Can you keep a secret?
Last night I went to a karate slash pilates slash bootcamp-ish slash heart attack class. I know. Your face? Your expression you are wearing right now? I was thinking the exact same thing. But my face was red and dripping with beads of sweat.
Anyway. That’s not the secret.
All I could think of during this class was cheese. Cheese on toast, cheese with jam, cheese on nachos, cheese in my face. If you find this peculiar then you really don’t know me. If you are not the least bit surprised, well then… you sure are neat. And I like you.
After flinging myself through the front door following my uncoordinated attempt at unarmed combat and eating four handfuls of peanut butter stuffed pretzels (I hear they are excellent for muscle recovery. write that down.), it dawned on me that peanut butter pretzels do not a dinner make. I had already spent a luscious 30 minutes with a quesadilla earlier in the evening, but when you jump, kick and squeeze your body into oblivion, you deserve a second dinner. It’s like a law or something.
Then I remembered the buffalo chicken mac sitting in the fridge and decided it qualified as a post-workout recovery meal.
Uh… wait a minute.
This is sort of like mac and cheese. Or it is mac and cheese. Can someone tell me what the difference between baked pasta and mac and cheese is? Educate me. It’s probably the cheese to pasta ratio. Copious amounts of cheese make up this buffalo chicken pasta. Maybe baked pasta doesn’t have lots of cheese. I don’t know.
But guess what? Now it does. That’s the beauty of this whole little deal we’ve got going on. I make things and name them whatever the heck I want. Sometimes you call me on it. Other times you look at me with googly eyes. Most times it is still delicious. Except for anything with broccoli. If I ever tell you something with broccoli is delicious, I’m lying.
I don’t care what you call it. Just get on it.
Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
1 pound pasta (I used whole wheat orecchiette)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces freshly grated monterey jack cheese (I used half a brick) + more for topping
1/3 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
for garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.
While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color. Add milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine, I used a round 4-inch deep dish) with non-stick spray. Add pasta and chicken, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.
And save me some? I’m still hungry.