1-2 lemons
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a small bundt or tube pan. Zest and juice the lemons.

With an electric mixer or by hand, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick. Gradually beat in the oil.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then the milk. Beat until smooth, and then mix in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake tests done. (I suggest setting the timer for 35 minutes, it seemed to brown quickly.)

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 7-10 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a spatula, and turn out the cake onto a rack to finish cooling.

There are also Orange and Chocolate versions.

Next up – Jared and I are hosting France! I’m thinking Warm Goat Cheese Salad, Boeuf Bourgignon, and Nutella-Banane Crepes. Yum!

5 Ideas for…Goat Cheese

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I’m addicted to goat cheese.

When Jared and I went to Paris this year for our three-year anniversary, I fell in love with the creamy goodness all over again! We had goat cheese salad every day (and sometimes twice a day). It just melts in your mouth and is the perfect, tangy consistency.

I posted earlier this summer about Smitten Kitchen‘s amazing Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta, and I’m always looking for new recipes to try with my favorite ingredient. So when I saw that goat cheese was the featured food in the “Five Ideas for…” section in the September 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping, I was definitely on board. I’ve already tried the Lemony Goat-Cheese Salad (blog post to come soon). Delish!

  1. Fresh-Tomato Pasta:  In a large saucepot of salted boiling water, cook 1 lb. bowtie pasta as label directs. Drain well; return to pot. Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss 2 lbs. chopped ripe tomatoes, 3 sliced green onions, 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives, 1 tbs. olive brine, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Toss with pasta; let stand 10 minutes, tossing twice. Stir in crumble cheese. Serves 4.
  2. Artichoke Spread:  In food processor, coarsely chop 1 jar (6 oz.) artichokes, rinsed and drained. Add crumbled cheese, 3 tbs. snipped chives, 1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel, and 1/8 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until combined. Makes 1 cup.
  3. Lemony Goat-Cheese Salad:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. From 1 lemon, grate 1/2 tsp. peel and squeeze 4 tsp. juice. On plate, combine lemon peel, 3 tbs. panko bread crumbs, and 1/2 tsp. olive oil. Cut cheese log into 4 slices. Dip slices in crumbs, pressing to adhere to all sides; place on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden. In large bowl, whisk lemon juice, 2 tbs. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 package (5 oz.) baby greens; toss. Divide among 4 plates; top with cheese. Serves 4.
  4. Goat-Cheese Frittata:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, whisk 8 large eggs, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper until blended. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in 10-inch ovenproof skillet on medium. Add 4 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 4 stalks) and 3 sliced green onions; cook 5 minutes or until softened, stirring. Add egg mixture; stir to combine. Sprinkle with coarsely crumbled cheese; cook 4 minutes or until beginning to set. Bake in oven 10-12 minutes or until egg is set in center. Serves 4.
  5. Honeyed Peach Pillows:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large glass bowl, microwave 1/4 cup honey on high 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups peach wedges (1 lb.). On plate, microwave 1/2 cup pecans on high 2 minutes or until toasted. Cut plain cheese log into 6 slices. Cut 1 sheet puff pastry into 6 rectangles. Bake on cookie sheet 13-15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Top each with cheese slice, peaches with honey, and pecans. Serves 6.

Each recipe uses a 4-0z. log.

Observing the Sabbath

We started a new sermon series this week at NCC, called “Ritual.” Each week the sermon will focus on something that is considered a ritual in Christianity – this week was the Sabbath (you can listen to the podcast or watch the video here). Pastor Heather had a great message about resting in the Lord and what it means to observe the sabbath – it doesn’t necessarily have to be on Sunday and it doesn’t necessarily have to mean you sleep all day. It really inspired me to be more intentional about my time and how I spend it.

Why am I writing about this on a food blog, you ask? Because Heather encouraged us to think about what fills us with joy, what we look forward to doing, what pleases God. And one quote Heather said really stuck with me:

Maybe [the Sabbath] means cooking a meal and sharing it with your friends and family.

I love cooking – for my husband, for our friends, for our family. It brings me joy. And I love writing about cooking, too. So I’m thinking that I’m going to start spending more time cooking, blogging, learning more about food, and sharing it with others. This will never replace my time with God, but it can be a new outlet for my creativity – and believe it or not, it relaxes me. (Well, except for the dishes part :)) I’m not sure where this will lead, but I’m willing to take steps to start the journey.


Rachael Ray dedicated several pages in her 365: No Repeats cookbook to her beloved dog, Boo. Tonight I tried “Boo’s Smoky Chicken Patties.” With the exception of the first bowl of ingredients committing suicide (ie plunging to its shattery, glassy death when I turned away to get the can opener), this one was a success. The paprika makes it have a kick without being too spicy. I served these with carrot and celery sticks and some baked beans leftover from our camping trip this weekend. Yum!

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken breast (I used turkey)
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbs. grill seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs. EVOO
  • 8 slices sandwich white or whole-wheat bread
  • 2-3 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach, watercress, or arugula

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place the chicken in a bowl and add the paprika, grill seasoning, and parsley. Using a handheld grater, grate the onion into the chicken. Add the garlic and mix to combine. Make a mini patty, the size of a quarter, and cook it up, a minute on each side, to taste and check seasonings. If you want it really smoky, adjust the seasonings accordingly. Drizzle the chicken mixture with the EVOO and form 4 large, thin patties, then place them in the pan. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side. Toaste the bread slices and spread liberally with softened butter. Serve the patties on the buttered toast with some chopped dark greens. Makes 4 servings.

I’m baaa-aaack!

It’s been quite a while, I’m sorry. This summer just got away from us – and we didn’t even go to the beach this year! We have been so incredibly busy lately, and one of the downsides of being busy is a) I don’t cook and b) We don’t eat as healthy. I decided I’d had it, and started flipping through the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. It’s hard when it only comes every other month, but I read in this issue that it will be coming more often, yay!

The October issue (Vol. 2, Number 4) has more than 120 recipes in it, so I’m sure it will give me lots of ideas. One feature was “50 Easy Soups.” As the weather starts to cool down, I naturally crave something warm. Last week I tried Escarole & White Bean Soup. It was super easy. I’ve never tried escarole before, but it cooks similar to spinach and has a a slightly bitter flavor. The recipe suggested adding sausage, but I tried turkey kielbasa for a healthier kick. I was cooking late, so by the time it was ready I was too exhausted (and hungry) to get the Nikon to snap a photo. You’ll have to be content with this one from my phone instead!

  • 3 garlic cloves, choppe
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 head escarole, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, diced

Cook garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and turkey kielbasa in olive oil. Add chicken broth, escarole, and a parmesan rind (I didn’t have one); simmer 15 minutes. Add white beans, parmesan, and salt (be careful, only use a small amount or it will be too salty). Makes 4 servings.