Pennsylvania Kitchen: Pennsylvania Queso with Tomato Salsa with Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars

We love a recipe that takes a comfort-food classic (okay, we’ll call it like it is: junk-food classic) and uses fresh ingredients and from-scratch techniques to clean up its act a bit. That’s exactly what’s going on in this glorious queso dip recipe from Philly-based food blogger and cookbook author, Marisa McClellan AKA Food in Jars. Miles away from the neon sludge you’ll find in the chip aisle of the grocery store, this luscious dip is made with just a handful of items: flour, milk, local cheddar cheese, homemade salsa and cilantro. If you don’t have homemade salsa in your pantry, a few scoops of any salsa will do — we suggest picking up a jar from a vendor at your local farmers market for maximum deliciousness.

Making the queso just takes a few, simple steps, which is the beauty of McClellans’ cooking style. With her approachable writing voice and thoughtful social media presence, McClellan has built a following of fellow foodies who are interested in learning about canning and preserving. By breaking down what can feel like daunting kitchen projects — canning is the “white whale” for many seasoned home cooks — she guides readers through each step of techniques and recipes, giving little tips and words of encouragement, making the whole endeavor feel far more doable.

She’s also written a number of cookbooks about canning and preserving, and her fourth one, The Food in Jars Kitchen is available now — released on April 2, 2019. In a bit of a departure from her first three books, this one isn’t actually about making preserves; it’s about what to do with all the jams, pickles and other preserves that you’ve already made! This queso recipe is a perfect example of the clever, resourceful spirit behind the recipes, each of which helps you not waste any of your previous kitchen labor, and helps you use the little leftover bits and bobs of your pantry to make dishes that you’ll return to, over and over again.

Check out the video for the technique, then head here for the Food in Jars queso recipe!