the best queso blanco dip recipe

when i went home for christmas, i was determined to get to one of my all-time fave places to grub: Gecko Grill {Mexican naughtiness}.

Turns out, they were closed, and temporarily hosted by another restaurant almost 45 minutes from my parents... so we went.

i craved this all week after i got home and was determined to spend the weekend perfecting it before i could share it.

i used two different recipes i found on pinterest,
and after the second time around with more tweaks, realized, yet again,
i have a recipe i will be making weekly on my hands...

and just in time for the super bowl party!
you're welcome.

Queso Blanco Dip

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup diced white onion (about half a small onion)
2 jalapeno peppers, diced 
{i say leave all the seeds in, you'll need em for flavor unless you are using pepper jack.}
3/4 cup half and half {or milk, if you don't have it}
1 pound (16 oz.) white American cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
4 oz. Pepper Jack or Monterrey Jack cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt & white pepper to taste
{i like white pepper for things like this cause it's not harsh like black, and for the obvious reason of black specs in my pretty white dip...uncool}.

what to do:
heat up the oil in a large sauce pan on med-hi heat. add onion and jalapeno.  cook until pretty soft, and even a little carmelizedish. add half-n-half and reduce heat to low. layer your strips or shredded cheese gradually and keep it moving until all of the cheese is melted. add spinach, cilantro, and salt & white pepper to taste.  if you need more heat, add crushed red pepper, or even a few hits of tapatio. {then just plan on using pepper jack and more jalapeno next time!}

copy cat:
if you've been to gecko grill in AZ, yes, this is almost exactly like the queso dip you can find me drinking there... and smothering over anything i order.... and then taking home in large to go cups to eat later.

if you should have any left over, it does reheat. small increments, low heat, until melted again without cooking the sides. or you could spoon it back into your saucepan and let it get naughty the right way.  i'm going to go ahead and bet you won't have too much left over though! ;)

Added on 5.8.2013: 
i made this again on Cinco De Mayo and we changed this up and it was the best version yet!

add chopped red bell pepper to your saute at the first, then definitely use pepper jack! in fact, i ended up using almost 1lb of pepper jack AND white american {both from the deli} and added in more 1/2 and 1/2 as needed. i kept everything else the same, and used 2 jalapenos. it was PERFECT! a lot more flavor and just the perfect kick. and yes, an even closer copy to Gecko in AZ for those wanting to know...

let me know how it goes!

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