Sunday, August 12, 2012

Queso and Salsa, Hello Deliciousness

Chips, Salsa, and Chili Queso

Alright, I admit it, I'm a sucker for chips and salsa...and queso. More specifically Chili's Chili Queso. The idea of making copy-cats, replicas, clones, whatever you want to call them, has become quite popular. Everyone wants to be able to make their favorite restaurant dishes from the comfort of their own home. It makes sense to me, it's probably cheaper, and you can alter the ingredients slightly if you're looking to cut down on some calories and fat content. So I've picked up a few recipes along the way and I even have a few cookbooks that are strictly clone recipes from numerous restaurant chains. The ones that I've made so far (Chili's Chili Queso, Outback's Caesar Salad dressing, P.F. Chang's Spicy Chicken...) have all turned out really well and taste just like the restaurant version! And a lot of them are relatively easy to make, which is always nice. These are perfect to please a crowd or even if you're just looking for a snack for yourself, just try not to eat the whole bowl of queso or salsa all at's a lot of food. I ate too much yesterday and felt stuffed for the rest of the night.

Chili's Chili Queso is probably one of the easiest recipes to make. Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and let it melt together and simmer for 20 minutes. Sounds simple enough right? Why yes, yes it is! OK so here's what you'll need for the Queso:

The spices you'll need...don't mind the muffins
those will be another entry some time :)

1 package Velveeta (16 oz)
1 can Hormel Chili, no beans not chunky (15 oz)
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
4 teaspoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin

OK So this is really simple. Take the Velveeta and cut it into cubes or slices and toss them in a saucepan. I use my 3 quart Cuisinart one, it's big enough that I don't have to worry about anything spilling over.

Try to cut the Velveeta into even pieces so it'll melt evenly and you won't be waiting around for one chunk of cheese to melt. Next you are going to add in the Hormel Chili...

Once that's in the pan, I usually put it on the stove so the cheese can start to melt as I add in the remaining ingredients. Heat the cheese and Chili on a medium heat. Add in the milk and lime juice. The Velveeta should be starting to melt at this point and you should be able to stir it up a bit just to get the chili mixed in a little more. Next, add in the spices. Once it's all in just stir the Queso until the Velveeta is all melted. You pretty much want to stir it constantly until the chunks of cheese are completely melted.

Look at the yummy goodness!! So once everything it melted. Turn down the heat to low and let the queso simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. This is when the queso will thicken up so it's not really runny, because who really wants runny queso? It won't stay on your chip!! So after the excruciatingly long 20 minutes, your queso is ready to enjoy! Careful, it will be hot. And, if you have left overs, this reheats very nicely in the microwave too.

Soooooooo, what's queso without some salsa to go along with it? I've been a chips and salsa addict since I was about 12 years old. Just can't get enough of it. It's so simple, so delicious, and I like to tell myself that it's healthy. It is right? I mean...tomatoes and all that, right? Yes? No? Oh well. So the salsa is also pretty simple to make. Just a few ingredients pureed in a food processor and boom! Deliciousness! Here's what you need:

1 can Hunt's Petite Diced Tomatoes
1-1/2 chopped Jalapeno (seeds and all)
About 1/3 or 1/2 chopped White Onion
Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, Black Pepper
Ground Cumin
Put the tomatoes in the food processor (Mine's a mini food chop holds about 3 cups perfect for smaller things like Salsa!)

Chopped Onion goes in next followed by...

Mmmmmm Jalapenos! I used about 1-1/2 because I like spice. Use more or less jalapenos depending on how spicy you want your salsa! Puree the salsa a bit here just to start to get everything all mixed together.

Top it off with some Cilantro, again do this to taste, put a little bit in, puree it up a bit, taste the salsa, decide if you want more or less cilantro just like you did with the jalapenos.

Now you want to add in the spices, not too much don't want them to be overpowering, but you do want to be able to taste them! I used probably about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of each. Again taste, taste, taste!! See what you like!

Puree the salsa in your food processor (or blender, that would work too) until all the big chunks are gone. You don't want the Salsa to be completely liquefied, then it'll seem more like soup or something. But I like my Salsa to be pretty nicely pureed so it's like it is in the restaurants. I wanted my salsa to be sort of like Chili's salsa, so it would pair nicely with the queso. I covered my salsa and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, just so it would chill and give it a chance for the flavors to come together more.

Well there ya go! Chili's Chili Queso and a delicious Homemade Salsa! Here's what mine look like, not in fancy bowls or anything after all I was just making this for me.

...and Delicious Salsa to go along with it!
Yummy, yummy Queso, if you're not drooling now...who am
I kidding, of course you are...
Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!!
'Til Next Time!!

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