Vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

One of the most frustrating things about becoming lactose intolerant not being able to eat some of the delicious foods that I once could. One of those is the Creamy Jalapeño Dip at Chuy’s. I liked the stuff so much that I sought out and tweaked a copy-cat recipe a decade ago. It’s one thing to substitute a vegan sour cream in a recipe that calls for 2T of the stuff, but it’s another thing entirely to substitute vegan milk-like-products in a recipe that is almost entirely dairy. I had essentially given up hope of being able to find something as a base for this recipe.

Enter Isa Does It by Isa Moskowitz. We stumbled across this cookbook in Elliot Bay Books, a local bookstore, and despite having already eaten dinner I was suddenly ravenous.  Every single recipe we’ve tried has been delicious. And the best part is that it’s all vegan which means that both Daniel and I can eat everything in it. One of Isa’s secret ingredients is using cashew cream in place of dairy in several recipes, which was an entirely new idea to me. One evening we made her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole (p 225) and after tasting the white sauce I knew I had found the base for my vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip.

That left the little problem of ranch dressing. Ranch dressing itself is, of course, full of dairy (ranch dressing dip mix even has whey in it). While you can find vegan ranch dressing, I was wary of using it as a major component in the dip.

Enter Daniel and his copy of The Joy of cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. This kitchen stalwart, first published in 1936, is full of odds and ends, including a ranch dressing recipe (p 241). The recipe calls for dairy, but I’d already solved that problem and just needed the list and ratio of spices.

This weekend Daniel and I did some very tasty experimenting and have concocted an initial pass at a vegan version of the recipe. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close!

Vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

This will make ~3c of dip and take at least 2 hours to make but most of that time is soaking the cashews. It’s best served chilled, so allot some time for that too.

  • 1 1/2c raw cashews, unsalted and not roasted
  • 1T cornstarch
  • 3/4t salt (for the “sour cream”)
  • 1c 2T water (plus more for the initial soaking)
  • 4oz can hatch green chilies, drained
  • 4oz can sliced jalapeños, drained
  • 2t dried chives
  • 6T fresh cilantro (or 2t dried cilantro)
  • 1/4c lemon juice
  • 1/4t course ground black pepper
  • 3/4t salt (for the dip)
  • 1T garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 garlic cloves)

Start out by making the “sour cream” – this is a 2x quantity of Isa’s white sauce from her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole recipe: Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them, longer won’t hurt. Don’t skip the soaking or your sour cream will be gritty – eww! Drain the cashews and put them into a blender. Add the cornstarch, 3/4t salt, and 1c + 2T water. Blend until smooth which will take several minutes.

Add in the other ingredients and blend well. Adjust to taste. Chill in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Serve cold with warm chips and try not to eat all of it at one sitting!

(Almost) Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

As an Austin transplant living in Seattle, one of the things I miss the most is Chuy’s. Nothing comes close to their chips, salsa, and creamy jalapeño dip. At least 10 years ago I searched to find a recipe and stumbled across this copycat recipe which, for reasons totally unknown, includes tomatoes. Anyone who’s ever eaten it can tell you there are no tomatoes in sight.

Using that as a starting point, I created this version which, while not perfect, is a pretty good rendition of this taste of Austin.

(Almost) Chuy’s Creamy Japaleño Dip

  • 1/2c sour cream1
  • 1 1/2c ranch dressing
  • 4oz can hatch green chilies, drained
  • 4oz can sliced jalapeños, drained
  • 4 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • splash of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Chill and serve with corn tortilla chips (preferably warm ones).


1 See also my attempt at a vegan version of this recipe!

Pumpkin Pie

Nothing says fall to me like the smell of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven. Honestly, given how ridiculously easy it is to make one of them, I can’t imagine why anyone would buy one in a store.

This recipe is the one my Mom has used for decades. I’ve no idea where it came from so I’m unable to give proper attribution. For all I know it could be from the back of a can of pumpkin! Regardless, it’s delicious.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 12oz can pumpkin
  • 1c milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1c light brown sugar
  • 1t salt
  • 2t cinnamon
  • ½t ginger
  • ½t allspice
  • ¼t cloves

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust1. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees for another 45 minutes. Pie is done when a knife in the center comes out clean.

Tip: To prevent the pie crust from getting overly-browned, I use a silicon pie crust protector for the last 30 minutes.

Substitutions

Milk: The original recipe calls for a can of evaporated milk, but I used regular milk for years without issue and I’m much more likely to have that in the house. I’ve used unsweetened almond milk with success for the past few years as well.

Brown sugar: The original recipe assumes you’re using light brown sugar. I’ve found that dark brown sugar also works superbly and gives a much richer taste.


1 I make my own pie crust in the food processor using a recipe from my Mom. There are tons of them online and if you have a food processor and a rolling pin, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make the pie crust too!

Brandied Pecans

This recipe is one of my holiday favorites that everyone else seems to love as well. The original is from the “black sheep” side of Jenny Wible’s family (so says the recipe!) although I’ve modified it a bit over the years. Because of how popular they are, I always double the recipe below when I make it.

Brandied Pecans

  • 3c pecan halves
  • 2T butter, melted
  • 1/3c water
  • 3/4c brown sugar
  • 1T brandy

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Spread pecans on baking sheet, dot with butter, and roast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack the door to keep the pecans warm. Be careful not to burn the pecans!

In a 4qt saucepan combine sugar and water on high heat. Stir with a long wooden spoon (trust me on the wooden bit) until it boils. Continue to boil to soft ball stage (about 234 degrees F). Take off heat and beat until creamy. Add alcohol and nuts and mix well until the pecans are thoroughly coated.

Spread in prepared baking pan to cool. Break apart with a fork and eat.

Tip: Keeping the pecans warm makes the sugar mixture apply evenly without forming crystals (which are perfectly edible, but not as pretty). If you’re really quick you can roast the pecans and do the sugar mixture in parallel, but I would suggest waiting until your second attempt before doing so.

Chai tea

I’ve been iterating over various chai tea recipes the past several months. This is one I’m finally happy enough with to post. It is taken largely from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Spiced Tea, p321.

Chai tea

  • 5c water
  • 4 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 4″ fresh ginger root sliced thin
  • 2t cardamom pods
  • 2t coriander seeds
  • 2t black peppercorns
  • 2t whole cloves
  • 4t loose black tea

Bring water and all spices (not including the tea) to boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Add tea and simmer for 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and strain.

To serve, combine half chai tea and half milk (or milk substitute). Sweeten to taste.

Update: After initially posting this I’ve further tweaked the proportions. The original version used 4c water and half the amount of everything else.

Multigrain bread-machine bread

After several weeks of experimenting, I finally found the perfect recipe for multigrain bread in my bread machine. The original recipe had some challenges for me: it didn’t rise enough, we can’t handle the dried milk, and we prefer honey to sugar. I make this often enough now that I’ve pre-combined the seeds into individual packets for quicker assembly.

Multigrain bread-machine bread

  • 1/2c almond milk
  • 1/2c water
  • 1T butter, split into 4 pieces
  • 1t salt
  • 2T honey
  • 1T molasses
  • 1c white flour (Red Mill all-purpose unbleached white)
  • 1c wheat flour (Red Mill 100% stone ground whole wheat)
  • 1T gluten (heaping measure)
  • 1T + 1.5t rapid rise yeast
  • 2T sunflower seeds
  • 1T sesame seeds
  • 1T flax seeds
  • 1T millet
  • 1T quinoa

Combine almond milk, water, and butter in measuring cup and warm 10s in microwave. Add rest of ingredients in the order shown. Use the rapid white cycle and start immediately (rapid rise yeast needs the warm liquid to best activate and a delayed start could cool the liquid too much).

Update 1: I’ve discovered that if you make this often, mixing a few batches of the seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, millet, quinoa) into small zip-lock bags makes throwing this together a lot easier.

Update 2: The original version of this recipe called for 3/4c liquid. I’ve found that using a full cup makes for a more reliable loaf.

Blueberry freezer jam

I love blueberries. And living in the Pacific Northwest we have tons of locally grown delicious blueberries readily available. Several months ago Daniel worked some magic in the kitchen and came up with this tasty freezer jam recipe:

Blueberry freezer jam

  • 1 lb blueberries (~2.5c), these can be fresh or frozen
  • 2T red wine
  • 2T honey
  • 1T lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Use a potato masher (or a fork) to squish the blueberries as they warm (warning: this can get a bit squirty!). Continue to simmer and stir until you have the right consistency1. Remove from the heat and let cool, then put into jars and put the jars into the freezer. Pull them out into the fridge as you need them.


1 What’s the right consistency you ask? That’s a bit of a challenge as the jam will solidify further as it cools. When we think it’s done, we take a small spoon full and place in a small glass bowl in the fridge to cool it down and check on its consistency. You’re mostly looking for something you can spread on bread, mix into yogurt, etc.