September 9, 2013 at 1:00 am

Let's Talk Food: Dips for Monday Night Football and beyond

Buffalo Chicken Dip: All the flavor of hot wings with so much less mess. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

Happy day-that-Monday-Night-Football kicks off if youre into that sort of thing. For me, its just an excuse to share something with you thats perfect for it: Buffalo Chicken Dip.

A few years back, I spotted a version of this recipe in The Detroit News very own Eats & Drinks section, and I was almost shocked to find out something that brings all the goodness of hot wings in a much tidier dip form existed so long without me knowing about it.

I was introduced to this delight by my friend Alina. We met in college; I lived downstairs from Alina and her roommate, Jessie. The three of us became fast friends; even after college, we made a big deal over annual get-togethers where wed eat, talk and laugh.

Eventually, life changed that tradition; a husband here, a child there, and now its been years since the three of us got together. Weve talked since, and I imagine well find a way to get together again someday, but until then, I have Alinas Buffalo Chicken Dip to keep me warm.

I wrote before, in the Lets Talk Food on Sun-dried Tomato, Avocado & Mushroom Salad, that my husband and I went to our honeymoon cabin three times the first year we were married; my most recent Christmastime visit with Alina was en route for the third visit. When we were blown away by the dip, she sent us on our way with tons of leftovers to take to the cabin. As soon as we got home, I got the recipe out of her by email.

Since, Ive made it for various parties, family reunions and other gatherings, and its always always a huge hit; I almost invariably get asked for the recipe. Ive even eaten it over salad and used the base idea in meal variations.

So just in time for tonights kickoff of Monday Night Football, I thought Id share it in case there are others who, like me, have lived far too long without knowing about this scrumptious dip. Since there are multiple versions of this recipe out there, below Im giving you the one my old college friend first gave me, way too many Christmases ago.

Alina's Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 ounce package cream cheese
cup blue cheese dressing
cup gorgonzola cheese
cup Franks Wing Sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (Maureen note: I keep it super simple by getting two 12.5 ounce cans of chicken from Sams and shredding it with a fork)
Tortilla chips for dipping

Alina plays with it a little (i.e. more sauce to make it hotter) and almost always doubles it. As foodlovers frequently do with favorite dishes, she estimated time when she gave it to me; she said she puts it in the oven until it bubbles/melts/gets a little thick.

I usually do 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so, but Ive also put it in my oven at as low as temperature possible for 1.5 to 2 hours to heat through (none of the ingredients need to actually cook, obviously) while we hosted a Bible study, and thats a loverly way to get mouths watering as the house fills with the smell.

By the way, Ive avoided the tortilla chips this goes so delightfully with for some time, but have found the dip works great on a big pile of romaine; in fact, the crunchy lettuce provides a similar, albeit healthier texture contrast. When we really want to enjoy the flavors without the guilt and with less fuss we sometimes mix together a little chicken, blue cheese dressing and hot sauce (skipping the cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and baking) and eat it over salad or rice.

Pulling out the signature flavors even makes good use of restaurant leftovers; recently I took home untouched extra blue cheese dressing from the Redford Grill (I love their chunky, chunky dressing) to make a quick, easy dinner for my husband.

Enjoy!

What are your go-to crowd-pleasing dips? Wed love to hear about it in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but theyre free and easy to sign up for, which is how I managed to have one for years and ignore it except for this sort of thing. Ill be keeping an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow me on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!

The basic flavors of buffalo chicken dip chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese ... (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)