Healthier Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

I’ve felt a little bit crazy lately with studying for a big exam and getting ready for spring break.  On Friday, Alex and I will be off to Las Vegas for a week.  After his first trip out there in the fall for a conference, he has been determined to get me to go; he keeps telling me it’s a place you need to travel to at least once in your life.  At first, I wasn’t too into it, but I’ll admit, I’ve been getting pretty excited over the past week!  If anyone has any recommendations of things to do, places to eat at, etc., I would love to hear it!

The only thing I’m a bit nervous about is leaving the kitties for a whole week.  Since we’ve had kitties, I think I’ve been without them for a couple of days at most, but I was never very far away.  They’re staying with Alex’s grandparents, who are so excited to have them, so I know they’ll be well looked after and loved while we’re gone, but still, they’re my babies!  ;)

Of course, when you’re busy and have some worries in the back of your mind constantly, what is better than mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food?!  Mac and cheese is definitely my go-to dinner when I am exhausted and have absolutely no idea what to cook, and it’s something that Alex always agrees to eating happily.  I usually make my standard mac and cheese (the all-time favorite recipe on this blog), with the main changes being different cheeses or veggies.  I decided to be a bit different this time around.

I had chicken wings on the brain, so I decided to make buffalo chicken style mac and cheese.  Think buffalo chicken dip meets mac and cheese.  Still with healthier ingredients!  Greek yogurt for creaminess and protein, regular cheese (because cheese.. I would never eliminate cheese), shredded chicken breast, and a bit of kale for good measure.  If you aren’t a fan of spicy things, I recommend scaling down the Red Hot just slightly, as it does give it a slight kick.

I used brown rice and quinoa fusilli for the pasta, a gluten free pasta that I like to get from Trader Joe’s.  It tastes fantastic (you would never know it was gluten free), but it does break down slightly after stirring all of the ingredients in, as you can see in the pictures here.  It doesn’t affect the taste at all, but it doesn’t look quite as pretty.  This is such a quick and easy dinner, and it’s a great twist on classic mac and cheese!

What are your favorite mac and cheese add-ins?

 

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

serves 8-10

  • 16 oz. (about 4 cups) pasta (I used gluten free brown rice & quinoa fusilli)
  • 3 cups fresh kale, chopped
  • 8 oz. (about 2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. (about 1 cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded
  • 1 cup Red Hot sauce (use less if you don't like things spicy)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • scallions, for garnish (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions (about 8-10 minutes), until al dente.

Place the kale in the bottom of a strainer, and pour the pasta over top to drain and wilt the kale. Save about 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the cooked pasta and wilted kale to the pot.

Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot, and stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the shredded chicken, Red Hot, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and greek yogurt, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the remaining pasta water to thin, if necessary.

Top with scallions, if using, and serve immediately.

http://cookingalamel.com/2014/03/healthier-buffalo-chicken-mac-and-cheese.html

  • christina

    I saw you post this on instagram last night and my mouth was WATERING. Your creamy greek yogurt is a staple in my household….so so so delicious and very speedy to make. I have suggested it to many friends- all who love it. my standard add-ins are roasted tomatoes, butternut squash, spinach, broccoli. i cannot wait to make this…. i know ill love it. ill report back. have fun in vegas lady!

    • http://cookingalamel.com/ melinda @cookingalamel

      Yay! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Roasted tomatoes are one of my favorite add-ins, too! I definitely need to try broccoli; I never thought of that one, and I looove cheesy broccoli! :)

  • Cara

    This was addictive! Love your creamy Greek Mac and Cheese, so I knew I would love this. Thanks for always posting reliable, healthy and fun recipes :)

    • http://cookingalamel.com/ melinda @cookingalamel

      Thank YOU for reading! :) So happy you enjoy the recipes!

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