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!

Simplest. Soup. Ever.

Potato Ham Chowder 
Suggested Pairing (music to cook by): Remember the Titans Soundtrack (try the Listen to Samples link)

Four ingredients and 40 minutes. Tops.
It tastes like a potato ham au gratin, but in a soup. Perfect cold weather food. Very healthy – I should send it to Paula Deen!
And only FOUR ingredients. Did I mention that already? If you want to get chowdery (yes, that’s a word – now), I’ve suggested a couple more. But trust me, I’ve tried doctoring this up and it isn’t as good – start with the basic recipe before you go tweaking.


  • splash of olive oil or butter (and by a splash, I mean I use 1-2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, diced (I use russets)
  • 1 lb. ham steak, diced
  • 32 oz. carton chicken stock
  • 1 C frozen corn (optional)
  • 1/2 C whole milk or Half & Half. Or cream. (optional)           (Skim milk?  It’s like you don’t even know me.)
  • black pepper
  • (If you don’t mind double starches, dinner rolls to go with soup. See below.)

Heat the olive oil/butter, add onion, and cover pot to soften. Dice the potatoes meanwhile.
When onions are translucent, add potatoes and chicken stock.  Be sure the stock covers all the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are just done.  How long will depend on the size of your dice, so keep checking.
I like to serve this soup with hot rolls and lately I’ve been using Pepperidge Farm Artisan rolls. Heat your oven and bake them now to be ready when the soup is.
Add the chopped ham steak and cook on low/medium until heated through.  Add your frozen corn here too, if using. Add ground pepper. Don’t let it boil now, or you may turn your meat tough.
If you want it really chowdery, add the milk or Half & Half, or even cream if you wish.

Credits: Thanks, um, to my nieces, who pointed out that my kick-off post (Bacon Cornbread Cupcakes) didn’t seem exactly “simple” to them.
But I did get points for bacon in that recipe…