Creamy Jalapeño Dip

The Holy Grail of Copycat Recipes
Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño

Suggested pairing: Hallelujah chorus

For those of us who don’t live anywhere near a Chuy’s. I’m publishing this without a photo yet because I keep getting asked for it!
It has taken many, many iterations, but I finally took a bite of this version and proclaimed victory.

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Dry Mix, Buttermilk Recipe 
(Note: there are several packet mixes, so be sure to choose the one in which the first two ingredients are salt and msg. Roll your eyes at me if you want – you’ve been eating this at Chuy’s all along!)
1 C buttermilk
1 C sour cream
2 whole pickled jalapeños, tops trimmed off, cut into chunks (minimum)
2 T pickle juice from jalapeños
1 T packed cilantro leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes

Tortilla chips
Suggested: small food processor

Whisk together the mix, buttermilk, and sour cream. In a small food processor go the jalapeños, juice, cilantro leaves, and blanched garlic. Pulse repeatedly, scraping down as often as needed, until puréed. Whisk purée into liquid mixture.
IMPORTANT – this really needs to sit for at least three hours, otherwise it will just taste like the dressing mix. Overnight is best.

Credits: Thanks to Patty for the blanching-the-garlic tip. And thanks to the many folks who taste-tested and encouraged me to publish this – you know who you are.

Super Bowl Sunday Sauce

Or Dip. But I’ll do almost anything for alliteration.  

Suggested Pairing (music to cook by)Red Solo Cup
What can I say? The falsetto makes me smile every time.


  1. 1/2 jar (8 0z.) El Pinto Hot Green Chile Salsa   Don’t even think about medium or mild – this is the Super Bowl, not the Medium Bowl. (and see note below. please. really.)
  2. scant 1 teaspoon cumin
  3. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  4. 1 C sour cream
  • Tortilla chips, veggies, red solo cups

Draining off as much liquid as you can, put the green chile salsa in a food processor and purée. Add the garlic powder and cumin and pulse a bit. Add a dollop of sour cream, pulse.  Add all the sour cream and process until smooth.
Taste test now! Tweak now!

Chill – a few hours is best.
Pour a margarita and proceed to party.

NOTE: This really makes the sauce:

I have found this at HEB in Texas, in Eugene, OR and in suburban Detroit at Kroger.  I haven’t been able to find it on the Chicagoland area, so you can use the link above or here.  (Sorry – couldn’t find the HOT on Amazon.)

If you find a substitute, I’d really appreciate knowing what you used and what you thought of it.

Credits: Thanks to Jean V. for nudging me to get back to work on this. I still owe you a margarita.


Paige’s Genius Cake

Alternate title: No Bake Chocolate Cake with Nutella Whipped Cream Frosting
Nutella Cake
And because Paige is a Chicago girl now, the Suggested Pairing is for her: (music to cook by): The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording, especially the Sweet Home Chicago track.

When I invented my version of Nutella whipped cream for her (see Bonus Recipe below), she returned the favor by suggesting this masterpiece. Most people who know my daughter think of her as a sciencey-type, so this is food genius put it into a scientific formula:

Scientific formula

Ingredients: (three – count ’em)

  • 1 C Nutella
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • 1 package Famous Chocolate Wafers

Put the Nutella in a large mixing bowl that you will later use to whip the icing. (Tip – I coat the measuring cup with some heavy cream first to make it easier to un-measure it into bowl.)  Gradually whisk in heavy cream, fully incorporating before you add more. Chill very well. Whip mixture until stiff:

Nutella Whipped Cream
Then, slather the cookie wafers with the whipped cream and stack them on their sides (as you would for a Famous Chocolate Wafer refrigerator cake – recipe on side of box). Once all the cookies have been stacked, use the remaining icing to completely coat the sides:

Iced cake

Refrigerate for hours – I prefer overnight.  The point to this cake is that the moisture from the whipped cream is absorbed by the crisp cookies, turning them into chocolate cake.
It’s magic! It’s science! Mostly though, it’s delicious.
For the purposes of this photo op, I set aside one cookie, smushed it to crumbs and sprinkled them on top.

Credits: Paige’s genius. Her suggested title: Paige is My Favorite Child and Everything She’s Ever Done Has Been a Pure Work of Art Cake.
Love you Sweet Pea.

Bonus Recipe – Cupcakes with Nutella Whipped Cream Icing

  • 1 package white cake mix, plus
  • 3 eggs
  • oil to make according to package directions BUT
  • ADD: 1 teaspoon almond extract

Bake and cool cupcakes.
Ice with Nutella whipped cream. (You will have too much icing if you use the proportions above. Hand out spoons to anyone under 30.)


Nutella cupcakes

Tonight, we are celebrating.

With – my favorite drink.  A big favorite with a few of my Texas friends as well, this is not technically a copycat recipe since I got it straight from the bartender at a place that shall remain nameless. However, it starts with a “C” and rhymes with “huy’s.”
It is called a Texas martini some places, a Mexican martini at others, but is basically a margarita on the rocks, shaken, not stirred.

Extremely Similar to a Chuy’s Texas Martini
Pour over a cocktail shaker full of ice – if it is a decent sized shaker, then 1 portion can equal 1/8 cup, or use a shot glass:

  • 2 portions Codorniz Tequila – or any variety of cheap (as in inexpensive, not rot-gut) tequila, with no aftertaste. This is not the place to go with a high-end tequila.
  • 1 portion Cointreau
  • 3 portions fresh-squeezed lime juice (absolutely, positively, has to be fresh-squeezed or it will not taste right – I have tried every bottled out there…).
  • 3 portions simple syrup. To make easy simple syrup: take a dry measured jug with sealable lid. Add, for example, sugar up to the 1 cup mark.  Add your hottest tap water until the sugar is soaked through and the water level reaches 2 cups.  Shake well until sugar dissolves, then refrigerate.  Basically, dry sugar to volume for the first portion, then fill with hot water to the second portion.  This will keep forever in the frig & is great for adding to ice tea.
  • Jalapeno-stuffed olive – optional (I don’t even own the olives to take a picture of them, but be my guest. If you want to ruin a nice margarita.)

The 2-1 ratio of tequila to Cointreau stays the same.  Taste and tweak the lime juice & syrup to your preference.
Shake well and pour into a salted glass.
As I do NOT prefer a mouthful of salt, I have taken to asking for “half salt” on the rim, so I can get exactly as much as I’d like.

I’d write more, but I’ve waited as long as I possibly can to drink that one in the picture above – cheers y’all!

Four Fave Tools That You Probably Aren’t Using

I’m passing on these gems in the best cooking tradition:
by stealing from others.

1. Garbage bowl

Rachel Ray uses this (I covet her confetti bowl).  I tried it and found that by simply putting a large mixing bowl on the counter and using it to collect my garbage – package wrapping, trimmings – I save a lot of time.  Even if your garbage can is only ONE STEP from where you prep, this bowl saves time.  Especially for those recipes that start with chopping an onion and peeling garlic.  Try it out a few times and let me know what you think.
(I realize it may be too late for you to send this to me for Valentine’s Day.  My birthday is August 12.)


2. Reusable Parchment Paper

My sister Gail discovered this and I have stored them at least in three different kitchens and given them as gifts.  It is similar to Silpat, but much thinner and more flexible. And much less expensive.  It is washable, so you can use it one day under a roast and the next day for cookies. I pour my toffee caramels on it and avoid buttering the pan. Folds flat and I store it in a ziploc bag with the cookie sheets.


3. Microplane


I know this is fairly common, but stealing again from Rachel Ray, it is the fastest garlic tool there is.  Every garlic press I’ve tried takes me much longer to clean than to actually grate the garlic.  Rubbing the garlic through a plane like this one is fast at both ends. It comes out of the dishwasher clean and has a cover to protect your knuckles in the cabinet.


4. Sink Strainer

Again, it is such a little thing, but will make your life easier.  Your cooking life anyway. You are on your own with the parenting.
Great for washing big batches of mushrooms, green beans, strawberries.  Better than holding an over-full strainer in one hand and hoping the stuff on the bottom gets clean.
(Yeah yeah I know – you are supposed to wipe mushrooms gently with a damp paper towel.  Yet I occasionally feed more than two people and prefer to NOT SPEND MY ENTIRE DAY GENTLY WIPING.  Plus, in my heart of hearts, I never feel as though I’ve gotten off all the dirt that they grow mushrooms in unless there is a lot of water involved.)

Hey – I didn’t steal that from anyone.  Just ordered it out of a catalog and tried it. Yay me!

What is your favorite/most unusual kitchen tool?

Note – I’m not getting paid to promote here (I wish!), just sharing cool stuff. Please see my disclosure.