In just 2 short weeks I’ll be jet setting around the world! I simply can not wait. I’ve already started setting things aside and this weekend I’ll probably start packing my suitcase. Never in my life did I think I would be able to spend 6 weeks in another country, let alone China! Of course the very best part of it all is that I finally get to see Jesse again, that week will mark 2 months apart for us. 🙁
I can’t really decide if it’s easier or harder to be apart now that I’m in San Diego. When I was in Ohio I felt like I was more disconnected, even though we would be apart anyway, China still somehow seemed like and even bigger step. Here, I still feel connected and somehow strangely a part of it. But of course in Ohio I had my friends and family to help me through too. I can’t tell you how many times Michelle saved me with a bottle of wine and girl talk. That sort of thing is probably one of the things I miss the most about Ohio. I really had some awesome friends there and my family was always there for me.
On a less serious note, one other thing I miss about Ohio is buffalo wings. (are buffalo wings? either way it doesn’t sound right, help me out grammar police!) Yes, there are wings here but I guess I grew used to Buffalo Wild Wings, or B-Dubbs, and now that’s the flavor and texture I crave. Lately I’ve been craving a chicken tender wrap, sub pico for tomato, with spicy garlic sauce (and extra on the side) and a side of tortilla chips from B-dubbs, like nobody’s business. In all honesty there is a B-Dubbs in Huntington Beach but that’s a pretty far drive for one measly chicken tender wrap. So when I saw this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could satisfy my buffalo tooth. (Like a sweet tooth only different)
Yeah, you’re going to need to try this. Like now. The spice, the cheese, the creaminess. Yum. Yum. Yum. I used 2 recipes for inspiration pulling a few ideas from each. And, because I like to use as few pots and pans as possible (Jesse will tell you that’s a lie, but I said I LIKE to, not that I always do), I tried to streamline the recipes.
2 chicken breasts – marinade in 1 cup buttermilk and 2 Tbsp Frank’s Red Hot overnight*
1 lb elbow macaroni noodles, cooked and drained(shells would work too)
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped (about 2 large stalks)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup half-half
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cups Franks Buffalo Red Hot (or other buffalo sauce), divided
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded**
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced or 2 tsp dry parsley
Blue Cheese dressing for drizzling over top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a grill pan over high heat, grill the chicken breasts until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side depending on thickness of chicken. Chop the chicken into bite size chunks, cover to keep warm and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook for 4 minutes, or until the celery is soft and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, last 2 Tbsp of butter and 1/4 cup of Franks, stir to coat the celery and onions. Sprinkle in the dry mustard and flour and stir well with a whisk. When the flour is fully combined, pour in the milk and half and half, whisking constantly. Then whisk in the remaining hot sauce and sour cream. Bring to a light simmer, continuing to whisk. Stir in the cheese until smooth and melted. Add the chicken and stir to combine. (at this point you can sing to yourself, just keep stirring, just keep stirring, stirring, stirring). Remove from heat.
In a small bowl melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add the panko, blue cheese, and parsley and stir.
Sprinkle the panko mixture over top of the mac and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Drizzle with blue cheese dressing to serve.
* I liked the idea Jasmin had for infusing the chicken with a subtle hot sauce taste by marinating over night. But I was way too lazy to bread the chicken and fry it in addition to all the stirring I had to do. So I just grilled it. The overnight soak made the chicken incredibly moist with just a hint of spice. You could take the even easier way out and use left over chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken. I won’t judge ya if you’re lazy!
**I always recommend shredding your own cheese, from the block, for mac and cheese.