Monday, April 11, 2011

Improv Recipe: Queso Dip with baked Tortilla Chips

It always surprises me when I get the urge to cook. Until the month of March and the Real Food challenge over at Not Dabbling, I only cooked sporadically. I referred to myself as a "preparer of foods" rather than "one who cooks".

Two nights ago, in a fit of craving, I decided to make some spicy Queso dip. We had cheese and buttermilk in the fridge and I knew it could be done, so I set to work in the kitchen like a mad scientist.

Spicy Queso Dip
1-2 cups cheese (we used raw milk white cheddar) shredded or cut in to small blocks
1/2 cup buttermilk (you could probably use cream or even sour cream too)
2-3 spears of asparagus, sliced into small pieces
Jalepe├▒os to taste
Salsa to taste (optional)
Spices to taste (salt, garlic powder, chipotle pepper, red pepper flakes, black pepper)

This is one of those recipes that you can alter to make something truly for yourself. If you like garlic, add more garlic. If you don't have asparagus, use green pepper, or tomato, or anything else you have around the house. I used a lot of chipotle pepper in ours since I like things to be particularly spicy. If I'd really been thinking, I would've added chorizo sausage to it as well, though chorizo can add a certain amount of thick red grease to anything, despite it's amazingly wonderful taste.

Toss all ingredients into a medium sauce pan over low-to-medium heat. As the mixture begins to melt you can raise the heat to medium, just don't bring it up to temp too quickly or you'll end up with a real mess. I added my spices after the mixture melted, so that I could sample things as I went along. It took me about 20 minutes to mostly melt the mixture through, but I'm betting if I had let it sit and cook another 15-20 minutes it would have been even better. I was being impatient.

It wasn't until after I started making the queso that I realized that our tortilla chips had gone stale! No problemo, hermanos y hermanas, we had fresh tortillas in the refrigerator. I lightly brushed each side of the tortillas with olive oil, stacked them and cut them into 1/4s (they were little tortillas.. tortillitas?). I sprinkled them with sea salt and popped them into the preheated oven (350┬║) for 15 minutes while the queso cooked. I think I flipped them once or twice too to make sure they weren't burning. Tada! Amazing tortilla chips in just minutes, and healthier than the fried ones!

I encourage you all to try to mix it up in the kitchen now and then. It's incredibly satisfying to eat something of your own design, especially when it turns out to be delicious!


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