Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese

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Spicy Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese is a delicious alternative to classic mac and cheese!

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Oh yes I did!

The Quinoa Mac and Cheese I shared a couple weeks ago was such a hit with Ben, myself AND you guys, that I decided to spruce it up a bit with the addition of chicken, not one but two types of cheese, and dun-dun-dunhhhh buffalo sauce – muwahaha!

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I’m calling my Frankenstein creation Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese, which is kind of a mouthful – but then again, so is the dish. ;)

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Ok I have to admit – I had absolutely no idea how this recipe was going to turn out. A classic cheese sauce made with flour, milk and cheese would make up the base, that much I knew, but how would the chicken, buffalo sauce and quinoa mix in? Would the buffalo sauce play nice with the cheese sauce? Clash with the naturally nutty taste of the quinoa? Turn into a gooey mess?

There was only one way to find out, of course, so I charged full speed ahead and right on into the kitchen. Here’s the recipe I came up with!

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Start by cooking 1-1/4 cups rinsed quinoa in water until cooked and tender.

Meanwhile, season 1 chicken breast with garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper, then cook it in a skillet with non-stick spray. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, and set it aside.

Next make the cheesy sauce that binds everything together. Start by whisking 1/2 cup milk together with 2 Tablespoons flour in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan over medium heat.

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Add an additional cup of milk, and a couple sliced green onions, then bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.

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After the mixture boils continuously for one full minute, take it off the heat and add in the goodies, starting with 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons buffalo sauce.

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(I like Frank’s the best!)

and 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

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BTW – I like shredding cheese for sauces myself, as bags of pre-shredded cheese have cornstarch and other ingredients added to make sure they don’t clump together, which results in a less velvety smooth sauce, imo.

A quick spin through my food processor using the shredding blade took care of it lickity split. Alternatively, a box grater would work “grate”. HA! Right.

Stir the mixture together until the cheese is completely melted, then stir in the cooked quinoa and chopped chicken.

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Pour the mixture into a non-stick sprayed casserole dish, and dot the top with tangy chevre. This is my nod to the classic bleu cheese and buffalo flavor combo, but uses some of the 52lbs of chevre I bought from Costco a couple weeks ago…

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Broil ’til golden brown & bubbly, then let the quinoa mac and cheese sit for at least 5 minutes to thicken up before serving…if you can wait that long!

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Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 chicken breast
garlic powder
onion powder
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups 2% milk, divided
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chevre (goat cheese), crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler. Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Season chicken breast on both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and cook in a non-stick sprayed skillet over medium heat until cooked all the way through. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Pour in remaining milk, and green onions. Switch to a spatula and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then cook for one minute while boiling.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat then add in buffalo sauce and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted then add in cooked quinoa and chicken, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour into a non-stick sprayed casserole dish and top with chevre. Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly.

Pure, spicy lusciousness! I actually whispered “uh-oh!” after my first bite because I knew seconds were going to be hard to resist. Which…they were.

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I loved how the poppy quinoa and bites of chicken gave the Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese texture, while the buffalo sauce and chevre gave it such a unique flavor.

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The photos make the quinoa mac look a little thinner than it actually was, and it also thickens up the longer it sits. This is such a treat! :D

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In other news, I knew it wouldn’t take long… We went from 74 degrees yesterday, to about 44 degrees today – brrr! Off to go hop in my PJs and relax for the night. :)

Toodles!

~~~~~

What type of cheese can you not live without?

I cannot live without chevre. It’s so versatile, tangy and creamy!

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Comments

  1. Great minds think alike- buffalo chicken chili is bubbling away on the stove as I type this!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      Ha – crazy! How’d it turn out?!

    • Cindee 03.10.2012

      Oh yum!! I am going to try this. That chili sounds good too. Will have to look up the recipe.

  2. Olivia 03.07.2012

    Oooh I totally have some cooked quinoa, some Frank’s buffalo sauce, and whatnot all in the fridge right now! Mmm I might try it!

  3. Maggie Giffin 03.07.2012

    Hi!! I am an avid reader of Iowa Girl Eats!! I love your recipes and being from Mississippi, really enjoy seeing what life in Iowa is like!! Check out my blog to see some of the ways we do it down here in the South!!! Happy blogging:)

  4. Oh my goodness – so many of my favorite flavors rolled into one! My boyfriend doesn’t like cheese (Crazy! I know!) but I might get him to like it if it’s also oozing with buffalo flavor :-)

  5. Meagan 03.07.2012

    That looks amazing!

  6. Ohmygoodness Kristin, this looks AMAZING!! I have it bookmarked already. Wow! I’ll just have to swap out the chevre since I just can’t seem to get my tastebuds on board w/ goat cheese… think blue cheese would work?!

  7. Anna, fitscally responsible 03.07.2012

    I love Franks! We use it to make buffalo chicken wraps (subbing Greek yogurt for sour cream).

  8. Have you tried the Quinoa pasta? I got some at the grocery store last week, but I haven’t tried it yet

  9. Shontay 03.07.2012

    Wondering if you had a calorie count on this yumminess? I’ll try to figure it out….using Myfitnesspal.com lately and a few of your recipes are on there (which is QUITE convenient). SO glad I found you on Facebook.

  10. Lauren 03.07.2012

    I just died! This is such a brilliant idea I can barely contain myself!

  11. Yum! I totally cannot live without goat cheese. My fav hands down.

  12. Mindy 03.07.2012

    Awesome! I can’t wait to try this weekend :-)

  13. JennP 03.07.2012

    On a day to day basis, cheddar is my jam (for omelettes, sandwiches etc etc), but my favorite alltime cheese is Brie! Gahhhhh, I love it so much.

  14. would it be crazy to cook the quinoa in milk.. sorta like your stove top mac n cheese? hmmm.. ;)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      Ah – thank you for the reminder! Yes, unfortunately it is crazy :( I tried it and it did not work at ALL!

  15. Jeri 03.07.2012

    I love to shred my own cheddar, too. But what to do about mozzarella cheese? not only is not not as financially friendly, but I can’t get that to shred, it just makes a mess!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.07.2012

      I don’t usually shred mozz myself, since I don’t use it in sauces much, but I heard freezing it for awhile before shredding helps a ton!

      • Jeri 03.08.2012

        I have heard that, too. I just haven’t had a chance to try it because buying the shredded mozzarella is just cheaper to do for pizza night.

    • I shred cheese with my food processor too – buying bulk chunks of cheese, rather than pre-shredded, is a great way to save money!

      In terms of shredding mozzarella, make sure the cheese is very cold, but NOT frozen. (I’ve tried shredding it fully frozen, and it didn’t work at all – nearly broke my shredding disc!) Cut the cheese into food processor chute sized chunks, then stick the cheese in the freezer for a few minutes until it’s firm.

      You can also store shredded cheese in the freezer to help it stay fresh longer. This way, you can shred the whole bulk amount (or however much you want) at once!

  16. Brilliant! Just brilliant.

  17. Marne 03.07.2012

    This looks great! I’ve made the Ham & Cheese Quinoa cups twice already in standard muffins cups (they freeze great, FYI). This one is next! The husband also says to tell you he loves the Buffalo Wing egg rolls. ;-) thanks for all you recipe & blog awesomeness!

  18. Kathy 03.07.2012

    So glad I found your blog on Pintrest!!! Love your recipes – but this one takes the cake!! Quinoa is my newest obsession & I’m having a blast mixing it with all kinds of ingredients. I think I finally found the way to convince son & hub to enjoy my addiction!!! Keep up the great work…thanks to pintrest & bloggers like you, I am back in the kitchen & excited about cooking again. Nerve damage in my feet can make it challenging, but these recipes are worth working thru the pain to eat! YMMM. PS, just posted link to this on fb.

  19. Matt 03.07.2012

    Franks is the best, I buy their regular hot sauce by the gallon and have used it in or on dang near everything. This recipe would really pop with some crumbled maytag bleu cheese just before serving.
    As for my favorite cheese….there is no way I can pick just one and as of today there is probably at least 7 different kinds in my cheese drawer in the fridge :D

  20. I am sure you get this all the time, but I couldn’t resist because I love your blog! I nominated you for Kreativ Blogger!

    http://fitscallyresponsible.com/2012/03/07/kreativ-blogger-award/

  21. OMG. Probably all my favorite foods ever. In one. <3 Love.

  22. Darien 03.08.2012

    I just cannot get behind quinoa! Which is too bad, because I am GF and a grain besides rice would be nice. (The quinoa pasta is fab though, and so is the corn pasta from Trader Joe’s.) This recipe looks KILLER good though, so after my allergy elimination diet (it’s the pits, don’t do it. six weeks of not eating anything delicious) my husband will be thrilled to try this! We both love Frank’s (and Texas Pete) and mac and cheese, so this will be super fun to experiment with!

  23. Bluegal 03.08.2012

    I made quinoa for the first time a few weeks ago because you keep talking about it! :) But I loved it. I’ll definitely make it again. I’m not a fan of chevre but this recipe looks yum. I am a huge fan of smoked Gouda, but the best cheese ever is fresh cheddar cheese curds from Wisconsin. The ones that squeak.

    If you’re ever in Austin you have to go to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

  24. Looks awesome! I’m a sucker for smoked gouda!

  25. Holy moly. I’m making this ASAP! So simple and yet amazing. I’m becoming midly obsessed with goat cheese but my boyfriend doesn’t like it… maybe if it’s in this dish I can change his mind :D

  26. This looks fantastic. My husband’s birthday is coming up, and he would LOVE this!

    How spicy is exactly – more like medium salsa, or more like hot salsa?

  27. I agree, Chevre is my cheese of choice!!

  28. Amateur Mommy 03.08.2012

    Mmm, this sounds delish! My husband and I gave up meet for Lent and I’ve been craving the hot sauce/bleu cheese combo, so I think I’ll make this sans chicken, SOON! Thanks :)

  29. wow…I never thought of subbing quinoa for pasta…genius!!! Now I can enjoy buffalo mac and cheese guilt-free!!!

  30. Lisa 03.08.2012

    WOW! We had buffalo chicken BURGERS last night too! I second the “Great Minds” comment :) I am soooo making this recipe this weekend. YUMMO!!!! Thank you!

  31. Erin 03.08.2012

    Holy buffalo-ey. It’s 10am and I am now starving. :-)

  32. Claudia 03.08.2012

    That’s the way we eat in Peru! minus the buffalo wing sauce and the cheddar cheese!!!!
    You are giving me ideas to make more Quinua recipes!!!

  33. Emily 03.08.2012

    What brand of Quinoa do you like best? I am in love with Trader Joe’s (btw) thanks to you! :)

  34. Iowa Girl Eats 03.08.2012

    I like Trader Joe’s too, but I recently bought a big bag at Costco that’s also really good!

  35. Birds Nest 101 03.08.2012

    Oh.my.me. Does this look amazing!!!! I wonder if a dip could be made out of this? Use shredded chicken and serve with sticks of celery and pita chips???? hmmmmm may have to give that whirl.

  36. Wow, this looks so amazing! I’m totally bookmarking this to try soon!

  37. Greg and Stacia 03.08.2012

    This recipe looks awesome! And we’re glad to see that we aren’t the only ones who’d rather shred their own cheese. We’ve always shredded it by hand, but we might have to try a food processor next time. Thanks for the tip!

  38. What a beautiful combo! My hubs would love the incorporation of hot sauce :)

    Does cottage cheese count as the type of cheese I can’t live without? I think by the time I finish posting most of my recipes on my blog there will be a whole cottage cheese section!!

    For example, one of my favorite breakfasts lately: http://lifewithcheeseburgers.com/2012/02/09/my-favorite-fruity-protein-breakfast-bowl/

  39. Truly Smitten 03.08.2012

    Hi there! Great blog!!! I’m always looking for new food blog and stumbled upon yours! Where in Iowa are you? My husband and I are from Chicago but we recently did a 3 yr stint in Iowa City for his residency and now back in Chicago.

  40. Life In Yellow 03.08.2012

    LOVE it! I just blogged about your original quinoa mac and cheese this week –

    http://www.lifeinyellow.com/2012/03/culinary-discovery-quinoa/

    – I’m obsessed with it and can’t wait to try this version. Thanks for keeping me informed about culinary things like quinoa that I probably would otherwise know nothing about. :)

  41. Kim 03.08.2012

    Umm…HOLY ****, this looks amazing!

  42. Darcy 03.08.2012

    I think I saw IBE today at Legends! I totally wanted to waive, like we were friends, but realized we have never actually met. glad I caught myself!

  43. Cindy 03.08.2012

    This looks great! I’m going to try it. And great tip about shredding the cheese yourself. My cheese = FONTINA! So sassy. Gotta watch prices, though, some are crazy-expensive compared to others in the same case and I haven’t yet figured out why.

  44. [...] my obsession with Iowa Girl Eats hasn’t gone away either.  She has the best recipes!  Her recipe post yesterdayhad me [...]

  45. Tricia 03.10.2012

    We made this last night for three semi-picky guys and a chick–they were a bit skeeved out about the quiona until they tasted it–no leftovers!!! We did a mix of blue cheese and the cheve…SO GOOD!!! Thanks!

  46. erisgrrrl 03.11.2012

    Wow… anything that combines mac n cheese AND buffalo chicken is right up my alley. Add in my beloved quinoa and it’s bound to be a winner!

    I have to say though… I keep coming back to 52 pounds of goat cheese! WHA!!?!?!?!?!?

  47. [...] also cooked and baked! For dinner I made Iowa Girl Eats’ Buffalo Chicken Quinoa “Mac” and Cheese. Holy crow, this was so good! I will definitely be making it [...]

  48. whoa this looks AMAZING. I am making this as soon as possible.

  49. Rose Ann 03.13.2012

    OH MY!!! Just made this and it was delish & filling! I used almond milk, cabot 50% sharp cheddar and changed the topping to blue cheese. This was amazing!!! I also make the Ditalini soup at least every other week, my co-worker is also hooked and had made it every week! Thank you for the great recipes, keep them coming :)

  50. [...] and cheese as well as a dedication to eat better and get some more protein in my diet, I found this recipe online and decided to tweak it by combining it with parts of this recipe. I was truly surprised by [...]

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