Is it just me, or was this like the FASTEST summer break ever?! I feel like my kids just got out of school, and here we are getting out the book bags and pulling out school uniforms to see what still fits, and what doesn’t. I’m always sad when my kids go back to school – it reminds me that they are one year older. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely bitter sweet – it means they are thriving, growing, learning, which is such a blessing…but it also means that my babies aren’t babies anymore, and THAT is something I have a hard time with at the beginning of every school year.
Thankfully, the start of school also means that my FAVORITE season, fall, will be here before we know it!!! I L.O.V.E., LOVE me some fall! I love the crisp, cold air…deliciously cozy sweaters…making big pots of something hot to stave off the chill…FOOTBALL (especially college football)…fall soccer season…pumpkin latte’s…I love it all!!! So, as a little homage to the upcoming football season, I decided to make one of my all-time favorite football watching foods, Buffalo Chicken Dip.
If you go on Pinterest these days, it seems like everyone has a different version of Buffalo Chicken Dip, and everyone swears that theirs is “The Best” there is. I gotta say, chicken…cheese…buffalo sauce…it’s kind of hard to mess up. My version is a combination of my friend Erin’s recipe, and my need to change things up from time to time. I also recently started using a lil’ shortcut when I walked into Harris Teeter and saw pre-cooked roasted chicken strips on ‘BOGO’ sale, so I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder how those would work in the dip?” Well let me tell you…frickin’ awesome!
Trust me, if you bring this to your next football party or potluck, it will be one of the first things to go and you will be asked to make it again and again! First things first, let’s get those ingredients ready:
Reduced-fat mozzarella, light ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, cooked chicken breasts and reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
If you’re cream cheese isn’t softened (like mine wasn’t), just unwrap it, put in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Then whisk the cream cheese until it’s nice and creamy. Then add the hot sauce, whisk until it’s all incorporated, and set aside.
Since big ole chunks of chicken tend to break tortilla chips and crackers, I like to chop my chicken really well to make the dip more “scoopable”…your guests will thank you for it! Next you want to add the chicken and shredded cheese to the cream cheese mixture. At this point, I like to add 2 more TBS of the hot sauce…it’s doesn’t make it crazy spicy, just spicy enough…YUM! Then mix everything well, and…..
Pour the mixture into a baking dish, cover and bake at 375 for 15 minutes covered, then uncover, and back for another 10 minutes. I used my convection setting, so just add 3-5 mins if using conventional.
After 5 minutes, give it another good stir, and spoon into your serving dish. Once it thickens a bit, you can really see all of the yummy chicken! If you use both packages of chicken (and you should!) it will be packed with protein in every ridiculously delicious bite!
Sometimes I serve it with tortilla scoops, but this time I had some Trader Joe Naan bread in the freezer. I just threw them in the oven for a couple of minutes once I took the dip out, and added some fresh veggies to round it all out (mini sweet peppers work great with this!).
Buffalo Chicken Dip
– 2 – 9oz packages Perdue Shortcut Original Roasted Chicken strips (or 4 C of chopped, cooked chicken breasts)
– 1 – 8oz package low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened**
– 1/3 C Franks Red Hot Sauce (PLUS 2 TBS – the 2 TBS is optional…see instructions above)
– 3 T Light Ranch Dressing
– ¼ C Blue Cheese Dressing (I really like Ken’s Chef Reserve Blue Cheese for this)
– ½ C Low-fat Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
** You can leave your cream cheese out for a couple of hours to soften, or just pop it in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds (unwrapped of course). Either way, you really want it softened, or you won’t get a smooth and creamy base.
*** If you happen to have any leftovers, they make excellent Buffalo chicken quesadillas the next day.