Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole

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It seems that the colder it gets outside, the hotter my cooking gets. We’ve had more hot/spicy dinners in the last few weeks than we’ve had in probably the last six months  combined. Maybe I’m subliminally trying to combat the -2 degree weather with hot sauce?

Casseroles are such a comforting dinner on frigid nights. I roasted the potatoes for this during afternoon nap so come actual dinner prep time I only had to do some minimal assembly and pop it in the oven. It worked like a charm! And, warmed us up nicely.

BuffaloChickenCasserole

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole
(adapted from Life Love Larson)
Serves 3-4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large, bite-sized chunks
3-4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. Frank’s buffalo sauce
1 cup cheddar, shredded
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, sliced
Ranch dressing, for serving.

Preheat the oven to 500F degrees and line a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and buffalo sauce. Toss the potatoes in the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet, leaving behind as much sauce as possible. Roast, stirring every 10-15 minutes until cooked through and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Remove potatoes and reduce oven temperature to 400F degrees.

Place the cooked potatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish (I used a 9×6″). Toss the chicken with the remaining sauce and place on top of the chicken. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Top with cheese, bacon crumbles and green onions and return to oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Serve with ranch dressing.


Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

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I have a tendency to obsess over things. And whatever my current obsession is always seems to keep bubbling up in life. Like, for example, buffalo chicken. I forgot how much I loved it and then have made four different buffalo dishes in the last month because I can’t get enough. But I’m not talking about buffalo chicken right now.

I’m currently obsessing over Macy Beckett’s Make You Remember.  I downed that book in about a day and a half and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I’m such a sucker for a first-love-reunited story. But as satisfying as the story was, I can’t wait for the next in the series. Can’t. Wait. Alex and Ella-Claire were teased throughout the book and I need to know how things will go with them. NEED. It’s probably a little sad how much time I’ve spent thinking about them.

What does that have to do with this post? Well, when I was getting ready to make this, I realized the recipe was on a blog called Ella Claire. Seriously. This series is now even influencing my recipe choices! Is that funny? Or sad? I haven’t decided.

BuffaloChickenLettuceCups

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups
(from Ella Claire)
Serves 2-3

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 up Frank’s Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 tsp. celery seed
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
Head of bib or iceberg lettuce
Blue cheese crumbles and ranch dressing, for serving

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the wing sauce and celery seed. Stir in the cooked, shredded chicken and toss to coat. Add pepper, to taste. Heat until sauce is bubbly and remove from heat and stir in celery.

Serve chicken warm in lettuce cups, topped with blue cheese and ranch dressing.


Rattlesnake Pasta

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My Mom and Mother-in-law both got me vintage Pyrex pieces for Christmas. Since then, I’ve become mildly obsessed with casseroles. Because when you’re using dishes from the ’50s, is there anything more appropriate to make than a casserole? I think not.

My new casserole dish is small – perfect for 2-3 servings, so I’ve been using it a lot and freezing extra portions for busy nights.  I can’t wait to break this one out again!

Rattlesnake Pasta
(adapted from The Oland Girls Craft)
Serves 6

12 oz. whole wheat pasta
1 26 oz. jar Alfredo sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 lb. dice, cooked chicken
1 small can diced green chilies
1 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, Alfredo sauce, garlic, Parmesan, bacon, chicken and chilies. Stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Top with shredded cheddar.

Baked for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Oven Fajitas

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One of the things that’s been difficult for me with October Unprocessed is that I tend to pick recipes that are more complicated and time-consuming. I’m not sure why they appeal to me so much, but they’re really just not ideal for busy nights when you’re also juggling a baby. I’ve had to made a conscious effort to find quick, easy dinners that don’t rely on processed ingredients.

This was one of the best dinners so far. I did the prep during nap time so when dinner time came, I just had to toss it with the seasoning and oil and stick it in the oven. I served them with lettuce leaves for wrapping to make it October Unprocessed friendly, but tortillas would be great too.

Oven Fajitas
(from Budget Bytes)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 small onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium lime
Tortillas or lettuce leaves for wrapping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a small bown, whisk together the first nine ingredients. Set aside.

Slice the onion, peppers and chicken into strips and place them into a 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoning over everything and then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, squeeze juice from half of the lime over everything. Serve on tortillas or lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings.


Thai-Spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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Meat on sticks. There hasn’t been enough of it this summer so I’m trying to remedy that before grilling weather is officially over. (It’s coming. Sigh.)

When I was making the meal plans for the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I already had all the ingredients for these skewers on hand, so they went on the menu. It’s simple ingredients, but they pack a big flavor punch here.

I set my chicken up to marinade in the morning, but starting to marinade the night before would be good too. I’d give this a few solid hours in the marinade to pack the biggest punch.

Thai-spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers
(from The Iron You)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

In a small bowl, whisk together the Chinese five-spice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken strips and toss until well-coated.

Add the chicken to a ziplock bag. In the same small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil and lime juice. Pour over chicken in the bag, seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate for several hours.

After marinating, place the chicken on skewers. (If using wooden ones, soak in water for at least a half hour beforehand.)

Preheat a grill to medium and oil the grates. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with Sriracha mayo for dipping.


Creamy Taco Mac

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This could also be called “DIY Hamburger Helper” – it’s the same idea, but from scratch. There’s nothing super novel here but it’s quick and good and generally a crowd pleaser.

It also freezes well. I cooked this up before Jacob was born and froze half, casserole-style, for afterwards.

Creamy Taco Mac
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 6

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onion together until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted as all is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and serve.


Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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Surprise! It’s a chicken recipe! This is the first chicken recipe I’ve blogged since getting pregnant that doesn’t involve bite-sized pieces.

For most of the pregnancy, I couldn’t handle chicken cooked at home unless it was bite-sized. So weird. But, the last month or so of being pregnant, I could finally tolerate chicken strips and breasts again – so I made them in force. Funny enough, even though I made these as strips, they would have been excellent bite-sized, too.

The sauce is spicy-but-sweet and even though these are baked, they taste just as good as a fried boneless wing. They tasted like something we’d order when out for bar munchies. I’m planning to make them again when football watching season is in full swing!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders
(adapted from Creme de la Crumb)
Serves 4

For the chicken strips:
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

Ranch dressing, for dipping

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and enough water to make the consistency a thick batter.

Dip the chicken into the flour mixture and then into the panko, coating well in each, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: combine all ingredients except the cold water/cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

After the chicken is done, dip strips into the sauce. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.


Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas

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Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.

And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
(from Parade)
Serves 2

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
2 rolls

Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste.  Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.

Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.


Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs

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I really, really adore grilling weather. Now that it’s warm enough to grill, I get super annoyed when we have rainy weeks. It’s like, c’mon Mother Nature! We’ve only got limited time to begin with!

I’m also feeling a bit of a time crunch because I don’t know how cooking will go once baby boy arrives. I don’t want to set too many expectations for things to do after – so I’m trying to tackle some of my must-make recipes now. Of course, kabobs always seem to top the list.

These were another huge hit. Unlike some of the other kabobs I’ve made, these are flavored with spices instead of sauce which makes them a bit healthier. We loaded the skewers with veggies and served them with rice for a full meal.

Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs
(from Allrecipes.com)
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. oilve oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 lime, juice
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Veggies – we used two bell peppers and a zucchini

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and spices. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Chop veggies into bite-sized peices.

Preheat the grill for medium-high heat.  Thread chicken and veggies onto skewers.

Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through, until the juices run clear.


Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

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We got a sneak peak of grilling weather the week before last – a few days of temps in the 70s. After this brutally cold winter, it was such a nice, welcome change. Of course, things are back to a more seasonal low-60s, with the evenings just a little too chilly to comfortably grill.

During our sneak peak, though, I happily busted out some recipes I had bookmarked last year and didn’t get around to trying. These kabobs were by far the favorite of the week, so I wanted to share them for those of you lucky enough to live in a slightly warmer climate. Seriously, if you don’t already have dinner plans for tonight, this is what you should be making. The chicken is good by itself, but the avocado sauce really seals the deal here. I could have eaten it with a spoon. (And, may have finished off the extra that way…)

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 4

Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 chipotle chili in adobo
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into uniform chunks

for the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, split and pitted
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil, salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, brown sugar and chipotle. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – I left mine overnight and it turned out fantastic.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook, turning once or twice until all sides are slightly browned and chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

To make the avocado cream sauce, add the avocado, Greek yogurt, garlic and lime juice to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with kabobs for dipping.