Queso Dip

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in the March 16, 2012 issue of the Banner. 

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I’m a big sports fan, and March Madness, which kicked off this week, is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the excitement and drama of those first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament – game after game of David versus Goliath matchups, nail-biters and upsets.

Unfortunately, I can’t watch college basketball with the hubby. I’m a fan of one of those Goliath teams, Duke. The hubby, meanwhile, says he has 67 favorite teams – basically any team except Duke. He doesn’t feel the tournament starts until the Dukies are drop-kicked to Durham.

I’m a big girl. I can handle the hubby not cheering for my team. But it’s slightly less enjoyable to watch the game when the hubby makes rat noises every time Duke’s Coach Krzyzewski is shown on the screen. (You’d think that joke would get old after 14 years. But noooo.) So I’ll invite my dad and brother over, and we can cheer for Duke while the hubby squeaks from the other room.

My brother is a pretty busy guy these days, and I’m not sure how much TV time he has built into his schedule. But I do have an ace up my sleeve: My chili-cheese queso dip.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s queso, there’s Cory. Serve this up with a big bag of tortilla chips, and he is one happy camper. Sometimes he even lets me try a bite.

I made dozens of variations of this dip before settling on the perfect mix for us, and while it’s not overtly spicy, it still has some heat. I use canned chili to keep it simple – the hot variety, no beans. Throw in a few cheeses and some chili powder, and you’re all set.

If this dip is too spicy, you can use regular chili instead of hot, or Monterey Jack cheese without the peppers. Not spicy enough? Throw in some canned green chiles, add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, or top with some jalapenos.

This cooks up in a hurry on the stovetop, but you can also let it sit in a slow cooker for a few hours. I actually bought a mini slow cooker, just so I could deliver this queso dip for my brother on those hectic Wednesday nights when everyone is putting the paper together. (I have one toddler and zero layout skills, so food is my only valuable contribution.) Depending on how quickly the paper comes together, this dip makes a great late-night snack, or a hearty, if unconventional, breakfast.