“It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the Autumn, when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.” – P.G. Wodehouse.
Ever come across a recipe that seems just too good to be true?
Like two-ingredient chili and cream cheese dip.
This recipe (or practical joke) has been kicking around for decades. The urban legend goes something like this: Add a can of chili to a pot and add an 8 oz. package of cream cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Your family and friends will love it, request you make it for every potluck and party, and be absolutely amazed when you tell them it only required two ingredients!
I’ll admit, if you don’t think about it too hard, chili and cream cheese sounds like it might work! So when I found myself with a container of Follow Your Heart vegan cream cheese about to expire, I decided to give this recipe a try.
I very quickly realized what should have been instantly obvious: Add 8 oz. of cream cheese to a 15 oz. can of chili, and you have just “watered” down the chili, essentially washing out all the spices! Bland doesn’t even begin to cover it – this is the most insipid dip ever.
However … this is a problem that can be fixed with the addition of some spices and a few additional ingredients. And if you took a tour of my spice storage with me Sunday, you know I am just the woman for the job! A few spices … some sweet, chopped, crunchy onion … some pickled jalapenos … and suddenly it changes from boring to tantalizing, the kind of dip people want to eat even if they aren’t drunk or suffering a case of stoner munchies.
And it’s still super-easy.
Think outside the can! This also makes a great filling for soft tacos or burritos. You can also use it as a topping for baked potatoes or potato skins.
Ingredients for Not Yo Mama’s Chili Bean and Cream Cheese Dip:
1 can Vegan Chili (I used Amy’s Spicy Chili – Trader Joe’s also makes a great vegan chili)
1 8 oz. package Vegan Cream Cheese – I used Follow Your Heart
1+ Heaping Teaspoon Chili Powder (the blend for making chili)
1/2+ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4+ Teaspoon Red Chili Powder (Cayenne)
1/4 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion
1/8 Cup Pickled Jalapeno Pepper Slices, chopped (optional)
Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
Directions for Not Yo Mama’s Chili Bean and Cream Cheese Dip:
Open the can of chili and dump the contents into a medium saucepan. Turn the heat on medium-low.
Add the cream cheese. Stir occasionally while the cheese melts.
Once the cream cheese is all melty, add the chili powder, cumin, and red chili powder. Mix. Let it sit on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes to allow the flavors to infuse the cream cheese.
Add the jalapenos, if using.
Lastly, add the chopped onions. Cook for only a minute or two – you just want to take the edge off the onions, while still leaving them crunchy.
Taste and adjust spices, if needed – to account for your particular taste and the brand of chili you are using. If it needs more overall flavor, add more chili powder. If the cream cheese tastes a little sweet (some brands do), add cumin. If it needs more heat, add red chili powder.
If desired, add a grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Canned chili can be quite salty, so always taste first! Then, again, part of the joy of junk food is getting an entire week’s worth of sodium in one sitting – so, do as you see fit.
Don’t be put off by chili that says “vegetarian” instead of vegan – most brands of vegetarian chili are indeed vegan, just not marketed as such.
Try using leftover homemade chili instead of canned.
If making this filling for burritos/soft tacos, you may want to decrease the amount of cheese slightly (3/4 of a container instead of a full 8 oz.) to make it slightly thicker. You might also want to add more onions.
Flavors intensify in the fridge overnight, so you could easily make this dip or filling ahead. On the other hand, part of its charm is that you can throw it all together in ten minutes.