Cooking on the Cheap, part 1: The Sauce

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July 2, 2009 by skwishface

I’ve been inspired by cooking blogs found ’round the internets, and thought I’d try my hand at it. Because I’m a big fat copycat, yes I am.
My family, like so many others these days, is on a fairly tight budget. With two young kiddos – The Girl is 3 months old, and The Boy is an octopus on crack (read: 2 year old) – there’s just not alot of time for elaborate culinary exploration. So I like my meals like I like my men – cheap and fast. *rimshot!*
We do alot of bargain grocery shopping, and I plan our meals for the week around leftovers from whatever big meal I cook on Sunday night. This cuts down on going out to eat, but it can get montonous. So! I have developed a mental rolodex of simple sauces that can help make each set of leftovers yummy and appealing.
To begin with, let’s consider the size of my kitchen. More specifically, the counter space:
So small, we took the doors off the cabinets to make it seem bigger.

It's bright! It's happy! It's got all the working surface area of a postage stamp!

 So when I put meals together, I just plain don’t have space for elaborate assembly lines or big crazy messes. I have to keep my working area clean because I’ve only got a square foot of it.

Moving on! Last night was Thursday night. We were on Day 4 of leftovers and the natives were getting restless. It was time to break out the big guns, sauce-wise. There is a restaurant here in Austin that has this amazing creamy jalapeno sauce. Sauce so good that I would make any excuse to eat there, short of setting my entire kitchen ablaze and then giving The Husband big innocent puppy eyes, like “Well drat. Looks like we can’t cook dinner here. … Oh hey! Let’s go to Chuy’s!” Remember that whole budget thing? Sigh. To cut down on going out to eat, I attempted to replicate this sauce at home. I didn’t manage an exact clone, but I did get something even better …

So Not Chuy’s sauce  (prep time: 5 minutes, tops)
2-3 heaping scoops of sour cream
4-dozen pickled jalapenos, sans juice
a splash of lemon juice (approximately 2-3 tablespoons) 
salt and pepper to taste
(sorry, I don’t do exact measurements. I lost my measuring spoons a long time ago, and I’m too lazy busy to look for them)

Let’s start with the ingredients:

Store brand > name brand. It's like you can TASTE the savings!

Store brand > name brand. It's like you can TASTE the savings!

Sure, you could use fresh lemon juice. Why not? I prefer the bottled stuff for weeknight meals because unscrewing a cap and pouring goes a smidge faster than slicing and juicing and squeezing actual lemons. And if you really wanted to fancy it up, you could add fresh herbs like cilantro, which would taste magnificent. I’m working with cheap and convenient, here, so I’m just using whatever I had in the pantry. But you do whatever you like. I’m not here to judge you.

Introduce the ingredients to your friendly neighborhood blender:

The lemon juice is in there, promise. It's hiding down by the blades. Because lemon juice isn't very smart.

The lemon juice is in there, promise. It's hiding down by the blades. Because lemon juice isn't very smart.

Ingredient proportions are entirely up to you. You want it creamier, put in more sour cream. You want it zippier, splash in more lemon juice. You want to be a pansy, cut back on the jalapenos.

Don’t let me taunt you into doing anything drastic, though. Pickled jalapenos are utterly without mercy. Use them sparingly until you know how much you can handle. Anyway, blend until it looks like this:

Mmm, creamy.

Mmm, creamy.

Pour into a bowl and serve. Dip whatever you want in this sauce. Chips, veggies, shoes, whatevs. Everything tastes good in this spicy tangy goodness. Seriously.  I could dip the DOG in this sauce and be happy.

Seriously. I could dip the DOG in this and be happy.

Giant pink thumb!


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