In our first year of marriage, before medical school and being overcome with boredom, J and I lived in a studio apartment above his father’s garage. The apartment was charming, cozy, and actually quite perfect. Except for one small problem… There was no stove and no oven. As a new wife eager to please (ha), it only seemed like a small set back. I learned how to cook just about anything in a slow cooker, how to make blueberry cobbler in a toaster oven, and I even managed to turn a wardrobe closet into a pantry. The adventures were endless! Through all of the many science experiments, I will admit I failed NUMEROUS times! Some things were not very eatable, but J (being the good husband he is) ate them anyway. I did not. Wasted calories! Right? I do believe I’ve come quite a long way since those days and I hope J agrees. I still have my occasional flop in the kitchen, but now I don’t have a toaster oven or slow cooker to blame it on. Which is a bummer. I have this crazy dream of wanting to bring back the classic 50's housewife, and I like to think my many attempts at cooking will get me there slowly. I wouldn't say that I'm close to vacuuming in heels, wearing pearls, and toting a baby on my hip while a turkey is roasting in the oven... but maybe I will be by the time I'm 60. (and maybe J can be Don Draper)
I’m no chief… Obviously, but I do have some amazing cooks in my family that I look up to and steal recipes from! Being that they are 950 miles away now, I’ve had to lean on other resources. Like cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks… any and all of them! J’s Nana gave me a cookbook called The Best Recipe when I moved into my very first apartment at age 18 (scary thought!). It was a VERY intimidating cookbook for a ramen noodles and pizza roll kind of girl, but now it is my kitchen bible. I use it at least three times a week. I don’t always cook their exact recipes, but I do learn how to knead bread, tie a brisket, and fry the perfect egg while getting new ideas. I’m also a huge fan of Allrecipes.com. It is a great website to visit when you find yourself cooking the same meal over and over and over again… like me with fish tacos and guacamole.
... Getting Sappy....
Cooking to me is not only a way to escape from the vast darkness that is medical school, but it is also comforting. There is something about making a big pot of chicken and dumplings that instantly brings me back to childhood. One bite and I'm dreaming of Minnie Mouse, Skip-Bo with my Mammaw, and Saints football. Which makes it more than worth the effort.
I'm sure it isn't healthy for my waist line and as cheesy as it may sound, food makes me happy. Deep down, warm heart, feel it in your toes kind of happy. And that my friends, is something hard to come by! So, I cook a lot.
That is also my same excuse for eating chocolate ice cream every night in WV.
... end sap...
With that said, I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes…Spinach Dip. I know spinach dip is a dish that seems to be EVERYWHERE, but I cannot help myself. I love it! It does not necessarily bring me back to the Minnie Mouse years, but it is still worth the effort. I’ve tried lots of different spinach dip recipes, and I guess you can say I did what Glee would call a MASH UP! I figured out what I liked about each one I tried, eliminated what I didn’t like, and now you have…
Cap’s Spinach Dip
¼ cup butter
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach (drained in washcloth)
1 (14 oz) can chopped artichokes
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1 ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan and saute the minced garlic. Add drained spinach and artichokes and cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Add cream cheese, sour cream, 1cup Parmesan cheese, and ½ cup Mozzarella cheese. Cook on low for about 10-15 minutes.
Transfer sauce into a medium baking dish. Top with remainder mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with Croutons.
Speaking of Croutons…
J actually escaped from the study world for a few seconds to assist me in cooking dinner the other night. While he was showing me around the kitchen, we discovered that (contrary to popular belief) he can indeed cook. A little.
1 skinny loaf of fresh bread (we used a multigrain banquette)
I stick of butter (you won’t use the whole thing, but it makes it easier to grip)
Cut bread in slices ¼ to one half of an inch thick. Rub the bottom of a cookie sheet with stick of butter and lay cut bread on sheet. Rub the bread around the bottom of sheet (as to butter the bread) and flip, rubbing the opposite side as well. Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 375 degrees, or until they are just barely crispy to the touch. I like mine still a little soft in the middle.
Now that I’ve said all of that, I realize you’re probably wondering why I just explained how to butter bread… that was J’s fast way. It worked out much easier than my OCD knife and tub of butter method.