Feeding My Addiction

Let me tell you a little something about myself. It’s something some of you may already know about me. Some of you may not. Some people think it’s an addiction, though many of you may even share this addiction and not even know it. I’ve known some folks that have it much worse than I do. I’ve known people who couldn’t even leave the house without having some sort of backup on hand.

I’m talking… about FRANKS RED HOT!!

Seriously…what else would I be talking about?

I LOVE this stuff. I’ll put it on eggs. I’ll put it on pizza. And I cannot say no to anything with “Buffalo Chicken” in the name!

Sadly, though, most “Buffalo Chicken” recipes – dips, pastas, and pizzas – are LOADED with fat and calories that my thighs and I just don’t feel like dealing with. Loads of butter and blue cheese (Note: I NEVER use blue cheese…or ranch…with my buffalo anything.  I want to experience the heat – I don’t want to tame it with yucky, fatty dressing. Also note…I hate blue cheese. It helps. ) or globs of ranch dressing just aren’t appealing to me.

So what’s a girl to do??

Healthify it! (Obviously.)

I recently stumbled across what appears to be a spectacularly popular food blog you may or may not have heard of – Iowa Girl Eats. Kristin’s philosophy is fantastic “Eat Well, Run Often, Travel Far.” That’s something I can totally relate to. I can also totally relate to her post – Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese. And by relate to her post – I mean use it for inspiration and make my own deliciously, outstandingly, amazingly, life changing recipe you will find below.

Anyone out there never have quinoa before? It’s really quite delightful. Contrary to what some may say, quinoa is not “technically” a grain. It’s actually a seed! Whodathunkit?! It’s also the only “whole grain” that is a complete protein – which means it has all 9 essential amino acids the human body cannot produce but needs to function. *KNOWLEDGE* It has a subtle, nutty flavor when it’s plain but it’s super versatile! You can cook it up just like rice (if you’re like me that means really carefully while staring at the covered pot praying it doesn’t stick to the bottom…hopefully you’re not like me) and use it in recipes from breakfast, to salad, to THIS:

Buffalo Chicken Mac Quinoa and Cheese

·         1 ½ cups dry, uncooked quinoa
·         2 cups water or chicken stock
·         2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
·         2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite sized pieces
·         2 tablespoons flour (or gf flour of your choice)
·         2 tablespoons granulated garlic
·         Salt and Pepper to taste
·         4 tablespoons Franks Red Hot
·         ¼ cup nonfat milk
·         ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
·         2-3 scallions, chopped
Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
(This is what ever other basic quinoa preparation recipes  says – I don’t have a fine mesh strainer, so I lined my pasta strainer with a few paper towels so the quinoa wouldn’t fall through and rinsed it that way. )
Add  1 teaspoon of olive oil to a small pot and add the quinoa. Sauté over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes until the quinoa becomes fragrant.  Add your water or chicken stock. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand about  10 minute with the lid on before fluffing with a fork.
While your quinoa is cooking, season your chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss with flour (or gf flour) to coat. Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook on medium high heat until the chicken is golden brown on all sides.  Reduce the heat to low and add the hot sauce. Stir to coat and add the milk to the pan. Stir everything well to combine and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. (If you boil the nonfat milk, it may start to separate. It may even look a little funky when you first add it to the pan but it’ll all smooth out once you mix in the cheese.) Add ½ cup shredded cheese and half of the scallions to the pan. Stir everything to combine. Add  the cooked quinoa and stir everything  until the quinoa is incorporated.
Transfer to a greased oven safe baking dish (or if you’re lucky like I am and have an oven safe skillet ignore that statement completely) top with remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheese and scallions. Pop the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and brown.
IN THEORY this recipe makes four substantial dinner portions…unless you’re like me and hover over the pan with a fork before it’s even cool enough to eat and shovel half of it down your throat immediately. (Note – this will be hot and you will burn your mouth if you use this technique!)

Serve and rejoice in cheesy,  HEALTHY, buffalo chicken glory!

buffalo chicken quinoa



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  2. Jennifer

    Hey Nicole! I’m not kidding when I say I could eat this every day. Haha. My husband isn’t as obsessed as I am, so he keeps me in check. 🙂

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