Want to hear something strange? I barely cook on the weekends. In fact, I try to avoid it at all costs, other than helping Jeff make Saturday Night Tacos. In this regard, things have really changed in the last five years. Back when I was working in advertising (before culinary school), the weekends were my time. Time to cook. Time to make bolognese sauce that simmered all afternoon on the stove. Time to bake elaborate three-layer cakes to take to work the following day for a co-worker’s birthday (but really, just so I’d have a reason to bake). Time to make a big pot of soup or chopped salad fixings for lunches throughout the week.
Years later, here I am living a dream. My most-loved hobby has become my profession. Monday through Friday, I’m in the kitchen cooking and taking photos for at least half of each day. I couldn’t love it more. But the lines between work and play get blurry when you do what you love for a living. And now, as much as I love (LOVE!) cooking and where it’s taken me in life, I try to avoid the kitchen on the weekends. Because somehow, it feels like work. Enjoyable work, but work, nonetheless.

Additionally, when I went camping with friends a few months back, my mantra was “I’ll go, but I will NOT cook.” I’m sure it disappointed a few people who thought I would turn into some sort of campground gourmet. But I just wanted to relax (as much as I could relax while camping, which is not really my cup o’ tea).

But some damn jalapeño poppers made me break my mantra. I saw a friend making some campfire poppers, and I was bored out of my mind waiting for my dinner to cook. I wandered over just to see what he was making, and somehow found myself stirring the filling and showing him how to make a piping bag out of a Ziploc bag to fill the peppers. Turns out, even when I think I don’t want to cook, I really DO want to cook.

This lightened-up dip version of a jalapeño popper is my ode to my hobby which became my profession which is my obsession and my true love, which I’ll never be able to tear myself away from, ever.

To Make this Recipe You’Il Need the following ingredients:


1 8-oz. pack neufchâtel cheese (basically the same as low-fat cream cheese)
1/2c fat free greek yogurt
2 Tbsp mayonnaise (the real kind – this will give you the perfect texture to make it feel non-lightened)
1/2 c shredded mexican blend cheese (low fat if you prefer)
1/2 c parmesan
1/2 can diced green chilis (2 oz)
2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, blend together neufchâtel cheese, yogurt, and mayo until smooth.
Stir in 1/2 c mexican cheeses, 1/4 c of the parmesan, diced chilis, minced jalapeños, salt, and pepper.
Remove dip to an oven-safe container (I just used a pie pan). Mix panko bread crumbs with melted butter and remaining parmesan, sprinkle mixture over top.
Bake for 20 min, then switch to the broiler for 3 additional minutes to make the top extra golden brown