baked chili dip (and a quick chili)

That old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words is totally true.  But sometimes, they’re the wrong words.

Because, let me tell you this: the finished product of this dip is ugly.  Really, really ugly.  The kind of ugly that made me choose to just post the only-slightly-ugly uncooked phases of its origins.

But, gracious, folks, this is one of those times when the book should not be judged by its cover (or its nutritional profile.)

Here you have three simple ingredients – cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chili.  You mix and you layer; you bake, and you reassure your friends it’s delicious, and everyone scoops it up with tortilla chips. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is elegant dinner party fare.  But it is perfect ballgame fare, and – well – we have a Pretty Big Game coming up in a few days, don’t we.  So make some chili, or buy some (from the prepared foods section, ideally, though I have a sneaking suspicion that canned chili wouldn’t hurt you in this dip any more than it would on its own), and throw this together on Sunday evening.

Baked Chili Dip
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups chili
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1 cup of chili and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix until thoroughly combined, then pour into a 2-quart casserole dish, smoothing into an even layer.  Spread remaining 1/2 cup of chili evenly over the cream cheese layer, and top with the remaining cheddar.  Bake until hot and bubbly, with the cheese on top fully melted.

… and if you would like a quick (30-45 minutes) chili recipe, here’s the one I use, adapted from Everyday Food.  It will make about 4 cups, and is tasty enough for a weeknight meal after you’ve used it for the dip.

Quick Beef Chili
Vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and ground pepper
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
3/4 cup lager
In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (3 to 5 minutes.) Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to brown (2 to 3 minutes.) Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink (about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and beer, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook over medium heat until chili is thickened to your taste.

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