My mom has an uncanny ability to whip up food for a crowd at a moment’s notice. It probably stems from years of entertaining, first for my parents’ friends, and then for sports teams, neighbors and friends of my siblings’ and mine. She’s always self-effacing, too. “Oh, I don’t have anything in the house,” she’ll say. And then, just a few minutes later, she appears with a tray full of hummus and tabbouleh, a great big mixed green salad, and her famous apple-chocolate chip cake that I wrote about for my very first post in this column. But she has one other big party trick: a crowd-pleasing vegetarian chili cheese dip that’s far more than the sum of its parts.

I’ve lived with a few different sets of roommates over the past decade, and this dip has traveled with me to each house. At football parties, friends look at me expectantly to see if I’ve brought it. And if we’re ever sitting around on a Saturday afternoon and need a snack, I know that I can always pull this dip together in a flash. It’s made from just three ingredients—all pantry staples—and takes just a few minutes to heat up. If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party or looking for something to bring to one, this dip is a pleasing addition to the menu.

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip

Serves 6 to 8

Hormel is my family’s traditional choice for this dip. Amy’s Kitchen also makes an organic kosher vegetarian chili that you can find at most supermarkets.

1 (15-ounce) can vegetarian chili with beans
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, microwaved until very soft
1¼ cups shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped scallions to garnish (optional)

Combine chili, cream cheese and ½ cup cheese in microwave-safe bowl. Stir until combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of mixture, cover bowl, and microwave until dip is hot and cheese on top is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve with tortilla chips.