Cowboy Chili/Dumpit Cake

By Amy Story

Caliente Cowboy Chili


2 lbs. ground beef

1 chopped onion

2 packages taco seasoning

1 package ranch dressing mix

1 16 oz. bottle of picante sauce

2 small cans tomato sauce

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans RoTel™

2 cans diced green chilis or jalapeños

(Drain these):

2 cans shoepeg corn

2 cans black beans

2 cans kidney beans, dark

2 cans red beans

Several slices of cooked, crumbled bacon, optional


> Mix together ingredients, put into large crock pot for three -plus hours to infuse flavors, top with sour cream, cheese, green onion, and enjoy.

Note: For fifteen summers at a little ranch in Lund, Nevada, my then-gentle children watched, wide-eyed, as Granpa, Uncle J.L., and Uncle Dean castrated and/or branded cows. Those kids learned the cowboy ways fast. I wanted to ride up with the men but tradition and my then-mother-in-law urged me to stay behind, which meant kitchen duty. I heard the latest while chopping carrots and onions at the cutting board, resentful I wasn’t in a saddle.

One thing I have to say for a rancher’s mother, wife, or girlfriend: those ladies can cook. I will forever trust a farm or ranch recipe above most others. So when my friend Courtney Crowe (Snake River Stampede Queen 1993) was on a social media thread that yielded this shared recipe, I jumped on it. The source—a bunch of true cowgirls who grew up cooking, queening, and barrel racing—guaranteed it would be good.

Dammit Dumpit Cake


15.25 oz. yellow cake mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

40 oz. apple pie filling

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Old-fashioned style vanilla ice cream


> In large bowl, add yellow cake mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Add melted butter and mix well. Set aside.

> Grease a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

> Spread filling into the bottom of slow cooker.

> Sprinkle crumbled cake mix on top. Top with pecans.

> Place a couple of layers of paper towels on top of the slow cooker and cover with the lid.

> Heat on high for 3 hours.

> Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, garnished with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Note: Once when I visited my friend Diane at her home on Emerald Lane by Lake Lowell, when we passed a door in the hallway, she commented, “That’s the pilot room.”

“You guys are pilots?” I said. “I didn’t know that.”

“No,” she replied with a laugh, “it’s the ‘pile it’ room. It’s where we pile everything we don’t yet have a place for.”

This recipe is like that. A little of this, a little of that, and you dump it.

It also makes a great plan B if you happen to somehow ruin the more elaborate dessert you may have tried to make first. Not that I’ve ever had that happen.



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Amy Story

About Amy Story

Amy Story is a food and adventure writer, artist, and art instructor. She makes her way through the state looking for good recipes and new friends, often found simultaneously.

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